Friday, May 28, 2010

The Record adds fact-checking and story idea tools to Web site

As some readers have noticed, we've added several new fact-checking and story idea submission forms to on news and sports stories at

The enhancements exemplify our efforts to be more transparent in our journalism and to collaborate more frequently with readers in gathering and reporting news. It also acknowledges our collective knowledge of our communities is greater than any one news organization can possess.

The initiative is one element of the Journal Register Company's (JRC) Ben Franklin Project which aims to “crowdsource” content as much as possible in our products. The Record is a JRC news operation.

We encourage you to report any fact we publish that you believe is incorrect. Our staff will verify the information and publish corrections at the source of the original story (whether it is in print or online, or both).

To be clear, The Record is not passing off its editing and fact checking responsibilities. Accuracy remains of paramount importance to each and every member of our staff. We only hope that by opening the door to the tens of thousands of you who read our products, we can harness the collective knowledge of everyone.

On story submissions, this will help streamline incoming story ideas to make sure they are being screened by the right people, while also hopefully encouraging more people to submit ideas.

We will communicate much more about the Ben Franklin Project and the role we hope our readers will play with us in the coming weeks

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Declaring independence: Shedding the past and adopting the future coming July 4th to this newspaper

Ben Franklin is credited with saying, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Reporters of our company's newspapers and Web sites do a lot of the former each and every day. On July 4, we're going to something of the latter. That is the day all of the newspapers in our parent company, Journal Register Co., will seek help from readers in reporting the news while using free tools to publish print and online products.

I mentioned last week that JRC announced The News-Herald in Lake County, Ohio and the Perkasie News-Herald in Perkasie, Pa. successfully produced two websites and newspapers – one daily and one weekly - using only free web-based tools. Now JRC's CEO John Paton has challenged all of the company's employees to "declare our independence from the kind of thinking that has kept our company and industry from transforming to a multi-platform news company.
"And we will", he continued, "declare our independence from an industry that ties itself up with expensive proprietary I.T. systems and processes that are outdated almost the day they are installed."

As a part of the company's Ben Franklin Project, our 18 daily newspapers - including this one - will publish online and in print, using only free web-based tools. and "crowdsourcing" content while bypassing proprietary systems -  from ad order entry to sales, finance, and publishing.

"In the process, we will, as before, liberate our thinking and become ever more meaningfully involved with the communities we serve by involving the audience in our content creation," he added. "Along the way, we will prove we can challenge the outdated business model of print to a model of the future that preserves and enhances our journalism."

Look for more info on this project as Independence Day approaches.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Long-time issue in Oneida resonates with SeeClickFIx users on Dispatch Web site

"Cancer Corner" in front of Oneida High School has been a source of consternation for some members of the community going back at least three decades. And local residents have recently used a new citizen journalism tool - SeeClickFix - to express concerns on Oneida Daily Dispatch's Web site.

Oneida Police Chief David Meeker responded to the issue in today's newspaper in a report by Caitlin Traynor. Read the story online and join the conversation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Parent company of this newspaper produces web sites and newspapers using free tools

The parent company of this newspaper - the Journal Register Company - announced today it successfully produced two websites and newspapers – one daily and one weekly - using only free web-based tools.

The participating newspapers were The News-Herald in Lake County, Ohio and the Perkasie News-Herald in Perkasie, Pa.

The company’s Ben Franklin Project, announced April 21 by CEO John Paton, challenged the legacy newsgathering process and proprietary computer system model – while focusing on the company’s digital-first model. The websites and newspapers involved in the project were produced – from story assignment and advertising design through publication – utilizing free tools available online. The employees were given 30 days to meet that challenge and this week they succeeded.

Highlights of the project:
- The papers' newsrooms solicited story ideas and contributions through social media tools including Facebook and Twitter.
- Residents of one community shared their views on the county’s most dangerous roadway intersections and the newsroom staff compared those submissions with data from police reports. The audience, using Journal Register Company’s community portal partner SeeClickFix, also reported blighted properties – ranging from fields in need of mowing to a house that has been under construction for 10 years – that were included in newsroom reports. Residents in another community submitted questions for local officials as part of reports on the local pay-as-you-throw trash system and the community’s electric supplier contract.
- Advertising designers used free, web-based tools to design online and print advertisements, and copy editors and designers utilized a desktop publishing system available free online.

"Taking a digital first, print last approach motivates journalists to tap into readers before they even start reporting," said a blogger for the Poynter Institute of Media Studies, Mallary Jean Tenore, reporting on the project.

“We have taught ourselves the power of open source journalism by involving our communities," Paton said in a news release, "and we have showed the industry a way to a much more effective business model by bypassing costly legacy media proprietary systems and harnessing the power of the web.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Record opens Community Media Lab to public; newspaper presents advertiser workshops

We opened The Record's Community Media Lab this morning with an "Advertising That Sells" workshop for advertisers. Five sessions are scheduled today and Wednesday; the 75-minute discussions focus on how business owners/manager can effectively buy local media by using some tried-and-true tools and principles.

One person at each session received an autographed copy of "What Would Google Do?" by author amd media expert Jeff Jarvis; Jarvis is a member of our parent company's (Journal Register Co.) advisory board.

If you have't heard about the lab read the blog at the link above and share your ideas for use of the room.

Below video is an excerpt from today's workshop.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Record's Community Media Lab is now open

The Record is putting the finishing touches on its Community Media Lab in our building in downtown Troy (501 Broadway).

The goal is to have a space where we can bring the community in to collaborate with us on all types of projects - from citizen journalism (ie. blogging) to forums on topics of interest to business owners to dialogues with local business, arts, education, government, and non-profit leaders.

The room, located on the first floor near the entrance, is brightly lit with capacity for 30 people: it comfortably seats 24 people at seminar-style tables, with room for another half dozen or so seated on the perimeter. We will install a video display in coming weeks for multi-media presentations, and Wi-Fi is present for Internet connectivity. We have also roughed out an area to build a new restroom in the future, but in the meantime there is one located on the same floor.

We soft-launched use of the room today with an internal training presentation (see photos above right and at right of John Krivosheyff from the Journal Register Co. leading digital sales training). Next week we have a couple public seminars called "Advertising That Works" scheduled (registration required). In coming months we will open it up to a full compliment of activities. We envision workshops for students on journalism; get-togethers for our growing compliment of bloggers; brown bag lunch discussions for businesspeople on topics such as social network and e-mail marketing; and roundtable discussions with local leaders from different fields that we will broadcast and report on.

This room is the result of 10 months of discussion and planning; originally scheduled to be created late last year, the date was pushed back when we decided to renovate another area of our building at the same time to install new pre-press equipment. The proposed named has changed (formerly dubbed the less stylish Community Meeting Room) since February when the CEO of our parent company - Journal Register Co. - announced his desire to establish Community Media Labs at several newspapers. Our paper wasn't on the original launch list but we proceeded because we felt it was a core component of our effort for our newsroom - and all of our staff - to be integrated into the community in new ways and vice-a-versa.

I need to do a shout-out to three people who were instrumental in making this (and our new pre-press facility installed in February) happen: Randy Pobran, operations director; Mike Furman, building services manager; and resident painter extraordinaire Joe Hack. Once again, they did a project on-time, on-budget and above expectations.

We expect our readers have many more ideas than we do on how to use our Community Media Lab - please drop me a note and share yours.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Newsweek to take a page from Journal Register Company playbook

On The Daily Show the editor of Newsweek magazine discussed his publication's fortunes Wednesday; it was previously announced the magazine, which is losing money, is up for sale.

"For 77 years, the emphasis has been on the print," Jon Meacham said. "We had it backwards .... It's probably time to flip that." He said the approach should be to focus on digital delivery and take "the best stuff" from the previous week and compile it for the readers who "want to hold the magazine in their hands".

Newsweek isn't the traditional print media company to reverse its strategy. John Paton announced a similar "digital first, brands first" approach in early February upon being named CEO of the Journal Register Company (parent company of this newspaper).

Newsweek won't be the last print publication to make this announcement if more are to survive - and thrive - in the digital age.