Summer work recap

So I basically let summer go by without a peep here. Here’s what you have been missing:

The “Night Lives” series by Dan Zak was a lot of fun. I wrote up the experience for the Washington Post @Innovations blog:

That seems to be the challenge of a “tip line” call-out. Many readers believe their thoughts and ideas entered into forms and e-mails to The Post disappear into the ether of cyberspace. Conversely, seasoned reporters have seen some open requests for story ideas yield a lack of quality and usefulness. Zak said, “I expected to receive a slow drip of nonsensical invective. So I was pleasantly surprised that we got a couple decent, sane suggestions.”

Then there was the Palin e-mails. Ask me about that sometime.

Federal workers are a great group of folks to reach out to regularly. When the earthquake hit D.C., I helped reporters sort through what the fed employees were going through. For the 9/11 anniversary, I helped again reach out to find stories about workplace safety. Budget battles and possible federal default inspired lots of opinions.

Through the Muslims in America series, I was enlightening with some great user perspectives on Muslim family dynamics and faith: Suspicion, radicalization, defending faith, and family.

I went to the Online News Association conference in Boston! I was out to soak up the knowledge on crowdsourcing in particular, since that’s my evolving specialty, but also walked away with some great ideas inspired by Al Jazeera’s The Stream, Mobile Commons, and bostonglobe.com.

Most recently, I’ve had a lot of good experiences with an evolving photo project involving the mobile app Instagram: #2012unfiltered#econdebate, and #leafscape. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know a lot of smart readers who have become Capital Weather Watchers – a group I am hoping will become vital to how The Post reports on weather in the region.

I’ve also started occasionally tweeting and facebooking for The Post’s main news accounts. These accounts touch a lot of people in Washington area, and I’m always surprised at how interested people are in this. Questions like: “Do you really sit there and tweet all night?” Answer: No.

But it has been a lot easier to explain my job if I say I do social media at The Post. People can grasp what that is whereas “engagement” and “interactivity” mean very little to the average person. You don’t read callouts for information and stories sourced from audience and think: “Wow, that’s really great engagement.” It should just weave into the fabric of a great web experience.

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