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15 for '15 Online


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Fifteen things today's online news staff should think about and do for 2015 — or before. Updated and revised from the 2014 edition.

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15 for '15 Online

  1. 1. Logan Aimone, MJE Permission granted for educational classroom use only. 15 for ’15 Improving your online
 news operation this year O N L I N E E D I T I O N
  2. 2. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Why try? •Improve constantly. Every year, every month, every week, every story. •Experiment. What you do, and how you do it, should be in flux. Figure out the best practices for your site. •Engage. Better content yields an engaged audience. You want both.
  3. 3. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Try some new endeavors to improve your online news operation. ! You don’t have to try all 15 at once, but you can get started right away.
  4. 4. 15 for ’15: Online Edition No more issues. • Think online first. Don’t save things for the paper. • The website is live. Update it frequently (like, every day). • Don’t just dump your print content online. Post when stories are ready. • Nobody cares about your PDFs. 1
  5. 5. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Go get the audience. • The audience is well beyond your school/student body. • Attract them through social media promotions and referrals, commenting and contextual linking. • Share more. Make it easy. • Referrals matter. 2
  6. 6. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Be the #1 news source. • Your role on campus is to inform your audience, not just to write stories or take photos. • You have a responsibility — an obligation, even — to take that seriously and to do it well. • Your audience needs you to tell the story in a truthful, authentic way. 3
  7. 7. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Cover your school. • Cover things your audience likes — and needs. • More recreation and leisure (horseback riding, boating, hiking, etc.), video games and student views. • Less rehashing of world events, parroting professionals and prognosticating about college/professional sports. • When you commit to a category, you’ll create content for it (health, fitness, finance, consumer news). 4
  8. 8. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Use print + website. • Don't assume the audience is reading both. • If coverage spans both platforms, make sure a reader can catch up through a printed summary or a digital sidebar. • Use website for updates between printed editions. • It’s not just about a story page. Social media posts contribute to communicating to the audience. Consider using Storify. 5
  9. 9. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Provide context. • Tag or categorize related stories. • Use contextual linking, which aids the reader who might be coming late to a story. • Use mug shots and pull quotes. A sidebar can also add a list of facts or summarize past coverage. • Use short links, which are based on the database, not the initial URL. Kill the “” for internal links. 6
  10. 10. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Use the platform. • Tell the story in the most appropriate format. • Embed video and audio clips, images and multimedia pieces to enhance the story for the reader. • Don’t just upload the JPEG file from your paper. Make the image come alive online. • Take advantage of free multimedia resources like Prezi, ThingLink and 7
  11. 11. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Do more lists. • Listicle: A simple, arbitrary grouping
 Example: “18 selfies with dogs” • Definitive list: All-encompassing inventory
 Example: “The 43 best moments from Homecoming 2013” • Framework list: Only exists to structure a narrative; number is arbitrary — whatever it takes to organize/tell the story
 Example: “36 reasons why you should volunteer for the Red Cross” • More info here, here and here. 8
  12. 12. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Tell us about you. • Include staff profiles with useful information and clear, professional mugshots that fit the space provided. • Put your policies, awards, practices and interesting trivia in the “About” section where people can find them. • Provide the name of school and physical address. • Make it easy for visitors to contact you, even with a generic “contact” email. With a form, make sure a confirmation is sent when the form is submitted. 9
  13. 13. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Engage your community. • Allow and encourage comments. Develop a policy. • Develop a robust and appropriate conversation with your audience via story comments and social media. Interact. • Ask followers for story ideas, tips, sources, submissions and feedback on how you are doing. It’s a two-way conversation. • Nerd alert: Use Akismet (free for nonprofits; flags spam). You’ll be glad you did. 10
  14. 14. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Try new social media. • Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Reddit. • Each has a distinct audience. • Discover the journalistic use for things your peers are already using. • Anticipate what's next: Snapchat? Pop? Something else? 11
  15. 15. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Know your audience. • See what people are searching for, how they got to the site, what they are spending time with. • What’s popular? Why? • Use them as a classroom motivator. Can you get more visitors? Can you increase acquisition from certain platforms? 12
  16. 16. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Watch this, and think.
  17. 17. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Audience experience. • Is the site responsive for mobile and tablet readers? • Focus on the content, and make it great. • Have a well-designed UI. • It’s about the UX! 13
  18. 18. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Details matter. • The home page is your dashboard. • Reconfigure based on the news of the day. You have to manage the site every time you post, including balancing widget lengths. • Showcase the most important stories in the carousel, not just the most recent. Help the reader see what matters. • Only use a Twitter feed that compiles tweets or mentions or is specific (sports scores, other interesting links). 14
  19. 19. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Design the story pages • Because of referrals and social media, readers land on the story page first. • Less hub-and-spoke navigation to/from home page. • More inter-category clicking. • Make it easy for the reader to find information and understand the story with context and navigation. 15
  20. 20. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Remember the audience. •Doing a good job means thinking about what the reader needs and using tools to meet those needs •It doesn’t mean just providing a digital version
 of the printed newspapers.
  21. 21. 15 for ’15: Online Edition Thanks! Questions? ! @loganaimone