News Leadership 3.0

March 15, 2009

Coming up: Webinars on social media strategy

Knight Digital Media Center and News University team up to provide training for news executives

As more and more people flock to social networks, it is critical that news organizations get their content into social spaces and make their own sites more social. I am pleased to announce that Knight Digital Media Center will offer a series of three Webinars this spring to help news organizations understand the power and potential of social networks and to develop smart strategies for tapping into social networks to gather news and engage users in their news and information.

The Webinars will be offered via Poynter’s News University and will feature social media experts Paul Gillin and JD Lasica. They are scheduled for 2 p.m. EST April 14, May 12, and June 16. Cost is $24.95 per Webinar and you can register via the links in the schedule.

The Webinars . Here’s the schedule:
* Social Networks: The New Architecture of the Web, April 14, with Paul Gillin. Examine the secrets of social networking and explore ideas for how to adopt them as a foundation for reader communities. Learn more and register.
* Social Networks: Engaging Users With News, May 12, with JD Lasica. How news organizations are using—and should use—social media tools to engage users and present content. Learn more and register.
* Social Networks: New Revenue for News Organizations, June 16, with Paul Gillin. Effective use of social networking tools helps news organizations build loyal, engaged user communities and opens up new revenue opportunities for newsrooms. Learn more and register.

KDMC also has selected eleven news organizations whose top editors will receive more intensive training and coaching in its annual leadership conference, “Transforming News Organizations for the Digital Now.”

They are: the Bristol (VA) Herald Courier, The Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise, The Charlotte Observer, The Wilmington (DE) News Journal, the Waco (TX) Tribune-Herald, the Victoria (TX) Advocate,
the Springfield (MO) News-Leader, the Modesto (CA) Bee, The Sacramento (CA) Bee, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Voice of San Diego.

Participants from each organization will develop a project during the course, which will be primarily online at NewsU from mid-April until a conference at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC in mid-July. KDMC will share content of the course and project updates on this blog, elsewhere on the main site, and in some of the social networks we’ll be exploring.

KDMC decided to focus on social networks this year in the face of a growing gap between public use of the networks and their adoption by established news organizations. One study found only 10 percent of top 100 newspaper sites had adopted social media tools, while another study showed adults increasingly were on popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

I hope you’ll be able to join the Webinars. They’re designed primarily for newsroom executives and executives on the revenue site of established organizations. Community news start ups and online journalists will benefit as well.

Questions about the Webinars? Suggestions? Please share them in the comments.

March 05, 2009

ProPublica joins the pro-am journalism movement

Citizen journalists cannot replace professionals. But professionals and amateurs can form powerful partnerships to create important journalism.

I often hear journalists refer to a widespread belief that citizens can replace professionals in producing journalism.

Here’s just one example from a column in the Vancouver Sun after the Rocky Mountain News closed: “Meanwhile, blogosphere chatter responds with gleefully patronizing pronouncements on how the ‘old media’ are toast, about to join the pterodactyl. The ‘new media’ leads the way to a promised land of free information and citizen journalism.”

As much as I sympathize with the angry or frightened journalists who say things like this, I’ve got to point out a couple of problems with such statements.

First, I have never seen anyone advocate that citizen journalists can replace professionals across the board. The notion does not ring true that any one feels glee at the decline of the newspaper business model that supports so much good journalism. (If you have examples, please share links in the comments.) I hear worry about this from citizens, techies and other new media folks as well.

Second, this either-or framing gets in the way of seeing the potential for professional-amateur partnerships that can produce good journalism. So I am going to make this Part 4 in my series on “Ideas that get in the way of saving journalism.”

A better idea is to figure out specific ways in which partnerships might work—how citizen journalists can enrich information in concert with professionals.

ProPublica takes a step in the right direction with the appointment of Amanda Michel as Editor of Distributed Reporting. “Michel will initially use crowd sourcing and collaborative journalism methods to report on the impact of the federal stimulus bill. She will also help integrate these newsgathering techniques into ProPublica’s other investigative efforts,” ProPublica says. (Link via Jay Rosen on Twitter. Rosen is a leader in developing pro-am models, including OffTheBus.)

Michel recently was director of OffTheBus, which organized citizen journalists to report on the presidential campaign for Huffington Post. CJR has Michel’s report on that effort. (I worked with Michel on Assignment Zero, which teamed amateur reporters and writers with professional editors to cover the trend of crowd sourcing two years ago.)

Find more examples of how newsrooms are using crowd sourcing to inform their coverage at BeatBlogging. The site offers many examples of topic blogs that are “extending the circle of reportage to include more users in ways that are practical and effective for production on the beat.” On these blogs, a professional reporter might discuss stories she is working on and invite interested users to comment, pose questions they would like a story to answer or report information.

Tapping into the crowd to produce journalism requires new ways of thinking and organizing. Michel notes in CJR that OffTheBus had 12,000 participants:

“It sounds impressive: twelve thousand people. But the challenge was not persuading them to sign up. It was figuring out what they were willing and able to do after that, and then cost-effectively coordinating their efforts so that they added up to real journalism. By Election Day, we had solved enough of that puzzle that I can now say to professional journalists: we found a viable pro-am model for advancing stories both around the globe and in your backyards, and you should take a serious look at it.”

The total price tag for the six-month effort is impressive too: $250,000.

Are you experimenting with the pro-am model? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments.

 

 

 

January 15, 2009

Who says news won’t pay?

Rich Gordon offers an excellent list of steps news organizations can take to improve their revenues

Medill’s Rich Gordon offers one of the bests lists I’ve seen of actions news organizations can take to set the financial ship right. Writing on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, Gordon writes:

But amid the current journalistic gloom and doom, I can see the outlines of a successful business model emerging, if news organizations would consider these options:

  * Challenge cherished traditions that news organizations can no longer afford. The Detroit newspapers, for instance, have decided not to home-deliver print editions if there’s not enough ad revenue to pay for distribution. Is that a crazy idea? It certainly seems less crazy than cutting the investment in original reporting.

  * Adopt new technologies and workflows to make news production more efficient. Many traditional news organizations have redundant production processes for their traditional (print or broadcast) product and the Web. These must be consolidated.

  * Distribute professionally created content through as many channels as possible. Stories must go out in print, on the air, online, via mobile technology—and yes, on the Kindle or another “iTunes for news.” When appropriate, news organizations could share the cost of content creation with other news organizations. The Miami Herald and Poynter’s St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, for instance, already collaborate to pay for coverage of the Florida state capital.

  * Adopt practices to increase the loyalty of online audience. Despite their financial challenges, traditional news organizations have been very slow to adopt blogging, permalinking, article commenting, social networking and other approaches that are proven to bring repeat usage. The average user of a news site spends less than two minutes per day there; it’s no wonder there’s not enough revenue!

  * Improve online ad sales and targeting. Borrell Associates reports that top-performing local media Web sites generate two or more times the revenue of the average site. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported last year [PDF] that publishers can earn 10 to 16 times as much money by directly selling an online ad themselves as by turning the ad over to a national ad network. And highly targeted online ads—now becoming possible through advanced behavioral targeting—can yield even greater revenue. (For more on this point, stand by for an upcoming report on online ad networks, which I’m editing right now for Northwestern University’s Media Management Center.)

I think the last two points represent particular opportunities. As I noted earlier, a report by the Bivings Group, lamented the lack of adoption of social networking functions on mainstream news sites. As Gordon notes, these features may be key to increasing user engagement and time spent on site.

As to the final point, the Web advertising may be more challenging in the technology and in the sell than print ads, but that doesn’t mean there is not unrealized revenue out there. I’m looking forward to seeing Gordon’s report and I’ll link to it from here.

Here’s Gordon’s full post, “Is an ‘iTunes for News’ Possible?

What do you think about the potential to increase ad revenues by growing user engagement and developing more sophisticated targeting? Please share your ideas in the comments.

 

 

January 09, 2009

Weekend reading

Links: Digital natives, online tools, online corrections

Tim Windsor has an excellent summary eight norms of the digital native generation from Don Tapscott’s new “Grown Up Digital.”
Chris Amico offers Tools for News, an impressive set of tool kits for digital journalists. Use this info. Add yours.
Doug Fisher gives some common sense practices for online errors and corrections in “Getting a different mindset about corrections and changes.”

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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