Social Gators: Tim Kaine rally offered surprise coverage during UF engagement class

I taught my first class at the University of Florida this weekend. It was a one-credit class in audience engagement, taught in a bootcamp style over one weekend.

Our last four hours together on Sunday were supposed to be about how journalists measure success — dotcom metrics, social metrics and impact measurement. But then an opportunity to do social journalism arose, and it’s just not in my nature to pass up the chance to get students into the field.

Tim Kaine held a rally directly outside the UF journalism school on Sunday afternoon, and I scrapped the last chunk of my class agenda and instead deployed the 17 students to do social coverage.

Nine students went to the rally to do social-first coverage. They told a variety of stories from the field, publishing to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Eight students stayed in our newsroom/classroom, aggregating and curating posts from the rest of the team, searching for other community posts and fact-checking.

Lauren Rowland took the lead on a live blog on Storify. Her file was live as soon as our coverage started, and she updated continually for about two hours. Producing a live blog takes constant attention to searching and filtering. Jessica Small, Catie Flatley and Zoë Sessums spent their time finding, transcribing and funneling content into the various curations.

Carolina Lafuente took a different approach to social curation. Her Storify published after the event was over. While Lauren’s provided minute-by-minute updates, Carolina’s walked readers through just the highlights of the afternoon chronologically. Emanuel Griffin also collected highlights of the day’s social coverage, but he did it on Medium.

Paige Levin did live fact-checking. She lined up reputable Kaine fact-checks ahead of time and was impressively quick to check claims during his speech.

Zee Krstic created a visual template for sharing key quotes from the speech and also facts from Paige’s fact-checks.

Jasmine Melendez, Jennifer Jenkins and Kelsey Jordan set out to live tweet highlights from the scene and the speeches, and they did a terrific job. (Jasmine pulled together her coverage in separate Storify.)

Lena Schwallenberg and Elle Beecher worked together on a Snap story. They took candidate quotes out into the crowd and asked attendees to guess whether the statements were from Kaine or Trump.

Cara Glass took a “Humans of the Kaine Rally” approach on Instagram.

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Julia Nevins went after “nasty girl” stories on Instagram (but got accidentally trapped in the press area and had to regroup).

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Dakota Williams and Brianna Wright also used Snapchat to capture scenes and reactions. Here’s Dakota’s.

Thanks, students, for coming along on the ride with me! As much as I love talking metrics, this was way more fun, especially after a weekend already spent entirely in a classroom.

Cheers!

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