This was my column in the print newspaper (Is that redundant? I think it might be) this week, but here it is here too. It seemed to get a decent amount of reaction, especially on the Twitters.
HELLO! Have a seat and let Uncle Brad tell you a story about technology.
Back in the days of yore, about 1996, we had one computer with Internet capability in our office. When the occupant of that desk vacated it to go gather kindling or kill pterodactyls, we would rush over to check our Yahoo! email. Sometimes we got as many as five emails in a day!
As you might have observed on your own, there are now more ways to communicate than ever before. (Someone please put this column in a time capsule and use your hologram technology to remind me of it in 15 years.)
Here in newspaperland, we’re trying to use many of those tools to get the news out and to encourage you, citizens and readers, to tell us what’s important to you.
How are we doing?
Well, I can tell you on our end, it’s a bit dizzying. But also a lot of fun.
We’re still putting out a daily newspaper, of course. It’s always been gratifying to pass a box and see someone pulling out a paper, or to sit in a restaurant and watch a reader flip the pages. It’s confirmation that what you’ve done didn’t just jettison into nowhere.
But now there are even more ways to engage with readers, and many are immediate.
We’re trying to make our Facebook page as active as possible. We try to post stories that we think readers will respond to, and we try to respond when you comment. (We’re on Google Plus, too, although it seems not many of you are yet.)
We’re also on Twitter. If you haven’t already, check out www.twitter.com/charleywest. We post our headlines and links and also try to post breaking news there as quickly as possible. When people ask us questions or make comments there, we try to respond when appropriate – although we’re not perfect at it.
Many of our reporters are on Twitter as well. We recently encouraged those who tweet to put their Twitter names at the end of their stories along with their phone numbers and email addresses. It’s another way to reach them if you have an idea or a comment.
You might see additional thoughts about the stories they’re working on. You also might see their comments about other offbeat stuff like sports teams they follow, their pets or a movie they’ve just seen. It’s a reminder that reporters are people.
I’m on Twitter, too, although I’m still getting used to it. I read what other people are saying, and I comment too, sometimes about nonsense. If you follow me at www.twitter.com/bradmcelhinny, you might notice I am sporting a fake beard in protest of the possible cancellation of the TV sitcom “Community.” (#sixseasonsandamovie)
Even our editor, Nanya Friend, is trying to find her way through Twitter. She’s a good writer and a good communicator — but face-to-face is more her style. Give her some encouragement at www.twitter.com/nanyafriend.
Sometimes they do some good, too. This week, Charleston resident Brad White used the pet blog to find a home for an abandoned boxer who was about to be put down. The day it happened was Brad’s birthday. What a great gift.
The blogs are fun to read, but sometimes the back-and-forth in the comments section is even better. Last week, some of the mommy bloggers and I did a live chat on the website. It was kind of an experiment but it worked out pretty well.
A couple of readers offered up their own comments, and other readers just seemed to quietly observe. It was fun, and I think we might do it again sometime. Please come join us.
West Virginia University and Marshall University fans probably already know that our beat writers Mike Casazza and Chuck McGill have regular live chats on their blogs. They seem to have loyal followings, and it’s a great way for them to interact with inquisitive fans.
So, how are we doing? There are a lot of ways to tell us.
If you’d like to tell me, you can tweet me at twitter.com/bradmcelhinny or send me an email at email@example.com. Oh, by the way, I’m the managing editor at the Daily Mail.