Monday, March 21, 2011

30 day ideaLab project - Training newsroom to grow community bloggers

As a member of Journal Register Company's ideaLab, I've been tasked with completing a 30-day project to help solve one of the "problems" going forward with a digital-first operating structure at The Record.

I've chosen to tackle the task of growing our community bloggers on by training each member of our newsroom to recruit two additional bloggers and act as a contact person for the individuals going forward.

I believe this will solve at least two issues affecting our staff.

First, it will provide training for each staff member involved so that they will be able to walk away in 30 days and confidently say that they know the basics of setting up a blog, as well as how to answer basic questions bloggers may have about their relationship with the newspaper and its website.

 Secondly, by training each staffer to understand the basics of answering such questions and serving as a contact person, it will spread out the responsibilities of managing an ever-growing blog list and help ensure proper interaction with each of our contributors.

In my opinion, if you keep growing the number of blogs so that the total exceeds 50 blogs, 60, 70, and so on, you risk losing a lot of valuable contact with at least a handful of bloggers due to the simple matter of time constraints.

One or two people can't do everything on their own, and the new JRC is all about sharing our knowledge so that the collective employees can learn and continue to teach others.

I started meeting with a handful of reporters about the project today and some already have ideas of who they plan to try and recruit. To start, I shared a basic introduction to blogging assembled by fellow ideaLab member Kaitlyn Yeager and began showing them the basics of how to create a blog on as well.

I invite you to check back to this blog, as well as, often and watch the number of blogs continue to grow.

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Blogger Steve Shoe said...

This is a really great idea, Tom.

So once you grow your blogger ranks to 50, 60, 70 and beyond, what thoughts do you have on how to formalize the process of culling through all that information and extracting bits that might be worth having a paid-staffer develop further, giving it the full treatment (article, video, what-have-you)?

Seems this would also fall primarily to the staffer overseeing specific blogs, which establishes a neat micro-system in which the staffer is now acting in the role of editor. Sort of. I think that's very cool.

March 22, 2011 at 1:00 PM 
Blogger Tom Caprood said...

That's exactly what I'm envisioning - before the month is over I'd like to have them each set up of a e-mail feed of RSS for the blogs that they recruit so that they will know as soon as there is a post which could turn into a great article.

I want us to get in the habit of printing featured blog posts in the paper (at least a portion of them) or maybe printing a few and asking readers to tell us what they want us to dig deeper into.

There's certainly a lot of potential here.

P.S. How's Ithaca?

March 22, 2011 at 1:09 PM 
Blogger Steve Shoe said...

All excellent ideas. TU does something similar with select blog posts being printed, and I wished I had implemented something similar at The Saratogian when I was there. It was always on my "to-do" list.

Ithaca is great, and we're very happy out here. In terms of news, I'm smack in Gannett coverage: Ithaca Journal, Press & Sun Bulletin (Binghamton area), and Star-Gazette (Elmira area). They've got the shared content down pretty well, but their digital efforts could stand to take some cues from JRC.

Congrats on your role in helping JRC hit it's 2010 revenue goal. I'm sure that extra week's pay in your check was a nice sight.

March 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM 

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