In my efforts to re-invent journalism I have already begun the process of scouring the web and academic resources for articles and journals which might help inform my ideas. While I have already said I don’t like the process of academic research I am already surprised at some of the resources which I have found.
Today I came across an article published in the Winter 2008, Nieman Reports, by Edward Roussel (@edwardroussel) who is the Digital Editor for Telegraph.co.uk.
The article is entitled ‘To Prepare for the Future, Skip the Present’ and it outlines 10 ways in which newspapers can shift their focus to the digital realm. Many of the tips I think are still very relevant, So in the spirit of sharing information I wanted to share his tips with you. I have tried to add my own take on what Roussel meant by each tip, so here we go.
1. Narrow the focus
Media organisations need to focus on providing content which differs from everyone else. They need to be prepared to spend time and money on providing this exclusive/premium content so they can differentiate themselves from the competition.
2. Plug into a network
Papers need to look at the content they provide and decide what they do well in covering and what they don’t. Once they find the key areas which they fail to provide good coverage in they should link across to someone who provides exceptional coverage. Users will love this.
3. Rolling news with views
Focusing on the readers is important to making content work. Look for when your audience is mostly visiting your site and then focus on providing content during those times. Remember that deadlines for papers always suited publishers but in the digital realm it is the readers who define what you do. Ignore 24hr news coverage and leave this to a wire service allowing you to focus on your readers.
4. Engage with your readers
Encourage your readers to interact with you through comments, forums, or social media. This keeps them interested and makes them feel involved in the news gathering process.
5. Bottom up, not top down
Focus on your reporting staff as they are in the best position to engage with your readers. They are most likely to know what readers are interested in and they should be placed in charge of areas of your site, like blogs, which will get readers talking.
6. Embrace Multimedia
Run workshops to teach your staff the importance of using multimedia resources along with their stories. Multimedia can not only enhance a resource but also keep visitors interested in your online presence. You can also use multimedia very effectively to sell the most important stories you cover. Make sure your editors especially know the importance.
7. Nimble, low cost structures
Look at your costs and consider outsourcing parts of the business which you don’t do well to someone who does. Don’t spend time on advertising if you are not good at selling your ads, consider using Google or another ad-network if they can do a better job. However don’t let this shift your focus from your editorial content as this is what you should be doing well.
8. Invest in the web
If you plan to survive digitally you need to make sure that your web infrastructure can handle it. Push serious money into your website so that it can become the backbone of your new digital news organisation. Your website needs to reflect your new digital focus.
9. Shake up leadership
Get rid of key people who cling too tightly to printed newspapers. They will disrupt your ability to move digital and may become a hindrance to your survival. You don’t need them if they won’t innovate.
To be at the forefront you need to be constantly in development and trying new things. Look for opportunities and don’t be afraid to try them out.