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Writing news for small screens - Matt Frehner - Halifax NewsTrain - May 6-7, 2016

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This presentation for journalists, "Writing News for Small Screens," is by Matt Frehner, senior editor for mobile and interactive news at The Globe and Mail. It includes:
-- Who is the ‘mobile reader,’ and what do they want?
-- What does ‘mobile first’ mean, anyway?
-- How should a story be structured for mobile?
-- What makes a good headline for mobile?
He prepared the presentation for Halifax NewsTrain in Nova Scotia on May 6-7, 2016. It is accompanied by a handout, "Writing News for Small Screens," by Frehner. NewsTrain is a training initiative of Associated Press Media Editors (APME). More info: http://bit.ly/NewsTrain

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Writing news for small screens - Matt Frehner - Halifax NewsTrain - May 6-7, 2016

  1. 1. Writing news for small screens @mattfrehner
  2. 2. What we’ll discuss • Who is the ‘mobile reader,’ and what do they want? • What does ‘mobile first’ mean, anyway? • How should a story be structured mobile? • What makes a good headline for mobile?
  3. 3. So, what does ‘mobile first’ mean?
  4. 4. It doesn’t mean doing everything twice. And it doesn’t mean that every story needs to be a Top 10 list.
  5. 5. It means thinking about what type of reader you’re trying to attract, and tailoring your approach to suit their needs and device.
  6. 6. Open your website on your phone • Open your top story. • How is the experience for your audience? • How could it be better?
  7. 7. 5 tips for mobile journalism • Know your audience • Mobile is social, social is mobile • Do one thing, and do it well • Plan for mobile from the beginning • Breaking news is mobile
  8. 8. Know your reader • Who is your reader? • Where are they coming from? • When are they reading? • Why are they coming to you at all?
  9. 9. Know your reader What does your reader expect from a news alert?
  10. 10. How do they read? iPhone Android BlackBerry
  11. 11. What are they reading?
  12. 12. Everything
  13. 13. Where are they coming from? • In short: Social media. • The long answer? It’s complicated
  14. 14. Where your reader is
  15. 15. When are they reading? Desktop Mobile Web iPhone app iPad app
  16. 16. Morning “What do I need to know to start my day?” • Respect the reader • Be efficient • Try to build a habit
  17. 17. Evening commute “What happened today?” • Catch me up • What is everyone talking about? • Give me something fun, a distraction
  18. 18. Late evening / weekend “Teach me something new.” “Take me somewhere I’ve never been” • Sharply written • Narratives • Explanatory • Something fun, whimsical, sharable
  19. 19. Why are they coming to you? (Or, know what you offer that no one else does.)
  20. 20. Structuring a story for mobile • Think about the first screen. Does your lede fit? • With news, write for the reader who scrolls.
  21. 21. Readers will skim. How do we keep them engaged?
  22. 22. Keep them on the page • Clear payoff • Crisp flow • Conversational tone • Concise writing — respect the reader’s time
  23. 23. Practical tips • Summary bullets • Conversational subheads • Linear progression
  24. 24. Practical tips Use images, charts, tweets, etc., to add pacing and break up text.
  25. 25. No need to be fancy
  26. 26. Why headlines matter They’re your reader’s only way into the story
  27. 27. A headline is a contract with the reader. Deliver what they expect.
  28. 28. Good headlines are • Clear and concise • Able to stand alone • Deliver on their promise • For social: personal and relatable • For search: have the right keywords
  29. 29. For social: Nine ways your family finances will change under a Liberal government Headlines that work
  30. 30. For search: Platform comparison: Where the parties stand on the top campaign issues Headlines that work
  31. 31. For a long read: How BlackBerry blew it: The inside story For an opinion piece: Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen Headlines that work
  32. 32. Pick the winners
  33. 33. A: Police say testosterone, needles found in Pistorius bedroom B: Witness heard 'non-stop shouting' at Pistorius' home before girlfriend's death
  34. 34. A: Police say testosterone, needles found in Pistorius bedroom B: Witness heard 'non-stop shouting' at Pistorius' home before girlfriend's death +14%
  35. 35. A: Which car was named Canadian Car of the Year? B: Honda Accord, Hyundai Santa Fe named top vehicles of the year
  36. 36. A: Which car was named Canadian Car of the Year? +53% B: Honda Accord, Hyundai Santa Fe named top vehicles of the year
  37. 37. A: How kinky are Globe readers? Take your best guess B: We asked. You more than answered. The results of The Globe's sex survey
  38. 38. A: How kinky are Globe readers? Take your best guess B: We asked. You more than answered. The results of The Globe's sex survey +150%
  39. 39. A: The duchess, the novelist and the baby bump B: Hilary Mantel vs. 'plastic' Kate Middleton: We missed the point - and Mantel was right
  40. 40. A: The duchess, the novelist and the baby bump B: Hilary Mantel vs. 'plastic' Kate Middleton: We missed the point - and Mantel was right +67%
  41. 41. A: 5 minutes, 8 robbers, a $50-million haul in diamonds B: How 8 robbers stole $50-million in diamonds - in 5 minutes
  42. 42. A: 5 minutes, 8 robbers, a $50-million haul in diamonds B: How 8 robbers stole $50-million in diamonds - in 5 minutes +38%
  43. 43. A: The new old-age security? A job B: 75% of Canadians expect to work past 65: survey
  44. 44. A: The new old-age security? A job B: 75% of Canadians expect to work past 65: survey +31%
  45. 45. A: Why organic produce may be worth the money B: Organic produce may be smaller, but it’s mightier in nutrients
  46. 46. A: Why organic produce may be worth the money +353% B: Organic produce may be smaller, but it’s mightier in nutrients
  47. 47. A: Lying to avoid ICBC premiums after collision costs B.C. couple more than $200,000 B: BC couple lied to save $800; now owe insurance company $200,000
  48. 48. A: Lying to avoid ICBC premiums after collision costs B.C. couple more than $200,000 B: B.C. couple lied to save $800; now owe insurance company $200,000 +67%
  49. 49. A: From sports cars to the Volkswagen Beetle: What to see at the Auto Show B: 6 cars you need to see at the Auto Show (including the surprising new Beetle)
  50. 50. A: From sports cars to the Volkswagen Beetle: What to see at the Auto Show B: 6 cars you need to see at the Auto Show (including the surprising new Beetle) +182%
  51. 51. A: What's ahead for the housing market? B: How much further will home prices drop?
  52. 52. A: What's ahead for the housing market? B: How much further will home prices drop? +53%
  53. 53. A: Canadians back to borrowing as average consumer debt hits new high B: Do you have $27,485 in consumer debt? That's now the average debt load
  54. 54. A: Canadians back to borrowing as average consumer debt hits new high B: Do you have $27,485 in consumer debt? That's now the average debt load +60%
  55. 55. A: A look at the top cars to buy when money isn't an issue B: 5 jaw-dropping cars to buy if money isn't an issue
  56. 56. A: A look at the top cars to buy when money isn't an issue B: 5 jaw-dropping cars to buy if money isn't an issue +62%
  57. 57. Let’s try it out Exercise: • What’s a good headline for this story? • Should it be different for social and search? • Should the lede change for mobile? • Could the story be structured differently?

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