Chris L Keller ...

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Tips for leading collaborative teams and making progress

If you hope to achieve things you’re gonna need help from others. Whether you want to build a content-first media organization, or re-think how news is gathered and presented, you can’t do it alone.

So once your idea or process or app is given the green light, and the ball starts rolling forward, how do you effectively communicate and win over the skeptical? How do you go from pitching a great idea to implementing it for wider adoption?

Here are some unscientific methods that I enjoy:

  • From the start, under-promise and over-deliver. Don’t promise the moon and give people a stone from the garden. There will be bugs, and obstacles may arise, but the sun will come up and all will be OK.
  • Get in the trenches and get down to the job. Co-workers are more likely to turn into co-conspirators if you are busting through tasks right alongside them, and whistling while you do it.
  • Hold regular feedback sessions. Offer training, document the training, train some more, listen, retrain and do the task for them, undo it and make them do it.
  • Confront obstacles for in a smart way, and with the knowledge of traditions and interoffice politics as your guide. You can achieve a lot in a little time.
  • Smile, because to be able to lead change in any business, but especially the news business, is an honor.

Remember, one of the easiest ways to receive buy-in from others is to buy in to their ideas and be influenced by them. Put another way: “Just kick the ball around with them.”

You suddenly see skill sets grow and a sharing of knowledge that can bridge the gap for those who want to ask the question, but might not know the terminology. What’s more, those interactions and collaborations that take place simply by kicking the ball around with others shape the final outcome of a project and allow it to become more than the sum of its parts.

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Iteration and Journalism: A #MozNewsLab conversation between @jordanwb, @knowtheory and @ChrisLKeller

Thanks to Jordan Wirfs-Brock for putting the following together here. [View the story “Iteration and Journalism: A #MozNewsLab Discussion” on Storify]

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When I’m mobile, don’t give me what you give me on the desktop…?

A “six degrees of separation” database, nwsmkr will combine a journalist’s curated notes with public contributions & social APIs to visualize connections and distinctions between public figures, providing a new storytelling method for news organizations.

It’s hot up here in Wisco. Well it’s not so much the heat as it is the humidity. Hey, kind of like it’s not so much the content as it is the mobility?

Because I’ve been thinking that not all content is created equal. And the dreams of a media organization being platform agnostic by pushing out the same content to multiple platforms — something I wrote about — are dreams that really ignore not only the unique strengths that mobile browser have versus their desktop counterparts, but really sets the organization up to cater to the lowest common denominator.

Now, most what follows rehashes plenty of thoughts and theory out there, but for me — thinking in the context of the Mozilla-Knight Journalism Learning Lab and a "DRY" Approach to News — I’m trying to come at the topic with a fresh set of eyes as I narrow down the possibilities.

    Sitting at a desktop browser:

  • Longer, more in-depth experience
  • Task-oriented research
  • "Doing Facebook"
  • Content with shelf life*
  • Using a mobile browser:

  • Impulse-oriented tasks
  • Shorter, yet immersive experience
  • Needing to find solutions or information quickly*

So I’m torn on curating content for each platform, but what about this… What about two distinct user experiences with the same content? One is a research and digest experience, and the other is an active participant, collaborative experience.

So the default desktop browser experience is one of research-and-digest, but can easily turn into active participant if that is what you want to do. And on the mobile browser, since you are likely out and about, you get the active participant experience from the get go, but can switch over to a research-and-digest experience.

But what kinds of content would make sense to present in this manner. I keep coming back to archived info and topical data, and community listings and background.

For a news organization that content is relatively proprietary, easily mined and curated, and value routinely can be added by staff, a key component of bringing it out into the open.

This approach may also allow news organizations to consider two key questions when making decisions about strategic initiatives and development opportunities — content verticals, technological platforms or online advertising methods:

  • Will I be able to target my audience based on geography, and then topic or interest-area?
  • Will I be adding value to this? Will it be more than the sum of its parts?

    Regarding audience:

  • Do I have a mechanism to reach them?
  • Do I have the content they want, when they want it.
  • Do they have a need to provide content for us?

    Regarding value:

  • Does what I did today provide the user with more context and information than it did yesterday?
  • How close am I to being the definitive source of information on this subject?
  • Can I break the article down into its parts and re-construct them in some way that provides hidden value?

But where does that leave me…? Did I say anything…? More importantly, did I get any closer to finding the problem to solve? Time will tell.

* - I’m torn on this… and it brought me to the idea of same content, different default user experiences… because in certain use cases, the bullet points could be swapped. 

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via @girljournalist: 5 “Rules” for journalists using Storify

UPDATED: Neglected to share a link to some of Storify posts I have curated. Nothing exciting or glamourous, but it gives an idea of what the platform can do.

This post also makes me wonder if the standard for promoting others’ content remains, or does Storify’s ability to embed the visualization make it OK to add someone’s to your post? Or does it matter?


The following comes from Staci Baird, aka @girljournalist on Twitter:

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Collaboration culture in news

Via Steffen Konrath (@StKonrath)
http://ht.ly/2g7b4 #journalism