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Tumblr: One of the best journalist tools you’re NOT using

Newsweek Tumblr page

Newsweek's Tumblr was so successful, the guy who started it left to join .. Tumblr.

I am one of those who is always looking for the latest tools and technologies that will help me do my job as a journalist.  Several of my journalist friends told me about the wonders of Tumblr, a blogging platform that allows users to “post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be,” according to the website.

I took a look at the site, but decided to put Tumblr on the back burner – until this year’s Online News Association convention in Boston.  I had the pleasure of moderating a panel — Who Are You? Social Media and Branding  — and learned I was sitting next to two Tumblr experts: Anthony De Rosa, social media editor for Reuters, and Mark Coatney, the former social media editor at Newsweek and Tumblr’s current media evangelist.  During our presentation, both spoke about how Tumblr had become an integral part of their work.

And later, Coatney partnered with Phoebe Connelly of Yahoo! News to host the unconference session “We’ve Got A Tumblr! Now What?” The room was full people who were using Tumblr blogs in unique and interesting ways, along with folks like me, who wanted to learn more about it.Rolling Stone Tumblr

And did I learn!  I learned how flexible and versatile Tumblr can be, allowing you to post content via computer, smartphone (there’s an iPhone app for that) and email.  You don’t have to get your company’s IT department involved in creation and coding.  You can write as much or as little as you want.  It’s an ideal platform to show off your photos. And it’s perfect for folks who don’t have a lot of time, but still want to have an online presence.  I’ve seen some great ways journalists are using Tumblr, including:

  • Flightblogger on the Move – my friend and fellow aviation journalist Jon Ostrower uses his Tumblr as a sidebar to his magnificent FlightGlobal blog;
  • CNNMoney Tech – the website’s editors use this Tumblr to give readers a peek inside how they develop their stories, and tell us what’s on the horizon;
  • Yahoo’s Down But Not Out – Yahoo did a story looking at the lives of the long-term unemployed.  Presenter Phoebe Connelly says that the series struck a nerve, so this Tumblr keeps the conversation going;
  • The National Post’s Starbucks Trenta cup infographic – When Starbucks announced it would begin selling a 31-ounce Trenta cup (more than the average capacity of a human stomach), the editors came up with this cool infographic that went viral; and
  • WHYY’s Fresh Air – one of my favorite NPR shows uses Tumblr to preview upcoming shows, post interesting photos, random quotes and links to content including music critic Ken Tucker.

I’m the Program Chair for next year’s National Association of Black Journalists convention, and I created a Tumblr to keep members informed about the process and pumping them up for the event. I encourage you all to see how you can incorporate Tumblr into your own work.

About the Author

I am a multimedia journalist based in Baltimore, with strong experience in social/new media, branding and public relations/corporate communications. I've spent my career as a B2B journalist covering topics including aviation, economic development, agriculture/agribusiness and education. I'm chair of the National Association of Black Journalists' Digital Journalism Task Force and a member of the Online News Association's diversity committee.

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