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2011 Knight Batten journalism innovation awards open for entries

May 20th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Data, Niche, Online Journalism

This year’s Knight Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism are now open for entries.

According to guidelines from organiser the J-Lab Institute for Interactive Journalism, the awards recognise “pioneering approaches to news and information” and those entering can submit “journalism content, new journalism processes or ideas, or tools or new applications that promote the information needs of communities and/or enhance digital engagement”.

The contest is open to all news efforts originating between 1 May  2010, and 6 June 2011.

The winners will be announced at the Knight-Batten Awards Symposium in September 2011, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Last year’s grand prize was won by Sunlight Live, an offshoot of US non-profit and think tank the Sunlight Foundation, after it was used to livestream video and aggregate content around a major US healthcare summit.

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How to: Create a Tumblr blog for your news organisation

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a very visual way of blogging. One of the many beauties of Tumblr is its simplicity and easy interface. You can create an account, choose a URL, select a design theme and create your first post in under five minutes.

It is free and it is social: users can reblog, flag up things they like and engage by asking questions and commenting. Since each Tumblr blog has its own URL, you don’t need to be a member to view posts.

Although it has been around since 2007, over the past year it has been growing at an incredible rate.

“Right now Tumblr serves up 5.7 billion pages each month; this is growing by 400 million more pages every week,” Mark Coatney from Tumblr told Journalism.co.uk.

Almost half the Tumblr pages viewed are from the US, but the UK Tumblr community is growing fast and it now has 4.5 million unique users and 8 per cent of page views making it the third largest country on Tumblr.

The US is first, with 32 million people visiting the site; Brazil second with 5.6 million.

News organisations are joining Tumblr.

.Guardian on Tumblr

Five of the best Tumblr news blogs are at this link.

Tumblr, which was started in New York in 2007, by David Karp when he was just 20, almost became too popular for its own good. In December, rapid expansion led to it being down for eight hours. It has since opened another data centre to cope with capacity.

How does it work?

Tumblr posting options

There are seven post types: text, photo, quote, link, chat, video, plus you can ask or answer questions.

You can post from the web-based dashboard or by downloading the free iPhone, Android or BlackBerry app.

There are also other options including posting links from Bookmarklet, publishing via email and other third party applications (find out more via the Goodies tab on the dashboard).

You can decide to follow people or organisations, much as you do on Twitter. You can reblog (similar to retweet) and “like” a story. Followers can also ask questions or leave messages. You can create a group blog so several members of a team can contribute (go to the dashboard and members).

Who should consider Tumblr?

News organisations and individuals.

There are some great examples of news organisations getting to grips with Tumblr with the Guardian leading the way in the UK. There are some great examples from the worlds of fashion and art.

Tumblr’s Mark Coatney pointed us in the direction of this Short Form Blog, a really nice independent site that does news analysis and curation.

Why use Tumblr?

To engage with the 4.5 million UK Tumblr users.

“Our use of Tumblr is neither a marketing exercise nor a means by which to generate simple click-throughs,” Stephen Abbott, executive producer at Guardian.co.uk told Journalism.co.uk.

“We launched the Tumblr because we wanted to engage with the Tumblr community and we’re always on the lookout for new communication tools which might help to improve or augment our editorial coverage.”

First things first

Get a feel for Tumblr and decide whether it is suitable for you or your news site.

“I would advise any journalists thinking about using Tumblr for their organisation to first get to grips with the nature of the platform and become familiar with the practices and tone used on Tumblr.

“Then they’ll be in a much better position to decide whether they could find a opening or niche on Tumblr which could be filled by their journalistic output,” Abbott explained.

Think about how you can engage without the Tumblr community and what you want to blog.

Perhaps you can use it for fashion and lifestyle, the best photography from your publication or as a way to connect readers with your newsroom. The Economist’s Tumblr blog includes its cartoons and front pages.

News organisations can use Tumblr “as a way into specific niches” of the organisations, Tumblr’s Mark Coatney advises.

“For instance, Washington Post does a very nice Tumblr blog just for their style section; this allows a specific kind of post reader another entry into the paper tailored just for them.”

The second piece of advice Coatney has is for organisations to use Tumblr “as a way to foster peer-to-peer communication between news organisation and reader”: GQ’s Tumblr, for instance, does an excellent job of using Tumblr’s “ask” feature (every Tumblr blog as an ask me a question page) to bring readers inside the GQ’s office.

His third piece of guidance is to use Tumblr “as a way to bring the intelligence of the newsroom to the public: CNN Money Tech has a group Tumblr that replicates the chatter that goes on in newsrooms every day; a cast of seven CNN reporters regularly dash off short notes and observations about stories they’re following throughout the day”.

Think visually. And also in terms of video and audio as Coatney explains.

Tumblr is a very visual platform; of the 25 million posts done every day on Tumblr, half of them are photos.

Posts with striking visuals tend to be reblogged more by other users as well, helping to spread the content quickly throughout Tumblr’s network.

The Guardian’s Stephen Abbott said: “We will often strive to post stories which have striking pictures or video to accompany the text of the post.

“But this doesn’t mean that we only post picture-led stories. As you can see from the variety of posts at guardian.tumblr.com, we like to try to post stories picked from a wide variety of sections on guardian.co.uk to showcase the breadth of content on our site.”

Along with receiving much attention for its use of Tumblr at SXSW, the Guardian has carried out two other experiments as part of its editorial coverage: this Glastonbury 2010 scrapbook and this one on untangling the web.

Think about who will manage it. Large news organisations use community editors.

“The Guardian Tumblr account is managed by our news community coordinators Laura Oliver and James Walsh,” Abbot explained.

“Laura and James work closely with our news desk editors on a wide variety of our coverage – from breaking news to long-form features – and they pick a variety of stories that they feel will be appropriate for Tumblr.”

Ready…

Now you have got a feel for Tumblr blogs you can create your account, which takes a few minutes. All you need is an email address, a password and a username, which will become part of your URL (thenews.tumblr.com)

Upload a picture/avatar. This is probably going to be your logo, perhaps the same as your Twitter thumbnail.

Tumblr themes

Now choose a design. You can opt for a free theme, pay for a premium one (costing between $9 and $49) or you can customise your own (perhaps with the help of a developer).

Look around at other examples and see what is most effective.

“We looked at many Tumblr accounts before creating the Guardian Tumblr in order to survey the enormous variety of designs and layouts available – but we didn’t copy any of these.

“Our designers came up with a look and feel for the Tumblr which was distinct to the Guardian but which capitalises on the strengths of Tumblr,” Abbott said.

Download the free smartphone app if you want to post from away from your desk/laptop.

Connect with Facebook and/or Twitter if you want your posts to be automatically added to your Facebook and Twitter news feeds (via customise on the dashboard). Bear in mind it will indicate that the post is via Tumblr.

Steady…

Consider other add ons. Tumblr supports short comments but you can also add your Disqus account you can also take advantage of Tumblr’s own back up tool. You can decide whether or not you want to embed the blog into your own website (via Goodies).

Get ready to analyse. Paste your Google Analytics code into your site description in the customize menu.

You’ll also be checking the notes section to see what has been reblogged.

You don’t necessarily have to heavily promote your Tumblr blog.

“We have alerted Guardian readers to the presence of the Guardian Tumblr via our main @Guardian Twitter account but, at present, we don’t promote the Guardian on Tumblr across our other platforms.” Abbott told us.

Go!

Start posting.

  • Go visual
  • Be conversational
  • Keep it short. One, two or three paragraphs and link additional background content
  • Don’t just promote your own content. For example, the LA Times has linked to an Economist article on California; Al Jazeera has posted third party content of a time lapse map of uprisings and protests
  • Tag tag tag. Tumblr is powered by tags
  • Reblog
  • Ask and answer

How did you get on? Let us know when your news organisation has set up a Tumblr account.

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A drift of swine: 30,000 pigs take to the water, reports the Morning Bulletin

February 11th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Niche

A correction from Monday’s edition of Australia’s Morning Bulletin. I’m pretty sure that it’s my favourite correction of all time.

Hatip: @substuff on Rantings of a sub-editor.

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Media Business: FT launches new Brazil website

February 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Niche, Online Journalism

The Financial Times has launched a new subscription-only website focusing on Brazil’s finance, government and industry.

Brazil Confidential provides research and analysis of trends in the Brazilian market, Media Business reports.

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Dinner with Julian Assange

February 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Niche, PR

This Wednesday at 6:30pm, “people from around the world” will reportedly “commence dining” in what appears to be a fundraising initiative from under-siege whistleblowers’ site WikiLeaks.

All you need to do to join the party is make a donation to the site. And there is more bang for your buck than just dinner, you also get a password to play a video message from Julian Assange.

After you have filled out our pledge form you will be given a password (keep it safe!). The password will unlock a video for you to play at your dinner that will be available from 6.30pm GMT.

In the words of Julian Assange – “There are four things that cannot be concealed for long, the sun, the moon, the truth – and dessert!”

Check out this rather snazzy website for more information.

“Take a bite of truth!”

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#AOPsummit: B2B media and the value of communities

October 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Niche

Make a connection with your audience and harness the power of focused communities around your niche, media groups advised publishers during a panel discussion on how B2B publications can benefit from and offer value to their readers.

John Barnes MD of digital at Incisive Media said B2B publishers have to understand who their audiences are.

It’s about identifying a type of focused audience … and understanding what the role, function, value and importance of that individual is so we can sell that focus to advertisers. We have lost sight of that in some of the market as we have been chasing eyeballs instead.

He added that the way forward with this thinking is to create an environment where “it is the most natural thing in the world to hand over details”.

It’s about having the environment to encourage sharing … if we haven’t got that we haven’t got a media business.

Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe which was recently bought by AOL, added that the chase for communities is historical in the publishing industry.

We didn’t chase registrations, what we chased was communities. If you look at what publishers have done historically … in the first instance it was to chase communities. They didn’t necessarily have data about them but they chased them and enlightened those communities.

In fact he said TechCrunch’s focused community was key to its value for AOL: “it was bought for this high value community”.

Tim Potter, managing director of business publishing at Centaur Media added that community focused platforms such as blogs when used within media brands will encourage high interaction.

If you give people blogging tools within our existing media brands  you get a very high level of interaction, even in markets where you wouldn’t expect it … it will take a lot for a blog to come along and challenge established media brands providing they do the right things.

But as long as the publisher continues to provide informed content, he added, it will remain “central to the debate”.

Kevin Eyres, managing director for LinkedIn Europe added that the value of the individual must also be remembered by brands.

It’s about not losing sight of humans. When you’re talking about B2B it’s a business person purchasing from another business person. Companies are leveraging their best assets – their employees – to make that more personal connection back and forth with whoever that purchaser is going to be.

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Hyperlocal – what does it mean?

Not long ago it was the buzzword of the media and news industry – but what does ‘hyperlocal’ really mean today?

It’s a question Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley has sought answer on her blog, putting forward ten characteristics which represent the meaning of the phrase as it evolves.

First, she discusses the growing range of the term, which has developed from a postcode-focused news patch to now being used to describe focused subject matter, story treatment, or even geographical areas which are actually large in size. “Can these things be considered hyperlocal in nature?”, she asks.

Here is a summary of the main characteristics Hartley associates with the term:

  • Participation from the author.
  • Opinion blended with facts.
  • Participation from the community.
  • Small is big. Scale is not important, impact is.
  • Medium agnostic. Use of different platforms.
  • Obsessiveness. Sticking with a story.
  • Independence.
  • Link lovers.
  • Passion.
  • Lack of money.

Readers are invited to comment on her blog on whether it is time to find an alternative to the term ‘hyperlocal’ or whether it is well used enough to keep.

See her full post at this link…

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Robots to replace sports journalists?

August 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Niche

The BBC College of Journalism reflects on the news that researchers in America have created a computer which can “autonomously” write sports articles based on a set of statistics.

According to an article on the RobotShop blog, the machine, called ‘Stats Monkey”, relies on commonly-used phrases in sports journalism to form its own reports.

It can produce a headline of a particular game in only 2 seconds without spelling or grammar mistakes. Stats Monkey independently looks for websites specialised in match statistics, scores, goals, major events and even photographs. To write its article, the journalist robot uses pre-recorded forms of expressions that often come up.

But – BBC CoJo asks James Porter, the broadcaster’s former head of sports news – does this mean the end for sports journalism? It’s certainly a wake-up call, he says.

In America the way sports is covered and consumed is very statistics driven. Anything a player does is presented to the audiences in the form of statistics. I’m not so sure it’s applicable in the UK (…) It’s a wake up call to us to make sure our journalism concentrates on the stories and the excitement around sport and lifts itself out of the mundanity that otherwise we do sometimes descend into.

See the full post here…

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Next Generation Journalist: the portfolio career

May 20th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Jobs, Niche, Training

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today.

Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism is on sale now.

09. the portfolio career

Here’s a key thing about the Next Generation Journalist which separates them from the rest of the crowd: they have more than one stream of income.

This is a new way of adapting to freelancing life in the 21st century, where journalists need to be more than a sole traders pitching ideas to every editor in town. They should be their own business, with their own brand and a multitude of revenue streams.

The Portfolio Career, or as some call it in other fields the Renaissance Career, was much more difficult before the internet. The web makes it easier and cheaper both to set up a business and to maintain more than one. The web has also made it easier to develop a passive income: the right business ideas can bring in money without a proportional amount of work.

A portfolio career is a great option for journalists because it enables us to use our different skills in different ways. I know radio newsreaders who have a sideline doing voice over work, a reporter who designs websites in her spare time; there are journalists who teach, train, lecture and sell stuff online.

The portfolio career…

  • provides you with more than one revenue stream, protecting you from unemployment or a quiet month
  • allows you to pursue several passions at the same time
  • is now easier than ever thanks to the internet

To make this work you’ll need a good brand and a good portfolio presence on the web, two things covered in detail in Next Generation Journalist.

It’s something young people are already familiar with. A survey called Creative Graduates, Creative Futures published in January 2010 questioned 3,500 UK students on creative or media courses: 48% of them had already developed a portfolio career, while studying!

Those who do it say it’s very fulfilling. Nick Williams is a London based career coach who helps people develop their own portfolio careers. “We can design our portfolio life to give us space and time in which to reflect” he says “and in which to start developing new projects, products and services.”

To find out more about Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism – click here.

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Next Generation Journalist: how to make hyperlocal work

May 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Hyperlocal, Niche

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

08. set up a hyperlocal website

OK, so setting up a hyperlocal blog is hardly a new way to do things in journalism. But making money from it is pretty new and, seemingly, still pretty rare.

In the UK for example, only a handful of hyperlocal blogs, such as Ventor Blog, SR2 and SE1 are getting the sorts of eyeballs and ad revenue to make a living.

Thing is, hyperlocal is an important and (if done correctly) profitable niche for the next generation journalist; we’re just not going about it right.

Setting up a blog, writing loads of local content and hoping to bring in local ad revenue alone is a tough gig. At first you’re unlikely to get the hits you need to bring in enough cash. Google Adwords is becoming something of a byword for false promises of cash among website owners.

If you want to maximise your advertising revenue, a product like Addiply is a really good bet, and is it seems to be bringing in better results for those who use it on a local level. Advertisers could expect to pay around £30 a month, although it varies from site to site.

But I really think for a hyperlocal website to work – in fact, for any web based content product to work – the ultimate aim must be to make ad revenue as small a slice of the pie as possible.

The less your business relies on ad revenue, the less vulnerable you are to the inevitable ups and downs of the market.

Other ways to make hyperlocal work

Have a look at yesterday’s post on my blog, where I talk about a local news success story – thebusinessdesk.com.  Set up by David Parkin, it now has three regional business sites in Yorkshire, the North-West and Birmingham.

Parkin told last week’s Local Heroes Conference he expects to turnover £1 million this year.

Where does the money come from? Ad revenue yes, but that’s only a part of it. Firstly, thebusinessdesk.com has a niche (local financial news) and a wealthy target audience (business people).

It has a mailing list of 37,000 subscribers who get a daily email of business news, which is sponsored. They have an iPhone app and run events.

It’s a successful model – and one which needs to be employed by hyperlocal bloggers. Don’t just process listings, and re-write press releases; become a major part of your community. Become a leader in your community.

Be the voice for those whose voices don’t get heard. Run regular events so you can meet readers face-to-face. Run pub quizzes and pocket the profits.  Sell products, take a slice of restaurant bookings through your website, charge for listings. Don’t just maintain a website – build a mailing list and send them news direct to their inbox. Get that mailing list sponsored by local businesses.

If you’ve got any good stories about how you’re making hyperlocal work, I’d love to hear them.

Interested in niche and hyperlocal? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

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