PARADE All-America and hyperlocal sports

PARADE has their All-America sports program. They cover high school football, basketball, soccer; both women’s and men’s as applicable. All-America surveys athletes throughout the country, selects the best and brightest, and profiles a bunch of them. More than a few Names appreciate their selections as PARADE All-Americans.

High school sports has always had the Golden Square: it’s mobile, social, real-time and local.

Je rêvais d'un autre monde.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ségozyme

Who better to cover high school sports than the local papers? And the school newspapers where these athletes play? (Parents and spectators could participate, too, but we’re baby-stepping here.)

In 2007, PARADE opened up a Finalist List of high school athletes and asked the community to select their favorites. We had galleries – photos and video – that (could) feature the finalists AND write-ins: “don’t like our finalists? tell us yours.”

We built a set of tools and reached out to newspaper partners in the Finalists’ areas.  “Here. Have this.” If they used nothing else, we had links and profile pages: “Even just send us links to stories YOU’VE ALREADY WRITTEN; we’ll let the community and your peers see, vote and comment on those.”

We worked with Reddit on that last piece They’d already built great tools and made it accessible; we wanted to leverage that. We wanted to make our good ideas and web products available, without strings, to our newspaper partners. We wanted to do what we did best and link to the rest. We wanted them to share so we shared everything with them.

At the same time, an Editorial effort worked to coordinate and curate input from High School journos. For them, too, we contacted the schools who had players in a wide list of “Finalists.” This central editorial role was to help the HS journos keep info on
their players fresh and complete.They could post weekly stats, updates of player photos and footage, and any new writeups they created or found.

After the first week, when there was less-than-overwhelming participation, we began trolling partner paper sites for HS football stories. There were plenty, and plenty of good ones. We built pages of links soley out to the partners. And we asked them again – “if you use none of these other tools, send your storties here. it takes 20 seconds and, at the least, you’ll have parade.com’s exposure in addition to your own traffic.”

There were several active contributors. They loved their Finalists and worked at keeping us aware of all those players’ moves in the game, in school , and outside of those. But we weren’t able to put together a robust and complete site, for a national audience, based on the content recieved. We didn’t provide sufficient incentive for widespread and ongoing participation.

The value proposition for paper partner and HS journo participation fell short: it was difficult to sell the value gained beyond additional exposure, access to gratis tools, and the act of working on wider, more social collaboration. We had no historical numbers to point to, as this was the first time we’d taken this on; I’d presumed massive pariticpation and didn’t get it. There was no additional revenues to speak of to share with participants.

It should have worked. We had to work – all of us – within the confines of expectation. I expected it to succeed from the outset. Contributors – journalists at the partner papers and in HS – wanted to to see better returns on investment of time and effort sooner than we delivered.

With True/Slant, we’re working harder to address those challenges. We’re putting together more measurable incentives for participation. It would be interesting to see what we’ve learned – re coordinating distributed editorial resources and showing the inherent benefits of working with the community (the audience) – applied to working on a project like PARADE All-America.

2009 and 2010 will see it improve. It’s social, it’s local, and it can be real-time and mobile – it *has* to work.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Research and writing tools

“Clipping” from sites as you read them – to bolster a point, riff on the news, or to save ideas for later exploration – is incredibly helpful. Bookmarking pages is great; noting the specific parts of the page that caught your interest in the first place is even better.

There are a good number of tools from the basic to the very slick. Microsoft just got back into the clipping game in a big way with Thumbtack. ReadWriteWeb looks at it and some competitors:

Earlier this week, we looked at Qitera, which has a feature set that is quite similar to Thumbtack’s, but while Thumbtack has a more interesting user interface, the actual bookmarking and information retrieval through Qitera is far superior to Microsoft’s product. Thumbtack also lacks any of the social bookmarking aspects that make Twine, Delicious, or Qitera interesting. Not everybody, of course, is interested in sharing bookmarks, and for those users, Thumbtack is definitely worth trying, though currently, we would recommend Qitera, Delicious, or Ma.gnolia, or the Google Notebook, over Thumbtack.

I’ve used Snipd, Clipmarks, PressThis, Sazell as well. I’m writing this post via Deepest Sender which has good clipping / research capabilities, too.

All of them are handy. We’re working on improving the feature set we use most.

thumbtack_screenshot.jpg

(Gated) Communities: WSJ.com’s Social Play

Attributing actual identities to forums online will have its effects. It will curtail some nonsense that anonymity allows; it won’t negate it completely.

Subscribers to the WSJ are already a much smaller subset of the universe of WSJ.com readers. We “know” that somewhere south of 2% of readers actively respond in forums.

Does that segmentation (2%) of the smaller pool (subscribers-only) mean WSJ’s forums look thin / moribund and counters efforts to enable “community” and feedback around their editorial content?

clipped from bits.blogs.nytimes.com

New WSJ.com Builds on Its Community of Subscribers

Unchanged is the most important aspect of the current site: the wall that blocks non-subscribers from reading most of The Journal’s business news articles.

“You can network with people who won’t shout profanities at you,” said Alan Murray, executive editor for online news at the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corporation. “We think it’s going to be very powerful.”

Like LinkedIn, participants in WSJ.com’s community must use their real identities. The site will enforce that requirement by initially limiting the community features to paid subscribers of WSJ.com, although Mr. Murray said the company might eventually allow non-subscribers to join as long as their identities could be verified by other means, such as a credit card.

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