editor on the verge

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

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This is not how to treat your readers

January 5th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Site Problems

Don’t do this to your readers. This is why you should test your site before you launch. Take that extra day or two or three and make sure everything, including your links, work and that you’ve remembered to remove dummy copy.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Best Practices · Design · Industry · Online · Traffic

Newsroom leaders, change or step aside

January 4th, 2008 · 16 Comments

Effective organizational change requires a strong leader — a leader who does not just embrace the message of change but models it. The problem facing the newspaper industry is that too many newspaper leaders do neither. So more than just change, what our newspapers need are revolutions.

How can we expect editors to be agents of change when they hearken back to the editorial approach of the past and personally reject the technologies we need to embrace? We have editors leading newspapers who reject text messaging, can’t open email attachments and don’t use the Internet outside of work; editors who continue to design a printed newspaper that they want to read, regardless of their readership (readership’s needs?readership’s opinions?); editors who choose the dinosaur employee over the gazelle; editors who quite simply claim that they get “it”, but really don’t. These are editors who have a voice but no vision.

Recently Steve Outing, Mindy McAdams, Alfred Hermida and others have written about the need for varying degrees of change.

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→ 16 CommentsTags: Best Practices · Industry · Innovation · Leadership

Are you setting yourself up for a “beat”down?

January 4th, 2008 · No Comments

One of the great things about your newspaper having a website is that the painful sting of getting beaten does not have to last a full day.

It used to be that reporters would grab a copy of the competitor’s newspaper on the way to work, discover that they had been beaten and have to deal with the shame, anger, scorn and frustration until their follow story (which hopefully advanced the original story) appeared in the next days newspaper. But thanks to the Internet, that follow-up story can now appear online in no time.

But if that is really the case, why doesn’t this happen more often? Why does it look like some newspapers are still waiting until the next day for their follow-up story to appear?

Recently, one of my local newspapers was beaten on a story that was taking place right down the road from their newsroom. It was the kind of beat that was especially painful having come at the hands of a larger, non-local competitor. The story appeared on the competitors website and in their paper. The local newspaper came back with their follow-up the very next . . . morning. What happened here? Did it take the reporter until minutes before the print deadline (let’s say 1 a.m. — for dramatic purposes) and editors felt that no one would be reading the website at that hour, or was it something else, something more, shall we say nefarious?

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→ No CommentsTags: Beat Development · Best Practices · Breaking News · Google · Industry · Local Newspapers · Online · Reporting

Data done wrong

January 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Data is all the rage nowadays. From Gannett’s Asbury Park Press’s DataUniverse to Roanoke’s DataSphere it seems as if every newspaper wants to have an online portion of their website devoted to showing off their data prowess.

But there is a problem with many of these sites. In addition to being what Matt Waite so entertainingly calls “Data Ghettos”, no one has figured out how to monetize them. As a result, the sites are not really designed with the readers or end-user in mind, and little to no thought goes into their longevity. What does go into these sites is a disproportionate amount of resources — money, staff and equipment.

What makes this situation even sadder is that many of these data sites, regardless of extensive their information is, are not even used by the reporters and editors at their own newspapers. I have colleagues, for example, at Gannett newspapers who say that they don’t go to their DataUniverse sites and will rather make a phone call or look up the information elsewhere.

So lets review, money and manpower is being invested to create and maintain these sites; advertisers are not attracted to them and are not purchasing ads on them; they are not used by their own staffs; and they are not even drawing a lot of traffic. Compete.com claims DataUniverse.com drew only 3,050 uniques for the month of November. Even if you disregard Compete’s “rough estimate”, one has to question the continued viability of these sites.

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→ No CommentsTags: Analytics · Best Practices · Data · Industry · Innovation · Online · Traffic