Business Wire hosted a lively luncheon today featuring Tim Vetscher of ABC 15 News, Chad Graham of the Arizona Republic, and Patrick O’Grady of the Phoenix Business Journal. Malcolm Atherton from Businesswire was the moderator. Topic of discussion — How social media and online search have affected news reporting.
Here’s a summary of tips and insights from each panelist:
1. Tim Vetscher, ABC 15
TV has changed more in the last year than anything he has seen in his 12 years in the biz. At ABC 15, they have changed to the concept of “multimedia journalism.” The photographers and editors went away, and now Tim does everything from writing the story and editing it, to presenting it live on air or on tape. Since he is now doing it all himself, he has lost the 2-3 hours daily he used to have, so he uses twitter a lot to find story ideas. It’s a timesaver, he says, because people are limited to 140 characters, and he doesn’t have to read long press releases. When he needs someone in short order, all he has to do is put out a tweet and get someone in 10 minutes. They have people at ABC 15 searching YouTube all the time as well to find Arizona stories. The best way to interact with him is to be short and succinct. “We’re so confined by time,” he says. “I might get a minute and 15 seconds on air if I’m lucky (for a story).” In addition to twitter, he uses Facebook for story ideas - “Facebook is a goldmine.”
The best time to reach him is earlier in the day ideally at 8:30 or 8:45 a.m., just before the station’s daily editorial meeting. In this meeting, his bosses want to know if there are any great stories and — importantly — if they can be turned around in a day. If you contact him with a tweet around four o’clock in the afternoon, he’s up against his deadline, so your chances are slim of getting through. He works Sunday-Wednesday, so those are the best days to reach him. As far as video goes, Tim prefers to shoot his own video than take someone else’s, unless it’s home video shot of a burglar, for example!
2. Chad Graham, Arizona Republic
Part of his job as social media editor at the Arizona Republic is search engine optimization. They look at how they can tell their stories in different ways. With online stories, you can’t tease readers with headlines, for example. You have to get to the point and you can’t be clever with a headline or the writing. They are always looking at how they can “SEO’ the stories. He mentioned that “the Google algorithm wants good, in-depth content,” and that affects how the online stories are written. When asked if his business was still paper, Chad replied that rather it’s “multi platform.” The print versions might be revised or tweaked, for example, to make them more SEO friendly for the online version. For example, proper nouns are used online to make them more easily findable, such as “Phoenix Suns” instead of the “Suns.” He recommended the Google Publisher blog for writing tips on how to be more easily found by Google, such as using inbound links from high quality sources.
Chad feels that he gets to know people’s personalities through twitter, and that mornings are aways the better time to contact someone. Pay attention to the reporters, he says. Monitor the reporters – that’s the best strategy, rather than worrying about having them follow you. To interact best with the Republic, “you just have to have a good story.”
3. Patrick O’Grady, Phoenix Business Journal
Patrick covers tech, sustainability and energy topics. Search has made his life easier, he says – it has opened up different avenues for story ideas. He wants context in any pitches he receives and wants you to be quick/to the point. E-mail or direct message on twitter is okay but DM on twitter is slightly more preferable because the space is limited to 140 characters. Phone calls may not get returned because of his schedule. He doesn’t like tweets that are very salesy. He uses blogs and LinkedIn also to conduct his background research.
The end of the week (after Wed deadline) is the best time to reach Pat. It’s nice if he can go into his weekly Thursday staff meetings with an idea, he says. If it’s not good in the headline, it won’t be a good story. Like Chad and Tim, he feels that “it’s all in the good story.”
Someone in the audience asked if the panelists still receive printed press releases in the mail. Tim mentioned that he’ll get a press kit every month or so, and Pat mentioned that some companies send backup faxes to their electronic press releases. Judging from the incredulity in the audience, most people found printed press releases and faxes to be amusing relics from the past.
You can follow the panelists on twitter:
the rumors are true (@ Neighbor from the 90′s)...
Sorry to see you go. avic-x920bt
First the Space Shuttle program and now this???? OH NO!...
I think it’s really funny that Jason donates money...
Sad to see you go Mr Len… been a great ride
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