July 18, 2007

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Hello Roboblogger

by emily at 5:05 PM

Here we are in the height of summer travel season and we’ve had a few questions from editors about what happens to their pages when they go on vacation. That's a great question! If you are on vacation and your grass hut on that beautiful unmarred stretch of beach on that island far, far way has no wifi (ack!) what will happen? What will your faithful readers do while you are incommunicado?

We’ve got this figured out.

When you are inactive for a set period of time, Roboblogger comes in to keep an eye on things. He watches over your pages like a good house sitter, bringing the mail in and making sure the lights go on and off at random intervals to keep things looking alive. You don’t have to make any special arrangements ahead of time, Roboblogger just knows. He is that benevolent stranger that makes sure the newspapers don’t pile up on the driveway, so the neighbors and any random passersby are none the wiser.

When you return, tanned, rested and ready, Roboblogger will back away slowly, like he did when you first started editing your page. He’s good like that. He’s ready to let you shine and return only when needed to help fill in the blanks while you take an undoubtedly well deserved break. So, with that in mind, enjoy your vacations, Editors! Send us a postcard!

July 12, 2007

Topix Editor Spotlight - Mark DeWitte

by sara at 11:41 AM

Mark DeWitte

This week we shine our Editor Spotlight on Mark DeWitte, one of the editors of the Rogersville, Tennessee page on Topix. Also an accomplished photographer, Mark makes the Rogersville page really pop with his frequent inclusion of photos with his stories. You can see more of his photography here.

Why did you want to come a Topix editor?
In our small town of Rogersville, Tennessee, it's become a popular pastime to post to the Rogersville Forum. I felt it was important to keep the local news current and available on Topix to give those posting a reliable source of information.

How much time do you generally spend a day editing?
Usually not more than 30 minutes. I'd like to spend more, but could only do that if Topix started paying me!

Where else do you find articles, outside of Topix?
I search the local papers' websites, plus radio and television websites. They usually have the news way before I know it.

What are some editing pitfalls you've learned to avoid?
Be very careful when "crawling" URL's to make sure the headline is correct and makes sense with the story. Read and reread the "summary" of the story and make sure it's a complete thought and will cause the reader to want to investigate the rest of the article.

What is your prior editing and writing experience?
I have a degree in Broadcasting, and was News Director of our little local station here for a couple years. I've also contributed newspaper articles, and do some technical writing in my current job.

What question would you like to ask other Topix editors?
Has any reader ever accused you of being "biased" because of the stories you post?

Are there any newspages not currently on Topix that you'd like to see?
Local sports. Doesn't quite fit with the local news but is followed closely in our town.

What do you when you are not on Topix?
I own a computer repair store, work for a medical equipment company traveling around the country solving problems, and take pictures every chance I get.

What is your editing environment like? Do you post from work or home?
I've posted from work, from airport lounges and gate areas, and from my recliner!

What other user-edited pages on Topix would you recommend?
I really would like to see the "blog" heading changed back to "news" and a true area developed for blogging about things other than news.

Are there any other user editors you'd like to promote?
In the Rogersville, Tennessee, pages, Angie Gibson-Herrell and Rogersville Mom also contribute to the site constantly.

How else are you involved in your community?
I'm Treasurer of our Rogersville 4th of July Committee. Rogersville is "The Place To Be In Tennessee" on the 4th! We have a day-long celebration in the City Park, with free events for the kids, fun for everyone, a big name music concert (John Michael Montgomery this year!), and the best fireworks display in Tennessee if not the Southeast! Also involved in "People Loving People," our annual Thanksgiving community dinner, plus my church and Bible Study group.

What other internet sites do you visit regularly?
Talk about an answer you'd need to edit for length! I'm too old for it, but I check MySpace regularly. eBay of course. I have several computer forums that I check regularly. Fox news, MSNBC, CNN, all the usual suspects!

What advice would you give to other editors in making a great page?
Keep it fresh if you can, delete stories when they get outdated or updated, and remember if you're going to post several stories, the first one you post shouldn't be the most important. The last one you post will be on top!

What question do you wish we'd asked you?
Tell us about your family. I'm married to my best friend Ann, have a daughter named Sarah, and MULTIPLE pets.

Thanks for the great tips, Mark!

For those of you non-shutterbugs who are interested in jazzing up your pages with photos, be sure to check out our tutorial on finding images to use with your articles.

July 6, 2007

The Local Focus

by at 3:43 PM

Did you know that Topix has a news page for every zip code? It’s true…we do. I’m sure you all know what local focus means, right? Of course you do! Well, we want to let you know what it means here at Topix.

Keeping it local gives your town one central resource for news. Pulling stories from a variety of sources – the Topix wire, your local paper, community newsletters or blogs, or by writing your own news - you are giving your readers what they are missing when they get their news exclusively from bigger media. We are all interested in what is going on at a state and national level and, at Topix; we have dedicated new pages for those too. If you see a story that is relevant to one of those less granular news pages, post it as a tip, or better yet, apply to edit that page as well!

In smaller towns, the challenge in keeping your local page local can be finding enough news to keep your page updated and fresh. Have no fear; there are creative ways to find local news. Check out these tips!