With the kind help of Phil Meyer, Ying Du and Sara Peach, I’ve just completed a survey of every person we could identify that works in online news production at newspapers in North Carolina. The results of the survey are in and I will be using this blog to share my notes and thoughts as I begin to cull through the numbers. I hope that by doing so, I’ll provoke some questions from you, dear reader, and some good ideas for further research.
The survey asked respondents specific questions about their own skills and duties of their daily work. It also asked them about their titles and the reporting structures of their organizations. I’ve been amazed at how little we really know — other than the hallway anecdotes at trade conferences — about how online newsrooms are organized. What, exactly, does a “producer” do? How do different skills and structures affect the product?
So, first, let me tell you a bit more about how we conducted the survey.
Continue reading “Announcing: Online Newsroom Study”
Being a dude and being a child of the ’80s requires me to go see the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend. I liveÂ in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region of North Carolina, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and I wanted to find movie times.
Fifteen years ago I would have gone to the Chapel Hill News, the Durham Herald Sun, the Daily Tar Heel student paper, the Raleigh News & Observer, The Independent Weekly or The Spectator to get the times. Since movie times are commodity news, the paper I would have chosen would have been the one I found first — either at the bottom of my driveway or in a drop box on campus.
But here’s how I did it today:
- I searched for “southpoint durham movie times” on Google.
- My search returned 21,000 results, with 10 on the first page. Of those 10 choices, only one was to a newspaper site. I had six other choices before it.
What publisher of 165,000 daily circulation newspaper would have said, “It’s OK if every single one of our customers will walk by six other drop boxes before getting to ours”?
OK. The past is past. What should you do about it now?
- If you don’t have software that lets you easily see usage stats for your site, now is the time to get some. Many are free. Google Analytics is just one of many solutions. For the moneybags among you, Omniture is a popular (and I think good) choice.
- Look at your site usage statistics and determine at what percentage of referrers come from Google. See whether there are differences in behavior for different types of content on your site.
- Start getting serious about search engine optimization. And by “serious,” I mean this: Are you dedicating the same (or more) resources to search engine optimization and social network marketing as you are to your print circulation department? Until you are, you’re just hoping this Internet fad will soon pass.
One of the things I enjoy the most when traveling is reading and watching the local news. On last week’s Tar Heel Bus Tour, I had a chance to pick up a couple of papers and wonder to myself what local media in the state would look like if it were starting from scratch today.
What if the question at newspapers with (literally) dying readerships were not “How do save the newspaper?” but instead “How do we start today serving our communities with the most accurate, relevant and efficient package of news and information?”
Continue reading “THBT: Local Media, Built From Scratch”
I had nothing to do with it, but I was happy to see three students I had in my Online News Writing and Editing classes this year get a shout out on newsobserver.com for their work this semester with the Under the Dome blog.
That partnership was a great example of what can happen when good students get paired up with a patient, energetic and innovative journalist like Ryan Teague Beckwith, the reporter who minds the blog.