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.

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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.

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.

Failing newspapers lead to an emerging new trend: ‘hyperlocal’ news Web sites

Reporter John D. Sutter reported for CNN.com on the new “hyperlocal” news sites. Hyperlocal is a term used for news sites that have an exclusive focus on a specific geographic area. There has been mixed success with these news sites, but

the people who run hyperlocal Web sites say they are optimistic about the future of the news business. They say they won’t be able to replace all that’s being lost as large news companies crumble but say they are excited about the fact that they’re able to offer something new — at least for the moment.

One big problem being faced is that of funding. News on the internet is free. Sutter writes that major news organizations rely mainly on advertising. Even though some hyperlocal sites are made up of a group of volunteers active in the communities, editors and founders of the new online news publications are looking for ways in order to receive funds, such as nonprofit organizations, ads and readers.

“‘… [news is] not going to go away, it’s just going to come into a new form,’ said Jason Barnett, executive director of TheUpTake.org, a site that largely covers Minnesota politics.”

Twitter and ABC create a Tweetable news show

Mashable.com reports that ABC News has created the first hybrid television news -Twitter blend — not as odd as it might first appear. The network’s Nightline news program and anchors are going to host a weekly online news program — called NightTline — that uses Twitter for debate and questions.

According to ABC, the show will take on Nightline’s Face-Off model, which pits two opposing sides on an issue that an ABCNEWS anchor provides and moderates. It’s a model that causes a lot of heated debate and verbal exchanges, perfect for an easily-distracted online audience….

Twitter will be integral to the entire show. There will be a Twitter widget that allows viewers to chime in on the discussion or ask questions during the debate. The Nightline anchors will also use Pixel touchscreen technology to display and interact with the debate occurring on Twitter.

Social media guidelines for news organizations

In response to The New York Times’ announcement that it was naming Jennifer Preston its social media editor, Patrick Thornton of BeatBlogging.org offered advice to Preston. But Thornton’s advice is good for any news organization. He writes that “The whole point of social media is to be social. That should be the starting point for any journalist on social media.”

Thornton offers five guidelines:

    Be Social
    Transparency
    Encourage every employee to experiment with social media
    Make two-way communication a requirement of content producers
    Build a bigger network of sources

Read the full post here.

Changing media landscape seen in coverage of G20 summit

When the G20 summit was held in London in early 2009, coverage was not limited to the usual journalists. EditorsWeblog reports:

As twenty of the world’s leading political figures convened at London’s Excel centre something unprecedented was happening in the media world – with coverage going digital in a way never before seen.

What’s more was that the key players providing the coverage were not just your usual brigade of journalists but also consisted of the general public who, by using social networking tools such as Twitter, provided an additional news element to this year’s summit.

Bloggers, NGO representatives, charity workers, casual onlookers to climate change campaigners caught up in the day’s events – a variety of people contributed to the coverage, helping to build a more complete picture of what was happening on the streets of London.

The article offers lots more information about this shift and the rapid embrace of new media tools by traditional journalists.