How do journalists compete in a large media market?

“Your title tag and description are your first impression to attract potential audience” said Monica Wright. “You capture new online readership by setting yourself apart with useful and engaging tags.”

Building an audience online also includes:

  • tracking your content
  • web analytics
  • search engine optimization (SEO)
  • effective headline writing for the Web
  • distribution through social media

What should you be tracking? Anything that is able to be tracked! Start by using the baker’s dozen list below:

  • total news stories per day
  • news stories by topic or section
  • total blog posts per day
  • blog posts by specific blog
  • slide shows per week
  • video stories per week
  • podcasts or other audio stories
  • news updates
  • breaking news e-mail alerts
  • SMS or other mobile network alerts
  • e-mail news letters that are not sent automatically
  • Twitter, Facebook or other social network posts
  • user-generated content

By using web analytics, you will be able to track your audiences in order to learn what your audience is consuming. Web analytics softwares allow you to identify key data points, such as:

  • pageviews
  • visits and unique visitors compared
  • engagement and referrers

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) assist in driving more audience to ideas that people are excited about. SEO’s perform three main functions:

  • spiders and robots: small computer programs that are sent out by search engines line Google and Bing to “crawl” the Internet and track and record the information found on Web pages
  • indexing: take the information sent from the spiders and robots and build large database files with references to all the content connected to the right links
  • queries: takes the keywords you’ve searched to look in the index for the most relevant results — it then returns and presents those results on Web pages for you to explore

When creating a headline, be sure to write for readers and robots. In order to make headlines better:

  • use keywords
  • user conversational language
  • don’t be afraid to inject a little attitude

Social media is great at distributing information to many channels. Mark Briggs suggests:

The future of journalism means managing online communities and participating in various social networks,” said Mark Briggs. One of the greatest challenges facing journalists now is how to manage and leverage news conversation in social media networks.

The problem with news as a conversation is that participants are rarely as constructive or respectful as journalists and other readers would like. There are either too many conversations for news organizations to manage, or there are too few comments that generate actual conversation around the news.

While some journalists shy away from the interactiveness of reader comments, Doug Feaver, creator of the dot.comments blog, suggests that “comments provide a forum for readers to complain about what they see as unfairness or inaccuracy in an article, to talk to each other and to bloviate.”

Feaver makes a great argument – news conversation does have wonderful benefits, such as:

  • they provide transparency on the reporting process
  • they enable an immediate feedback loop
  • they spread awareness of news coverage through word-of-mouth marketing

News conversation allows more tips to be discovered and more links to be shared, according to BeatBlogging‘s Patrick Thornton. Knowledgable users can provide journalists with tips, links additional insight or even clarify a post.

Journalists should make news participatory so that audiences can contribute to news and information by suppling additional:

  • photos
  • videos
  • event lists (on calendar sites)
  • edits (on wiki sites)
  • message board posts
  • blog posts
  • votes and recommendations
  • promotin on other social media sites (ex: Digg and SumbleUpon)

There is the 1-10-100 rule for participatory online community sites that states:

  • 1% of the user community actual create content
  • 10% of the user community will synthesize the content by posting comments, e-mailing links to friends, authoring blog posts on separate sites and linking back to it, etc.
  • 100% of the user community will benefit from the actions of the first two groups

Journalists should be responsible for keeping all news conversations accurate and ethical. They can do this by:

  • setting guidelines for participants
  • monitoring offensive postings
  • knowing their legal responsibilities
  • correcting errors

Former Senator George Allen (R-Va.), who announced that he will be running for his old seat in the 2012 Senate race, met with C-SPAN’s Steve Scully to discuss federal and state spending.

Allen, who strongly believes that more decisions should be made by the people, said that the federal government should not be starting new programs while there is so much debt. In fact, he blames the federal government’s laws and regulations for our country’s “ballooning national debt.”

“The federal government needs to get it’s own house in order and begin to operate the way families and businesses do,” Allen said. “If there is no money coming in, then they need to stop spending.”

One way to increase revenue in the United States is by utilizing the abundant, plentiful coal resources within our own country. Approximately 41 percent of our trade deficit is due to the importation of oil, according to Allen. He recommends the federal government to allow states to explore off the coast so that we can keep the money and jobs at home.

“If the French can do it, so can Americans,” Allen said.

Students are now facing a different world from Reagan’s days, according to Allen.

“Our competition now is all of Europe,” Allen said. “They’re all over the world.

The method in competing with the rest of the world is through knowledge, according to Allen. Once we beat out the competition, we can “celebrate after victory!,” exclaimed Allen.

To view the conference, please visit:

Jon DeNunzio, user engagement editor at the Washington Post, visited out COMM 361 class on March 3 to discuss the value of integrating social media into journalism.

Why use social media?

  • Receive consumer feedback
  • Reach broad audiences
  • Increase interactivity; users/audiences want to be part of the news
  • It’s where the users are – cannot expect they’ll go to your main site
  • Assist journalist with reporting
  • Builds relationship with users; users/audiences want to be talked to and to talk back
  • It allows us to build relationship with users – want to talk to and talk back; can help bring trust back

Be social with users.

  • Run a poll (SurveyGizmo or Twiigs)
  • Pay attention to comments
  • Ask for ideas (AllOurIdeas)
  • Answer user questions
  • Use the knowledge of the crowd, aka “crowd-sourcing”

There are many ways to connect with users/audiences.

Why college students should care.

  • Very few people can contribute an idea about how they can really connect with users
  • Journalism is constantly changing, especially on the digital side

Audio is considered the invisible medium, but what journalists forget is that “sounds allow listeners to see with the best lens of all, the mind,” said best-selling author Jim Stovall.

Without text or visual images, audio can produce a rich experience.

Karin Hogh, a podcasting expert based in Denmark, said that “audio journalism has characteristics that can’t be matched by other forms of media,” which are:

  • presence
  • emotions
  • atmosphere

“Using these assets, you can communicate your ‘personal’ perception of the events and add many facets and also take advantage of audio as a background medium,” said Hogh.

Audio journalism is a quick and simple way to distribute information via podcasts, which feature one type of “show” with new episodes available either sporadically or at planned intervals. The use of podcasts help build loyal listeners.

All journalists really need in order to create full-featured sound segments are:

  • a microphone
  • a recorder
  • a free software

Brief audio reports can also be created through the use of a mobile phone. This allows news journalists to quickly and easily cover news breaking scenes.

To get started in creating podcasts, one must record interviews. It is important to:

  • write a script
  • warm up
  • choose your location
  • gather natural sound
  • prepare your subject(s)
  • watch what you say
  • mark the best spots
  • always, always, always keep it conversational!

Keep in mind that “the goal is to record with the highest quality possible and then edit the files before compressing the files to publish and distribute it online,” said Mark Briggs.

When editing, look for audio-editing programs that are:

  • easy to use
  • have the capability to export files in MP3 format

All audio clips should be in MP3 format because virtually any computer can play an MP3. Briggs suggests using programs such as Audacity and JetAudio.

Try to experiment with different techniques to bring even more life into your audio. Some techniques include:

  • fading: a gradual increase or decrease in level of the audio
  • cross-fading: a mix of fades with one track level increasing while another decreases
  • establishing music: use of song clips to set tone
  • segueing: smoothly transitioning from one track to another
  • transitioning: connecting different tracks in a way that is smooth and natural

Visit PodCastAwards to listen to some award-winning podcasts.

Journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs,” Mark Briggs said.

Photographs are important in journalism, and in all other aspects, because they are able to expand on a story in a way that words cannot. In order to fully express an idea, journalists must understand how to capture the perfect image.

When possible, shoot images using natural light. Avoid shooting with a flash or mixture of flashes. If bright sunlight is in front of subjects being photographs, it will create face shadows and make people squint; if the sun is behind the subjects then their faces will be darker.

Great photographs are the ones where viwerers can see a picture within a picture.

According to Val Hoeppner, the biggest mistake amateurs and beginners make is that they do not get close enough to their subjects or to the action happening in front of them. Hoeppner suggests taking 10 steps forward after journalists think they are close enough to a subject.

Two secrets for capturing better photos are to be patient and to take more photographs.

Once journalists are done capturing photos, they should then edit them for online publishing.

Editing advice:

  • Edit a copy of the photo – never the original.
  • Crop the photo.
  • Resize the picture.
  • Modify the resolution.
  • Tone and color correct the picture.
  • Save a Web version.
  • Keep it simple.

Remember that adding and/or removing objects from an image is strictly forbidden.  An image should never be altered in a way that can “mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects,” says Briggs.

“In this day and age of photo manipulation, students new to photojournalism must understand and adhere to the ethics of not creating images that lie or are deceptive to the viewer,” says Colin Mulvany.

Photo editing software:

According to computer scientists, cell phones are changing how we live and how we think about information.

The advancement of cell phones has brought rise to mobile reporting. Reporters no longer have to depend on photographers or camera crews to capture an event, and can now rely on their handy-dandy multi-purpose cell phones. And if they aren’t at the scene to capture footage, they can turn to news consumers.

Mobile reporting is especially helpful in breaking news situations when others arrive at a scene before professional journalists, according to Briggs. Mobile reporting allows anyone with a cell phone to contribute images, videos and/or information that journalists do not have in order to complete a story.

Always, always, always:

  • Keep it simple. Minimize equipment.
  • Be prepared. Have all the tools needed to report in any medium – at anytime, from anywhere.

How to publish while on the field:

When to go mobile?

  • Criminal and civil trials
  • Important speeches or announcements by public officials
  • Breaking news events
  • Public gatherings (protests, parades, rallies)
  • Sporting events
  • Grand openings of popular consumer destinations

And remember, for a mobile journalist, the deadline is now.

I found that Mandy Jenkin‘s post,’There’s a whole Internet outside of Twitter, so don’t forget it,’ was a good post after reading the fourth chapter of Mark Briggs‘ “Journalism Next.”

In ‘Microblogging: Write Small, Think Big,’ Briggs really emphasizes the benefits of microblogging. It assists in building interactive communities that allow members to quickly share and disperse news and/or information.

While the emergence of microblogging has allowed journalists and readers to respond and react to one another right away, it is important to note that not everyone is part of the microblogging sphere.

In Jenkins said that according to a Pew study, only eight percent of Americans on the web use Twitter, and of the eight percent, only two percent use Twitter on a typical day.

Jenkins wants us to remember that:

  • Twitter represents a very small group of people.
  • Re-tweets, replies and Twitters referrals do not adequately represent the interest or importance of your work as a journalist.
  • Most people that use Twitter don’t use it to get news.

It is important for all of us, especially journalists, to keep in mind that only a small population uses Twitter to obtain news. Therefore, we cannot primarily depend on microblogging to get readers’ attention.

Jenkins suggests other avenues for reaching audiences, such as:

  • Networking with other Web sites and blogs
  • Buying advertising online
  • Meeting people

Briggs taught me that microblogging is a very useful tool to reach out in order to be “in the loop” of everything that is happening around me. His chapter has inspired me to turn more attention to Twitter and microblogging sites, but Jenkin’s blog reminded me that not everyone uses Twitter.

While Twitter is an important news-gathering and news-dispersing tool, it is not the only one out there — and it is definitely not the only tool that readers use!

What is microblogging?
A service that allows users to publish brief text messages, usually no more than 140 characters, with links to other Web sites, photos or videos.

Why microblog?

  • Allows you to share a link to the article you’ve written.
  • Your content will get read much quicker.
  • Connects you with other journalists and readers.

Why is community important?

  • Response and reaction is the WHOLE point of microblogging!
  • The biggest benefit of microblogging is learning about your audience.
  • Invite your audiences to work with you.
  • Your audiences could help you look for leads, find background or other information on a particular subject/event.

80-20 Rule.
Use 80 percent of your posts to add something of value to the community and the other 20 percent can be used for self-promotion (links to your other articles, blogs, etc.)

Ambient awareness or ambient intimacy: the ability to maintain a constant connection with others without a direct communication tool like phone or e-mail; allows for one-to-many communication

The emergency of the “Real-Time Web.”

  • It allows readers to know what is happening right now.
  • Users on a scene can start spreading the word immediately.
  • Countless news stories break first on Twitter.

Advice to journalist students…

  • “One great thing about Twitter — and this is why it is so useful to student journalists — is that after a while it trains you to look for interesting things around you (and think how you can communicate that in 140 characters,” said Bradshaw, a journalism lecturer in Birmingham, England.
  • “The opportunity of social media is important to younger journalists just starting out. News companies expect that interns and fresh-out-of-college new hires will possess a proficiency in social media. In fact, proficiency with new technology can help you land your first job” Briggs said.

Mandy Jenkins, Social Media Editor of, visited our class on Feb. 10, to discuss the importance of social media networks in one’s professional and personal life.

Jenkin’s advices:

  • Build a blog to reach a lot of people.
  • You should do personal work to get yourself hired.
  • Interact and connect with others – get your name out there!


  • Local news Web site for D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland
  • Covers local (ex: Metro) and hyper-local news (ex: neighborhoods)
  • Likes to cover big or small stories that affect people’s day-to-day lives.
  • A team of 15 reporters and 200+ bloggers
  • Work with freelancers

The Role of a Social Media Editor:

  • 90% of time is spent listening, researching, digging into information that is available – particularly through Twitter
  • Tweets help reporters get a jump start on what to write about
  • 10% of time spent sending news to CNN, Huffington Post, etc. to get attention

TBD’s bloggers:

  • Found based on their credibility
  • TBD links directly to blogger’s post
  • TBD not responsible for what is posted by bloggers

Helpful Websites:

  • HootSuite or TweetDeck – builds Twitter lists
  • Twellow – lists Twitters by popularity
  • Trendsmap – shows what people are talking about in different areas of the country
  • Storify – builds a story that pulls in other people’s Tweets, photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube
  • Xtranormal – aids in creating animation