Advice to Future Magazine Editors

Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, magazines have a strong future online, I think. But their future depends completely on the leadership and innovation of publishers and editors, as I told the Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors last night.

The audio of the talk is after the jump.

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Social Media and User Generated Content for Journalists

There are so many great new buzzwords — distributed reporting, citizen journalism, crowd sourcing. They excite a lot of people who don’t think through their implications for public affairs reporting… and they terrify a lot of people who don’t realize that in many ways they are just juiced-up version of pretty common “old-media” techniques. In either case, they’re exciting because they pit two traditional journalism values — giving voice to the voiceless and accuracy — directly against each other.

Here’s an introduction, with audio to come in a future version. (If you can’t wait for the audio – give me a call or shoot me an email.)

Why Do We Need a CMS?

A bit of career advice for anyone in an online news organization: Never get roped in to leading the creation of your site’s new content management system. Yes, you may realize that the business rules that underly the CMS will determine who has the power to make decisions in your newsroom, but CMS projects are like storming the beach at Normandy — even if it’s successful, many involved in the operation will not survive.

With that optimistic image fresh in your mind, let’s look at what CMSs do and why your news organization needs one.

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IT Fluency for Journalists

Dan Gillmor’s recent blog post about the future of journalism education — particularly collegiate schools of journalism — is highlighting once again what is perhaps the most popular debate in our field. The question revolves basically around this: How much technology do journalists need to know? Continue reading “IT Fluency for Journalists”

How to Report for New Media

Online Exercise: Write an FAQ

FAQs are a good way to introduce students to online news writing and editing for three reasons.

The key to good FAQs — of course — is to formulate a good set of questions. A good question is at the start of all good reporting. And to formulate a good set of questions, the FAQ writer needs to have a very good sense of his or her audience. There are a few questions to consider when thinking about writing an FAQ.

  • Who is the audience?
  • What would they already need to know to get value out of this FAQ?
  • What search terms would they use to find this FAQ?
  • How would they use the information they find on the FAQ

Consider those questions and see if you can answer them for each of these examples of online FAQs that employ different styles. Continue reading “Online Exercise: Write an FAQ”

How to Plan an Online News Project

If I had to pick only one difference between the mindset of print and online journalists, it’s the way they plan. Online journalists are more likely to have to collaborate with a large group, they are often working on longer time horizons on products that has longer shelf-lives. They are dealing with lots of smaller moving pieces and have to try to get management approval using static words and images to represent a project that will have a lot of animation and user-driven customization.

So, if you want to work online doing something other than breaking news you have to learn how to plan. In my experience, any online project — from an election returns database to a deadline explainer on the capture of Saddam Hussein — needs six things:

  1. A product concept
  2. A storyboard
  3. Asset management
  4. A clear workflow
  5. A financial budget
  6. A testing and quality assurance procedure

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Bootcamp: Data Driven Journalism

So much of the training and retraining of journalists seems to be focused on getting them to be multimedia reporters, backpack journalists or one of the other buzzwords we use for collecting audio and visual content and presenting it online.

Multimedia is one of three things that make online journalism different from offline journalism, but the other two things — interactivity and user-control — depend largely on journalists understanding data driven journalism. This isn’t about numbers, but about structured data. Here’s a bootcamp that’s intended to introduce journalists to the tools and concepts of structured data and data driven journalism.

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