editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Just call your content what it is

January 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Many newspapers have created space on their homepages to highlight news that is breaking or new. Often these columns or sections are given a headline of “Breaking News,” “News Updates” or “Latest Headline.” Readers, I believe, expect to find just that — current news of some significance, be that crime, political or weather-related stories, etc. If that’s what they expect, what are we actually giving them?

When I looked around at newspaper sites this morning, I found the following items:

State of the Union Address Tonight (Breaking News)
Alpaca farms on the rise in NJ (News Updates)
February Family Calendar (Latest Headlines)
Mostly Sunny and breezy (Breaking News)
Elizabeth Arden teams with Italian designer (Breaking News)

Now to me, these don’t seem like breaking news or even a latest headline or news update. To be fair there were other items that legitimately did fit in those categories, but my concern is that by including these types of stories we are essentially crying wolf — telling readers to look here for important, current news and then failing to follow through. This treatment, I would argue, ultimately impacts our credibility.

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→ 1 CommentTags: Audience Development · Best Practices · Branding · Design · Online · Traffic

Experimentation is the path to online success

January 27th, 2008 · 11 Comments

One of the things that I truly love about having my own blog is the opportunity to experiment. This site has become my own personal laboratory where I can try out new ideas. If I read of something and want to see what it can do, I try it. And if it works I keep it; if not I chuck it. I think it’s an approach that benefits my readers and can help to grow traffic.

As of today, for example, you’ll notice a “listen” button appearing on my blog (it’s above this post if you’re at my site). This is functionality that I’ve seen on sites like Jerusalem Post. Simply, it converts my blog posts to audio files that can either be heard through an embedded player or downloaded to an mp3 player or even added to an iTunes playlist. I know you’re thinking that it’s going to be one of those creepy, computerized voices, but give it a listen — not too bad, actually pretty good. This is thanks to technology from Odiogo and best of all, for bloggers, it’s free.

I’m using this example not just to highlight a new way to enjoy my own blog, but also to hopefully illustrate the importance of experimentation and innovation. Sadly, at many newspapers experimentation and innovation have been replaced with process and stagnation. And, I would argue, at those papers both the employees and the readers suffer.

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→ 11 CommentsTags: Audience Development · Best Practices · Blogging · Editor on the verge · Industry · Innovation · Online · Podcasts · Tools · Traffic

Ode to an Assistant Editor

January 25th, 2008 · No Comments

While last week, I focused on tips and suggestions for reporters, this week my emphasis has been on assistant editors. And I hope that you’ve found my suggestions — personal chat rooms, online tools, postmortems, Google Groups and Ning — relevant and useful.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some great assistant editors; they’ve been writers and poets, comedians and musicians, environmentalists and artists. And while I don’t think any of them dreamt of one day being an assistant editor, they gave the position their best and in most cases, had a lasting impact if not on the reporters they worked with then, on me.

As I previously wrote, I believe that assistant editors are the unsung heroes of the newsroom and that starts with how they got the job. In many cases, they were hardworking reporters who one day were told “you’re an editor now,” and without any fanfare and even less training, they’re thrust into this new position. Suddenly, they find themselves managing their former peers, working an ungodly schedule and following instructions that would leave anyone shaking their heads.

See, I believe that most assistant editors are smarter then they get credit for. Actually, I believe that most are even smarter then the executive editors they work for. But that typically isn’t taken into consideration in an environment where the assistant editor is seen as the “grunt” of their desk, expected to silently do as they’re told.

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→ No CommentsTags: Best Practices · Editors · Innovation · Leadership · Tools · Training

What did you get out of the last site you visited?

January 24th, 2008 · 2 Comments

I know that many people believe that a website is only worth what you get out of it. Well today, many of you received a personal email from me encouraging you to join Wired Journalists, a new online community. To give you a sense of how valuable I think it is, here’s what I got out of it, just today.

In a forum devoted to Tools You Can Use, I was introduced (or reintroduced) to the following great sites (in no particular order):

Vuvox – An easy to use production and instant sharing service that allows you to mix, create and blend your personal media.
Dabble DB – Dabble DB helps you build an online database on the web.
EditGrid More than spreadsheets.
pbwiki – Create your own wiki.
Zoho – Collaborate on a variety of online projects.
Many Eyes – Create a visualization in three easy steps.
Office 2.0 Database – Database of online tools.
Kwout – A way you quote a part of a web page as an image with an image map.
Zamzar – Convert files without downloading software.
ChatMaker – Easy chat rooms. Read more here.
Pingie – RSS to SMS.

And there were still other suggestions. So to me, this is a site worthy of my time. What about you? What better option do you have then Wired Journalists?

→ 2 CommentsTags: Beat Development · Best Practices · Innovation · Online · Tools · Wired Journalists