Meena Thiruvengadam

I am an experienced multimedia journalist who is social media savvy and comfortable on camera. I have a knack for translating complex financial information into must-read articles and for unearthing unique feature stories that resonate with audiences.


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Instagram for newsrooms: A community tool, a reporting tool, a source of Web content

For news organizations, Instagram isn’t just about pretty pictures. It’s about the people they’re interacting with and the stories behind the images.

“Instagram is so immediate and intimate that it creates this close connection with the user,” said Cory Haik, executive producer for digital news at The Washington Post. The Post uses Instagram to share photos, collect photos from users, report stories and have personal interactions with its audience. It’s a strategy aimed not at driving traffic but at building community.

The Washington Post solicited Instagram photos of snow from readers. (Courtesy The Washington Post)

“What we ask ourselves about Instagram,” Haik said by phone, “is ‘are we having a meaningful conversation with our users?’”

Instagram for engagement

At the Chicago Tribune, each week brings a new theme for Instagram users to contribute photos around. “Our approach to Instagram at the Tribune is to make sure followers are included whenever possible. Read more

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8 ways to increase the chances that you’ll get funding for your media startup

Journalism skills and a good idea are essential for bringing your media startup to life — but they don’t entitle you to financial support from a foundation or an investment from a venture-capital firm.

“Assuming that you can get funding because you have journalism skills and an idea is not very persuasive in this particular environment,” said Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, which funds entrepreneurial projects. Instead, she said in a phone interview, media entrepreneurs have to prove to investors and grant providers why they and their idea are worth it.

So how do you prove that? Here are eight tips:

1. Partner up

Being a jack of all trades and master of none isn’t the best way for journalists to approach entrepreneurship. Instead, media entrepreneurs should build a multidisciplinary team that’s capable of accomplishing their goals, said Corey Ford, CEO of Matter, a startup accelerator and early-stage venture-capital firm that invests in media ventures. Read more

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How journalists can measure engagement

Most journalists now understand they need to engage with audiences, whether online or in person. But it’s still not clear how news organizations can measure whether their attempts at engagement are paying off.

“Engagement isn’t just Twitter, Facebook or social media. It’s really getting to know your audience,” said Kim Bui, associate editor of social media and outreach for KPCC in Los Angeles and cofounder of #wjchat.

Some organizations use live events as a tool to get to know their audience. “Things like tweetups and other opportunities where you get to meet audience members keep this full circle going and give them this feeling of having a much more personal connection with the station,” Bui said.

But for audience relationships that primarily play out online those personal connections can be tough to gauge.

“Social journalists are accustomed to thinking about engagement as likes, retweets, shares,” said Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news at The New York Times.   Read more

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How reporters can become better self editors

The accelerated pace of journalism means many reporters have to write, edit and quickly publish their work online, sometimes without the benefit of an extra set of eyes.

Given this reality — and the fact that there are fewer copy editors these days –  it’s more important than ever for reporters to become their own self editors.

Here are a few steps you can take to help yourself produce cleaner copy and avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Print out stories, proof them

Tom Orsborn, a sports writer covering the Dallas Cowboys for the San Antonio Express-News, often picks apart his own stories long before his editors have the chance.

Self-editing is one situation where exhibiting obsessive-compulsive tendencies can help, he said during a phone interview: “Sometimes I can’t let go of a story because I just want it to be perfect. It can take a toll on you mentally, but it also leads to clean copy.”

Orsborn said he tries to give each story at least three reads. Read more

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How journalists can create better explainers

Explainers are one way for journalists to give audiences the knowledge they need to better understand the news or the world around them. Crafting an effective explainer requires savvy news judgment, inquisitive reporting and the skills to tell a strong story.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when creating them.

Figuring out what to explain

Brian Palmer, Slate’s chief explainer, said by phone that he explains aspects of stories that publications mistakenly assume readers know. When Rick Perry was reported to carry a gun while running, for example, Palmer explained to Slate readers how runners use jog holsters to more safely carry weapons.

Slate Science and Health Editor Laura Helmuth suggests setting out to answer interesting and unexpected questions that go deeper than the traditional five Ws. “In this age of Google, the trick is to have an unanswered question that requires more than a fact to explain,” she said by phone. Read more

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5 ways journalists can use social media to resurface old content

Journalists are finding that social media gives them ample opportunities to breathe new life into archived content. Recently, they’ve used social networking sites — while covering deaths, anniversaries, birthdays and ongoing stories — to resurface old content that their audiences may otherwise never see.

Here are some examples of how they’ve done it, along with five related tips.

Use Facebook’s Timeline to organize continuing coverage

The Wall Street Journal used Facebook to create a timeline of its coverage of the Facebook IPO. Instead of inundating its main Facebook page with IPO coverage, the Journal created a separate timeline that would become a social landing page for its coverage of the deal.

The timeline recounts Facebook’s journey since 2004, when it was launched from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room as thefacebook.com, and includes links to related articles on wsj.com.

“We were looking for a unique way to tell the Facebook IPO story on social media,” said Brian Aguilar, a former Wall Street Journal social media editor and now assistant managing editor at Marketwatch. Read more

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3 writers share tips on how to turn beats into books

Lots of journalists dream of writing books. For many who do, inspiration flows from the beats they cover day in and day out. I talked with three journalists who have written books to find out how they did it and what they learned in the process. Here are some of their tips.

Look for an intrinsic story line & characters in your beat

Kirsten Grind‘s job covering Washington Mutual for a local business journal prepared her for the lucky break that came when a top area book agent heard her on NPR. “When she emailed me, I had zero intention of writing a book,” Grind said in a phone interview.

Kirsten Grind

Grind had been covering Washington Mutual for nearly two years at the Puget Sound Business Journal when that call came. The bank became the largest American financial institution ever to collapse about six months after Grind started working the beat. Read more

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How journalists can develop business, entrepreneurial skills in the newsroom

Believe it or not, there are ways to make money in journalism. One of them is by crossing from the editorial to the business side of the industry.

While some journalists have launched their own news sites, others have found lucrative business-related opportunities within the newsroom.

Familiarizing yourself with the business side of journalism

When Evan Smith was editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, he made it a point to learn about circulation, advertising, marketing and other business aspects of the publication. “I found it made me better at my job,” he said by phone. “It gave me a more well-rounded picture of the magazine as an entity.”

That came in handy when he co-founded The Texas Tribune and became both its editor-in-chief and CEO. “I wasn’t just another journalist who thought he could run a business,” he said. “I actually had some experience with the guts of the news business.”

Smith suggests that editors make a point of understanding what motivates colleagues in advertising and circulation, and take an active role in figuring out how to get their content in front of as many people as possible. Read more

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Suspect in custody

How journalists can protect themselves & the news they’ve gathered if arrested on the job

A growing number of journalists across the U.S. are getting arrested while on the job. And it’s not just an Occupy Wall Street issue.

Veteran photojournalist Clint Fillinger was arrested in September for standing beyond police barricades while filming a house fire in Milwaukee. The charges were eventually dropped.

“As the number of people who are out on the street with cell phones that record audio and video grows, so does the number of arrests of people recording and taking photographs of police,” Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a recent phone interview. “It could be just coincidence, but I doubt it.”

Dalglish believes police are becoming increasing “prickly” as more citizen journalists try to document their actions. Police are also paying less attention to journalists’ First Amendment rights and arresting more reporters working for traditional organizations, she said. Read more

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