5 tips for journalists entering the digital world

At the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference at Bournemouth University, a panel were asked to give advice to new journalists. Here you can find  the five most important tips that were shared that day.

1. Build your own brand
It’s not about the newspaper you work for, it’s about you and only you. You have to become your own brand. This was called the ‘big shift in our era’. For example, on Twitter, by far the most important source of news now, it’s about the individual.

2. Be good storytellers, but also understand the business
It goes without saying that a good journalist needs writing skills. You have to be able to tell a story.

But nowadays it’s also very important that a modern journalist knows his/her programs.

3. Being a curator
The role journalists play in delivering content to their audience is big: through curation and aggregation. They have to make sure the news they produce is real and they have to present it short and clear to their audience. Besides, thanks to the Internet, journalists can add all their source information. There’s no limit.

4. Engage with your community beyond the article
Journalists have the possibilities and the devices to communicate with their audience. That’s one of the biggest changes the last 30 years. But, still they wait for the audience to come to ‘them’. It’s their job to go to them (Liisa Rohumaa).

5. Ask difficult questions
As a journalist, it’s your job to ask questions. Curiosity is the key.

Introducing: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free Google-service to collect site statistics. The purpose of this service is to give the administrator an accurate insight on page views, visitor rates and traffic sources. By using this service, an administrator can adapt advertisements or parts of the site to make it more suitable for the readers.

Google Analytics offers several important functions, displayed on the dashboard, such as: the number of visitors, page views, average time people visit the site,.. . Also the service gives you very useful information on the site’s findability, a term for the ease with which information contained on a website can be found, both from outside the website and by users already on the website.

Google Analytics: the disadvantages

The service uses JavaScript, which means that it is possible that some visitors aren’t counted. This means that the statistics aren’t that complete and there might be some ‘holes’. That gives you a distorted view of the visitors. Another disadvantage: due to the performance of JavaScript, it sometimes take a little while to load the page.

KPI

Google Analytics gives you the opportunity to see dozens of KPI reports (Key Performance Indicators), but there are so many, even for advanced users. In this blog post, you can find the most important indicators a content creator needs to focus on.

  • Bounce rate: the number of visitors who enter the site and bounce (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages on the site. For example: if 90% of the visitors arrive at your site, view only one page and leave the site,  you have a bounce rate of 90%. The lower this rate is, the better. The average percentage is between 40 and 60 percent.
  • Average time on site/page viewers per visit: a high number means visitors are engaging with your contents. Those two rates are not positively correlated: visitors may spend more time reading some selected contents, but view fewer pages during their visit, resulting in a high number in time and low in page views.
  • New vs. returning visitors: this depends on the focus of your site. if your organization is proactive in online marketing or promotion, you should expect a higher number of new visitors, otherwise someone needs to take a closer look  at either the promotion or the contents. on the other hand: a niche or hyper-local site may expect a larger portion of returning visitors.
  • Frequency and recency: how frequently do visitors return to your site within a time frame? If visitors only come once and don’t return you might think that you’re marketing your site to the wrong audience.

    Read the full article here.

Kranten dalen, internet stijgt

Volgens een enquête van het Nederlandse TNS NIPO halen jongeren nieuws vooral van de televisie en het internet. 87% verneemt het nieuws via televisie, 65% via internet. Jongeren halen amper nog nieuws uit de kranten. Dat cijfer daalde van 59% naar 37%.

Kranten blijven maar lezers verliezen. Het lijkt alsof internet alles overneemt. Ik persoonlijk vind dat erg jammer. Vindt niemand het dan nog leuk om een papieren krant te lezen? Het gevoel van papier in je hand, het sukkelen met de bladzijden als je ze wil omdraaien,… Een papieren krant blijft toch iets unieks dat niet te vervangen valt? Internet is dit digitale tijdperk inderdaad heel normaal geworden. Maar moet alles dan vervangen worden door internet? Ik zou het heel erg jammer vinden als papieren kranten voorgoed zouden verdwijnen.

Op een website is alles ook anders. De artikels zijn korter en bondiger, de lay-out mist,… Ieder artikel heeft op internet een eigen pagina. Ik zou het missen dat kranten alles zo goed bij elkaar gepast krijgen en dat alles zo mooi aansluit bij elkaar. Beeld het je in: een reportage met een kaderstuk en een paar streamers met een aantal mooie foto’s perfect gepositioneerd… Zou het niet spijtig zijn als we dat allemaal enkel nog via internet te zien zouden krijgen?

How can online journalism survive?

Journalist Mathew Ingram thinks it’s hard for online journalism to survive these days. Without a wealthy benefactor it’s almost impossible to have enough fundings. A few of his tips are to find a rich benefactor or to ask for donations. I think Ingram is right.

Today the world of journalism is changing to a digital world. Printed newspapers don’t have the succes they once had anymore. But what nobody seems to think about is that it’s not easy to fund online journalism. How can you make a succesful newssite without the money you need for it? I think Ingram is right and that you have to let the world help you. Without a rich benefactor I don’t think it’s possible to keep a website going. Another option is to ask for donations. But it’s not very easy to convince people to donate money for a website. People are used to the free news. In the digital media adds are too cheap and they don’t bring enough money to sustain a website.

Another option is of course to let people pay for the articles you post on your newssite, but I think a lot of people won’t use your newssite anymore. They don’t want to pay for articles they probably don’t even read completely. I think paywalls have an opposite effect and that newssites will lose clients by making the site paying. There are of course the people who have a subscription to the printed newspaper, they won’t mind to pay for the site as well. But the people who don’t subscribe to one newspaper and are used to go from one newssite to another, won’t want to pay to read articles. So I think there aren’t any other options than the ones that Ingram suggests. The world of journalism, printed and online, becomes harder each day and we will have to find a way to fund our journalism or otherwise journalism will slowly disappear.Read the article by Mathew Ingram here.

“Is there a difference between online news and printed press?”

Today I ran into an interesting opinion piece from De Standaard, written by Tom Naegels.

After the promotion around the new Belgian newssite NewsMonkey, on which already an article has been written on the blog, Tom Naegels would like to share his opinion about the online journalism in Belgium.

First, he doesn’t believe that the Internet will enhance the quality of journalism. He gives some examples of mistakes made on online news sites. He believes too many errors are being made on online platforms. Of course, that is not only the case on news sites, the actual printed press makes mistakes as well. That’s why he doesn’t accept the saying that online is better than print. They both make the same mistakes.

Second, he also argues that some news sites aren’t real news sites. Some of the online platforms don’t bring news, they bring opinion and in-depth stories. So there’s a difference.

Moreover, he cannot know if the information on the news sites is correct. There is less monitoring and control on what the sites publish, and there are no real competitors who place an opposing view.

Tom Naegels thinks that news on the internet is going the same way as news in the printed press. There are professionals and amateurs, correct and incorrect information, sensation and depth. That’s normal. And so there’s not really a difference between the two.

You can read the entire article (in Dutch) here

Blogging is fashionable

“What do you think of when J says “poor”? Is it your short of cash? Or is it your state of mind?”

This quotation welcomes everybody, who visits the Museum of Fashion in Antwerp, Belgium. When I first saw this sentence, it immediately made me thinking about how fashion is irreversibly related to one’s true state of mind.

And so is blogging.

When I walk down Meir Str. a.k.a the shopping street in Antwerp, sometimes I find the clothes in the shop windows crazy and sometimes I find them quite cool. If you really think about it, fashion is about expressing yourself. Just like publishing articles in a blog. Designers show who they are by making clothes. We can do it by posting our opinion in a blog on the internet.  Some people may find our thoughts crazy, but others can be amazed by our ideas.

We should not be afraid of expressing ourselves. The clothes in the shops on Meir Str. are fashionable, which means that expressing yourself is fashionable. Blogging is a way to express yourself and thus it is fashionable.

So, go for it, publish your craziest ideas and see how many new friends you will find. Blogging is fashionable. Be fashionable 🙂

4 stages of the online journalistic process

We have learned in class there are 4 stages in the journalistic process on the web. Gathering, distilling, presenting and engaging. The first 3 are also used for the traditional media, although engaging is only for online journalism.

1. Gathering

Traditional media Online journalism
People used to phone in newsitems. Governments and so on contacted the newspapers on their own accord. How do we gather our news these days? We find our inspiration on the web. Everybody (companies, magazines..) puts there newsitems on their site. Journalists keep a close tap on sites with newsfacts that interest them, and transform those into articles.

2. Distilling

Traditional media Online journalism
In a newspaper, it is a single person who decides which articles are published. He or she is called an editor-in-chief, and his/her job is (amongst other things) to pick the articles for the next issue. Nowadays, the journalism decides what he or she writes an article about. Because there isn’t just one medium for them to publish in, they have the entire world wide web for that.

3. Presenting

Traditional media Online journalism
Presentation was very easy in traditional media. Not very much the job of the journalist, but of professional designers. Journalists only finished their stories, they didn’t really worry about the presentation. The way of presentation has certainly changed. You can now post newsarticles on blogs, and these are different then traditional newssites, they are focussed on 1 theme. And the way of presenting your article has to be attuned to the reader.

4. Engaging

Traditional media Online journalism
There was no engagement with the readers and the writers. It used to be a one-way-street, the traditional media supplied the stories, and we read them. The most used way of engaging is of course with social media, but there are other ways. Authors sometimes give gifts away, when you for instance retweet them. Gifts like eBooks and so on. And on the bottom of almost every page on the web, you find the part where you can give your opinion. Journalists can here see how their articles are received by the public.