Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Secret Life of a Digital Editor

Last week we had a work conference to talk about all things digital...

Needless to say, I was hyped up on sugar/caffeine and new ideas (hence all the scribbled notes).

I was further reminded why I love my job and why I want to not just be good at it; I want to be great at it.

People always ask me what I do. I say, "I work at a newspaper as the digital content editor." That's when I'm met with quizzical looks and I attempt to explain what I do in 140 characters or less. (No wait, that's Twitter...)

I do try to explain as briefly as I can what I do. It's kind of hard, because there's no quick and simple answer. Then I usually lose people's attention and I scrap the whole thing and just say, "I play online all day."

It's not really playing, though sometimes it does feel like it because I enjoy it so much. But the reality of my writer-perfectionism and numerical goals keep me focused.

(Yes, I do a lot on Facebook and I care far too much about likes, comments and shares. After all, part of my job involves gathering data and looking at numbers--page views, visits, things like that.)

Anyway, here's a little insight into my super secret and impossible to understand job (with photo illustrations to help). :)

Every day I show up here, the offices of the Clinton Herald. The fascinating world of the newsroom is on the second floor to the right.

We're a driven bunch of (somewhat) oddballs who get along surprisingly well. Maybe it's not so surprising, but I am thankful just about every single day that I can go to work with people I genuinely enjoy.

Every morning starts off with coffee. I absolutely have become dependent on it, and I will admit that to anyone. Lately I've taken to having it black with sugar.

(Although, today I made my own iced coffee and it was REALLY good. Granted it had a ton of sugar and caramel, but how else am I supposed to make it?!)

This picture alone tells you the most important things about my job: I work in Mac land and I am addicted to sticky notes.

Everything important that might possibly slip my mind throughout the course of the day/week/month goes on a Post-It. (Multiple colors of ink are also in order.)

When it comes to working on a Mac, for the most part I enjoy it... Except when my computer decides it's a good day to run "like slug" and drive me insane.

That's when this little guy shows up. I have oh-so-affectionately dubbed him The Spinning Rainbow of Death. He usually comes around when I'm under the biggest time crunch of the day and trying to multi-task. On these occasions I sigh/grunt loudly so that my co-workers will know I'm exasperated and I either need attention or to be left alone. (That's up to them to determine.)

One of the most important things I do is maintain our website. I consider this my top priority every single morning.

Each day, I take stories, photos and other content from our print edition and other internet sources and update the website. I work my way through all our key sections, posting correlating stories and content. Local News, Features, Lifestyles, Obituaries, Sports, Opinion, CNHI News Service stories, Associated Press stories all get updated each day.

I also create or assemble unique content for the website (like putting together photo slideshows, editing and uploading videos, writing editorials, creating graphics, etc.). I monitor our comments section and event calendar.

My other top priority has been an ongoing project for about eight months now, and that is our e-edition. The e-edition is the future of newspapers: a digital copy of the entire print product. It can be read on any device with internet access (computer, tablet, smartphone), and therefore can be taken anywhere.

The picture above is actually from our Taste of Home show, where I promoted the e-edition. I got to tell people cool facts like, "You can have the paper read aloud to you!" And "We have varying subscription rates!" Oh, and did I mention, "You can take it anywhere!"

Speaking of taking things anywhere...

One of the best perks of the job is getting to play with big league nerd toys. Of course they're also going to work.

I used this to show people how the e-edition works on a tablet. Nice and easy! (Oh and that cool collage-y background? Yeah, I designed that.) :)

So besides webmastering and enjoying the latest technological gadgetry, I also handle all of our social networking.

This includes occasionally confusing Facebook.

Actually, I post breaking news updates, links to stories, photos and other relevant content. I try to get people talking about the news that affects them and sharing our content. (Of course there's a lot of Facebook mumbo-jumbo that goes into this, like our reach and the virality of our posts and looking at insights, but I think I'll lose most of you if I get into that.)

So suffice it all to say, you should go to our Facebook page, like it and comment/like/share our posts as often as you please! (You can also check out that cool collage up close since it's also our cover photo.)

Oh, and a random fact (that I might be pretty pleased with): We've gotten over 1,000 new likes since I started this position. (Again, this probably only means something to me, but that's okay, I'm still excited.)

So besides Facebook, I also maintain our Twitter account, our YouTube page and videos, our Pinterest boards, our SmugMug photography site, and our Storify account. (Side note: I LOVE Storify, but that could be its own blog post.)

I'm also working to get our newest service running smoothly... Text alerts! People can register and receive updates in a number of different categories from news to sports to schools.

And now that we're on SmugMug, I'm working on getting lots of photos uploaded and some made into slideshows for the website.

There always seems to be something new going on and no two days are exactly the same. The best ways to stay sane/focused are with good music and snacks (and I mentioned coffee, right?).

Mmm Wheat Thins have occasionally sustained me through lunch and dinner on the random crazy days.

Finally, in tribute to the "nerd factor" of my job, I did wear my Converse to work one day. I definitely felt more in touch with my inner geek. And if clothes can affect your productivity, I totally churned out my best work that day.

That is all for now, but come talk to me next week and I'll fill you in on my latest project.

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