Social Media Syllabus: Beat Reporters

May 4, 2012

Purpose: To identify your beat’s digital communities so you can better understand and take advantage of the conversations happening around your coverage topic.

Summary: Beat reporters with a focused area of coverage have an advantage when it comes to building an online audience. Whether it’s crime, schools or government, there are people out there interested in what you’re working on. And those people are already having conversations online about the topic you cover. This training will help you find those sources, take part in their conversations and incorporate them into your stories.

Time commitment: Participants will spend about three hours total each week on assignments, one-on-one critiques and webinars. 

Goals: At the conclusion of three weeks it is expected that you will

·       See a noticeable increase in relevant Twitter followers

·       Be engaged in online conversations about your beat

·       Have a list of online sources for future stories and breaking news situations

Twitter Contest: The first step toward Twitter success is tweeting. It sounds funny but if you want a bigger audience, frequency and consistency is key. In order to encourage this behavior (and to add some fun and friendly competition into the training), we’re holding a contest among training participants.

First Place (Really cool NPR swag): Most tweets over three-week period.

Second Place (Cool NPR swag): 30 tweets or more each week.

Third Place (Just regular NPR swag): 20 tweets or more each week.

WEEK 1: Identify Your Community (May 14-18)

Monday (May 14)

Kick-off call with all reporters where the three weeks are outlined and the first project is assigned. We will offer multiple times for this call.

Project 1: Make a Twitter list of 20 newsmakers and influencers relevant to your beat and then follow them. Create a Twitter list of them. Possible sources: City council members, police/fire department’s Twitter account, mayor, reporters for other news organizations. Identify three hashtags related to your local community. E-mail Eric the hashtags and a link to your Twitter list.

Required reading:

Finding Folks to Follow on Twitter (Argo)

A Guide To Audience Building and Engagement (State Impact)

Tuesday (May 15)

Webinar: How Reporters Can Build Their Twitter Communities

What we cover: There’s no magic way to gain followers and Likes overnight. But there are some key steps you can take to help build your community.

Time: 11 a.m. ET

AND 

Work on Project 1

Wednesday (May 16)

Work on Project 1

Thursday (May 17)

Webinar: How Reporters Can Build Their Twitter Communities

What we cover: There’s no magic way to gain followers and Likes overnight. But there are some key steps you can take to help build your community.

Time: 2 p.m. ET

AND

Project 1 is due. E-mail a summary of what you did and relevant links to Eric eathas@npr.org and Ki ksung@npr.org.

Friday (May 18)

Eric and Ki are available throughout the day for questions.

Project feedback is provided in two forms:

·       A 3-minute video critique of all projects.

·       Individual one-on-one e-mailed reviews.

WEEK 2: Connect with your community (May 21-25)

Monday (May 21)

Project 2 is assigned.

Required reading:

Geek tip: Twitter’s best-kept secret (Argo)

Twitter Tips for Journalists (Steve Buttry)

What 12 journalists learned about community engagement and human interaction at SXSW (Poynter)

Tuesday (May 22)

Webinar: How to Use Twitter to Cover Live Events and Stories

What we cover: Live-tweeting is one of the best ways to practice the craft, gain followers and draw attention to your reporting. We talk about how to do it well.

Time: 11 a.m. ET

AND

Work on Project 2

Wednesday (May 23)

Work on Project 2

Thursday (May 24)

Webinar: How to Use Twitter to Cover Live Events and Stories

What we cover: Live-tweeting is one of the best ways to practice the craft, gain followers and draw attention to your reporting. We talk about how to do it well.

Time: 2 p.m. ET

AND

 

Project 2 is due. E-mail a summary of what you did and relevant links to Eric eathas@npr.org and Ki ksung@npr.org.

Friday (May 25)

Eric and Ki are available throughout the day for questions

Project feedback is provided in two forms:

·       A 3-minute video critique of all projects.

·       Individual one-on-one e-mailed reviews.

WEEK 3: Using Social Media to Tell the Story (May 28-June 1)

Monday (May 28 --  Memorial Day)

Project 3 is explained and assigned: Pick one story. Open up your notebook and give your audience a look behind the reporting before, during and after. Also, enable Facebook Subscribe and begin posting to your page.

Required reading:

New Facebook data show 7 keys to maximum engagement for journalists (Poynter)

Vadim Lavrusik: 10 ways journalists can use Facebook (Journalism.uk)

10 ways journalists can use Twitter before, during and after reporting a story (Poynter)

 

Tuesday (May 29)

Webinar: How Reporters Can Use Facebook Subscribe

What we cover: Case studies and success stories around this new reporting tool.

Time: 11 a.m. ET:

AND

Work on Project 3

Wednesday (May 30)

Work on Project 3

Thursday (May 31)

Webinar: How Reporters Can Use Facebook Subscribe

What we cover: Case studies and success stories around this new reporting tool.

Time: 11 a.m. ET:

AND

 

Project 3 is due. E-mail a summary of what you did and relevant links to Eric eathas@npr.org and Ki ksung@npr.org.

Friday (June 1)

Eric and Ki are available throughout the day for questions

Project feedback is provided in two forms:

·       A 3-minute video critique of all projects.

·       Individual one-on-one e-mailed reviews.