Thursday, April 19, 2012

The anti-journalist: Going paperless and how newspapers can use Pinterest

Today, I did not think or act like a journalist. I chucked my notepad and pens. I went completely paperless.

I felt so naked.

I did an interview with Josh "the uke guy" (yes, as in the ukulele, as in you're welcome, readers) on Notability, then took a wee video of him shredding it (maybe the wrong verb since he grinned the whole time) and then made a quick one-clip video of him talking about who takes his uke classes and why. And whether or not they all surf. Which, come on, they must.

Actually, side note, there's a such thing as heavy metal ukulele. I know. Right.

Anyhow, at first, I was scared. Of messing up the audio or video or sounding so ridiculous on the audio that I would have to throw my iPad out the window (remember, I'm a writer, so I don't know how to talk).

But lo and behold, it turned out nifty. First, I had no papers and junk to tote around. Just one sleek iPad finally equipped with 3G (crucial!). The interview went smoothly and quickly, like we were having a conversation instead of an interrogation. And when it came time to write the story, I was able to crank it out in 20 minutes. The entire process, from handshake to filing the story, lasted 50 minutes -- even including him serenading me and some after-interview mingling.

The story turned out amusing (and made me chuckle while writing it), will launch on on Monday and is kicking off a new series called A&E Q&A. Take that title to your Scrabble game. This will feature a new, interesting artsy and entertaining face around town every week in a Q&A format. No leads, nutgraphs or two-source minimums. I feel so very wild.

While not thinking or acting like a journalist today, I was able to crank out another video interview, too, as well as launch our new Pinterest board.

Ever wonder how newspapers can use Pinterest, other than just repinning your own pics and stories on the off chance that it might give you a tiny burst of hits?


I know, revolutionary. And so unjournalistic of me.

We have a "hot five" feature in our entertainment section, and every week (on deadline), the editor has sent out an e-mail to the newsroom asking -- neigh, begging -- people to contribute something that they are into right now. Always on their own deadlines, few people contributed, and after my editor was sick of reading about my 100th favorite bottle of non-toxic nail polish, we ended up canning the entire feature.

We have revived it, and instead of our previous scramble, we turned it into a game. The kind that I can play, not the kind with "balls" and "running." Today, I drove around the city of Longmont and found cool stuff -- a secret graffiti wall, a hidden gem of a boutique, fashion trends, even a funky hot dog and taco stand (yes, in one) -- and I pinned them, with a short description. This (go ahead, click and follow it) is where we will collect our hot fives, and the editor will pull new ones for print every week.

This solves the following problems:

1. Creating content in an overworked newsroom. Because, duh, pinning stuff on Pinterest feels fun, is easy and accessible, and keeping it a running tab means our Pinterest board is always fresh, and we never run out of hot fives. I can upload hot fives as they inspire me, which is rarely, if ever, at my desk.

2. Adding photos to our hot fives. We never have had art before. Why is beyond me.

3. Legitimately stirring readers' interest in our paper. Every picture links back to our webpage. We are meeting the readers where they are (which is pinning color-block platforms all day when they're supposed to be working or filing taxes), instead of putting out traditional news-style photos and expecting them to search "Longmont meth bust" and repin it and become our new loyal readers.

At the end of the day today, I had a ton of cool pictures and videos to bring home and show my husband (a true litmus test of interesting content). I felt accomplished and challenged. And best of all: I had created zero waste. Happy Earth Day. Boom.

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