Independence and the ideaLab

Our successful Ben Franklin Project ( ) has shown the world that in an industry that can be bereft of good ideas that smart people with the willingness to take a risk can produce revolutionary results.

But like all successful revolutions we need to continue the journey. And like all successful revolutions we have a goal – independence.

On July 4th we will declare our independence.

We will declare our independence from the kind of thinking that has kept our company and industry from transforming to a multi-platform news company. And we will declare our independence from an industry that ties itself up with expensive proprietary I.T. systems and processes that are outdated almost the day they are installed.

On July 4th all of our 18 daily newspapers will publish, both online and in print, using only free web-based tools. Just like our successful projects to date ( )we will crowd source content and – from ad order entry to sales, finance, and publishing on the web and in print – we will bypass our proprietary systems.

In the process, we will, as before, liberate our thinking and become ever more meaningfully involved with the communities we serve by involving the audience in our content creation. Along the way, we will prove we can challenge the outdated business model of print to a model of the future that preserves and enhances our journalism.

From July 4th on we will continue to explore ever more ways to shed the past and adopt the future.

To that end, we are, immediately, establishing the ideaLab.

To start, we are going to equip 15 Journal Register Company staff members with the latest tools and give them the time and money to experiment with them. Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with an iPhone, iPad and a Netbook. We will carve out 10 hours a week from their jobs to allow them time to experiment with these tools and report back on how we can change our business for the better. And we will add an extra $500 per month to their pay.

How do you become a member of the ideaLab? In about 200 words or less, email me at or post on my blog what you would do with the tools and time to improve our business. Any Journal Register Company employee in any division or any department – part-time or full-time – is eligible. I will involve our Advisory Board ( ) in the selection of the 15 staffers and we will make sure the ideas of those chosen will be posted on my blog and the Ben Franklin Project site.

Now, the ball is in your court. Over to you.

Until next time, John.

204 thoughts on “Independence and the ideaLab

  1. Hi John.
    In my years with JRC, I’ve worked to find new ways to connect with readers, whether through attending events, building a Facebook relationship or reaching out to advertisers, schools and readers. This has often been done with no budget, no support and little encouragement.
    I feel our products can – and must – be used to achieve great things. We owe it to our communities to spotlight residents doing special things, companies reaching out to others, and “average” people testing the bounds of their imaginations. This helps show them how integral we can be.
    I want to help foster a sense of neighborhood to publications, and to encourage even stronger content. Through the technology you offer, I believe I can help publications like mine, as well as the special sections for which I am responsible, to link with potential readers and the communities-at-large faster and more completely. I can alert non-readers that we exist, remind former readers that we’re still here and connect current readers in a way that will make them feel their ideas, comments and suggestions hold weight.
    This helps all of us – circulation, advertising, editorial, accounting – and it re-imagines what greatness our future can hold.

  2. Here’s my two cents

    To empower our ever-growing army of followers and fans to integrate all their events, concerts, meetings and such from Facebook and all their networks into a Google calendar -and map it into different categorized Google maps.

    To have them share their experiences at concerts, parades and meetings – live – with Twitter hashtags and Twitpics and put the widget prominently on our sites.

    To open a two-way street for tips and concerns and allowed our readers to tell us what are the uncovered stories that are on their minds. And follow up.

    With the iPhone we could livestream editorial board meetings and post them on our networks to allow our readers to “be in the room” and ask questions in real-time.

    In Kingston, public officials already are responding to our readers concerns on SeeClickFix; we’ve asked (and gotten responses) for sources on Twitter and Facebook; added 24 featured bloggers (and counting) – and we haven’t even finished installing the new computers yet!

    I want us the be THE place – and I know our readers sense we’re moving in that direction.

    So just imagine what we can do with proper allocation of resources and tools.

  3. I believe that social media is a must in the newsroom, and should extend into sales and marketing. Through these portals we can not only reach our existing customers, but get our message out to new eyes, through contests and online specials. There is much to learn and experiment with, and whatever else is on the horizon that will take customer relations to a new realm. 

    The most valuable commodity is people’s attention. 

  4. Pingback: Reinventing reporting and “crowd-sourcing” your stories

  5. Pingback: Reinventing reporting and “crowd-sourcing” your stories at Headlamp Pictures Blog

  6. While I agree with most of you comments above, I worry about the following contradiction:

    “And we will declare our independence from an industry that ties itself up with expensive proprietary I.T. systems and processes that are outdated almost the day they are installed.”


    “Each member of the ideaLab will be equipped, initially, with an iPhone, iPad and a Netbook.”

    While I agree that the mobile platform should be a top-priority, Apple products are notoriously proprietary. Once locked into their product chain, it is pretty hard to remove yourself.

    I suggest mixing it up a bit, and adding a couple Android handsets, and tablets into the mix (in place of the iPhone and iPad, the netbook can stay =).

    At least in this case, the Android OS is open source. Also, there is no burden of the Apple application review process (having published a couple applications to the Android market myself).

    Also take note that the market share for Android phones is rising dramatically (mostly due to the openness, and the shear number of handset varieties)

    I would not consider this post an application to the ideaLab, but instead, as my personal opinion. I am considering it however.

    On a side note, great progress! I look forward to seeing what else this company can achieve with this new found direction and leadership.

    R. Joseph Gagne
    Developer – JRC, JiUS Inc.
    jgagne at jobsintheus dot com

  7. I think the ideaLab is something that could really revitalize our organization and I would love to be a part of it. I’ve already been involved with trying to pull our team into the technology vanguard (Andy Stettler and I were the driving force behind the Montgomery Media iPhone app) and I was teamed with Andy and Emily Morris to bring the Ben Franklin Project to life. I already regularly use my iPhone for work. Two weeks ago I was even able to get shots of a serious car accident minutes after it occurred because I happened to be on the scene with my phone. I immediately emailed the photos to the editor who covers the area.

    With equipment and support from the ideaLab I’m confident that I could help lead the way in defining how our newsrooms reinvent the process of news gathering and reporting. This is something that is already happening all around us and I want our organization to be in the driver’s seat, not run over by the train.

    Please let me know what I can do to be of service. Thanks.

  8. WOW!!! New technology, extra pay and time to test and learn more! Count me in! I would love to be chosen to be part of the ideaLab.

    I would spend the 10 hours testing and tweaking our sites for viewing on all platforms, look for ways to improve the non-editorial content (meaning anything except the actual stories), add more functionality to our sites without adding more expense. There is plenty of free stuff to be had on the Net.

    I started working here 25 years ago as a keyliner, I have seen the industry change in many ways. I have always looked to the future. I’ve been in the New Media/Web Department since it’s inception over 10 years ago. Currently I work on cluster-wide projects that require a lot of programming, online contests, digital sales tools, forms, and video/banner administration. I also do ad tagging and troubleshooting for Journal Register Company Web sites. I am a great problem solver; ask anyone who has worked with me.

    I also thought I should mention that I was a major part of getting our content on the Web for free. We even had a somewhat automated system in place for many years using access and asp programming. Our ad serving was also done using freeware.

    I look forward to the opportunity. Fingers crossed!

  9. Despite just officially joining JRC as a part-time employee, I have
    spent the last five months interning with Montgomery Media in
    Pennsylvania. As a college student majoring in Communications,
    working in multimedia journalism has been the fulfillment of a
    life-long dream. I have always dreamed of working in the journalism
    industry, and having the ability to utilize my passion for new
    technologies and multimedia production while doing so has proven
    invaluable to me.
    Since its inception, I have followed the Ben Franklin Project
    diligently. I’ve worked alongside one of the editors, Andy Stettler,
    for the past five months. Andy, a friend and former classmate of
    mine, has taught me volumes during my tenure at Montgomery Media, and
    I continue to work alongside him to produce the best possible content
    for the company.
    I would like to humbly submit myself as a candidate for JRC’s
    ideaLab. If chosen, sir, I promise to spend every waking second as an
    innovator, and using the tools and time given to me to both better the
    company and better myself as a student of Communications. Thinking
    differently is what I do best, and working for the ideaLab would be my
    chosen calling.

  10. Coming fresh off The Ben Franklin Project, the opportunity to be a part of ideaLab really excites me. The Ben Franklin Project really showed all of us that there are alternatives to the tools we use in our daily routines at work.

    Google Docs played an important role in The Ben Franklin Project, and it showed that things such as form creation, file sharing and document generation could all be done freely, in a setup where information could be accessed from anywhere there is internet access. Editing and contributing to these Google Docs can be done with ease on netbooks or on the iPhone by using the Google Mobile application. This allows for documents to be up-to-the-minute and accessible to the people in the company, or community, when they need them.

    Having said that, I would very much like the opportunity to develop systems, unique not only to a newspaper property in general, but also specific to the various departments, that would increase communication efficiency as well as productivity, by putting more information quickly at fingertips as we move forward in this ever-changing digital era.

  11. I believe we can succeed in transforming to a company that is passionate about the Internet, social networking, and accountability journalism. I have already directed the Rome Observer website to more than 16,000 unique visitors, in the first three weeks of May 2010, from just 1517 in March 2010. It’s an increase that is the result of social media marketing, off-site links, enterprise content, and selective cross-promotions. I would use the tools and time offered, if selected as an IdeaLab team member, to fine-tune a company wide process of accumulating and posting Internet items of interest. I would suggest plans to increase website hits based on SEO strategies, consumer desires, independent analysis, and online polling. I would also look for new opportunities to increase citizen participation and task the online community on issues important to them. We should solicit topics for consideration, moderate, direct and report the most interesting items in a 24/7 online news cycle. The best content could then be produced in traditional print, but I suggest creation of a way to offer some type of “print on demand” product — online content with a “classic look” for reproduction on the end users personal printer.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  12. I want to apply for JRC’s next project, IdeaLab. After working through the challenges of the Ben Franklin Project, I’ve come to realize that I can learn to accomplish anything Jon Cooper, Montgomery Media, or you, ask of me. Reading your latest challenge, working with mobile devices to alter and improve our company’s traditional methods of covering stories, is another challenge I know I can accomplish.

    Last Summer, when I initially purchased an iPhone, I was obsessed with identifying ways to use it for reporting purposes. Using apps like VR+ Voice Recorder, iPhone Video Cam and more (, I was able to record and share short audio clips of myself reporting live from a community event in my home town, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

    Using this same structure for IdeaLab, I could get live video, audio and photos of anything from traffic or detour routes, to community events, to board meetings. The location based twitter aspect of this could be interesting in that followers/readers will be able to see exactly where I am and where my reporting is taking place.

    Using an iPad, I could write stories or blog posts and send all of my multimedia to the newsroom for copy editing.

    In terms of multimedia on mobile devices, I use a number of apps including TiltShiftGen (iPad) to edit photos and BlogPress (iPad) to post video to our website. I have been planning to catalog my summer vacation on my blog using nothing but my iPad and my iPhone, so I have been thinking about mobile devices and how they can be used for some time now.

    Further, while using all of these tools, I could ask readers what they want me to cover while keeping them updated in real-time using Twitter and Facebook.

    Please consider my interest in this opportunity.

  13. I started my own Twitter account and since have tried my best to communicate with the readers and find out what they want to know. I have done this not only to make active use of the account but to engage the readers and show them that I am their watchdog, their mouthpiece and their source of information.

    I also use Facebook to contact and interact with readers.

    I am a co-author of News: From the Field, a blog that gives readers a look at what we are doing and what we, as young journalists, think of the changing media.

    With the iPhone and iPad, we could use apps to really communicate with the readers and get a better understanding of what is going on in the community. We could live-stream meetings and more, we could welcome questions and ideas and provide better transparency to the community.

    More importantly, this is not just limited to social media, but publishing, advertising and other tools as well. We need to look beyond the scope of what we already know and welcome to chance to learn more.

    This opportunity would really open endless doors of possibility and I am keeping my fingers crossed!

  14. I would like to take part in the ideaLab. I’m a long time circulator and am hooked on news. I can’t get enough breaking news and believe in getting it out any way we can. As a member of the ideaLab, I would work with the new equipment to see ways that others distribute their breaking news. Currently I subscribe to everything I can to keep up with breaking alerts. Using the equipment from the ideaLab I would log what I was doing when I received the news and what I did with it. Did I read it or ignore it? How did I respond to it? I think going forward we need to keep understanding what the ever changing consumer wants. Is their such a thing as too much? Some media sites send so many updates that it starts to be a bother and I don’t see them anymore. We want to stay relevant and in demand. I feel that my role would be from the consumer side to see how we could work on different strategies and timing to distribute our electronic news

  15. I’d like start by saying whether or not I’m chosen for the ideaLab, I’m genuinely excited that as a company we’re exploring new and different technologies in an attempt to be proactive instead of reactive (or worse, inactive). It’s a refreshing change from the last eight years I’ve spent with JRC, and something that should energize everyone here. Why I’d like to be chosen:

    Ever since I got my first Texas Instruments computer with the green monochrome monitor as a kid, I’ve been excited by new technology. It’s fascinating to see how new devices and applications can make our lives better. As a multimedia company it’s imperative that we’re on the forefront of harnessing these new tools. Whether it’s to communicate more effectively, work more efficiently or help our audience live more conveniently, there’s a lot of money to be made and saved by using these tools to their fullest. The Ben Franklin Project is already proving that. I’d be a perfect fit because:

    – I’m a multitasker. If I’m watching the Phils game on TV, I’ve usually got my laptop or phone out. You will get your money’s worth in research out of me, I can promise you that.

    – I’d like us all to blog about the experience using these tools — not only creating additional content for our sites but hopefully drawing an audience we can continue to use for suggestions, tips and feedback as we develop a strategy for their use.

    – I’d be especially interested to research ways of making the iPad more open and inclusive, instead of turning the user back into an audience that can’t contribute as Mr. Jarvis surmised in his review of the device. It’s been a faster seller than the iPhone so it demands our attention.

    – As I wear both the GM and executive editor hats here, I’m involved in nearly all aspects of our business. I’d be able to offer a unique perspective into how these devices can help us in terms of editorial, advertising and management.

    Thank you for the time and opportunity. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the project as I think it’s a critical one for the future of our company.

    Matt Grisafi, General Manager, InterCounty Media Group

  16. With these tools, we can produce live video streams of both pre-planned events like press conferences and unplanned events like fires and accidents. We can also produce visual man-on-the-street reports, bringing the community into reporting. Having these tools on-hand will let reporters report news from wherever they are, and integrate the people involved with live interviews and reactions.
    IPhone and iPad apps give reporters technical abilities on-scene that they would only have in the newsroom, like photo, video and audio creation, editing and reporting.
    The portability will allow stories to be posted immediately and updated constantly, as well as easily integrate social media tools like Twitter.
    The portability combined with web access will also allow for live web chats both within the company and with media consumers. Programs/tools like Cover it Live and Skype let reporters interact with consumers in real-time and the portability of the devices will let them do so on-scene, which can also let consumers contribute to a story with questions and comments. We can also sell ad-space for these events to boost revenue.
    Multiple-reporter stories will also be possible, broadening coverage for events like elections or far-reaching news events like the recent Blumenthal incident in Connecticut.

    ~Kaitlyn Yeager
    Reporter, Foothills Media Group
    Torrington, CT

  17. John,

    I think I would be the perfect candidate for the new ideaLab – I am always full of ideas.

    The extra tech and time resources would be used to improve our newsroom operations and workflow and bring The Middletown Press into the future.

    I want to learn how to live streaming video by the use of the iPhone and then teach this to my staff. With the new technology, we’d set up live chats and learn how to use the iPhone and Netbook together for free photo and video editing and how to post on the web from anywhere. We could figure out how to create a Middletown Press app for the iPhone and iPad and test them out.

    As soon as I’ve mastered the new technology, I would teach every member of my news team the benefits of it, but also let them try it out and come up with new ideas.

    We would get stuff up on Twitter, Facebook – and whatever comes next – faster than ever, and we would be seen in the community as leaders of technology. Our folks on the street could show everyone else how it’s done in today’s world.

    In the past eight months that I’ve been the editor in Middletown, I’ve transformed our operation into a real media organization with the focus on local news. With the extra technology, I can help bring this company to where it needs to be.

    Viktoria Sundqvist
    Middletown Press

  18. i’d return all three devices because:
    iphone 3gs $199 (one worth buying is 299$, plus phone and data plan about $150/month for 2 yrs), return reason: gimiky device, cost, low quality construction, new one coming out soon, spotty to poor quality phone and data reception especially in metro areas, too proprietary, touch screen only so i’d better not have fat fingers

    ipad with wi-fi and 3gs (starts at) $629 (+data plan about 50$/month for 2 yrs) return reason: same as above + novel, new, unproven tech, no video, basically a giant ipod, and it still requires me to buy a netbook. although it would be nice to play bejeweled game on a 9.5″ screen.

    11.1″ hp netbook $350 (ish) return reason: um i have to carry around a tiny computer because my trendy phone and tablet are both too unreliable/or nonuseful for me to do everything i need. no photo or video editing power etc
    (also with the amount of radiation all three devices emit being constantly connected to wireless etc i’ll probably also be suing JRC in 5-10 years for getting cancer from them)

    total $1178(with 199$ iphone) – $1278(with $299) (+ approx $4800 for your 2yr phone and data plans)

    i’d buy the following replacement products with the money:
    either motorola droid or htc droid incredible: Motorola droid $199 (usually they are buy 1 get 1 so you’d get half your phones for free) Htc incredible (also) $199 (i’d go with the motorola droid because it has a slide out key board in addition to touch screen, phone and data plan about $150/month for 2 yrs, though you may get a discount since we have verizon conpany plans)

    HP G60-630US 15.6-Inch Laptop (In Black) $519 (with free shipping from amazon) this laptop is mid-sized for portability, has the computing power for ad design, video and photo editing (since everyone has the “flip” video camera), word processing and internet usage, also my new phone would be its own wi-fi hotspot so i’d always be connected to internet (go verizon!)! and you’re entire IT staff would know how to service it. also all free web programs would work on it, upgradability is more than easy and inexpensive so the minute after i buy it, it won’t be outdated :)

    total $519 (with free phone) – $716 (paying for phone) (+ approx $3600 for 2yr phone and data plan)

    instant savings $462 – $659 (+$1200 long term in phone plan savings)

    instead of pocketing the savings i’d hire one of our IT guys to design a JRC media app that would be available for free download to the 4 major smart phones (iphone, droid, blackberry, windows) that would stream news content 24/7 (to generate revenue i’d also embed advertising in the app) with a computer version available at same time or soon after.

    with extra paycheck $$ i’d probably save half and with other half see where JRC stock is at (if we’re returning to public) so i could buy a ton of it cheaply before you take us to infinity and beyond, then i’d retire happy knowing i helped bring JRC media into everyones life, saved the company $$, made the company $$, and accomplished it all in a more healthy and eco friendly manner!

    J. Wichmann
    The Record

    • I would also like to take this time to disagree with J. Wichmann.

      Defining something as “gimicky” is easy, especially without support. All modern technology, to some degree, is gimicky. The reasons Wichmann gives for not adapting iPhones and iPads are opinionated as opposed to fact.

      Lets focus on the iPhone for starters. As of this current time, there are mobile phones that, in certain areas, have advantages over the iPhone. The HTC Incredible boasts an 8 megapixel camera and will support Google’s new Android 2.2 “Froyo” software announced at Google’s I/O conference. These are good aspects. Open source software allows for better communication between the developer and the consumer. As a whole experience, though, I believe the iPhone remains the best smartphone on the market. The iPhone changed the way we use our technology. As an iPhone user and a multimedia reporter, having the ability to pull out my cell phone at a moment’s notice, capture photos and video, interact with social media, and keep up-to-date on the latest news is incredible. You can argue that all smartphones are capable of this, but you’d be ignoring that something designed well should give you and equally incredible experience.

      The same thought can be applied to the iPad. Utilizing the interface to read interactive newspapers and magazines is something many people are still taking for granted. The iPad gives users the ability to experience apps that were not possible on an iPod, such as Wired Magazine and the New York Times. These experiences are so rich that they become immersive, and as JRC heads into crowd-sourcing their content, a user base immersed in the content that the company would provide is a great possibility. This means overcoming some hurdles–building better company apps, coding in HTML5 or Google’s new WebM video, etc. But the experience for the user is what we should be thinking about, not cutting corners.

      If you short change how you produce content, you short change the content itself, along with the audience’s experience.

      • “As an iPhone user and a multimedia reporter, having the ability to pull out my cell phone at a moment’s notice, capture photos and video, interact with social media, and keep up-to-date on the latest news is incredible. You can argue that all smartphones are capable of this, but you’d be ignoring that something designed well should give you and equally incredible experience.”

        An iPhone required apps to do all of the same things that my SmartPhone can do without paying for numerous apps to clog up memory. In my personal opinion (and yes, this is only opinion, so anyone can disagree with this as well), the apps for social media like twitter & Facebook are not as comprehensive as simply going to the moble website. I can do much more utilizing the moble site rather than usong the app. It really has nothing to do with design. It is all just preference. Personally, I feel that to require an app to do anything is a waste of my time and money when I can do all of the same on another devise without all the apps. But I know plenty of people who feel that the apps make life easier.

        My jury is still out on the iPad. However a mojor flaw that many seem to be overlooking is the fact that the iPad is not Flash friendly! Many, many digital newspaper & magazines are utilizing Flash, and the iPad cannot read it. In fact Apple got in a lot of trouble for showing a screnshot of the iPad showing a NYT page during thier release of the iPad. This NYT page was illustrating in beautiful clear detail a Fash video, when in fact it was all PhotoShopped together (Apple admitted it was not a real image and has since removed the Flash image on the NYT page they show from all promotions).

        I am not posting to start an Apple versus the world thread… Just pointing out that although I agree that pretty much everything is gimicky in the tech world, everyone falls for come of them. It is all just a matter of preference.

  19. It’s great that people from the company are nominating themselves, expressing their enthusiasm, and listing some of the things they have done to push forward with “digital first.”

    But to my mind this is not nearly enough.

    If you really want to be part of the IdeaLab team–and I have no role in the selections, this is just my advice–you should be identifying some of the key problems you’d like to work on with your 10 hours a week; you should show how these problems have company-wide significance; you should mention some of the new tools and technologies you wish to investigate and evaluate as possible solutions for JRC; you should declare yourself on a hunt for best practices in the particular spheres you wish to focus on and ID those spheres; you should explain how you are going to turn your newspaper and your job into a laboratory for the “digital first” program at JRC; you should add links to the sorts of things you plan to check into; and if you can you should paraphrase in your own words what you think the Ben Franklin project and related moves have demonstrated so far, so that you can also say in your own words how you would extend, re-direct or deepen that initial progress.

    What I’ve seen so far in this thread is a good start. But only a start. If you want to be part of the Lab you should be kicking ass on the “pick me because…” part.

  20. Mr. Patton,

    Thank you for the opportunity to try out the latest technology that can benefit our journalistic efforts to inform readers.

    Here are the facts, our industry is changing drastically. Not only are we changing our way of thinking in reporting the news here at The News-Herald Newspapers, we are changing in the way we deliver the news.

    I was here when we held production across the hall from us in a different suite (the cut and paste version). I was here when we used a photo business named Feldmans in Wyandotte to develop our pictures (a three-day process). I want to be here and be a part of the new and exciting technology wave that takes our newspaper to new heights. This will help me give our readers information they want and expect to have from our top-notch community newspaper.

    Mr. Patton, I don’t want to hear about the exciting changes that are coming from fellow co-workers or get e-mails about it. I want to be on the forefront leading the way.

    Thank you for the opportunity and your consideration.

    Jackie Harrison-Martin

    The News-Herald

    One Heritage Place, Suite 100,

    Southgate, MI 48195


  21. I was very excited to hear that members of the ideaLab will be equipped with iPhones because I have been using an iPhone to make my job easier and more timely since mid December 2009.
    Out of necessity, I bought the iPhone to be more accessible and to have more access to my contacts at the touch of a button. I had no idea how much I would use this new piece of technology.
    I can check my email, Facebook, Twitter and update the website on my iPhone, all while still sitting in a school board meeting. When I was snowed in this past winter, not being able to go to the office was not an issue for me. I had my iPhone.
    From texting my freelancers on story updates to checking our website, I use the iPhone for various job tasks everyday, multiple times a day. It is an invaluable tool. I highly recommend other editors do the same.

  22. Create applications / interfaces for people to read our papers using the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, iPad, Plucker, etc.

    I’d create an website/application with up to date sales figures and other business information. This could also be a place for ad hoc reporting. Enable access for any mobile device for meetings on the go.

    – Create a program that would allow circulation delivery with turn by turn voice directions (in a way that makes sense to how they deliver).
    – Also, dispatch complaints (like paper not delivered) with directions to location
    – Write an application for salespeople to place and make changes to ad orders from anywhere to any of our papers and partner papers.

    – Setup some people to use this in place of a laptop or desktop to make their jobs more mobile.
    – A salesperson could use it to pull up a customer’s ad and mark up changes on the screen
    – Even better would be if a production person went with the sales person and made the changes right there for a personal touch.
    – With a tether, it could do anything the iPhone could (see above)

    – All of the above but it doesn’t need a tether
    – Write and post news stories from anywhere (keyboard)
    – Post photos from anywhere (USB port)

  23. If given the opportunity to be apart of the ideaLab, I would turn my car into a Mobile Media Sell Center! (MMSC) You wouldn’t necessarily buy a new car from a dealership that had out of date inventory and showroom would you? The same theory is true for a media company. We should be the first ones walking in the door with the latest media. (Right now, my cell phone is so out of date it’s not funny… I think I am going to be picked up any day by the cell phone police) It’s just that bad!

    Saving time and money is the key to any successful business. One big way to save on money is stop using so much paper to print out “proofs” that can be shown to someone on a computer screen. I already have a lap top but to be able to use the latest technology would show that I am not just part of a 100 year old paper, but part of the future of Media. To be able to take that proof, send it (and if you give me Photoshop I could make minor changes on it) would be revolutionary! To be able to use a “smart phone” would in simple terms, be smart. It would help stay connected with my clients through Facebook, Twitter, and other places. Think about this idea, we have a special that just came out…. I put it on my Facebook account to my clients, one responds right away because they are on it, I then go into their business with my IPad to pull up ads on the screen that we have as a template, they pick one, and we send it in. I use the netbook to write out the order. A quick $1000 bucks in sales. All from the road in my MMSC!
    Thank you.

  24. Pingback: Idea Lab: Why should you be picked? « Digital Discussions

    • Dear John,
      I would like to throw my hat into the ring for consideration to be one of your 15 Idea Lab members. I have been with the Journal Register Co. for the past 9 years starting as the Production Director for Acme Newspapers Inc,(now Main Line Media News) In the past year I have added Montgomery Media, while some of the publications closed.
      I have been troubleshooting software, hardware Mac, PC and network problems for 7 offices every day for 9 years for and would love the opportunity to seek new and inexpensive ways to publish our local news to our communities via Website, Mobile web, and print. I have been the go to guy of Publishers, Editors, and Production staffers from Montgomery, Main Line and Delco offices.
      I have a background in Pre-Press, Print, Advertising Agency, Newspaper production and IT.
      I have also covered the AP dept during bankruptcy, contacting vendors and working out payment issues as well as seeking out unnecessary accounts to close when offices closed. I did find accounts that were still being paid 2 years after the office had closed, found less expensive cleaning services, ect. Total cost savings = $4,020.00 per month. I converted 2 editorial departments, 1 MAC OS9 and 1 Windows 98 into one 14 station Windows Xp editorial department, building local Quark pages instead of the legacy ATS Editorial system in 1 week, by gathering unused desktop machines and re-building. My past is all about seeking new ways to get the job done, please include me in the future.

      Roy R Hughes
      Technical Services
      Journal Register Co.
      Ph-610-642-4300 x250

  25. The ideaLab Project will hopefully enable our properties to achieve much more in the communities we cover, which I believe should be the goal of any multimedia news platform. The Ben Franklin Project has shown that we can be accessible to our audience, and our audience can be accessible to us.
    The key is relevance. We need to cover the things that people want covered, and a perfect opportunity to put the new technology to use would be the upcoming election cycle. Pennsylvania will once again be a battleground state, this time with a key Senatorial and several high-profile Congressional races. With the new technology, we could bring the candidates to the people, and vice versa, through live-streamed interviews and debates where the audience could submit questions or even ask them live. Election night coverage could be much broader with multiple reporters covering each race and producing audio, video and print content, all live.
    These elections will affect everybody in our coverage area and, I think, would be a great way to open to door for the public to see what is really possible. Once the project is proven to work, we can apply the model to any story, no matter how big or small.
    We can be Prometheus, bringing fire to the people.

    Vince Sullivan
    NEWS of Delaware County

  26. With the ideaLab technology, I would like to explore ways to develop mobile websites for our newspapers (in addition to the mobile apps that are already in development). For example, the New York Times has both a downloadable application for iPhone/Android/Blackberry platforms and a mobile website ( that can be accessed without any downloading.

    I would also research additional revenue opportunities through online advertising, etc. I recently tested a new online revenue opportunity through backlinks on our newspaper website. Since newspaper sites are generally highly ranked pages, our advertisers may be able to increase both their websites’ page rank and traffic through direct links on our newspaper websites (which cannot be made through our banner ad serving software). With time and technology, I believe that this could be developed into a very profitable revenue opportunity.

    Most importantly, I would use the ideaLab to find ways to make our entire internet presence more user-friendly to the generations that were not raised on this technology. I look forward to the innovations and renovations to come. Thank you for the opportunity to grow with this company!

  27. I agree with Jwichmann I’d rather have the products he mentions than any Apple Products. Apple products are over priced. And they have NO advantage over other products that can be half the price.
    If you spend as much for a PC as you do for a MAC you’ll have twice trhe computer… OR spend half as much on the PC and get just as much computer.

    Isn’t part of the Ben Franklin Project point to NOT SPEND more money?

    Do you want to use a Gimmick to do the job … or a professional tool?


    My motto has always been: “There are no problems … only solutions I haven’t thought of yet.”

    I come from 10 years in a company of 1300 people that like this had backward tech but then it was bought by a Global company of 30,000 people with a tech budget of $2 billion

    I’ve seen it both ways and I have always strived to find the solutions… without spending money …using my own ingenuity. I found, I can do just as much on my personal budget as the techs with the big budgets. So I’ve always looked for ways to do it and make it better without spending a fortune (even a small one).

    I have been (secretly) researching solutions to our (JRC) needs (at home) . I say “secretly” because it was felt these solutions wouldn’t work… So I need to prove they do before bringing them to light..

    This Idealab sounds to me like the ideal forum for this and the position to get these things done. I would love to take on this position in order to openly work on solutions and have a proper, structure to work in.

    Presently I’m looking for solutions to (among other things)

    1. Database and general data backup in a disaster recovery safe manner … an effective offsite system

    2. E-Tearsheets (as well as backups of all pages) which could also be used as an E-Newspaper …using presently available systems and not costing more money.

    • Len, also looking at e-tearsheets here. We’re looking at uploading the PDFs via Scribd. Any other ideas?

  28. Demystify Marketing your Business / Using technology to increase sales

    Newspaper companies have traditionally made the process of understanding and purchasing advertising complicated and difficult. In today’s world of self-serve, order-anytime options, we need to package and present marketing opportunities in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-order fashion.
    Start with an online Prezi presentation; (available to anyone at anytime) a brief overview of all marketing options: video, online banners, behavioral targeting, event marketing, print & delivers, and traditional print. Drill down each option to provide more information including features, benefits and cost. Include a self-serve introductory free online banner and print ad which will result in new businesses becoming familiar with our marketing options. Include easy-to-understand pre-packaged menu options of marketing contracts that an advertiser can purchase online if they wish. These multi-media packages will be designed to include a mix of online and print at various sizes and frequency – think of a fast food restaurant “Value meal #5”. Need more information? Our professional marketing team is always happy to help. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation at your convenience (Google form) or call or email us at and a representative will contact you.

  29. Use Technology to create a “Sales machine”

    Many salesreps fall into a comfort zone of spending more time servicing existing customers than soliciting new business. And when they solicit new business, often there are many potential businesses that are not called on.
    Create a disciplined selling schedule based on business category. Identify all businesses within each category by sales territory (we already have Info USA). Pull these leads into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Use Outlook or perhaps there is a free version available. Plan the campaign which would differ by category. Example: Exterminators busy season starts in May. In January, when they are planning their marketing, an email blast goes to all exterminators that creates interest in how we can help them grow their business. Two weeks later, a second email marketing message goes out with a call to action. Within three days, every business is contacted by the appropriate sales rep. All activity is logged onto the CRM and progress is monitored to ensure appropriate follow up. As reps are contacting exterminators, another wave of email blasts go out to the next category and so on, creating “the sales machine”.
    Montgomery Media and Main Line Media News

    • I think this idea of creating a “sales machine” is an excellent idea. While it should be top-of-mind for sales executives to be one step ahead of the game, especially for seasonal businesses that come in and out through the year, having a system created that would automatically do that would help ensure that the market was being reached effectively and efficiently.

      You mention the potential of using a free alternative to Outlook. If the ideaLab members are already going to be using the iPad, this is probably something that could be developed using a combination of iPad Mail and iCal (both are applications that come pre-installed) – being that the iPads were already a planned purchase, the use of these applications would be, in a sense, free as they would be on the iPad regardless of whether they were being utilized or not.

      Excellent idea – it’s definitely something that should be pursued and researched!

  30. I have to disagree with J. Wichmann at least in terms of the iPhone.

    We shouldn’t focus on whether or not the phone is “gimicky” or low quality in terms of construction. We use the iPhone because of the apps.

    Collecting multimedia is incredibly easy using the iPhone. Like I said in my previous post. Apps like VR+ Voice Recorder allow users to gather audio clips/reports which can then be shared to blogs, social media outlets and eventually posted to our sites.

    Video Recorder for iPhone lets any iPhone (3G and 3GS) capture video which can, again, be shared through multiple outlets.

    We can’t look at this in terms of PC vs. Apple. We have to look at this in terms of which product lets us do our job to the greatest extent. I’ve already used my iPhone and iPad to blog and produce multimedia for Montgomery Media.

    This has allowed followers and readers to get involved in our company because they are already using the same tools and devices (iPhone apps, Flip Cams, Picasa and Flickr slide shows) we are using. So when we ask for user generated content, it isn’t hard for our readers to figure out what we are looking for.

    • I agree with Andy. Our audience consists of both Apple-users and PC-users. One million iPads were sold in the last month, and they’re still churning out 200,000 sales a week. Are we going to end up arming the whole company with iPads in lieu of computers? Doubtful. But we can’t ignore how people are accessing our content. This is just as much about understanding how our audience views our content as it is finding tools for us to use as a company.

  31. It’s really stupid, and adding unnecessary cost, to focus this effort on Apple products. You don’t need them to prove the point you’re going after, and you’re wasting money.

    You should focus your efforts on the web, because the web is the common denominator of almost all digital devices. The iPad and iPhone have 0 unique advantages in this regard.

    You should be trying to create a product, not more overhead.

  32. Still defending jwichmann…

    Based on the principles of the Ben Franklin Project .. it IS a matter of PC vers Apple (or mac).

    There is nothing you can do on an Apple product that you can’t do on a less expensive competitor droid versus iphone or PC versus Mac

    And yes there are many things you can do on a PC that you cannot do at all on a MAC.

    And the new Droids are easily as good as the latest Iphones and just as fast. ( no advantage in the iphone and less money in the nonapple product.)

    So it still goes back to “Gimmicks .. or professional tools”

    I choose the less expensive professional tool … PC

    but more importantly …choose ingenuity over expense. After all that IS the bottom line in this world today… Less Expense.

  33. Hi John,
    I like the ideas here on building apps and neighborhood outreach abilities, but here’s my take purely from a reporter’s POV.
    We all know journalists should be out of the office as much as possible,
    getting the pulse of their beats, talking to people, cultivating stories,
    sources, tips etc. That’s why I was excited to hear that we are finally
    moving into the digital age.
    Sure, there are problems with our outdated equipment – not the least of
    which is lost productivity. Much of what happens these days in politics (my beat) takes place online. It happens fast and it changes fast. The
    inability to access that information hampers my reporting and your product, and that’s a fact. But you know all that.
    Just as important to the process is the ability to work outside the office,
    and it’s not just about reducing travel time. I often feel chained to this
    desk and cut off from the world I’m supposed to be covering because I don’t have the resources to communicate anywhere else.
    Being completely mobile and having the ability to do everything from
    writing to editing video on-site (and posting it all online as a single
    package ASAP) would be a tremendous boon to the industry.
    It should be the norm, not the exception, and the change should come as
    fast as humanly possible. But it will require training, equipment and
    experimentation to get a feel for what works.
    The lull between the primary and general elections seems like the perfect
    time to get started, so I’m signing up.
    Alex Rose
    Politics reporter
    Delco Daily Times

    • Exactly right – we need to be mobile. We need to be able to post to the site, in multiple formats, from wherever we are, whether or not there’s a DSL jack nearby. And readers need to know they can expect us to do this consistently. They’ll check our sites a few times a day instead of just once.

  34. I believe we can succeed in transforming to a company that is passionate about the Internet, social networking, and accountability journalism. I have already directed the Rome Observer website to more than 16,000 unique visitors, in the first three weeks of May 2010, from just 1517 in March 2010. It’s an increase that is the result of social media marketing, off-site links, enterprise content, and selective cross-promotions. I would use the tools and time offered, if selected as an IdeaLab team member, to fine-tune a company wide process of accumulating and posting Internet items of interest. I would suggest plans to increase website hits based on SEO strategies, consumer desires, independent analysis, and online polling. I would also look for new opportunities to increase citizen participation and task the online community on issues important to them. We should solicit topics for consideration, moderate, direct and report the most interesting items in a 24/7 online news cycle. The best content could then be produced in traditional print, but I suggest creation of a way to offer some type of “print on demand” product — online content with a “classic look” for reproduction on the end users personal printer.

  35. I’ve long been fascinated by the “mojo” – the mobile journalist. The world is their office, and with their tools, they can share their stories instantly using new media, reaching audiences in the ways they want to receive their news.

    My proposal has ramifications beyond the single-paper level.

    As we’re all keenly aware, as we have struggled through staff cuts and belt-tightening, so too have those who provide us with the news our readers need to live their lives. Speaking now for Ohio, we’ve seen our statehouse coverage slip to nearly nothing as The Associated Press has lost most of its reporting staff.

    I propose a mojo, using the tools the ideaLab would provide, to cover state government and its ramifications on our daily lives — funding, law creation and accountability to those who send them to Columbus.

    No need for a bureau. They tweet, edit and post video and compose stories from their car, or a bench in a Columbus building. Then it’s back to work on the next story. Eliminate the drive back to work and story production increases.

    Once the mojo has become established, we offer this coverage to other papers around the state for a nominal cost.

  36. I am a big believer in the “every person has a story to tell” theory of journalism. Given the tools and the time, I’d like to go out into my community and, for lack of a better term, “cold call” people and businesses. Basically, I’d show up, introduce myself, and create insta-stories for the community to enjoy.
    Example: I stroll into Jim’s Bar and Grill and tell Jim I’m from The Trentonian and let him know we’re not the same paper he knows us to be. I’d interview him, shoot video, run a live feed, and create and post a feature about him and his bar before I leave. He’d see the whole process, from start to finish.
    I walk in, and an hour later — BOOM! — story and video posted on our website, Twitter and Facebook alerted, and I get to demonstrate — person by person, business by business — that The Trentonian is changing the game.
    Is this cutting-edge journalism? Well, maybe not. After all, features about members of the community probably go back to Day 1 of newspapers. But what it does do, without question, is create a positive buzz about the future of this newspaper. And that can only make the jobs of the ad sales folks that much easier.

  37. This is my second post to this blog because I just read what was posted by Mr. Jay Rosen, who is on the advisory board for the JRC and who I avidly follow. I agree with what he had to say regarding the emphasis on why these tools would be beneficial as opposed to only why I should be picked for this project.

    I have a BlackBerry, and I would be lost without this type of Smart Phone. However, the BlackBerry is very limited because it does not render web pages successfully, it has problems sending Web updates on occasion and the photos appear grainy. The Twitter application is sub par compared to the iPhone and iPad and so on.

    I have been reading up on what apps provide to the media world and it’s no secret that tablets, such as the iPad, are giving print a run for its money. What we have to do is embrace this idea and work with it. By selling digital advertising, creating (and selling) an app for our newspaper, we could generate revenue. We could explore what other newspapers and companies are doing and create a new platform to keep up. Here is one quote that stuck out to me (via
    “The digital edition has always been an afterthought of the print edition,” says Rich Maggiotto, CEO of Zinio. “This is a distribution channel that forces you to think about designing for the medium.”

    By using these tools through the JRC, we can explore this concept and not only think of what would be great for print, but new media components. We can start thinking of a whole new demographic, besides those who print up the newspaper daily or visit our websites. Some companies, such as The New York Times and Wired magazine, are creating new applications and a new design for their digital medium. The New York Times application has been downloaded more than 3 million times, and think of the possibility we could have if we took the time to learn how these tools work, and for free no less!
    An official with The New York Times said the app for the iPad was “the best of print and the best of digital, all rolled up into one” and isn’t that what we are looking for here?

    With the NetBook, we can send news from the field using the lightweight and transportable computer. We can plug in the FlipShare camera, edit and post video while we are sitting outside in a parking lot somewhere near a scene of breaking news. The media world is changing and we need to be on the front lines.

    These tools not only help us deliver the news, but also help us communicate with readers. There are millions of applications and processes out there that have yet to be discovered, and I am eager to delve right in and get to work.

    While I can toot my horn all day long about why I should be picked for this project because I am on and using Twitter and I connect over Facebook, WordPress, etc., I think it should be more known that I have done this research and am embracing this challenge.
    And might I add, another qualified candidate at The Morning Journal, where I am a reporter, is Megan Rozsa. Megan is my partner-in-crime, we are often considered a package deal, and I encourage you to check out our blog for more on what we are about.

  38. My name is Matt Myftiu, news editor at The Oakland Press. I believe I could help the ideaLab for these reasons:
    — Many of my news editor duties revolve around paginating the OP. I could use the tools provided (iPad, etc.) to explore alternative methods of building pages that could improve how we do business. For example, if we could do some page-building on the iPad, it would increase our ability for paginators to be more mobile.
    — In addition to my editor duties, I write a technology column for the OP called Tech Time, with reviews of the latest technology and some feature stories. Through this column, I keep up with the latest and greatest software and hardware released, and could identify what will benefit JRC.
    — Through my technology writing, I keep track of the latest trends involving cell phones and apps. I could use the iPhone and other phones I see to keep an eye on what is successful, as we work to offer JRC papers via phone apps.

    I hope these ideas interest you and I can join the ideaLab team. I would love to help this company move forward through technology.

  39. Mobile access to news, sports, entertainment or community information is the future of the news industry. The popularity of apps on various mobile devices including cell or smart phones has proven that people are willing to pay for niche products. The key is creating products that don’t look like a simplified website put on a mobile phone. The mobile product must also be a niche product because people will not pay for the news but they will pay for a niche product that appeals to what they are interested in. This has been proven by the specialty apps and mobile sites for the NFL, MLB and NASCAR and others. Customizing your mobile product to your community is key to your success. For example, Mercer County in New Jersey has 13 municipalities with unique traits that could be combined into creating regional products for families, the international community, local entertainment venues and/or local or college sports.

    I am interested in being part of this creative process. – Andria Y. Carter, Online Editor,

  40. Dear John-

    Anything with the word “idea” in its name means anything is possible to everyone.

    iPhone, iPad — and possibly Netbooks — are the weight in this beautiful new tidal wave of technology being washed over our readers and society itself.

    First, our readers rely on items like iPhone and iPad for their information. They use them to gather information, so why shouldn’t we use them to give them information?

    The iPad will make it easier to increase the name for our individual papers. Do you know how many persons use smartphones and smart technology to view newspapers online?

    Each of our papers can develop an iPhone/iPad application and made available for free (or 99 cents if we want any monetary reapings) to our readers, who will have up-to-date, “minutely” info at their fingertips. Plus, with the advent of Push Notifications, news can be delivered on the spot in the fashion of a text message right to their device.

    In many cases, iPads and iPhones can make it easier and better to read websites like The Reporter or other newspapers. Bigger screen, sharper text and color, better formatting — all are good reasons to view newspaper pages online on-the-go.

    Furthermore, we can increase our online advertising through these devices. Many newspapers’ online advertising business earns revenues by selling ads against its web content. Online advertising can improve and takeover print ad business.

    The reasons to increase usage of these three items are efficiency and accessibility. The iPhone offers a plethora of voice and video recording capabilities. Now, from the street, we can interview someone and upload it right to Twitter via 12 Seconds. We can record a soundclip of someone or something and attach it to an online story. Through Netbook, reporters can now upload the story fresh in their minds from a meeting or event from the driver seat of their car or from the bleachers. We can stream live video of a fire or an accident, and report from the field a la TV newsanchors.

    We have to start thinking out of the newspaper box, and incorporating TV, radio and even other online ideas into our own print media. It is more than a newspaper now. People say print is dead — I say it’s breathing just fine, we just need to inject it with some adrenaline.

    I have an electronic media background: so why not use these items to broadcast an overview for the website of what
    to expect in tomorrow’s paper?

    The thing is people don’t want to pay for content offered by newspapers. Using a new publishing platform like iPad or iPhone can increase revenue by reducing access to content, put us ahead in a new consumer market and increase public demand for these devices.

    These items may encourage editors, publishers and writers to approach their media with a different attitude, a different design. Can we have a newspaper in a magazine format? Why not? Can we have a scheduled online chat with readers about a topic? Of course we can.

    Better yet, we can influence our co-workers with these ideas — and “coach” our readers in using these products to improve their blogging, etc.

    I am eager to become part of this team here from my hometown of Lansdale, Pa and The Reporter. I look forward to making changes to better not only my paper here, but the entire JRC family.

    Thank you for your time, John, and thank you for considering me for this opportunity. I have been with this paper for 6 years and now sit as senior writer and layout editor. In a way, I am a liaison to the executive editor and the newsroom.

    Tony Di Domizio
    Senior Writer/Layout Editor
    The Reporter
    307 Derstine Avenue
    Lansdale, PA 19446

  41. I cover high school sports in Troy. I’ve been trying to put as much content on the web on my blog ( ever since I started. We have tight competition in the Capital Region with five TV stations and three other major papers in our area and being able to put things online instantly and hosting live chats with my readers has helped raise the community’s awareness of The Record.

    I’ve been filing videos daily since getting my camera and I think that has also helped. However, we only have one computer in our office that can process video – and sharing it with four news reporters, three photogs and three other sports reporters is tough. I have processed all of my videos so far on my personal MacBook Pro.

    I would love to join the ideaLab for two reasons. One, I could bring our on-scene reporting to a new level if I was able to Tweet or host live chats at more events, something I’m rarely able to do these days unless provided with a wireless signal and a power source – a rarity at outdoor sporting events. Two, with the extra equipment, I could help train some of our older employees and help bring them into the digital age.

  42. At The Phoenix, in Phoenixville, Pa, the biggest problem we face is the community’s belief that we have gone out of business.

    In June 2009, The Phoenix went from a daily paper – which it had been since the 1800’s – to a weekly newspaper. Since then, the small staff has been fighting to keep our brand in the public’s eye and let them know that their hometown newspaper is still around.

    Much of the criticism that I receive comes from residents wishing we were a daily paper again because they miss having a daily Phoenixville newspaper. Our current solution has been to update the website on a daily basis with current news, sports and features every day and as it happens. We have become the daily online Phoenix.

    Now we just have to let our community know.

    Having these tools – an iPhone, iPad and Netbook would greatly aid in both creating a daily website with a wealth of local news coverage and bringing awareness of The Phoenix and the website to the community we serve.

    With the small staff, getting stories and photos published online has become a daily task and less of an instant action for all of us. Having the ability to upload photos from the event or meeting that I am covering would be a blessing.

    Being constantly wired to the staff of The Phoenix and the community would not only benefit me, but would also benefit The Phoenix and its readers.

    Leann Pettit
    Editor, The Phoenix
    610.933.8926 ext. 627

  43. Since Gutenberg invented the printing press, newspapers have brought the news to the masses. With the help of technology in the form of Apple products like iPhone and iPad, and with portable laptops like netbooks, we could bring the masses to the news.

    With constant real-time updates to our website, we can quite literally make our online readers feel as if they are on scene watching news unfold in front of their very eyes.

    The way to be successful at this is to use the tools provided at their maximum potential.

    An iPhone can take high-resolution pictures and video that can be instantly uploaded to the web, providing virtually live coverage of breaking news.

    The Netbook acts as a mobile command center taking information, in various forms (documents, audio and video) and converting it into the appropriate formats allowing the info to be posted to the web.

    The iPad works for the roving reporter so the roving reporter can work for the masses. This device stores vital contact information and provides an interactive calendar, so the reporter won’t miss a moment of developing stories.

    These tools make print media something it has never before been; live-action news.

  44. What’s hurting this company the most is that we’re all about digital, yet we have no mobile app to support that philosophy. I already have an iPhone, and to check The Morning Journal’s website using my phone’s internet connection is almost pain-staking. We need to develop a good mobile version of JRC newspapers so that everyone can load it on their phones with ease. People crave news, and while hopping on to Twitter is great to catch a blip, an app with Push notifications would be much more efficient.

    I want to be a part of the ideaLab because I’m evolving just as much as this company is. My coworker, Kelly Metz, and I are the authors behind a blog,, that focuses on the changing world of journalism and how we are adapting. Together we are constantly pitching ideas to our editor, Tom Skoch, about how to make the delivery of news more efficient. Sometimes our ideas are pushed to the back burner because the company simply doesn’t have a way to accommodate them yet. Already we have our own professional Twitter accounts where we link to our stories to drive traffic to the web. Some people even give us tips to look into for stories. But we need so much more. We need everybody on board.

    If I had access to these multimedia tools, the possibilities would be endless. The world is watching and we have to show them what we can do.

    • By the way, my name is Megan Rozsa, and I am the education reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

    • I second this motion about a mobile platform. In a few years’ time, I think the mobile or app vs. website conversation will be taking on similar themes to the website/print edition conversation.

      A mobile-accessible site or app should be our priority.

  45. Mr. Paton-

    I was very excited to receive your message about the ideaLab, because I feel that the extra time and resources could be a great way to get two of my recent ideas off the ground, at Montgomery Media and perhaps beyond.
    First- I believe that hosting a weekly webcast of interviews with prominent township personalities, (think of a hyper-local “Meet the Press”) would be an excellent way to add another platform to our website. It would both connect the community with those influencing it on a daily basis and give them a weekly reason to tune in to our site to hear what their commissioners, township managers, police chiefs, small business owners, local celebrities and other newsmakers have to say.
    Second- I have long believed that students in our area have been an underappreciated resource for the gathering and distribution of community news. They are un under-reached demographic, as well. The extra time and resources that ideaLab would provide would help me create community newslabs IN THE SCHOOLS. Giving students an opportunity to find out what matters most to the elusive high school and college students, giving them an opportunity to observe and report on matters such as local politics, school board decision, sports and entertainment.

  46. John,

    I would use these high-tech tools to help move the company forward with its digital first, print last goal.

    I’ve followed news of the iPhone from the beginning and, while I’ve never had one, believe I could find and utilize a number of Apps for it, as well as the iPad (ideally free or at low cost), to help us best organize and manage our digital presence. With the way it revolutionized mobile technology, I would have bought one long ago if my budget allowed.

    These tools could lead to more efficient management of our websites and print products, providing constant mobile access to free online production tools, as noted the Ben Franklin Project, as well as blogs, social media, and tools such as FourSquare and others to provide an even more interactive experience with our readership.

    I would also, as many others have stated, be very interested in trying to create Apps for JRC, The Record, and our other publications.

    Times have changed and more and more people are conducting much of their lives from these devices (iPhone especially).

    Many people I know who are my age, 24, are either not interested in local newspapers or only check the news briefly from their mobile devices (Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc…). These are the people we need to try and appeal to on a regular basis, so understanding and use of these devices is certainly a step in the right direction.

    I also would be interested in trying to work with corporate to see what else needs to be done (if it’s not being done already) to roll out mobile versions of our websites – something like, so that our content can have an even greater reach.

    Most of our technology in Troy is a decade or more behind these devices, with only two computers than can adequately handle modern browsers, Flash support, HD video, and have the speed necessary to make constant updates through the website and social media.

    Having the knowledge of how to best use these devices can be the next step in truly getting the company used to mobile/cloud computing and spending more time in the field rather than being tethered to a desk, land line telephone, and fax machine.

    Hopefully all JRC reporters and editors will have them as well in the near future.

  47. I think the most important factor that I will bring to this project is that while I am an avid consumer – and occasional producer – of news and digital content, I am not a journalist. Having recently joined JRC as a Financial Analyst I am new to the journalism game from a production standpoint, yet having grown up in the internet age I truly understand the concept of “Digital First”. While other, dare I say older, people have had to transition from print to digital with varying difficulties, my consumption of media has essentially been purely digital; I have always had my hands in the electronic honey pot, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, texting, iPhones, etc. At the same, time I grew up with a free-lance film maker, a television producer and a journalism professor – to say I understand the problems facing the company and the industry is an understatement. I truly understand our company’s need to integrate itself into the digital world, to make ourselves as ubiquitous as an email account and as resourceful as Wikipedia. We need to learn lessons from’s ability to drive interest for stories AND have people pay for what they are interested in. We need to make our content fun and interactive with tools like those created by We need to find out what is interesting to our readers, not by copying today’s AP headlines but by crowdsourcing like We need to get off the beaten path and found out what the “kids” are doing and how they’re doing it, then we need to make it better, faster, smarter and more fun; my boots are already on the ground.

  48. Two words: Community involvement.
    If I were a part of the ideaLab, and provided the iPhone, iPad and a Netbook, I would give them to the community to use for news generation.
    What good is new technology if we’re not changing the way we obtain, assign and follow up on stories?
    Perhaps encourage the community to use the iPhone’s video application. M<aybe give the phone to a different member of the community, a week at a time, and tell them to call in stories, take videos, etc, for use on our site.
    Perhaps provide the Netbook for use by the community in house, or use it the same way — pass it around the community and ask readers to submit content.
    That is the real strength of the Ben Franklin Project, and the real strength of social media.
    You ask how I would use an iPhone, iPad and a Netbook? I say, I’d engage the community using whatever tools I was given.

  49. Let me begin by saying that it is no longer revolutionary to have a blog, Twitter account or to use your Facebook page for work.

    All but the most staid news outlets are using social media to interact with their communities. The question is no longer “What do we use?” but “How can we use it best?”

    As one of the journalists for The News-Herald, I took part in the inaugural Ben Franklin project. I used Facebook to cull sources, Gmail to interview them and Twitter to cover a court sentencing as it was occurring.

    None of those ideas are new, nor are they revolutionary. The revolution comes in the attitude. The revolution comes from treating our entire community as sources, not as readers or viewers.

    It’s well and good to tweet from a court room, but it matters less if we are only tweeting to a tiny fraction of our audience. We need to learn how to build our Twitter and Facebook audiences, so it’s not just the same two dozen tech-savvy people following us on three different outlets.

    What would I do if I had a Netbook? I would set up classes at senior centers, where many of our most avid followers are, and teach classes on social media to seniors. Not only could it improve the quality of their lives, but it would also improve the quality of their news experience.

  50. I would use the IdeaLab tools to expand on my work I did with the Ben Franklin Project. I would focus on “Selling in a Cloud”.

    I would begin with the following:

    Can we sell our product using only online free tools?
    How can we connect with potential/existing customers and have them buy digital. One Idea: Let them hold an Ipad while it shows them a demo of our product. Engage them and excite them with a Q & A following the demo. One on One is still important in sales.
    How would we use these tools to better understand the needs of our clients?
    What free online applications can the sales staff use to increase their productivity?
    How can we use these tools to deliver on what we have promised? For example: real time analytics of client’s campaigns.
    How can employees and clients learn together and have current info all at once? Can we find one easy central portal?

    • Here are some ideas that I am already working on to solve some of our current challenges that go along with my above post:
      How can we connect with our clients and have them understand the real value of digital? Engage them with the actually making of their ad! I am testing out, which is internet based so as you sell them a digital campaign, create the ad with them! Easy turn around and flexibility. They get to experiment! For clients to learn about our products I have been using Camtasia Studio 7 to create videos: here is as an example for the new auto site we just rolled out: These product videos make it easy for clients to understand how it works and clients can view when ever and as many times as they need to. We become more transparent and therefore more of a team with our business community. I have also used it to create video pre-rolls and showcases. I am working on making an a clickable form so clients can customize their own campaign.

      The examples above are just some of the solutions to connect with clients, they aren’t perfected yet but a start. And, looking at this project on a sales perspective, because I don’t claim to know much about about the editorial end and that is why I always link to the best in the our news room. I do know that making sure we stay connected with clients is a vital piece of our puzzle. And staying connected means making sure we understand what the client wants. These are some the ways I would test an IPad, IPhone and a Netbook. I would be eager to and honored to be a part of such a company changing Idea Lab!

  51. ideaLab excites me and I am filled with ideas.

    To start, I would use the\ tools to take photos (in print and online) and video that can be loaded to our website and social media for editorial, advertising and promoting our good will image within our communities.

    Editorial: Ask residents what they would like to see more of in our paper, plus an Independence Day video collage asking “What does independence mean to you?”
    Advertising: Business owners/staff “star” in their own commercial.
    Good Will: Work with local people/organizations to come up with PSAs which could run on our web plus offer them to local cinemas to show before their features. Subjects include no smoking/drinking/drugs, suicide prevention, healthy eating, exercise, adopt-a-pet, and more.

    Editorial: Photos for stories, online features and social media.
    Advertisers: Photos to use in their ads (free us from having to pay for artwork.)
    Good Will: Similar to above but for print and online stills.

    A You-Tube account where our editorial/psa videos can be shown. Add photos and videos to our Facebook fan page and more tweets.


    Thank you,
    Janet Sowle, Graphic Designer
    Morning Star Publishing Company
    Mt. Pleasant Office

  52. Seeing the number of responses here, the level of engagement, the thought and energy being put into this company across so many departments and properties, is a jaw-dropping testament to John Paton’s strategy of dispersing the power to change and innovate to those closest to and most knowledgeable of the problems we face. I just want to say that everyone who has posted here has motivated me anew, and to practice that same principle in looking to our readers and community to shape the business model according to their needs.

  53. The addition of these mobile technologies should be used by reporters to make their cubicles obsolete – reduce time in the office, increase presence in the community. This would mean spending most work hours actually in the communities, creating a “newspaper office” at many different locations.
    Instead of running back to the office after covering breaking news, go to a nearby coffee shop or the local library to write the story. Brand that netbook with a big JRC logo on the back of it so people can identify our reporters when they’re working.
    Newspapers could partner with local nonprofits and other organizations to have reporters working from their locations for a day. Reporters could gain useful insight from this while strengthening ties to the community.

    Adam Greenberg
    News Editor
    Times Chronicle/Glenside News

  54. Mr. Paton,

    Please accept my application for membership in the ideaLab. My expertise is in development and support of complex business technologies, and I also have 1 year of full-time sales experience at JRC. I am very excited to participate in this project and believe I would be an excellent choice.

    Below is a brief overview of how I will use these tools and time to improve our business.

    Smart devices connected to the Internet can boost productivity and increase our market presence. I would concentrate on developing applications focusing on these goals.

    My first priority would be with customer relations and ad ordering. I propose to develop an application allowing salespeople to track their client relationships and facilitate real-time submission of ad orders into the production/billing system. Customer sales histories and contact information would be at their fingertips. Sales orders could be tracked and progress toward their goal monitored. Ordering a pick-up ad would only require a couple of clicks and entering the date. This would save a huge amount of paperwork and time. Graphical, real-time progress would also motivate increased sales. This application along with email and web access will revolutionize the sales process.

    The primary method of using these technologies to increase market presence is an application for display of our products on smart portable devices and formatted to fit. Interaction with our products and user generated content could be achieved by allowing videos, photos, and text to be submitted. A search function will allow users to search ads and content. Making our products available on portable devices will also increase traffic to our main websites.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Rodney Jankewicz
    Information Technology
    Morning Star Publishing

    • I would also like to develop a “technology column” that could be shared across all of our publications that would focus on educating the community on using these tools and other technology to interact with our products and provide tips on innovative uses for these devices. We could invite readers to share their ideas about creative use of this technology.

  55. I’m an ad rep, and the iPhone is my best tool. It’s my roledex, GPS, calendar, camera, prospecting reference, and more. The first step to make the iPhone, or any mobile device, more useful would be to move away from local servers for our mail and ad creation.

    With the iPad and a netbook, both the sales presentation, and ad editing and approval processes would open up. The iPad’s Keynote app is gorgeous for creating and demonstrating slide presentations. If we were on the cloud, using GIMP, an open-source graphic editor, a created ad could be altered and aproved alongside the client in the field.

    In response to the iPhone critics, tethering is a feature in the beta version of their next release. So whenever OS 4.0 comes out, potentially, an iPhone user would become a wireless hub. ( It’s late, but they’re working on it.

    Where I think we should go (or where my 10 hours could go): educating business owners and interested bloggers on how to develop their own digital voice. By this, I mean hosting free workshops focused around how to not just have, but how to get them to the point so that their customers can suggest new recipes on twitter, receive discounts for checking in on foursquare, and so on. These workshops would also delve into creative digital marketing tactics, collaborative local marketing and things of the sort–I’m thinking seminar style marketing college class for business owners. Not only would the workshops assist the clients in creating their own products, but they would also serve as development research on our end.

    In terms of developing new methods of content consumption, in addition to mobile apps, I think we should put together embeddable RSS widgets with analytics tracking code. As a local news digital first company, we could enhance our digital and community nature by creating a linkswap program ( for local content creators and business owners that agree to place a [JRC paper] widget on their page. With a “freemium” model, we could “tease” local sites with the value of our traffic, and then offer additional traffic volume at a premium.

    These are a couple of my thoughts on the direction JRC should go digitally.

    I think this ideaLab is a great concept, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the JRC community has to say about our future.

    Chris Winn
    Account Executive
    The Record

  56. Pingback: All about the Benjamins « Handheld Journalism

  57. I am an editorial assistant at the Oakland Press… while I’m sure that the IT people will have many ideas on how they can utilize the technology that you would be gifting them. I couldn’t think how those things would really help much.
    I think that in order to compete with all the free content out there we really need to be focusing more on developing content that people want to view. If the content is there people will come to our sites, will buy or papers and will be more interested in the things that our paper is doing.
    I am 23 years old and I know how fast things can spread through my friends, and others, on the internet and it really comes down to interest. If something is interesting and you think your friends will be interested as well, you post it. People my age as well as people that I am friends with who are my mother’s age don’t often post news articles.
    I was thinking since a lot of who we are trying to target ( i know there are a lot of older people on the web too) are the 20 somethings who post like mad…we should start developing content that they are interested in and really reaching out to them.
    What if, instead of just asking people to send us story ideas…we could come up with ideas for stories and have our readers vote on what they want us to cover. Because it is important to know what stories are actually garnering interest in the readers and of course it would bring more hits to our site, more interactivity and more readers feeling like they are a part of our paper.
    I know this is not what you were looking for, but I can’t truly think of why there is a reason to have an ipad, iphone, and netbook. There isnt really anything I cant do from the computer I have at work, except go onto apps, and I dont know how useful that would be.

  58. And here’s another reason why we need technology like this ASAP.

    In my experience as a journalist, there have been many, MANY days when time gets away from you.

    For instance, say you have a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. and you have to write a story on a new store that opened in a town 8 miles away from the courthouse.

    If the trial is good, it may take half hour, an hour to be done. By the time you get all quotes and necessary info, it may be 3, 3:30. Now, you still need to head over to interview the store owners. With distance and interview, it may take an hour.

    Now, you have about an hour (since there’s no overtime) to write both stories and be within the required 8 hour day/40 hour week workday.

    If we had capabilities that allowed us to write a story from the parking lot of the store, or from the lobby of the district court, and send it to our editors, or upload it to the Web, that cuts down on the crunch time you have back at the office.

    And when you do get back, now you have 10, 15 minutes to touch-up your stories before the end of the work day.

    I like the idea of a Mobile Desk. Heck, you could even forward your calls right to the phones and do work on the road, out on assignment.

    Talk about improving workflow and working more efficiently!

  59. As a member of the ideaLab, I will lead our photography and video efforts into the new news ecology by doing the following:

    I will equip the iPad with the “Photo FTP Manager” app. That will enable me to instantaneously transmit photographs from my company camera to our ftp clients from local events.

    I will use the iPhone to capture quick video or natural sound files and ftp with the Netbook or iPad. Or I can produce a more substantial video enriched with b-roll — with my homemade multimedia camera rig platform. I personally designed the rig to shoot video and stills simultaneously using a flip cam or other small video camera, and a digital SLR still camera.

    The instant photo feed to our ftp clients could provide near real-time images for our websites. The images would be of much higher quality than any kind of live video feed or cell phone image.

    Having the still photos instantaneously uploaded to the news desk would afford me the time to edit and upload quality video projects shot by a photojournalist complete with b-roll — which is sorely lacking in our current business model.

    The saying goes, “Content is King.” Long live the King! And long live photojournalism in the New News Ecology.


    Michael Allen Blair

    Visual Journalist

    The News-Herald


    I am willing to take my entire first $500 bonus to purchase the Nikon WT-1A transmitter for my company camera. The above mission could be accomplished from most anywhere if the iPad is of the 3G version, or it could be done through Wi-Fi anyplace there is open access wireless Internet. Utilizing these new tools could also produce a compelling photo blog.

  60. I would love the opportunity to be a part of the inception of ideaLab and history making at JRC. The ability to use the newest multi-media iPhone, iPad and Netbook to aid in the continued transformation of our company into a multi-platform news company would be an awesome challenge.

    For me it would be an honor to be a member and to utilize these resources in the field and report back each week on what I found that can help change our business for the better.

    One of my hidden talents is Research. Each of these digital innovations would provide me with an unlimited amount of multi-media functions, resources and platforms to use to gain information for news creation and delivery through experimentation in web browsing, increase local community involvement through social networking and browse apps for additional uses in composing and advertising.

    The information that I have gathered will than be filtered to all departments of the newspaper to be used to increase efficiency, communication and productivity.

  61. OK, I’m going to try to stick to this 200 words rule.
    If I had an iPad, iPhone and laptop, I’d share the wealth. These wouldn’t be tools to just benefit me, but to benefit our whole newsroom and in turn, all of our coverage and whole community.
    First, I’d learn how to use the tools in ways that better our coverage and content. My thoughts are on-the-scene tweeting and social media updates, posting updates to our site from the field and making better use of crowdsourcing and interaction with readers. Immediacy in reporting and a connection to our readers beyond the newsroom are some of the biggest things these tools have to offer.
    My plan would be to learn, then teach and then share these tools with my coworkers. The tools could then be used to their maximum — Charlie can take the iPhone to a tea party, capture video and be tweeting about what’s happening, Carol can use the laptop at her township meeting to post updates to the web as the discussion continues and I can be using the iPad to be reporting remotely, managing the website, crowdsourcing and more. We can all have a role in utilizing these tools to better our entire product.

    • I work with Karen at the OP and would like to say I agree with her teamwork philosophy. Karen has been a huge asset to our newsroom, specifically training us to better use video and editing software. I have full faith that she could train the staff to use these tools as well.

      Many times, we have seen competing newspapers remote upload stories to the web. Our reporters, however, have had to dictate notes over the phone or rush back to the office. Couldn’t we be doing better? This technology could be shared within our newsroom and given to reporters to use full time.

    • Karen is on the right track. No one in this business can operate alone — we need each other. The Oakland Press team works well because any one of us can jump in and help out when called upon. We’re all tweeting and posting stories and videos and taking tips and doing interviews and writing and editing and training one another to do our jobs better every day. These tools should be shared equally. It’s no longer a culture of stars, it’s a culture of sharing and cooperating.

    • I’m supporting Karen Workman’s request. Our conversations at The Oakland Press produced the sentiment that we can all use and share the tools, and the knowledge gained, together as a group and get up to speed more quickly and efficiently should the company make the decision to widely distribute the equipment.

  62. The beauty of the iphone is the ability (thanks to AT&T) get onto the internet from nearly any spot in the community. I assume, once the ipad upgrades to the AT&T 3G coverage, it will give us even less of a reason not to be out in the community.
    I have already used the 3Gs iphone to produce videos and photos online (as well as personal use). The only drawback is there is a need to have enough light around the subject or they need to be photoshopped. Otherwise, there is no reason why a reporter equipped even with just the iphone couldn’t report, take a photo, do a video interview, write a story and post the story to the website from their car (as well as Twitter and Facebook). Then, of course, they can call their ever-friendly online editor to reposition. :)
    Using the ipad in conjuction with the iphone (via e-mail) would only make that work even faster. Add in a laptop (and a Clear internet account or aircard) and, basically, one person can be a complete mobile newsroom.
    An entire group would give us instant access to news anywhere at any time.
    The beauty of this is we would not have to reinvest in outdated equipment. In the world of constantly updated software (especially by Apple), 10 years from now we won’t still be working on Windows 98 (or any base program).
    Outfit everybody in the company with a Netbook and we could be nearly Global in a matter of minutes.

  63. The Events Department and Social Media Department here at would love to have an iphone or ipad to keep our content fresh and exciting during tough times in the Job Market. We are consistently staffing Career Fair, Business Expos and attending trade shows every month. We talk to Job Seekers and employers on a regular basis and these tools would help us spread the message on our Social Media platforms (FB, Twitter, Linkedin, and our new blog that we are starting to create in house.)

    As you know in order to build follower ship and attract fans to our site you need to keep the content fresh, up to date and in a timely fashion. If we had the capabilities to be able to upload pictures, Interviews, and relative testimonials from the field it would brand our company as a leading expert on employment and Social media in the New England Territory. also works with Local minor league sports teams in the territories we serve. I have created partnerships with the Portland Sea Dogs, Portland Pirates, Maine Red Claws, Pawtucket Red Sox’s and the Providence Bruins. As part of these agreements we attend local community events and help out with philanthropic events for example: habitat for humanity and the Barbra Bush Children’s Hospital.

    The Iphone and ipad right now is strictly a consumer product, but businesses are starting to come up with ideas on how to integrate these tools in order to tap into this growing market, so the question is how will it be managed and integrated.

    If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call.

    Have an Excellent Day!

  64. I work as a copy editor/reporter for The Middletown Press/West Hartford News. I understand it’s important stay on top of new technology, and I know that an iPhone, iPad and netbook can help us do better, faster.

    An iPhone can be used as a reporter’s best resource, used for taking video, tweeting, getting directions to breaking news and recording interviews. With the touchscreen keyboard’s response time, they can start their articles so editors get it on the web faster, and netbooks would allow reporters to file their stories on-site.

    An iPad would allow us to show readers what goes on behind the scenes and respond to their concerns. Through my blog,, I’ve been getting into the community and hearing what readers want. They want features stories, offensive comments removed from our website and to know how to navigate our website. With the iPad, I can have a standing conversation around town with readers, show them how I alert reporters of potential features pieces and delete offensive comments and I can show them how to work our website. I’m patient, and a good teacher, and I know these resources in my hands will make an office full of tech-capable employees.

  65. John,
    It’s all about people first. Whether we’re in print or online, our role as journalists is engaging the community and meeting them on their terms fulfilling their needs. We’ve lost market share because we haven’t done that.
    As an advisory board member, I’d spend one of my days in different coffeehouses while tweeting and blogging and talking with people there. I’d spend another at a community event doing the same. One day, I’d visit other locations like a senior citizens home, an after-school program, etc. to get as diverse input as possible — limited only by ours and others’ imaginations.
    As a reporter, I’ve been to Iraq in October and followed a U.S. Senate candidate on Election Day, blogging and tweeting or doing video. I think it’s imperative that we reach out to our communities in a dramatic and genuine way to show that we do care about the same things they do while letting them know we’ll keep them updated in an immediate and compelling way through this digital media.
    Thank you,

  66. From CSM e-magazine:
    “Traditional’ methods of communication are always in danger of being superceded. . . Like it or not, many consumers and those shaping the future of business, are starting to wake-up to, and engage in, a post-email communications landscape. . . At the heart of everything is the growth of social networking applications and the evolution of instant messaging . . .”
    The customer service landscape is changing. Customers today expect multiple interfaces with a company and this includes electronic tools. The new customers we need to make have literally grown up with these tools as an important means of communication.
    I would love the opportunity to explore ways to make new connections with our customers and potential customers using the tools provided. It could be from a customer oriented blog, social networking, or simply having the tools to handle a hot customer issue outside of normal business hours. Or it could be from something completely different, something from outside the box.

    Customers are always the heart of our business and we need to reach out to them using the same tools they do.

  67. What’s interesting is my future father-in-law used to read The Reporter’s news articles on

    Now, he can’t find those articles anymore. I don’t know what happened, but we definitely need to bring that exposure back again.

    With these tools and the advent of newer technologies, it is possible to be a localized, yet nationwide, newspaper.

  68. In a small office where there are only a few employees putting out a paper each week, the more technology and faster and more efficiently we can each do our jobs, the better we are and the better the paper as a whole.

    As an Advertising Representative for The Phoenix I already use an iPhone throughout the day.

    However, there are more free iPhone apps available, some that I am and some that I am not currently using, and iPad apps, that would make my job, as well as the job of the other reps here, much more efficient.

    Currently, we have to take credit card information and transcribe it onto paper, then call it in at the end of the day or the following day. Not only is this wasted time and resources, but it also puts some of our clients on edge, that their personal information is written down and out of their hand.

    The app Square would let us take instant credit card payments from clients while on the streets. This would aid in getting prepayment and post payment, as well as ease the minds of our clients.

    The app Gas Miles is an easy way for outside reps to keep records of their mileage during the day.

    There are also apps for business to business sales that allow the sales team to collaborate, access, view, search and engage current and potential clients.

    Also available on all three products is Google Maps, because we all get a little lost at some point, and social media giants Twitter and Facebook.

    From these three devices the sales force can also display The Phoenix’s webpage, play videos, and demonstrate video and online advertising to potential online clients.

    I am an ideal candidate for the ideaLab, to start looking at the best way to implement technology into the daily tasks of the Advertising Representative for Journal Register Company.

    Jessica Irvine
    The Phoenix

  69. hat could you not do with these tools?
    I believe that you open yourself up to becoming a multi-media company with much more substance. I feel you could create a library of information at your fingertips that would avail you to better stories, more photos and videos. You could do better research, contact more community organizations. You could share information and become more like an Associated Press within Journal Register using these tools sharing information that is relevant to the reader and timely. For it is the reader we want to keep entertained, informed. and always looking at our site and at our newspapers.
    The time spent would be used experimenting with the iPad’s different apps on the web, creating the ability to contact the community at your fingertips and to report instantanously.
    I would love to be a part of the ideaLab. Thank you for your consideration.

  70. What could you not do with these tools?
    I believe that you open yourself up to becoming a multi-media company with much more substance. I feel you could create a library of information at your fingertips that would avail you to better stories, more photos and videos. You could do better research, contact more community organizations. You could share information and become more like an Associated Press within Journal Register using these tools sharing information that is relevant to the reader and timely. For it is the reader we want to keep entertained, informed. and always looking at our site and at our newspapers.
    The time spent would be used experimenting with the iPad’s different apps on the web, creating the ability to contact the community at your fingertips and to report instantanously.
    I would love to be a part of the ideaLab. Thank you for your consideration.

  71. I would like to be a part of the ideaLab in order to begin making the Journal Register Company internship program a nationally recognized, sought-after opportunity.

    After serving as an intern at the Daily Local News in West Chester two years ago, I realized that interns and the paper could serve each other better – through organization and oversight, but especially communication. I volunteered to oversee interns last summer, unpaid, and this summer will spend unpaid time in addition to the part-time assistant news editor position to which I was hired last August.

    At our first staff meeting yesterday, eight interns and I discussed, among other things, how to organize the intern blog we will launch this week; using free internet tools to draw up a schedule for each of them to take a turn writing one column and one editorial this summer; and the efficiency of the free Google shared document application we are using to keep track of their assignments.

    I would use the time, tools, and visibility of the ideaLab to find ways for interns to branch into multimedia news and use their perspective and ideas to develop new ways to produce news, as well as communicate with other papers to develop our internship programs company-wide.

    Katrina Dix

  72. On the Spot: I would take the creation of news and networking (advertising) to the street. Literally. I would walk, drive and otherwise open the channel of community networking directly with the people and places of Litchfield County, Connecticut – “On the Spot”. I would camp out in cafes, visit farms, organizations and businesses and blog, Twitter, Facebook, coveritlive, flivkr it, youtube it… doing video, ( text reports, chats and uploads “On the Spot”. I would open the Netbook “On the Spot” and help a business, organization or individual set up a blog of their own – to start networking with us. I would use the “On the Spot” as a vehicle to explore the networking (new advertising) model that I have been thinking about. Where we use a news site platform as a way fuel and help businesses network and build community. I would do this by building business or organization blogs on the news site. Networking would become the new revenue model as well as the new content building model. The other thing I would do is to use “On the Spot” as a bridge to explore using the print platform as a guide to what is online in an “On the Spot” in-print page guide. We need to find a way to evolve the print platform as we evolve the online platform. The print becomes a guide to what is online. The networking would be used here in “guide” form as well. It would include a directory to the “One the Spot” content (I use “content” in the broader Internet sense to mean everything – “everything” online is “content” – including the business blogs). “On the Spot” model could then be taken to the other JRC sites. – Bernie Re

  73. Karen Workman’s plan can put The Oakland Press into the future, as she intends to work with the whole editorial staff to use new tools. Hers isn’t just a one-person plan; it’s a plan for the entire editorial staff.

  74. (This may have posted already – apologies if that happened. I was unable to see it posted, and re-submitted it)

    First, I agree with comments above that we should be looking into Android and other mobile platforms as well as Apple. But at the same time we can’t ignore the iPhone or the iPad due to their omnipresence and cultural significance.

    If we are to truly embrace these technologies, we must first convince every person in the newsroom, in advertising, classified and every other area of our news organization that ‘going mobile’ is not just another burden but a better way to do business and reach our communities. This would involve some demonstrations using sites (newspaper and others) that already use this technology well, as well as taking on targeted projects for each department to test out the gear.
    We should look at every single facet of our operation and think how these gadgets could improve them. Some examples:

    – Get reporters away from their desks with netbooks. Write on location, post immediately. Use Google apps to assign and write stories. Multi-task during long, boring meetings. Spend more time talking with the public, cultivating contacts, getting story ideas. Use the iPad or netbook to show potential bloggers what we are doing and encourage them to sign up.

    NETBOOK vs. LAPTOP? I’d probably go with a laptop. Netbooks are great, and can even handle photos and videos. But if we want our reporters to truly have a ‘mobile office’, they need a full-powered machine with a screen large enough to prevent eye strain. A 13-15 inch laptop is ideal. Maybe we could install docking stations in newsrooms instead of separate PC’s.

    – Use the iPhone to manage contacts, stay in constant touch with sources; broadcast live video frequently from breaking news, events and meetings; update Twitter and Facebook when covering ongoing stories. Sound recordings and live podcasts can be created with the iPhone for such events as debates, speeches, man-on-the-street, concerts and other events.
    An iPad or netbook could be used for a reporter or photographer to grab photos from the public from their gadgets if they are willing to share (this has happened at fire scenes, where neighbors approach and show us pictures of flames which were extinguished by the time we got there).

    – The iPad might have the greatest use for advertising, as a tool for on-site ad creation and ordering. The ‘wow’ factor alone should sell an ad or two. We are currently using dated laptops for this purpose, and the iPad would be a great way to update and use web-based tools.

    Using the GPS feature, we should create a map that highlights news stories, business / restaurant listings and calendar listings over a Google map. Such a map should be on our home page, perhaps tabbed for easy accessibility.

    Creating an iPad or mobile-friendly web presence needs to be looked at company-wide, as this needs to be tied in with presenting video and Flash elements that will work on all platforms. Right now, for example, if a reporter is ready to post a story from the field, it is difficult to find the correct spot on TownNews due to the way that the front page is mapped out. We need a blog-like structure that allows them to post a story, photo and even a video easily without re-arranging the entire front page.
    Videos need to appear properly on the machine without zooming in our out on the browser. And if Flash doesn’t work, nor do half the ads.

    Bottom line, I would like to see these tools tried out all over our operation. Some reporters and ad reps already have iPhones or other mobiles – perhaps we should consider giving an allowance to help pay their bill in return for using their phones for business purposes during the day?

    We should get writers and ad reps mobile for a week or so and have them report back about their experiences. At the same time we can explore the many apps on the iPad and think about what we could adopt to help our mission.

    Chris Stanley
    Online Editor
    The Reporter

  75. Dear Mr. Paton et al:

    It is with pride that I tell you my sales staff is embracing the changes JRC is experiencing and are stepping up their online game. Regular, ongoing training and a steady stream of new targets means that they are more engaged than ever before in selling digital first.

    And then they have to process their orders – with pen and paper – in triplicate. Oh, is the ad flat-rated? Then they have to fill out the insertion twice in order to get the Travidia portion billed. Did something change from the time they first wrote the order up? the size? one of the days of the schedule? Then they have to manually kill the order they already wrote up and rewrite it.

    As an ideaLab participant, I would revel in the opportunity to experiment with apps and programs that could streamline the entire process: conduct a needs analysis with a customer and have relevant market information at your fingertips, prepare a proposal then and there, generate an order from the proposal and transmit it from the field, keep a running total of sales and create reports for activity and revenue on demand, create ads with the customer – the possibilities for being responsive to a customer’s needs are endless. And, the time freed from mundane, manual and repetitive administrative tasks would be the equivalent of hiring more sales reps.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share this idea and for your consideration.


  76. Dear John,
    I would like to throw my hat into the ring for consideration to be one of your 15 Idea Lab members. I have been with the Journal Register Co. for the past 9 years starting as the Production Director for Acme Newspapers Inc,(now Main Line Media News) In the past year I have added Montgomery Media, while some of the publications closed.
    I have been troubleshooting software, hardware Mac, PC and network problems for 7 offices every day for 9 years for and would love the opportunity to seek new and inexpensive ways to publish our local news to our communities via Website, Mobile web, and print. I have been the go to guy of Publishers, Editors, and Production staffers from Montgomery, Main Line and Delco offices.
    I have a background in Pre-Press, Print, Advertising Agency, Newspaper production and IT.
    I have also covered the AP dept during bankruptcy, contacting vendors and working out payment issues as well as seeking out unnecessary accounts to close when offices closed. I did find accounts that were still being paid 2 years after the office had closed, found less expensive cleaning services, ect. Total cost savings = $4,020.00 per month. I converted 2 editorial departments, 1 MAC OS9 and 1 Windows 98 into one 14 station Windows Xp editorial department, building local Quark pages instead of the legacy ATS Editorial system in 1 week, by gathering unused desktop machines and re-building. My past is all about seeking new ways to get the job done, please include me in the future.

  77. I am sitting at a school board meeting waiting to hear about possible teacher layoffs, an all too familiar story these days.
    Story one from this meeting: At the beginning of the meeting, a track coach whose job is on the cutting board delivers an emotional speech about what the track program has done for the school. All the players on his team stand up to be recognized while the packed auditorium gives them a rousing applause. (What I did – took notes and pulled out my new Flip video. What I could have done with the ideaLab tools – instantly take a video and photos with the iPhone, and Tweet and Facebook them, since I maintain those for our newspaper.)
    Story two from this meeting: Since we are still on the topic of potential cuts, two social workers in the district approach the school board to tell the stories of their mornings, and how important their position is to the district. (What I did – took notes on their narrative, but couldn’t pull out the Flip video in time to catch the entire thing. What I could have done with the ideaLab tools – Since I missed the Flip opportunity, I could have typed an excerpt of their speech using the Netbook and posted it on our Web site. Along with it I could create a poll question asking which positions being discussed to cut are the most important; all the while posting the items to our Facebook and Twitter.)
    Story three from this meeting: After some more citizen comments, the meeting finally discusses the topic that I came for – to hear the board’s reaction to the proposed budget. Each board member talks about their views of the budget, and gives their standard “don’t blame us, blame school funding” speech. (What I did – took notes on what they said and ultimately turned it into a story for both print and online, using only the more dynamic quotes of course. What I could have done with the ideaLab tools – Once they were done speaking I could have posted a few quick graphs online, with links to a PDF of the schools proposed budget. Also, while each board member was giving their opinion on the budget, I could have used any of the tools to tweet what they were saying and encouraged followers to respond.)
    Since I am, unfortunately, only one person and I cover two cities I ultimately could not finish all three of these stories. The only story that actually made print was the board’s reaction to the proposed budget. In these times, though, I attend meetings like this every week. Our newspaper, The News-Herald in Michigan, is the best at community journalism in our market. We are the only product that gives readers the chance to watch their neighbor on video, or read about their daughter’s soccer team. Giving readers more community reporting, whether it be a video online or a full blown story, is exactly what will fuel our readership.
    I feel that I would be the best person to utilize the ideaLab tools to generate what JRC and our readers are looking for. Since I maintain our social media networks, the tools would best be used by me. I am completely prepared to don comfy shoes and run around all my meetings with my ideaLab tools in action!
    I appreciate your consideration,
    Angie Favot
    The News-Herald

  78. As I read the comments from your blog,I echo Bill Mason, I am a news junkie.
    I read news from all over the world. Sunday mornings, my husband and I purchase several newspapers to read with our breakfast. We cut out stories, mainly to remind ourselves of TV shows to DVR, or some interesting article, or a book to check out, or an itouch app to look at.

    I do not need an itouch from you with strings attached. My son already presented me one for Mother’s Day. The second part of my gift arrived from Singapore in the mail yesterday. He bought skins for my itouch. I kept the envelope because that’s what moms do.

    The itouch was perfect this past Friday as I was able to keep in touch with my son as the USS Truman was deploying and he was emailing me from the ship.

    I do not need a netbook from you with strings attached. My husband already presented me with one for my birthday.

    But I have learned on my own the itouch in the past week and a half. I feel I am tech savvy enough to learn.

    I have downloaded only free applications, and would suggest a tech corner much like the NY Daily News has in their Sunday paper. They choose five to six apps and choose one to Grab and one to Skip. The one for this past week was WhiteBoard.

    I love news. I read the NY Post, Drudge Report, Moscow Times, Mainichi Times Daily, Obscure Store, Boing Boing, my list goes on.
    I still have much to learn but learn I will and I am a determined person.

    Thank you for your time.


  79. Ditto to all the support for Karen Workman’s proposed plan for The Oakland Press newsroom. I think the team approach is a good one. And the ability to post updates to the website from anywhere would be a boon to the Press. In addition, Karen already has a proven track record in assisting us in the use of the new technology we have already mastered, so there is every reason to think she could carry out this plan.

  80. I would like to be considered for the IdeaLab experiment based on the following criteria. On Tuesday I will be starting a new position within the company as the Ad director of one of our small daily papers which will afford me the opportunity to bring a change of culture to their environment. Also as my entire experience in the newspaper business is one year I have no predisposition on how things should be done or any allegiance to “how it’s always been done”. I would not only use the tools myself but would share the tools with the staff and solicit input as to how we can use these to better serve our company and community. Thanks you for your consideration.

  81. First, I think the best way to view this is to think about the easiest, most common use cases for each device and work backwards in a sense to reach the idea. This should be a discussion between us and this is the starting point.

    iPhone/smart phone – Quick, short media broadcasts (a la Twitter or photo upload to Facebook); quick, short consumption (including notifications about all these uses); life organization (including things like navigation). In summary, highly portable / real time, short form interactivity in short usage time intervals. Used daily throughout the day.
    iPad/tablet – Long(er) form consumption; medium usage time intervals; less portable but becoming more so day-by-day; more centered around one-click/tap interactions. Probably used daily or at least every few days and maybe only a few times per day with concentrated uses in the morning afternoon and evening.
    Netbook/laptop – All the above but longer form; productivity and submission based interaction (i.e., text entry); longer usage time intervals; even less portable but again becoming more so day-by-day. More day time usage probably with an evening spike.
    Second, for me it’s helpful to define a list of key adjectives that express what I envision this idea to encompass but are also essential.

    Real time
    Location aware
    Quick and easy to use
    Easily share-able
    Seamless across expressions
    Contextually threaded incl. where possible threading with the platform (e.g., an iPhone news app that threads the phones camera into the experience for quicker/easier sharing of news)
    Technically dynamic (i.e., no user action required to receive updated information)
    And third, we have to answer how people consume news nowadays. When it comes to national, international and maybe state-wide news stories, I think most people are about sound bites, headlines and summaries. Why? Because it’s only so relevant to them. I think 80% of the news audience thinks they are served by and also probably feel satisfied with that amount of news information at that level of coverage.

    Certain niches, like politics, that can be a lower percentage but I think the 80/20 rule applies. My evidence for that is the amount of commenting on major news sites combined with consumption patterns that I am aware of (e.g., number of pageviews per visitor to a site is generally low telling me that most people view 1-2 pages and a minority view a lot more).

    When it comes to local, that can change significantly. At that point you have much more relevance because the news is about things the consumer can see or touch or interact with offline. But even at this level “traditional” news is for the most part about headlines, sound bites and summaries for probably the majority. And that I see more as an issue of time than anything else. Consumers only have so much time to spend and they have to choose where to spend it.

    So the sweet spot of a news consumer is the 20% that go beyond the headlines and interact with the content and the other part of the 20%. There is probably another 20-30% that are mostly consumption driven but engage on certain levels that are especially relevant for them such as politics or local or a combo of things.

    OK, so that leads to a segmentation of the audience that I will be bold enough to label. This to me is an important part of the puzzle.

    Interactives – 20% who go beyond the headlines in either consumption or interactivity but for the most part both.
    Motivateables – 30% that, from time-to-time, engage and interact when the subject/content are really relevant to them.
    Consumptives – 50% that just listen, read and for the most part do it in bites.
    Now, how can one integrate and promote consumption of, interaction with and contribution to news in a cohesive experience that is familiar yet refined for each experience and embodies all those adjectives while serving the way that people want (as expressed by their current actions) to consume and interact with and about news? The answer to that is the brilliant idea that we have to define. I don’t think it’s a small idea honestly but probably a series of small ideas that make the big idea. Forgive me for being long winded but this is how I break ideas down.

    So now I am going to try to express that idea via a story about an Interactive audience type since that puts it into a real life use case(s) using the one type that should capture all the features in the extreme use case. I think for this purpose you have to ignore the specifics of the marketing component and assume that the brand/product has been successfully marketed and branded.

    Interactive User
    I visit the website (we’ll call it for ease) almost every day because I know it’s cutting edge, real time, interactive and relevant. It’s local and therefore relevant to my online AND offline life. I not only know the places and even people that are covered but I definitely know other people in the audience that are also active on the site.’s broader appeal to me is that it also aggregates AND refines the best international, national and state level news but also let’s me customize those sources. That makes my one stop for all news.

    It also gives me a very familiar experience on my phone and my tablet. On my phone, it let’s me easily scan lists of headlines that are always written to provide me with value (instead of as teasers to get me to click) and view either summaries or full stories. There’s a tab and with 2-taps and some quick texting I can take a picture and upload to the site as a story idea or breaking news item.

    I use my phone multiple times per day to catch up on headlines because I know is always active and I don’t want to miss anything.

    On my tablet, I get a little more. I can rate other users comments, stories, ideas, etc. with one tap on icons next to those items. I can share original content or anything from across the web which is automagically integrated as a summary on my profile page so that other users can vote, rate, etc. on my stuff but also click through to read it.

    The more I rate and/or contribute content, the higher my ranking becomes on the site. Eventually I’ll be able to submit stories without them having to be reviewed. I will also be able to have more influence on other users submissions since my tenure means my ratings have more weight compared to more casual users.

    One of the reasons I love so much is that I can easily “follow” my favorite journalists and interesting contributors from the audience. I can also be followed and the more I am followed, the more my rank increases too. My followers show up in different colors depending on what I am looking at and in some cases cause stories to be ordered differently for me because of how those that I follow have rated things.

    I use my tablet in the morning over coffee and then again before bedtime and then sometimes when I am out-and-about I will take it with me (Starbucks and such).

    On my PC, I get all the above but it’s just even that much easier, interactive and dynamic. This is my full on experience and where I spend most of my time on the site since I like to comment and write stories. Here I can comment or contribute inline to a video stream, I can see a real time “ticker” or scrolling “chat” of all the activity on the site and easily click to interact with any item that scrolls by, among other things.

    This is why I love and use it every day

  82. Katie Bontinen and Kathleen Carey are right on. Our company, like most legacy media companies, has failed to connect with the communities it serves. The result, I think, is we’re teetering on the brink of irrelevancy. I don’t know anyone around my age — I’m 28 — who would miss The Oakland Press if it disappeared. I’m sure the reality is similar for most JRC publications. While this is hardly a scientific appraisal, it’s disturbing anecdotal evidence of our lack of engagement.

    Our company’s problem, simply put, is we haven’t created enough content that people care about, and we’ve spent too much time creating content that people don’t care about. We’ve also treated readers as consumers rather than partners. I think the challenge for anyone in the ideaLab is to find solutions that will develop greater dialogue between our publications and communities. Another challenge is to identify and eliminate failed strategies — and to understand that many of our new initiatives also will fail. We can’t stay attached to ideas that don’t work.

    This is a critical moment for our company — yet also an exciting opportunity to reinvent it. I see great potential for immediate and inexpensive solutions, like creating online-only publications (using free and cheap platforms) that would appeal to niche audiences, and welcoming readers into the story assignment and newsgathering processes — as others also have suggested. New devices would allow us to investigate better ways to do on-the-ground journalism (finding more uses for services like Foursquare and Twitter) that can bypass slow, traditional methods.

    While I’d love to have extra pay and set-aside time, I’d also gladly contribute to the ideaLab on my own time. And I can agree with my colleagues’ recommendation for Karen Workman. Although we don’t work in the same department, I’ve watched her give up her time to help others with video when I know she had deadlines to meet. I’d also recommend Matthew B. Mowery from our sports department — a guy with good ideas who flat-out makes things happen.

    James Briggs
    Twitter: @JamesEBriggs

  83. The most appealing part of being involved with the ideaLab is the chance to brainstorm with the best and brightest in our company. We have some brilliant minds in this company and should be encouraging them to delve into new avenues for us to connect with our readers.

    To have 20% of my hours each week spent just exploring the internet to find innovation and trying to create our own unique ways to connect with our audience would be more interesting to me than the devices, and (believe it or not) more than the bonus in the pay.

    I’m a bit of a tech nerd, so I know what those toys are capable of. The chance to use those tools and time to explore whatever is next is more interesting to me.

    One thing I want to explore is live video. We have successfully broadcast from our building through UStream, but I’d love to explore how we can make it happen from live events and get our audience involved in chats during community events.

    We’re also working on some ongoing web series ideas..

    If this gives our paper a chance to help jump head-first into what’s next, I’m in.

  84. John,
    Given the opportunity to be a participant in the JRC ideaLab I would utilize these tools and time to develop digital only products. The traditional JRC thought process is to produce a print product and then figure out how to create a digital add on.
    I would like to not only start with digital first, but create a digital only arm of the business. Where we can create new content, or re-purpose our current content into digital products that drive audience, revenue and increase market share.
    A few of my ideas to move forward on during this new found time are;
    1. Re-purpose our video content out to local TV/Cable outlets
    2. Create a portal site that uses all our police blotters to reflect community crime
    3. Increase JRC’s footprint by creating a community website, in a market we do not currently consider a primary market.
    The challenge would be to make sure these digital products would all be viewable, but not limited to the iPhone, iPad and netbook.
    I believe these projects would push the current definition of JRC as a company, and would move us from a newspaper to multi-media organization.

    – Alexander Gould

  85. To start, I recently transferred from in Philly to New Haven’s because I wanted to be on the front lines of this company’s transformation. In doing so, I moved out of my parents’ basement to an unfamiliar metropolitan area. So I’m all for declaring some independence this summer.

    I’d look for fresh, untapped ways to connect to our communities and enhance the stories we already tell. It’s not just about rewiring our operation. It’s also about rewiring our communities and bringing power to the people again. I’d do so by scouring new apps we can apply and by consistently analyzing the way social platforms on the net hold up and engage online communities.

    I think I’m an ideal fit for the ideaLab because I am spawn of this digital age – in college, I published news for a music site ( before Myspace even existed. But I also have the most profound faith in print if we treat it as it’s own niche experience. I want to be part of the charge that creates even more niche ways for us to connect, engage and serve our communities. The ideaLab is the first bold step down that path.

    I also recognize you want people who will spread the excitement and abilities of these new tools with the rest of their property, from the newsroom to advertising to the mail room. Not only can I do that – I want to do that. I think the folks in Pottstown and here in New Haven can vouch.

    Also, 10 hours a week? Bah, I’d be tinkering with these tools productively all week long. As far as I’m concerned, ideaLab never ends, not when we’re talking about how to rewire our communities, and lives.

    – Chris March, online producer

  86. Hi JRC community,

    I am posting in support of my intern supervisor, Katrina Dix, who was post #73 in this discussion. I am one of the interns she overseas and have worked in the newsroom for about a week and a half now. I believe the volunteer work Katrina provides for the newspaper is honorable and instrumental to the future of the industry for not only me or the other interns in the office, but for JRC and journalism itself.

    My first idea involves efficiency. Although she tries, Katrina cannot help all seven of the interns at once. Thus this technology would help her greatly reach all of us at an individual level more frequently and at a timely matter through the blogging we will perform and by mobile devices that will serve her busy day to day schedule.

    Secondly,I think the technology will enable her to help us develop multimedia projects that will hold the interest of our readers, while educating us interns in the new media that will become the future of journalism.

    I think the work Katrina could do with the tech would allow our paper produce higher quality stories at a faster rate. Not to mention the ability for interns with novice to advanced backgrounds to develop clips that show their potential and ability.

    Thank you and I hope you consider her project,

    Connor Showalter
    Temple University Intern
    Daily Local News (Chester County, Pa)

  87. When I launched my college basketball blog in 2007, it was unique at The Trentonian as a forum for two things: Up-to-the-minute coverage of events and an ongoing dialogue with readers.

    I’ve led the way in innovative coverage and, by using free, web-based tools such as CoveritLive, turned the blog into a model for other components of our site, such as the Minor League Baseball blog we launched last year.

    We’re off to a good start, but tools such as the iPhone and iPad will allow us to make even faster progress, by producing content from more places and by making our product more marketable to people who read news on mobile devices.

    Since I juggle the college basketball beat with the Assistant Sports Editor’s job, I’m able to use new-media tools on my own assignments and offer guidance to other staffers.

    In March, I hosted chats during every game of the MAAC tournament, holding a dialogue with as many as 250 readers per game. (The chats are all archived here:

    The response I got was overwhelming. Readers want more of the same, and they want it for a variety of events, from high school football games to elections.

    Our company needs to keep building on that model, and with a spot on the ideaLab team, I’d be able to devote even more energy toward reaching that goal.

  88. Pingback: Notes and links for RBTN #53 (draft) « Rebooting The News

  89. Hi, John.

    This is Dan Kristie, the West Chester beat reporter for the Daily Local News.

    Here’s what I propose: we experiment with a “West Chester newsfeed.” It will resemble a blog, and throughout the day I will post to it stories, briefs, videos, photos, links to local blogs, etc. The iPhone and the Netbook will make it possible to post instantly, from wherever I am; to tweet links to the posts; and to link to the posts on my work Facebook page, which I recently created. (Does the iPad do anything the other two devices cannot? Is it necessary?)

    The newsfeed will be wide-ranging: more will be covered, and the articles will be short and frequently-updated. And it will be streamlined – all the West Chester news will be in one place. Our clunky website does not organize articles geographically, forcing readers to grope around looking for news about their towns. Young readers, especially, are turned off by this.

    Eventually, our other reporters could make similar newsfeeds for the areas they cover. Then, instead of wasting time filing separate “print” and “web” versions of our stories, we could concentrate on the feeds. The copydesk could put stuff from our feeds directly in the paper. (I’ve noticed the people who read our website do not read the print edition, so there’s no loss in the repeat.)

    A model for these newsfeeds is pa2010 (, a politics site run by Dan Hirschhorn, an acquaintance of mine. The state’s political junkies love it, and from what he tells me, it’s making money.

    • Is this similar to what Tumblr does? I have been debating whether to get a strictly-for-news Tumblr account — I already have a Twitter and WordPress — but giving a microblog, but macro compared to Twitter, devoted to news sounds like something I’d be interested in doing.

      • You’re right. This is similar to what Tumblr does. We’d probably have to use a free site like Tumblr during the experimentation phase. If we went forward with the idea, however, it would be nice to develop a newsfeed format that is actually a part of our websites. At the DLN, our community bloggers use Tumblr — to get to their blogs, you must first “leave” our site. This is a good idea when it comes to community bloggers, whose ideas we might want to keep some distance from. But it’s not ideal for reporters. The “newsfeeds” I envision would be a more central part of our websites.

  90. My idea on how to use the tools and time to improve The Oakland Press and JRC as a whole is quite simple: expand your thinking. What I mean by that is most people look for ways to improve their department and ways they can improve the job they are doing. As a sports writer/copy editor nearly all my time is devoted to the sports section and how to make it better. I have come up with plenty of ideas to improve the sports department, but have limited myself to just ideas for sports. Members of the ideaLAB should use these tools to think outside of their department.

    If given the time and tools, I would start the process by shadowing other employees from every department. Spend a day in their shoes, see the problems they face and look for ways to use these tools to help them improve our product. It’s amazing the easy solutions that might be right there.

    I would also use the tools to find ways for departments to work together more efficiently. You can come up with a thousand great ideas, but if you can’t find ways to produce revenue then it’s all for nothing. If editorial and advertising can find a way to work together to come up with ideas to not only produce worthwhile content, but find ways to profit off them then that will be what saves our industry.

    I realize choosing 15 people will be a difficult task so I encourage anyone that is lucky enough to be picked to try some of my ideas. You might be surprised by the ideas you can come with to help your co-workers. Co-workers that you didn’t even have the chance to meet before the ideaLAB.

    Dave Pemberton
    The Oakland Press

    • I thought it would be a good idea to read through some of these suggestions and give my feedback as an enthusiastic reporter in Ohio, and I am so right.

      I couldn’t agree with you more Mr. Pemberton. I can say with certainty that many of the reporters in the news department don’t have any idea what is going on in sports and sports only knows what is going on in news by what they hear or what they see in the newspaper.

      To expand one’s thinking we have to be able to overlap into different departments and with the use of these tools, we would be able to do that. We would be able to communicate with readers and fellow journalists on a whole different level and that is exciting.

  91. John: With all of the people clamoring to be part of the ideaLAB, it looks like the most difficult job will be choosing just 15. And that’s OK, because we ALL must be part of the ideaLAB — in spirit if not in actual “body.” I think we all want that — I know I do.
    Every paper can point to a small staff, limited/outdated resources, not enough time and too much work. Not being in touch enough with the community … you know the list. But I think we all have moved away from those complaints to focus on community-driven journalism and all that it means.
    It would be great if every newspaper could have a set of these tools given to them and share the wealth. With one “idea” person in charge at each site to guide the way, the potential is limitless.
    Speaking for the newsroom alone … and being a person who has worked at the paper before there was any “technology” to speak of … it’s exciting to embrace change every day and look forward to the next apps.
    Having an iPad and iPhone in this newsroom would get us out into the community even more, sending instantly from meetings, court cases, accident scenes, fires and the like.
    But we’d also produce more “mojo” reporting of everyday life — the kids selling lemonaid for a good cause, the person out there looking for a job, the cab driver with interesting stories to tell — we all know the list is endless. But we’d be telling so many more stories of people’s concerns, tribulations, successes, complaints … and doing it instantly.
    Having owned a Mac even back when the screen was tiny and computers were new, I’m partial to Apple; I know that debate may rage on.
    What’s important is to tap into all these great ideas people are posting. Mine is nothing new, I know, but the enthusiasm of all the posts surely leaves us all thirsting after involvement in the ideaLAB and using these actual devices to their full potential.
    We’re a multimedia company on the grow and I want to support this initiative in every way possible.

  92. John,
    As Classified Manager of the Daily Times my goal is to drive revenue, this is what I propose to do with the new tools that the Idea Lab would offer:

    I envision integrated apps that take both news and advertising from a small area (I’m thinking zip code specific) that deliver all of the latest news from that area to them. It could start as an upsell to current online/print advertisers and once the subscriber base is large enough we could sell mobile only ads on it.

    We need to do more to convert our current print base into online advertisers and get some new advertisers. We need to become more like consultants. Whether that involves setting up Facebook or Twitter pages, or even using free tools to help them build mini web sites, this will drive revenue as they promote their new sites on our local sites.

    I envision category specific apps so that the garage sale “junkies”, job hunters and potential tenants can have the latest ads delivered directly to them.

    We need both Facebook and Twitter pages for all advertising categories, Garage Sales to Retail – we can use these pages to drive traffic to our site as well as help our advertisers get a better response.

    These visions will be much easier to implement with tools such as the IPhone, IPad and a Netbook, and most importantly the time to implement them. They will in time drive revenue which is the ultimate goal of this company.

  93. The Foothills Media Group of weekly newspapers would benefit immensely from improved technology, and getting more readers to our sites is my goal, so whatever I can do to improve that process, I embrace it. My email blasts, Tweets and updates on the Web site, which is a combined site for all six of the weeklies under my purview, are helping, but we need more video content. that’s why Kaitlyn’s live chat effort is so important. Our communities are responding.
    I worry about not having time to write, paginate and manage, but I embrace the vision for the future.

  94. Hi JRC community,
    Ideally, I would like to see all newspapers keep up with the digital age and by doing so it means making numerous changes. Having strong blog content and Twitter access that supplements great printed work is just the start of the transformation.
    As an intern with the Daily Local News I’m seeing the difference between what my college newspaper does and where the Daily Local is trying to go. For me, maintaining a blog, breaking news on Twitter, posting web updates and creating audio and video material to supplement my print work are all things I’ve done in the past year and are all part of creating a 24/7 news cycle. As a football reporter for Penn State’s Daily Collegian I’ve seen what we’re able to accomplish and how we use videos, polls, chats and interactive programs to strengthen our work. With proper training and willing people, the Daily Local could also do exceptional technological projects. While young people are more used to technology, eventually it will be an entire effort to see that the interns and the staff are helping each other take the idealab to the next level. The mix of ages in the newsroom is great for a project like this because even the interns have insight about technological advances and want to help strengthen the internship program. If selected for the idealab, intern coordinator Katrina Dix could communicate everyone’s ideas with us and then we could help by offering our advice and learning from others. The intern coordinator, along with the other interns, could all help make the notion of technological advances in the newsroom a reality.

  95. Greetings,

    I am also commenting in connection to post #73 in this discussion made by my intern coordinator, Katrina Dix, at the Daily Local News (Chester County, PA).

    First of all, having access to this type of technology would improve the process of reporting with tools such as recording devices, video, email, and the internet right at the fingertips.

    In addition, having eight interns in the office makes it very hard for Katrina to give us all thorough feedback about our work. This is the most important part of this internship opportunity as it allows for growth in our reporting skills. With this type of advanced technology, Katrina would be better able to correspond with the interns and catalyze our blogging which is done on a daily basis.

    I also believe by investing this type of time and technology in an internship program will ultimately be investing in the future. As interns and college students, we are the next generation to shape the world of journalism.

    Thank you for your time,
    Erin Moyer
    University of Richmond Intern
    The Daily Local News (Chester County, PA)

  96. Hello All,

    I am a new intern from The Daily Local News, and I am commenting in support of my supervisor, Katrina Dix. Though I’ve only arrived relatively recently, I can already see that her need to balance both her position as both part-time assistant news editor and intern advisor is intensely dependent on her ability to remain in constant contact with us. If she can’t be consistently checking with interns to see what we are working on and what we have already accomplished, we risk wasting valuable time.

    Moreover, one of the most meaningful aspects of her position is her essential designation as our teacher. At our first staff meeting we discussed the rapidly changing nature of the industry and the importance of technology and research in the workplace. However, as new developments in technology are leading to increasing amounts of work and coverage being conducted on-site, we will undoubtedly soon be depending on these new products and programs in our line of work as journalists someday. In order for those of us in the field to learn what will be required of us in the future, Katrina needs to learn how to access and utilize these tools today. As an intern advisor, her knowledge would be beneficial not just for her as an individual, but for all of those in training that she assists and oversees.

    Thank you,

    Miranda Gipe

  97. My name is Eric Smith and I am a beat reporter at the Daily Local News in West Chester.
    I believe the IdeaLab is a wonderful concept that will allow 15 professionals an opportunity to use technology in a meaningful way. However, I firmly believe that there are many more than 15 outstanding professionals in this company. While I understand that budget concerns prevent everyone from being able to have this technology immediately, I do believe that we can spread the wealth even more than we are proposing. In the current concept of IdeaLab there are 45 pieces of equipment for professionals to utilize. Therefore, I propose that we find out which pieces of equipment make the most sense for certain individuals and give 45 people one piece of technology each. This allows more people to be creative and help move this company forward.
    However, if my radical change to the program is not acceptable, then I have my own proposal for what I would do as a participant in the project. This technology would allow us work on longer projects that require many conversations with sources and document digging while still being connected to the office and the sources for the brief pieces.
    Also it would allow us to be able to put up interesting documents and videos immediately to our website- as well as pieces for print- that would preview the in-depth pieces that are coming. This would drive interest and intrigue for the grand pay-off which is our stories. After all, making readers salivate over our upcoming, in-depth, revealing content is, in my opinion, what we are seeking.
    To connect my proposal with my personal use, I believe the iPhone would best fit my personal ideas.
    Thank you for your time and I look forward to potentially being involved with this project.

  98. As a sales manager I have seen first hand that showing a strong grasp of technology can instill confidence in your advertiser to move forward with the sale. With these tools I would spend a lot of my time downloading and researching applications that would help me manage my staff, and conduct sales calls. Business card scanner apps, spread sheet apps, along with a vast array of other tools are always being created that will help me do my job better. Being able to take advantage of learning the newest ones and using them on these tools would go a long way in showing my reps and clients that JRC is truly “digital first”.

    Honestly these tools have a lot of capabilities that I don’t even know about and are growing every day. Having the time to look into and repot back to the JRC on how they can help us is something I would be highly interested in. Too many staff members and clients are just afraid to take that next step when it comes to jumping into the digital world. If I can show them how easy it is to navigate these tools and software they will feel a lot more comfortable in taking that leap into digital that we want both our employees and clients to achieve. I feel in the long run instilling confidence in digital technology is the fastest way to grow our business.

  99. Dear John,

    I’m writing to express my interest in the ideaLab. I think I would be good at this job because I’m young and have an open mind about the changes in technology and the journalism industry in general.

    As you know, I recently covered the Marines boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. I think this a good example of my ability to adapt to technology and work out of the office. While I was there, I wrote stories every day and sent them to the newsroom with the company laptop. I utilized the new flip camera to produce videos, took photos and posted blog entries.

    I’ve been an employee with the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., for three years now. The first four months, I was a copy editor so I have experience with different page layout programs, including Quark and Alfa. After the copy editor position, I moved into a reporter role which has given me the opportunity to write stories, post to the web and utilize Twitter.

    In closing, I’d like to reiterate my interest in this project. I’m up for the challenge that would help this company.

    Danielle Lynch

  100. While I do have extensive experience in the digital space and I am focused on producing web-based solutions to increase audience engagement and drive online revenue, I have been passionate and driven to move this company into the digital world for the last 5 ½ years. It would be an honor to be apart of a group of individuals in the ideaLAB who will explore new ground to produce digital products for the new JRC.

    If we are to succeed in the digital space, here’s what we should do:

    Build a Hyper Local Audience:

    In 1996, when I first started my internet career, the concept was to “build a hub and let them come” – well Facebook, MySapce, Twitter have succeeded in the social media space, now let’s take the same concept and build the hyper local audience that will differentiate JRC from a newspaper industry struggling with the future. Let’s transform this company into a true multi-media company that we strive to become.

    First, let’s give the community a space to be heard, building true community engagement where community problems are solved. They layer atop community experts and model this after when first entered the digital space. Allow community experts or “Guides” write about their community from restaurant reviews to the zoning issues in the local town. As Guides become more popular and drive audience engagement, the Guides will receive a stipend through ads sold on their section.

    Online Products First:
    With the new JRC philosophy and strategy of Digital First, let’s build online products to drive audience and market share, as well as revenue:

    This starts with the right mix of products:

    Classified Advertising Platform: is it really necessary to partner with vendors to support our classified print-to-web ads? Or, web-to-web ad place? Or, can JRC build a free web-based solution to let customers place their ad online, target their ad to a community web site(s), or regionally across all of our JRC sites in the market, or even reach other markets outside JRC footprint by developing strategic partnerships with other media companies, or other pure play sites in the market.

    Online Advertising: a few vendors in the digital space do a great job at self-service print and banner creative development. Give the tools to the consumer and let them build the ad, let supply and demand dictate the rate and placement, and step aside. Historically, advertisers will spend more money if you just get out of their way. Classified Self-Service increased revenue and lineage 6-months after deploying a self-service ad placement online at the New Haven Register. Today, we use a vendor across all of our web sites; we have seen an increase in the “Other” Classified category (merchandise, tag sales, etc) because we allow our customers to place there ads. Ironically, most ads are placed when the classified department is closed (after 6:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.)

    Digital Auto Strategy: I think we have a good working model to increase dealer participation and increase revenue in our markets. The auto strategy had in mind digital first. Dealers would have unlimited new and used vehicle listings online, with a select number of used car listings in print, which is used to drive consumers online. Facebook and Twitter also enhances the auto strategy to further build with local consumers and local dealers. This is our Digital First Strategy in play…

    Once we develop a working model, we can replicate across other business units from publishing and building community to online products to drive revenue.

    If selected as a member of the ideaLAB, I will continue to drive digital first products to not only increase audience engagement, but also continue to increase online revenue and build social media around all product launches.

      • We have a real estate platform. See Every newspaper has their real estate site, we are in the process of deploying by market now.

        All, if you have not seen the new real estate platform, please go to:

  101. Hello John,

    I’m sure you are receiving countless emails and blog comments from JRC employees interested in being part of your Idea Lab and I’m sure several of them have great ideas about how to use the new tools you mentioned to provide the company with incomparable hyper-local news coverage 24 hours a day.

    I’m not sure I can compete with those suggestions on a local level, but I think I offer the opportunity to do something on a slightly larger scale that can bring our work into the regional spotlight and in turn be beneficial for JRC from a PR perspective as well as from a revenue-generating perspective.

    As the beat reporter covering the Philadelphia Flyers, who as you know are a pretty hot topic in the Philadelphia region these days, I have been a pioneer in this market already with the way I cover the team.

    I was among the first sportswriters in the area (if not the first), and certainly the first on the Flyers’ beat, to incorporate my coverage of the team on Twitter and Facebook as well as my blog. As such, I am the second-most followed hockey writer in town behind only the CSNPhilly writer, who has the medium of a 24-hour sports TV station to constantly promote him. That means I’m followed by more people than either the Inquirer or Daily News – and that’s just with me using my own laptop and the recent addition of the Flip Cam.

    With more technology at my disposal, I could cover the team in the way I’ve wanted to for the past few years.

    I can envision live streams of interviews from the locker room, unique programming for our Web site that would consist of podcasts, live chats, and even a short video segment in which I could bring guests from the team or even have regular bits with players that branch out into other interests – like doing a Siskel and Ebert type of movie review with two players, or have them compete against one another on a Game show of some sort. Hockey players are easy to convince to do things like this, and no one has tried it yet.

    There would also be the ability for me to be able to post the latest news updates directly to our Web site from wherever I’m located, rather then waiting until I got back to my computer to send it in to an editor to publish online.

    I have other thoughts for down the road – like a weekly online radio show discussing hockey with fans for an hour or so – and even other possibilities that would incorporate more involvement of the readership and the fan base.

    I certainly don’t want to abandon journalistic integrity, but at the same time, I find that there are local fan-oriented sites that have greater traffic than newspapers, so if we could be trailblazers in becoming “the voice of the fan” across our coverage of all collegiate and professional sports, we could offer something that no other media entity has in this country – a forum for the readers to not only comment on our opinions but to also become part of us and our coverage. Include them in more content-driven ideas online to make them feel like they are all covering their favorite team and I am just their humble representative with access.

    There is a rabid hockey base in Philadelphia alone, but the Flyers have a huge following outside the area as well, and I know I generate traffic from afar already. Given the opportunity to be the best source of all things Flyers I think we can accomplish great things and be the landmark for all journalistic entities to emulate in the near future.


    Anthony J. SanFilippo
    Delaware County Daily TImes

  102. Greetings,

    With almost five years at The Record in Troy, NY, I am fairly new to the Journal Register Company in comparison to some of my colleagues but I think that gives me an edge because I am trying to look beyond the status quo and I applaud the efforts our company continues to make with incorporating technology into the journalism process.

    From reading, researching and brainstorming, I have a fusion of ideas for the future of our industry which could include going to internet subscriptions for either paying per article and/or emailing that day’s product to the consumer with a secure link.

    I already use the provided Flip video cameras on average four times a week to report on events and then I also capture interesting things I do on the weekend and then upload those to the site (like winter hiking or seeing random college students dressed up as knights fighting in the street).

    Similarly, I would experiment with the three provided technologies – from a newspaper reader’s perspective and from a newspaper writer’s. I would use the iPhone mainly to see how we can improve how we receive and distribute our news and information, the iPad to see how we can improve how people receive the news and compare this with the Netbook.

    I appreciate this opportunity.


    Danielle Sanzone
    The Record

  103. I would use the equipment to step-up all of our circulation promotions; but I would start with our EZ – Pay Program. First, I would suggest that all of our EZ – Pay customers be given a 15% discount for being on the program, because as of now there is no real incentive for being on the program. I could store more than one phone number per customer and have a better chance of contacting them by phone. It would be possible to contact our customers via email. I could also run special promotions on facebook and twitter for signing up (ie – $5 off for mentioning our ad on the web sites). I could create a database using a program like Quickbooks and make it easier to keep updated files on EZ – Pay customers. This would also allow me to generate mail and email lists for promotions. Creating updated graphics that would allow us to send out more professional letters would be possible also. Since all of the devices can be synchronized it would make it easy to implement the same EZ – Pay program across all of our newspapers and give our customers an incentive to continue to renew their subscription.

  104. I have many ideas for ways to take my paper to the next level. As a recent graduate, much of the new media techniques were taught during my last years as a student and I’m excited to work for a company that allows me to use them.
    I’d use the tools and time given to me to produce high quality news that’s customized for our readers. Anyone can learn to produce multimedia, but it’s the quality projects that will stand out. Readers want to see what’s important to them, even if it is creative and not in the traditional print medium.
    Our readers want more and if they don’t get it from us they’ll search elsewhere. These tools would help us be creative in how we produce news. Maps, timelines of news events and interesting videos are only a small example of ways I will ensure that our readers will have no need to search any further.
    Lorain is an amazing city for news, and with the right tools I can showcase the city, while showcasing the company as a leading innovator that’s shifting gears from newspaper company to media company.


    Jamila T. Williams
    The Morning Journal
    Lorain, Ohio

  105. I have been trying to come up with all these solutions to problems that could possibly be found using these wonderful tools.

    But the truth is I have no idea what may be found using the tools offered.

    The possibilities are endless, What fun it would be exploring.

  106. John,

    As an account executive for The Morning Journal, I am excited about the direction the company is heading as a multi media news company. The Ben Franklin Project is very intriguing.

    One of the main roadblocks we run into, as reps, is ad production. The time from receiving the ad material to the final proof can take days, sometimes weeks. With a faster turnover on ad production, our time on the street may increase.

    10 hours a week will be spent on incorporating the iPhone, iPad, and Netbook into the success of our sales staff. These three products can be utilized for the production of ads right in front of our clients. Using the iPhone to collect data, composing the ad with the iPAD, and delivering the final result with the net book. (Plus the Netbook weighs much less than the laptop I am carrying around – might save me from a hip replacement later on in life.) It will be a fun opportunity to find innovative ways to help our company succeed with the goals we have in place. Timed saved on production is more time on the street building relationships and contributing the success of where we as a company want to be in the near future.

    Have a wonderful week and I hope to hear from you.

    Victor Ciarrone
    The Morning Journal
    Retail Advertising

  107. Digital First!
    It’s my opinion that new thinking is required along with new technology. Our ad reps see the value of online; however, are they “Thinking” Digital First…or just “Selling” Digital First? More importantly, is there a difference? ….I say “Yes!”

    My ideaLab contributions:

    1. Break down the stigmas
    Many of my advertisers say, “Online is for the Young/Print for the Old.” We can break that stigma.

    Let’s setup our more “seasoned” employees with easy access to a personal blog/Twitter/Facebook. We’ll take hands on approach and walk them through the technology. On the flipside, let’s create a “Print Blog” – which may sound like an oxymoron, but I would disagree. Our talented production department can easily design a Print Shell to look like a Facebook page, complete with employee/reader updates/comments/photos. This works as self promotion, and will attract younger readers to participate.

    2. Promotion & Content On Demand
    While we continue to sell online, let’s continue to Promote our online.

    When we launched our new paper last year (Suburban Life) we were on the street, at the train stops, farmers markets, etc. Let’s put those I-Pads to use and show the community how easy and convenient it is to receive digital content on their laptops/ smart phones/etc. Have an email address? We’ll send you your favorite content daily at 7am for your ride into work. Content…On Demand.

  108. Mr. Paton,

    Since reading your e-mail on Monday morning, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways we can make JRC better through technology. My mind keeps returning to one central challenge: How can we make our presentation more appealing and our content more easily accessible?

    For all the hits our site has gotten, I’ve been stunned to learn just how much great content our readers are still missing. Take a look at my paper’s homepage, For folks like you and me, who eat, sleep, breathe and dream content, it’s a treasure trove. But for the casual reader, it can be overwhelming and almost intimidating. What is the difference between breaking news, latest updates and top stories? Is there a difference between clicking on the “Blogs” heading up top vs. the “Blog Center” at bottom right vs. the “Community Media Lab blogs” banner at bottom left? (Answer: Yes) Once I find podcasts, why can’t I download them to my iPod?

    As a member of the ideaLab, my No. 1 priority would be making sure our work is readily accessible, and that it stays that way as our high-tech devices evolve. We have great content. Let’s show the world what they’re missing.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Tom Valentino

    News-Herald business editor/assistant city editor | 440-951-0000, ext. 541

    • I second Tom’s comment about the podcasts. For the past few months I was recording weekly “Lost” audiocasts with two of my co-workers, and they were very popular on our website. However, several of my friends complained that they couldn’t download them to put on their media players. We would have more listeners if users could download the files to listen to any time, any place. Regularly updated podcasts could be submitted to iTunes. We’ve added pre-roll ads to videos, so why not pre-roll ads to podcasts?

      Cheryl Sadler
      copy editor, The News-Herald

  109. I would like to be one of the 15 ideaLabbers because the tools you provide would allow me to be a ubiquitous newsroom.

  110. The new tools will help us receive and deliver news happening NOW.

    As the online editor, my job is to keep the website fresh. Whether it’s a picture of a crash, video of a game or a police report, the reporters can’t get it to me soon enough.

    Several weeks ago, I saw how useful the iPhone is at a press conference. As soon as I received the press release, I snapped a picture with my iPhone and sent it to my editor. Boom. We posted a very readable copy of the release, a mug shot and a few paragraphs before all the other news agencies in the Cleveland area.

    Unlike the iPhone, the iPad doesn’t have a camera. But the iPad allows me to take my desk with me wherever I go. I could post content, Twitter and Facebook, create maps and save stories directly to Google docs. With the iPad and iPhone combo, I would make other reporters’ lap tops and cameras look like typewriters and polaroids.

    The Netbook has a built in camera and an internet connection. What does that tell me? Livestream! No more hauling around a camera, tripod, extension cord, MacBook and wireless card. In fact, the Netbook makes setup so simple that I could teach everyone in the newsroom to use to livestream baseball games, news conferences, school concerts, etc.

    We should make it as easy as possible for our readers to communicate with us. Sure, readers can log onto our site to submit photos and news tips. But let’s be real, our readers use their phones more than our website. It could be a daily tweet: “We want to hear from you! Text us your photos and news tips at 440-JOU-RNAL.” Maybe we could even create a section in the paper for user content? Call it “County on Call.”

    Freddy Hunt
    The Morning Journal
    Online Editor

  111. Dear John,

    I am literally amazed at how much this company has changed from when I started working here a year ago. There is no doubt in my mind that this company will continue to grow and prosper in leaps and bounds and i would like to be a leader rather than follower. Here is my 200 words or less pitch at why you should choose me to be a part of the Media Lab.

    I would use the tools given to me to research ways to make our website more user friendly. Ideas like a program that can automatically search for related stories when one is being read and a calendar on the home page that can link to the date a story, obituary or classified ad ran. I would also like to use the tools to find out a way to get a YouTube style video sharing option so that ones in the community can share their stories or thoughts (regulated of course). Find ways to enhance the job search and make it our own while still utilizing the Yahoo! Hotjobs (soon to be Monster) partnership. I feel we could create a Smartphone app that could be a way to generate revenue. In other words, make our website a necessity for everyone in the community, young and old alike, but still making it as valuable as it possibly can. I would also do research on how to use less paper in our everyday dealings by utilizing online programs like the ones used in the Ben Franklin Project. I will be eagerly awaiting your selections. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Ryan Knight

    Recruitment Specialist/

    Yahoo! Hotjobs Sales Executive

    Morning Star Publishing Co.

    711 W. Pickard

    Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858




  112. I am a photojournalist and in more recent years, a video journalist as well.

    I see great value in traditional photojournalism; the power of an image to change the world is what led me to my profession. An in-depth photo project can shed light on a lifestyle, a social issue, a hidden world in ways that one story alone cannot rival.

    I would like to use the technology and the time offered to work on a traditional long-term photo project, but in a new, non-traditional way.

    Recently I began, using mostly my own personal time, a photo story about a family who lives an unusual lifestyle. Although the Doran-Fishers live in the city limits on a small city lot, they make every attempt to live off the land. They call their project The Dharma Farm. Every inch of their small property is farmed. They recently created a rainwater collection system to more efficiently and “greenly” water their gardens. They make their own food, whether it’s growing on their “farm” or using only locally-produced items to make their own cheese and bread. They compost everything for fertilizer for their garden. She teaches holistic healing classes locally. They and their two young daughters are practicing Buddhists.

    Their lifestyle is fringe and fascinating, and their story deserves to be told well.

    I believe I can use the time and the technologies to create a serial photo story. Using the iPad and the Netbook I can submit videos, photos and words as things are happening at the Dharma Farm. With these three technologies I can submit from anywhere, even following the family to rural areas of our county. I feel a serial documentary style project would be interesting to our audience, especially if all of the content of the project is happening “now.” I would love the opportunity to do an entire project using my camera, video camera and these new gadgets.

    These technologies would also help my department in several long-term ways, the most important of which would be allowing photographers to upload and send immediately,even from remote locations, regardless of internet connections, providing the iPhone is the 3Gs, which can be used as a modem. We cover a Division I college, in addition to 19 high school sports teams, and tons and tons of festivals and other events in remote locations. This would allow us to share the visual story now.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please let me know if you have questions.

    • In my excitement over the possibility of doing a photo story using new technology, I neglected to sell myself as a good candidate for the IdeaLab.

      I have worked as a photographer for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. for 10 years. In my time, I have overseen our transition from film to digital. I was the first staff member to be trained on video production 5 years ago, and I continue to be at front of our transition from print to multimedia. Presently, I am the producer of The Daily, a 5-day-a-week 2 minute newscast that give readers an “inside look” on the day’s news production.

      Additionally, over my 10 years I have received nearly 30 awards for my photographs, including a national first place award for a breaking news photograph, and two Michigan Associated Press sweepstakes awards, one for a breaking news photo and one for a photo story. My other awards vary between feature, news, sports and many other breaking news and photo story awards.

      I also teach photojournalism at Central Michigan University, one of two accredited journalism programs in the state. As a teacher of photojournalism, it is especially important that I stay ahead of the professional “curve” in new technology and innovative visual story telling.

      I feel this opportunity would allow me to use my talents in a way that benefits our company and my students.

    • As a member of the Morning Sun sports department, I think it is essential that not just an individual be involved in this project but a group. With three high-level and new-age products at their disposal, I think the group can do more than an individual. Along with Lisa, I think I could help find new ways to capitalize on social media and new technology.
      While I can’t give ideas for large projects as I have yet to experience what an IPad and IPhone can do, I know that these products will open the door for exciting new ways to do my job and reach out to our target audience.
      As a beat writer for a college university, I know the demands that come from the fan base for constant news and discussion of their team. With these products, it would allow me to put together weekly podcasts and even video broadcasts that would open the door for direct communication with the fan base and myself. I could also do live video reports and chats from road games while also being able to help contribute to the daily responsibilities at the office with the Netbook and the Scribus program. The one thing that is lacking in this area is a lot of open dialogue between the fan base and the beat writers as there is no talk radio or internet broadcasts that tap into that audience. I know that would no longer be an issue with these tools. Having covered major breaking news frequently in the last six months, I know the importance of getting the news out correctly and quickly and also using social media to aid in reaching as many readers as possible. I also know there will be easier ways and more unique ways to do this with 3G technology.
      I always liked the idea of the E-paper that came from the introduction of Alfa, but the project never really had legs as it simply didn’t offer anything new and exciting from buying the actual newspaper.
      With the IPad, the potential is there to take our paper and completely change the way it is produced to the technology-savy people of today. An E-Paper should be able to display the pages put together on a daily basis but also allow the users to get more into the story with Video links, photo albums, reader polls, and reader comments through text and also videos that they can upload that the staff can post into the site. The key is to provide as much information and as much feedback as possible.
      As one that was chosen to take on the Alfa project, I was able to be handed a new technology and new program and learn it from scratch. While the program was not ideal, I was still able to make the most of it and help other in my newsroom make the most of it as well.
      I know given the opportunity to use these new tools, I would not only be able to help broaden my skills and come up with new projects on my own, but also be able to expand these new projects to the rest of the editorial staff.

      Drew Ellis
      Sports Writer
      The Morning Sun
      Mt. Pleasant, MI

      • I think Drew hit the nail on the head when talking about how much more a group can do than an individual. I would love the opportunity to not only work on a serial, long=term photo project using these new tools, but to also expand the reporting capabilities of our newsroom in news, sports and features.

        I think Drew, and the rest of the sport and news department, in conjunction with the photographers at our publication, could create relevant and timely reporting pieces from the field using the time and technology provided.

        The Morning Sun has always exemplified excellent team work; we are a daily with only3 reporters, 3 sports writers and 2 photographers, yet we cover 3 counties with several city and local governments, 19 high schools (sports and politics), 2 colleges including a Division I university, a prosperous and controversial native American tribe, farmland, business development, Michigan economic issues and true community events in every town, and we do well. We consistently win awards and have even been the Michigan Press Association’s Newspaper of the Year more years than not in my 10 years at The Morning Sun.

        None of those things would have happened without cleverness and teamwork, and if someone at this paper was given the opportunity to play with new technology, rest assured every other editorial staffer would be using it, too.

  113. The Oakland Press circulation department has jumped on the technology bandwagon in many ways. We now use facebook and twitter to promote features and the value of our print edition, drive sales, and improve retention. We’re using automated e-mails (17,000 addresses on file) to welcome new subscribers, courtesy messages to check on their satisfaction and allow for feedback, and reminders when they need to renew their subscription. Our customer service department has an e-mail address that that was set up to provide a quick and convenient means for customers to communicate with us. Transaction processing for the OP, as well our alternate publication partners has been automated using new technology. We were on the forefront of using web based automated voice messaging services to ‘touch’ our customers. We were also one of the first in the industry with an electronic edition which is being delivered to thousands of desktops every day. Looking ahead we’re setting up a test with a web based 24/7 chatterbox system that opens up another means for our customers to communicate with us. Within the next few days you’ll see a new blog called “Deliver This” which will be a forum for circulators (or anyone else for that matter) to share ideas, successes, and new technological advances.

    We’ve come a long way from Circ 101 with less that half the resources of just a few years ago. As new technology is discovered and applied, no doubt aided by our IdeaLab, I believe the sky is the limit. And last but not least, nobody talks and interacts with more customers than a circulation department. That being the case, I believe having someone from the front line will be an integral part of the IdeaLab and our future success. I’d like to volunteer….

  114. I’ve been talking about the need to become part of the conversation for the past several years and with these tools I can make sure The Times Herald does just that. I will immediately create a mobile app. When I’m out with friends or acquaintances who have smart phones they’re always checking their apps. We don’t have one so we’re not a part of their conversations. Then I’ll create THTV (TimesHeraldTV), which will get us exposure on every video streaming site in the world. It will be a network of ‘ news shows’ coming from our reporters, and in more cases than not, our readers.

    Thanks for listening.

  115. Technology gives us an opportunity to reach more people, but I think we are getting tripped up in the fact that we are producing web and print products with the same content. Those products have different audiences, asking for different things. We need to learn to cater content on our websites to match what our online readers are interested in. My grandmother buys our newspaper to find out what happened yesterday (and read the obituaries), but my roommate reads our newspaper through our Twitter feed (and clicks a link to a story if it sounds good).

    Every employee needs to be working toward creating GOOD digital content to expand our readership and keep them coming back for more information. Having access to the gadgets is only a piece to the puzzle; you won’t have a good product if you don’t have the manpower behind it. We have editors to manage the content of our newspaper, so we need editors to manage the content of our website.

    If I were selected for the ideaLab, I would spend the 10 hours a week adding and editing content for the website, and updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts. I could do this from the office, or in the community. In my job, I already approve reader comments on stories and follow tweets. My ideaLab time could be spent following up on reader feedback so that we are giving our readers the news they want to see. We are following dozens of Twitterers, but without anyone to monitor what those people are saying and giving them feedback, what is the point of using it?

    Most importantly, I would collaborate with other members of the ideaLab at other papers. We’re one company, and we should be working together to share what works and what doesn’t so we can succeed. There have been a lot of good ideas posted on this blog, and the only way we can know what works is to try or learn from our peers’ experiences. I’m excited about where we’ll go next and want to be involved in getting us there.

    I’m pursuing my master’s degree in library and information science, and most of what I have studied in my five semesters is how people access information. Where do they go? What do they search for? When do they think they have found the answer? How can we get people to look to us for the information they seek and ensure that it is correct and complete?

    Cheryl Sadler
    copy editor, The News-Herald

  116. Several people have talked about reporters being able to post stories from the field. That’s a great idea, but as a copy editor who has seen potentially libelous statements in articles posted on our website, I’m worried about unedited content going live. It’s a good idea in theory, but the better practice may be to allow reporters in the field send their copy to an editor in the office to post.

    What all reporters should do from the field (as my colleague Jason Lea mentioned) is post on Twitter and Facebook. An acquaintance of mine from college does this on his beat as a White House reporter from the AP, and I get most of my Washington news from his Twitter feed.

    Cheryl Sadler
    copy editor, The News-Herald

    • Yes – there’s a possibility that allowing reporters to post directly to the web could create problems. However, most reporters can tell what’s potentially libelous and what’s not. In any case, reporters who post direct-to-web need to be extra careful. And editors should periodically review what’s been posted online. Ideally, our papers would be staffed 24/7 with online editors who would review content before it’s posted to the web. But at least at the Daily Local — and I’m sure at other JRC papers — we don’t have enough staff right now to do this. When you’re covering politics, tweets from the field work. People who follow politics know enough back story to interpret the tweets. But what happens when you tweet from the field while covering something new or obscure? Unless your tweets contain links to news briefs, the tweets run the risk of being cryptic. So, tweets need links to briefs, which means someone needs to write and post the briefs. I’m also wary of posting lots of little news items to Facebook. There are plenty of Facebook users who read us but who don’t want their Facebook feeds crowded with news blips. I feel it’s better to post only the most important news to Facebook.

  117. I love the idea of the ideaLab and I would love to be considered for one of the positions. As a sports writer at The Macomb Daily, I would use the tools to enhance high school sports coverage, engage with the community and help spread ideas around the newsroom.
    – Organize tweetups and other gatherings via or Twitter to galvanize social media networking through actual face-to-face interaction at coffee shops, bars, etc.
    – Use Google Wave for real-time reporting of high school sports results.
    – Expand on the use of Twitter lists to connect with readers (i.e., with lists for Red Wings fans ( and World Cup news)
    – Use the iPhone to create an “instant” blog on tumblr ( or called Unsung Heroes that highlights officials, scorekeepers, trainers, managers and bus drivers that help support high school sports.
    – Create a forum/blog for readers and, more importantly, other reporters and employees at The Macomb Daily so they are more comfortable using social media and web tools to interact and make the media platform all-encompassing.

    John Hetzler
    Sports Writer
    The Macomb Daily
    (586) 783-0213

  118. Pick a circulator for this project? That’s crazy – like a fox. After all Circulation is the chameleon as it marries sales/marketing/operations and truly strives to understand and deliver what customers want. Our function is to selflessly work for the greater good; be the legs for advertising, communicate, understand, and work effectively with every department.

    I have a background in sales/marketing and e-marketing (out of industry). When I was with Gannett my job title and boss (most of them visionaries) changed almost every year. I was served well by my flexibility, determination, problem solving skills, and was appreciated by leadership for being a team member that worked to make visions reality rather than dwelling on obstacles. Years ago some laughed when I said that electronic editions could be delivered with content sent in the order that the reader preferred.

    I ask the question “why not?”

    E-edition: Why not have targeted ads based on navigation instead of just the canned ads that were in the print edition? Let’s get a better handle on who the users are and target market to them whether it’s the website or the e-paper.

    Sales: Why not build mock ads on the fly with our clients and have the ability to track the ad through the production process?

    Accounting: Oh so much paper. With the right tools much of it could be gone.

    Circulation: Why not handle single copy sales, returns, and collections in the field as it happens?

    Why not have our web-site pictures come to life Harry Potter style as a surprise element not just the boxed video?

    Why not create “junior” companion news sites with content for children and young adults tailoring the news and activities for them. Part of the mission for NIE programs was to foster our next crop of readers yet at most papers not enough is done online (where the young read) to gain and retain this audience. Additionally this offers a targeted audience for advertisers.

    There is so much we can do if we don’t let anyone tell us that we can’t!

  119. Hello John,

    I have been on the internet for 20 years. For the past 12, I have been operating IndepenDisc (, a website dedicated to independently produced music. I built and maintain (self-taught) the site using free web-based tools.

    I have at my disposal a vast Library/Catalogue/Archive of the greater New Haven and Connecticut original independent music scene, a music scene that is rich in history and continues to thrive. Currently artists, venues, independent labels, promoters, studios, and like-minded fans are scattered about on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and more as they try to stay connected and in contact with one another.

    With the tools the ideaLab would provide, I would look to create an interlinking, interactive, up-to-the-minute database of the greater New Haven and Connecticut original independent music scene. I have had several conversations with Jack Kramer in this regard and he led me to become a part of our Community Media Lab. My Blog “Gone Local (& Beyond)” ( is now active on the New Haven Register website. Based on the feedback I have received, I believe the large, local/regional, online music community would embrace a resource like this which would attract readers, participants (content providers), and advertisers alike.

    Thank you for this opportunity,
    Gary Vollono
    19 year employee
    New Haven Register.

  120. I was reminded that members of our community feel that not enough of what goes on in the community outside of our immediate area gets published – especially with the schools. With the equipment provided, there are so many ways to focus on things like school sports games, music concerts, and general community activities. I would like to be able to cover more of what goes on in all of the communities that we serve and not just our immediate area. Pictures can be taken with the iphone and uploaded so they can be put in the paper, or posted on the web. I could sign up to be on the email list of various community calendars; or even research them on the web. I would be able to attend some of the events and post blogs to our webs sites from the events. Focusing on the schools, in particular, is an excellent way to keep people from multiple generations interested in our various products, because everyone loves to see their child or grandchild in a positive spot-light. High-lighting positive activities in the community also stir up a good feeling among its members and keep them interested in our products.

  121. As crime reporter at The Oakland Press, I can see tons of potential in using an iPhone, iPad and Netbook. Police situations result in breaking news every day. Using the Netbook or iPad, I can write and update stories at the scene and post them to the web immediately.

    We can stream live video with an iPhone by using an app called QIK. ( Our readers can be taken to the scene, instead of just reading live tweets and getting the story and the video later. Tools like this will give our readers more access and make it easier for us to include them in every facet of the production.

    For my beat, I found an app called SpotCrime (, which plots recent crime scenes on a map and allows users to click and read about what happened. I know there are apps that could add to every beat we cover. I’d take time to experiment with these and see how we can use them to get our audience even more involved.

    I’d also like to be involved in helping create a mobile version of our sites. I see this as a must for every paper in our company.

    Given 10 hours a week to experiment with these tools, I’ll find ways to make our website one that readers must visit several times a day. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this company, and I’d be thrilled to help lead the charge into the future.

    I’d also like to chime in on Karen Workman’s idea for The Oakland Press to share the tools. I do think that would work for us, especially if we shared these tools on a month-to-month basis to allow each user to become familiar with them. The teamwork our newsroom has shown this year has been incredible and, in the long run, I think this approach would be very beneficial to our newspaper.

    Thank you,
    Dave Phillips
    The Oakland Press
    Twitter: @dave_phillips1

  122. I want to transform myself from a traditional photojournalist into a mobile, mutlimedia journalist. I have already been using The Morning Journal twitter account to break news when I come to a scene of an accident or fire via my personal smartphone, or tweet when I upload new video or photo to the Web. But my contribution to our digital first goal if I was provided more tools to provide fresh, timely content to The Morning Journal website. With the iPhone, I would still tweet updates with photos to direct our readers to our website. With the help of a netbook and iPad, I will be able to edit photos and video on site and transmit them to be published to our website in a more timely manner to go along with our company’s digital first goal. Having the ability to transmit from any location will allow The Morning Journal to keep a competitive edge with our competitor paper in breaking news online.

    In addition, I want to explore the capabilities of these new tools to help generate more community involvement and explore new ways to provide multimedia content to generate more traffic online.

    I am very excited about the direction The Journal Register Company is going with mutlimedia and ask you to consider me in your selection for the idea lab participants.

    Thank you,

    Anna Norris
    The Morning Journal

  123. Here are some of the things I would do were i selected to be a part of the ideaLab:

    1. We need an app for each of our dailies, plain and simple. All of the major papers have one, and so should we.

    2. We need to take some time to ease our less Internet-savvy employees into the digital age. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and our weak links are keeping us from full functionality during this make-or-break transition period. Hands-on courses every week would be a great start.

    3. Twitter is great, but we’re not using it to its full capacities. I almost never see a tweet from one of our employees that includes even a picture. Also, I just discovered lexycasting, a way to add audio clips to tweet. Can you imagine the dictated lead of story sent to our followers? I can.

    4. In the same vein as lexycasting, there’s simply podcasting. The New York Times has a daily podcast. I see no reason why we can’t.

    Thank you,
    Josh Norris

  124. This effort would appear to have two goals:
    • Change the culture of the company, proving that we don’t have to use a klutzy, expensive, 19th-century delivery system to deliver journalism while benignly ignoring the audience.
    • Research and development of new tools to research, fact-check and write stories and other content, then deliver that content, all the while involving the audience . The new news ecology mixes technology, the audience and real journalism.
    I would use these tools to crowdsource the best ideas and test them with a real understanding of the goal. Cross-platform storytelling is nothing new to me: I’ve won awards as a broadcast journalist, a print journalist and an online journalist.
    Our business’s self-proclaimed first ethical responsibility is to “seek truth and report it.” We have new ways to seek it and new ways to report it. Let’s play with them, get creative, cross-pollinate the ideas and make them better.

  125. I’ve obviously just shown another qualification: The ability to fail in public, right on the boss’s own blog. The links I attempted to embed in the post above don’t work – so here they are, the hard way.
    This effort would appear to have two goals:
    • Change the culture of the company (, proving that we don’t have to use a klutzy, expensive,( 19th-century ( delivery system to deliver journalism while benignly ignoring the audience (
    • Research and development of new tools to research,( fact-check ( and write stories ( and other content, then deliver that content, all the while involving the audience ( . The new news ecology mixes real understanding of the audience, technology ( and real journalism.
    I would use these tools to crowdsource the best ideas and test them with a real understanding of the goal. Cross-platform storytelling is nothing new to me: I’ve won awards as a broadcast journalist, a print journalist and an online journalist.
    Our business’s self-proclaimed first ethical responsibility is to “seek truth and report it. ( We have new ways to seek it and new ways to report it. Let’s play with them, get creative, cross-pollinate the ideas ( and make them better.

  126. Using iphone, ipad and Netbook in a 10-hour weekly time frame to improve business:

    Customer related improvements/uses

    My focus would be to A.) expand availability of content to allow entry into a new customer market; B.) provide a more suitable medium for content to increase its desirability and public demand; C.) improve content to better connect with an audience and customers; D.) write engaging blogs on topics of expertise.

    A. Use a portion of the 10 hours and iphone and ipad to expand on Twitter and Facebook reach. Example – Friend yourself on organizations and businesses in circulation fringe towns using Facebook to showcase content from the newspaper’s website to draw new customers. Using the ipad cam, create a video blog and place it on ustream or livestream to draw new customers.

    B. Many ideas here. One is to get more personal with customers by creating ipad video blogs (vlogging) to produce news/offer opinions. Do a live video blog to interact with customers in real time. Introduce a news ticker/sports ticker medium where news/newsbreaking items can scroll on top of web site. If the ticker medium is unattainable, I would work to create a mini Twitter-type blog on the right side of the home page for one or two-line news/sports briefs. Access would be available to all editorial staff to post immediate news updates 24 hours a day. This would include anything from an immediate brief on a five-car crash on I-95 to a high school halftime soccer score so dad/mom can get an update on their child’s game on the way home from work

    C. One example – Take coverage one step further. In addition to a movie review, do a separate short brief/blog on reaction from people coming out of the theater who saw the movie. Also, if we review a play at a local theater, do a similar brief/blog on reaction from people who saw the play.
    If you cover a sport event, in addition to a game story get reaction from fans to get fans and their families to add traffic to the web site/newspaper.

    D. Reporters obviously write about their specific expertise involving their beat(s). But they should also use contacts to arrange with editors for experts to do guest blogs to inform the public. For example, if the swine flu returns in full force have a doctor in tune with the disease write a blog to explain the implications. If a town’s Board of Ed. Votes to end sports at high school due to budget constraints, have a Board of Ed. Person or Superintendant or even school athletic director write a blog to discuss the reasoning and implications.

    Production and In-house interaction

    The iPhone is very much a personal device while the iPad’s future involves being a shared device for family, friends and business.
    The iphone would be a key instrument in doing immediate interviews. But it also is a key instrument with its multiple aps that allow you to search for up to date information on a subject while conducting the interview.
    If you can’t leave home or the office to do a personal one-on-one interview, if the person interviewed has an ipad or even a PC web cam, you can conduct a live video interview on your ipad. And sitting next you be your trusty Netbook to take down notes.
    The iphone also is invaluable as an immediate/live photo and video tool. If you approach a newsbreaking event, the iphone records it and you can upload it to the web site.
    But in addition to those obvious uses, you can randomly interview people to get reaction for just about anything. If gas prices are rising and you are pumping gas, do a video or two of customers pumping their gas to get their reaction of the high prices.

    One advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked is the opportunity for the 15 people selected for the JRC ideaLab to interact with one another at least once or twice a week to share experiences and information as a result of the iphone, ipad and Netbook 10-hour usage. Discuss what is working, what isn’t and share ideas.
    –From Dan Nowak, New Haven Register sportswriter, paginator, blogger, videographer, on-site editor for special events

  127. With new technology I would:

    Instantly update from events around our coverage area, such as breaking news street fairs, parades and noteworthy council/other meetings via The News-Herald website, our Facebook and Twitter pages.

    I would also update my staff blog “Rene’s PHAT blog” on location such as at restaurants.

    Business owners might pay for the publicity via ads.

    Instead of being tied to my desk half of the day I could be out in our coverage area, talking to people and covering events live with instant publication.

    We could implement on site interaction like radio stations do.

    A business, for example, could buy and ad and offer freebies, to have us at their event, posting live with giveaways to get people to come down.

    Stories could be written on the netbook and emailed to editors without ever having to go to the office. Then I could be onto the next event/location.

    This technology will be a good way to get us out into the communities we cover more, use online capabilities everyone is using more, and do our jobs in a more fun and effective way.

  128. I could:

    · Take notes in the Netbook (saving time on later transcription from paper into the system)

    · Use the iPhone to tweet; take and post a photo on the Times Herald’s Facebook page with a meeting update ; text the newsroom; update editors on developments.

    · Use the iPad to look up state and federal programs mentioned during the meeting.

    Dropping circulation could be countered by making the Times Herald more immediate through use of social media. A reporter at a fire or crime scene could interview and/or videotape witnesses, victims, and officials; upload to Facebook and YouTube, tweet about the posts and either return to the office to write the full report OR pursue a lead and be able to write the report on the iPad and transmit it to the office to meet deadline.

    JRC has more than 200 reporters and editors company-wide. Why are we NOT collaborating across newspaper boundaries to produce quick, “issue” series ? or coverage of larger societal problems? We can.

    I could review movies and new theater productions in Philadelphia , write columns on national issues that could be copy-shared with other JRC publications.

    Is JRC serious about change? Let’s see.

    • “JRC has more than 200 reporters and editors company-wide. Why are we NOT collaborating across newspaper boundaries to produce quick, “issue” series ? or coverage of larger societal problems? We can.”

      I couldn’t agree more. To me this issue remains one of the most serious barriers for this company. We have too many people doing the same tasks. Yet we have failed for years to work together in a more productive way. Why is that? Why should five newspapers produce the same agate page, the same stocks page, the same food page? Why don’t we work better together on topics that cross boundaries. I would like to hear some replies to this question. The sooner we all realize this is an issue, the better. There’s strength in numbers. We could allocate certain tasks to certain papers on a rotating basis, etc. We’re all working a lot harder but I’m not sure we’re working a lot smarter yet. This is a HUGE frustration for me.

  129. Dear John:

    It would be an awesome opportunity to be selected for the ideaLab. Using cutting edge technology that industry measures itself against would turn the News-Herald Newspapers into the newspaper the Detroit region measures itself against.

    I have covered news events with other media who use laptops. When the news gathering ends they open their laptops and start writing while I return to the office and my desktop computer. Sometimes another news agency has the story online before I get back to the office. A Netbook, iPhone and iPad would change that.

    If I had those tools Friday when I had four assignments out of the office, including a fabulously visual feature at a middle school where students walked on water, that story could have been done shortly after it happened because I had 40 minutes between assignments. But with the tools we now have, that couldn’t happen.

    With your focus on the online product and new technology — including the flip camera I had with me Friday — I would be thrilled and honored to be selected as one of the 15 to show how this can work for JRC.

    Anne Sullivan
    Staff Writer
    The News-Herald

  130. As the world has gone digital, it has gone mobile. Yet journalism, the ultimate mobile profession, has been slow to recognize and capitalize on the development of new media. Many newspapers, in particular, mistakenly have viewed the new era of communication as a threat to their existence instead of as an opportunity for boundless growth.

    Often the great stories, big and small, are not found at a desk in the newsroom. They are cultivated everywhere around us. New media devices, such as the iPad, iPhone and Netbook, enhance a reporter’s ability to go out and gather information as well as to relay that information in various forms — video, pictures and text — directly and instantly to the community. As part of the ideaLab, I would use these devices as a roving reporter and editor to expand the depth and breadth of our coverage.

    The desk and the spiral notebook are out. The iPad, iPhone and Netbook are the new newsroom, the mobile newsroom, and journalism has barely tapped their multi-dimensional power. I work in sports, and I imagine real-time, interactive profiles of athletes and events, with video streaming online as people watch and respond on their own mobile devices while I write about the subject. In general, I envision expanded interaction with the community, with people making their voices heard through our multimedia platforms in a digital content forum.

    I also think of these mobile devices in terms of hands-on production, taking the Benjamin Franklin Project a step further. Not only could the print edition be created exclusively through online tools, but it could be created from anywhere — even if there’s a cataclysmic snowstorm, like we had a few times this past winter, or if an editor/writer happens to be on assignment somewhere yet needs production access. These devices are about freedom, information and communication, which are the essence of our business, and these are only a few of my ideas about how to use them in our company’s transformation.

    Christiaan DeFranco
    Assistant Sports Editor
    The Reporter

  131. I would like to be a member of the Advisory Board to help choose the 15 best future “JRCers”. Our future is in their hands.

    Each Advisory Board member is a prominent thinker and participant in the changes now affecting journalism. They are instrumental in pushing change in our industry.


  132. “ideaLab”
    When I started in photojournalism 20 years ago, excited to embark on my career at “The Oneida Daily Dispatch” journalism was vastly different. I used black and white film, developed prints in the darkroom, and news pages were pasted together by hand. Over the years, my passion for journalism has not changed. But the newspaper industry has been transformed by technology. To be competitive, the industry must have modern technology and provide instant news in a 24-hour access world. Digital cameras, on-line news and videos help keep the public informed and interested in the news of our community.
    I want to be a part of the ideaLab in order to promote news stories through the use of technology. This month, I have published over 44 videos to “The Oneida Daily Dispatch” website. As part of the idea lab, I would use the ipad and other equipment to post instant updates about stories and sports scores to Facebook and Twitter. I would be able to feed the website instantly from the location of the news story. I would transmit video from sports games instantly to the website. Transmitting news instantly would draw more people to “The Oneida Daily Dispatch” website and increase the readership of the paper overall. It is my passion to provide high quality coverage of stories and using this equipment would provide me with new avenues.
    John haeger
    Oneida Daily Dispatch

  133. Pingback: The art of the (public) cover letter: Journal Register staff apply for ideaLab spots via blog comments » Nieman Journalism Lab

  134. John

    I believe the hard working and dedicated staff at the Oakland Press should be part of the ideaLab. If selected as one the 15 companywide employees to help develop new working tools I would encourage their input on this project.

    Local sales has everything to do with the relationship with the customer and on site right now. If the sales person can walk in with devices and support that can bring anything to a sales meeting when needed, we would take a big step forward.

    I would develop new digital formats for all the things we already do. Order entry, forms that accompany them, call reports, and others. Research would be available to everyone with presentation formats that allow sales people to assemble a customized presentation, not back at the office, but with the customer. Sales sheets about sections, events and other items, would continue to be digitized but with the ability to customize them easier. All of this would then be posted on the “cloud” so that each of us, in the field, with a client can pull them down in the moment.

    By making digital first, we could help the client discover the resources that we have available, develop solutions on site, take the order, copy the client, submit the order and develop creative all in the moment.

    These are just some of the things I would do if selected for the project.

    Morris Hagerman

  135. ideaLab: Putting a face and a voice to the byline

    Dear Mr. Paton,

    I work for The Times Herald in Norristown and am considered a “hybrid,” as I’m both a features writer and a copy editor. I’m very passionate about our industry maintaining the principles of old school journalism while at the same time embracing new media.

    Here’s a theory. Broadcast journalists have an easier time establishing credibility with audiences than print journalists do, because people can see the broadcast journalist.

    The newspaper industry needs to connect with audiences now more than ever. If Journal Register’s goal is to become a true multimedia company, to expand our voice and to engage our audiences through practices like crowdsourcing, blogging and tweeting, then an iPhone, iPad and a Netbook would advance this mission. These tools would help journalists easily integrate social media into their reporting, and to make their presence more known to readers.

    As print journalists, we spend so much time editing ourselves out. But we should take advantage of iPhone applications like Ustream Broadcaster to put a face to the byline, in attempt to help our readers more easily connect with the people delivering their news.

    I’m usually playing a fly on the wall, jumping out of the video camera’s way as I interview a subject, or making certain that any trace of my voice is edited out of videos. But here is an opportunity to bring audiences behind the scenes with us, by blogging about stories (using the iPhone WordPress application), keeping them in-the-know about what we’re working on and constantly asking for their feedback. And for those of us in editorial who no longer cover council and school board meetings, we’ll use these tools to show a bigger cross-section of the public who we are, while continuing to report the facts and share colorful feature stories.

    In no way am I suggesting we put ourselves in the stories or make them at all about us. We’re still practicing unbiased journalism. But we can take readers on a new journey. We could show them more video of interviews as they’re happening, well before the story goes to print, and we could let them hear snippets of our conversations with the people we write about. Having these tools under our belts would make the social media journalist’s job much easier. With the iPhone, iPad and Netbook, everything we’re trying to accomplish is within reach, from wherever we are.

    The point is to utilize these tools to let readers hear our voices, see our faces as we tell the stories they read online and in print. We’ll build our credibility by showing them who’s delivering their news.


    Melissa Brooks

  136. There are so many great ideas here, and it is good to know that the company and industry will improve with what is being discussed here this month.

    In particular, I want to voice my support for Karen Workman and what she could accomplish with this. She has been a leader within the newsroom in training and helping others in regard to video production, editing and uploading. She writes a blog, she uploads to the web, and she even produces pages for print. She also turns around stories that gets the community talking. During the transfer to the updated VMIX, she embraced all the changes, even though it meant changing the way we’ve been doing things. She also coaches and helps citizen journalists and bloggers.

    With these tools, I see her partnering with the entire newsroom to get news online faster and stories more complete. She did wonders with a Flip camera even though she had to go home or back to the office to get the video up with the story; now, it could go live from the scene.

    Karen would partner with Dave Phillips on how to better report crime and local politics. Right now, we use phones to get information from crime scenes, fires or accidents and then video/photo files are delivered in person back to the office. News from meetings (where decisions are being made; where the subjects are gathered to discuss issues) is reported after the fact. With these tools, we could start the conversation with the readers while councilmembers or firefighters are still working on it.

    The enthusiasm of staffers like Karen spreads throughout the newsroom and would ensure we all move more quickly into the future.

  137. Working on items for the Independence Day newspaper postponed my completion of my ideaLab project – since I wanted to make sure it was as concise as possible.

    I want to perfect the Ben Franklin process. I want to use these tools to change the lives of editors and production staff. I want to revolutionize how and where we edit and layout the newspaper. I want to make it so that every component – sports agate, weather, stocks, classifieds, etc. – can be done anywhere for free.

    Using these tools, production/sales people and reporters/photographers would be able to take these things on the road so that advertisers and readers can see pages/stories/slideshows/ads firsthand. This would also allow employees to do these things on the road, live for advertisers/readers.

    The end process, for me, would be bringing Plug & Play content, across clusters and the company, to the forefront.

    These Plug & Plays could be filled with content generated across the company’s newsgathering areas. We could do a summer fun edition and throw in pictures, stories, etc. from across clusters or the company. These items could be posted online – sold cluster/company wide – with the ability for sales staff to see ad positions in real time. Take it to a daily level and have National, Business, Stocks, Sports Agate, etc. pages that you simply had to download each day.

    Thank you for reading. I hope to have great success with the Independence Newspaper – it has been a wild ride so far, but I’ve loved every minute of it.

  138. Hi John,
    What I do is tell stories. As Don Hewitt famously said, the secret to “60 Minutes” success was that he asked his reporters to “tell me a story.” Just as TV was a new medium that did in a different way what newspapers and magazines had been doing, the new multimedia tools are new ways to tell stories. I know the iPhone is an invaluable tool, because we used mine to live-stream Richard Blumenthal’s press conference about his military service. We became, for that time, an Internet-based broadcaster. I’m not sure what I would do if I also had an iPad and a netbook–if we all knew what we’d do with them there would be no need for this project–but I know that I would use them to tell stories in new ways. I’m sure we can use a number of apps on the iPhone and iPad to add content to the Web, rounding out the text, photos and videos we post. We can report stories in real time by recording interviews, both video and audio, in the field and uploading them to our web pages. We can take the concept behind apps like Yelp to have our audience rate their favorite local sports teams, town services, best places to eat, shop, etc., etc. Reporters can operate localized, mobile Web-broadcast studios, with their locations plotted on a map on our web page, bringing video, photos and comments from events, meetings, or the beach, straight to those watching their monitors. Journalism can become completely integrated with the event we’re reporting on, the story we’re telling, so there’s little or no gap between the story and the audience. I have no idea what apps have been and will be developed to accomplish this. I have a feeling we can do even more than this stream of consciousness hints at! Thanks for the opportunity to find out what they are!

  139. Great job, John!
    I am following Your projects since I’ve heard Your presentation at WAN Congress in Hyderabad, India – and I am really impressed with both what You’ve done with Impremedia and the approach You’ve taken at JRC.
    IdeaLab model sounds really cool and IMHO could be enhanced with some other options. Neither iPad nor iPhone are good enough for video; there’s a number of “video-voice recorders” like Bloggie from Sony that offer great HD-quality video along with fine sound. We conducted a small project here in Russia, giving number of those tools to journalism students and the outcome was great.
    Once again – great effort!
    Good luck and tremendous success to You and JRC!
    Vasily Gatov
    Media3 Russia
    WAN-IFRA Board Member,

  140. My name is Sheila Chorney.
    I work out of Interprint in Bristol, Pa
    (transplanted from the News Gleaner offices in N.E. Philly)
    In response to your ideaLab challenge-
    I would like to share an idea from my perspective as a graphic artist/paginator: To shorten the time between sales people on sales calls…getting back to the office…putting together a paper layout…sending the papers to us to create…
    It would be faster if the sales people could “take us with them”
    Connect us via web, phone, etc. We could create an ad as soon as the salesperson left the advertiser.
    Give us the insertion order tracking number and we could have ads done before they are off the street.
    Save paper, save time, increase production!
    We can take advantage of all the communication tools available to do this.
    The most important “idea” in this entire project is sharing and learning, which is a “WE” philosophy and to that end…I hope “we” all win.
    thank you,
    Sheila Chorney

  141. What’s better than one plan for working with three great tools? Two plans! I’d work on one outward-facing problem and one inward-facing problem. Both are foundations to moving JRC’s business from “here” to “there”.

    Outward-facing problem: Readers and advertisers don’t understand the changes we’re planning and why it’s important. Further, we are not known in the community for being technologically advanced (yet) -plus- we need more original web content.

    Solution: I would use the tools to establish a mobile “Tech” blog , something like “Tech in the City” or “Tech Lab.” The purpose is to both lead and follow readers on technology and related techniques. (Blog entries could run as periodic print stories, too.) Subjects, information sources and social media tie-in opportunities are nearly endless: product reviews, commentary, expert opinions from academics, gurus and small businesses, tech news, notes and trends, links and more. How-to’s such as shooting excellent web videos or fantastic camera phone pix would encourage more user contributed content submissions down the line. (Tech writer idol = David Pogue)

    Inward-facing problem: Old school news-gathering organization meets 21st century.

    Solution: Devise and pilot test a “story builder” daily assignment and asset manager with newsroom associates. Who’s getting and processing video, audio, stills, copy and updates on what stories, breaking news, freelancer calls, planned event coverage and calendars, web-streaming, web updates, etc. Organize and move timely, accurate and complete information to the web and into print.

  142. FYI: “Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Dept review Apple policies governing programmers’ access to to its devices to see if they violate antitrust laws” Not allowing third party apps, etc will hinder sharing and will cost more if only Apple I phones, etc are used. We might need to develop our own intergrative company system not soley relying on Apple products.
    thank you,
    Sheila Chorney

  143. I definitely want to expand in what I do here at JRC; and using the iPhone, iPad and Netbook sounds interesting.

    There are some environmental issues that might be a good idea to look at: e.g. possibly how our nearby water is monitored in case of a chemical spill; are landfills a better use than incinerators for taking care of the garbage situation, since some local incinerators have closed — and might Canada handle some of this waste? Remember school lunch trays? — they’re often now styrofoam. What happened to those trays and can they be brought back, say, maybe starting with the elementary students in order to cut down on waste?

    It seems that possibly a photo collage might work well, as might simple links to local events and to what our advertisers are offering in the form of eateries and specialty shops. Any type of hotel or eatery discounts offered during events, as well as any type of ‘new’ things going on in or around an event, would probably be of interest to our readers. Could this spark an increase in advertising? It. might.

    Of course, keeping up with viewer input is probably best, along with the editor’s ideas. Let me know when I can get started.

  144. Went to a lavish fund-raising dinner last night for the old-but-restored Palace Theater in Waterbury, Conn. Didn’t want to. Felt I couldn’t afford the time (six hours from home to home again) but wanted to defy conventional wisdom that this venue is outside our coverage area and not worth the effort, even as I suspected that view has some validity.

    Bottom line: Came back with a fistful of business cards of folks with local links, likely paved the way for some significant advertising, confirmed that power players within out coverage area love and support the theater and had one conversation that could lead to a dynamic online partnership.

    The point: With all the challenges we face, we’ve become too busy, too strapped to desks and confined to offices to be part of our communities. And even with all of JRC’s innovations of late, much of the result seems to be a new version of the top-down approach: here’s what we’re giving you, now like it.

    I need to participate in ideaLab because I don’t have the time to do so. Because I’m locked in an office, always trying to catch up to the multiple publications and projects on deadline or in production. Despite getting enthusiastic affirmation whenever I do manage to leave the office—apart from a quick coffee with someone it’s always at night, always on my own time—I’m still give people what I think they want and need.

    Upside down. So are a lot of the comments I’ve been reading here and elsewhere about how to use the tools of innovation.

    There’s only one good goal: use the tools to give people things they actually want. But first you have to find out. And that’s where the freedom of time comes in.

    Next, use the tools to start delivering the revolution, but in ways that your audience will appreciate. One size of innovation does not fit all audiences.

    Then track the success and recalibrate as you go along.
    And then repeate the process, and bring other staff members in, until the content that’s desired aligns perfectly with the content delivered.
    Because print has actually failed to do that forever (and survived until
    recently because of captive audiences) truly giving people what they want is the first step in the revolution.

    Technology and tools are just better weapons, not the revoultion itself.

  145. Hello John,

    To expand upon my original idea of an interlinking, interactive, up-to-the-minute database of the greater New Haven and Connecticut original independent music scene, two words: Internet Radio.

    Radio and Television have always been the Newspaper industry’s biggest competitors in content and advertising. Radio and Television are both in the same situation as us as they work towards “digital first.” While Radio has a leg up on both Television and Newspapers, the playing field leveler right now is the Advertisers.

    I would take the tools provided by the ideaLab and create a local community based internet radio station (no studio required). This station could easily be staffed by many local “volunteer” DJs and have various formats (with preprogrammed “autobot” fills) that would appeal to local advertisers and would afford our sales staff cross-sell opportunities. Advertisers are presently a bit leery of the internet unless they can increase the platform for their ads. A digital newspaper that includes digital radio does just that.

    With the proliferation of handheld electronic devices, internet radio will be the standard platform of commercial radio. Why not establish our own local (and expandable to regional/national, with the integration of all our properties) internet radio station?

    Thank you,
    Gary Vollono
    New Haven Register.

  146. I’m the online editor at The Macomb Daily (MI) and would love to be a member of the ideaLab.

    The first thing that struck me when I read your e-mail was the freedom that the tools provided would grant. For the past five years, I covered the Detroit Red Wings and realized early on that getting the primary news online first was the game now being played. An injury, a contract, a lineup change … even a comment from a coach or player became gold for my blog/my paper’s web site if I got it online before my competition. If I was first, I was linked to on other sites, sites with millions of page-views that caused my blog numbers to jump.

    The Internet is one big party and you want to have everyone over to your place as often as you can.

    Ten years ago, I hated being a newspaper reporter who watched broadcast reporters put up stories 15-20 hours before my printed edition came out. Now, I love beating them to the story even when we all get it at the same time.

    An iPhone, iPad and a Netbook makes the reporter in me think about speed in distributing information. They also make me think of speed in finding out what’s going on to have an advantage on the competition.

    An iPhone, iPad and a Netbook makes the online editor in me think about speed in posting stories, in the lack of a tether that can often keep stories rotting in directories.

    I would love to experiment with these tools for 10 hours a week … aw let’s face it, I’ll be on them all day long. The days of the office cubicle are gone for newspapermen, thank goodness. The news happens out there. The Internet is everywhere. I’d like to discover how we can forget the old ways of newspapers and come up with new ways to deliver stories and beat the competition.

    • Hi,

      I’m Donna Genaw from Heritage. I am a multimedia AE and would like to be a part of the idea lab team.

      Everyday I search the internet for ideas and free programs for both personal and professional use. I am fascinated by the technology of computers and have experienced the evolution of the internet.

      I now use my Android phone with iGoogle for news and Gmail to take photos and email them to our production department. These photos have been used online and in the paper. I have downloaded a free screen capture program to import advertiser’s logos from their website for their ads. I am always willing to go the extra mile.

      My schedule is flexible. I attend evening meetings and weekend events in my territory. I look forward to being on the cutting edge of technology and am willing and eager to learn new things.

      Being able to create spec ads on the fly is monumental. Exploring multi platform distribution for both news and advertising is key in this ever changing market. With these tools, the possibilities are endless.

      I am digital first. I am the Ben Franklin project.

      Thank you for your time.


      Donna M. Genaw

  147. I’d say today’s iPhone 4 unveiling is a game-changer for this discussion. Later this month, it will be possible to shoot AND edit video on the device. We could file video moments after shooting it — without taking the time to boot up a computer, search for wifi or drive back to an office. This also means we can expect video editing soon on the iPad — in addition to applications, like WordPress, that already make it possible to blog from iPhone and iPad. Plus, geolocation applications continue to evolve. The New York Times just launched a geolocation app/city guide called The Scoop, which combines the popular features of Foursquare with The Times’ writers. The possibilities get more exciting by the day.

  148. We can all acknowledge that we’ve reached our TIPPING POINT, newspapers are not fun for younger tech savvy generations, by the time the paper prints it’s old news, outdated & obsolete.

    My ideas are driven by use the iphone, ipad & Netbook to do focus groups to find out what today’s youth wants. Whether it’s at a school, mall, park, etc. They are our future market and getting to know what the “IN” thing is, we can steer our company in the right direction to capitalize on their needs.

    My plan will be to use the tools provided to videotape, publish & track results on a website. Presentations will be developed on the ipad or Netbook, and the iphone to record & post interviews and so on.

    The final product will be directed by the results, whether it’s a website, new section in the paper or the next cool thing we haven’t realized the potential of to spearhead our way into the future growth areas of our economy.

    We can attract an entire new generation of readers & advertisers by focusing on the youth and leveraging their feedback to direct our flow of media and make us a top contender in a changing market.

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  150. Dear John,
    I am extremely interested in being selected as part of the idea lab. 
    As you are clearly aware, the ipad, iphone and Apple in general, is revolutionizing the way we do business, especially in publishing.
    I honestly believe that Apple will be the salvation of the newspaper industry.   
    With our industries ever changing climate, it is important that we stay open to change.
    I believe the idea lab is a fantastic start.  With the development of thousands of new apps daily, there will be a new wave of revenue generating opportunities we have never before seen in our industry.
I currently use my own personal Mac Book Pro and iphone daily in my position. It is a necessity, since as you know, there are many equipment pitfalls at Delco. 
I am seriously thinking of attending classes in the development of applications for the pad, iphone etc. Now that corporate has become actively involved, I no longer feel lost, but have become eager to grow with a company that is willing to change and embrace new technology.
    I hope you will consider my request to be part of the idea lab team.

    Thomas Zulli

  151. I don’t know if the ship has sailed for the offer on your 21st century reporter utility belt kit, but if not, here goes…

    I decided to combine my proposal for putting to use your ideaLab techno-package with my attempts at playing along with the Ben Frank deal.

    I’ve already started networking through social sites like Twitter and Facebook, where I have about 1,600 “friends.” These folks are mostly local so I put it to them–what are we doing right and wrong, and what aren’t we doing that you’d like to see us do?

    The answers were disturbing, but not all that surprising.

    We’re a racist, exploitive organization that’s totally out of touch with the communities we pretend to serve, and we focus too much on sensational “negative” stories and we don’t tell enough of the “positive” ones, at least according to this small focus group.

    I did this all out in the open and I defended us as much as I could where I felt it was right. But I listened too, and many of the exchanges evolved into meaningful debates.

    I’ve asked a number of the people I reached in this way for their help in directing and creating content for us. I’ve received ideas for stories from the broad to the specific, and my plan for taking on this Ben Franklin Project is rounding into form as something that can continue on beyond this one experiment.

    If selected to wield the powers of your offered time and technology, I’d take those tools out into these communities we’re trying to serve and put them at the disposal of our readers. I’d go out to civic groups and organizations and use the Netbook to help them set up their own blogs on the spot so that they can gain exposure for their issues, provide us with a glimpse of what’s important in their lives and give our other readers the ability to get hyper-local information with just a few clicks. I’d use the powerful visual capabilities of the iPad to demonstrate in the field some of the new things we’re doing and show people how they can get involved too.

    The new gadgets would also help me address a problem we all have–mobility. Why in this age do we need a building at all? With this mobile technology, the flip cam, and a few gadgets of my own, like police radios, a GPS and a digital camera, I could be a roving newsmobile. My car would be my office and I would be a one-man news patrol creating text, video and photos all remotely and uploading them nearly instantly to our Web site.

    I believe that’s where we all have to be headed and I’d like to help you show the way.

    Thanks for all you’re doing to change this company, and thank you for this particular opportunity.

    –Joe D’Aquila
    The Trentonian

  152. Hi John,

    I think “digital first” is absolutely the way to go. Until very recently I truly believed there was still a place for print journalism. Then the iPad was unveiled. It’s a compact, portable, relatively inexpensive tool that puts all the information in all the world at your fingertips with the press of a button.
    Reading some of the previous postings I was surprised at the objection to the use of Apple products. Everyone under the age of 35 (probably even 45) has an iPod. Using iPhones, iPads, etc. gives us a familiar, ready made path to new and important younger readers. (Geez Boomers, give it up already, it’s the 21st century!)
    I would love to be an ideaLab participant. With these wonderful new tools I could explore the far eastern end of Delaware County in a friendly, informal and spontaneous way. In this grittier area of Delco there are multiple, vibrant, thriving ethnic and immigrant populations that are ignored by our publication(s). I think it’s important to our future in many, many ways to include the not so wealthy, the not so white and the not so old in our community. By exploring these groups I would hope to find ways for the Daily Times to be much more diverse, inclusive and interesting publication. In cultivating “the other part of the County” I believe it would be possible to cultivate new and future customers and readers.

    Thanks, Lynn Meltzer, Graphic Artist, Delaware County Daily times

  153. John Paton:
    Hi, my name is Paula Pasche and I’m a sports writer at The Oakland Press where I cover the Detroit Lions. I’m interested in joining the experiment to find new ways to connect with readers.

    On April 21, I hit the five-fecta. It was the day before the NFL draft which is like the Super Bowl for Lions fans. I did an online chat (our most popular chat to date), shot and uploaded video, Tweeted, blogged and wrote two stories. It was a great day.

    I’d love the chance to expand on the five-fecta. With the Lions beat I have an audience that is growing and can be cultivated even more. Lions fans are passionate and I have something they don’t — access to coaches, players and management. During the offseason I blog and tweet at least five days a week In May I had 26,900 hits on my blog, the most at The Oakland Press by a large margin. My goal this fall is to hit 40,000 per month.

    Since I started on Twitter three months ago, not only have I developed a solid following, but I have found Twitter is a great reporting tool. I follow several Lions players who Tweet regularly and have gotten information from their Tweets that I would not have gotten elsewhere. That info has become the source for blogs and stories. That was something of an eye-opener for me.

    I’d like to find a way to possibly connect better to the Lions fans and get their questions answered.

    Currently I’m getting by with a 6-year-old Mac laptop that is not equipped to edit and upload video. This means when training camp starts at the end of July, the video I shoot at 11 a.m. won’t get posted until at least 8 p.m. (The Lions practice facility is more than 30 miles from our office.) I know immediacy is an issue, but without the proper equipment I can’t get it done.

    I love the fact that we’re a web-first organization now and would love to be a part of the JRC revolution.

    Thanks so much,
    Paula Pasche
    Sports writer
    The Oakland Press
    Cell: 248-933-6738

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  155. I would like to create nightly, television-style ‘talking head’ news clips for our Internet sites, thereby blurring the line between Internet and TV news.

    The Web viewer could multi-task, not tethered to a computer screen, keeping their local news ‘in the background’ as desired, as a viewer will keep one eye on TV while dressing for work.

    Our websites, however, might just go where no television newscast has gone before. In light of the latest technology allowing the consumer to ‘touch the screen’ and whisk data about … I envision our newscaster pausing dramatically during a Web broadcast, pointing at nothing in particular:

    “Dalton, who was questioned in the robbery of a convenience store last April … (points) …”

    Whereupon an airborne ‘link’ would appear at the tip of the newscaster’s finger.

    Viewers tuning in via iPad could take this as their cue to touch the screen and be whisked away to a ‘sidebar.’

    Visually-impaired folks can simply listen in to an audio rendering of Page One (worth doing for its own sake); everyone else can have a dazzling, cutting-edge media experience.

    This type of ‘interactive’ talking-head news coverage seems a thrillingly novel concept and I would love to see it through to fruition.

  156. John:

    If crowd-sourcing is the answer, why not make a member of the crowd one of your selected 15? Give the tools to one of the company papers’ bloggers – a neo-journalist, if you will – and have them make the same recommendations and comments. By the way, I won’t qualify; I just admire the experiment.

    Joe Zlomek, Managing Editor
    The Sanatoga Post, The Limerick Post, and The Pottstown Post

  157. Hi John, hope you are well…

    The ideaLab excites me.

    I would start off using the iPhone, iPad and Netbook on three tracks simultaneously.

    First, to answer a fundamental question: Who is in our audience?

    I would use these tools to mine data and create profiles about each town, with input from residents, businesses, tourism districts and students about how they view and define their communities. Let’s work with them to build databases and map assets, historic places, commercial districts and even their challenges, which could be anything from brownfields to issues posted with our partner Web site, SeeClickFix.

    This will help us improve in a way that is relevant to the people and businesses we serve, not just change for change’s sake. And they would have a stake in our results.

    Second, I would use these tools to engage the community in grassroots coverage of big topic issues and generate original, unique content on: immigration reform, Recovery Act spending (reporting in progress), the 2010 Census (reporting in progress), unemployment and the economic recovery and the 2010 Senate and Congressional races – we could do debates, interviews, and chats with reader-generated questions, etc.

    Third, I would apply these tools to daily work: filing stories, processing videos and podcasts and uploading user-generated content that people share in the field.

    I use Twitter, Facebook and have a blog, Fi$callyFit, which will be the basis of a new public access television show. Readers will be chosing topics and sending in questions.

    I hope you and the board will select me, give me the chance to discuss the rest of my ideas and put them into action.

    Many thanks,

    New Haven Register (CT)

  158. Hi John,

    I think the idea Lab is something that could really revitalize our organization and I would love to be a part of it.. I am the Auto advertising rep for The Reporter in Lansdale Pa.
    We have seen many changes in the auto advertising in the past few years with a huge shift to digital. I feel this will continue with the shift to social networking sites and Mobil apps where the digital community will be the largest referrers for most businesses and customers will be able to walk the lots or the stores while searching for the best deals. I feel the paper and the web site should act as the host for the region it represents, partnering, supporting and promoting all events and fund raisers through print, web and networking sites, which would also increase opportunities for advertisers to support and revenue to capture. Thanks for your consideration

    Charles E. Christy

  159. Mr. Paton,
    One of the main beats for our sports staff in Saratoga Springs is world-class thoroughbred racing; we publish a nationally-known supplement, The Pink Sheet, during our racing season in the summer. We’ve already put the wheels in motion to implement new digital strategies during this summer’s coverage; we’ll be using our FlipCams to produce a daily webcast and will also be live tweeting from the race meet. Because a good deal of the action takes place in the barns at 5 a.m., far from the press box and our laptops, portability is of the essence in breaking and enhancing news coverage. I believe that being a part of the ideaLab would allow us to raise the bar for ourselves even higher, posting live photos and videos from the field (rather than heading back to the office first), improving reader interaction through faster dialogue, and of course, breaking news on the spot.
    Nicole Russo
    Sportswriter, The Saratogian

  160. Pingback: Celebrating Free-dom: The Journal Register Company’s Ben Franklin Project « Steve Earley

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