Robert Quigley is the Internet editor for statesman.com and Austin360.com. His job is to make sure news is getting onto the sites quickly and as completely as possible. He works with various newsroom departments to push for content. The other part of his job is to coordinate the Austin American-Statesman's participation in social media.
Robert is very active in the Austin social media community
Robert was behind a set of awards that honored people who were notable in their use of social media.
He co-writes a blog, Old Media New Tricks, that focuses on how journalism is changing.
Robert is indicative of a new kind of media professional that lives online and serves news in byte sized pieces.
- What is your job at the Statesman, and how do you see social media changing that job? Obviously, the Web changed the way the newspaper does business. We switched from having a midnight deadline for having all our material ready to needing news updated around the clock. My job is to make sure we stay on top of that. My other main responsibility is to be our social media coordinator. When I started in this position in January 2007, that mainly meant working with our community of reader bloggers that we host on our site. As time has gone on, that has obviously changed greatly with the rise of mainstream acceptance of social media.
- You once participated in squashing some rumors about an alleged “shooter” on a roof of a bar in Austin, this didn’t turn out to be the case. Can you us what happened? Social media is fantastic tool, and it does give a lot of people a chance to be reporters. Anyone who witnesses an event can potentially get his or her observations out to the masses quickly. We had an incident in Austin in April in which police initially said that there was a man, possibly with a gun, on top of a downtown bar. I was monitoring Twitter that night through Twitter Search and saw some of the eyewitness reports – and a lot of speculation. We had a reporter head to the scene pretty quickly who had access to police. It turns out the guy was not a threat at all. We were able to kill the rumors (including that the guy had hostages) that were floating around Twitter through verification and access. I wrote a column about that for Media Bullseye.
- Which social networks do you use professionally, if any? I spend most of my time on Twitter for work. I am the voice behind the @statesman account, and I am also in charge of a few automated accounts (weather, traffic, etc). I'm the “Twitter guy” here at work, so I also help set up, train and coach our staff. I also help manage @mediatricks with Daniel Honigman, my blog's co-author and the guy behind @ColonelTribune. Outside of Twitter, I am the community manager for an old-school form of social networking – a bulletin board. I am the top community manager for Hookem, our Longhorns bulletin board.
- Do you use social networks personally, and do you keep these accounts separate or combined? I use Twitter (as @robquig). I know a lot of people use one account for business and personal, but since the @statesman is a corporate account, I don't think that would work. I also use Facebook and LinkedIn and have dabbled with StumbleUpon and Digg.
- Which social network do you find most useful and why? You've probably guessed it by now, but I'm a believer in Twitter as a great tool for journalists. It allows us to interact with our community in ways never before possible, all while sharing news and building our brand. It also does bring in decent page views to our sites. The interaction is what I like best. People ask me questions all the time, like, “Why are there fire trucks surrounding a building?” or “What is there to do this weekend?” and I try to answer them all. People really appreciate that. In return, I get 3 to 5 usable news tips a week through Twitter, a community of loyal users who really appreciate our efforts to reach out — and new unique users checking out our sites.
- What are some of the ways that you use social networks? I'm not really a reporter, but we have more than 40 staffers on Twitter, and they use it to gain tips, garner feedback do source work, etc. Personally, I have used it during big news events to gather user-generated content and to gain tips (which I generally pass along to assigning editors and reporters). A good example of how I use it: When we had a freak snow shower this past winter, I asked people on Twitter to share their pics and videos. I received dozens of photos, mainly through Twitpic, that we used in a weather gallery. We also led our home page (statesman.com) with some of those pictures from Twitter. We've done that many times with various events. I ask for permission to run the pics and then credit them (like “Photo by @kamichat, via Twitter).
- What is the most interesting story you have found due to connections or pitches you received through a social network? I have passed along some great tips I have received from Twitter that turned out to be good stories. Most have been small, local-impact stories. That's good, though, because to be a comprehensive local news site, having those extra tips really helps.
- What is the biggest faux pas that you have experienced on a social network by someone looking to get you to cover a story? I get pitched by PR folks about five times a week on the @statesman account. I do get annoyed when people DM me demanding that I tweet about their company's new product or tell us that we have to cover something. It's awkward, and I often have a hard time explaining why I can't send out a tweet to our 8,500 followers about their products or services. Even a retweet by me looks like the Statesman endorses something, which may not be desired.
Although I'm very personable on @statesman, I'm also very careful about what I post. Being a corporate media account on a social network only works when we play within the rules of social networks: give relevant information, don't spam, listen and interact with your followers, etc. Considering I'm trying my best to keep things relevant and interesting, posting randomly about your new product that the vast majority of our followers don't care about would be a faux pas. It's worse when I actually know and like the person doing the pitching because it is even more awkward to say no. Please, if you must pitch, know ahead of time what I normally post — and ask nicely.
- What is the ideal way to get your attention in a social network? I watch all @replies and DMs on Twitter pretty carefully. I'm also a Twitter Search addict, so just mentioning the word “Statesman” will likely also get my attention 😉 If you have what you think would be a good pitch, you can DM or @reply or e-mail me. Since I don't report and I'm not really even an assignments editor, I'll relay your information to the right place within the newsroom.
- What other reporters or media folk do you think are doing this well. Daniel Honigman, @ColonelTribune is my blog's co-author and a really smart guy who has a mind for PR as well. Also, I think Omar Gallaga @omarg is one of the best.
Contact Robert Quigley:
Follow him on Twitter @Stateman for news updates (great for getting news on your mobile)
Check out the other profiles in the series on the Media Profile page.