One thing social media allows that past media platforms don’t is the ability to put more of “yourself” into the medium. TV doesn’t allow that. How many historical nuggets did we lose to people watching “Must See TV” instead of living their lives?
Internet news doesn’t come in boxes. It’s always on. It’s available in myriad combinations. It’s interactive. It’s a different product for every reader.
“Let’s not see that money wasted on newsprint.
Money should be spent on giving regional news outlets a proper online presence. It should be spent on equipment for local audio/video. It should be spent on allowing every regional newsroom to be right in the heart of the town it covers — not in some soulless newspaper factory in a big city. It should be spent on giving regionals better individual controls over their web output. It should be spent on making the coder and the graphics person as important to the news operation as the reporters, subs and editors. It should be spent on community managers, whose sole job is to reach out to readers in a way that goes far beyond a drab letters page.A bail out is needed. But this is no bail out for newspapers — it’s a bail out for journalism.”
Archive for the ‘newsroom’ tag
Sometimes even the most useful things aren’t that obvious to the people who will benefit the most from them. And so it is with Twitter and journalists it seems.
Following on from Paul Bradshaw’s tweets today about what he described as his students’ “slowness” in taking Twitter to their hearts, plenty of journalists who have embraced the platform were ready to offer some help and encouragement so displaying in an instant one of the most valuable attributes of having developed a network.
In my experience reticence seems to fall into these categories;
1. I don’t see the point.
Getting over this objection is made more difficult due to the silly names and iconography involved. It’s hard to tell an editor or other journalist with years of experience that its OK to be a twit and that what s/he is required to do is tweet like a little bird! But probably the proof is in the pudding – ask people that do use it within your organisation why they bother, what value they get out of it. Ask your peer group – maybe you just don’t know that they have already found a use for it. Additionally there’s plenty of blog posts on the topic – do some research, read up on the subject.
2. No-one I deal with/write about/contact is on there.
Apart from the fact that you couldn’t possibly know this to be fact unless you are already on Twitter, could it be that you just haven’t found them? If your interest is a geographical area then have a look at Twitterlocal, set up Tweetgrid to scan for the town name(s) your publication covers, use the location search on Twittergrader to see who are the important influencers in your area. (This is the result for Manchester, UK where I work). If your beat is a topic/specialist interest there are lists springing up of “so-and-so’s on twitter” so keep a look out there, look at the influential blogs for your topic area and most likely their authors will be on Twitter or use a mixture of the tools mentioned here to track them down. If there is an area of life (in the UK) which remains completely untouched by any of the above – I’d be fascinated to hear about via the comments below.
3. I don’t have the time.
Your competitors have found time.
4. I have something better.
Brilliant – please share via the comments below.
5. I don’t have anything to say that would interest anyone else.
Are you in the right job?
Seeing as this is the first post of the year it might as well be a dangerous one.
Bloggers and media commentators spent so much of 2008 hand-wringing over the future of the news industry and journalism that some of the thought-provoking suggestions of things that could be done to improve the situation were often drowned out in a sea of doom and gloom.
But maybe, just maybe, this means that 2009 will be the year of the dangerous thinker, the year when radical solutions get air time.
Take these hopes for the year from from Save the Media blogger Gina Chen who describes a sweeping away of the current newsroom structures
Along with nine other very constructive hopes for the new year, Gina makes point 8 Cut through the bureaucracy of the newsroom.
” …as a story slips through the assembly process, each person in the line shares only a bit of ownership. What if we turned that on in its head and used a more collaborative approach. A writer — who may be an editor or a reporter — gathers facts and writes a piece and is involved in the headline and the layout. A series of editors still read the piece, but those editors may also write stories that go though the same process. I guess what I’m saying is a lot of talent gets wasted waiting for the stories to show up in rim.”
She doesn’t propose that any of the actual processes – researching, contact-building, writing, copytasting, fact-checking, subbing etc – are dropped, just that the old hierarchical structure is scrapped in a move to a more modern, collaborative management approach.
Taken together with the advice to think of the newsroom as an online environment which may (or may not) have a print edition, this re-think call is a timely one.
With the recent rash of news organisations dropping print editions in favour of the cheaper distribution option of online-only, will newsrooms this year be looking more closely at their own infer-structure? Think the previously unthinkable?
After all, doesn’t the standard structure have as as much to do with the legacy of unionised job demarkation as anything else – drawn up at a time when the web-first publishing cycles would have been as alien a concept as telecommunications that didn’t require operators to make connections?
For example, the web world has proved over and over that people can organise themselves and collaborate to produce content without any organisation to put such formal structures in place. This can be as true for reporters/photographers planning the day’s diary as it is for activists planning a global campaign.
Getting people across the newsroom involved in all steps of the process rather than just a few could not only lead to a faster, leaner story cycle but also more creative and transparent newsgathering.
As Gina says: “A copy editor could blog; an editor could write; a reporter could suggest a headline. Our journalistic boat is sinking, and we need everyone baling out the water.”
This month’s Carnival of Journalism has returned to the well-worn topic of shifting newsroom culture.
Answering the question What are small, incremental steps one can make to fuel change in their media organization? a group of bloggers has been pitching in with possible solutions.
I’ve picked out my top five to share here but there are plenty more in the rest of the postings which are worth a visit;
At number one its Andy Dickinson who said: “Make some time, even if it’s just an hour a week for your staff to play. Try the web, join a club, anything that gets them out of the run of the daily grind and in a different mindset. But one thing I would add is that this is not just the responsibility of the management to make the space. Individuals have to use the time to play, not to go home early. “I couldn’t agree more – increasing web familiarity helps improve product, makes it easier to introduce ideas and ups people’s skills without the neccesity for formal (i.e. expensive) training.
Two comes from Journerdism who says: “ That attitude adjustment is an important one because everyone involved in large media organsiations needs to realize that whilst the value of the large brand is going down the value of the individual journalist is on the increase – sorry, have you seen audience/circulation figures lately. Giving time for journalists to invest in their identity is staff development and an investment that will pay you back. The only thing that will happen if you don’t is that they will go elsewhere and take all their personal brand equity with them.” I’ve a feeling many UK newspaper groups will wake up to this fact just too late which is why it’s so high on my list – reward your talent.
Three also comes from Journerdism - well he is the host – who says: “Herd your nerds and protect their time.
(Cost: Free-ish – Again, whatever it costs to move desks.) Your techies and high-end newsroom nerds need to be fostered and supported to grow. The life of a nerd is a lonely one — especially in a newsroom where, as Regina McCombs so eloquently said (I’m paraphrasing here), ‘More people know what the newspaper truck driver does than the web team.’ Surround the nerds with people who see the world similarly and they’ll flourish, feel safe and happy at their gig and not leave you for Google. Bring them together in close proximity so they can feed off each other, bounce ideas and share pocket protecting tips (away from the main fray of the daily miracleso they’re not getting nickle and dimed by people stopping to ask them how to use email but keep them close/visible enough to still have a presence in the operation).” Hurrah for that! To get creative, people need to work with others who share their language.
At four, Paul Bradshaw makes a good point; “Make an effort to meet social media users in your community/beat in person at least once a month (it helps if you set up a meeting or join one that exists). Failing that, have a video conversation. Both strengthen community more than just text. Jo Geary does this brilliantly in Birmingham. ” Just because we work online shouldn’t make us forget to be journalists and get out of the office once in a while! Jo has indeed been an inspiration in this area and, finger’s crossed, the fledgling Social Media cafe here in Manchester will be just as successful as Brum’s
At number five it’s Random Mumblings with; ”Let people have pets, or at least pet projects. More specifically, let them own pet projects.” Yes, lack of ownership leads to robot journalism – let those who have a passion for something be those that develop it.
Linking newspaper website content to outside sources always seems to throw up some challenges for journalists starting out in the online world so I thought I’d blog some tips and, of course, links on the subject.
While every blogger, online journalist and community editor knows that linking is currency as far as building, nurturing and keeping audience is concerned, newcomers to the online world often find it counter intuiative to “keeping” users.
In my experience the objections are;
1. Users might leave our site and never return.
2. We know everything there is to know on this subject so why would anyone need to go elsewhere.
3. It will make us look stupid if we’ve “missed” something.
And I know this experience is commonplace. Looking back at the comments left on the slideshow on regional newspaper activity I did back in May, linking was one of the hot topics for those responding.
At his blog, fellow links fan Craig McGinty points out that the BBC have taken on board the possibilities of linking with a project called BBC Topics which intends to include the best of external websites.
But even here, a quick look at the current Topics page for Gordon Brown only manages one authoritative external source – the Number 10 website. Seems there’s a leap of faith still required here then!
I’ve recently produced the tips listed at the end of this post as part of my ongoing training work and would be glad of any further contributions or experiences in establishing a linking culture.
But, seeing as I don’t have all the answers on this subject (and, given the topic it would be ironic not to!) here’s some links to the best I’ve come across so far;
My tips on linking
* It is advisable to restrict linking to credible/trusted sources and include a disclaimer on your site making it clear that your organisation is not responsible for external sources.
* When checking on external links, be aware that it is very easy for a private individual to change a web page from innocuous one to something more risky in response to the traffic your newspaper is now providing thanks to their improved Google rank.
* Links should be to the specific piece of information being mentioned. For example, if you are writing about a government consultation into children’s play, don’t just take the user to the general link for the department for education: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk instead take them to the actual consultation document: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/publications/fairplay/ This sort of deep-linking makes it easy for the user who will come to trust you as the most authoritative source of information on a topic.
* Bear in mind that if you had to register for a site in order to see the information, the user will have to do the same so provide instructions.
* It’s important to open links in a new window so that the user can remain with your site and to make it more obvious that the two sites are different.
* Decide a consistent style for the display of links commonly grouped together at the bottom of the story or elsewhere on the page.
* Blogs have made it commonplace to find links within the body text of the article. The same circumstances apply as above. The advantage is that users easily identify with the context of the link because the word, or words, are highlighted and underlined. The disadvantage to this approach is that users unaccustomed to online may find it a halting experience to click onto a new window part way through an article.
Oh, and finally, in answer to those three objections this post started with; 1. users will be more likely to return if the site is known to provide a comprehensive starting point, 2. unlikely that we know everything. No really, there’s some bright cookies who don’t work in newspapers and 3. you haven’t missed anything if you spotted it to link to it.
I’m doing a bit of research at the moment in the hope of learning from the experience of others when it comes to the work of video journalism.
By asking the question; “who in your organisation edits and processes video?” I hope to get some ideas on how to streamline the workflows of busy newsrooms coping with this often time-consuming task.
It was interesting to see that the debate about where this activity sits is also featuring on David Dunkley Gyimah’s blog where he poses the question Digital Journalist versus Integrated Multimedia Video journalism which one’s the future?
And comments: “Some outfits however interpret digital journalism as video journalism so on a pedagogic level herein lies a crux.”
So far a few respondants to Twitter and Plurk have come back to me to say that the VJs themselves (generally print reporters who’ve been trained) now carry out the video editing and associated work to get their video reports online.
What’s your experience? Does your newsroom see it as the VJ’s job? Do you consider it as a production function and if so how do you manage that? Do you have a special unit which takes responsibility?
All responses gratefully reecive – by all means email me if you want to comment off-the-record. I won’t be blogging any individual’s experience (or naming, names) just seeking some wisdom!