Monday, October 4, 2010

How to get a newspaper involved with the community it serves

First off, I regret that I haven't updated this blog in about two weeks. Things have been rather hectic around the office as we prepared to launch The Record's Stimulus Tracker, a week-long JRC project which showcases the impact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had on the nation.

I've also been working to set up and manage a few photo contests that we're hoping will attract a decent level of reader participation throughout the rest of 2010.

Our Halloween contest, “Fright Night”, is currently accepting entries for anyone in the Capital Region who wants a chance at some restaurant gift certificates and a larger grand prize we hope to soon announce. Click here to check it out.


After having success with my first ideaLab project of getting reporters to go mobile when filing their articles, which I'm continuing to encourage around the office, I've chosen to make my second ideaLab project focus on developing uses for our on-site Community Media Lab.

Our media lab at The Record is a mid-sized room located off of the main entrance to our building at 501 Broadway in Troy. At the moment it is set up with several long tables to host meetings and presentations, but we hope to soon bring some technology such as a netbook computer and television display into the environment as well.

Journal Register Company launched the idea of the media labs earlier this year with the focus on bringing in potential citizen journalists and teaching them how to get started with their own blogs to help supplement or widen coverage on various topics in the areas that their properties cover.

We hope to do the same at The Record (we have a large amount of bloggers on already, but additional writers interested in citizen journalism are always welcome), as well as increase our involvement with our readers.

To start, we figured that we would let our readers know that our building is not closed off to the public. We'll invite the community to view what goes on at the paper on a daily basis – likely through a video of the process, as well as some tours of the building if there is enough interest.

We also saw this as a great opportunity for crowdsourcing our entire operation by holding gatherings at night with local community and neighborhood groups, sports teams, local parents, students, teachers, coaches, and more to show them that The Record is truly their paper by asking what they want to read about. We've tried this a few times online through social media such as Facebook and Twitter without much success, but believe we'll have a better chance in face-to-face meetings.

There's also great potential for a lot of fun to be had with this lab – perhaps inviting local artists and musicians to showcase some of their work, starting up some podcasts with local officials or public figures that readers may want to hear from, and plenty more...

Other JRC papers have set up shop in local coffee houses for a similar purpose – something I'd like to have someone here try out as well in the near future.

Have any other suggestions for how we should best utilize this space and meetings we are hoping to offer? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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