We know that our MediaShift community likes learning new things. That’s why we have always offered guides and how-to’s on our site, weekly DigitalEd trainings and panels and in-person workshops. But we thought it would be a good idea to also try peer training groups as well.
After our series of Platforms + Publishers private roundtables between small and medium-sized publishers and platforms such as Facebook and Google, we decided to continue supporting publishers within peer groups. With support from the Knight Foundation and Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, MediaShift recently soft-launched our new DigitalEd Peer-to-Peer Network with three peer groups.
These include people from organizations such as:
Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
The Hechinger Report
Louisville Public Media
… and many others. We want to support publishers whether they are non-profit, for-profit, hyper-local, public media, etc. To start out, our focus is on social and tech platforms such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and more.
In launching the Peer-to-Peer Network, MediaShift has these important goals:
1) Give news publishers the resources to help them go beyond existing trainings and teach each other.
2) Help publishers keep up with fast-moving digital technologies and social platforms, and create strategies to succeed in the long run.
3) Build confidence among independent publishers so that they can compete in a difficult environment.
4) Create networks of publishers so they can communicate regularly and help each other out.
5) Support the peer groups with regular online trainings from the tech companies as well.
Peer Training Difference
We realize there are a lot of training options now for journalists and publishers, including in-person workshops, online training and even hybrid courses. The difference between peer training and other existing networking groups is that this is an intentionally small, matched group of people who will have a facilitator dedicated to keeping it going, and MediaShift will have communication lines into Facebook, Google and other tech companies for support.
The groups will help connect like-minded people who might not have been in touch before, and be in touch over a longer period of time. And we will match up diverse groups of people so they can grow their own network of contacts.
How They Work
Here’s an overview of how the peer groups currently operate:
– We place people together based on their work roles: publishers, engagement people and content people. Groups have 7 to 10 people each.
– Regular communication through a Slack Channel for everyday conversations and updates.
– Monthly trainings led by one group member over a Zoom online video conference for an hour. Can include updates from people on that topic, with a 20 minute training with slides or demo. Trainings rotate among members.
– Topics are chosen by group members so the topics with the most interest are taught first. People can teach what they know, but also end with questions about what they don’t know, so that other group members might answer.
– Social platforms such as Facebook and Google will provide curriculum, online training modules and support for “stumper” questions as the sessions progress. They will also give quarterly online trainings to all the peer groups.
– Trainings are recorded and available for group members to watch afterwards. Members can comment and discuss trainings on the Slack Channel.
Partners and Funding
MediaShift received funding from the Knight Foundation through the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University to test out peer trainings for a year. Partners include the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Lenfest Institute and Facebook. We hope that other associations and tech platforms join and support our efforts.
Want to Join a Group?
So far, the groups have been invite-only, but we are ready to open up more slots for publishers to join the groups. We ask that you fill out an application so we understand your skills, what you can offer and what you’re looking for as a group member. We are also looking for group facilitators as well.
While the groups are free to join, we would consider a membership fee down the line. We might also raise more funding from foundation grants, or create peer groups for companies or associations.
If you’re interested in joining a peer group, please fill out this simple form! You can contact project director Mark Glaser at mark [at] mediashift [dot] org with any questions.
Mark Glaser is publisher and founder of MediaShift. He is an award-winning writer and accidental entrepreneur, who has taken MediaShift from a one-person blog to a growing media company with events such as private roundtables between platforms + publishers, and weekend hackathons; the weekly MediaShift Podcast; and digital trainings. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.