It’s Monday – school starts tomorrow, and the RSS feed is full of good stuff. Here’s what I’ve read today. You might want to consider heading over and considering what these people are saying. (in no particular order)
Huffington Post to Launch College News Section in February – Dan Reimold points out that one of the biggest “buzz” names in online media is moving into the college media business (somewhat). I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now, check out Dan’s post and the #collegejourn chat from Sunday night.
10 golden rules for video journalists – Chris Wu reminds us of some of the basics of shooting video (from Travis Fox, formerly (?!?) of the Washington Post). Nothing really earthshattering or new here, but, as with many things, we do well to repeat them for those who are coming along behind us.
News site needs new, innovative user interfaces – Pat Thornton, who comes by the name “journalism iconoclast” appropriately – lays down the gauntlet for news sites.
We can all agree that the Web is a vastly different medium than print.
Which is why I can’t understand why almost every news site tries to emulate the user interface ofa newspaper. The mediums are nothing alike, and they each have much different strengths and weaknesses. Why are we still making dynamic Web sites that try to mimic static news print?
A user interface can be often be the single most important decision in the life of a Web site. News organizations need to take this decision more seriously and need to rethink everything.
Newspapers: what to market? – Tim Burden turns on to the idea that newspapers need to market themselves, and points to some ways they can do so. I’m not so sure newspapers don’t advertise (as Burden’s friend insists), but much of that advertising is probably misplaced. Read the article for some thought-provoking ideas on how to change a paper’s image. More applicable for professional outfits, but college media could learn a thing or two.
Make people feel smart, educated and aware every time they follow the little blue star, and they will want to come back for more. They will associate the brand with good feelings. Not feeling good, necessarily, because the news isn’t always pleasant. But if you remove the barriers to flow; if you make the activity intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action; if there is a balance between ability level and challenge; then people will feel smart for having been on your website.
Ideas for journalism educators – Mindy McAdams links to a couple of presentations she’s presented recently. Check them out for ideas about blogs and integrating online journalism into your curriculum.
Predictions old and new – Paul Conley works on Sunday to put out a thoughtful look back and into the future for B2B (business-to-business) publishing. B2B? You ask. “This is a college journalism blog.” Yes, it is, and many college journalists find themselves working in B2B when they get out of school, so – from an employment angle – it’s a good idea to follow B2B. Read the post if you’re interested in working in this field, or even if you’re not, because what Paul says is relevant to you.
But in summary, let me say this: the old days are over. We’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in how people consume information and how the cost of producing that information can be covered.
There’s no going back.
Just like in 2009, there will be people who prosper amid the difficulties. And, just like in 2009, there will be people who suffer through no fault of their own.
Your task — whether you’re an editor, a salesperson, a publisher, marketer, c-suite executive, designer, j-student, etc — is to position yourself where prosperity is possible and suffering is minimized.
Holy Moses! Media need to gear up for tablets – Alan Mutter (the newsosaur) goes for the Old Testament symbolism when discussing the oncoming wave of “tablet” computing systems (I don’t call them computers, but I don’t know what exactly to call them).
Tablets will the rock media as much, if not more, than the Internet, because they will powerfully combine ubiquitous connectivity, elegant displays, powerful computing and extreme portability. As the future Swiss Army knife of media platforms, they have the potential to obsolete not just print, broadcast television and Filofaxs but also desktops, laptops and smart phones.
Tablets demand a fresh approach to content and advertising that leverages the capabilities of this new medium in the same way TV required pictures and action, instead of stiff announcers recycling radio fare.
I don’t think tablets will kill the laptop, but what do I know. Still, there’s a lot for media to consider. I’ve said for several years that once students have something light and portable that they could interact with while waiting for class, the printed news product would be in danger on your campus. This may be the time when that prediction comes true.
Are You Getting Dangerous Feedback From Your Readers and Prospects – Copyblogger Sonia Simone has an excellent post about negative feedback from your “customers.” It’s a good idea to keep in mind when the latest “your paper sucks!” comment shows up on your web site. People who are pleased with your product rarely call to compliment you.
When you focus on complaints from people who don’t like you, your natural tendency is to steer your blog (and your business) in a direction that will make it more appealing to them.
Why would you want to do that?
Simone doesn’t throw all negative criticism out, but you need to ask yourself whether it’s valuable criticism, or just a troll.
Top 100 tools of 2009 for learning – Alfred Hermida links to this post and points out that they are great tools for journalism as well (since journalism isn’t just about “telling,” but also “learning” what needs to be told). And social media consultant Jane Hart even created an embeddable slideshow. So here it is:
16 social media guidelines used by real companies – Chris Lake of Econsultancy links to some real-world social media policies (I’ll have to post a copy of the Chicago Tribune’s policy if I can get the digital file). It’s a good baseline to consider when you’re developing your own policy (I get plenty of e-mails about this). One thing to consider (as with any policy document) is that students should have a prominent place in deciding what the policy should be. I don’t really care what your social media policy, but it should not be a top-down dictum with no thought about how students use social media outside your newsroom.
‘Unpublishing’ – the growing challenge for editors/publishers – My friend Doug Fisher writes about some recent research about “unpublishing” newspapers’ online archives. The surprising (or not so much, depending on your level of cynicism) finding is “barely half of the news organizations she surveyed had some kind of policy for dealing with such requests.”
This has been a problem for college news sites for a while, and if you’re dealing with this issue (as I’m sure you will at one time or another), Fisher has some good thoughts to consider.
And, regardless of what your policy is, I am personally opposed to removing someone’s poorly constructed, grammatically incorrect op-ed columns just because the person is embarrassed by them today.
About that resolution – Ryan Sholin writes about the difficulties of “writing more” for a modern tech-infused writer. It’s somewhat humorous, yet points out how real blogging is sometimes just as time-consuming – if you’re going to do it right – as writing a news story or producing a video. For instance, I’ve spent over 2 hours this morning reading, thinking, sifting, and writing this blog post. That’s not to brag, but just to remind you that if you’re able to crank out a blog post for your campus news site in 30 minutes, “Ur doin it wrong.”
Write Better Blog Posts Today – As if timed perfectly (it was the next tab in the browser, I swear), Chris Brogan offers some unnumbered tips on how to sharpen your blogging skills. Sometimes, writing better blog posts is a matter of introspection, as Brogen concludes:
And finally, if no one’s reading your stuff, you’ve gotta consider why. Is it bad writing? Is it too long? Is it not visually broken up for people’s eyes to scan? Is the topic too minor for people to consider? Or are you posting at the wrong times? There are lots of things to troubleshoot. Just don’t leave it be. Try something. Try something with each new post. Change one element at a time and see if things improve. Oh, and if it’s just that you’re not getting comments, try commenting on other people’s posts for a while first. Comment a lot. Don’t talk about your blog. Talk about the posts you’re reading. That often gets you some new traffic and some new friends. Especially, and here’s the bonus trend, if you comment on non-A-list blogs where the people are just as grateful for the traffic as you’ll be when they visit.
When students begin blogging, they often miss the fact that a blog isn’t just an editorial column on the internet. A blog post is part of a conversation. If you’re not conversing with people who share your interests, you’re not likely to draw a lot of attention in a sea of information.
Linkbaiting, thinking while linking and why link journalism requires more than just a URL – Greg Linch has an excellent post about researching sources when you are linking to something on the web. The key quote:
Link journalism makes context easy in stories online. But the link in itself is not necessarily journalism — it’s what you do to verify its source and accuracy that makes it journalism and, thus, more valuable.
“Because it’s on the web” is no excuse for not verifying. That just leads to low-quality content, of which there’s plenty online. Instead, you should strive for the best quality because there’s so much garbage out there.
Linch has some very practical tips on verifying and researching web sites. I plan to share this post in future online journalism classes. Highly recommended.