Monthly Archives: April 2007

Three ways of making a successful online magazine

Forbes.com has an interview with Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek from 1998 to 2006 and now vice president and editor-in-chief of new ventures for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. He makes an intelligent point about the challenges of preparing a publication for a Web-only audience (bullet points are not in the original, but I thought it made it easier to read):

“For everybody in the news business, it’s about producing something that goes beyond the headlines and offering something that other people can’t offer. There are three fundamental ways of doing that.

  • One is break news that nobody else is breaking.
  • Two is have writers who have a distinctive point of view that you’re not necessarily going to see someplace else.
  • And the third has to do with user experience. Traditionally, one of the things that people have loved about their favorite magazine was the way it looked and felt. What everybody has to do online is try to create a user experience that makes people fall in love with their site.”

2006’s best examples of newsroom integration – Editors Weblog

Editors Weblog reports on Telegraph editor Will Lewis’ strategy for ‘integrating’ the newspaper:

“Perhaps the hardest thing to do in the run up to the Daily Telegraph’s radical integration was to convince the paper’s staff. Lewis explained how in meetings his suggestions would constantly be voiced but most would be politely blown off. So he put all of his efforts into convincing his colleagues. He embarked on a worldwide tour, visiting the United States, Latin America, Japan, and Europe to learn about the best practices and initiatives in each place. He returned to London with some fantastic ideas.”Then he set out to convince the staff. He found the newsroom’s “angriest” employees, people that had realized the need for change in the past or had had other complaints ignored. When he got these people on his side, the rest of the staff paid closer attention and management eventually decided to heed Lewis’ advice.”

And in the same article Gannett’s Michael Maness talks about the processes of “media shifting” and “size shifting” “that are scaring traditional publishers.”:

“Media shifting is key with lean forward [engaged consumers] types; it means that they’re using various technologies to consume media the way they want, when they want. He used the example of Tivo, a digital video recorder which can be easily programmed to record any number of television shows that can then be watched at the convenience of the viewer. The major problem with Tivo is that it allows viewers to skip through the show’s advertisements.

““Size shifting” means that people are actually changing media to fit a smaller time frame. For instance, people will record a television program, take out the parts that most interest them, edit them together and then post them on YouTube. An hour long program can thus be summed up in 10 minutes if need be.”

FT.com redesign to follow newspaper

FT.com 24 April 2007Editor Lionel Barber reveals that this week’s redesigned Financial Times is to be followed by a redesigned website later in the year:

“”There will be further important changes later this year. We have guys working flat out, looking at the design.” He is particularly exercised by the inadequate navigation and poor presentation, though he thinks the search engine “is now of sufficient quality”.”He points out that Alphaville, the blog that targets private equity and hedge fund players, has secured a growing audience with its lighter touch, and cites the success of the “view from the top” video interviews pioneered by the US managing editor, Chrystia Freeland. “Video really is the coming medium”, he says.”

Video: how to be an online journalist

A great way to start the week: my students are back from their Easter break, and one has not only posted a story about police being unable to keep up with 999 calls, but also created a witty video of ‘how to be an online journalist’, with royalty-free music to boot (note: Corbis is mentioned in the video – students are allowed to use image banks as long as they cost it up for a professional operation).

New contender for worst newspaper video

And I thought the Bolton News was bad. The bar has just been lowered by Reading Evening Post’s Sports Editor David Wright’s video bulletin, a painful lesson in how not to do online video:

Rule #1: if you’re aiming to imitate broadcast television, make sure you’ve watched it since the ’80s.

Rule #2: if you use a cloth for a background, make sure you iron it.

Rule #3: tempted to use those fancy transition effects on your video editing software? Sleep on it. Please.

Rule #4: if you’re going to do ‘green screen’ make sure the green covers the whole background.

Rule #5: don’t start talking to your mate while the camera is still filming.

Rule #6: speak clearly, slow down.

Rule #7: film at a time or place when people are not coming in and out of a door and mumbling to each other out-of-shot

Rule #8: do more than one take.

It’s not David Wright’s fault that he has to learn his trade in public. I doubt Surrey and Berkshire Newspapers have invested in any training for him, and it’s clear they’ve not invested in facilities. Perhaps material like this may persuade them otherwise.

UPDATE: I hope David’s hits have shot up – they’re watching him in Australia and Hungary.

Virginia Tech: more on that ethics question

I’m still not entirely comfortable with the way blogs/MySpace have been raided by journalists, despite Tony Harcup’s ‘public domain’ defence in my earlier post. The BBC Manchester blog puts it well:

“I’m told by people with years of experience in news journalism that there is nothing at all unique about dozens, perhaps hundreds, of journalists working the phones, sending emails and doing whatever they can to secure stories from the victims of tragic incidents such as this. Nothing unique, that is, other than the fact that because many of those approaches, including a particularly unfortunate one asking the blogger to “shoot” the journalist an email, are, like the blog itself, published there in public for everyone to see. And guess what, just as some LiveJournal users were upset at the use of the post by the mainstream media, some journalists weren’t too happy when they saw that lots of blogs were now quoting them.

“Onemanandhisdog makes an interesting point about the public yet private nature of LiveJournal posts that, I think, is quite worthy of discussion here. He writes:

“”I can’t help wondering if the nature of Livejournal is partly behind the outrage….the characteristic of Livejournal that triggered the creation of this blog was its community nature. Its system of “friends” and the “friends page” means that most Livejournals are read through Livejournal – it’s for talking to a circle of friends, not to the world at large. Barging into that community and asking for comment feels not unlike barging into a pub and asking somebody for comments.”

Now sure, journalism has a long and dishonourable tradition of doorstopping the victims of tragedies. But in the digital age, the communities around the victims have voices to express their outrage at the media’s behaviour – and that’s what we’re seeing here.”

“I think it’s a valid point. People can and do use LiveJournal, Myspace, MSN spaces and the dozens of other social networking sites to publish content online. But, for many of them, it’s likely they do so only with the intention of reaching an audience consisting of their friends.”

MySpace News is here – what a disappointment

Well, it’s not the RSS killer app I was hoping for, but more more a Digg clone, according to Journalism.co.uk:

MySpace News apes Google News by using a search algorithm to automatically aggregate stories from sources around the world, placing them in a plethora of niche categories and 25 overarching topics.

“Like social news bookmarking websites Digg and MySpace [sic], the news service allows users to vote stories up and down the news agenda. But unlike the one-million strong technology-focused site Digg, MySpace’s debutante does not yet enable users to add their own stories to the system – a feature that was expected, according to previous early reports.”

This lack of control could be the death of MySpace News. Sounds like they’re relying heavily on the fact they have such a massive user base, but that user base can easily go elsewhere for news…