Digg, Hugg, and Other Online Tools for the E-Beat

July 4, 2007

The media landscape is changing fast, sometimes in ways that can benefit environmental coverage and journalists. One opportunity that journalists often overlook is the burgeoning field of "social media" especially news-sharing services. If you haven't yet explored these tools, here are some good starting points. All of them are free - and they're all easy to learn and use, too.

Digg is one of the most popular news-sharing sites. Registered members can nominate ("digg") any piece of web-based content as being worth a look by other Digg users. This includes articles, videos, photos, backgrounders, podcasts, and more. The more people nominate a particular content item, the higher it gets promoted on the Digg site - and the more likely it will gain a broader audience and rank higher in search engine results (including Google News).

Digg lists content in several topic areas, including the environment. It's a good idea to subscribe to that category's feed in your feed reader, or at least visit the Digg environment page regularly, to get a heads up on which environmental stories and issues this generally ahead-of-the-curve online community finds interesting. This can be a good source of leads, angles, and sources. So far, the environment section is not one of the most popular sections of Digg - which means it's easier than you might expect to accumulate enough diggs for a story to land on that section's home page.

If your content gets "dugg" and categorized in Digg's environment section, chances are it will receive plenty of attention from people all over the world. Therefore, ask your webmaster to add "Digg this" links to the bottom of your stories on your news organization's site. Or, if you run your own site or blog, you do this yourself with Digg's tools. Once this is done, get access to the online traffic statistics for your stories to see the traffic effect.

Share the love: In the Digg community, it's generally considered bad form to digg your own content. (Once in a while is OK, but don't make a habit of it.) However, it is OK to ask people to digg your stories if they like them. Sometimes a few behind-the-scenes e-mails asking for diggs can lead to a lot of attention. So start asking your friends and colleagues whether they use Digg, and whether you can occasionally send them notes about items they might want to digg. Similarly, if you see content on any topic (but especially the environment), take a second to digg it. You definitely get what you give in this community.

Current examples of localizable story leads found in Digg's environment section:

Hugg: The immensely popular environmental group blog and resource site Treehugger has "rolled its own" version of Digg.

Hugg.com is a news-sharing site that is focused mainly on the environment. The community it attracts is not as large or as broad-based as Digg, but it is becoming increasingly influential in setting the online agenda for environmental news. In fact, often stories that first show up on Hugg later climb the rankings in Digg due to community overlap.

Hugg works pretty much like Digg, so the same advice given above applies. The main Hugg feed is here. "Hugg this" buttons can be added to your stories, although Hugg hasn't yet constructed a simple tool for that. To get code for "Hugg this" buttons for your site, e-mail.

Current examples of localizable story leads found through Hugg: