editor on the verge

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

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Don’t let your lack of time hurt your readers

March 4th, 2008 · 4 Comments

A common refrain I heard in response to my post about enhancing stories was essentially, at many newspapers, there is not enough time and too few people to be doing that AND accomplish everything else they have to. Although I don’t necessarily agree with that analysis, I’m going to save my thoughts on time management for another day and instead offer a potential solution.

I think you need to first decide whether or not you believe that enhancing your stories has value. Do you think it is important to present something more then just what you offer in your daily paper? If the answer to either question is no, then you can stop reading here and I wish you a pleasant day. If your answer is yes, then read on.

One suggestion is to essentially allow all your content to have outbound links attached to them. Not sure what I’m talking about? Try visiting the New York Times’s website and open a story. Double-click on any word and “a new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.” This has nothing to do with the minions who work at the Times or the large stacks of cash that the newspaper spends on technology, rather, it’s via a third-party vendor. The Times, like CBS News, partners with Answers.com.

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Same old content doesn’t cut it for online readers

March 3rd, 2008 · 6 Comments

Honestly, I don’t understand newspapers who present their stories online as if they were publishing them on a printed page. It’s not just that lack of subheads in a 37-inch long story that frustrates me; it’s the complete ignorance of any web tools that could enhance story presentation and increase the amount of time readers spend on the site.

Sadly, far too many newspapers continue to treat their websites as simply the online version of their printed papers. I thought that it was widely understood at this point that you will never grow your online audience if all your do is reprint only what is in your daily newspaper.

Take this story from The Journal News (Yonkers, NY) about the increasing frequency with which local police are arresting mothers who are driving while intoxicated.

“There has been an increase in the number of mothers arrested for driving while intoxicated with children in the car, said Bob Watson, supervising probation officer for Westchester County’s DWI enforcement unit. He said that more mothers than fathers are on probation for the offense.”

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→ 6 CommentsTags: Audience Development · Best Practices · Design · Editor on the verge · Editor on the Verge · Industry · Online · Tools · Traffic

Complaining is easy; Doing something, not so much

March 2nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

I have a question for the “underpaid, overworked, frustrated, pissed off and ignored media professionals” who are “publicly and anonymously” venting their anger on angryjournalist.com. I would like to know what each of you are doing in your own newsroom or news organization to change…anything? What effort(s) are you making to help improve the conditions you feel so compelled to complain about? What suggestions have your brought to the table? What new ideas have you offered?

I’m all for “venting” and blowing off steam. But, I would note that this is a precarious moment for newspapers and what our newsrooms need are more leaders willing to make to take a stand and not more followers lining up to simple add their complaints.

So which are you and what are you doing?

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I thought I’d share some news instead of my germs

February 28th, 2008 · 12 Comments

After spending the past week or so battling the flu, it’s great to be feeling coherent enough to be online and blogging. And what makes my return post even more exciting to write is that it actually contains some real news. And that is that I have a new job!

On March 17, I start as Executive Producer of Philly.com. I’m thrilled to be joining such an experienced and dedicated team in a storied newspaper city like Philadelphia.

This is an exciting move for me and really is representative of my thoughts on the current state of our industry. I believe that nowadays, you can divide news organizations into two camps. There are those papers that are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that classified, display advertising and circulation business will return to the days of yore and that their “traditional” approach just needs a minor tweaking. And, then there are the newspapers that believe they can’t wait and hope for what amounts to be a miracle. These newspaper are aggressively carving out a place for themselves in future of our industry, making bold plays and trying new approaches — I believe that Philly is one such place.

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