I'm Katie. I'm a journalist, but enough about that.

I need to learn how to properly celebrate.

Switching jobs never gets any easier — not matter what, I am a ball of crazy anxiety for weeks at a time. On the plus side, I’m catching up on a slew of shitty reality television shows I buy on Amazon Prime at 2 a.m.! 

Five things you should know about social & community journalism

This post is for Amanda’s #cujengage class at Columbia. I’ll be visiting tonight! Here are five lessons I’ve learned during my time as social news editor with the Guardian. I’ll start with a bonus: social and community should be used to describe a certain set of tools, not a certain type of journalist. 

Beyond that, here we go: 

  • Although special tools would be nice, you don’t need them to do great work with your readers and produce meaningful journalism. This reader callout asked for responses via Google forms, comments, Facebook and Twitter. We created some custom quote graphics and let readers know that their stories had been featured. 

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  • When you’re thinking of telling a story using social media audiences, be sure to think beyond Facebook and Twitter. Reddit is one of the most interesting communities in the social ecosystem. Like most Reddit users, I have an account under a different handle, but for this project I created one under my author byline. Then, I asked Reddit to share their thoughts about the ending of a popular TV show. The result was a nice callout. Other great places for sourcing: Quora and Whisper

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  • Don’t be afraid to build a community off-site. The Guardian’s comment community is the best in the world, but we’ve had a lot of luck building community off-site. On Tumblr, we focused on a very specific, niche topic: the ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK. Our English to English Tumblr is a great way to collect reader submissions and tip us off to more topics of conversation. We’ve regularly folded E2E submissions into on-site content. 

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  • Q&As always matter. I know explainers are really popular right now, but well-timed Q&A is a living version that provides important background and context. There are plenty of ways to run a Q&A: in a story’s comments, in a third-party tool like Cover it Live or off-platform (Reddit’s AMA is my favorite). For our Q&A with Edward Snowden, community coordinator Ruth Spencer used the comments and our live blog software. This provided the type of access no other outlet in the world had at the time; to say it was a value-add is an understatement. 

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  • Speaking of value-adds, provide a service if you can. In 2012, we used Twitter to help debunk some fake images that were circulating as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. We went into the storm planning to curate “#FakeSandy” photos, and eventually our readers were pinging us directly with questionable photographs. 

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Annual Easter at @amzam’s

Annual Easter at @amzam’s

2014: seder by iPad light at the McBraun residence

2014: seder by iPad light at the McBraun residence

Willing spring to come in meal form

Willing spring to come in meal form