Social media campaign gets new eyes on our work

On June 13th, InvestigateWest launched its first major social media campaign associated with a story. The story, “Breathing Uneasy – The Air Pollution Crisis in South Seattle” was a joint effort by IW’s Robert McClure and Jenny Cunningham of KCTS-9. IW’s objective was to get the story to readers and viewers through social media channels, in addition to publication and broadcast with media partners, which also included Crosscut.com. Here’s a rundown of what we learned.Much like a more traditional advertising campaign, the effectiveness of a social media campaign is measured by the extent to which organization goals are met.However, because the campaign for “BreathingUneasy” was not intended to sell a product or gain customers, we look at success a little differently than does traditional business. When evaluating the success of a story campaign, we exchange measures such as unit sales and new customers for metrics like website traffic, connections/followers on social networks, responses to our messages and content, and whether the audience shares the content within their network. An added dimension is whether the report motivates civic participation.

Social media in investigative reporting: A conversation with CIR’s Meghann Farnsworth

As InvestigateWest’s new online community manager,  I consider myself a journalist at heart. Although my prior work in social media was for a marketing organization, I bring experience and a mindset of a digital journalist to this new role for InvestigateWest. Some hold that social media is antithetical to journalism, but I disagree. My goal is to share and promote quality reporting through the powerful tools of new media, including social media. Though social media is not as iconic as whirring printing presses and ink smudges, it is connecting journalists with audiences in unprecedented ways.I came to INVW prepared to plead the case of social media for a non-profit to those who view social media as a new-age marketing tool. Why should professional reporters be concerned with what Joe Anybody has to say about the cost of cereal from his supermarket? I also anticipated that social media activity on behalf of a non-profit reporting organization would need to be conservative and closely scrutinized so as to not embroil the organization in any controversy.To investigate these assumptions, I called my counterpart at the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting for some answers. Meghann Farnsworth is the Online Community Manager of the CenterforInvestigativeReporting(CIR) and its subsidiary CaliforniaWatch(CW). What I learned about Farnsworth’s role at CIR and the role of social media in investigative reporting is an exciting glimpse into what new media technology offers to reporters and audiences.