Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How are you doing? a college new media checklist

Check out this article by Bryan Murley on the ICM website. Here is part of the article. Click here to learn more about this topic and here to learn more about innovation in online journalism.

IMHO, this has been a watershed year for college news media and college NEW media mindsets. But what do I know? I’m just sitting out here watching all these great student journalists learn video, audio, soundslides, hyperlinking, blogging, etc. and trying to share the wealth with others.

Far more important on a day-to-day basis is what you think about your news organization’s new media efforts. This is finals week for a lot of folks, and the publication schedule has ended. In the next couple of weeks, I want to encourage each and every one of you - advisers and student journalists - to sit down and reflect on the past year from a multimedia standpoint. Are you further along now than you were 9 months ago?

* Have you got your news org. online?
* Do you have a content management system?
* Have you posted any videos online?
* Have you included any audio soundbites in a story?
* Have you done a photo slideshow?
* Have you put up an audio slideshow (perhaps using Soundslides)?
* Have you done a map?
* Have you used weblogs on your site?
* Have you uploaded source documents (PDFs, excel spreadsheets, etc.) to accompany a big story?
* Have you used social media (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube) to market your stories?
* Have you tracked what others are saying about you via Technorati or Google Blogsearch?
* Have you used the web site to post breaking news online FIRST?
* Have you moved the online editor out of the back office and into a position of authority?
* Have you allowed comments on your stories?
* Have you encouraged writers to write for the Web and include hyperlinks in their stories?
* Have you tried something experimental?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Rating blogs for newspapers

Some students at New York University evaluated how well daily newspapers blogged on their web sites. The results are interesting (and the analysis is illuminating.) Check it out by clicking here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Editing blogs and online stories

Here is another challenge for news rooms -- editing blogs and stories sent right to the online editions.

Here's an excerpt:

"Copy editors usually ask a lot of questions. But this past weekend, at the annual American Copy Editors Society convention, those questions weren't just about sloppy copy. They were about how copy editors fit into a newsroom where breaking stories are posted online first.

Those questions come at a time when copy editors are stretched thin. When their work is being outsourced to India, China and the Philippines. And when they're largely an afterthought in the process of posting content online."

You can read the rest of the story by clicking here.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Poynter reveals reading habits

The Poynter Institute has a long tradition of doing ground-breaking research. The latest is Eyetrack07, the fourth of their eyetracking projects over the past 16 years. They went to four cities (Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and St. Petersburg) to look at the patterns of reading in broadsheet, tabloid, and on- screen publications. In all, 600 participants (200 for each of the media) were tested.

On April 10-12, the Poynter Institute held a conference - "EyeTrack07 – Discover Its Power" - billed as a pre-publication party (the book of findings is being edited by Dr. Pegie Stark Adam and is due out in June). Attendees included the vast team involved in the project, the news organizations that collaborated with them, and editors, researchers, and media consultants who hoped to find actionable insights from the findings. Click here to read the entire story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The 7 Deadline Copy Editing Sins

All copy editors strive to be perfect. Right? Well, everyone's human. To be the perfect copy editor, take note of the following "deadly sins" as enumerated by veteran copy editor, desk supervisor and newsroom manager Anne Glover. Avoid them and you'll be a shining star on the desk. Click here to read about the following sinly actions.

1. Arrogance.
2. Assumptions.
3. Sloppiness.
4. Indifference.
5. Ignorance.
6. Laziness.
7. Inflexibility.

Handling User Comments on the Shootings

Web sites for The Roanoke Times and several national news organizations were swamped by user comments on the shootings. Here's how they dealt with it. Click here.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Washington Post will limit story lengths

The Washington Post cites six types of stories and the correct lengths for each in a memo sent to employees this past week. The memo includes instructions on how to reporter and write these stories as well. What do you think about them?

The full memo is reprinted below.

To: The Staff
From: Len and Phil

Our outstanding journalism comes in all sizes, including long pieces that deserve every inch. But for too long we've confused length with importance. Often the result has been stories that readers don't want to finish and displays in the newspaper that don't do our journalism justice.

We have decided to take a more disciplined approach to story lengths, with guidelines that are consistent with giving our readers quality journalism in a variety of appropriate lengths.

Here are guidelines for writers and editors. Please study and follow them. We are asking AMEs to enforce them.

Story Lengths—A Newsroom Strategy

Goals

The newspaper should be filled with stories of different sizes.

We need to show discipline in writing and story-telling. We especially need to pay attention to mid-range stories that are too long, given the underlying material.

We want to give reporters and editors the tools to edit better for length, and we want to give page designers a wider selection of story lengths to help them showcase all our journalism better.

A philosophy to live by: Every story must earn every inch.

METHODS
1. A Rough Guide
The physical size of the newspaper imposes real constraints on story lengths. With headlines and photos, a page takes 65 inches of text. The only stories that run that long are projects. Otherwise, we must get several stories on most pages. To keep the paper lively and interesting, we must strive for variety -- including some stories that are short. Through long experience with layout and design, and taking into consideration the news holes typically available on inside pages, we've come up with some guidelines for story lengths:
■ A small event, or an incremental development worth noting can be a digest item. The digests are important for readers.
■ A day story, significant enough to write for our readers but based on one event or development -- 6 to 15 inches. We frequently end up with 12-inch holes in the paper. Let's use them to the best advantage.
■ A single event with multiple layers or levels of information, 18 to 24 inches.
■ A more complex news feature of ambition and altitude -- 25-35 inches.
■ Major enterprise, involving in-depth reporting or narrative story telling -- 40 to 50 inches.
■ Extraordinary long-form narrative or investigation, magazine-type stories -- 60 to 80 inches or, rarely, more.

2. For Writers
Writers need to take responsibility for earning every inch of their stories. Every writer should consider:
■ In structure, does the story move cleanly from one sub-theme or topic to the next? If it wanders and circles back, look for ways to deal with sub-themes one at a time. Good chronology makes for good storytelling.
■ Watch out for artificial transitions. They burn up space needlessly. In many newspaper stories you don't need a transition from one idea to the next.
■ To build effective, memorable mental images, pay attention to characters. Can you describe who we are hearing from, what they look and sound like, and where they are coming from?
■ Is there a high, clear and powerful nut graf? Even the most extraordinary narrative needs to get to the point. For stories on the front page and section fronts, we must get to the nut graf before the jump.
■ We must avoid repetition. Don't use two or three quotes when one will do. The same goes for anecdotes. Resist the urge to quote someone just because you interviewed them.
■ We are often saddling readers with too much recapitulation and background. In writing both news and features, reporters should strive to eliminate stale material. If you must revisit events to make the current material work, be sparing. Cast a cold eye on B-matter. Every story about a complex running issue does not need to recap everything that's happened. Write for readers, not your sources.
■ Show, don't tell. Can you animate your characters and recount events in a way that will let the scenes and voices speak for themselves, rather than using the reporters' voice to tell it all? Watch out for excessive adjectives that tell us what to think, rather than summoning real experiences and events that show us what happened.

3. For Editors
An editor on each desk will be deputized to ensure that we stay true to the principles we're enunciating here: compliance with guidelines, accurate budgeting, coordination with page designers and layout.
■ This editor will scrutinize lengths based on our common editing criteria and will have power to hold a story and ask that it be redone based on length.
■ He or she will make sure that stories on the budget have passed through this process. All stories will be put on the budget with their actual lengths as approved and edited by that desk.
■ The editor in charge of story lengths -- and the person running the day on each desk -- must actively engage page designers. They should visit the News Desk and look at the pages and available news holes before determining the day's cutback. The goal is to establish story lengths that will work both for the words and for the design.
■ If a longer story is offered for A1 and does not make it, and it is to be published inside the A section or another section, it should be scrutinized for length, consistent with the design needs of the section.
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