Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saturday, February 19, 2011



I have implemented several changes to The News-Herald's Twitter account to build a relationship with our readers and improve our interaction with them.

Communicating with our followers

I began following accounts that were following us and other accounts that would be of interest, including residents, businesses and emergency services in our readership area. This increased our following tremendously, and allowed users to send us direct messages — which has led to news tips. I also started communicating back to users, both publicly and through direct messages, so they would know their comments to us were not being ignored.

I created a background for our page so visitors to our Twitter page could easy see who we are and how to contact us, to open the door for direct communication:

Improving our tweets

In April, after noticing that staffers were tweeting differently, I put together a set of instructions to ensure consistency. I sent an e-mail to the newsroom with Twitter instructions to help reporters and editors improve their tweeting and learn to use hashtags appropriately. Read the e-mail below:

In January I sent another e-mail with advice for live tweeting, which was spurred by a direct message from a follower who suggested clarification with our live tweeting. Read that e-mail below:

Creating access to information with lists, hashtags

I created lists with The News-Herald's Twitter account:
  1. NH Sports: Updates from high school, college and pro sports of interest
  2. NH Local Politics: Inside information on the events, big news and little moments of Lake County’s political machine

Each day, I schedule a tweet for 6 a.m. the following day with the weather forecast, and include the hashtag #lakecountyweather.


Prior to the Ben Franklin Project in May, I created my own Twitter account, @nhcheryl, even though as a copy editor I was not required to do so. In the past year, I've amassed a following of more than 1,000. I've used my account to tweet blog posts I've written in addition to stories posted on that I find to be interesting or conversation starters. I frequently retweet my co-workers or other users that I am following. My major focus with the account is to get readers the information they want in the way they want it, whether that be from or someone else in our area, such as the Geauga Park District, or fellow residents who are sharing comments or observations on the weather or traffic, for example.

In late summer, because of my activity on Twitter, I was invited to sit on the Tribe Social Deck at a Cleveland Indians game, which I blogged about the following week.


In part because of the Ben Franklin Project and in part to interact with LOST fans for the LOST audiocasts, I created the Twitter account @NHLostFans. I used it to tweet my feedback during the show, as well as links to the audiocasts and blogs that were posted on


The problem

A few different editors in the newsroom had accounts on Scribd, which would be used to upload documents we needed to share on I decided one newsroom Scribd account would be a better idea for several reasons:
  • All documents uploaded for our publications would be accessible in one place
  • N-H staffers would have an easier time sharing any of our documents, and aggregating similar documents published at different times
  • N-H readers would be able to discover other documents uploaded to our account
  • N-H staffers could monitor statistics for document reads and shares

The solution

I created a Scribd account for NewsHeraldinOH, matching the username and avatar utilized in the paper's Twitter account to help solidify our brand. Then I put together a brief instructional form to assist staff members who had not used Scribd and did not know how to upload, edit and share documents:


Because my jobs responsibilities are split between laying out the print edition and posting content to the website, I understand that information cannot always be presented easily in the same way in both formats. I discovered Scribd is the perfect solution for this: I can create PDFs of tables and charts that run in the print edition, and post those to Scribd to embed online.
Real estate sales, average prices
Ohio in Congress, 20101210

Making it work better

For each document uploaded, I used the description to explain the document and link back to the story on, when applicable. I tagged each document with terms related to the document (i.e., Government, Congress, Sherrod Brown) and to our account (i.e., newsherald, ohio, lake county), so our materials would show up in search results on Scribd.

Additionally, I created three different collections of documents to keep related items in one folder:
  1. Voting records: Reports of weekly activity in Congress, including how area representatives and senators voted
  2. Bob Feller: Timeline and statistics from Bob Feller's life
  3. Announcement forms: Forms for readers to fill out when submitting items for the paper's Announcements section

The results

Stats for NewsHeraldinOH on Scribd from Nov. 30, 2010 (date of account creation) through Jan. 31, 2011
Total reads4,638
Reads on Scribd1,709
Embed reads2,929 (total)
   on News-Herald.com2,475
   on Northen Ohio Local Politics448
Reads per day74
Engagement4 minutes, 15 seconds (average)


I contribute to several of the blogs on the website. Details are listed below.

The Book Club

  1. Each week, I post a blog entry detailing upcoming events related to area libraries, books and authors. Click here for a list of links to my "Odds & Book Ends" from April 2010 through January 2011.
  2. I've been posting a series of blog entries labeled Countdown to Sweet Valley Confidential with fellow copy editor Danielle Capriato. Each post includes a widget counting down until the next book is released.
  3. I recently started a monthly feature on the blog called LitSoup that involves contributions from the newsroom.

Northern Ohio Local Politics

After using Scribd to post the Congressional voting records online, I embed them into blog posts labeled with voting records. I began doing this in December 2010, the same week I created The News-Herald's Scribd account.

Tuned in to Pop Culture

  1. Most weeks, I post the Top 10 movies at the weekend box office with links to review and articles that ran in The News-Herald: Weekend box office.
  2. From Nov. 26 to Dec. 26, I posted a video each day that was related to the holidays and pop culture: Christmas countdown.

Pets Unleashed

I wanted to ensure our pet blog was updated frequently and realized that people like to watch videos of animals. So I created a weekly post called Animal Crackers. The entries go live around lunchtime every Wednesday and include one or more animal videos. In October, I was pleased to post two videos I had filmed, edited and produced after a visit with alpacas.

Behind The News-Herald

While many posts on this blog give a personal twist to articles that were published, I tried to show readers what it actually is like at The News-Herald.
  1. 09/16/2010: A look back ...
  2. 11/08/2010: Corn toss tournament for the United Way
  3. 12/29/2010: A new look in the newsroom

Making Blogger benefit The News-Herald

When I logged in to Blogger one day last May, I saw the opportunity to upgrade our account. I installed the update, which gave us a modified editor that provides bloggers more options without needing knowledge of HTML. The upgrade also introduced statistics for the blogs. Now, all bloggers can keep track of the number of hits, topics and keywords that are generating traffic, and what websites led readers to the blogs.

I also changed the commenting option on all of the blogs to match the policy on users can leave anonymous comments, which will be posted after approval. I added the GMail account I used for the Ben Franklin Project as an administrator on the blogs I update, and listed myself to be notified when a comment is left on any of The News-Herald's blogs.

Shortening URLs and tracking traffic

In August, I signed up for a account to shorten URLs on that I was linking to through my Twitter account. The links I have shortened and the number of clicks they have gotten can be viewed on my public timeline. Checking back to the of my links has showed me what gets the most clicks, which has helped me adjust the brief text in my Twitter and Facebook posts to boost traffic to my links.

Customized links

I have been creating customized links (and sharing them with others in the newsroom) for web pages we would be referring to frequently or in print (where URLs can look confusing or jumbled) so users would immediately know what I was linking to and more easily remember the URL later:
  1. Maintain, No Gain campaign:
  2. Voting records from Scribd:
  3. Favorite ornament contest:
  4. Announcements forms from Scribd:


I created a Twitterfeed account to post content to Twitter and Facebook for several News-Herald accounts, with the goal of creating more opportunities for readers to click through to our website. The customization options on Twitterfeed allowed me to use to shorten links so I can track statistics through, as well as create post prefixes to give readers an idea of where the link is sending them.

I set up feeds for The News-Herald's primary account, my account, and the business, editorial, feature and sports sections, as well as for three of my co-workers. Below is a list of the accounts linked to Twitterfeed and a list of the feeds I have created.


  1. All blog entries posted on
  2. All blog entries posted on The Lynch Pen
  3. All blog entries posted on Joe the Coupon Guy
  4. All blog entries posted on Your Small Business Blog
  5. All blog entries posted on Local Lore
  6. All blog entries posted on Family Matters With Amber
  7. All blog entries posted on Beauty Bliss
  8. Web poll results posted on
  9. All stories with the term "Scoreboard" posted on


All entries with the terms "Cheryl" or "Sadler" on the following blogs:
  1. The Book Club
  2. Northern Ohio Local Politics
  3. Tuned in to Pop Culture
  4. Pets Unleashed
  5. Behind The News-Herald
  6. Eating it up Locally!
  7. Voice of the Cleveland Fanatic


• All stories posted on
• All stories with the term "lighten up" posted on
• All blog entries posted on the following blogs:
  1. The Book Club
  2. Tuned in to Pop Culture
  3. Pets Unleashed
  4. Eating it up Locally!
  5. Get on Track
  6. Twinado Warning
  7. Fractured Anecdote
  8. Refuse to Regain
  9. Women's Fitness With Charlene
  10. Family Matters With Amber
  11. Beauty Bliss


  1. All stories posted on with the terms "high school" or "scoreboard"
  2. All blog entries on NH Preps with the label "highschool"
  3. All blog entries posted on Chase-ing the Dream


  1. All stories posted on
  2. All blog entries posted on Laura Kessel's blog
  3. All blog entries posted on The Lynch Pen


All blog entries posted on the following blogs:
  1. Joe the Coupon Guy  
  2. Your Small Business Blog


  1. All stories with the terms "Browns," "Holmgren," "Shurmur," "McCoy" or "Cribbs" posted on 
  2. All blog entries posted on Browns Talk With Jeff Schudel


  1. All stories with the terms "Outdoors" posted on
  2. All stories with the terms "weather," "Metroparks" "maple" or "Frischkorn" posted on
  3. All blog entries posted on Outdoors with Frischkorn
  4. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Behind The News-Herald
  5. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Northern Ohio Local Politics
  6. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Pets Unleashed


All blog entries posted on Pets Unleashed

The News-Herald on Facebook

  1. All blog entries posted on
  2. All blog entries posted on
  3. Web poll results posted on
  4. Any stories with the term "Scoreboard" posted on

N-H Varsity on Facebook

  1. All stories posted on with the terms "high school" or "scoreboard"
  2. All blog entries on NH Preps with the label "highschool"
  3. All blog entries posted on Chase-ing the Dream

Cheryl Sadler on Facebook

All entries with the terms "Cheryl" or "Sadler" on the following blogs:
  1. The Book Club
  2. Northern Ohio Local Politics
  3. Tuned in to Pop Culture
  4. Pets Unleashed
  5. Behind The News-Herald
  6. Eating it up Locally!
  7. Voice of the Cleveland Fanatic

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn on Facebook

  1. All stories with the terms "Outdoors" posted on
  2. All stories with the terms "weather," "Metroparks" "maple" or "Frischkorn" posted on
  3. All blog entries posted on Outdoors with Frischkorn
  4. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Behind The News-Herald
  5. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Northern Ohio Local Politics
  6. All entries with the term "Frischkorn" posted on Pets Unleashed

Robin Palmer on Facebook

All blog entries posted on Pets Unleashed

LOST audiocasts

I recorded weekly audiocasts for the final season of "Lost" with Entertainment Editor Mark Meszoros and Sports Editor Mark Podolski.

To get more audience feedback and start a conversation with our readers (and listeners), I created the Twitter account @NHLostFans (and encouraged use of the hashtag #nhlost), and I created the e-mail account (I also created a Facebook fan page that accumulated a few fans, but I removed it a few months ago because the little activity on it had ceased shortly after the series finale.) I also created the graphic that appears on this page, which served as the avatar for our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Each week, I compiled the feedback from Twitter, Facebook, gmail and website comments, and I read several of the reader comments during the audiocast.

We recorded the audiocast every Monday. After recording, I would write up a description, select a photo from ABC's press website, and upload all of that on the Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning have traditionally been times when no local content was added to that section of the website, and I improved that by posting the audiocasts every week.

The audiocasts:
  1. 02/02/2010: Lost and loving it (with audiocast) (column by Podolski that kicked off our series of weekly audiocasts)
  2. 02/08/2010: A tale of two timelines
  3. 02/15/2010: Kate, infections and a poison pill
  4. 02/22/2010: Trying to unLocke the mysteries
  5. 03/01/2010: Jack's not so crazy about the view
  6. 03/08/2010: Which side are you on?
  7. 03/15/2010: Ben's regrets
  8. 03/22/2010: Is sideways a good move?
  9. 03/29/2010: Good and evil, heaven and hell
  10. 04/05/2010: Did they show us the package?
  11. 04/12/2010: Is Desmond key to the series?
  12. 04/19/2010: Everybody loves Hugo, but should they follow him?
  13. 04/26/2010: Has Jack joined Team UnLocke?
  14. 05/03/2010: Best and worst of the series
  15. 05/10/2010: And then there were three
  16. 05/17/2010: A few answers, but more questions
  17. 05/19/2010: Having 'Died,' we brace for 'The End'
  18. 05/24/2010: And in the end ...

Organizing information

Posting photos online

Early in 2010, we were asked to start posting more photos on the website, including mugshots. Because there are several mugs that we post frequently, I created a folder on our server specifically for mugshots that could be posted on the website. Each photo is sized and toned for the web, and each is labeled by last name, first name and WEB or RGB to distinguish it from CMYK or BW versions of the photo that might appear in the paper. "Mugs for Web" is a simple way to add a photo of a public official or notable resident to a story that quotes or mentions that person, putting more content on our website and giving more meaning to the text.

Promoting staff Twitter accounts

A master list of News-Herald staffers' Twitter accounts had been posted on our Facebook page as a note. We occasionally were running the list in the paper to inform readers of our usernames. Because the usernames were not organized in a specific way, I decided to sort them based on the staff member's beat and tweets. I used the organized list to create a half-page Twitter promo that could run in the print edition:
I used this organized list to update the note on Facebook, using headers and bullets so readers can more easily find the Twitter user they are looking for.

Readers as resources

Community Calendar

The Community Calendar has become a go-to source for what's happening in the community. I have used that content submitted by our readers for my weekly Odds & Book Ends feature on The Book Club blog, to post animal-related events and activities on Pets Unleashed, and in compiling Health Notes for the print edition and website.

Health Notes

My job duties include designing the weekly Health page and compiling and editing its "Health Notes" for a rail of briefs. Local organizations, health care facilities and readers were sending their relevant events, activities and meetings to several different places because the only submission information for the briefs was the mailing address for the newspaper. Realizing that we would be getting more and more content digitally, I asked that an e-mail address be created strictly for health-related information, and in September I asked readers to submit their briefs to for the first time. I manage the e-mail account and communicate with readers to ensure consistency in compilation of Health Notes — even editing the rail in advance for my co-workers on the rare occasion that I will not be designing the page.


I have used my Twitter account to communicate with readers about news and happenings in the community. A Twitter conversation with Julie D'Alosio led to a story on social media policies at businesses. See more of what I have done with Twitter here.