Where to start?
From one workshop to another, the first day here has been dizzying. In a good way. This conference is a gold mine of good ideas!
It’s been rewarding to see how Beacon staffers are benefiting from this convention, exciting to see them excited about new ways of looking at things, better ways of doing things. Me too!
Let’s start with online stuff. Because, like me, The Beacon has a lot of catching up to do technologically, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do that. Fortunately, there was a great panel discussion about managing a Web site and using tools- many of them free- to make the most of it. Just the list of free tools is a valuable resource. Some, such as Google docs, I’m familiar with and use. But here are a few that are new to me:
Etherpad- allows 2 people to edit a story at once
Issuu- a more interactive alternative to uploading a PDF version of the newspaper
ping.fm- allows you to update multiple social networking sites
Vimeo _ I knew about for webcasts, but have never used
emailmefor.com- for letters to the editor
Reinvigorate helps track web traffic (so does Google analytics)
the web developers tool bar on Firefox- If using open sourced software like WordPress,the tool allows you to make changes to your website and preview the changes before publishing them.
Of course, twitter came up quite a bit. One memorable piece of advice was about tweeting just once a day (to promote a story, etc.) and for breaking news. Otherwise, it’s annoying. I agree.
Another workshop:Interesting discussion about helping reporters develop a “web first” mentality, training them to insert hyperlinks in their stories as a matter of habit. In fact, one panelist suggested that if a reporter sends a story without at least 3 hyperlinks, it should be sent back to the reporter. (If I was ambitious, I would insert a hyperlink here. But I’m tired. So sue me).
Another outstanding workshop was about “coaching” writers, which is a big part of my job. Michael Roberts of the Arizona Republic gave this one. He’s great. In fact, his websites are worth a couple of links.
Another thing I’ve enjoyed is the “newspaper exchange.” There are tables with stacks of newspapers from the various colleges represented at the convention.
I grabbed a bunch. It’s fun to see what others are doing and glean (steal?) their good ideas. Andy texted me at one point to let me know all the Beacons were snatched up. We felt pretty smug about that 🙂