I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Storify and Google+. They help get news out quick and are useful in establishing a niche in the local news market, in my case as a source of local government and political news.
State officials decide on $42 million grant proposal
I traveled to Indianapolis on Dec. 15, 2015, for an Indiana Economic Development Corp. meeting on a proposal that would mean the injection of $42 million in grant funds to the Elkhart-South Bend area. I live tweeted and the area ended up getting the grant, huge news. I sent 40-plus tweets, Instagram photos and wrote an article. The story continues to unfold, but highlights of my Dec. 15 efforts are here, in Storify format.
The final version of the resulting story: “Elkhart-South Bend area’s Regional Cities proposal to receive $42 million in state funds.”
As balloting unfolds, the candidates and voters speak out
Election Day coverage on Nov. 3, 2015, started early, talking to voters after they cast ballots, speaking to the candidates and keeping tabs on turnout. Based on the input, it became apparent the incumbent mayor would have a hard time holding on to office and, in fact, he lost. I sent 110-plus tweets, including video snippets, and numerous Instagram pictures. Here are highlights, in Storify format.
The resulting stories: “Tim Neese elected Elkhart mayor with 64% of vote” and “Elkhart City Council sees Republicans take control.”
Getting the results out quick in a high-profile court case
I covered a hearing in the high-profile case of a young Elkhart man, Zach Anderson, convicted and placed on the Michigan sex-offender registry for having sex with a girl, 17, who lied and said she was 14. I quickly tweeted the details once it finished (no iPhones allowed during the hearing) so our real-time desk could put together a quick story. Here it is in Storify format for illustrative purposes.
Conveying the mayoral, City Council candidates’ views in real time
I covered three candidate forums, two on Sept. 16 and one on Sept. 17, 2015, live tweeting each (in addition to writing stories). Highlights are here in Storify format for illustrative purposes.
Visiting the polling sites, keeping tabs on returns
I traveled to polling sites, visited vote count parties and kept tabs on returns from the May 5, 2015, primary as they came in, offering immediate information on the varied Elkhart city races. Highlights are here in Storify format for illustrative purposes.
The mayoral race story: “Elkhart voters pick Democrat Dick Moore, Republican Tim Neese in mayoral primaries.”
We debated how/whether to write about the handful of “No More Dick” signs that popped up in the yards of some foes of Mayor Dick Moore, who faced a fierce challenge in his bid for a third term (eventually losing). In the end, we didn’t write about them in the pages of The Elkhart Truth, for a variety of reasons, but I posted an Instagram picture of a few in a yard. It appeared on my Facebook page as well, generating a mini debate.
In reporting a story about construction of a new railroad overpass, I happened upon some unprintable graffiti on the structure (“—- the system”). We wouldn’t put it in the paper, though we printed a blurred version, but I posted it on my Instagram account. I was tied up with other things, but another reporter wrote about the graffiti, notable, mainly, because the costly structure had been defiled even before its completion.
I used Instagram to post pictures of some of the many people I interviewed for a series of stories on south-central Elkhart, one of the poorest, most demographically diverse parts of the city. The pictures, also reposted on Twitter and my Facebook page, served as a tease to the series, Down But Not Out: Life in south-central Elkhart. I posted them over several months as I conducted the interviews, between April and September 2015. The photos are collected in a blog post.
The challenger in the Elkhart mayoral race made hay of algae growth in an old race converted into a city park and growth of vegetation along the RiverWalk, a path abutting the Elkhart River. I wrote a story and the city apparently took note, addressing the issues. The mayor also lashed back. But a pair of before-and-after Instragram posts (here and here) succinctly conveyed the story as well.
Storify items, embedded into the Elkhart Truth website, serve as alternative news items in their own right. Here are samples of some Storify pieces I did, published at ElkhartTruth.com:
Media and the LGBT agenda, Aug. 29, 2015: This stemmed from some tweets I came across from two lawmakers who serve Elkhart County in the Indiana General Assembly on a campaign by the Indianapolis Star editorial board to push for civil rights legislation for the LGBT community. The mini Twitter debate, collected in Storify format, shed light on the contention of some that the media is pushing the LGBT agenda.
Elkhart County lawmakers and RFRA, March 30, 2015: Debate raged nationally after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, which some critics said created cover for businesses to discriminate against the gay community. It was tough getting comments from members of Elkhart County’s delegation to Indianapolis, who voted for RFRA, but their tweets, collected in Storify format, offered their stances.
Rep. Walorski and the anti-abortion bill, Jan. 22, 2015: Elkhart County’s representative to the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, found herself at the center of debate after the conservative lawmaker withdrew as co-sponsor of an anti-abortion bill. I culled tweets, the national media and primary sources, like congressional websites, and used Storify to tell the story.
Sen. Coats and the committee caper, April 2, 2014: Indiana’s U.S. Sen. Dan Coats generated buzz and smiles after he showed up at a committee meeting, made a lengthy query to a witness and then learned he was in the wrong hearing. It generated a lot of amused attention and I conveyed it via Storify.