So, we folks at the Herald received yesterday a visit by Steve Buttry, Digital Media's head honcho of community engagement and social media. Steve gave us some advice on how to make sense out of the Twitter chaos, how to add digital tools in our reporter's toolbox, how to try to make connections to our audience through social media.
Facing a dramatic decline in revenue for the printed newspaper, Digital Media, our parent company, is making a big push for us to be more digitally engaged, more online. Which is great: I enjoy blogging, tweetering, and sending my photos into the cyberworld like imperfect children trying to fend for themselves.
But when I was trying to write a daily story about more cuts for the community colleges last week, I was reminded of the power of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Nobody was calling me back. Nobody was responding to my tweets, my facebook postings or my smoke signals, so I decided to do what any good entrepreneurial reporter would. Hit the streets.
I found the printmaking class of Evelyn Klein, and her politically engaged and savvy students. Diana Paul, a film and food enthusiast, ended up writing about the current situation of community colleges in her blog.
Would I have learned from Diana Paul had I just been surfing the web? Probably. But I would not have made a personal connection, which is far more valuable than any I could have made through social media.