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Sites Add Blogs on Jobs, Crime, School; Mobile Messages Help in Blackout

This week’s NEWS WATCH includes a roundup of interesting ideas culled from the newspapers’ monthly reports to Corporate. Check out Nashville’s
new Job Watch blog, Asbury Park’s use of mobile during a blackout and
Appleton’s addition of blogs addressing crime and courts, as well as one
on the comings and goings of the Fox Valley retail and entertainment business
scene. If you have some interesting work that you want to share with others,
please send a note to Ann Clark.

Nashville: Job Watch Blog

By Lisa Green, Database Editor, The Tennessean at Nashville

When local job losses began to mount in December, The Tennessean at Nashville knew its readers needed a way to share tips and advice while keeping up with the latest job news. The Job Watch blog launched Dec. 6, just as the Labor Department reported the nation’s biggest job losses in 34 years.

In this bleak employment market, it would have been easy to fill Job Watch with negative news about one layoff after another. But that wasn’t the mission of this blog.

While readers could find links about Middle Tennessee’s latest layoffs, they also found information to empower and encourage them, including pointers to industries that were most likely to be hiring. In video interviews, an expert gave tips to job seekers and a recruiter advised executives on how to get a six-figure job offer in this economy.

Another post told the stories of people who had started successful businesses during a recession. A CareerBuilder widget made it easy for people to search for jobs directly from the Job Watch main page.

Reporters and editors from both news and business contributed to the blog, and readers responded with contributions of their own. Some shared their experiences with the job hunt; others offered links to sites they found useful.

The blog generates hundreds of page views in its own right. It also links to many stories from’s business section, where page views jumped 27 percent in December compared to the same month a year earlier and 19 percent compared to November. The numbers continued to climb in January, with business page views projected to be 100,000 above last year’s level.

Asbury Park: Text, mobile messages in blackout

By Hollis Towns, Executive Editor, Asbury Park Press

The Asbury Park Press used text messaging and its mobile site to reach many new users during a major blackout Dec. 9, 2008 in which 90,000 homes were reported to be without power. The newspaper sent numerous text messages with major developments to users who had signed up to receive news alerts via the 4INFO alert system.

We temporarily reconfigured our mobile site to make sure we were displaying the very latest news about the blackout and a photo.㄀ We posted several early reports as updates, even though we did not have photos. Then, when we added a photo to a story, we moved it into the main carousel on and kept it as the lead item on our mobile site. We sent our numerous alerts on Twitter and on other social networking sites. Soon, traffic moved from a trickle to a flood. Our mobile page views that Tuesday were 19,997, which is three times greater than usual. Afterward, we continued to promote the mobile site, using the new promo spot on our home page (the “Powered by” spot).

We had 36,961 unique visitors on our mobile site in December, according to our Crispsite tracking, a 58 percent increase over November’s 23,462. January was expected to show that many folks were turned to during the blackout stuck around for other content.

As a result, we have been aggressively promoting our mobile site throughout the Web site and on our section-front headers in print. Traffic has remained quite strong.

Appleton: Badge to Bench blog

By Dan Flannery, Executive Editor, The Post-Crescent at Appleton

The Post-Crescent at Appleton has launched two new blogs to tap into the high interest topics of crime and courts and retail and entertainment.

Badge to Bench Blog: Stories about crime and courts and police and fire are generally big readership items in print and online. To capitalize on this interest and to involve more of our staff in online journalism, we’ve created a daily blog with input from five reporters and editors, with expertise in various areas of the Fox Valley’s public safety community.

Reporters Jim Collar, John Lee, Michael King, Dan Wilson and Community News Editor Andy Thompson — a former courts-beat reporter at The Post-Crescent㄀ — contribute posts that we hope give a bit more context than the typical police brief or piece of court agate.

We’ve taken pains to make sure that Badge to Bench deals with matters seriously, offering insight instead of commentary. There might be a tendency to make this into㄀a “stupid crime” blog, with the resultant commentary from our Web readers, but we want to avoid that.

Site traffic has been a nice addition for us: 21,330 page views since it debuted in mid-December.

Buzz Blog: Maureen Wallenfang’s “The Buzz” column has been one of our newspaper’s most popular features for the past five to six years. In just three weeks, “Buzz Blog” has become one of our site’s most popular features, too.

While The Buzz’s print identity was a once-weekly update on the comings and goings, openings and closings of Fox Valley retail and entertainment business scene, the “Buzz Blog” is a several-times-a-day incarnation of that same concept. Essentially, we’ve turned Maureen’s world upside down. Now, her every-Friday print column is the best of her daily blog.

The “Buzz Blog” has been a huge success for our site. Since it debuted Jan. 5, it has earned more than 236,000 page views (an average of 11,236 per day). To be honest, part of that traffic is because of the way Pluck forums are established; it requires a few clicks to get a good look at Maureen’s daily offerings. But at the same time, it’s clear that we’ve given Web readers something they can’t get enough of.

“Buzz Blog” is included in our daily Fox Valley Inc. e-mail newsletter, which is sent to roughly 4,000 subscribers each day. The blog and the newsletter feed off each other, and each has seen growth in January.

Oshkosh: Elementary principal’s blog

By Stew Rieckman, Executive Editor, Oshkosh Northwestern

As part of its Virtual Schools project, “School Notes,” the Oshkosh Northwestern launched a micro site for each school in the district. Using Get Published and Pluck tools, the Information Center allowed each school’s staff to post news, photos, links and blogs for the school’s page. The newspaper conducted training for the schools and for district administration and staff.

One new item is a blog by the principal of an elementary school. Brenna Garrison-Bruden, principal of Webster Stanley Elementary School, said she uses the blog to communicate the latest school news. Sample items cover students appearing on a television program and how weather was affecting the last day of school.

One big success story is that we worked with the district’s IT department to allow us to capture its calendar in Planet Discover for our site. We now have every scrap of calendar information from the district uploaded seamlessly from the school’s database. It took a lot of time and IT resources, but (the end result) is worth it.

The response from the school district has been positive. We’ve gotten great response from readers because the principal’s blog was the only place they could find information about how the district was going to make up four days that were cancelled due to snow/cold weather.

Plans are in place to have more schools go live with content, as well as to reverse publish notes and calendar listings in print.

Wausau: Financial Survival series

By Mark Baldwin, Regional Executive Editor, Wausau Daily Herald

The Wausau Daily Herald published a “Money 101: Financial Survival 2009” series to address the high-interest topic of personal finance. The series ran in January, with advertising sponsors for the full package.

“Money 101: Financial Survival 2009” included the following elements:

    A daily front-page personal finance tip, with a sponsor’s ad below.

    Local personal finance stories on a “Money 101” page every Friday and Sunday in the front section of the Wausau Daily Herald. The top half of the page was personal finance news content, and the bottom half was a color sponsor ad.

    An “Ask the Experts” advertorial campaign. Sponsoring advertisers answer questions about financial issues. The questions are submitted by readers. ㄀

    Weekly live online chats with experts supplied by advertising sponsors. Readers are able to pose questions live and get real-time answers from local financial advisers.

    An interactive Web page at that includes all “Money 101” articles and tips plus links to the live chats and other local economic news.

The Information Center and Advertising departments partnered to develop the series and related advertising support.

Last Modified: February 2009