A typical day in an online-first newsroom

jugglingHere’s part three of my series, what’s an online-first newsroom look like. Today, I’ll talk about what a typical day should/could be like in an online-first newsroom. (Be sure to read the rest of the series: Part one examines the over-arching ideas that form a f0undation of an online-first newsroom; part two examines the nitty gritty.)

A typical day in an online-first newsroom should be different than in a traditional newsroom. If it’s not, your newsroom isn’t online first enough (or at all.)

One note: I’ll be highlighting what’s unique about an online-first journalist’s  daily routine. But social media and multimedia shouldn’t be all you do. You still need to engage readers through more traditional means — going to a school board meeting to meet officials and parents if you cover schools or having an informal coffee with sources. I’m a huge proponent of journalists getting out of the office and going to the scene of the crash, the crime or the trial. Online first shouldn’t change that. And of course, you’ll still need to interview folks, do research and write stories.

Before I get into the details,  a word about time management. Learn it. Using social media as a journalist and engaging the community means more work — but it adds more value, too. When I explain to other journalists what I do on my beat, I often get an exhausted look from them: “How do you fit it in?”

My answer: You have time to do what’s valuable to you. Make the time. Get organized and get into a rhythm. You don’t need to check every social-networking site every day or even every week. Dip in and out.

Here’s how it works for me. Of course, a typical day might be different for you, depending on the day, the beat or your personality. (I’m what you call a type A-plus personality, pretty frenetic.) Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to add some social-networking and multimedia to your workday. Because new media can easily overwhelm even the most organized journalist, I’ve divided my list of what I do into things I check every day, every few days, once a week and regularly. You can’t do everything every single day. But remember: If I can do this; you can. Really, you can.


    • E-mail: Check e-mail first thing and repeatedly throughout the day. I use e-mail groups to sort through the hundreds I get daily. I run frequent contests on my blog, which all come through e-mail. So contest entries get one group; potential guest blogs get another. I deal with the most important e-mails and then save the rest for later. I re-check my e-mail frequently, so if I hear from a reader, I can respond very quickly.
        • Blog: I firmly believe that journalist bloggers need to blog pretty much every day. My goal is three new posts daily on my Family Life blog, a goal I meet most of the time. (I’m not quite there with this blog.)  I try to schedule posts for days when I’m off, and I’ve bl0gged through every vacation at least occasionally. Frequent blogging rewards the readers who keep coming back with new content. Plus, it helps your blog get crawled more frequently by Google for new content. I don’t tweet every post; just the ones I think have a wider reach. I respond to comments on my blog as quickly as possible.
          • Facebook: I update my status through Twitter frequently. If someone responds to my status updates, I try to reply quickly. I treat responses like blog comments. It’s a conversation, so I need to keep up my end.
              • Other blogs in your niche: I suggest journalist bloggers have a good working list of blogs in their niche to read regularly. Some you might read daily if they update frequently; others every few days. It helps to add the blogs you like to Google reader, so you’ll get a feed to all of them in one nice, neat page. It helps you not forget to check them. As I read, I also bookmark interesting posts in Delicious for use in later blog posts.
                • Check trending topics: I check Google Hot Trends and Twitscoopto see what’s getting a lot of buzz in the blogosphere, twittersphere and Web.

                  At least once a week:

                      • Newsletter to readers: Nearly every week I send out a personal e-newsletter to about 300 of my blog readers and sources. This is not a RSS feed or e-mail newsletter of just my post titles. This is a personal letter to my readers. The readers  have signed up on my blog or through a personal request from me in e-mail or by phone. I usually invite anyone who I interview. It’s set up like a list-serve, so they can opt out whenever they want. I use this as a source list to gather ideas for stories, to invite readers to write for my blog and to send them direct links to notable posts on my blog. I also offer contests  (usually children’s book) just for subscribers as in incentive. It’s a great way to boost blog traffic and engage readers. I consider my subscribers a mini focus group, and they just love being sort of “insiders in the news biz.” (At some point, I’ll got into detail on this in a separate post.)


                          Please  share your ideas. I’d love to add to my list.


                          19 thoughts on “A typical day in an online-first newsroom

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                          5. Nice article Gina.

                            I didn’t see a mention of RSS feeds in this, which is a great way to keep abreast of your patch. Would bring some of your tasks like google alerts and checking blogs and sites under one banner.

                          6. Andy,

                            Agreed. I did mention Google reader, although not specificially RSS feeds. Appreciate you expanding on the idea.

                            I love Google reader. I use it to keep track of all my feeds, and it’s so much easier than hopping from blog to blog.

                            – Gina

                          7. Gina,

                            Once again, this is fabulous. Have you considered writing a “how-to” textbook? Your blog beats the convergence journalism texts I’ve looked at for my class. It gets into the nuts and bolts of how to do this.

                          8. Marsha,

                            As always, thanks for your support. I’m glad you find the post helpful.

                            Any publisher out there … I’m ready.

                            – Gina

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                          12. Gina,

                            How often do you set aside time, even on a semi-regular basis, for learning new social networking or multimedia tools? Your knowledge and command of Twitter and its various related tools seems pretty darn comprehensive. When do you make the time?

                          13. Honestly, I started looking into it at work. I’d get a cool link on Twitter, get intrigued, follow it and read about a great application for twitter or a neat way to use Twitter. That helped me find some great techie and journo sites (see my blog rolls) that I check frequently.

                            But I do much of my searching at home on my own time. I’m fascinated by social media, so I find it fun searching for new ways to use it.

                            As they say: If you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life.

                            – Gina

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                          16. Interesting posts, Gina. Just came across your blog and I look forward to reading more. The idea that traditional journalists need an education in new media/social networking tools is an understatement and a task not for the weak of heart, so thank you for doing your part. A great example of what a “new-age” journalist might look like is Peter Abraham, a Yankees beat reporter in NY. I can’t stand the Yanks, but Abraham shows how one person can write articles, blog posts, Twitter, podcast/vodcast, take photos with his iPhone and a million other things.

                            Keep up the good work.

                          17. Media Slackers,

                            Thanks for kind words and tip on Peter Abraham. Actually, just read about him today on Nieman Journalism Lab. He’s doing some cool stuff.

                            – Gina

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