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Archives: January 2013

How to Make Online Content Less Interactive, But Better

The joke’s on us, guys. I couldn’t help laughing out loud and passing around a recent article from The Onion this week. The headline “Internet Users Demand Less Interactivity” caught my eye. The satirical piece contained gems like this quote:

Every time I type a web address into my browser, I don’t need to be taken to a fully immersive, cross-platform, interactive viewing experience,” said San Diego office manager Keith Boscone. “I don’t want to take a moment to provide my feedback, open a free account, become part of a growing online community, or see what related links are available at various content partners.

Har-har. Go ahead. Read the whole thing, I’ll wait.

Now back to business. As much as our jobs depend on curating those cross-platforms and creating sharable content, things are only funny when they’re true right? I think there are lessons to be learned from being the butt of the joke. Here’s how to keep those snarky Onion writers happy:

1. Use Video Only When It’s Compelling

Many of my colleagues working at hometown papers have been handed small digital cameras in the past years and an order from higher ups to have accompanying video for their stories and columns. We all have to be reporters, video producers, audio editors, among other things, these days. But video only works when it’s compelling. For it to be compelling, you need more training than the two afternoons in the conference room with the tech guy. Many of us are good writers and good video editors. Just as many people are not. (Full disclosure: I am not.) There is a huge difference between knowing how to put together a nice video from filming to finishing touches, and really feeling, embracing, the medium. I want to propose that while adapting is good, and learning to use Final Cut or even iMovie is a must, if you know it’s just not your thing: rebel.  Read more

Land a Byline at the ‘Mile-high’ Mag

Though the regional pub 5280 counts other Denver-based mags as its competition, the book distinguishes itself with artful longform journalism in addition to its service content. Its commitment to editorial excellence has not gone unnoticed: In the past year, the magazine was named a finalist twice by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Editorial director Geoff Van Dyke attributes this to the pub’s editor and publisher Daniel Brogan, saying he has “invested in a solid staff and is willing to invest the time, money and space to deliver quality journalism.”

Writers looking to break in should be aware that the magazine reflects the young, transplant-heavy city it covers. The FOB is a great place for freelancers to start, though editors are open to a smart feature pitch. “There’s a lot more opportunity to pitch online now as we’ve ramped up our Web offerings over the past 18 months,” said Van Dyke.

For more info, read How To Pitch: 5280. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

Would You Watch A Newspaper Reality Show?

Like many work places, newsrooms often come with a set of stereotypical cast members. From the clueless out-of-town editor brought in by corporate to the cub reporter seeking a scandal in every story he covers to the this-trial-ain’t-my-first-rodeo cops reporter to the no-nonsense city editor. (I said stereotypical, didn’t I?)

That makes this announcement that NBC put out a casting call for local newspapers to be at the center of a potential reality show — shared in a posting on the National Newspaper Association website — both unsurprising and exciting. I can totally see how a newsroom could make for a good show — there’s deadline pressure, there’s quirky characters (inside and outside the newspaper), there’s always something new. It will be interesting to see how a “documentary-style reality show” would play out when much of the day in a community newspaper isn’t really dramatic. Sure, there are election nights and breaking news, but not every day, especially in a small-town paper, which seems to be their target. Jim Romenesko posted about the casting and has more details and responses to the idea.
Read more

How To Crowdfund Your Journalism Project

Crowdfunding seems to be happening everywhere these days. From small art-projects to large scale hardware ventures, the Internet community is eager to send cash towards a cause they believe in, and it’s a great way to fill in the financial gaps when pursuing an in-depth project on behalf of a publication (say, a trip out to the Middle East for a local paper) or to start a completely new publication.

And, given the recent (and major) successes of journalism projects like NPR and Public Radio Exchange’s 99% Invisible and long-form science feature magazine Matterthere’s plenty of stories out there that prove funding a journalism project can work. If you’re strapped for cash and looking to make your dreams happen, crowdfunding is one of the best ways to do it.

However, it’s important to note that a funding campaign for a magazine is very different from a funding campaign for an iPhone-linked smart watch. Because there isn’t a high-value product on the line, people won’t necessarily be clamoring for your work alone.

Here are some smart tactics you should consider when embarking on your own crowd funding. Good luck!

1. Make a Video That Shows You Off

Here’s a piece of Crowdfunding 101: If you want to get funded, make a video. Staticstics show that projects with an engaging video attached to their funding appeals boost their chances of full funding to 50%. But, it’s not as easy as it sounds — creating a dynamic video about an unmade (or as-yet undeveloped) journalism project can lead to lot of head scratching. Read more

From News Business to Networked Business: 3 Ways to Consider Digital Platforms

Sometime’s all it takes is a change of attitude. Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, announced a bold move in the way the organization will identify itself yesterday. In an email to staff, posted in full on The Guardian, Barber has outlined a shift from a news agency to a digital platform.

Of course, this means cutting up to 35 positions and the addition of 10 new digital journalists. Before we start huffing and puffing about what “digital journalist” even means (aren’t we all digital journalists?), there are a few reasons to champion this move.

1. Specialization Makes It Easy

The Financial Times has been eyed by Bloomberg News and Thompson Reuters recently. Streamlining the organization now creates more value. While the paper has always looked pretty in pink, 25% of its revenues are now coming from digital advertising. Barber noted in his letter that they have survived the past years, 125 of them in print, by being “pioneers” in their agility to move from print to online. Their specialization in financial news and their short stories that never jump to the inside sections make it easy to to move to an all-digital platform. Anyone running a niche publication — be it music, sports, or stamp collecting — should start thinking about using digital platform to describe itself. Any new magazine or journal needs to be called a digital platform to succeed. Read more

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