Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

#NewNewTwitter, ProPublica responsive design and New York Times election app move mobile toward unified Web

December 9, 2011

There is no mobile Web and desktop Web. There is just the Web.

As our favorite content follows us to new and smaller screens, it’s a refrain you’re like to hear more and more from webdev pundits.

If you ask me, it’s semantics. Whether or not it’s technically accurate, given the differences between who tends to access (young, minorities) content on mobile devices versus desktops and laptops and what users can do (call, text, geolocate), can’t do (often, javascript and/or Flash) and like to do (make decisions, multi-task, kill time) once they get there, “mobile Web” is a useful term.

That out of the way, there were three developments this week in the mobile-news-social sphere indicative of the desktop Web and mobile Web merging closer together.

Come Fly with us (on mobile first)

Newt

The first, most recent, and certainly the one making the biggest splash, is #NewNewTwitter, playfully branded with the tagline “Fly.”

Not only are the design and functionality of Twitter’s desktop Web, mobile Web and mobile app versions becoming more synchronized, there’s also a cognizant effort by Twitter to get desktop-only users spending time on its mobile platforms.

This push became evident last spring when Twitter placed pretty direct messaging on Twitter.com’s log-out landing page: “You’ve signed out of Twitter. Now go mobile.”

Just as aggressive was rolling out #NewNewTwitter to mobile.twitter.com and iPhone and Android apps first and letting those who download one of the apps get the revamp early on desktop as well. The smartphone prop at the beginning and end of the promotional video likewise encourages a cross-platform experience.

Responding to multi-platform challenges and opportunities

Pro2

While the average user’s browser needed some time to catch up, responsive design, essentially using CSS media queries and HTML5 semantic elements to accommodate varying screen sizes, has been around for a while. That it’s suddenly getting so much attention (I’m thinking foremost of the BostonGlobe.com launch) as a silver bullet for publishing to multiple platforms – it’s not, there are no silver bullets – has perplexed me.

One of the best of the new nonprofit journalism enterprises out there, ProPublica, explains the advantages of responsive design well in this post about its recent website redesign. Two of the biggest are that developing adaptive websites is less intensive than the user agent sniffing and native app alternatives and that, unlike apps, it connects content to the full, open Web. This has strong SEO, link economy and user experience benefits, but it also, ProPublica astutely points out, reduces the level of engagement required to get users using in the first place:

We think this explains a phenomenon we’ve noticed – that though we’ve had huge uptake of our mobile apps, we don’t see very much day-to-day usage compared to the number of people who come to our site on their smart phones. It’s our hypothesis that it’s because people have to remember to open up the app to see what’s new every day.

One native app, under Apple, but a Web version for all

Election2012

The New York Times’ new Election 2012 app, available as a native app only for iPhone, is turning heads for its heavy and prominent aggregation. The Gray Lady also deserves a nod for publishing a Web app version at mobile-elections.nytimes.com accessible on Android and BlackBerry smartphones and even more basic devices.

Perhaps this is a cost-saving measure. Or maybe they ran out of time to build out more native verisons – the Iowa caucuses are less than a month away. I’d offer, however, that for an app built around links, it would be foolish not to have a version on the open Web. A version users can search to. A version users can share (here’s the deets on my home state’s primary!). A version the aggregated (and others) can link back to.

Advertisements

Charm lessons: A case study in social media customer service

November 6, 2011

Unless you’re throwing napkins at diners at Dick’s Last Resort or pouring drafts for molten lava men at Peter Griffin’s baseball umpire bar, there are certain phrases best avoided when addressing paying, law-abiding customers, especially when doing so over the air on social media.

Somewhere near the top of that list are “don’t come back” and “your standards are too high,” both of which the account for South Florida burger chain Charm City Burger Company, in so many words, tweeted in response to what appeared to be reasonable consumer complaints.

View the story “Case study: How not to handle customer complaints in the social space” on Storify

The above Twitter conversation didn’t quite go viral, but, for a local business in an industry as competitive as restaurants selling something as ubiquitous as hamburgers, it made more of a splash than it had to and than managers probably would have liked.

Heck, it landed on my radar, 1,000 miles away in Baltimore, although in part because Charm City is one of Baltimore’s nicknames.

What makes the back-and-forth particularly confounding is that the restaurant account’s first response was spot-on and that, according to the author of the Storify above, the chain had been widely praised for its social media savvy. To the account administrator’s credit, the answers to the customer, as of this writing, had not been deleted.

Based on the timing of the restaurant account’s tweets – the morning after the initial complaint – and the platform from which they were published – an iPhone – one can envision what might have happened.

The urgency of being hours behind negative feedback mixed with the false intimacy of a mobile device can be a dangerous cocktail. Whether or not this is what occurred here, it’s a good reminder for anyone who communicates on social media on behalf of a brand, be it an organization’s brand or your own. Before you post, detach yourself from the emotion of the situation and play the tape forward while you can still rewind it.

DailyDev: Custom Twitter Background

June 3, 2010

DailyDev blog series thumbnail logo -- day 3I’ve been meaning to take a stab at a custom Twitter background for a while but was always unsure what dimensions would be best to accommodate varying screen resolutions. This Mashable post, which I used as my guide, recommends 1600px by 1200px. The left column where text popularly goes should be less than 240 pixels wide, the post suggests.

While branding is typically the main motivation behind custom Twitter backgrounds, I was going for function more so than form here.

I have two Twitter accounts, a personal account and one I created for school. I maintained both during the first part of my grad program but have since started feeding all my everyday tweets to my personal handle, reserving my old school account for live tweeting.

I wanted the custom background to convey this so that anyone who stumbles upon my school account doesn’t miss that it’s not my main handle.

Finished Product

Screengrab of customer Twitter background

  • I used Photoshop to create the image. I employed a gradient background and some basic layer effects on the text and icon to achieve some depth. The Twitter bird is from this free set.

Pros

  • Give your Twitter page a personal touch or communicate important information with minimal extra effort.
  • Brand yourself or your organization across multiple spaces by matching the look/feel of your website, print campaign, etc.
  • Non-designers can outsource the job to free online background generators.

Cons

  • Since you’re dealing with a fixed image, it’s impossible to get the dimensions perfect for every resolution.
  • Mobile users, a fast growing segment of your and any audience, don’t benefit from your custom background. Nor do your established followers, really. Once I start following someone, at least, it’s not often I click through to his or her page.
  • You can’t hyperlink the text. A good use of Twitter backgrounds is to promote your other online spaces, but, whenever I see this I have to fight my instinct to click on the words.

Tip

  • Don’t make your background too texty. It’s against the 140-character spirit of Twitter.

Recommend?

  • For organizations, definitely. It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to extend your brand and get important information in front of your audience. An attractive background that efficiently communicates what your org is all about can make all the difference when a user is deciding whether to become a follower.
  • For individuals it can be beneficial for the same reasons, but, to me, overly packaged personal backgrounds often come across as pretentious — especially those with large photos of the user identical or similar to his or her profile picture a few pixels away.

I’m a fan or more subtle personal backgrounds — especially large landscape or cityscape photos — that serve a design function and reflect the user’s personality but let his or her tweets, profile bio and website link speak for themselves.

Why Google Needs a New Trick

February 27, 2010

Microsoft’s CEO calls Google a “one-trick pony.” Google’s CEO responds, “I like the trick!”

The trick being referred to in Ken Auletta’s “Googled,” is, of course, search, and, by extension, the programs that monetize it. AdWords and AdSense are responsible for nearly all of Google’s $6.5 billion in annual profits.

It is a good trick. For now.

Today, Google’s bots and algorithms do a brilliant job crawling Web pages and organizing them into thorough, timely search results. If results are to remain thorough and timely, bots must crawl more — not just Web pages — more quickly and algorithms must account for more and increasingly more complex patterns. Google, and anyone in the business of organizing digital information, must manage a what’s-happening-now, what’s happening-here Web where people, networks and everyday objects are constantly exchanging data.

Since it’s loaded, Google can experiment with new products without having to worry too much about monetizing or even popularizing them. Sooner than later, however, it’s going to have to find another golden goose. Look at Google’s track record and you start to wonder whether it ever will.

Google does a lot of cool stuff and a lot of it’s very popular. But, when you think about it, it has as many strikeouts as hits, and its biggest hits — PageRank, AdWords, AdSense and Gmail — came early in its career.

Don’t forget that Google didn’t invent YouTube. It bought it after Google Video flopped. Also don’t forget that while Facebook and Twitter were taking off, Google’s Orkut (outside of Brazil and India) floundered. See, you never even heard of it. Google’s trying to catch up social-media-wise with Buzz, whose early reviews have been cool, some downright cold. Maybe it’ll do better once the privacy issues are sorted out.

Google’s seemingly boundless experiments increase the chances it will find the next PageRank or AdWords. But they also divide its attention, compromising its ability to recognize and respond to threats to its core product. The real-time search capabilities of Twitter, for one, seemed to catch Google off guard.

Twitter, poetically, is very much following the Google blueprint: Build something that’s useful, attract a critical mass of users and cash in — somehow. Twitter’s just beginning to enter step three and, surprise, its solution looks a lot like Google’s.

Twitter’s focus on users is also straight from the Google playbook. But Twitter takes it a step further by letting its users do the experimenting. It sits back, lets users play around, then formalizes what works and ignores what doesn’t. Twitter’s @ (used to mention another user and link to his or her feed), # (used to tag posts about a particular topic) and RT (used to indicate a user is re-posting something written by someone else) features were all developed by users.

I’m not suggesting Twitter’s going to overtake Google. For if Google’s focus is potentially too broad, Twitter’s focus is definitely too narrow. What might take down Google — or a least take it down a peg — are a bunch of Twitters, each doing a different thing better than the behemoth Google can. And wouldn’t that be the most user-friendly scenario? Smaller companies with a more singular focus tend to provide better customer service. They’re also arguably less vulnerable to data breaches. At the very least, users’ data would be diversified, lessening the potential damage one bad actor or one technical glitch could cause.

They’ll Assume You’re a Social Media Expert. Prove Them Right.

October 21, 2009

In no other marketing arena are messages born, spread and adapted as quickly as they are in social media. Reputations can be bolstered or broken in a few clicks.

To whom do firms turn to navigate this volatile landscape? Very often, young people.

In Elon University’s School of Communications, nearly every summer internship student this year reported completing social media-related tasks such as creating Facebook and Twitter accounts or blogging.

Young people, it’s assumed, know social media. That they at least have a better grasp of it than their older colleagues is generally a safe bet. The median age of a Facebook user is 26, a MySpace user 27 and a Twitter user 31, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But what exactly do young people know? Do they know how to monitor what customers are saying and exploit opportunities and put out fires? Or do they just know how to post mundane status updates and write clever captions?

The Elon interns, who had already been blogging and studying reputation management in their classes, were better positioned than most. The communication school’s internship director wrote to faculty and staff that in many cases supervisors were impressed enough by students’ skill level to extend to them opportunities not offered to other interns.

But what about those without any formal training? Young people who on their face seem social media savvy may in fact be practicing some very bad habits. Friending everyone and their brother regardless of their character merely to increase their own perceived popularity. Posting embarrassing photos of themselves and their friends without regard for what potential employers may think. Not the kind of quality control you want in the business world.

Furthermore, behind the technology bells and whistles, strong social media marketing comes down to strong writing. And, while the opposite argument is also made, there is concern among educators that electronic communication’s carefree spelling, lax punctuation and grammar and acronym shortcuts degrade writing quality, also according to Pew.

Students or young workers may read this and get defensive. “We can write.” “We can and do use social media responsibly.” And I hope they do call me out. Because, what an opportunity. If you know social media tasks are probably going to be part of your next job — or are part of your job now, why not do a little homework and learn how to use social media to grow a brand, not just grow your friend count? You’ll differentiate yourself from your peers and just might get that promotion a bit sooner.

Social media blog Mashable’s How To section is a good starting point. It’s a gold mine of concise primers, some geared toward general social media literacy, but many also geared toward business applications.

The Molecule As a Social Media Metaphor

October 7, 2009

chemName a social media app and you’ll likely find it on Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism. There are nearly 200 social media icons on Version 2.0 of the colorful conceptual map, intended to assist organizations in applying social media to their brands.

Every industry needs an encyclopedia. Daily newspapers have the Editor & Publisher International Yearbook. Such exhaustive resources can be invaluable — in the case of the E&P Yearbook, locating potential employers is how I used it — but are too cumbersome for everyday use.

To fully make out the Conversation Prism’s icons requires a large monitor. Or, for $20, you can buy a 22″ by 28″ poster from theconversationprism.com.

With some study, advanced users can make sense of it. They recognize most of the icons and have used enough of the tools to know how they relate to each other. But the average business person will be overwhelmed: “Yeah, it looks pretty, but what do I do with it?”

A second shortcoming is that the Conversation Prism does a poor job of illustrating the crossover between different tools. For example, I’ve embedded a YouTube video on this blog. WordPress and YouTube are at opposite ends of the prism, however, suggesting they don’t interact.

An alternative metaphor that addresses these deficiencies is a chemical molecule. Think of the models from chemistry class (pictured above). Social media advisers would only need to present to managers the tools they’re most likely to use, and the relationship between them would be clearer.

Say a rock band wants to use Twitter to promote its music, videos and fan-produced photos. The “molecule” for such a campaign would have a Twitter atom at its core and music, video and pictures atoms branching off of it. Electrons within each atom would comprise the individual tools. Pandora, Seeqpod and Last.fm for music, for example.

The hands-on assembly of the molecules would engage the manager on a level staring at a chart just can’t. Plus, social media chemistry models would make for fantastic conversation pieces. Sit them on an executive’s desk or trade show table and you’re bound to get people talking. Conversation. What you’ve been going for all along.

Manage Technology Before It Manages You

October 7, 2009

“The things you own end up owning you.” Well said, Tyler Durden. Now, keep that lye away from me.

“Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk’s cultural critique is directed at consumer items, like IKEA furniture, but it can just as easily apply to technology. Yes, technology empowers us. But, if we don’t manage it, it gains power over us.

Don’t check your text messages, e-mail or Twitter until you’re done reading this blog post. If your phone buzzes or Outlook or Tweetdeck flashes an alert, ignore it. If the prospect of this bothers you, you’ll want to read on.

Browsing the Web, carrying on a text conversation and responding to e-mails as they come in while you’re typing a paper may make you feel uber-productive. You’re multitasking!

Problem is, each of these tasks is going to take you longer to complete than if you tackled it by itself. You’re decreasing — not increasing — your efficiency.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Scientific research — up, up, put your mobile down, this is important — has shown that not only does so-called multitasking reduce your level of engagement with any single activity, you also lose a minute of productivity refocusing your brain every time you switch tasks.

Got it? Multitasking is a myth. Just like the well-rested grad student.

Here are five more tips — based on an in-class group assignment — on how to manage technology before it manages you:

  • Schedule technology blackout periods during which you forbid yourself from interacting with a computer, television or handheld device.
  • Make time for low-tech hobbies. Exercise (without your iPod, thank you). Read a book (the dead tree version).
  • Use pen and paper. For all the work that goes into developing slick calendar and to-do-list apps, paper often works best.
  • Face-to-face conversations should take precedence over the buzzing mobile, not vice-versa.
  • Don’t name your devices. It creates an unhealthy attachment. It’s also kinda creepy.

I’ll add one more: Get outside! Stepping away from your work and getting some fresh air can be great productivity boosters. Plus, exposure to sunlight has been linked to neurotransmitter activity that elevates mood. This tip is especially important as the number of daylight hours dwindles.

Live Tweeting OneWebDay: Lessons Learned

September 22, 2009

Time seems to speed up when you’re live tweeting. Especially when you lose your Internet connection.

These were among the lessons I learned this morning from my first live tweeting experience, covering Elon University’s OneWebDay celebration.

For the international Earth Day-like event, designed to raise awareness about the Web — this year specifically about digital inclusion, my interactive media classmates and I surveyed attendees of our school’s weekly College Coffee gathering about their Web use and knowledge. Through this, we learned that less than 20 percent of them spend more than 15 minutes a day accessing the Web from a mobile device and they learned that Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web in 1990.

Promotion

Ideally, I would have done more advance promotion. Live tweeting is a great tool for interacting with your audience and building your brand, but, you need readers to do this. I did post tease tweets on my professional and personal accounts yesterday and, on my way out the door to go to the event, verbally told a couple of classmates still in the computer lab to follow suit. Even these minimal efforts produced a couple of retweets promoting my coverage. However, as I was live tweeting just to expose myself to the experience, whether my coverage bore any journalistic or marketing fruit was secondary.

Planning

This exercise was similar enough to covering events for delayed Web or print publication that I knew enough not to go into it blind. I typed up a text file containing pre-made shortened urls for content I thought I might want to link to and keywords for tweets I wanted to make sure I got in. This prepwork definitely paid off. I didn’t waste time or miss important details creating links, and my keywords led to descriptive tweets. These three were respectively based on the prompts “weather,” “shirts” and “food.”

It’s an overcast but pleasant first day of fall here in N.C.’s Piedmont Triad. A few occasional drizzles. #OWD09

iMedia students, clad in black #OWD09 T-shirts with the hashtag in teal on the back, are setting up. Students are starting to file in.

Crowds snaking around food spreads. Donuts, fruit, sweet tea &, of course, coffee. Unfortunately, tastes/smell uploads not poss. yet #OWD09

To get others’ voices in my coverage, I also made plans ahead of time to interview a few attendees (this would have been easier with a netbook instead of a laptop), asking them, “What’s your favorite thing about the Web?” Here is one resulting tweet:

Getting similar responses. Freshman Sunny likes the “Unlimited information. If you want to find something it’s out there.” #OWD09

Hashtags

The “#OWD09” in each post is a hashtag. Hashtags help readers find information on a specific topic. This particular hashtag is the tag OneWebDay organizers asked content creators to put on all OWD-related posts. If any of my classmates were also live tweeting today’s event, it would have made sense to add a tag specific to our school so everyone’s posts could be accessable from a common page.

Writing

Thinking of stuff to write about wasn’t an issue. Writing it quickly and maintaining a certain threshold of quality was. In hindsight, I might have put too much pressure on myself to constantly churn out content. Allowing more time to think about and edit posts might have better served readers. I did have my share of typos, which, the way I understand it at least, are tolerated in live tweeting, but only to an extent. I might have had too many.

Interactivity

As I mentioned farther up, the opportunity for interactivity is one of the strengths of live tweeting. A fellow user might write me, for example, “I thought government researchers invented the Internet, not Tim Berners-Lee,” and I could explain that the Internet and the World Wide Web are two different things. However, had anyone been asking me questions, since my coverage lasted only about an hour, I doubt I could have kept up with them and what was happening around me. Here, a co-tweeter would have likely been needed.

Technology

I’ll end where I started: Cumulatively, there was probably about 10 minutes where I lost my wireless connection. This can be a helpless feeling, and, toward the last quarter of the event, I thought I had lost it for good and began scanning for someone with a smart phone he or she could loan me. To avoid such panic, having a built-in backup would have been a good idea.

Scalpel, Stat! Hold On a Second.

September 16, 2009

Last year around this time, the presidential candidates were talking a lot about tools. No, this is not a Joe The Plumber reference.

Don’t remember? The candidates were speaking figuratively about reigning in spending.

Obama said his opponent’s approach amounted to “using a hatchet when you need a scalpel.” McCain countered that both tools were needed: he’d go in with a hatchet first, then pull out a scalpel.

Regardless of whether you agreed with Obama, his metaphor painted a picture. To use a hatchet for a job clearly meant for a scalpel, say brain surgery, would be silly, not to mention gruesome. To use a communications tool unfit for the task is also reckless.

Not three weeks into my fall semester studies, the mantra, “Let the story dictate the tool,” has been popping up a lot. It’s been nearly as ubiquitous as commentary on Kanye West’s VMA outburst. (Heck, even my favorite football team is weighing in on that.) OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but, in the iMedia world, this is a kind of a big deal. It’s being reinforced at every turn:

  • By my class readings: Forrester Research’s social media primer “Groundswell” preaches “Concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.”
  • By my research: Spanish media company Novotécnica, a May 2008 article in the journal Convergence said, instructs its journalists to be platform agnostic: “Reporters are constantly generating news content and the central desk decides each time how to distribute it,” a senior editor told researchers.
  • And by guest speakers: Former BBC journalist Jonathan Halls implored me and my classmates to focus on the story. Individual tools will go out of style, he said. Sound storytelling won’t.

Unfortunately, pressure to churn out fresh content and establish a presence in new mediums often leads news organizations to violate the story-first credo.

Last year, the now defunct Rocky Mountain News live tweeted a 3-year-old’s funeral. It had his family’s permission, but, a tool favored for posting (often mundane) status updates, sharing shortened urls and firing off witty one liners hardly seems capable of capturing the depth of emotion associated with a young child’s death. “Rabbi recites 23rd psalm,” “family member remembers marten,” “earth being placed on coffin” were a few of the posts.

More routinely, news sites will do a video story simply because they haven’t done a video story in a while or merely tweak traditional content to fit a new tool instead of developing material from scratch that leverages its functionality.

My former paper, which has recently begun to explore Facebook as a news delivery and marketing tool, this summer had an ah-ha moment with Twitter. After weeks of using the microblogging service as an RSS feed in different clothes, it saw an opportunity to do something more: give users intimate access to a major sporting event happening in its backyard. All four days of Tiger Woods’ AT&T National golf tournament, a reporter was assigned to file frequent dispatches. It took a while for reporters to get comfortable with the format, but once they did, they really ran with it. Here are some choice tweets:

  • Spotting some of these guys is a Where’s Waldo experience. Steuart Appleby breaks the mold wearing an apple green shirt.
  • ‘Sure you can interview me, but don’t use my name. I’m playing hooky from work.’ Dave, from Burke, Virginia
  • Basically the only clouds over the course are from the cigar smoke

What’s more, they found that tweeting, by forcing them to look for rich detail and pithy quotes, enhanced their reporting.

So, how can journalists be confident they’re using the right tool? Considering the following factors should get them on their way:

  • Look, listen, and think: Use photos and videos when there are compelling, action-oriented visuals. Use audio when there is rich natural sound. Use infographics or interactive presentations to simplify the voluminous or complex.
  • Audience: Is the format appropriate for the probable audience? A podcast, for example, probably isn’t the best format for a story about the new senior center. It would be an ideal format, however, for a story about a transit line targeting young commuters.
  • Turnaround time: Some mediums have longer production processes than others. Before committing to a format, make sure the deadline allows enough time to create a quality product.
  • What’s gained? What’s lost?: Tools giveth, tools taketh away. Yes, a picture is worth 1,000 words, but what about the “words” that are out of frame? Weigh what’s gained against what’s lost. If a video’s going to end up being all talking heads, you might be better off sticking with text.
  • Does it get along with other content?: If producing sidebar content, does it complement the mainbar? Or does it repeat it or distract from it?
  • Staff expertise: Does your staff have enough technological and strategic familiarity with a tool to use it effectively? If not, wait until they do before playing with it.
  • Is it searchable?: If a lot of people are likely to be searching for the content, know the limitations of video and Flash and how to work around them.
  • Is it shareable?: If a lot of people are likely to want to share the content with others, does the format make it easy for them to do so?

Research Proposal: The Future of the Newsroom

September 6, 2009

Using Interactivity to Improve News Gathering and Delivery

The technological surge that has followed the commercialization of the Internet has added some weight to the journalist’s toolbelt.

Ask a reporter as late as 1992 to file a Web story, and she would probably start thumbing her Rolodex for spider experts. Ask a reporter as late as 1996 to blog about the day’s political scuttlebutt or a reporter as late as 2005 to tweet a link to tomorrow’s big enterprise piece, and she would ask why you were talking so funny.

Today’s reporter, of course, would recognize what you were talking about, but might pretend not to in order to buy some time to close out her print story, lay down the voiceover for the accompanying video or follow-up on an online news tip.

Applied properly, interactivity can help journalists better communicate with their audience, their sources and each other, leading to higher quality, more useful content. But, reshaping traditional newsrooms to accommodate it has confounded many a manager. New tools are emerging at a dizzying pace, usually do not fit neatly into any single position and ask shrinking newsrooms to do more with less.

Take Twitter, for example. Even though the microblogging service has been around since 2006, it exploded in popularity over the past year, forcing newsrooms, who seemed to be just finding their footing with blogs, to pay attention to it. They had to decide whether they should tweet, who should tweet, how often they should tweet, what they should tweet about and to what extent tweets should be edited. Meanwhile, they were experiencing some of the heaviest attrition the industry’s ever seen. Tell a reporter newly juggling five beats because his deskmate just got canned that he is now also expected to bang out semi-daily tweets and he just might, well, chirp at you.

It is little surprise, then, that only 5 percent of U.S. newspaper editors surveyed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism last year said they could confidently predict their newsroom’s organizational structure five years hence. My research aims to give these editors some clarity by offering them a flexible organizational model they can adjust according to their company’s size and mission as well as to future business and technological developments. The model will be informed by three source types:

  • Others’ research such as cases studies of two regional Spanish multimedia companies and a northwestern U.S. newspaper’s reorganization task force report.
  • Interviews with leaders of innovative newsrooms such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where a recent reorganization required half the newsroom to apply for new or different jobs, and The Washington Post, which is in the process of streamlining its award-winning print and Web operations.
  • My own case studies of two distinct newsrooms comprising face-to-face interviews with managers and front-line workers, executive questionnaires and in-person observation.

My research will consider interactivity not only as an instrument to enhance news delivery and presentation, but also as an instrument to enhance news gathering and intra-newsroom communication. I will identify best practices for organizational structure, physical newsroom layout, information technology, workflow and corporate culture and outline them in an interactive Flash, Prezi or other presentation.

A particular focus will be whether specialization or generalization should be favored for a given task. I will also explore whether the reorganization experiences of other industries hold any lessons for journalists.