Four workshops scheduled at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab

I’ve scheduled four workshops at the media lab, and thought I’d make a NewHive expression promoting it. As part of my workshop, I will be teaching people how to use the tool. A bonus is that I discovered in addition to YouTube, Vimeo and Syndicaster videos, I can embed Touts.

Below is the article I wrote and asked all of the editors in the 21st Century Media Michigan Group to share in print and online.

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab, 215 W. Michigan Ave., at SPARK-East in downtown Ypsilanti, will host four free workshops designed to teach writing and social media skills to area residents.

Rick Kessler, managing editor of Heritage Media and a blogger, will teach a two-part series on blogging from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 3 and 10. Have you wanted to start a blog, but weren’t sure where to begin? Or, maybe you al-ready have a blog but you’d like to know how to take it to the next level? Kessler can answer those questions and more during his two-part series, “Blogging 101.”

Part I will cover every-thing from how to start a blog to how to find content for your blog. Part II will show participants how to grow their audience and discover advance blogging techniques. Each seminar will have a question-and-answer session and an op-portunity for one-on-one instruction.

Kessler is the author of the Gr8LakesCamper blog, which “celebrates the world of RVing, camping and tra-vel destinations in the Great Lakes region.” He started the blog in June 2007 and since then has had more than 1,400 posts and 360,000 page views. Visit his blog at or email him at for more information.

Michelle Rogers, director of editorial training for 21st Century Media’s Michigan Group and director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, will present “Emerging social media tools and how to use them” from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10. The workshop will introduce participants to RebelMouse for curating social media and web feeds into a personal page, and NewHive for creating crea-tive expressions, invita-tions, special pages with video embeds and photos.

The workshop will be hands-on, so participants are asked to bring a laptop, their ideas and content to build their own NewHive expression with photos, text, video and links.

Attendees should decide in advance which Twitter handles and hashtags they want to feed into their Re-belMouse pages, along with RSS feeds, and consider whether they want to in-clude their Pinterest, Insta-gram, Tout, YouTube and Flickr posts.

Monica Drake, community engagement editor for The Oakland Press, will present on citizen journalism from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 12. She will empower participants to become contributors to their local news media, teaching them the basics of journalism, photography and video, as well as other tools designed to help doc-ument and share community news. For more information, email

To sign up for any of the free workshops, visit the Southeast Michigan Media’s Lab’s Facebook events page or profile. will no-tify participants of future workshops.


Teaching Tout, Twitter and Pinterest at the media lab

The last few weeks at the media lab have had me on the road traveling to newsrooms in Oakland and Wayne counties, and working with individuals at the media lab in Ypsilanti, located in Washtenaw County, teaching Tout, Twitter and Pinterest.

Since Digital First Media entered a partnership with Tout and we started using it in newsrooms across our footprint, from the East Coast to the West Coast, there has been a big push to get everyone trained — journalists, freelancers and the public. In the last week, I’ve trained Michigan sports reporters, Heritage Media-West reporters and Oakland County residents on Tout using three different presentations tailored to their specific needs.

I really enjoyed putting together the presentation for sports because it motivated me to look at what reporters were producing on Tout, checking into their successes (with top views coming from Detroit Lions reporter Paula Pasche and Detroit Tigers reporter Matt Mowery) and looking at what they could be doing better, such as writing better descriptions that are more Twitter friendly with mentions and hashtags, and narrating their videos, instead of just shooting action. I also suggested how their audience could get involved, creating their own Touts and feeding their videos into a widget on our sites.

I had similar advice for the news staff in Washtenaw County, but geared their presentation more toward breaking news and coverage of community events, and motivating their readers to get involved by shooting their own Touts and sharing them by using an established hashtag for breaking news, and individual hashtags specific for each community event.

We have found that more views come through widgets embedded in articles on our websites, rather than plays through or the Tout app. It makes sense since you have a built-in audience already interested in the news, sports or feature story, and looking for complementary coverage. So, I walked the reporters through the process of building a widget, which takes less than a minute. It’s very simple and there really is no excuse not to do it. It’s definitely more efficient. It also delivers a better presentation with a video player, and provides more thorough coverage, bringing in video from a variety of sources using a hashtag.

I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for Tout training for readers of The Oakland Press. We had about eight people sign up via our Facebook events page and Meetup, but twice as many actually attended as a news article online and in print enticed even more people to check it out.

Monica Drake, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, helped me with both presentations.

I think we make a good team. We had a PowerPoint that encouraged readers to start using Tout and Monica took it a step further by actually setting up the hashtag for them to use that will feed directly into the Tout widget on The Oakland Press home page. It was inspiring to see that many of the participants had either downloaded the Tout app before coming or did so shortly after they arrived. Many asked questions and were genuinely interested in contributing community news through short-form video. The fact that Tout provides video in real time and can be easily shared on social media makes it very useful.

While I feel very comfortable teaching Tout, I struggle a little bit more with Pinterest, but I am becoming more versed the more I use it. I’ve been working regularly with two women from the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor, who are interested in creating a Pinterest page to share photos from the group’s volunteer activities. Before they asked for my help, I had started a Pinterest page of my own, but I wasn’t very active. Now, after exploring on my own so I could help them, and then actually setting up their page, adding boards and creating pins, and then showing them how to repin, I’ve become more comfortable with it. There is much more for me to learn about it and teach them, and I am enjoying the experience. Check out their boards here and let me know if you have some suggestions for them. They will be returning Friday for more help.

Linda Tubbs of the Professional Volunteers Corps works on her Pinterest page.

Linda Tubbs of the Professional Volunteers Corps works on her Pinterest page.

At The News-Herald in Southgate, I’ve paid two visits in recent weeks to work with newly hired reporter Anne Runkle. Anne had worked in the industry during the late 1980s and through the mid-1990s, and needs some catching up to do with digital media. So, we started with Tout and Twitter training.

I’d eventually love to see her graduate to creating timelines, audiocasts, locator map embeds, polls and data visualizations. But we’re starting with building an audience on Twitter, crowdsourcing and creating video to complement her storytelling.

I am curious, if you are a journalist, which social media tools do you use and why? Please leave a comment and answer my poll.

Workshops on SEO, social media, writing with kids bring audience

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In the last three weeks at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, we have hosted three workshops with various levels of participation from the public. Last night’s workshop, titled “Writing with Your Child,” was a little out of the ordinary from our usual offerings, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it despite not having children.

Gina Luttrell, an assistant professor of social media and public relations at Eastern Michigan University, was the first of our presenters, visiting the media lab for the first time July 25 after hearing about it from a colleague. We are so appreciative of her enthusiasm and warm embrace of our project in Ypsilanti, which provides free workshops and individual training to the public in digital media and social media. Gina graciously volunteered her time to teach “Using Social Media to Promote Your Business.” And in the spirit of social media, we conducted a live chat and fed Tweets, Instagram pics and Touts into the chat while also livestreaming video of it.

Stephen Frye, online editor at The Oakland Press, talked about search engine optimization to a small group the afternoon of July 29. He presented a PowerPoint assembled by Oakland Press Community Engagement Editor Monica Drake. Even though it was the second round for that presentation, I still learned something, and I always appreciate an opportunity to use Tout, Twitter, Instagram, uStream and ScribbleLive to capture these presentations and share them with our audience, either live or via our archives.

Like Gina, it was the first time Stephen had been to the media lab and he even tweeted afterward that he thought it was a great space for our community outreach program.

While both Stephen and Gina’s topics aligned with what you can expect to find in terms of programming at the media lab, Brian Cox, editor of The Detroit Legal News, introduced something out of the box for me. I had never thought about offering a workshop on “Writing with Your Child,” but that’s precisely what he offered to present and I thought, “Why not?”

Brian’s workshop Aug. 8 attracted three parents and three youths. It was great to see the children at the lab interested in developing their writing skills. One 15-year-old girl had been writing fan fiction for years, and the other two, a brother and sister, were also passionate about writing. Brian gave parents some great tips

and then gave them a lesson to work on together. I shot several Touts, as well as a video that I plan to work on later this afternoon for our YouTube channel.

My takeaway from Brian’s workshop is that it’s best to go with the flow. If someone wants to do something outside of your regular routine or way of doing things, be open to it. I think everyone who attended his workshop was impressed and one of the children asked if he had any other learning opportunities scheduled — so he has developed a fan base. Now all I need to do is convince him to get on Twitter and WordPress, which, by the way, is in the works.

If you are looking for an opportunity to grow as a journalist or writer, or further develop your social media or digital media skills, the Southeast Michigan Media Lab is a great resource. And it’s free! Come take advantage of our free workshops. Upcoming workshops include “Using Tout to create short-form video” 6 p.m. Aug. 21, “Adoobe InDesign, PhotoShop, Bridge and Illustrator Basics” 6 p.m. Sept. 5, “Understanding the Freedom of Information Act” 6 p.m. Sept. 10 and “Covering Michigan Politics” 1 p.m. Sept. 18. Sign up at

Making yourself marketable in journalism today

The Southeast Michigan Community Media Lab is located at 215 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti at SPARK-East. It's a free resource for journalists, students and the public.

The Southeast Michigan Community Media Lab is located at 215 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti at SPARK-East. It’s a free resource for journalists, students and the public.

A reporter I had hired to cover sports and write news a few years ago — but who then left for another media company — contacted me last week and wanted to meet. I knew he had been laid off from the company he had left for, but he had rebounded and was hired by a daily near his home. I assumed he wanted to visit me at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab to learn some new skills he could apply in his relatively new position.

I was surprised, however, when he told me that after just a few months he had been laid off from the second company. I shouldn’t have been too surprised, though, given the state of the industry and after going through our parent company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy (twice). Since emerging from bankruptcy, the company I work for has been working hard to change the culture of our newsrooms, encouraging reporters to embrace digital media and the tools that can generate content to complement their storytelling while helping to share it with a wider audience. But not all companies have been as successful, including, I suspect, the two that had let go of this reporter, as he told me that neither was using social media and digital media tools to the extent we and other leading media companies were.

As we talked, I saw that he wasn’t there to learn as much as he was there to network. He was checking in to let me know he was back on the market and wanted to know if I knew of any job openings in the industry. So, I pointed him toward the Facebook group DFMjournalismcareers and took a look at his resume. The first thing I told him was to ditch the traditional printed resume and copies of his clips, and set up an account at Pressfolio, as it’s made especially for journalists. It’s a nicely designed site that’s easy to navigate. It aggregates all of your clips and you can view it by “section,” such as breaking news, sports, features, and include page design, video and other work. There’s an “about” section and a “skills” section similar to LinkedIn, as well. Its “featured” selection reminds me of the same functionality that I use on to highlight an upcoming workshop.

I also advised the reporter to immediately dump the old flip phone in favor of a smartphone. Every journalist, I told him, has to have a smartphone. In today’s world, it’s more essential than a reporter’s notebook and pen, as it will connect you in real time with your readers, and — bonus — you can take notes with it, and record audio and video.

Until I got my iPhone in 2010, I had no idea what I was missing. Using free apps, I can capture audio for an immediate post on my phonecasting channel at and share videos in real time using Tout and my social media channels to distribute breaking news from the scene. Live tweeting an event, court proceedings and government meetings has become standard practice, just like sharing updates, links and crowdsourcing on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. We use Instagram and Pinterest to share photos, and there’s ScribbleLive to update a live blog and uStream to livestream video from a remote location.

Let’s not forget Google Maps to ensure we don’t get lost while driving to the scene of a breaking news story or interview, and the weather app to report on a weather event or check whether you should bring your umbrella. There are a lot more, and I encourage people reading this post to share their favorite apps in the comments section.

At the end of our conversation, I had hoped I got through to this reporter. To be marketable in the field of journalism today you have to be social media and tech savvy. You must master the social media and digital media tools that will aid in your reporting and set you apart from the pack of other laid-off journalists looking for work. Having those skills also will make you competitive with the journalism school graduates who have embraced many of these tools while growing up and those skills have become second nature to them.

This journalist has the reporting chops and source-building skills necessary to succeed. Those are always at the top of any publisher or editor’s list when filling open positions. But if you haven’t figured out how to share video, photos, text or audio from the scene of a breaking news story or crowdsource information using social media, you’re sunk.

Practice makes perfect, I reminded the reporter, so get out there and start playing with some of these tools. Take control of your destiny and grow in this ever-evolving field so that you can continue to do what you love.

Before we parted ways, I handed him a flier listing all of our free workshops he can take advantage of at the media lab to learn some of these skills, and I encouraged him to return for individual instruction, also free. The next workshop is “Using social media to engage your audience,” and it will be taught by Eastern Michigan University professor Gina Luttrell.

Now, let’s see if he shows up.

I am crossing my fingers — and toes.

News-Herald Blogger Fair keeps media lab staff busy

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The Southeast Michigan Media Lab helped staff at The News-Herald in Southgate and Press & Guide in Dearborn with a Blogger Fair July 17 at their offices in Southgate, Mich. The event attracted 20 people either currently blogging or interested in it.

The idea behind the event was to share information about how the writers could become blogging partners with 21st Century Media and its news affiliates across Michigan, including The News-Herald, covering Downriver, and Press & Guide.

Information also was shared about the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, a free resource offered by the company to help bloggers, community contributors, students, senior citizens and established journalists. As many readers know, the media lab offers free workshops on social media and new media tools, as well as one-on-one instruction, from setting up blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube channels to teaching people how to use Pinterest, LinkedIn, Dipity, Tout, SurveyMonkey, Storify, ipadio and other tools.

Media lab intern Elise Waller produced a video from the event and News-Herald Video Coordinator Dave Herndon shot photos. Media Lab Director Michelle Rogers (me) led the event with an introduction to the media lab and the short-form video tool Tout, and was followed by Heritage Media Online Editor Joe Gray, who presented basic blogging tips and information on social media, and Rick Kessler, who presented a session on understanding search engine optimization and how to monetize a blog. I followed with a more advanced session on adding visuals and interactive elements in a blog, recommending a variety of free tools.

Everyone who attended seemed very enthusiastic. I followed up with the participants the next day, providing links to the PowerPoints, our blogging partnership guidelines and encouraging them to stop by the lab to see me for help.

Our goal is to add 100 new blogging partners to our news sites by year’s end, and I am really hoping to get some great contributors from the Blogger Fair. I am very interested in working with Al Poe, who has been writing reviews of restaurants in the Downriver area for years and posting them on Yelp and Urban Spoon. And I’ve already added Gordon Thorsby, who writes about customer service and his experiences at various businesses across the state of Michigan.

If you were unable to attend our event, but interested in finding out more information on how to become a blogging partner, please reach out with a comment on this blog. Here is my PowerPoint with information about the lab and our blogging partnership guidelines, as well as a presentation on SEO.

News-Herald and Press & Guide Blogger Fair Presentation by Community Media Lab

Blogger Fair 2013: Incorporating visuals and interactive elements in your blog by Community Media Lab

Understanding Search Engine Optimization by Community Media Lab

New media lab opens at Macomb Daily

Southeast Michigan Media Lab intern Elise Waller works with Maryanne MacLeod at the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab at The Macomb Daily.

Southeast Michigan Media Lab intern Elise Waller works with Maryanne MacLeod at the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab at The Macomb Daily.

My intern and I had the pleasure of helping Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor at The Macomb Daily; Jeff Payne, editor of Voice Newspapers; and Jody McVeigh, editor of Advisor & Source, in launching the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab June 27 in Clinton Township.

While Maryanne has been working with bloggers and the community for sometime, the media lab space, which came to be when The Macomb Daily moved into its new digs on Hall Road earlier this year, will provide a place the community can call its own, and where community contributions to 21st Century Media publications will be encouraged.

Our help consisted of setting up a number of accounts that will serve to promote the media lab, communicate with the community and facilitate activities at the lab. For example, we set up a uStream channel so community workshops can be livestreamed, and Twitter and Facebook to communicate with our audience and publicize our work, while also making connections with the community. We also set up an Instagram account and YouTube channel to share photos and video from our work in the media lab. The Macomb media lab was added to our account for the Southeast Michigan Media Lab so we can promote workshops and other activities.

We still need to set up a Tout account to share short-form video, a blog to communicate our activities and work with the community, Scribd account to share PowerPoints from our workshop presenters, WeJoinIn to schedule workshop presenters, a RebelMouse page to curate all of our social media content, as well as RSS feeds from our publications serving Macomb County.

Equipment for the lab has been ordered. They will be getting a few laptop computers and an iPhone. These will be available for in-house use by anyone who comes in looking for help in writing a news release, creating a photo slideshow or video, editing audio, or posting to their blog, among other things.

The idea behind the media lab in Macomb County is similar to the one in Washtenaw County, as 21st Century Media wants to provide community outreach and encourage contributions to our publications. For instance, at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab we have helped senior citizens set up Facebook pages to connect with family and friends, local chambers of commerce and political organizations set up Twitter accounts to boost their presence on social media, and representatives from local nonprofits write news releases about their newsworthy activities. In addition, we have worked with individual writers and bloggers, helping them fine-tune their writing and add bells and whistles to their blogs to make their blogs more visually appealing. We link to many of these blogs from our website and, in exchange, their blogs feature our headline widget to help drive traffic back to our websites.

If you live in Macomb County, feel free to stop by the Macomb Regional Commmunity Media Lab or if you are in Wayne, Oakland or Washtenaw County, you’re welcome at our media lab in Ypsilanti at SPARK-East.

Tout Training for 21st Century Media journalists, editors

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab is on Tout. Follow us!

The Southeast Michigan Media Lab is on Tout. Follow us!

Tomorrow I will be holding a live chat and livestreaming video of training on the video platform Tout for our newsrooms. I am pretty excited about the potential this new tool has, from visual storytelling to community engagement, and I plan to promote its use at the Southeast Michigan Media Lab.

The video platform allows you to provide real-time video updates, known as Touts, and community contributors, bloggers and news consumers can do this alongside multimedia journalists at Digital First Media, which includes The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune in Royal Oak, The Morning Sun, Heritage Media, The News-Herald in Southgate and other news websites across Michigan, as well as scores of others across the United States. Local reporters will be producing videos, up to 45 seconds long, and sharing them on our websites, embedded in articles and on our social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. Touts also can be shared through email, texts and links.

Viewers can follow individual journalists and news organizations on or through a free application on their smartphone, or watch those videos on our websites. Touters can choose to download the application on their iPhone or Android or create a Tout using a webcam on their computer.

Advantages of being a Touter include the ability to share videos and reply with a video, whether it’s to comment on a video’s content, respond to a question posed by a reporter or add companion content. For us, this interactive element is appealing as we strive to connect with our audience on different levels. Our journalists are now using it to share breaking news, weather and traffic reports, teasers to upcoming coverage, share clips from interviews, video of local events, and to engage their communities in real-time conversations, as well as look for news leads.

I like what John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, told May 1: “Tout’s real-time video reporting platform gives Digital First Media the ability to show, not just tell, our audience what is happening in real-time. Our audiences want immediate news and information, and our partnership with an emerging technology provider like Tout is an example of our commitment to provide just that.”

So, if you’re not on Tout yet, I encourage you to sign up, follow our journalists and branded accounts, retout us, mention us and reply to our Touts, and we will do the same for you if you catch our interest. Be sure to mention us (@heritagenews, @macombdaily, @theoaklandpress, @newsheraldMI, etc.) so it comes to our attention faster. You can follow the media lab on Tout by clicking here. I also encourage our bloggers to add their Tout stream to their blogs, like I’ve done on mine (see photo below). This will make your blog more interactive and give your audience another platform to consume your content. You can also feed it int your RebelMouse page, as I have for the media lab.

Happy Touting!

Link Tout to your blog so your audience can easily access your videos.

Link Tout to your blog so your audience can easily access your videos.