Updates now on Twitter

Beginning in August 2010, updates for “All the News” will no longer be posted on this blog. Instead, they will be sent via my Twitter account (thomlieb). They will be marked with the hash tag #allthenews. You can either follow me on Twitter to get all my journalism-related updates or search Twitter for that hash tag. (Please note that occasionally you might find other Twitter accounts using that hash tag. In fact, if you find an interesting update I encourage you to post it with the hash tag #allthenews.)

Maps on news Web sites: An overview

The Online Journalism Blog offers a great primer on using maps effectively on online news sites. The post discusses the advantages of maps:

  • They provide an easy way to grasp a story at a glance
  • They allow users to drill down to relevant information local to them very quickly
  • Maps can be created very easily, and added to relatively easily by non-journalists
  • Maps draw on structured data, making them a very useful way to present data such as schools tables, crime statistics or petrol prices
  • They can be automated, updating in response to real-time information

The post also discusses the many types and uses of maps. It’s a great resource and inspiration for students.

Free resource: Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency

Noted journalism educator Mindy McAdams has collected 15 of her blog posts on multimedia journalism into the “Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency.” The free 42-page PDF document is available in English and Spanish and is “fully linked and usable online in most Web browsers, or in Adobe Reader, or in Preview on the Mac OS.” Invaluable for the next generation of journalists!

BusinessWeek.com sees social media as key

In an interview with econsultancy.com, BusinessWeek.com Editor in Chief John A. Byrne discusses the site’s strategy for engaging readers. Byrne says that “We have one overriding goal: to have the deepest and most meaningful engagement with our audience than any other business site in the world. … We see engagement as core to what we do and how we do it.”

In the interview, Byrne makes it clear that the days of one-way communication are over:

Journalism, by and large, has been a product produced by writers and editors and delivered to an audience. That was fine when there was no technology to allow journalists to engage in an ongoing dialogue with readers and to allow for true collaboration between the writers and the readers.

What journalism needs to become is this digital age is a process that embraces and involves your audience at every level, from idea generation to reporting and sourcing and finally to the publication of the article when the journalism then becomes an intellectual camp fire around which you gather an audience to have a thoughtful conversation about the story’s topic.

If done well, that conversation, orchestrated by the writer or editor of the article, has as much or more value to a reader as the journalism itself.

Byrne notes that BusinessWeek.com has 28 blogs and more than 60 Twitter accounts, and cites a favorite example of how one of his writers used social media to great effect:

[S]enior writer Steve Baker … wrote one of the very first articles in the mainstream media on Twitter. But rather than writing that story and delivering it as a finished product to our readers, he engaged the audience in a novel and creative process. He tweeted the topic sentences of his story and asked his followers to tweet back the sentences they thought would logically follow his.

Steve used his blog to report on the back-and-forth of this process to make it accessible to a broader audience who could participate via Twitter or Blogspotting, Steve’s blog on our site.

The result of all this was a much better story on Twitter based on engaging his audience in the reporting of the story.

Newspaper survival tips stress multiplatform reporting

In “12 Things Newspapers Should Do to Survive,” Vadim Lavrusik offers a range of suggestions for “what newspapers should be considering in order to survive and evolve with today’s technology-driven, short-attention-span world.” At the top of his list is “Putting web first and reporting from multiple platforms.” He explains:

Reporters need to focus on primarily gathering information and how to present that information in multiple formats: websites, mobile platforms, social networks and finally print.

The reason? Technology is changing the way people consume news, and though many are still getting their news through traditional print outlets, many others are shifting to get their news through various media, such as television, mobile phones, and the web.

Other tips focus on creating community, integrating real-time reporting and creating content for mobile devices. A good read with lots to get class discussions rolling.

Washington Post ends hyperlocal experiment

One of the most visible experiments in hyperlocal journalism came to an end Aug. 21 when The Washington Post shut down its LoudounExtra Web site. The site was designed for “Loudoun residents, organizations and businesses and feature community news, events and sports sometimes reported on by county residents and local bloggers,” according the The Loudoun Independent. Rob Curley, a key force behind the site, said on its launch in 2007 that “To us, LoudounExtra.com goes beyond the bells and whistles of community-publishing tools. It represents a real partnership with local residents.” However, Curley and most of his team moved to the Las Vegas Sun shortly after LoudounExtra launched, and it never gained traction with the community.

The future of the newspaper? Maybe it’s the nichepaper

A pair of recent articles discusses the role of the nichepaper in the future of journalism. In “The News About the Internet,” Michael Massing recounts recent attacks on the Internet as leeching content from traditional sources. But Massing say critics fail to acknowledge an essential truth:

Over the past few months alone, a remarkable amount of original, exciting, and creative (if also chaotic and maddening) material has appeared on the Internet. The practice of journalism, far from being leeched by the Web, is being reinvented there, with a variety of fascinating experiments in the gathering, presentation, and delivery of news. And unless the editors and executives at our top papers begin to take note, they will hasten their own demise.

In “The Nichepaper Manifesto,” Umair Haque elaborates on some of those experiments and christens them “nichepapers.” The name is somewhat misleading, since like Massing, Haque also is talking about online journalism. But his definition is clear: “Nichepapers are different because they have built a profound mastery of a tightly defined domain — finance, politics, even entertainment — and offer audiences deep, unwavering knowledge of it.” Haque details eight essential rules and four models for such nichepapers. It’s a lot to digest, but it’s very important work.