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Nicole Brewer: How I joined the Philadelphia technology community

This is a guest post by Nicole Brewer, a reporter for CBS 3 and CW Philly, as part of our Guest Contributor Week. Want to have an op-ed or feature you’ve written to appear on TP, now or in the future? Drop us a line. To be honest, I entered Philly’s tech scene by accident. […]

This is a guest post by Nicole Brewer, a reporter for CBS 3 and CW Philly, as part of our Guest Contributor Week. Want to have an op-ed or feature you’ve written to appear on TP, now or in the future? Drop us a line.

To be honest, I entered Philly’s tech scene by accident.

From a young age, I enjoyed technology as a hobby, and as an aspiring journalist, I relished in the advent of social media. However, I never imagined it would define my career or revolutionize the broadcasting industry quite the way it has.

To that end, it was simply a matter of timing. With the success of its newly re-launched website in 2005, CBS3 had seen its website grow year-over-year in both traffic and engagement metrics. But, the company was eager to stay ahead of the digital curve and willing to try something new.

Fresh off my first freelance gig at the Consumer Electronics Show, I was too.

As the “digital journalist,” I started reporting primarily for the website, CBS3.com — now CBSPhilly.com. I wrote, produced, shot, edited and posted daily video segments to the web.

I was a one-man-band but determined to prove my relevancy to the station.

So, I looked to the community for help. I wanted to connect with people who were not only involved in the technology scene, but doing their part to evolve it. I’ll never forget my very first ‘Behind The Blog’ feature with Eric Smith and Tim
Quirino of Geekadelphia
. They were as nice as they were savvy. And they were more than willing to introduce me to their inner circle.

At work, my role began to expand. CBS3/CW became increasingly invested in the coverage of technology, allowing me the opportunity to cover stories for air.

That’s when my digital contact list really came in handy. When I needed an expert, I looked to people like Colleen Padilla of ClassyMommy.com and Cecily Kellogg of UppercaseWoman.com. (Mommy bloggers really do know best.)

Eyewitness News was also an early adopter of social media, launching station Facebook pages and utilizing Twitter as a way to spread breaking news. As I built my own social media following, I looked to the community for best practices.

Beth Harte of Serengeti Communications taught me the ins and outs of online etiquette, while Gloria Bell of Red Stapler Consulting addressed the importance of social media marketing.

With each new connection, five more followed. And as my contact list evolved, so did my role as digital journalist.

I found myself touting Twitter and Facebook as legitimate resources for finding story ideas, arranging interviews and most importantly, connecting to viewers. The station also made it a point to utilize new technology to tell stories. At the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Emmys, Eyewitness News was recognized for excellence in snow coverage, which included the use of Skype and U-Stream.

The station also developed the Morning Chatter segment, which allows Facebook and Twitter users the opportunity to voice their opinion about stories on our newscast. I currently host this as part of Eyewitness News this morning on CBS3 (5-7PM) and the CWPhilly (7-9AM).

So, when I look back at my progression as a digital journalist and the evolution of Eyewitness News, I can say with certainty we did not arrive here on our own. Instead, I believe the community has shaped our growth and will continue to determine our next expansion as well as the definition of my role.

Nicole Brewer is a reporter for CBS 3 and CW Philly in Philadelphia, focusing on online, consumer electronics and technology community news. In 2005, she was named Miss Pennsylvania. Follow her on Twitter here.

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