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Archive for the ‘Digital First journalism’ Category

shafer-columnI hesitate to give more attention to a study and Politico Magazine column that comforted newspaper nostalgists, but I must: Both are BS.

“What If the Newspaper Industry Made a Colossal Mistake?” asks the Politico headline, echoed in Jack Shafer‘s breathless lead: “What if almost the entire newspaper industry got it wrong?”

Well, the industry did get it wrong and did make a colossal mistake, but not the one that Shafer and University of Texas scholars Hsiang Iris Chyi and Ori Tenenboim think it made.

Summarizing Chyi’s and Tenenboim’s Reality Check research article in Journalism Practice, Shafer asks:

What if, in the mad dash two decades ago to repurpose and extend editorial content onto the Web, editors and publishers made a colossal business blunder that wasted hundreds of millions of dollars? What if the industry should have stuck with its strengths—the print editions where the vast majority of their readers still reside and where the overwhelming majority of advertising and subscription revenue come from—instead of chasing the online chimera?

In their research, which prompted Shafer’s column, Chyi and Tenenboim wrote that in the past 20 years “US newspapers, especially national and metro dailies, became more determined than ever to complete their transition from print to online. … ‘Digital first’ has become a mantra, a trend, and a strategy leading to the future.”

Shafer, Chyi and Tenenboim correctly chronicle the weak performance of American metro newspapers in the digital marketplace. But they wrongly conclude, as Shafer wrote, that “The key to the newspaper future might reside in its past and not in smartphones, iPads and VR. ‘Digital first,’ the authors claim, has been a losing proposition for most newspapers.”

Well, I used to work for a company called Digital First Media and at a newspaper-industry think tank, and I’ve visited more than 100 newsrooms and spoken at more than 100 newspaper-industry conferences and seminars, and I can flatly say that the industry never, ever adopted anything close to a digital-first strategy. (Update: Kurt Greenbaum responded on Facebook: “You’re being too kind. Not only did they never adopt such a strategy, they actively resisted tolerance of digital technology, much less acceptance of it.”)

The colossal mistake that the newspaper industry made was responding to digital challenges and opportunities with defensive measures intended to protect newspapers, and timid experiments with posting print-first content online, rather than truly exploring and pursuing digital possibilities.

(more…)

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An editor at a mid-sized newsroom asked me some questions about digital productivity expectations for reporters:

We are banging our heads against the wall about this: How much content should reporters be required to write each day online? … Some feel they produce way more than others. So how do you even the playing field?

My quick answers:

  1. Everything any reporter produces should be published first online.
  2. Content is not all equal. You don’t measure reporters’ productivity or performance by counting widgets or credits.
  3. Expectations for reporters vary by beat and over time. Reporters should meet the expectations of their jobs.
  4. Running a newsroom isn’t like parenting. Your expectations for different reporters vary according to beat, experience, skill, news flow and a variety of other factors. You don’t even the playing field and I have little patience with whining about reasonable facts of life.

I’ll elaborate on those points in order: (more…)

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I offer mostly curation, rather than fresh commentary, on the New York Times’ move from a daily page-one meeting to a daily meeting focused on digital platforms:

Poynter’s Ben Mullin explains the change, including Executive Editor Dean Baquet’s memo to the Times staff.

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm has a thoughtful commentary on the change, including how overdue it is.

I blogged about newsroom meetings last year when Margaret Sullivan reported the first steps toward a digital focus in the morning meeting.

I blogged some advice on leading newsroom meetings in 2013.

Changing newsroom meetings is hard. As I noted yesterday, I was not successful in changing meetings as thoroughly as I wanted when I was editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

I don’t say this to criticize Baquet or the Times, just to note how deeply entrenched meetings are in a newsroom culture and how hard it is to change them: The Times Innovation report, recommending a digital focus to the meetings, was completed last March. The change is now being implemented 11 months later. Of course, many other changes recommended in the report have already being implemented.

I’m not banging on the Times for taking 11 months to change its morning meeting, just saying this is a big and difficult change. I wish Baquet and the Times well in executing this change and in using it to continue culture change in the newsroom.

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I led a workshop today by Google Hangout for editors of Trinity Mirror newsrooms in the United Kingdom.

The webinar dealt with information from my posts on Project Unbolt as well as my posts on verifying information from social media and a case study on a breaking news story covered by the Austin American-Statesman.

Here are the slides for the webinar:

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I was a long-distance participant in a workshop today for the Madison, Wis., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

My first session, about going digital-first in your newsroom, drew heavily from my Project Unbolt posts, particularly those on breaking news, enterprise reporting, routine daily reporting and the post about the Five Satins story. Here are the slides for that workshop, on which I collaborated with Joel Christopher:

I collaborated on the second workshop, on mobile news-gathering, with Nick Penzenstadler. That relied heavily on my posts about live coverage and my livetweeting tips. Here are Nick’s slides (used with his permission), followed by mine:

Nick Penzenstadler SPJ2014

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Search-engine optimization sometimes gets a bad rap from journalists (more on that later). But I always thought a headline’s job was to attract eyeballs, to get someone to read the story.

That’s the job of a digital headline, just like it was when I wrote print headlines as a copy editor for the Des Moines Register 35 years ago.

What’s changed is how people find our headlines. Instead of having the newspaper delivered to their door, and browsing pages for a headline or photo that catches their eye, many people find our stories in answer to the questions they ask search engines. Just as I tried my best to catch the browsing reader’s eyes, now I try to catch the search engine’s eye.

But it’s a two-step process: I need some keywords (utilitarian and sometimes dull) so the search engine will find my story and I need an enticing headline, so people will click on it (getting onto the first page of search results only gets me the chance to compete with nine other headlines for your click).

Susan Steade has a great metaphor for the SEO headline: Business up front, party in the back. In other words, start with some keywords, so the search engine will find your headline, then have some fun, so people will click on your headline rather than the others the search engine presents. (more…)

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I spent last week visiting four Digital First newsrooms in New England.

On Tuesday, I collaborated with several colleagues on an engagement workshop for Digital First colleagues in New England and New York.

Here are the slides that Mandy Jenkins, Ivan Lajara and I used in the workshop.

Laura Lofgren used this presentation on engaging through Facebook.

Mandy used these links in her presentations:

New Haven Register live events

Scribble Market

Tout

Berkshire Eagle sports page (to show sports SocialWire)

Berkshire Eagle SocialWire

These links relate to Ivan’s presentations:

Flickr map

Statigram

Twitter Advanced Search

Google Images

TinEye

Karma Decay

Curation in journalism

Google Glass and journalism

Ivan’s Google Glass posts curated on RebelMouse

Google Glass photos

Reddit AMA on Google Glass

Ivan’s Glassplainer Touts

Storify bookmarklet

Using the RebelMouse bookmarklet

Kelly Fincham’s Updated guide to Storify for journalists

Storify best practices

RebelMouse How-tos

Getting started on RebelMouse

DFMchat on RebelMouse and Storify

Earlier posts on this blog relating to topics we discussed in the engagement workshop:

What does community engagement mean?

Facebook news-feed changes mean newsrooms need new engagement strategies

Community fun drives Facebook engagement

‘Remember when?’ photos have great engagement potential

Don’t be selfish on Twitter; tweeting useful information is good business

Advice for building engagement through newsroom Twitter accounts

Links to all my #twutorial blog posts

Other workshops I did in the New England newsrooms related to these posts:

How a Digital First approach guides a journalist’s work

Make every word count

Strong from the start

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