New social media policies for reporters

Because The Daily Tar Heel’s strategy next year involves social media more than ever, we felt it would be helpful to establish a policy to guide reporters on how to use it. My goal was to create a policy that emphasizes the value of social media while sets some standards so as not to embarass the paper.

In general, we plan to trust our reporters to know what is acceptable and what is not. We’re going to accompany this policy with training at the beginning of the year on how to use social media.

10 rules for using social media:

  1. Use your own name and photo. If you using your account for DTH reporting, identify yourself as a DTH reporter in your profile.
  2. Tell your editor if you plan to tweet as a DTH reporter. Likewise, let your editor know if you plan to livetweet something.
  3. In general, do not post something online that would not be appropriate to run in the paper.
  4. You must disclose yourself as a DTH reporter to potential sources the same way you would if you were meeting face-to-face.
  5. Do not disclose political affiliation on profiles and do not write about your political preferences in updates.
  6. Do not criticize a colleague’s work.
  7. Promoting your work via social media is encouraged.
  8. In the interest of transparency, staff meetings are considered open unless otherwise stated.
  9. It is acceptable to “friend” sources, but do it evenly. For instance, if you cover the Chapel Hill Town Council, if you wish to follow one member on Twitter, you should follow all of them.
  10. Respond to people who contact you via social media. If you aren’t the appropriate person to answer their questions, refer them to whoever is.

I want to make it as easy as possible for readers and sources to contact DTH reporters and place a high premium on transparency. My experience with social media is that it’s expanded my reporting capabilities and made me more responsive to our readership, and I wouldn’t want to limit other reporters.

Feel free to comment with suggestions/improvements. I’m also interested to hear if other college papers have social media policies or are looking to create them.


First look at the new dailytarheel.com

We got our first look at what the new site is looking like today. Here’s a mockup of the homepage that’s just a draft.  We’re going to be looking at it more in the coming days and giving our developer feedback early next week, but we wanted to get input from others as well of the look and feel.

My first thoughts:

  • I like that its clean and simple. It isn’t cluttered, and I  like the fonts a lot (Arial for the navigation and Lucida Bright for the rest).
  • Ultimately, I’d like the option of being able to substitute video or a slideshow in place of the main story.
  • I think there ought to be something to highlight video/slideshows/other multimedia content prominently on the homepage.
  • Right now, the right side column has articles by desk. We’d like the flexibility to put other content in those spaces too (a tag cloud, Twitter udpates, whatever)

Let me know your thoughts. This is just the first draft.


A conversation about tagging

At the suggestion of Paul Jones, I spoke with Thomas Vander Wal, principal and senior consultant of  InfoCloud Solutions, Inc., and a student of Web tagging.

Here’s the audio from our talk. You can listen to it in an embedded player on Andrew’s personal blog here. (Darn wordpress.com won’t allow embedded audio.)

Or you can download the file here. [audio Vander Wal chat]

Basically, we discussed how the DTH’s new site can integrate user tags with the ones our own staff are going to provide. We came to a consensus on that users should definitely be able to suggest tags, though they should be moderated. That will help us know what readers are looking for, but avoid some of the obscene tags that could come through unfettered access. We also discussed the utility of individual user pages that could compile those user-generated tags and link to the stories that the reader had tagged.

Another interesting idea: Letting a reader “curate” our stories for a month, tagging them as he or she sees fit.


First Innovation Team meeting

We held the first meeting of the Innovation Team today.  We’ll have a more full description of what we talked about later. We tried to use Cover It Live to liveblog the meeting, but ran into Internet connection problems. Darn the Student Union! But here’s the first bit of our conversation:

DTH Innovation Team mtg


101+ ways to improve the DTH

We passed around internally the link to Cyber Journalist’s “101 ways to improve your news site” yesterday and set up a way for staff to contribute to a 101+ list for The Daily Tar Heel of what we can do to improve.

I wanted to open this up to everyone. What do you think? Give us feedback!


Watch us build college media’s best Web site

Welcome to The Daily Tar Heel‘s Magic Bullet, the development blog for our new Web site and content management system. Here we will outline what we’re looking for in our new CMS and Web site in our quest to have the best college media site in the country.

The blog’s title comes from how Andrew explains online journalism to folks who ask him about the current pains in the industry. There’s no magic bullet that will save newspapers, no simple steps that will make news organizations more effective online. Each organization needs to find what works best for it. Here, the DTH plans to find our magic bullet, and hopefully set an example for newspapers around the country.

The contract is signed. We are leaving College Media Network (a.k.a. College Publisher), and building our own Drupal-based site. In essence, we’re starting from scratch. We’re having a conference call with the site developer tomorrow. Be sure to check back to watch this all unfold. Check out our work-in-progress list of requirements.

Our primary bloggers:

Andrew Dunn, editor-in-chief.

Sara Gregory, managing editor/online.

The Magic Bullet

Our goal for next year is to bring The Daily Tar Heel to the forefront of online innovation. We've got an opportunity to create a CMS that will help the paper transition to Web-first publishing and facilitate an online mindset among staff. We believe there's no magic bullet that will solve every newspaper's problems online, but we're trying to find the magic bullet that will solve ours. This blog will chronicle The Daily Tar Heel's move off of College Media Network onto a Drupal CMS.