Archive | February, 2013

The Seattle Times shows innovative, productive journalistic atmosphere

19 Feb

The Seattle Times, its work and operations garnered the respect of nearly the entire class after excellent presentations, discussion of proprietary information and talking about how they are innovating in the digital space. Two-thirds of the website’s unique visitors come form outside the Seattle DMA, accounting for one-third of its pageviews. This statistic shows the news organization’s journalistic success in fulfilling its mission to be a national paper. 

Despite this success, editors mentioned that brand confusion still exists between the Times and the PI, which I found interesting to hear. It implies something about human attention to their newspaper when they still do not realize which news brand they are searching for information.

One outlet mentioned at The Seattle Times that wasn’t brought up many other locations on the trip was Reddit. An MU alumnus and reporter said that Reddit is very popular in Seattle, and because of this, many Times staff members are active on the site. I look forward to seeing how Reddit makes a presence in the market and where it fits into journalism.

The most interesting aspect of this visit to me was hearing about the audience segments a research consultancy developed for the newspaper. Because this is a topic of my thesis, I was very engaged with the research portion of our presentation. It was exciting to see a news brand innovate with the notion of having and being aware of a target audience, and the next step is informing the newsroom. Managing editors said this was done through brown bag lunches, but explained that there was still room for improvement in this area. Overall, the Times was one of my favorite stops on the trip and I will be keeping an eye on them to see how their online product differs based on research studies and what they do to cater to the audience segments. 

-Katie Artemas

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MSN News: Sharing is Caring

18 Feb

While I was skeptical prior to meeting with MSN News, I was quite impressed with its business model and content strategies. I wouldn’t say I’m sure MSN News will be a success, but there’s no doubt what MSN is trying to do is unique and innovative. 

One idea from the presentation that I really liked was seeking out stories that are likely to be shared. Share-ability, as I now call it, is such an important part of news judgement in the internet age. Sure, some stories will garner cheap clicks, but if the content doesn’t distinguish itself, readers will simply click off the page. If the content truly resonates with readers, they will be tempted to share it with friends, driving more traffic toward MSN News. This is a seemingly obvious strategy, but not one that is always employed. 

Another aspect of the presentation that stood out was the “rumors” section, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I think it’s fantastic that someone will confirm or deny rumors that spread like wildfire in the social media age. Still, when it comes to keeping up with rumors, there is a wide margin for error, which could cause a loss in credibility. 

Finally, I was quite surprised when Steve told the group that he doesn’t consider Yahoo! or Huffington Post competition. Quite frankly, I think he is wrong. Both of those more-established news outlets are producing similar content and using some of the same means to distribute it. 

Two Geeks and A vision

18 Feb

I did enjoy visiting Geek Wire. This is the type of business that I think is laying the foundation for the future of journalism. Their business model allows them to create relevant and valuable information for free or at low costs while creating a newsroom that interacts with their customers and readership both online and in person. They provide a product that people are willing to pay for in the form of their conferences. This is a very innovative ideas because they are not just holding generic events such as a cookout or free show and putting their name on a it like some news organizations may do, they are holding conferences that provide networking opportunities and valuable advice that they are able to demand a premium price for without limiting their audience.

– Robert Abel

Tom Focoloro Response

18 Feb

It was interesting to meet Mr. Focoloro and learn about how he found a niche market for his bike blogs. Unfortunately I was sitting the furthest away from him so I wasn’t able to hear everything he was saying. But from what I did hear he is doing what he does purely from his passion of writing and I am happy that he is able to make a living doing that.

– Robert Abel

Seattle P.I. Response

18 Feb

Our trip to the Seattle P.I. was somewhat very depressing and gloomy. Not because of the presenters or our host, but because we visited a very large office space that at one time was fully functional that now is host to a lot of empty office space. This visit gave me a very grim outlook on the future of journalism as it this trip was somewhat of a fair representation of the reality of most newsrooms across the country. Journalists are being laid off at an alarming rate and it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish yourself as a good journalist because great journalists are being laid off across the board.

– Robert Abel

Journalism in the time of slideshows

18 Feb

I guess I can say I’m happy we paid the Seattle Post-Intelligencer a visit while the luster of a big city had yet to wear off. In a word, the place was disappointing. I say this so bluntly in the name of concision – obviously, I was far from underwhelmed for most of the visit. In fact, I’d be prepared to do about anything to work somewhere with such a killer view of the Sound. In hindsight, though, my enthusiasm putters out there.

Still, I respect that the PI has had to make some tough choices. I respect even more that its staff continues to defend those choices. I admire anyone who can so stubbornly follow Tim Gunn’s “make-it-work” philosophy. And by and large, the PI has made it work. Its staff mentioned a devoted following, and in doing my research for trip, I found myself browsing several of the PI’s slideshows, namely How to avoid looking like a tourist in Seattle and Seattle’s 15 best coffee shops (although I’m not sure I agree with Starbucks).

That those articles were the top results for my Google queries (Sorry, Microsoft) means the folks at the PI know a thing or two about SEO, not to mention many of their stories feature input from engaged readers. Moreover, you’d be hard-pressed to find an organization that knows its audience better. With a staff of 12, a story that’s not going to get a lot of attention is traffic — and revenue — lost. Maybe it’s not a perennial contender for a Pulitzer, but I have to give the PI props for doing what it can with what it’s got.

As journalists, it’s easy to fall into the hard-news-is-the-only-news trap. At the end of the day, though, we all end up on sites like the PI — even if we aren’t necessarily interested in working for them. Because it represented one of two poles on the journalistic spectrum, the PI visit lent a certain roundness to our itinerary. Thus, while it might have been harrowing, spending an hour at the slideshow capital of the world was certainly worth it.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Cat Slideshows

18 Feb

All of the empty office space we saw when we first walked into the Seattle Post-Intelligencer would prove telling in terms of the state of the organization. What was once a 150-person staff producing a print publication has been reduced to a 12-person web-only operation.

It wasn’t the web-only format that perturbed me at the P.I.; we all know that is where the industry is headed. What bothered me was the type of journalism our guides claimed to practice at the P.I. Instead of providing readers with in depth, fleshed out stories, the P.I.’s focus is on what I call “news lite.” This includes photo-centric content like slideshows and celebrity news, fluffy features as opposed to hard news and just an overall lack of depth.

This was my least favorite stop on the trip and, fortunately, it was all uphill from here.