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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – understanding website analytics

The Online Journalism Review’s Robert Niles has written a post in which he advises publishers against looking at  web analytics and then using the information as reason to focus on reproducing content which has done well in the past. Instead he suggests content-producers cut out what is being shown to not work and focus on something new:

Use your traffic data to show you what coverage to dump, and not what to duplicate. Why waste precious reporting and writing time on articles that no one’s reading, no one’s linking to and no one’s engaging with?

Stop publishing content that your market’s rejected and use the resources you’d spent creating that to do something else instead.

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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OJR: Apps v eBooks – are we missing paid content opportunity?

September 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Online Journalism

In an interesting post on the Online Journalism Review website Robert Niles weighs up the opportunities for publishers investing in apps versus eBooks. In his post Niles says he would be surprised to find a newsroom spending “even half of what its devoting to app development on eBooks”.

But with a quick look at the pricing of the top paid apps compared to eBooks, he says it is about time news organisations take “a serious look” at the eBook market.

There have been some recent examples of news outlets entering the eBook market and ultimately enhancing the shelf-life of news content as a result. Last month the Guardian launched its pwm new series of eBooks called Guardian Shorts, which started with Phone Hacking: How the Guardian broke the story.

According to Niles within the News category of the app store, the most expensive paid app in the top 20 was Instapaper at $4.99, compared to the Politics & Current Events category in iBooks, where he recorded that 19 out of the top 20 sell for at least $4.99.

Clearly, the public is willing to – and does – pay more for content in eBooks than it does in apps. That fact should encourage any serious news business to take a serious look at eBooks. But what about volume? That’s where I couldn’t find reliable data comparing sales in the app store versus sales of eBooks. But it’s clear from the pricing that a news organisation would need to sell many times more apps than eBooks for apps to have better sales revenue, given the higher price points routinely supported in eBook stores.

Read more here…

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The future of local media: 100% locally produced

At the end of last week Robert Niles wrote an interesting piece on local news beats on the Online Journalism Review. Whether working in print or online, he outlined five areas which he felt should form the core of any local publication.

In summary they are:

  • Food
  • Education
  • Labour
  • Business
  • Faith

He explains that for greater reader connection, beats must reflect the activities of the average reader’s daily life

The ‘dream’ publication I’m outlining here carries no wire services reports and no syndicated features, either. It’s 100 per cent locally produced and 100 per cent directed at the local community. So don’t think I’m writing about marginal change here. The structure I’m proposing would create a news publication that looks radically different than today’s typical newspaper.

I know that many publishers over the years have found it far more cost-effective to load up their papers and websites with wire copy and syndicated features than to hire local reporters. But with that content available at thousands of other URLs online, every dollar spent on wire or syndicated services is a dollar wasted. If you feel that you need to reference those reports for your readers, link them online or publish the URL in print. As so many others have said before, do what you do best and link to the rest. If you want better performance, you’re not going to get it by doing the same old thing, are you?

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OJR: Why traditional journalists join the online ‘bandwagon’

Over on the Online Journalism Review, Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, has posted some thoughts on the appeal of online journalism for former traditional journalists who leave mainstream media for the digital world, beyond its “growth in popularity”.

In short he argues that online journalism can mean less bureaucracy, more innovation, less traditional expectations and more opportunity for risk-taking.

At many of the legacy media outlets, reporters feel quite limited due to orders coming from the top down, with very little collaboration. The immeasurable levels of bureaucracy that a reporter endures at a tradition media operation to get his or her idea heard were not only a burden but deterred creativity. Online journalism, particularly in a small organization, means very little bureaucracy and more innovation. It means being able to collaborate and communicate with everyone in the organization. And that leads to more ideas for stories and better journalism.

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OJR: Storify boss Burt Herman on the move from journalist to CEO

The Online Journalism Review’s Robert Hernandez has posted an interesting interview with Burt Herman, former Associated Press bureau chief, CEO of new startup Storify and founder of Hacks/Hackers.

Herman gives a great insight into his journey from journalist to CEO, as well as the story behind his founding of the popular Hacks/Hackers event which recently started running meetings in the UK.

The first big difference is that being a journalist gives you a daily sense of accomplishing something by writing a story and having it be published. You then move on to the next story and get constant feedback. Trying to create a business and develop internet applications is a much longer process, filled with many ups and downs along the way. It’s exciting to be your own boss but also can be terrifying at the same time. I suppose dropping into crisis zones and new countries was a decent preparation for this, and also just being open to always learning new things.

See the full post here…

Storify curates selected photos, videos, tweets and other notes by search, which can then be published as embeddable stories made up of original sources.

Here is a demo of Storify from Burt Herman posted on Vimeo.

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OJR: What Whrrl and sitckybits can do for journalism

Robert Hernandez takes an interesting look at two new web tools over on the Online Journalism Review website, offering his thoughts on how new social media technologies could be used by the news industry for ‘real-world’ user engagement.

The first tool, Whrrl, collects images and notes and groups them geographically, enabling an individual to share and view their activities on a map. Hernandez discusses its basic use, to share for example the experience of a birthday with those who could not be there in person. Now swap the word ‘birthday’ to ‘election’, he says.

Reporters and citizens are posting their experiences — comments, photos, videos, etc. — at polling sites, leaving a virtual marker filled with content for others to add or re-live. This would also work for a sporting event, a protest/rally or any news event where people gather in one location. Collectively, we can capture the moment in real-time with rich multimedia. This doesn’t replace the article or video piece, but can really enhance them.

The second tool is stickybits, which is a way of attaching digital content to everyday objects using a sticker barcode which when scanned with a smartphone reveals the experiences of those who have already used the technology there.

Imagine going to a polling place where people can scan a sticker to read or leave messages. The only way to get that unique experience from that polling place is to be at that location.

From news to reviews, we could possibly embed our stories on anything and anywhere. And, more importantly, we can get user engagement. We’re not talking about from behind a computer, we’re talking about out in real life.

See his full post here…

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OJR: Advice for new journalism students

August 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Traffic

Robert Niles, writing on the Online Journalism Review site, offers five top tips for students about to embark on a journalism course at university or college in the coming weeks.

In summary, his recommendations are:

  • Don’t believe that journalism school will help you prepare for your career. Why? Because your journalism career’s already started.
  • Audience equals power for journalism job-seekers. Start building your own online straight away.
  • Your career is only as strong as your network. Follow the right people.
  • Pursue your passion, and develop expertise within it. Become an expert in a field that stirs your passion.
  • Conduct yourself as a journalist, at all times.

The overall message from Niles is for students to use the internet to make their own opportunities – “never wait for someone to hire you before starting to work”.

See the full post here…

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Denying press cards to citizen journalists a ‘disservice to news consumers’

Writing on the Online Journalism Review website, Jason Stverak, discusses the issue of press credentials and who gets them.

It’s another branch of an issue Journalism.co.uk reported on earlier this week after a citizen journalism news wire Demotix was criticised for handing out its own press passes to some of its contributors.

Stverak argues that staff cuts at traditional media mean the industry should be supporting those citizens and independent journalists who want to take on the role of holding those in power to account – and if press credentials could help them do that job and the content they produce is worthy, they should be equally entitled.

And while there is no one covering the meetings and hearings, and poring over public records, there are people forming to take on these stories. However, these non-profit reporters, citizen journalists and bloggers are often being shown the cold shoulder and being denied credentials because they don’t have a business card from a newspaper or television station.

Denying press credentials to independent, non-profit and citizen journalists who are working to get stories is doing a disservice to every news consumer. Many of these journalists are filling the void that is left when a local newspaper cuts back or closes. They do the same job that the legacy media reporters are sometimes are doing it without either a paycheck or title.

See his full post here…

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OJR: Revenue is the only metric that truly matters

Revenue: how to build it, how to maintain it and how to increase it – this is the challenge facing every online news outlet owner or director looking to secure a future in the industry.

But according to a post by Robert Niles on the Online Journalism Review, some sites are getting caught up in the latest ‘metrics’ craze based on the perceived successes of others, whether it be page-views, unique visitors or time spent by browsers on the site. But none of this means anything if it doesn’t make you money, he says.

I’ve seen sites post phenomenal numbers for each of those categories, and fail. There’s one metric, and only one, that truly matters in determining your websites’s commercial success. Revenue.

Your visitors can spend hours per month on your website, but a huge “time on site” value by itself won’t entitle you to a dime (see Twitter). I suspect that one reason why various web metrics fall into and out of favor over the years is that managers talk up or down those metrics based on their website’s individual performance. Someone notices that people are spending more time, on average, on the website, then he or she gets on a panel at a news industry conference and – boom – “time on site” becomes the metric everyone needs to consider.

He advises instead that organisations do not look at these categories in isolation, instead with an eye to how they can be used to boost revenues through advertising and other means.

Of course, you need data in order to analyze it. That’s why smart news publishers ought to be experimenting, constantly. Try new topics, new writing forms, new functionality – then create new tracking channels to monitor those experiments, to build a database of information that can help guide you in making smarter decisions about the growth and maintenance of your website.

See his full post here…

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Survey attempts to track the changing skills of online journalists

We know that many journalists today aim to have a finger in every multimedia pie – a ‘print’ journalist wants to understand how to communicate by video or audio, while online reporters should be prepared to build and manage online communities.

The Online Journalism Review is running a simple survey to measure this changing skillset of modern-day online journalists.

A few points, before we get to the vote: First, I’m just going to assume that everyone’s got basic reporting, text writing and copy editing, so those aren’t listed as options. Next, I do not wish to infer that everyone needs to develop all of these skills. Many journalists continue to work in newsrooms where they are expected to specialize. And even independent journalists often can rely on networks, contractors, vendors and open source solutions to cover many of their publishing needs. So if you don’t want help with a particular skill, just leave the box next to it blank.

But the more skills you develop, the more freedom and flexibility you have as a journalist in the online publishing market. I know personally OJR readers who’ve mastered each of the skills listed below, so if you do want to add more to your journalism repertoire, your fellow readers have the capacity to help.

The results already make for interesting reading, with the growing importance of good images and strong communities online reflected in the statistics – so far rated the two top skills mastered by journalists during their career

See the full post here…

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