BY DERON DALTON (@DeronDalton)
This week we had another engaging guest speaker, Maria Cruz Lee, the director of engagement at Define American, who prior to that launched the NYC Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs’ social strategy, during the Bloomberg Administration.
Define American is nonprofit organization that creates, curates and supports the shifting culture around immigrants in a changing America. It’s an interesting campaign because it reaches out to conservatives who don’t understand or agree with the organization’s goals.
Before she arrived we discussed the ISOJ 2015 conference Dr. Carrie Brown attended in Austin and how journalism is creating strategies for mobile and social media platforms.
Trei Brundrett, chief product officer at Vox Media, spoke at the conference about the importance of page load speed on mobile. Brundett has a whole team working on performance and speed. Google would agree; it found that page load times over one second interrupt user flow of thought. Unfortunately, the average site load on mobile is seven seconds.
And that’s where Facebook comes into play. Facebook’s relatively fast load times offers one argument for why news organizations might want to host their content there, although there are plenty of arguments against it as well.
Fortune reported Facebook would host content from the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic within its site in the coming months. We discussed how entities are skeptical about turning over their content to FB, or should be. But do they have a choice? News organizations are struggling with figuring out how to optimize news on their sites and create digital strategies without platforms like Facebook.
Cruz Lee shared some of her digital and social strategy with us. The Define American campaign started in 2011 and was founded by Jose Antonio Vargas. it made the cover of Time in 2012, and the campaign started hiring in 2013. In 2014, it produced a documentary called “Documented.”
“In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in the ‘New York Times Magazine.’ ‘Documented’ chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in person in over 20 years.”
Cruz Lee’s strategy for promoting the campaign is built not only upon changing the narratives around undocumented Americans, but also educating these conservative Americans.
During this conversation, an idea popped into my head to live stream the discussion on Periscope. Therefore, others could tune in; I could save the video; and I could include the video in this blog. However, the video didn’t save.
I was a little worried after starting the stream our speaker would be a little uncomfortable, but she didn’t hold back in discussing her strategy with us. I had an exchange with Cruz Lee on Twitter about Periscope, which started an engaging conversation.
I posted about the conversation in our CUNY social journalism group, “I know it was an unexpected #Periscope, but we’re social people. It’s what we do, even when it’s unexpected. I live streamed our guess speaker today. I planned to save the video for the “Community Engagement” blog post, but unfortunately, it didn’t save to my camera roll even though I made sure to charge my phone, haha. Anyways, it led to this interaction on Twitter! YAY! I’m going to keep focusing on utilizing social media for our program as much as possible, regardless of trolls.”
After the live stream and class ended, a couple of classmates told me they were uncomfortable with the live stream or felt their privacy was being violated without prior permission to “scope.”
“I think it’s cool people tuned in, but like others have mentioned, it did feel like my privacy and my ability to ask honest questions was a little invaded (during the Q&A. Scoping her presentation makes sense, if she was OK with it.),” a classmate replied on Facebook. “It’s not enough to just excuse those of us with privacy concerns by saying ‘we’re social people.’ I would prefer you at least let us know you’re live streaming our discussions before you begin so we can air any concerns we have.”
Another classmate said the discussion shows how new and important live streaming is. According to him, privacy concerns are legitimate, but his opinion is that we are in a “social” program and should experiment as much as possible.
“A lot of people just don’t “act naturally”, and that is 100 percent understandable,” Pedro Burgos said. “It has nothing to do with being “social”, versus “oversensitive” or things like that. The problem is that the people that are watching through Periscope don’t have the same context, didn’t get the full talk, and so the person speaking has to be overly cautious.”
“Definitely a good discussion to have. We can talk more about it. Personally I always assume that any event at a journalism school is always on-the-record unless it’s explicitly described as off-the-record,” Brown said.
“And I really like to see people talking about things that they are learning in class on social, because I believe in sharing what we are learning as widely as possible and also allowing as many people as possible into the conversation. But, maybe live streaming is a special case,” she added.
It seems as though the live streaming discussion is only beginning. But what do you all think should be our limits as journalists in engaging with social media tools for journalism, news and with our communities?
On the flip side — like Maria Cruz Lee — what are some ways we can implement social strategies for our communities and use it to address or solve our communities’ problems?