Before the year ends please allow me to publicly congratulate Azeem Ahmad on winning the Birmingham City University ‘Student Online Journalist of the Year’ award, sponsored by Trinity Mirror.
Azeem graduated this year from the journalism degree. For his final year project he worked as the Web Editor for ENO (Environmental News Online), along with Editor Rachael Wilson.
Azeem built the site from scratch using open source content management system Joomla, a raft of plugins, and even survived a hacker attack. But more importantly, he has probably grasped the workings of a networked environment better than any other student, using Twitter particularly effectively, building RSS mashups, learning about search engine optimisation, and exploring the vagaries of online communities. With Rachael he managed a team of second year journalism students as they learned online journalism on the job – the first time I’d tried such a model, which seemed to work very well.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Azeem’s blog entries and seeing the problems he faced in building and maintaining the site both technically and editorially. But, unsurprisingly in the current environment, Azeem has not yet landed a permanent journalism job and so is not blogging as often these days. I’m hoping that changes in ’09. Good luck, Azeem.
Successful journalists not only know where to find the great stories – but how to make great stories find them. They know lots of people, and know the right people; they hang out in the right places, and they make themselves available.
On the internet you’d call it search engine optimisation (SEO), but while many news organisations now focus on optimising stories for search engines, most journalists fail to realise they should also be search engine optimising themselves.
A search engine optimised journalist is findable, connected, and visible. Your sources and potential sources are moving online – and what’s the first thing they do when they want to connect with someone about a particular issue they feel is becoming important? Google it. Or failing that, they go to their social networks.
If you don’t have a strong presence on either, you’re missing out.
Malcolm Coles, the Editor of Which.co.uk, has been highlighting some of the problems with the technology for search engine optimisation and accessibility (the two are often closely related) on his blog. Continue reading