Thursday, May 31, 2012

Showing the boss that smart phones pay off

How to convince your publisher that the newsroom is making good use of the smart phones he's paying for?

The reporter/columnist shows off in front of him at a United Way annual luncheon awards ceremony, using his smart phone to shoot video as the new CEO of United Way-Manatee gives his first official welcome speech.

And the new CEO of United Way starts a striptease right in the middle of his speech. Got it. Posted.

All for a good cause, as columnist Vin Mannix wrote in his story today. CEO Philip Brown took off the first few layers to reveal his "Live United" T-shirt, and won over the crowd in the process.

And Vin got a round of applause from Publisher Bob Turner for capturing the moment -- in a tweet, in audio, in his story and, drum roll please, THE VIDEO.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Manatee grads: a chance to win $25 gift card

Calling all Manatee County high school graduates: We want your photographs, via the Bradenton Herald app.

Just download the iPhone or Droid app from if you haven't already. Then send us your snapshots using the "Submit a Tip" link in the app -- you'll find that by clicking "More". (If you don't see the "Submit a Tip" link, go to the settings, and follow the reset prompts.)

Then send us a photo from your graduation and you'll get a chance to win a $25 gift card.

We'll also post the best photographs to our galleries at That's where you'll find all our coverage of the next two weeks of graduation ceremonies throughout the area. You'll also find a link to our special Grads 2012 section, which appeared in the Bradenton Herald today thanks to Features Editor Jana Morreale's great production work.

So hats off, grads. We'll be watching for you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A prom picture is worth thousands of views

Guess what new feature has been the most successful on in the past two weeks?

Well, if you know any high school juniors or seniors in Manatee County, you've checked it out: our Prom section, with photo galleries from all our schools' proms this year.

Another McClatchy editor mentioned to me that their prom galleries generated fabulous "traffic" to their site. So Jennifer Rich, education editor among many other hats, scrambled to track down the dates in Manatee County and made the calls. Web developer William Winter created the section, and we were off.

How successful? Tens of thousands of page views, and new visitors have also jumped. The latest addition was Bayshore High's prom gallery over the weekend, and it already has been viewed almost 20,000 times! The most popular to date: Palmetto High's prom gallery.

Have some of your own photos to submit? Send them our way! You can submit through VMix, or email education reporter Christine Hawes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Golden Herald sponsors, please take a bow!

The 2012 Golden Heralds Awards were spectacular last night -- a blessed event, one that always humbles me as we recognize the amazing talents, dedication and determination of our top high school seniors.

Each nominee crossing the Bradenton auditorium stage walked with pride and purpose. All of the top winners in each category had "Wow!" written across their faces as they beamed during the finalé.

The event is 110 percent about the students and their accomplishments. But so much goes on behind the scenes for this moment each year. Leading the way for the Bradenton Herald is Jill McGarry, our marketing director extraordinaire. She pulls together everything: the judges, volunteers, program plans, speeches, name checks of all 148 nominees, instructors and, most importantly, the sponsors.

Along with the Herald, sponsors of the Herald include:

Manatee Memorial Hospital: for years, a Platinum Sponsor of the Golden Heralds. Hospital Vice President Vernon DeSear has been the event's venerable emcee year after year. CEO Kevin DiLallo, along with Bay News 9 reporter Summer Smith, gave rousing testimony for each Golden Herald Award winner.

Bright House Networks: Leah Brown was there to humbly acknowledge Bright House's commitment to the Golden Heralds.

University of South Florida/Sarasota-Manatee and Keiser University. Jane Rose and Violeta Huesman joined me in introducing each student nominee, always a thrill.

Regions Bank: Kimberly Hopper joined Leah in awarding the Honorable Mention winners.

METV: Charles Clapsaddle and his crew recorded the entire event, so if you couldn't attend, you'll be able to tune in. (We'll publish the schedule as soon as it's available.)

For now, please enjoy some of photographer Paul Videla's dozens of photos, as he captured so many moments enjoyed by the students last night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Praying for media on National Day of Prayer

Across Manatee County today, events were held to recognize the 61st annual National Day of Prayer.

As reporter Nick Williams summed up in this early report, the nation has celebrated National Day of Prayer, a call to find humility and encourage one another to pray for the nation, since the observance was enacted by Congress and signed by President Harry Truman in 1952.

One of the events was at noon in front of the Manatee County Courthouse, where
seven community leaders led the crowd in prayers, with the theme "One Nation Under God."

Each prayer leader focused on one of the "Seven Centers of Power": government, military, business, church, family, education and the media. I was honored to be asked to lead the prayer for the media -- an assignment that sent me searching for wiser prayer leaders.

My resources included my uncle, the Rev. A.C. Settlage in Chicago (soon moving to Bradenton!); the St. Bride's Church in London and its journalists' altar; and my own heart. As a journalist and person of faith, this had to be "from the heart," as photojournalist Grant Jefferies reminded me just before we started.

So we prayed for courage, inspiration, wisdom, guidance, justice and peace. Most of all, we prayed for love and truth.
People gathered at the courthouse to pray/ A link to Grant's gallery.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Congrats,, for best day yet

An online drum roll, please....

Congratulations to the Bradenton Herald/ staff for the best day ever for online traffic! On Monday, recorded the highest single-day total page views in the site's documented history.

What led the way? Tiffany Tompkins-Condie's two fabulous photo galleries: the DeSoto Parade and the Spotlight on Manatee's Jail Farm. We also had a lot of breaking news yesterday that drew a lot of viewers, including another slaying in the wee hours.

But the two galleries trumped everything else. Each contains almost 50 photos, both of which took hours. The parade gallery was on deadline (which addresses a couple complaining comments on some repeated cutlines), and the farm gallery was a shared project with reporter Laura Morel for our ongoing examination of the jail's operation.

The favorite photo seems to be one of those we chose for the 1A print centerpiece Monday morning. Not a bad way to start the week!