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The York Daily Record is not a newspaper

The York Daily Record is not a newspaper.

That was my topic of conversation at the Shiloh Lion’s Club meeting last night.

Is that an odd thing to ask the managing editor of the York Daily Record to speak about? Hardly. It has actually become something of a mantra for me.

Lion Gene Burk invited me to speak at a club meeting after he attended one of our “How To Get It Published” seminars recently. Gene had heard me talk about this idea that a newspaper is merely a vehicle we use to share news and information about York County. We also use websites. And smart phones. And iPads. And blogs. And social media sites.

The York Daily Record is the group of people who commit themselves to bringing together the most important and most interesting news and information about York County.

Going into Wednesday’s meeting I was prepared to be on the defensive. This is a pretty traditional crowd, people who grew up reading the paper. They might not be interested in what we are doing online. But this turned out to be a forward-looking conversation from all angles.

I fielded a question about how we use Facebook. I answered pretty basically – We have a Facebook site and we promote our stories on it to help ensure that more people find coverage that is relevant to them. The follow-up question revealed that this Lion was in tune with current trends. He wanted to know how we use Facebook as a reporting tool.

Excellent question.

I explained that we see Facebook and Twitter as great pathways to this community. We ask questions there. We listen to what is important to the crowd. We monitor the news and the conversation from the community’s perspective. This is a much richer experience than our traditional model of talking with a few regular sources, or a few random people on the street.

I shared the example of the spring storm that ripped apart some property in the Shiloh area this year. That night, people in our newsroom found out about much of the damage from social media before we did from any other source — including the police scanner. Indeed, we were happy to be scooped by the citizen who videotaped the gaping hole in the roof of the West Manchester Mall and posted a link to Facebook.

The industry calls this “crowdsourcing.” We call it talking with our community in the ways they choose.

The highlight last night for me came when my host, Gene Burk, told his club that he had invited me to join them because of the feeling he got at the YDR’s seminar. That feeling, he said, was pride. Pride in the fact that the people who work at his hometown newspaper expressed such passion and commitment for helping this community. That passion, he said, was evident from a variety of people he met at our seminar.

And that gave me a soaring sense of pride, too.

We are always happy to meet with community organizations. If your group needs a speaker, just contact us at news@ydr.com. We’re here to help.

Want to attend the next How To Get It Published seminar? Click here to sign up.