Friday, October 17, 2008

AFJ pirates board feature and Sunday editors vessel

The AFJ membership were surprisingly talkative at 7 a.m. as they rode over to the ZaZa hotel in the Museum District to join up with the Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. Caffeine was essential. We introduced ourselves and then Matt Thompson from the Minneapolis Star Tribune talked about user generated content and how to incentivize contributions. Twitter, the microblogging platform, was also discussed, including how to use hash tags (example #afj08) to highlight events. He noted that Twitter has a narrative flow, and users do remixes (or mashups if you're really cutting edge).

Naturally, Power Point was involved. Thompson also notes that having user write captions or having users comment on a particular topic (best cocktail in the Cities, for example). He also talked about service features (best breakfast, downtown lunch) being wikied, that is, users updating and commenting continuously.

He then moved on to the topic of general features, grouped under a heading such as $1,000. 48 Hours. The Twin Cities. What do you do? Winner got $1,000 to enact the weekend. Specialty reporting takes the same approach to niche topics. He recommended, an aggregator of emotional states from blogs around the world.

Thompson also offered the idea of a best feature section, which would be the top blog in the area. His awards are taking place in the area of user generated content.

Michael Bauer from the San Francisco Chronicle talked about how that organization is using multimedia. Because they are in a JOA, the sfgate website had different standards for city and suburban restaurant reviews. Bauer worked out an agreement to standardize practices. Bauer blogs and has done so for about 2 1/2 years. he's garnering 150,000 page views a month. The blog made him less of an asshole in the public eye.

They do service, including video of 10 basic cooking techniques, oyster opening and cleaning squid. Also folding egg whites. Resources are not quite there, including a recipe database that could include 20,000 locally generated recipes. He sees newspapers as being able to combat the East Coast-centric quality of the national sites, and highlight the best of the region.

Bauer does a weekly newsletter which does repurpose some print content. Also added virtual tours of the Top 100 restaurant with a 360 degree view of the restaurant. To try to keep list current, removing closings and updating. As a result, tourists e-mail for recommendations. Also do tasting reviews in the Travel section of the site.

Holiday pages are big. They offer a Turkey Training Camp with video. The food and wine content draws 1.2 million page views a month.

When asked how to use print to drive traffic to the website, Thompson said Vitamin is printed weekly and offers meetups and other events to bond with the user community.

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