Gaining digital skills

by Khristopher Brooks

With dozens of other professional journalists, I attended an Associated Press Media Editors’ NewsTrain workshop at Ohio University in October to learn more about digital journalism.

During the daylong workshop, we heard tips on how to maximize our smartphone as a reporting tool and how to make engaging mobile videos. I plan to use some of the suggestions in my daily reporting for Newsday.

Q. McElroy, director of engagement and optimization for Cox Media Group in Atlanta, led a session on how to best present your journalism on mobile platforms and social media. She noted that a growing number of news consumers are reading the news from a smartphone or places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

McElroy said social media posts must have a compelling headline and a captivating photo as well as relevant hash tags. Tagging people or organizations that are mentioned in the story also help increase the chances that consumers will view the story, she said.

McElroy emphasized that everyone in the newsroom should be optimizing content for social platforms and that a newsroom’s digital team should not be the only group responsible for that task. Going forward, I’m going to post more of my stories with multiple hash tags.

Another presenter, Doug Caruso, assistant metro editor at The Columbus Dispatch, led a workshop on data-driven enterprise reporting. After downloading a few datasets, Caruso had us sort the information using Microsoft Excel. He also gave us an overview of how to use the advanced search tool on Google. Caruso stressed that any reporter working any beat – including sports reporters — can find data to strengthen the reporting.

Caruso inspired me to have a sit-down with officials from one of the government agencies I cover – the Town of North Hempstead, N.Y. – and ask what type of data each town department collects and archives. I plan to make a list of this information, share the list with my North Hempstead co-worker, and see if we can’t develop enterprise stories off the numbers.


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