Tag Archives: Old media

Build a better college newspaper website

21 Oct

Nationaal Archief

Here’s a checklist of online adjustments and guidance for a better college newspaper website. Change is difficult for newspapers. There are learning curves and time management issues in making these changes, but muscle up and get these done and get your dying newsprint a suitable online channel.

Content Management

  • BBC headlines: Look to bbc.com for guidance on well done news content and presentation. These are excellent examples to follow of keyword forward, densely descriptive but brief headlines. Print headlines do not transition well to online. Snappy headlines that provide information scent (leading people via searches to information results).
  • Direct me to useful information: Not everything is a news story or an enterprise piece. Create content that summarizes stories and group infographics, photos and video. Guide To, How-To, Complete List, etc. is content that people need, want and search for all the time. Anchor this evergreen content in a prominent place on your website and Facebook tabs.
  • Make sure that your RSS feeds are useful. Find a setting in your website’s content management system that not only provides the RSS feed code but links it to the option to add to RSS readers. I’m probably not going to copy the code leave your site and add it to my reader as it is set up currently. Make it one click.
  • Repurpose signed comments from users in a prominent place on the homepage. Anonymous doesn’t cut it. If someone is willing to sign a descriptive username then reward that user with a Comment of the Week feature (with crosslink to the original story). Crosslinks are key – outbound/inbound.
  • PDFs of complete news product: Great (I guess), for a quick scan of the news product and display, but advertisers expect added value and should have a link from their ad. Help your advertisers out.
  • All stories need images (entry points), calls to action (what do I do next?), and crosslinks and other info. Every URL shared on Twitter or Facebook is an introduction to your product. Why stop there?

Facebook for college newspapers

There is typically little engagement on college news Facebook pages. Readers comments on stories to no response. You will gain no value from social media unless you speak to followers. Engage.

Explain coverage: Demystify the news gathering process. Introduce your writers and editors and explain your operation. Tell your story about how you tell stories. This is a great recruiting tool and an opportunity to share with a wider audience.

Follow other people and fan pages: Try to use the @ symbol in all of your status posts. Put your idea and brand on other Facebook fan pages. The @College_Newspaper learned a lot from reporter @SusanMurphy’s visit to @BigUMedicalCenter and @BigUBusinessSchool. Look for stories in the next issue.

Shout out to your follows on the Facebook wall. Use the toggle as fan page administrator to post as both the admin and your personal profile to the your page’s wall. Note the support, interests of friends this way. @Jason Allen probably wasn’t happy with the result of this weekend’s @BigUFootball game, but we have the details on the upcoming game.

YouTube/LinkedIn for college newspapers

Don’t forget your other channels. Complete all profiles with full description and branding. Your YouTube channel needs custom background and profile, while your LinkedIn channel needs a custom profile image.

Twitter for college newspapers

Build source lists on Twitter. Sync your coverage, contacts and followers into your Twitter stream. Spend a little more time to build a better list of followers. Research keywords and geo references related to your university and rake in all sources connected to your university (and competitors, as well). Reporters can ask questions; propose story ideas and crowd source info. Twitter is a listening tool. Use it as a news gathering tool.

It’s expensive to produce that print product. Begin planning your escape plan immediately. Great usable, timely and authoritative information will never go out of style. Find new packaging.

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Toledo Blade circulation figures pick up . . . not really

20 Sep

Toledo Blade - Old Media Howdy neighbor

Thanks for leaving your newspaper (the Toledo Blade) on the end of my driveway for the past 12 weeks. I’ve enjoyed running over it, then retrieving the ripped bag and depositing it in my trashcan.

Hope tossing it in my driveway helped your sagging circulation figures. I know it’s tough to pretend to advertisers that you are circulating over 100,000 papers (when it’s probably considerably fewer).

Now you’re “pleased to inform me” that I get to repeat this routine  for “another 12 weeks.” Twelve additional weeks of a “Pulitzer Prize winning Blade” at no cost to me? Serve yourself. Cut those trees down, I’ll keep recycling them along with all the direct mail and pitch cards that your brother-in-arms the U.S. Postal Service keeps delivering (probably shouldn’t have repaired the mailbox after that driver KO’d it during a January ice storm).

Finally, the punchline: if I wish “not” to participate in the program then I have to call the Blade’s Customer Service Department (419-724-6300) – as if someone would actually answer!

Nope, you do what you need to do and I’ll keep updating the locals on your awesome circulation strategy.  Hope this internet fad thing tapers out and you can get back to cranking out high-quality, objective journalism.

Have a great day!

Sorry Jake: Crowd sourcing on Twitter is zippy

19 Aug
EPA tweet on Twitter

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported this conversation between a farmer and President Obama regarding new EPA directives on dust pollution.

Who needs a production staff when you have plenty of people in your audience to answer questions on Twitter?

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported this conversation between a farmer and President Obama regarding new EPA directives on dust pollution. A helpful Twitterer supplied key detail within an hour.

Mark Hemingway@Heminator – delivered this article with a link to a letter to the EPA signed by 21 senators shortly after the initial tweet by ABC News. Hattip to original sources Ace of Spades and Slublog to highlight this exchange.

Not sure if ABC News appreciates the speed and customization of their news product by tribes of eager news gatherers, but editors on now on notice. Deliver all the details or have others do your job.

Social Media and The Media

9 Feb

Social Media Breakfast Toledo How have traditional media adapted to social media? We’ll ask our panel of print, TV and news bloggers that question at Social Media Breakfast Toledo No. 12 – Social Media and The Media.

Join us at Tony&Guy, 3034 Wilford Dr. in Toledo, for the Feb. 18, 8 a.m. event (networking begins at 7:30 a.m.).

Our panelists will discuss how they deliver the news and what social media tools and strategy they are now deploying. Our Social Media Breakfast Toledo event members can ask the panel how that audience is listening, participating, and paying for this product.

The panel for SMB Toledo 12 includes:

  • Rebecca Regnier – 13ABC
  • Lisa Renee Ward – Glass City Jungle
  • Michael Miller – Toledo Free Press
  • Jason Mack – Independent Collegian

Joe Minock joined us for SMB Toledo No. 11 and Phil Gerbyshak was our featured speaker at SMB Toledo No. 10.


Confessions of a former journalist: Why the newspaper industry is crumbling?

19 Jan

Old Media

Technology continues to bedevil newspapers, which saw this huge necessary revamping and chose to avoid it.

Summary: Ah, has it been two years already since I slipped the surly bonds of journalism (via the Toledo Blade) to touch the face of freedom?  This is a response to a request from a forensics student at Ohio University: “Why is the newspaper industry crumbling?”

Newspapers had for so long held the upper hand. The business platform worked to score extraordinary profits. You needed a large pool of average workers to collect and produce a product for mass consumption. Copy was written for a 6th grade education level. Photography, advertisements, comics, memes and topics (sports and weather) appealed to a large and easy-to-please segment of the public. Publishers rationed favor and status for a select set of high-end columnists and enterprise writers. With no other competing platform – classified advertising produced a surge of profits.

With this financial stranglehold, newspaper organizations walked with a swagger and behaved as though they were above the law. I have attended editorial meetings at five different news organizations, and for all the talk of “First Amendment responsibilities” and “watchdog of the people” there was always the compelling influence of the publisher seeping into many aspects of news coverage and story selection. And that’s before you factor in the bias of 90 percent of journalism grads and newspaper guild members.

Lack of ‘real people’

Objective? There is a jaded, dog-eared playbook that is followed by harried and disgruntled writers and editors that consistently produces an outer-worldly vision of life. This particular lack of ‘real people’ (sources and subjects) becomes so pronounced because real people don’t adhere to deadlines, and don’t fit the standardized and formatted nature of the news cycle. Journalists are essentially lazy. If it can’t be produced in an 8.5-hour shift (subtracting a 45 minute lunch, 15 minute smoke break, and 15 minute ergonomic rest) then it’s not news.

That’s the problem with journalism’s dated model. It is fashioned on the assembly line pattern with cog workers, and this efficiency is necessary to produce profits. The industry can’t help doing what it was engineered to do – the shark can’t help but swim and eat. News organizations can’t hire swarms of creative and unique workers, can’t produce individual narratives, can’t quickly and nimbly produce usable content and can’t possibly do it without defaulting to its built-in biases.

Ceding credibility

Technology continues to bedevil newspapers, which saw this huge necessary revamping and chose to avoid it. Overtures were made to large news organizations by tech companies like Apple and Amazon and AT&T years ago to incorporate and blend the news organization business model into the iPhone, mobile devices and other e-commerce solutions. News organizations balked at sharing, and couldn’t even get their head around the fact that skipping (and delaying) this opportunity would leave them with nothing on the table years later. News organizations tried and are still trying to shield their content behind pay walls, convinced that the big numbers of subscribers and advertisers – they once assumed – would regenerate. By ceding their credibility to their biases and stiffing the share model of news gathering – readers themselves are replacing the authority of news organizations. Crowd-sourced content from eye-witnesses and content experts now supplant the news industry’s lock on the ‘news.’

Arrogance and technical ignorance have hobbled the industry, which gazes wistfully at walls full of awards and accolades (and press coverage) and is dumbfounded as to why these rubes don’t covet the product.

The organization publishing model is dead. If you don’t like the lazy tag then take it out of the frame and share your gift on your own terms.

Pro-choice when it comes to social media

16 Apr
Social media choices

Who doesn’t love choices?

Who doesn’t love choices? Media companies struggling to change would love for you to select their content and delivery choices.

With social media, I get my own set of choices. I can choose to help set my own community standards, choose my friends and peers, and tell my own unique story.

Again, who doesn’t love choices?

As a publishing veteran (The Detroit News, Star Tribune – Minneapolis, and The Toledo Blade), I selected content for others based on news value. We imagined the readers were lucky and thankful for our collective results. Content was selected, messaged, and edited. A design funnel and page hierarchy aided digestion. Readers then purchased product.

Social Media has forced media companies to cede filtering responsibility to individuals, while collectively harumping at most of your choices. But new routines have developed quickly. Facebook hurdles from 150 million to 400 million users in a few years, while media reach trends softly in the other direction.

Media brands are annoyed that their system of collecting, filtering and publishing has been outsourced to the crowd. But that crowd loves three opportunities in the new social media landscape:

  • Set community standards: You want community standards? Earn them. Create your own. Calibrating the community on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms is done when the community set its own standards of tone, speed and authenticity. When momentum or tone is manufactured or too course, the community figures it out. Companies and media are learning self-discipline. Some will develop agility and prosper, while others will only use social media as a billboard and remain friendless.
  • Find the right people: People can search for exactly what they want in the ever widening space of social media. The scale and accuracy of job postings, events, and potential relationships are not locked into a brand or circulation area. Before social media, people would connect mostly by accident and proximity, and media companies sometimes held the exclusive opportunity to meet and speak with amazing people. The building blocks of entrepreneurship, social and political movements, and professional collaboration are now at our fingertips. Make your own selections on careers, friends, purchases and pursuits.
  • Tell your story: Your voice can travel virtually unfiltered, every day and everywhere. Personal publishing is one way of producing and sharing your story with a wider audience. Build your brand with your ideas and let others assess its style, depth and honesty. Don’t waste effort and resources blindly aiming at groups, but instead target your unique interest.

Gone are the handful of publishing sources and powerful voices in your town. They’re now sharing space with millions of other individuals and groups telling stories.

Social Media is a fantastic resource that is both feared and underestimated. It’s open, transparent and difficult to control. Start getting used to ceding control.