Behind the DFMies: Daily entertainment tips and Tout Bout winner

This is the third in a series of Behind the DFMie reports on January’s DFMie winners.

Three Bay Area News Group (BANG) journalists won Digital First Media DFMie awards in January. Chuck Barney and Jim Harrington shared the BANG DFMie for their daily tips on television and music. Karl Mondon won the Tout Bout for videos shot and edited outside Tout and imported into the Tout app.

The Tout Bout


Mondon won for a feature video about a fund drive to save some funky landmarks.

“Mondon told a complete story in 45 seconds, with great visuals, sound and use of text slides. Excellent!” said one judge.

Another judge added, “It is very slick and well edited, a great little story rolled into 45 seconds!”

Mondon explained his winning video:

I shot it during the second half of that miserable Super Bowl game. I’d heard rumors that the dog heads might be making a simultaneous appearance at the nearby park. I figured, what the hell, they’d be more fun to watch than Peyton Manning’s offensive line.

Turned out I was right.

The owner was a gas to interview. He’d hoped his Kickstarter campaign would save the beloved dachshunds. And it did. He got more than he asked for.

Manning might want to fire up a Kickstarter campaign of his own.

Barney and Harrington’s daily entertainment picks

The nomination of Barney and Harrington explains their popular TV and music picks:

With both our television columnist and pop music critic paying attention to upcoming shows and albums, it seemed like a natural move to have them pull together a short post each day with their picks. Chuck chooses three shows airing that night and in one paragraph each, tells readers why they should tune in. He also adds another half-dozen show titles, with times and networks, to highlight some of the other offerings. With Today’s Music Picks, Harrington gives readers something to go looking for on iTunes or Spotify. A recent example: With ‘Robocop’’ coming out, he lined up a playlist of robot songs. It’s a clever way to engage readers and has proven popular — in January, they had 90,000 page views between them.

Here is what judges said about Barney and Harrington:

I vote for Chuck Barney and Jim Harrington’s “must see/hear/experience” project. It was innovative because it shows the creative side of curation — the playlists, for example, are existing content laden with new meaning due to arrangement. I also appreciated how reader-centric it was; the project seems to be all about making it immediately clear to readers why the topics matter. That seems obvious, but clearly these writers are trying to think creatively about how to do that.

Another judge:

They take a simple list to inform readers and go further by integrating video and audio samples helping readers to interact with the list.

Harrington shared some advice:

Reinvent the wheel — I’ve been recommending, curating, for music fans for years. It’s mighty tempting to just keep doing what works — especially if you’ve had some degree of success with it. Every so often, though, you have to force yourself to do something different. Even if it proves to be unsuccessful. With these daily music picks columns, I have been throwing a ton of wacky stuff out there to see what works. A top-10 list of robot songs (with videos and tracks) in celebration of the opening of “Robocop” movie? OK, let’s try it. Why not?

Work smart – Projects don’t have to be time-consuming. I look for ways that I can increase my presence online that won’t double my work load. As ironic as it might sound — and as disheartening as it sometimes may be — some of my biggest success stories online (in terms of traffic) have been rather quick hits. Think about what you can offer the web that isn’t already being offered in abundance.

Chuck Barney, linked from Twitter avatar

Barney’s response to winning the award:

I want to give credit to my editor, Ardua Harris, who really initiated all this. Ardua was always plugged into the idea of repurposing/repackaging things for the Web. I often write TV “notes” columns for print, where I cover 2-4 things. She would break out one or two items as separate stories for online with their own headline. Occasionally, I’d supplement the items with a couple of grafs. (At times, these separate items get more clicks than the main column!) I also write a weekly “Around the Remote” column of TV listings that gets picked up by several papers. She got the idea to play off that with a daily listing for online. That’s how “TV Tonight” was born. Of course, for the daily posts, we’d do more supplementing and filling out. And rather than just a straight TV Guide-like listing, I try to inject some voice and humor. Have fun with it. We also play around with headlines and keep track of which shows tend to attract more views.

After the initial success of TV Tonight, the music one came along. It helps that our online staff has devoted a consistent spot on the homepage for the TV and music posts. We’re training readers to look for them there. We also tweet them out and put them on our Facebook pages. Lately, I’m starting to see more of my followers re-tweeting them.

I echo Jim’s comments about working smart and experimenting. These and other things we do are prime examples of building some online oomph without a great deal of added sweat. And, as I mentioned, it’s very important to gauge how certain things do online. We’ve learned over time what TV shows/musicians/stars attract attention and which ones don’t. We don’t spend a lot of time hitting the ones who don’t. And consistency is a key. I mentioned the homepage spots that are reserved for them. They’re also there first thing in the morning, every day.

Steve Buttry

By Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry is Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. He oversees our efforts to transform newsroom operations and culture to more effectively pursue our digital goals. His duties include responsibility for social media and community engagement. He has visited most DFM newsrooms personally, leading workshops and coaching editors and other journalists in following the Digital First approach.

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