Online Journalism

Guest speaker: Mark Potts

March 29th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Mark Potts

Mark Potts works in the digital world for the past 20 years, and tries to take full advantage of all internet resources.

He started showing us some good examples and resources:

  • Wikipedia: you can find anything, and it’s built by the crowd. It’s looked down upon, but it’s a great way to find an overview of things.
  • Story on the Washington post about a mother who just had a baby. Wash Post used Facebook to tell the story. Quite compelling, a must read.
  • Storify! He had an idea of having a story just made with quotes, but transitions are important.
  • Crowdsourcing! Click here for a good example. Another good example? Snow story in New York.
  • Hyper local news: replicate what community newspaper used to do and still do, but opening for readers involvement.
  • Huge amount of blogs, it’s better to aggregate them instead of creating a new one. That’s where Patch is going wrong.
  • TBD: there are all these blogs out there, let’s cooperate! You take advantage of people who are already doing it. Modern way to look at a city newspaper.  Interesting model.
  • Some bloggers do it for the respect in the community. Journalism is about passion and covering things you care! It’s very different news, it’s what is going on the community and no one else is covering it.
  • Computational journalism: using computers to tell stories. Good example by Nate Silver. Fun to read and unique.
  • Using data in a different way: API making public the way you sort your data. The New York Times has done it.
  • Music program that uses online data:
  • Netflix map by the New York Times. Maps are a very good way to tell stories, and it’s very easy to visualize.
  • Most important tool in journalism: your phone!
  • More maps? Flu map
  • Another idea: visualize the stories by using colors and visualization with newsmap
  • Give the readers a way to interact with the news, create different things, even create news.
  • Interactive timeline that tells the Middle East protest
  • Good blog about journalism and technology: 10,000 word
  • We need to be our own filter!

Tags: Comm361 · Storify · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 11: Building a digital audience for news

March 27th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 11: Building a digital audience for news

There is no denying that the Internet has changed the world. So, how do we keep up with it? For most of us, using the Internet doesn’t cost much. So, why pay 50 cents for a newspaper when you have access to all the information in the world for free?

One way journalists are trying to keep up with the new business model is through advertising digitally. Marketing with ads, using viral campaigns and creating memorable slogans are all ways to make enough money to be sufficient.

According to Mark Briggs, there are five ways journalists can build and sustain an audience.

  1. Tracking content
  2. Web analytics
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. Effective headline writing for the web
  5. Distribution through social media

Tracking content

The key is to track anything that can be tracked. Here are some sample ideas of what should be tracked regularly:

  • Total news stories per day
  • News stories by topic or section
  • Total blog posts per day
  • Videos per week
  • Podcasts or other audio stories

The best way to track information is by using a web-based spreadsheet that is accessible to many people at once.

Web analytics

Web analytics can be a software or mechanism that is used to track website traffic. Software such as Omniture, Google Analytics and Hitbox are easy tools to track your website performance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In a nutshell, SEO allows web users to find you as easily as possible. When you type “John” into Google’s search engine, SEO displays a list of websites ranked from most popular and relevant to what “John” could mean or who it could refer to. Whether you are referring to the “John” meaning restroom or whether you are looking for a biography of “John Travolta” that is what SEO does best to determine.

By using HTML meta tags, title tags, links and other user-friendly tricks, you can grow an audience using SEO.

Writing effective headlines

Everyone can write a headline. However, not everyone can write an effective one. According to Brian Clark, writer of Copyblogger, an average, eight out of 10 people will read headline, but only two out of 10 will read the rest of the story.

Here are some tips to write effective headlines:

  • Use conversational language: Be direct and focused.
  • Use keywords: Remember the basics — who, what and where.
  • Use attitude: Being fair and accurate doesn’t mean you have to be boring! ZZZZZ

Using social media as distribution channels

Social media is the new newspaper of this decade. Here are some websites to market your story though this medium.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

March 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter 10: managing news as a conversation

News is becoming social. The internet is interactive, and allows the news to become a conversation, other just being information.

With news gaining this character, there are some concerns about ethics, credibility, and being objective. As journalism, we have no control of what the reader, and now writer, is going to say about your piece on your website. You’re also responsible for your website content. Where do you cross the line?

We’re finding out by experimenting it. TDB is a great example of how journalists are managing the conversation and creating news. Here are some points to consider along the way:

  • Read the comments! Learn from Jon DeNunzio‘s visit, read and respond comments!
  • Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace are here for you to connect with  people and spread information. Use it!
  • Be transparent when reporting.
  • Make use of  word-of-mouth as your marketing tool. How? By interacting with the audience.
  • Get instant feedback, and know if you’re on the right track.
  • Set guidelines, and manage offensive posts.
  • Know your legal grounds, and correct errors.

What’s next? Build your own online community. How?

  1. Make your news participatory. Add photos, calendars, blog posts, votes and recommendations. Reader can get bored with the comments section. They might be more likely to answer a survey and vote than to write a comment. Give them the option.
  2. Get involved. Manage the conversation, reach out, moderate.
  3. Develop sources through social networks. Find people that are also interested in the topic, find people that know more.
  4. Collaborate with your community. Link. Talk to other bloggers.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

March 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Jon DeNunzio

Jon DeNunzio is going to talk about integrating social media into your journalism.

He learned a lot, and still learning. National Park Fan Tweets experiment in the Washington Post is a good example.

Some experiments and good tools to try:

Why we use social media:

  1. It’s where users are
  2. It helps our reporting
  3. It allows us to build a relationship with users

It’s an art, not a science.

Third-party platforms: not the only way 

“The medium is the message”- McLuhan, 1964. Now, it’s not the media, it’s the social part.

His point?

  • Be social with your users whenever you can. It’s us, journalists, being social.
  • Respond
  • Ask for ideas
  • Ask for photos
  • Host a debate, elevate one of the comments
  • Answer user questions

Southern California Public Radio: good example of reader engagement, and how powerful it can be.

Why am I talking about this?

  • He just recently hired people. Now how to connect with users. Network. Twitter feed.
  • Startups! There are so many companies starting, and using social media. For example, T-shirt design user-oriented

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Ch.3 ‘Crowd-powered collaboration’

“The hunter-gatherer model of journalism is no long sufficient. Citizens can do their own hunting and gathering on the Internet. What they need is somebody to add value to that information by processing it–digesting it, organizing it, making it usable.” — Phil Meyer, author of “Precision Journalism”

Briggs starts out the third chapter of “Journalism Next” by writing about how today’s journalists are embracing technology more than ever and using information gathered from citizens to help them assemble their news.

What Briggs writes about reminds a lot about what Mandy Jenkins was talking about when she visited to speak about TBD. TBD uses tweets from people to learn about events and incidents that are happening around the area because TBD is limited to only 15 reporters who can be out on the streets. It also reminds me of Patch as they do the same thing where the editors allow people to e-mail them or tweet them with tips about what’s going on or what they would like to be covered.

The most interesting term I found from the chapter was pro-am journalism. This is the kind of journalism that allows people to publish directly to the same platform the journalists use to publish their news, which also reminds of what Patch does a little bit.

Briggs then goes into detail about crowdsourcing and why it is important for journalists. Crowdsourcing allows communities to focus on a specific project where they can outperform a small group of experienced journalists because they can employ more manpower.

Briggs then talks about invaluable links are to writing for online media. Just a few years ago, linking to the competition was pretty much forbidden, but now it is welcome and many online journalists use it to link to valuable information from other journalists. They do this in the hope that readers will come back to their website because they find that what they link to is credible.

Briggs’ final point is that these types of collaborative journalism aren’t going to go away. With the access to technology that we have now, people are more invested in what is going on right around the corner from them. With companies laying off journalists, media platforms are going to need contribution from ‘regular people’ now more than ever.

Tags: Comm361 · online journalism · Student Blog Posts

Chapter four: Microblogging

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter four: Microblogging


It’s the one thing that comes to mind when you hear the word microblogging. In what way can we possibly cover news in less than 140 characters?

What is microblogging?

It’s the idea that lets individuals write and share small content of news online via short sentences, images or video links.

It is an effective medium for journalists to use to break news. But what many people don’t also see is that it works both ways. It lets journalists find breaking news from local citizens as well. When Captain Sully landed the plane in Hudson River, people had tweeted the plane landing’s picture before traditional media even got there.

Microblogging also opens the door for crowdsourcing and building communities. By building a community on a website such as Twitter, people can form real connections, build a network and even gain a job (see previous Mandy Jenkins blog). It lets people conduct public interviews, find news leads and connect with their audience.

And finally, microblogging lets you market yourself. By building your own brand, you give yourself a reputation…whether it’s a good or bad one… that is on you.

Happy reading folks.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts

Chapter three: Crowd-powered collaboration

February 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Chapter three: Crowd-powered collaboration

In chapter three, Mark Briggs focuses on the new types of reporting methods that are becoming more prevalent in this day and age.


Coined by Wired News’ Jeff Howe in 2006, this term basically means distributed reporting. It is using a lot of news sources at a given time to help research a specific story. The concept itself lends to grassroots organizations and projects such as InnoCentive and Amazon. According to Briggs, crowdsourcing aims a community power on a specific task and shows that a group of committed individuals can outperform a small group of experience and paid professionals that aren’t as committed.

Open-source reporting

This is a transparent way of obtaining news and showing off your news sources to the public. Due to open-source reporting, blogs and social media websites are important because they keep the media on their toes from making mistakes. And if they do make any errors, they can fix it with a click of a button. Open-source reporting welcomes the reader’s feedback and helps journalists increase their credibility and social capital.

Pro-am Journalism

This is the most unfiltered form of journalism on the web. Everyone is their own author and decides what to publish when and where. It is a do-it-yourself movement that made everyone want to play the role of journalist. The example that Briggs gives is CNN’s iReport. This platform enables users to upload and publish their own content to CNN’s stories as a local reporter. With this approach, everyone is a media outlet.

Happy reading folks.

Tags: briggs · Comm361 · Student Blog Posts

Briggs Chapter 3

February 8th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 3

Have you ever heard the phrase, two heads are better than one?

Briggs moved on in “Journalism Next” to crowdsourcing. What is crowdsourcing? “It is a relatively new term, coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 article for Wired News. Think of crowdsourcing like outsourcing, the term it spun off from. Crowdsourcing harnesses the sustained poer of community to improve a service or information base” -Mark Briggs.

Incase you are curious, here is the front cover of Howe’s book:

Popular crowdsourcing sites:

  1. Wikapedia
  2. Facebook
  3. InnoCentive
  4. Mechanical Turk

The concept is important because sites can receive thousands of contributions. Blogs can turn into news stations and the coverage these sites get would never have happened without crowdsourcing.

Mark Briggs went on to describe beatblogging. I found a really great site, ironically called BeatBlogging.Org, with an article written by Jay Rosen that does an outstanding job defining and elaborating on what a beatblog is, what they look for, and how people can help.

Links are also a huge way to help power the web. They build readership and viewers usually come back for more. Take Google for example!

Briggs ended the chapter off by lying explaining that newspapers still tap the power of a crowd and that print is still unbelievably a powerful tool. Maybe next edition of Journalism Next, Briggs will update Chapter 3.

Tags: Comm361 · newspapers · Student Blog Posts