deborah media

Unraveling Social Media One Tool at a Time

The ideaLab Winners, Their Ideas

Congratulations to the Bay Area News Group folks chosen for the Digital First ideaLab: Dana Hull, Thomas Peele, Lisa Fernandez, Alex Fong and Angela Woodall.

Here is the proposal that won it for Dana Hull: 

I cover clean technology and energy policy as a business reporter at the San Jose Mercury News. 

Idea: a series of informative, interactive 10-question energy literacy quizzes that could run with my stories. Available on tablets and mobile phones and promoted via my twitter feed as a way to further engage and grow our digital audience. News consumers like quizzes: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is an enormously popular show on NPR, and National Geographic has a great quiz based on top energy news headlines of 2011 here.  It’s time for us to create our own.

 Imagine how many readers would jump at the chance to answer 10 challenging, off beat questions about Steve Jobs or the San Francisco Giants.

Lisa Fernandez pitch: I want to train the community to help me build a story.

I need to be available at all times, on every platform, for viewers to spot the beginning of a story and then chime in to help me finish it. Having a high-tech smartphone will allow me to shoot video and photographs, and harness the power of location-technology to find sources on the ground. I want to experiment with a tablet to see how that can further enhance community-based story telling. Finally, I’d like a big bold sign across every story, “Call, text, email, tweet Lisa Fernandez NOW to share your thoughts and what you know.”

All these gadgets can help my news-gathering become more immediate and interactive.

In addition, I want to boost our Pinterest readership. I’ve already created a Pets and Wildlife, and a Bay Area Mug Shot page.

From Angela Woodall
The Civic Commons 2.0: Changing the business for the better:
The public communicates local issues — pollution, violence and how cities are spending taxpayer dollars. I would take their ideas to a network of civic hackers (see Code for America) who access data and apply it to the problem. The newsgathering will be documented on a blog and social media sites, while I continue to encourage public participation and report the story. This approach proved successful during Open Data Day: Low-income area residents complained they have to use for-fee ATM machines in liquor stores because banks are scarce. In response, several hackers came up with a mobile and web application that searches for no-fee ATMs. Their practical application showed that residents were correct.
I am developing a text message application for finding access to fresh food as well.   Everything circles back to The Oakland Tribune, bringing more eyes to its website, readers to the paper and credibility to the brand.

 From Thomas Peele

 We must continue to pursue the most difficult to achieve, deep digging stories while focusing on delivering them through with data bases, mapping, interactive features, social media and word stories. As an ideaLab member, I would explore bringing the best of what we do – salient, probative groundbreaking investigative journalism – to more complex, interactive digital presentations. While the delivery of journalism advances, our mission remains. We must embrace technology to better fulfill our Constitutional responsibilities of holding governments accountable. How do we better collect and display meaningful data while making it interactive? How do we continue to do what only we can do through the transformation? 


Alex Fong had three ideas: 

1. Revitalize print. Our print, mobile and Web products rehash the same content. We need to come up with a new model that makes continuing to buy and read the print edition worth it. We can do this by coming up with new methods of distributing and presenting content based on the delivery platform. By making the products complementary, we give readers a reason to continue using all of our platforms, including print, which is still the most lucrative part of our business.


2. Monetize the delivery of content. Users provide our digital products a wealth of information every day. They tell us what issues they care about and what kind of products they’re interested in simply by clicking and reading our stories online. By recording user behaviors in metrics that can be sorted by hyperlocal, regional metropolitan, state and national levels in all of our markets, we create for ourselves an unprecedented information product for advertisers, public relations firms and market researchers that no other company, even the New York Times, can rival. For example, if every features writer in the company created a five-item gift guide, we can record what users click on and read. We can take this further by including a poll about whether it’s too expensive. Interactive features simultaneously present cool content while creating a second B2B niche product.


3. Use positive feedback loops to improve news-reading behaviors. Wired Magazine says that 10 percent of drivers who see one of those road signs that show your speed slow down. The idea is this: real-time information provokes better behavior. In the case of newspapers, what if users could share the data about how much they’re reading? What if we turned it into a game? The person who reads the most political coverage becomes the “Mayor of Politics Town.” That way the news isn’t “THE NEWS” but a way of interacting with other people in your community. Imagine readers trying to become the “Mayor of Culture Town” by reading all our local feature stories and sharing them on their social networks. That’s a lot of buzz and traffic.



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This entry was posted on March 1, 2012 by in ideaLab, Uncategorized.
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