Social media in the newsroom – a small example

A fantastic series of articles by Robert Patterson on the online efforts of Californian outfit KBPS during last years fires.  I was going to type reporting efforts there but it’s clear from the post that it was more than just reporting.

In the first part Patterson outlines how they made use of technology. Making use of free tools like google maps and twitter they went all out to involve the community in what they did.

One thing in their approach I found particually interesting was how they used the homepage of the website

The station stripped everything off their front page to provide a clear focus on the ONE Story that affected everyone.

In the second part, culture comes under the spotlight. One bit struck me:

 I asked whether this was enough. Was it enough to have a small team?

“No not really. What was vital was that the team had a year to get to know each other, to gain the trust of the Senior Management and to “play” with some of these tools in their own time. If the fire had happened just after the team had been assembled, I don’t think they would have had the cohesion, the confidence and the knowledge to act as they did.”

I asked what she meant by “Play”.

“Well we did not have Twitter or Google Maps in our inventory, but the team had been playing with these tools on their own time. They all had their own blogs. Twitter had been discussed and in the week of the fire, we had planned a brown bag lunch to talk about Twitter. Leng, our manager, had played a lot with Google Maps and had been fascinated by their power. You can’t train for this – you have to hire for it.”

Play. Such a vital concept but it shouldn’t just be “in their own time”.

Even if you are not in the US or a small station there are some great ideas in these posts.

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