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Sunderland survey results: What do journalism students want from their training?

June 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Training

Ninety-one per cent of journalism students think web-based skills were ‘vital’ or ‘important’ skills for journalism students, according to a recent study on the future of journalism education.

More than half the respondents were in favour of learning coding skills too.

But some of the most interesting ‘data’ from the University of Sunderland’s survey comes in the individual responses from students:

  • “At the moment I’m spending so much time mastering ways of presenting information that I’m not spending anywhere near enough time understanding what story should be told. I’m learning slick presentations of slim stories. This can’t be right,” said one student.
  • “I don’t think newsgathering and writing should be in the same category. Journalism doesn’t revolve around the print product, it revolves around reporting.”
  • “I feel there is already too much emphasis on web-base skills, as you can find good stories without using the web. Having to learn web-coding as part of the course would, I feel, take away from actually going out and finding stories.”
  • And in response to the question, ‘what would you like to see added to your course curriculum’, popular topics: more online, more specialisms and more business/entrepreneurial training [see Newcastle University's plans on this topic].

(Interesting to compare some of these student responses, which were gathered by contacting journalism schools and online, with the results of the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) recent skills survey.)

More responses to the University of Sunderland’s survey, which had 144 responses, can be seen below, courtesy of @joshhalliday’s blog:

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End print edition of New York Times, argues Netscape co-founder

October 30th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

In Marc Andreessen’s world the Christian Science Monitor wouldn’t be the only traditional print product going online-only.

In this interview in the latest edition of Portfolio, Andreessen, who is co-founder of Ning, Netscape and investor in Digg and Twitter, says the New York Times should cut its print losses and focus on ‘the market of the future’.

If you were running the New York Times, what would you do?
[Andreessen] Shut off the print edition right now. You’ve got to play offence. You’ve got to do what Intel did in ’85 when it was getting killed by the Japanese in memory chips, which was its dominant business. And it famously killed the business – shut it off and focused on its much smaller business, microprocessors, because that was going to be the market of the future. And the minute Intel got out of playing defence and into playing offence, its future was secure. The newspaper companies have to do exactly the same thing.

The financial markets have discounted forward to the terminal conclusion for newspapers, which is basically bankruptcy. So at this point, if you’re one of these major newspapers and you shut off the printing press, your stock price would probably go up, despite the fact that you would lose 90 per cent of your revenue. Then you play offence. And guess what? You’re an internet company.

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WAN 2008: Le Figaro: 20% of revenues from online by 2010

Le Figaro is predicting that 20% of its revenue will be generated by its online operations by 2010.

But the French newspaper has plans to beat this, Pierre Conte, deputy managing director for new media and advertising for Le Figaro Group, told delegates at the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference today.

After rising from 2 million unique users to its websites to 8 million in two years, the group’s web traffic now accounts for 1 French internet user out of every four.

Last year its online revenues accounted for 13% of its total income – so how will the publisher build on this?

Gradual integration
Online success will only be achieved if all the group’s editorial teams want to take part, Francis Morel, managing director, said.

As such Le Figaro adopted an ‘invite not assign’ policy, giving journalists the opportunity to do work for the websites if they wished (though initially for no extra pay).

According to Morel merging editorial teams for print and online was seen as essential, despite concerns raised by the unions.

Journalists became increasingly enthusiastic about working for the websites and now both editorial teams are on the same floor under the same editorial head, though Morel insists this has been about building bridges and not enforced integration.

Advertising
The group has sought to recoup floundering revenues from print classifieds by making a concerted push with this advertising online, setting up a team to find advertisers for online-only.

Contextual and behavioural advertising is also being experimented with.

E-commerce and diversification
Building around the flagship portal of Le Figaro, the publisher has launched specialist sport, finance and lifestyle websites, in addition to acquiring several e-commerce sites.

Content has also been syndicated to other websites, though this is not a long-term business model, Conte says.

“This business [selling content to other websites] will continue to be weak and limited. We need to work on ad revenue. We are not reinventing anything by saying that, but we need to integrate our sales house.”

Content
News remains a priority online for all the group’s content-based websites. On the Le Figaro site a commenting function has been added to articles and submissions from users are welcomed.

Le Figaro has also set up its own TV studio to produce video clips for online and mobile.

As a word of warning, Morel stresses that the digital developments in these areas have not been at the expense of the print product.

“It is indispensable to continue to invest and focus on print, because while the internet is a key territory, it will not replace print.

“We need to be extremely cautious and prudent. The internet is a very volatile market. We need to be very flexible at any time to change our course because we do not know what tomorrow holds.”

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Newland launches Emirates newspaper

April 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Martin Newland’s newspaper for the United Arab Emirates has gone live online and published its first edition.

Developing The National, which is owned Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), has involved an international recruitment drive by ex-Telegraph editor Newman with journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Daily Telegraph joining the team.

Around 200 staff will work to produce the website and 80-page paper, which will initially run from Friday to Sunday.

The site currently carries a slideshow of the making of the new paper – a nice touch. It also offers an e-paper edition of the print product and online commenting functions for users.

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Myfootballwriter.com: a lesson in going online

January 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism

This blog post is part of the Carnival of Journalism hosted, this month, by Adrian Monck’s blog

In May, Rick Waghorn, founder of sports news website myfootballwriter.com, is hoping to attend a Las Vegas awards ceremony and hear whether his plans for sports news sites in the US will receive $2 million as part of the Knight News Challenge.

Yet, before the potential glitz and glamour of Vegas, myfootballwriter.com will compete in the EDF Energy East of England media awards (award ceremony: Whipsnade Zoo).

The site is in the running for the Website of the Year award and comes up against the site of Waghorn’s former employer, the Norwich Evening News, who after 14 years handed Waghorn a redundancy package and the financial – and personal – impetus to go it alone online.

Having started as a sports news site dedicated to Norwich City FC, myfootballwriter.com has since spawned an Ipswich Town site and in a recent recruitment drive attracted more than 70 young journalists to apply for reporting positions on new sites.

While the eveningnews24 site should be applauded for investing in its online operations, that myfootballwriter is competing directly against it is a case study in favour of the changing shape of the industry.

The site has used its online-only status – with no backing from a print product such as the Norwich Evening News or the same size editorial team – to its advantage: rolling deadlines mean rolling news coverage, while being dedicated to one locality and subject allows for more in-depth analysis and reporting.

What is more, Waghorn says he is still ‘a footsoldier’, attending matches and press conferences, filing reports and chasing transfer rumours. At the same time he can develop and innovate with the site – as he is doing with the plans to move into the US and the development of a locally-focused advertising system.

Waghorn stresses that he has by no means ‘cracked it’, yet what he has achieved so far should be used as an aspirational model by both his former paymasters at Archant and the rest of the print media in their attempts to ‘crack’ the online medium.

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The news as niche

December 17th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

In an interview with Damon Kiesow, online editor of US local the Nashua Telegraph, about the Telegraph’s use of Twitter to deliver breaking news, Kiesow explained the paper’s strategy for targetting a wider audience as niche content for niche interest groups.

While he admitted that any audience gain from one Twitter feed might be incremental, targetting several niche markets through such services could be a low-risk and low-cost way for regional news groups to extend their reach. As Kiesow points out, the content for these audiences might not have to be new content, but selectively repackaged and delivered.

The niche strategy should be tailored to the reader in terms of content and how it’s offered. Set-up in this way, Kiesow says, the potential is there for your site to give a reader the single most important piece of information they will hear that day – a positive goal for any news site.

Providing these services and types of focused content allows the Telegraph to move away from the idea of a newspaper website as an online reproduction of the print product and beyond reaching out to just the readers of the offline edition.

As Alan Mutter points out in his blog post on breaking news formats on local news websites:

While the print product remains the primary business at newspaper companies, their websites are strategically important not only for their long-term revenue potential but also because of their immediate power to engage readers and, most importantly, non-readers.

Mutter’s post, which analyses a local newspaper’s coverage of a public shooting in Omaha, points out that to provide breaking news coverage, a strategy to deal with such events online should already be in place. The Nashua Telegraph has developed just such a strategy and is expanding this effective and efficient model across its different news channels.

The site’s audience receives content throughout the day – offering breaking and ‘new’ news on a continuous cycle. A cycle created and maintained by a news organisation that, according to Kiesow, doesn’t have enough staff to write headlines for the website, but has innovated around these logistical limitations to find a solution capable of handling not only niche content but also breaking local news.

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