November 3rd, 2008
Today’s Q&A is with Travis Hudson, the Dallas Morning News‘ newest hire to the paper’s interactive team. Hudson is only a year out of college from Kansas State where he received a print journalism degree.
Though his focus in college was in print, he worked for Gawker Media as a blogger for Gizmodo and Jalopnik. He also occasionally contributed to Deadspin and Kotaku. He has also written for NBC Universal, PC World and more.
What’s your official position at the Morning News?
Editor/Producer II is the official title, although people have also given me the unofficial title of “Alternative Audience Acquisition Specialist.” I was brought on here to pioneer alternative audience projects driving people to Dallasnews.com through social media, social bookmarking, social news and any other non-traditional way of delivering content including SMS, podcasting and more.
What are your unofficial duties?
I work directly with the team of Web producers at Dallasnews.com, so I do take on regular Web production tasks like maintaining the home page.
What role do you play at the Dallas Morning News when it comes to Social Media or the Internet in general?
I am the man in the trenches when it comes to our social media efforts executing the day-to-day work. Luckily, our entire Web staff (and especially our Deputy Managing Editor of Interactive, Anthony Moor) is very interested in making the DMN an active participant in the social media landscape, so the support is definitely helpful.
How has your past life as a non-mainstream media blogger given you perspective on this industry?
It’s interesting because I’m getting to experience complete spectrum of the industry. Newspapers have been around forever and blogs have only taken off in the past five years or so. I like to think that my perspective into the world of blogging on such a high level can help Dallasnews.com. On the other hand, the traditional world of print journalism is giving me more insight that can be used in my efforts to further expands The Dallas Morning News’ online efforts.
What’s your take on the newspaper industry? Can it be turned around? How?
It’s an interesting area. On one hand, nothing will ever replace holding and reading real piece of newsprint, but on the other hand, keeping major-market newspapers afloat is becoming an increasingly tough task. Once the middle ground connecting the Web and the newspaper is better defined and discovered, I think things can be turned around.
How does the @dallas_news Twitter account work?
The @dallas_news Twitter account is the main account for The Dallas Morning News. I have full control of it most of the time and I usually populate it with stories that people would genuinely find interesting and want to read. I use it to keep people up to date with weather, traffic, sports and more. I like to consider it a personality-driven account, and it has received positive feedback for being so. I also follow many, many people in the DFW area and beyond to provide our newsroom with potential leads and tips. I also operate a breaking news/top headlines twitter feed @dallasnews_top. It’s used for breaking stories only. Many of our reporters are beginning to create their own Twitter accounts specifically for work to keep up with leads and share stories.
What have you and your paper learned from it?
It’s as much of a two-way journalism tool as a content-delivery tool. Sure, it’s great for getting some of the best content from Dallasnews.com out to the Web, but what’s even better is keeping up with the community with this tool. It’s a great way to find unexpected sources, tips and even pictures with Twitpic, TwinkleShots and more.
What other social media initiatives have you or the Dallas Morning News in general taken? What successes and setbacks have you seen?
We’re taking a look at everything and anything, which can be a very timely task. Facebook and Myspace are two places where we think The Dallas Morning News can really get a foothold quickly. We’re interested in iTunes, social news communities and more. One of the first projects was launching the Twitter initiative, and I think it’s been really successful thus far. It was the easiest and quickest to launch and is growing exponentially every day. In regards to setbacks, there’s generally only one, and that’s time. There’s so much out there in the social-media landscape and only so much time available.
What do you think newspapers need to do in the next year or two?
Newspaper and Web need to explore ways that the two can help each other in this volatile world. There are so many potential ways for the two entities to help each other, and those ways need to be explored and tested for the better of the industry and product.
Why is social media important to you? To your newspaper?
It’s the future of not just journalism, but content delivery.
What three things could a major metro paper do in the next year to connect more with their communities?
1. Focus on brand awareness. Life isn’t just about getting X number of clicks. It’s more about becoming a brand name for content delivery in the community and beyond.
2. Engage the readership for content above and beyond the annual recipe contests, letters to the editor and more. Everyone in the world has a blog and loves to be heard, who’s to say a newspaper isn’t a good place to engage the average reader.
3. Break out of the traditional newspaper mold any way possible.
Thanks, Travis; we appreciate your time and expertise.
Travis can be reached here.