December Office Hours Recap

Monthly open office hours allow our team to connect with colleagues from organizations around the country — to work on projects together, ask questions, and brainstorm about various tech challenges.

This month’s session included a MailChimp how-to, a design review for an election app, and a discussion about reporting journalistic impact.

Connecting WordPress to MailChimp

First, we talked with Ariel Jensen-Vargas from Women's eNews about connecting WordPress with MailChimp.

We walked through a few of the options to customize and automate mailings using the custom RSS feed template we've built into Largo to integrate seamlessly with MailChimp's RSS to email functionality.

If you want to learn more here are two how-to resources from MailChimp that explain the process:

And to see an example of the Largo to MailChimp integration in action, check out the newsletters from Aspen Journalism or Yellowstone Gate.

An Election App From The Lens

Next, developer Thomas Thoren walked us through an app that The Lens built for November’s election and will use again for their Dec. 6 run-off election coverage. (You can see the November election results here.)

The design discussion included mobile considerations and how to refine the user experience.

A couple of resources and examples that were referenced during the conversation:

Impact Reporting For Foundations

Our final conversation centered on thinking about how we might optimize and automate the reporting of journalistic impact metrics for foundations. Specifically, we talked with Lauren Fuhrmann of Wisconsin Watch about a project she is working on to expand and tailor something like this web metrics guide for nonprofit news organizations and the foundations that fund them.

Some of the questions foundations ask and news organizations expend sometimes a lot of manual effort in answering are:

  • What did we do (how many stories did we publish and what did we cover)?
  • Who did we reach (and what do we know about them)?
  • What happened as a result of our work?

Lauren showed us a sample report they've been working on and then we talked about ways of potentially automating the collection of this data from Google Analytics, social APIs and other sources.

And then to wrap things up, in the spirit of December celebrations, we enjoyed a YouTube jukebox of carefully curated holiday tunes.

Next Month

Our next open office hours are Thursday, Jan. 8. Sign up for a slot, or just drop by and join the conversation. They're always held via Google Hangout so you can join from anywhere and all are welcome!

New Orleans’ The Lens Latest INN Member to Launch Largo Powered Site

We're excited to announce the launch of the latest INN member site using our Largo platform: The Lens in New Orleans.

From their announcement:

The new site automatically adjusts to fit screens, whether you’re using an iPad, an Android tablet, an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S III. If you’re reading this on a computer, resize your browser window to see how it reacts.

We’ve used larger type, a clean, distraction-free layout and an added ability to highlight important facts and figures within stories.

The Lens’ Charter School Reporting Corps has become the pre-eminent source of information about the charter schools in New Orleans: For the past two years, we’ve covered nearly every meeting of the more than 40 charter boards in the city. No other news source comes close. This coverage has been integrated into the rest of the site and given more prominence on the home page. The individual school pages have been redesigned to provide essential information on each school. And readers can continue to subscribe to email alerts for one or many schools.

A new navigation enables us to highlight our ongoing stories and investigations, which means users can spend less time looking for the stories and more time reading and sharing them.

We’re not done yet. We’ve placed new priority on giving people access to primary source documents. Upcoming changes will provide users even more access to documents, including public records that are harder to get than they should be.

The home page also features Muckreads, ProPublica’s selections of the best watchdog reporting from around the country.

The new site is the product of cooperation among nonprofits. It is based on Project Largo, a WordPress theme developed by the Investigative News Network. And that’s an extension of National Public Radio’s Project Argo. The Lens will work with the network to help improve the Largo theme and lower the costs of high-quality publishing for other sites. The Lens thanks the network for extensive technical guidance throughout the process, as well as Assembled, which designed the site and our new logo, and Carrollton Group, which coded everything.

The Lens is now one of nine sites to adopt Largo since we launched last fall including INN members Connecticut Health I-Team, Iowa Watch and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, and Pinetree Watchdog.

We'll be launching more sites very soon and we're excited about the next phase of work we're doing on the platform with our first public launch scheduled for late March or early April.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse our code on github and if you or your organization is interested in a demo or have any questions about Largo please get in touch using our contact form and we'd be happy to help you out.