The Bell Ringers Work

Like a lot of people I’ve been fascinated by the opportunities that social media afford traditional media. Heck – two years ago I was pitching a social media platform for radio stations, that at the time neither the stations nor investors understood as necessary for their business.

Now comes the news that Topix is adding citizen journalism to its local coverage mix – and the blog-a-sphere is a-Twitter with talk of old and new media finally getting together.

I still believe there’s a good story there (and I’m dusting off my old plan) – but I’m more convinced than ever that social media is just a part of the solution – and unless traditional media links new services with its core business the value add of social media will be fleeting.

For newspapers the core value is its reporting. This leads and shapes discussion – by framing the information and issues to engage people.  It’s in finding ways that allow people to make the stories their own that newspapers will gain the most benefit from social media.

Let me relay an example of the type of reporting that papers need to do to drive conversations from a fabulous video of Rob Curley speaking at the Berkley Graduate Journalism program.

For years the Kansas University Basketball team had sold out all of its season tickets to a small group of users who’d held them forever. A new athletic director comes in and changes the policy – no longer will you get tickets because you always have –you’re your chance to get tickets, and your seat options are based on your donation level to the university.

That’s a story, and it will get discussion going – but with a little bit of work – the type of work that’s unlikely occur spontaneously, but a good newmedia news director will drive, the discussion can be much richer – and story more powerful.

What Rob’s team did was to build a calculator so you could answer a few questions and figure out what seat you might be eligible for. They then sent a reporter to take a picture form every seat in the stadium so if the new seat wasn’t your usual seat you could click the court view from that seat.  Suddenly it wasn’t abstract – you knew what you’d be seeing – and how you ended up there.

That’s the Bell Ringers Work – the newsrooms effort to to tell a story in a way that gets people talking – in person and online.

3 thoughts on “The Bell Ringers Work

  1. Pingback: University Update

  2. I don’t mean to brag, but…

    Heck – two years ago I was pitching a social media platform for radio stations, that at the time neither the stations nor investors understood as necessary for their business.

    …is missing a link to

    Radio listening is solitary; but we have a good solid community of listeners, all enjoying the same programming. Let’s leverage that.

  3. Nice link – but different – mine is more geared to the interactions between members and social networks that an audience of listeners is made up of.

    I’m also not sure that listening is solitary – in fact I think of traditional media radio is the least solitary. You can enjoy it in groups – and even when you listen alone you often feel connected with the announcer – who connects you to every person listening at the same time.

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