Traveling while black? The Green Book can help

I love learning about little know black history facts.

In graduate school, I created a website about Rosenwald Schools. Never heard of it? You’re in luck. Check out the site to learn more about how the unlikely partnership between Booker T. Washington and a Jewish immigrant named Julius Rosenwald created schools nearly 5,000 African-American school in the South.

My next project is about The Negro Motorist Green Book.

I first learned about the Green Book while listening to an episode of the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round with Heben and Tracy. 

During the closing segment the duo “buys a round” (hence the name) for a person, place, thing or idea. Heben gave a special shout out to archivists and digitizers at the New York Public Library.

The library recently published 22 digital versions of the Green Book, which circulated from 1937-1964. You can check the digital collection here.

 If you would like to listen to segment about the Green Book, start listening at 1:05:04.

So what is the Green Book? During the Jim Crow era, the annual guidebook provided hotels, restaurants, salons, barber shops and other locations that were safe for people of color while traveling.

The book is divided into states and major cities.

I created a Google Map of the Kansas City, Missouri locations from the 1963-64 Green Book.

On Sunday, I set out on a scavenger hunt to see if the locations were still in service or if the buildings were still around. I used Snapchat during as I drove around. These locations were around more than 50 years ago. I had hope that some of there were still around, but a lot of the buildings were no longer there. I did have some luck! The YMCA building was repurposed into an apartment building.

My plan is to create a multi-platform story that combines video interviews with people in the area who used the Green Book; audio slide show of what’s left of the locations; the history of the Green Book and an in-depth map of the locations listed in the Green Book. I would like to publish it on my station’s website. 

I’m really excited to work on this project. I will continue to blog about my progress.


Have I piqued your interest in the Green Book. Here’s a list of suggested reading:


Live on TV and Facebook

Local news stations are tasked with finding innovative ways to use social media platforms as tools to connect with their audience.

  • What’s the best way to share the story?
  • Where is the audience?
  • What are they saying about this?

I’ve been introducing new ways for KSHB-TV to use social media. I work closely with TV producers to incorporate digital elements into the newscast.

Within the first month of my job, our station used Facebook Mentions’ live video as a way to provide weather coverage in a non-traditional way.

(Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook)

Here’s how it works:

Many television journalists and meteorologists have been popping up in our Facebook news feed using an app called Facebook Mentions. It allows the user to broadcast live video, very similar to Periscope and Meerkat.

When the app was released in 2014, it was only available to verified pages fan pages.

Facebook Mentions has many features. The most useful one for journalists, in my opinion, is live video.

The reporter grabs a cell phone, opens the app, adds a description then clicks “go live.” A notification is sent to followers of the Facebook page. When they open the notification, they will be able to view a live video. The reporter can then use this platform to share information about an upcoming investigation; hold a question and answer session with viewers about a trending topic; or show behind the scenes of a newscast.

(Click on the image to see the video.)
(Click on the image to see the video.)

We’re live in 3…2…1

In January, our viewing area was expected to see freezing drizzle and a couple inches of snow. This was not a big event, compared to some other cities.

I thought this was a good opportunity to experiment with Facebook Mentions’ live video feature.

I trained our digital and broadcast staff, provided a list of best practices and provided producers a wording on how to phrase the Facebook stream on air.

This was a team effort where the broadcast and digital realm where integrated.

Our Facebook video stream started at 4 p.m.

Our meteorologist, Jeff Penner, answered questions from our viewers about expected snow totals, road conditions and even tips on how to defrost your vehicle!
There were moments during the newscast when Jeff told our audience join the conversation on Facebook.

(Click here to see more on Youtube.)

Our first video was about 45 minutes long, received 140 likes, 25 shares, 336 comments and 7,200 views.

Overall, we got positive feedback and comments like: “I love the behind the scenes,” “very nice idea to have you live streaming” and “way better than any weather app.”

Screenshot of live video from our weather coverage.
Screenshot of live video from our weather coverage.

The last two videos featured two reporters. The second video was about 20 minutes long, with 42 likes, 2 shares and 108 comments and the final video was about 35 minutes long with 2,500 views, 18 likes and 72 shares.


Important news finds the consumer where they are. That means optimizing content for the social platforms they are using.

Social media allows the audience to see and hear what others are experiencing. Instant feedback is provided through “likes,” shares and comments.

Editor’s Note: Live video streaming is now avalible to “regular” use

Work from home? Step out of your pajamas and find a coworking space to up your professional game

Coworking has come of age. Never heard of it? While the term may not appear in dictionaries yet, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.”


Saying “good bye” is never easy.

In a few days, I will be moving to Kansas City, Missouri to start a new job.

One of my co-workers, Trent Magill, made it a little easier for me to say parting words by creating about a dozen Dubsmash videos leading up to my last day. He tweeted out videos using the hashtag #FarewellToTaylor.

The songs he selected are about saying “good bye” or accepting change. The short clips show him holding the phone selfie-style lip-syncing to the songs with me in the background singing along. Some of them even show off our dance moves. The songs range from “Movin’ on Up,” the theme songs to “The Jeffersons” to N*SYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.”





Twitter Polls

Introducing Twitter polls. (Click here to hear more from Twitter’s blog)

Previously, the feature was open to a select few profiles. Now everyone can weigh in on topics they care about.

For poll creators, like me, it’s a new way to engage with our audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s an easy way to make your voice heard.


Here’s how it works: 

NOTE: I used my station’s Twitter account to access the poll. I do not have the option on my Twitter page, but our meteorologist Trent Magill could use the poll feature. He has a verified Twitter account. I think that Twitter is rolling it out to certain profiles first.

To access the poll, you must be on a desktop or an iPhone. (I have an Android phone. I haven’t seen any updates on my app for the new one.)

You will see a new icon with a “poll” button next to the “location” tab. When you click on it, you will see “Ask a question” and two options “choice 1” and “choice 2” appear.

WATE 6 On Your Side meteorologist Trent Magill used the feature today during our morning newscast, Good Morning Tennessee.

He asked a very simple question: “What are your thoughts on the rain?”

In East Tennessee, we’ve seen a lot of rainy days over the past few week. We’re expected to see more this week.



The question you ask must be less than 140 characters. (Typical for Twitter)

When choosing answers for the poll, you can only create two options. Each answer must be less than 20 characters.

Polls are active for 24 hours.

How to vote: 



When you vote, the choice you selected will show a check with a circle.



Twitter calculates the total votes, percentage for each option and how many hours are left for the poll.




The Online News Association’s 2015 conference and awards banquet was held on Sept. 24-26 in Los Angeles.

I was honored and proud to have been selected as one out of five journalists for the first ever ONA CNN Diversity Fellowship. The program recognizes digital journalists from diverse backgrounds with experience reporting for mobile and social platforms.

A photo posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

We received an all-expense paid trip to the conference to participate in one-on-one networking and mentoring events.

As part of the application, I had to produce a video that talks about my vision for the future of storytelling on mobile and social platforms.

During the conference, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to try telling stories with Snapchat. I used the mobile app’s geo-tagging feature (California has some really cool ones) and drawing tools.

I downloaded the clips at the end of each day to post on Youtube. (Sometimes the sound is out of sync with the video.)



Keynote speakers:

KEYNOTE: We Belong Here: Pushing Back Against Online Harassment

KEYNOTE: A Deep Dive into Google with Richard Gingras & Emily Bell

Popular sessions:

From Scheherazade to Snapchat: Ancient Storytelling Practices that Win the Internet for Good

50 Apps in 30 Minutes (+ 30 Minutes of Other Cool Stuff)

Reimagining Video Distribution for the Social Age

Simple News Graphics for Reporters and Editors

Community Engagement Models for More Inclusive Journalism

Tech Trends in Journalism


Live-streaming on Facebook Mentions

Facebook Mentions allows verified accounts to tell a story as it happens with live video.

The mobile app for iPhones (Sorry Androids) was released last year for public figures to connect with fans. I used the term “public figures” loosely because the app is now open for anyone with a verified account. On Sept. 10 Facebook said anyone with a blue check mark on their profile would be able to access to the program. (Click here for more details.)


Tearsa Smith, WATE 6 On Your Side anchor for our morning show Good Morning Tennessee, used the live video feature during the newscast today. She held the stream on an iPad.

I would describe it as Facebook’s version of Periscope and Meerkat, but only for “special people,” the verified accounts.

The video stream lasted about 30 minutes and by the end there were about 240 viewers.

I was having problems embedding the code from Facebook to the page. Here’s the live stream on YouTube.

Click here to view the video on Facebook. 

Tearsa posted the stream on her page. I shared it to the WATE 6 On Your Side main Facebook page.

This was the first time we used the app during the show. I think it was well received.

Tearsa showed the viewers what happens on the other side of the TV screen, a view many people do not see.

She asked the viewers to post questions in the comments section, talked to them during commercial breaks and moved the camera around to capture our meteorologist Trent Magill in the weather center and “right now reporter” Shelby Miller at the storyteller covering national news.

The response from our viewers were mainly positive. One woman even asked if we were going to do this every day.

After the show, I asked Tearsa if what she would do differently:

  • Give viewers a “heads up” – Let them know in advance that we will be streaming online during the show.
  • Test out the angle – Make sure the camera is placed at a flattering angle
  • Set up your live stream on one device (in this case, an iPad) and then set up your computer for comments.

After the stream, the video lives on Facebook for playback.

Announcements, hosting a question and answer session, sharing to other social media platforms and up-to-date trends are other features of Facebook Mentions.

I haven’t experimented with them. Partly because the Mentions app for Android has not been released yet. (Androids always get the short end of the stick.)


Facebook Mentions in the news:
Facebook now lets all people with a verified account use Mentions app (Mashable)

If you’re famous, Facebook Mentions app is right for you  (Tech Times)

Introducing Facebook Mentions: A new app for public figures  (Facebook)

WATE 6 On Your Side’s social media strategy

Curate. Create. Live.

195,000 Facebook “likes”

Screenshot taken July 31, 2015
Screenshot taken July 31, 2015

48.7K tweets

Screenshot taken July 31, 2015
Screenshot taken July 31, 2015

660 Instagram followers

Screenshot taken July 31, 2015.
Screenshot taken July 31, 2015.

657 Youtube subscribers

Screenshot taken July 31, 2015
Screenshot taken July 31, 2015




Post video
We give our videos context by pulling out a key quote, behind the scenes or moment from the video as the text of the most.


Go behind the scenes: We give our fans access to what happens behind the scenes, the interesting places we go and the cool things we cover.


FRIDAY FUN: We had a very special guest in the newsroom this morning. Ronnie Miller is an Elvis Tribute artist. He will be performing at the sixth annual Elvis Extravaganza on Aug. 1 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. DETAILS: Posted by WATE 6 On Your Side on Friday, July 24, 2015

We also post clips from the newscast, user-generated content and “snackables” from the talent.
A “snackable” video (see below) is a video a reporter shoots out in the field that is easy for the viewer to grasp — a “bite sized chuck of info that can quickly ‘consumed’ by its audience.

By order of Governor Bill Haslam, flags over the State Capitol and all state office buildings should be flown at half-staff to honor the lives lost during the #ChattanoogaShooting. DETAILS: a vigil at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, students, staff and the community followed suit.

Posted by WATE 6 On Your Side on Friday, July 17, 2015

Post links

We’ve learned that links with thumbnails and teasers receive 20 percent more clicks than links without.

Explain why to click

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.22.13 PM


Tell a story on the site

We use the photo, headline, link description area to teas the story and the post content to give context and encourage engagement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.07.52 PM

Ask the right questions

The best words to use are:

  • Should
  • Would
  • Which
  • Who
  • Multiple choice

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.25.41 PM

Be conversational

Posts with a personal tone and clever language receive engagement 120 percent average, according to Social News Desk.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.20.44 PM

Create original posts

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.08.58 PM


User-generated content shout outs

We encourage fans to submit photos from around the area for a specific occasion or breaking news.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.26.13 PM




Tweet breaking news

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.31.35 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.31.47 PM

Ask a question

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.59.29 PM


We use our Instagram account to show a personality. We post behind the scenes photos and user-generate content.

We also gave the login to our reporters in the field to post while they are on assignment.

With our heavy Facebook and Twitter presence we are toggling on how to use each platform successfully with stretching ourselves to thin. Instagram is uncharted territory that we are working on increasing our following.


Our YouTube page is used as a community section. We post videos from live interviews on the page for the guest to share on their website or personal pages.


What’s next?

  • More use of user-generated content
  • Lauch and refocus on new social media channels, Instagram in particular.
  • Increase presence on the web
  • Give viewers more access behind the scenes.