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Mail Online publisher: ‘If you don’t listen to your users then you’re dead’

January 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Appearing before the joint committee on privacy and injunctions yesterday, Martin Clarke, the publisher of Daily Mail website Mail Online, shared some interesting comments on digital media, in reference to privacy, regulation and general approaches to journalism in a digital world.

The latest results from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (published in December) showed the Mail Online continued its lead ahead of other audited UK news sites with almost 85 million unique browsers in November.

So here is a collection of thoughts shared by Clarke before the committee on issues relating to the impact of the internet on the news industry:

Privacy:

If we were publishing really unpleasant, intrusive stuff our readers wouldn’t like it. One of the beauties of the internet is the feedback you get from your readers is pretty much instant in two ways.

First of all, you can see in real time who’s reading what stories on your homepage … that immediately tells me which ones they’re interested in.

Secondly, we have the comments facility and readers aren’t slow to let us know when they think we’ve been unfair or unpleasant. Quite often I’ve changed tack on a story, or the headline on a story or dropped a picture because of things readers have left in comments. That’s the beauty of the internet, the interaction between you and your readers is that much more immediate. If there were no privacy law no I don’t think it would make that much difference.

Regulation

You are dealing with an industry that faces big commercial challenges going forward. Digital is how newspapers are going to have to make their living, the economics of the internet are such you probably have to make big chunk of that living abroad. Any further regulation might compromise that, and then quite frankly we won’t really have an industry left to regulate.

… You think of the internet in chunks, press, bloggers, tweeters, but from the consumers point of view that’s not how they consider it. It’s an endless continuous spectrum that starts with what their friends are saying on their Facebook pages, what some tweeter might be saying, to a story they link to in a tweet, then go back on to Facebook page and comment … Pretty soon all those commenting systems are going to be bolted together. Where do you draw the line, where do you say right this bit of the internet is going to be regulated and this bit isn’t?

… We’ve had to wake up and deal, embrace a new reality … The internet is a great way to distribute news, it means newspapers are now back in the business of breaking news … alongside TV and radio and the people who had taken that privilege away from us. It’s gratifying as a journalist to be part of that. Equally it’s brought some negatives …. You can’t turn back the tide, we can’t say stop the internet world we want to get off.

On content:

The reason it’s different from the Daily Mail is because it’s a different market … I’m operating in a digital market where we do get feedback from the readers, I can see in real time what they’re really reading rather than what I might think as journalist they should be reading. In the digital world if you don’t listen to your users, if you don’t involve them, if you don’t listen to their tastes, than you’re dead. We don’t follow that data slavishly, that’s where I come in, it’s my job to mediate the light and the shade. So that’s why it’s different from the Mail.

Equally we do more showbiz…we do vastly more science, we do more political commentary, we do more foreign news because we’re not limited by physical space … It goes back to the point I made right at the beginning, if you’re going for scale you can’t just fit in a niche. You can’t say “we’ll be in the red-top end, or the middle-market or the broadsheet end”. Niches aren’t big enough on the internet to survive, so you have to be a much broader church.

You can watch the session in full on Parliament TV and hear from others who appeared before the committee, including Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group and Phillip Webster, editor of Times Online.

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Guardian’s n0tice launches advertising platform

December 12th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Local media

New online noticeboard, n0tice, which is owned by the Guardian Media Group, today announced the launch of an advertising platform which will enable noticeboard owners to earn revenue.

According to a post on the site, which also enables community groups, individuals, hyperlocals and bloggers to post announcements, event information and local news, noticeboard “owners” can now “earn revenue by selling featured positions for classified listings or ‘offers’.”

Outlining the model n0tice says owners will take an 85 per cent revenue cut, while the platform gets the remaining 15 per cent.

Posting an offer on a noticeboard is self-serve and free for n0tice participants. Offers can then be upgraded to a Featured placement for £1/day (or the equivalent base-level regional currency). Featured positioning includes both a visual enhancement and priority ranking on the page.

Alongside the new revenue platform, n0tice also announced the addition of other new features in today’s post, including geoRSS and the ability for each user to have a number of noticeboards.

Read more on n0tice here.

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#news2011: Editors urged to focus on ‘conversation’ and ‘try everything’

November 28th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism, Online Journalism

In the first panel session of the Global Editors Network summit in Hong Kong today, which looked at the impact of personalisation and “pro-sumption”, the overriding theme was for media companies to focus on a two-way conversation in order to meet the needs of their consumers.

Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism in the US, described the ecosystem as “more diverse”, adding that news outlets need to change their attitude “from knowing everything, or pretending to know everything, and imagining their role as more of a guide”.

He cited the Guardian’s open newslist project as an example of community engagement which makes “perfect sense”, but later added that the involvement of the audience in journalism would need to differ based on the specific case or project.

In some cases the audience can vote and make decisions and in other cases they will be part of the process in a different way and in some cases journalists will do the job they are trained to do and then get things from the audience. There are many ways to get the audience into this process. Not all are co-decisions but collaboration in a variety of ways.

He also called on editors to engage in a conversation with those working outside the journalism sphere, urging them to “be very willing to use ideas from people not involved in journalism”.

Fellow panel member Robert Amlung, head of digital strategy at ZDF TV in Germany, also spoke of the importance of community involvement and the development of the conversation in television specifically to a two-way process.

I do trust the audience … We’re not letting the audience decide then dictate. As journalists we have our position, our ethics, all this we bring to the conversation and this will enrich the conversation and I still think journalists have something to contribute. It’s two-way, we will get something back. We get more feedback and when we do it right it will enhance quality.

During his presentation he discussed the array of platforms now being used to access content, but added that while there are these new windows for content to be seen through, “the old world” and its communities must not be forgotten.

New possibilities arise but the old world remains strong. Classical traditional media is still very much used … even newspapers are quite profitable today. It would be nonsense to talk about the demise of other media.

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#wef11 – Panellists share advice on how to build communities

There were lots of nuggets of advice to take away from the community building session at the World Editors Forum in Vienna yesterday, from specific tips offered by panellists to inspirations to be taken from the projects they are involved in.

Some of the tips from three members of the panel have been collected below:

Jim Brady, editor-in-chief of the Journal Register Company

There is a difference between “shallow engagement” and “deep engagement”. He says shallow engagement examples are comments on articles which are not responded to, “you’re not really engaging just giving a platform for them to talk to each other”, user photo contests or sharing tools, which “allow the community to recirculate your journalism, but there’s no direct engagement”.

Deep engagement is about spending real physical time with the community, he said, such as through open newsrooms, hosting of events or curating work of community members. “This gives you feet on the ground”, he said.

But you have to give up some control if you want to work with the community, he warned, and you need them to view you as a partner, and then they will come to site more regularly, link to you more, tell their friends about you and “root for your success”.

Anette Novak, editor-in-chief, Norran

“It is about actions, not just words”, she said. Novak gave several examples of how Norran has been productive in responding to the views of the audience, such as starting a campaign about train service. A resulting poll showed 90 per cent of readers “were really happy about it”, she said. “They really felt we were on their side”.

Much like Brady, she also encouraged opening up the newsroom. Norran runs a project called eEditor, an online chatroom people can use from 6am until the newsroom closes to discuss the news list which is put out to the community to enable them to “co-create with journalists”.

Mark Johnson, community editor, the Economist

Johnson told the conference to think beyond the article, offering the example of month-long festivals the Economist ran which were based on themes of special reports.

He also urged the audience not to feel like they need to change who they are or what they do to fit in to the community, or feel the need to dumb down. “Work out what is special and unique and then decide how you can translate that wherever you want to build community,” he advised.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – 10 tips for building community on social media

Memeburn has published ten tips on how to build a community using social media as outlined by Australian media lecturer Julie Posetti.

In brief bullet point form they are as follows:

1. Join a conversation
2. Start a conversation
3. Crowdsource it
4. Get connected
5. Share and care
6. Personality
7. Curate
8. Value add
9. Strategise
10. Pick the right tools for the job

Read the full post here.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – driving online engagement from offline activity

September 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Top tips for journalists

This post on the 10,000 Words blog acts as a useful reminder about the importance of offline meetings and events to connect those who have previously only met online before, and help drive future engagement on the internet.

… instead of reflexively throwing together an “awareness campaign” via Facebook Ads, consider how an off-line event such as a meeting or organized outing to a relevant event might impact the page.

When people who have interacted online, are suddenly brought together in an offline environment, often there is a stronger bond that is created. People feel more connected to the cause or the topic that is bringing them together, because they’re being connected with other like-minded people.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – using badge systems on news sites

July 26th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman has an interesting post up on using badges to help build communities around your site and make some money in the process.

Badge-based reputation systems are already in use on a number of news sites, including the Huffington Post and Mashable, and I’ve blogged before about Citizenside’s use of a similar system to encourage engagement and verify content.

Sonderman’s post identifies four key areas in which badges can help news sites:

Revenue

Community building

Better crowdsourcing

Better comments

Follow this link to see the full post.

Tipster: Joel Gunter

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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‘Having blog in our name was causing problems’: Lichfield Blog renamed

Hyperlocal news and community site the Lichfield Blog has been renamed Lichfield Live.

Writing on the Lichfield Community Media blog today, director Philip John says that he had previously blocked the name change, concerned that it was “too risky, potentially losing the reputation we had built up”.

But it became “hard to escape the fact that having ‘blog’ in our name was causing problems with how we were perceived”, he says.

Philip explains some of the other reasons behind the name change:

“Lichfield Live” is more suitable for several reasons;

  • It sounds new. We’re very much a “new media” operation.
  • It sounds timely. We’ve built a reputation for being first to have the news about what’s going on in Lichfield.
  • It fits with what’s on. Our most popular section is “What’s On” and nicely ties into events.

The Lichfield Blog isn’t dead though, it’ll carry on as a place for comment and opinion pieces from columnists “who live in, work in or represent Lichfield”. A new site is also due, which will cover the Burntwood & Chasetown region.

See the new Lichfield Live site at this link.

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Dan Slee: Case studies on connecting people with social media [slideshow]

Walsall Council press officer Dan Slee has posted the slideshow from a presentation he gave at the Socitm Learning from Better Connected event in Manchester.

The slideshow takes a detailed look at case studies of social media use by local government and media.

Here’s my preasentation that I’ve posted to Slideshare.

Included on it are:

Some stats on internet use.

Some stats on the mobile web.

A quick map of the Walsall media landscape 2011 and 2005.

A quick case study on engaging with the community through Flickr.

A quick case study on two hyperlocal sites: WV11.co.uk and Pelsall Common People.

How a countryside ranger can tweet from the sharp end.

Some stats on Walsall 24 which saw us live tweet for 24 hours in real time.

See more on Dan Slee’s blog.

Dan Slee on Twitter.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – join the online community

February 24th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Get involved in the online journalism community. The ever-useful 10,000 Words blog offers several examples of opportunities online to get involved in the conversation, such as the weekly Web Journalism Chat on Twitter or by taking part in a Hacks/Hackers event. Tipster: Rachel McAthy.

To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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