York’s NewsVroom wins community engagement DFMie

Among the many people from the York Daily Record and York Newspaper Co. who helped conduct an array of NewsVroom events are, from left, Assistant Sports Editor Brittany Wilson, GameTimePA Editor Elizabeth Jones, Books Editor Sarah Chain, Smart magazine Editor April Trotter, Managing Editor Randy Parker, Graphic Artist Samantha Dellinger and Visual Editor Eileen Joyce.
Headline: NewsVroom
Outlet: York Daily Record
Journalist: York Daily Record
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Judges chose the York Daily Record’s NewsVroom as the best community engagement project of 2012.

Editors explained the project in their nomination:

Spreading and sharing the message “The York Daily Record is not a newspaper” is a challenge we face head-on every day. To help with that community outreach effort and accelerate York County’s transition into the digital age, The York Daily Record/Sunday News launched NewsVroom in the late summer 2012.

NewsVroom is our mobile media lab – a new-media classroom on wheels. It’s equipped with laptops, smartphones, tablets and wi-fi and visits an array of community events; everything from high school football games and emergency personnel groups to library workshops and Boy Scout pancake breakfasts.

With each visit, we create a hands-on experience to boost the public’s understanding of how both we and the public can use new technology to share news and information.

Since August we have shown the public how to take good photos with their smart phones, how to comment on our live blogs and download our apps. We’ve shown them how to share their photos and promote them on social media. We connected with readers through our Twitter account, our Facebook page and our blog. Most importantly, we’ve asked the community how we can better serve them.

And we’ve received some terrific feedback after our visits.

The NewsVroom’s reach has been so successful, we have been fielding requests for one to two community visits a week. We might just need another van.

Want to learn more? Here’s a quick recap of the past six months.

Judges explained why they chose York for the DFMie:

The NewsVroom sticks out for its continued impact as an ongoing project; this is engagement that doesn’t end after a news cycle. It recognizes that face-to-face engagement can be more powerful than a clever hashtag, yet uses social media to facilitate and build upon those meaningful connections. We look forward to seeing what value this creates for the newsroom down the road, whether it’s power users of the app who were recruited at a football game, or community voices who become sources after becoming empowered in a class.

Other finalists for the best community engagement project were:

After being informed of the NewsVroom selection as a DFMie winner, Managing Editor Randy Parker provided more detail on the project:

We have racked up hundreds of miles on the NewsVroom. We have attended more than 60 events, and have dozens more scheduled. At this point, we do little to seek invitations. Rather, we try to avoid double- or triple-booking.

The Vroom has a proven track of moving the needle on specific mobile efforts. For instance, recently we noticed that few people had downloaded our very good Yard Sales PA mobile app. So on a Saturday, we held a ‘Vroom event at a community yard sale, taught people about the app, and saw the first day of double-digit downloads of the app.

Our GameTimePA mobile app sees spikes in the rate of downloads every time we attended high school sports events. we currently have about 8,000 downloads on the app. In May alone – a relatively slow month for such content, the app had 2,711 users racking up 202,461 page views.

Our next big push will come at the reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. With up to 4 million visitors expected, our ‘Vroom team will show people the new iPad commemorative e-Magazine we created for this event. And after that, the team will tout the new GameTimePA high school football preview iPad app.

NewsVroom on the blogs: Between YDR Insider, The Varsity Beat and The NewsVroom, our staff has used a variety of blogs to tell people where the ‘Vroom will be, engage with them while we are there, and share stories and photos about our visits afterward.

NewsVroom on social media: We routinely use the ‘Vroom’s Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote events. But we also use them as educational playgrounds. Safe areas, as it were, for the community to learn how to engage with us. We also use any of our regular staff accounts to socialize ‘Vroom efforts.

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