Monday, March 26, 2007

Thoughts from Gannett group's conversations

From Andria, posted at the Gannett group's active blog:

About Walser's comment:
"I sometimes wonder if the drive for massive interactivity with readers isn't getting ahead of where time-starved readers really are...Checking several of Greenville's top blogs was depressing. Good postings - many on controversial topics - have produced no online response."
It's a good point, and we need to encourage responses by rewarding those who contribute. For specific ways to generate buzz on blogs, ask Mary Newsom how she developed her Naked City community. Sometimes I think she asked specific people to post, to generate reaction. Or she spread the word about specific postings by old-fashioned talking.
Minneapolis developed "karma points" at Surfers want other people like them to review restaurants or clubs or books, but many don't want to take the time to write themselves. Thus rewards. And rewards don't have to be concrete.
And for specific tasks, like finding an obit, submitting a wedding announcement, sharing a story idea, the website should make the work easy and fast. Sometimes five or 10 minutes is all readers will give, before they turn away and don't come back.

About Rich Mathieson's comment:
With its "Taking Back the Neighborhoods" series, I think the Observer found how effective initiating "community conversations" can be. Instead of just hosting "town hall meetings" where a couple hundred attend, though, imagine hosting online forums where thousands can participate.
Have you seen how hard it is for the Charlotte group at Flickr photo sharing to get people to turn out for an event? Rewards are needed, beyond coffee and cookies. But it's clear that volunteers in the community aren't having good success with organizing real events from online communities, so that's a place we could succeed if we give it enough energy/money and time. One of Newsom's Naked City commentors proposed a meetup recently, where they could duke it out in person (verbally, I'm sure).
One specific news event that does turn people out and create community: zoning battles. We should find a way to host the conversations that go on online and in face-to-face meetings about zoning and development. I know a developer who's planning on building some stuff near me, and he wants an online place to post sketches and get neighborhood feedback. A volunteer in the neighborhood has yet to come through with a custom website: Imagine if could become that place.

About Liz's old bottom-line comment:
Shouldn't we also ask about results? In other words, when we ask about new features on the internet or in the paper, shouldn't we ask if the newspaper has measured any increase in hits or readership as a result?
The managing editor in Dayton, a Cox paper, brought this point home in an interview as well. She meets people at conferences who are excited about a new toy, but have no idea whether it's increasing traffic. We should beware falling for the newest gadget if it doesn't work by adding readership or increasing useability.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We really really mean it

Mark Glaser of Mediashift parodied the memo about the L.A. Times reorganization back in January. An excerpt:
O’Malley was asked how this new web initiative would differ from the past 12 web initiatives announced with great fanfare. . . .

"... This time when we say the Internet is important, we really, really mean it."

O’Malley said the “Internet 101” course would teach reporters, editors and photographers how to use an electronic mail program, how to surf the World Wide Web for news and information, and how to find cheap air fares."

Full parody is here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Widgets -- buzz of the month

Widgets are the buzzword of the month.
Ideas here and here. Please note there's a Krewson involved in the Allentown project. Yes, he's probably a 16th cousin or so. I've never met him.
But please also be careful of the definition or function of widgets -- Blogger uses them to help non-HTML people personalize the top layer of their templates. The media buzz usage of the term is as a tool to get news organizations to make it easy to share database information with non-traditional media. And in that usage, I think there's lots more to explore, but it's more complicated than it appears on the surface.
I have a small case study of a Flickr widget to share for those who want to hear.
And widgets need to work, for users wherever they are logged in. Some of those at AJC don't. Yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sliced bread

Atlanta last did a reorg in 2001, in which everyone reapplied for jobs. That was six years ago. Associated online operations have had reorgs since then.
AJR story here.
Purpose then was not to reduce staff, but to strengthening three things editor Julia Wallace considered especially important: the paper's online operations, enterprise and investigative reporting, and state government coverage.

Our last total reorg was in 1995, and spreading into '96. The purpose was not to reduce staff.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What we've done in Charlotte

Compiled by Ronnie Glassberg:

(This almost certainly doesn't cover everything we're doing, but should give everyone a sense of how much we're doing for our discussions.)

--Created Dee-Dee’s position, senior editor for multimedia.
--Added two online producers from other areas of the newsroom - Deirdre McGruder and Alisha Hord.
--Steve Lyttle began spending part of his time posting breaking news in the morning.
--Greg Lacour will begin on the afternoon/evening online shift.
--Peter Weinberger moved into the position of the Observer's first video director.
--Other photographers have moved into online to create video and multimedia presentations.
--Newsroom divisions have goals for posting breaking news to Departments have goals for everything from breaking news to slideshows to multimedia to e-mail newsletters.
--Regional designers have started posting scrapbook slideshows to the zoned pages.
--Tonya Jameson now spends 90 percent of her time online with paid to party, podcast/video, blog, multimedia, party pic, that’s wassup column, etc.
--Phil Hoffman spends about 90 percent of his time shooting and editing video/multimedia and slideshows. He is the “daily editor” for most of the stuff that comes from photo staff.
--Business staff compiles an e-mail newsletter that’s sent out Monday through Friday.
--We have 24 blogs and nine Q&A features. We also have an Spanish page and blog.
--Kelvin Hart’s new role in sports is aimed at online
--Editorial: Since December 2005, editorial has launched: Mary Newsom’s blog, The Naked City. Jack Betts’ blog, This Old State. And Kevin Siers’ You Write the Caption. Kevin's also posting his cartoons in color on the opinion page of And they made an online slideshow of the year-end traditional photo portrait page of community do-gooders.

Thursday, March 8, 2007