Brevity, clarity and wit.. designed to be ‘finishable’ – a template for news apps

From the Economist’s preview of its own Espresso morning news digest app/email shot. I’ve yet to try Espresso, at least in digital format (chuckles to self), but strikes me that this should be a mantra for all such products :

brevity, clarity and wit, it provides a concentrated, stimulating shot of global analysis that can be consumed quickly as part of your morning routine. Like the weekly, it is designed to be “finishable”—gathering up what you need to know into a compact package

Could be a general template for all new news products. It’s what makes the i newspaper and The Week digest in print still so appealing in our seemingly time-poor digital age.

How Twitter helps you teach better

Richard Kendall:

Twitter has many uses across many professions, news media and education being two obvious entry points.
The key elements that it breaks down barriers and it’s immediacy make it too valuable a communication tool to be ignored.
Mr Buttry has a good collection of curated examples highlighting the value of Twitter by crowdsourcing the question via Twitter – making such a task easier, quicker and reach a far wider audience than in olden times.

Originally posted on The Buttry Diary:

At today’s meeting of the faculty of the Manship School of Mass Communication, I will be discussing why and how faculty should use Twitter.

Dean Jerry Ceppos asked me to discuss the topic following my discussion earlier this month about why editors should be active on Twitter. We agreed that a similar discussion of Twitter’s value in teaching communication students would be helpful.

Both to gather more views than just mine (and to demonstrate Twitter’s usefulness in crowdsourcing), I asked my tweeps:

My tweeps, as usual, were most helpful in their responses:

My examples lean more toward teaching journalism than the other specialties taught in the Manship School: political communication, advertising and public relations. I think a lot of the advice…

View original 47 more words

Newsroom skills and essential training

Advice from head of operations at the Financial Times’ Lisa MacLeod on changing newsroom culture at the 13th International Newsroom Summit, from 10 ideas from the FT for digital change in newsrooms –, a few choice points and quotes:

‘Training 101′

Skills such as “basic web production, tagging, hyperlinks [and] understanding media law that applies to the internet” are all important areas that may seem like a given for young journalists in 2014, she said, but are areas in which an organisation needs to be responsible for training its staff.

all newsrooms and journalists should understand how, why and when their audiences read stories.

‘Decoding code’

Coding lets staff “take journalism and turn it into something functional on the web that is easy to use”, she explained, and is something all journalists should at least have a passing knowledge of.

‘Creative collaboration’

Different departments and teams are regularly invited to work together to come up with new ideas, she said.

‘Communicating and educating’

The FT has an in-house editorial blog, where journalists are invited to share ideas from inside the newsroom but also anything they spot from competitors that may be of value, said MacLeod.

FOI: How local journalists make a difference by sticking with a story

Richard Kendall:

A great example of utilising FOI to dig out the important facts that can’t be ignored. And hoping this story goes some way to getting some of those flood defences repaired…

Originally posted on David Higgerson:


At certain times in the last 12 months, it will have been quite hard to avoid journalists in the West Country as news outlets from across the country followed wave after wave of floods hitting the region.

The 24-hour news cycle, the instant update world of social media and the ease of publishing online have all combined to ensure big events become ones of national focus very quickly. As a result, the thirst to lay blame can emerge more quickly, which in turn can result in big promises and pledges from those in power.

The widespread flooding in the South West resulted in big promises from the Government to get flood defences fixed, and rivers dredged to reduce the risk of a repeat this year.

Almost a year on, and it’s pretty much only the local media who are still covering a story which, for a while, led national news…

View original 361 more words

Is hard news not the place for humour (yes, sometimes)

Jim Tyner, Community Policing Inspector for South Holland in Lincolnshire highlighted the question of whether it’s appropriate to inject an element of humour into hard news on social media with this tweet this morning:

Once reply asked ” taking it seriously then?”, a fair point given it came from an official police account, but as Jim points out, particularly in the social media environment, straight and serious updates aren’t always going to capture interest.

With careful judgement, a small injection of humour can go some way to getting a story or piece of information to a far wider audience, in this case, helping to solve a crime…

The newsroom strategy of the now

Never mind a vision of a newsroom of the future, here’s The Telegraph’s latest digital strategy, via @theguardian.

Regardless of anything else the Telegraph has done or is doing, the strategy as described makes sense in a stripped-down newsroom environment.

It highlights a streamlined approach to production and workflows, moving “beyond the concept of “digital first”:

“The engine driving the content decisions is the 80 million worldwide unique users per month. But readers of the newspaper will not notice a difference, the paper is still a crown jewel.”

Staff have been told to embrace a new editorial ethos with five main elements:

  1. One integrated print/digital newsroom.
  2. Two shifts worked each day, one from 6am and one ending at midnight.
  3. Three speeds to work at, from fast for breaking news to slower for a feature.
  4. Four key skills for each journalist: social, video, analytics and search engine optimisation [SEO].
  5. Five deliverable ideas required from each desk each day: including one video, one shareable and one interactive

Overall, I don’t see an issue with this as a set of guidelines on how a newsroom should be forging forwards in 2014.

The shift patterns – an open-ended discussion, dependent on news publication/resource etc. – apart the rest appears a realistic appraisal of how news content should be produced in reaction to how news consumers are hungrily consuming. So my take on the above list, in order:

  • 1. Content creation shouldn’t be split between teams, content is content regardless of publishing platform, seems inefficient to have multiple teams working independently on content.
  • 2. Technically you could argue journalists are somewhat on duty 24/7 in the social sphere – clearly unworkable and unmanageable long-term, but flexibility in working practices has to be acknowledged. The news cycle doesn’t/shouldn’t revolve around print deadlines any more – at least as little as possible given legacy media production needs.
  • 3. Different types of story need a different set of technical skills, quicker reaction to in depth research, all clearly underpinned by journalistic standards, ethics and quality, see @martinbelam on this: Oh my word the Telegraph has given up on reporting the news!.
  • 4. Four key skills:
  • Social is a given for news publishing, both as a means of finding, searching for news, engaging with the audience and pushing out content and links to content;
  • video  is an accessible means of content and can’t be ignored, but tools and quality control important;
  • analytics are vital, even simple page view figures give an idea of the potential audience or interest or success of publishing process;
  • SEO follows as a basic requirement, understanding how to write for digital platforms, be it hard news, features, and sharing on different social platforms – all require SEO understanding.
  • 5. Targets are always decisive for content creation outside of print, the digital world can take endless content, but some sort of guide for journalists even if not 100% strict is required.

Following up on the issue of targets:

Further reading:

Jasper Jackson at The Media Briefing asked: Can the Telegraph build a digital business model to match its new editorial focus?

These editorial changes look set to put the Telegraph on the right path editorially, but it will be interesting to see if the newspaper can come up with a healthy digital business model to match.