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Storytelling with Storify

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

Looking for an innovative way to tell a story?

Try Storify.

Storify uses social media to curate and create stories.

You pull publicly available information from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and You Tube. You also can paste a link from anything you find in the web and post it on Storify.

You can pick a topic that is in the news, such as a recent protest, sporting event or anything sources have posted content about on the social media networks.

Or you can create a Storify on an issue that your nonprofit is following. Say you have an event or press conference. You can take photos, videos, tweets or stories from that event and create a Storify of the event itself, of news media coverage of the event or a combination of the two.

Here is how you start:

Login with your Twitter account.

Write a headline for your Storify.

In the box below you can write a lede or a summary.

You build a Storify by using key words or hashtags (#) to search topics on the right.

Drag the content you want to use into the left space. This is where you build your Storify.

Also note that you can write mini text blocks in between each item you curate. You can use this for captions or add additional information about the social media content.

You may want a total of eight to 10 items in your Storify. Make sure there is a balance of tweets, Facebook posts, photos, video an text.

Then you publish your piece. You can share it with others on Twitter. People also can follow you on Storify.

Many news organizations and bloggers are using Storify as a storytelling tool. Once your Storify is published you can share the link or embed it on a blog or website.

It’s a great way to aggregate and curate content as well as share your original content that you have posted on the various social media networks.

See my video tutorial here:

 

Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina Voices.com.” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

People To Pitch: Lisa Bertagnoli, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Jennifer Wolan, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

Lisa Bertagnoli is a Chicago-area freelancer and frequently contributes to Crain’s Chicago Business. Her stories include ‘Sometimes an organization needs a wakeup call’ and ‘Chicago’s nonprofit struggling.’

With the extensive nonprofit and organization reporting Lisa does, we asked her tips on how to pitch her. Lisa’s answers are below.

How do you usually receive a pitch from organizations?

Email. Social Media is not an effective way to get in touch with me.

Do you have any pet peeves about press releases?

I don’t really have any pet peeves about press releases but what I am looking for is personalization. I like to be personalized. I like for people to know my column and what I write about and pitch stories to me personally. Example would be, ‘You wrote a story a month ago about XYZ and this is why I think you’d be interested ABC.’ I know that sounds very selfish but I get so many press releases and so many pitches and if someone indicates that they know what I write about. I don’t think I’d write about someone who got a grant from an organization and was able to go on and do great things– those touchy-feely stories. I know it sounds very cold and impersonal but that’s not what I write about and it’s not my beat. I write about the financial and the nonprofits and what makes them tic. So if someone understands that and conveys that in a press release, I would be more likely to read it and respond to that person.

As a freelancer I have to be really invested and excited about a story I think to pitch it well (to her editor). I just can’t say it enough, please take a few days to read my stories, understand what I do and who I do it for. And that would help immensely. Just like I need to know the publications I pitch for. I need to know who they’re writing for and who their market is. It’s a big “pitch chain”, the way I put it.

Can you give an example of what is a good personal press release?

Just an understanding of what I do, that’s what I mean by personal. If someone has googled me, read my columns in Crain’s, they understand my approach to what I do. I write for a very sophisticated audience. A lot of times I get press releases, for example, “beer and shots night at Pat’s bar and grill.” And I don’t do that.

Have you ever been pitched in person through organizations?

Sure! We get talking and an idea come up. But I don’t get ideas from pitches per say, I get ideas from talking to the person. For example, someone came up to be last week and told me a fundraiser was coming up and that turned into a story. I get a lot of story ideas that turn into stories from talking to people at events. With that in mind, if someone comes up to me at an event and says, ‘Hey, I have a great story for you.’ 9 times out of 9 I will say, ‘it sounds good, write me an email.’ So I can see it in person, digest it and think of a way I might pitch it to my editors. It functions as a network and were talking to a lot of people and it’s really hard to stand still to a 5 minute pitch and digest it. I will always as for a follow up in an email.

Do you get story ideas through social media events or organizations?

I get story sources through Twitter and Facebook, if I have a story assigned that I’m working on I will look at Facebook and Twitter to find sources from the story. A couple of times I’ve gotten story ideas based on what was trending on twitter but mostly I look at Twitter for sources. That might change in the future. I’m trying to get more active on Twitter. I tweet from events and things like that and I’m trying to do more with Twitter but not really Facebook, that’s for my personal life.

If you would like to pitch to Lisa Bertagnoli, her e-mail is lbertagnoli@comcast.net

Twitter Tips for Non-Profits

Guest post by Community Media Workshop board member Teresa Puente

As Community Media Workshop welcomes a brand new class of social media bootcampers this week; Workshop board member Teresa Puente reminds us that using Twitter is a great way to share information about your nonprofit and expand your networking connections.

Here are 10 helpful tips:

1)   Make sure your Twitter profile is complete and includes a photo. If you have the generic Twitter icon people will know that you are not a serious Twitter user. Always include a link to your website and blog and even a telephone number.

Teresa Puente’s Twitter profile picture.

2)   Twitter is about sharing information. It’s a two-way street. You shouldn’t just tweet out information about your organization. Only one in three tweets should be about the work you do.

3)   You should also tweet about news that impacts people in your field as well as information about groups with similar goals. Tweet about your “frenemies” and this should also nudge them to share information about your work.

4)   Tweet often but not multiple tweets in a row. If you tweet too much at once, people will miss the bulk of your tweets.

5)   You should have a schedule for tweeting based on time constraints. Try using a program like HootSuite to schedule your tweets 15 to 30 minutes apart. You can schedule tweets in the morning and for the afternoon or evening.

6)   Look up who your favorite journalists, nonprofit or policy makers are following and follow some of their followers.

7)   You also can find new people to follow by searching for keywords in your field using the #.

8)   You also should use some of those keywords at the end of your own tweets.

9)   Always include a link in your tweets. You need a value added to the tweet and use links that provide your followers with additional information.

10) Engage journalists and influential people on Twitter by asking questions or even complimenting their work. It might lead to a new contact, story or more.

Teresa Puente, author of “Chicanísima” blog on the ChicagoNow network is founder of “Latina Voices.com.” A veteran journalist, she is also an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College Chicago and a long-standing board member of Community Media Workshop. Follow her tweets @tcpuente

 

People to Pitch: La Risa Lynch, Freelance Writer

Guest post by Lucia Anaya, Community Media Workshop New Media Intern

La Risa Lynch has been a Chicago freelance writer for more than 15 years, having written for several community newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader and The Final Call. Her stories are often about criminal justice or social issues affecting the city of Chicago.

With Lynch’s extensive experience and skill, we asked for tips on the best way nonprofit organizations can maximize the value of their pitch to journalists and media outlets. Below is her advice.

What key advice would you give a non profit organization who is trying to attain media coverage of their issue or event?

The one thing I could advise anyone to do is to look at what the reporter is writing and tailor your pitch to that. If you send something to me about transportation, I probably won’t be interested. But if it’s something let’s say like, the CTA isn’t hiring any minority contractors, then that would be something I would be interested in. A lot of times the newspapers that I write for are issue oriented; they prefer some of those hard-hitting issues.

What should organizations not do when pitching you?

Don’t send an attachment with an email.  Sometimes the attachment won’t open or it might have a virus. Instead just embed whatever that is in the body of the email.

Another thing is to not be too aggressive when you’re trying to pitch. We have a lot on our plates and sometimes being a little bit more subtle would catch my attention instead of saying, “well you need to come out and cover this.” If instead you say, “this is what I have here and I think this is something you might be interested in, I would love for you to come by and cover it,” it would be easier.

How do you prefer to receive pitches?

Email. I’m so busy that sometimes I don’t have the time to call you back. If you send it to me by email it’s always there to remind me. If I save you in my voicemail box, I might forget about you, so email is best.

And what should the subject line read, what would grab your attention?

Words like “protest” or “meeting on housing” will let me know what the email is about. Don’t put the phrases “story assignment or “possible story.” When pitching a story say “we’re having a protest” or “we’re having a meeting on CHA.” That will work to grab my attention.

To what extent should an organization do research on the publication?

Definitely try and do some research on the paper itself. Pick up the paper and look through their website to see what kind of stories they are covering. That’s how you’ll know if the paper will fit in with what you are trying to do. It’s helpful especially because a lot of community newspapers are not like the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune who have a lot of staff to go out and cover stuff. Community newspapers are always looking for content but it has to be the right kind of content with what matches up to what they’re writing about.

If you would like to pitch La Risa Lynch, e-mail her at larisalynch@yahoo.com

What You Say and How You Say It

Guest post by Adriana Diaz (opinions reflect that of the author)

It’s been a week, and I’m still riding high from the warm, fuzzy feelings I garnered from the love-fest we call the Studs Terkel Community Media Awards.

As a fairly new addition to the staff at Community Media Workshop, I was asked during a staff de-brief Tuesday,  to share my thoughts on last week’s ceremony.  I found myself choked up as I tried to report back what I felt after attending my very first Terkel event.

It had been such a great party, the culmination of our staff’s months-work of planning and prepping. Mostly though, the remnants from the presenters’ and winners’ speeches still resonated with me; a sure sign of  powerfully good messages. It’s like Maya Angelou once said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Hoy Chicago managing editor Fernando Diaz speaks after accepting his Terkel award. photo by Olga Lopez

These moving speeches, also made me reflect about some of the lessons we teach at the Workshop. When we coach others in their nonprofit communications; or provide custom spokesperson training, the Workshop promotes methods found in good storytelling: like use examples to help get a more general point across; use colorful words and contemporary references; create relationships.

It struck me that the messages that were delivered on Terkel night reverberated within me, not only because they contained the elements of a good speech (i.e. catchy intro; informing; inspiring), but because the speakers used stories, and found ways to engage the audience. Each of the speakers spoke with poise, deep humility, and warmth.

Megan, Fernando, and Dave are wonderful writers and engaging storytellers, but ultimately they’re connectors. They listen. They build relationships.

It’s like 2006 Terkel winner Mark Brown related in his introductory speech for Dave Hoekstra the night of March 14. Mark chuckled about the envy he often feels when he reads Dave’s work, wishing the subject had told him the story, “But they didn’t tell me. They told Dave.”

Please read excerpts from some of the night’s speeches and let us know how this text speaks to you. If you were present for the speeches, how did they make you feel?

Alden Loury, Better Government Association. photo by Olga Lopez

2009 Terkel winner Alden Loury, introducing Megan Cottrell:

As many of you are aware, as a nation, we’ve grown from a time when we wore our racism on our sleeves to a time when we hide and protect those feelings like our life’s savings–with the exception of the time when we log on and make anonymous comments on blogs spewing the n-word, racial epithets and other divisive language. Just about any news story with a hint of a racial undertone usually descends into a litany of comments that make you question just how far we’ve progressed.

We think about race, poverty, inequality and privilege all the time–all day, everyday. We just don’t talk about it. We don’t openly share those feelings. We’re too scared or too ashamed. But we still have those feelings.

But Megan Cottrell has helped bring down that wall, not all the way but enough for people to dialogue about our differences and gain some level of understanding about people of other racial or ethnic groups. As I was recently telling a colleague, in her blogging and reporting particularly about public housing, Megan has done well in reaching folks who are typically invisible and weaving her own perspective and experiences with those of her sources to pose compelling and sometimes uncomfortable questions about race and class.

She ran a successful blog of her own for awhile before joining The Chicago Reporter where I worked at the time. I was truly excited about her coming on board having followed her work. I thought she’d do wonders for our blogging and her impact was clearly apparent in her first six months. She has shown herself to be a 21st Century Terkelian journalist by telling stories and engaging readers online.

Please join me in congratulating the compassionate and courageous Megan Cottrell.

 

Megan Cottrell, reporter and blogger for the Chicago Reporter receives a 2013 Terkel Community Media Award. photo by Olga Lopez

Excerpt from Megan Cottrell’s acceptance speech:

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a nonprofit in Chicago to give a lecture to a group of people who would be tutoring kids in Cabrini Green. They told me I had about 45 minutes to give the new tutors a complete overview of public housing. There was obviously a lot of history and detail I could have gone into, but I tried to focus on telling the stories that had been told to me.

I talked about Audrey Johnson, the resident of Ickes Homes, who remembered the wholesome after school classes she took – sewing, folk dancing, cooking. It cost her family a dollar for her to go every day after school for the entire school year. She talked about her step dad dressing up as Santa Claus for the building Christmas party. I looked at a building and saw a place I wasn’t sure I was welcome or safe. She saw her history, her family, her entire life.

I told these new tutors about Doreen Ambrose, who had grown up in Cabrini Green. She remembered her third grade teacher reading her Langston Hughes, which inspired her to become a poet. She remembered living on the third floor of 325 W. Oak Street, the smell of her mother’s cooking wafting through the apartment while her dad watched TV after work and she scribbled poems in her notebook.

These women had sad stories too. Audrey’s stepfather was murdered when she was a young teenager just a few floors up from their apartment. Doreen remembered when the stable families started moving out and more and more troubled families started moving in. She could distinctly recall a young man, a classmate of hers, being murdered blocks away and the terror that she felt when it happened.

After I spoke about this for awhile and played clips of these women telling their stories, a young woman raised her hand at the back of the class. She said, “I think I get it now. I always looked at those buildings and thought, ‘Why would anyone want to live there? And why would anyone be sad if they tore that place down?’ but now I see – these were people’s homes.”

That moment was a little victory for me. That’s all I really want out of my career. I hope that something I write helps bring people’s experiences to life in a way that makes them real to my readers, real enough to understand their point of view.

In short, I want to create empathy in the world. That’s a word that makes most journalists nervous, because it borders on advocacy or editorializing. But in my view, empathy is what creates change — change for the better. We cannot take care of our neighbors until we understand them, and a well-told story can help us understand them in ways that lists of statistics or news briefs will never do.  We don’t have to agree with someone or say that they’re right, but we can listen to them and understand where they’re coming from.

We live in a world where empathy is not widely regarded. Studs talked about how we have national amnesia. I think we also have a national empathy deficit. Our news, our politics, our discourse is so polarized that we are quick to talk about “those people” and how we could never understand them or be like them. In a world of sound bites and constantly scrolling headlines, we have no room and no time for empathy.

But we desperately need it. I stand in a room full of people, who despite claiming to be unbiased and objective, all deeply care about their city. That’s why we do what we do.

Studs Terkel once said “I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”

These days, people don’t talk to each other. They don’t want to. Maybe they’ve forgotten how. But we can tell their stories. We can bring people together, even when they don’t think they want to be brought together. That’s our job. That’s our legacy. That’s our gift.

“Red socks. Studs Terkel wore red socks,” 2013 Terkel Award winner Dave Hoekstra, begins his acceptance speech. photo by Olga Lopez

 

Read Dave Hoekstra’s full acceptance speech, reprinted here.

 

As media evolves, so does Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times will be releasing a new mobile app in the next month, according to Editor-in-Chief Jim Kirk. In an interview at the Publicity Club of Chicago’s monthly luncheon at Maggiano’s Restaurant, moderated by Thom Clark of the Community Media Workshop, Kirk noted the future of news delivery will be on mobile phone and pad platforms “because they’re personal.”

He discussed a wide range of topics on the present and future of the Sun-Times: the integration of The Reader’s art and culture content, new Sunday magazine sections, new reporters on the education beat, and expanded business and sports coverage. Hyperlocal news will continue to grow in importance and he believes the Sun-Times suburban titles will help grow local readers.

Kirk would like to see the return of political endorsements (but isn’t sure the new owners are there yet). He offered pithy comments on the mayor, the governor and legislative leaders and suggested bluntly that local media did miss parts of the NATO Summit story by concentrating on protestors over diplomats.

Listen to the entire interview below:

Communiqué from Morocco

For a long time I’ve believed that the Community Media Workshop is a unique institution–offering resources and sharing knowledge that strengthen civic institutions’ ability to transform communities in Chicago and beyond. Our unique mission has now been presented the opportunity to expand its reach–Morocco! Read the rest of this entry »

Help us consider an important question: What is good online news?

The NEW News studies give us an opportunity to consider the ingredients that make up the news we want and need. What news, information and journalism helps people better participate in civic discourse and become better citizens and decision-makers? And how do the tools of the Web serve to change the way news is researched, reported and shared?

This is one of the key conversations we’ll have with our advisory board, but we wanted to start out with a series of questions.

How much news does a site need to provide to serve as a news source? In this area, we are indebted to Michele McLellan’s research. Her team determined a minimum amount of news content to be considered as part of her group of hyperlocal news sites. For her project, the site had to publish a minimum number of times (3) a week. We will want to consider if we want to follow the same standard, set a higher bar, or perhaps a lower one.

What is the news we need? In the 2009 report, we analyzed areas of pressing civic concern, such as housing and corruption, to see how coverage fared in the face of disruption in the local news ecosystem. Since 2009, the local news ecosystem just keeps evolving, and while we will not examine the volume of coverage of specific issues this time around, our sense is that there always can be more journalism that holds people in power accountable for their actions and tells the stories, positive and negative, about diverse communities in the City of Chicago. (We are pleased that the Local Reporting Initiative has helped more than 30 journalists tell stories that we’re certain might not otherwise have been told.) So, in looking at the quality of journalism we see on sites, we likely will favor sites that focus on pressing neighborhood and social issues in a balanced, rather than sensational, way. What are your thoughts on the news we need?

What qualifies as news, and is it different from journalism? Websites that post the police blotter, upcoming announcements of civic meetings and the like are sharing information, we believe. Some would consider such information as news. But is it journalism without the context or analysis that helps us understand key questions: is crime rising or falling? Is this flooding problem an annual occurrence or something exacerbated by recent weather and climate conditions? What makes this upcoming block party special?

What makes good reporting? A J-Lab study of Philadelphia sites coined a term we like tremendously. In looking at sites, the J-Lab team determined that some had “journalistic DNA in that they report news, not just comment on it.” We like this phrase, and we plan to expand on it. Community Media Workshop has a storied history of helping journalists and local organizations connect with a goal of fair and balanced reporting: reporting that represents not just two sides but all sides of an issue. At the same time, sometimes good reporting means not just talking to disparate voices but digging into the data in a way no one else has before. How will we represent good data-based reporting?

What makes an aggregator of news a good one? Increasingly, website users value sites that curate available information into a meaningful experience. Whether it’s a consistent editorial eye (such as The Daily Beast) or the wisdom of crowds (such as Reddit), we value a go-to starting point. Aggregation is alive and well in Chicago. What are the signs that it is effective, or that it isn’t?

What is the role of opinion in an online news ecosystem? We plan to start with the premise that we are evaluating sites that publish some minimum amount of news pertaining to the City of Chicago. Where does aggregating the news stop and providing some type of opinion on the news begin?

How are online news sites taking advantage of the online medium to better report the news? The online medium ensures that stories can be endlessly updated, that visitors and readers can contribute their observations, and that people can work together to sort through information. What are the practices that allow transparent and effective reader participation in newsgathering?

In a related question, what is the role of the reader/website user in the news ecosystem? We will probably come back to this notion in a blog post later on, but technology gives online news sites something richer and more vibrant (but possibly noxious) in the way of community engagement.

What makes up good online news is a huge question. We may not be able to answer it in a blog post, or even in a report. But we hope to spark a good discussion, as well as give some transparency around the values we’ll rank highly when we look at Chicago local news sites.

What are the elements of online journalism we need as citizens? If you have thoughts on these or other questions, please post to the comments.

Be considered for NEW News 2012

Want to be included in NEW News, or want a news site within the City of Chicago to be considered? Then please add your site’s URL to the comments. And please: tell your friends and colleagues. While we’ll have criteria for our reviews, we want to start with as wide a net as possible. We’d love your help!

Read more about the project here.

Coming soon: NEW News 2012

Here at the Workshop we’re anticipating a busy but incredibly educational summer: we are starting work on NEW News 2012, thanks to the funding of The Chicago Community Trust. As you may recall, we published rankings of online news sites in 2009 and then a list of online news outlets in 2010. We intend to return to rankings in 2012, learning from our original criteria, the changes in the field, and from an advisory board we are assembling to help guide us as we think through our work.

Over the next few days, we will be sharing with you some of the key issues we’re wrestling with as we start this project. We will likely return with a follow-up blog post or two in June or July. Our hope is that you, our readers, will share any concerns or questions you have, and suggestions for how we might do this better.

Some key changes we’re already envisioning for 2012’s NEW News:

  • We’ll rank entire publications or news organizations, not breaking out the individual reporters or bloggers that are part of those organizations separately. In prior years, we’d list or rank several bloggers from a single organization (think Lynn Sweet or Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times). This year, we are switching our focus to organizations. We anticipate this may raise some additional challenges. If you are a small news startup or solo news blogger, this shouldn’t affect you too much.
  • We will not use self-reported data to measure site traffic. Truth is, getting accurate traffic numbers from external sources is challenging, but relying upon data we didn’t collect is even more problematic. In a future post, we’ll talk about our alternatives and get your input on how we measure traffic and how much importance we should place on it.
  • We will not rank sites or publishers whose audiences are primarily based outside of the City of Chicago. This reflects a time and resource issue on our part. While the Internet may be worldwide, most readers’ news interests are very local. The reduction of beat reporters and newspaper coverage of local issues was a primary motivation for The NEW News research. Seismic shifts are going on in online news in Chicago’s suburbs, and we hope to touch on those shifts in a sidebar to the main report.
  • Along with rating the quantity and quality of a site’s news production, we will assess the ways in which the site creates community that advances a better-informed and more engaged citizenry. Look for our ideas—and our eagerness to hear your thoughts on this front—in a blog post later this summer.

We anticipate releasing our research at the Block by Block Conference, taking place in September at Loyola University.

What are your thoughts and suggestions as we begin this project? Please comment below.

Know a site we should consider? Comment here.

Have thoughts about how we’ll measure online reach? Comment here.

 

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