Tag Archives: Seattle

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. 

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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.

Post-Intelligencer disappoints hopeful journalism students

18 Feb

Visiting the Post-Intelligencer was a very realistic, yet depressing journalistic experience. Immediately upon entering, walking through the empty office space was a signal of dying journalism. Our conversation with Sarah and Scott came off as very defensive—because rather than looking at journalism as a public good or informing citizens, it very much seemed like the PI was reporting for necessity and survival rather than enjoyment or altruism in their work.

Although the PI’s model is realistic to cater to today’s needs, it was discouraging to hear them settle on the notion that feature & enterprise stories that push traffic are more important than hard news pieces or in-depth analyses. We joked about cat stories the entire trip, but it’s the truth that online publications are embracing things like this. Reporters have to be careful what they are taking up for enjoyment if they want to uphold the PI brand’s reputation of catering to highly educated Seattle-area residents and a male-skewed audience.

Because this was our first visit, it was the first publication where we heard about changing media habits because of tablets and mobile devices. Here, we discussed the spike in readership and online habits around 8 pm, and this was a finding that I was able to compare media vehicles to during the rest of the trip. Overall, while this was not my favorite stop, I am glad we learned about adjusting to a dramatic situation of altering content so it will be seen and developing enterprise ideas that cater to the true audience.

-Katie Artemas

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GeekWire shows successful media entrepreneurship

18 Feb

John Cook & his co-workers at GeekWire are well-rounded entrepreneurs, showing us a great example of a startup that has a monetization model, as well as journalistic ethical standards. They are role models for all of us because they have proven that good writing and business skills, networking and a niche focus are vital to a successful startup.

GeekWire shows how niches can build community, and the content that follows can be treated like community journalism. This type of work is shared through internet posts, discussion boards and an interconnected sphere of readers engaged with this information, with a continual discussion around story topics and what is emerging. Community journalism is spread through outreach, which can be done with events, sharing in the correct social community or emailing others stories.

The fact that 40 percent of GeekWire’s revenue comes from their private events says a lot about the role of community events in niche journalism and internet news sites today. The company has built a competitive community around its content that wants to not only come hear speakers, but meet other readers and subscribers in an environment that lets them feel exclusive. The network John Cook built up from his reputation contributes to the publication like no other, since he can bring in credible speakers from Expedia and other popular sites. His lessons are inter-related with many speakers at Mizzou, who recommend learning the resources of large companies before innovating too soon into your own.

Overall, John and Taylor’s stories of what they get to cover, how they enterprise ideas and how their events are run provide inspiration for startups everywhere and show how good journalism can be produced in the local and sub-national tech sphere.

-Katie Artemas

SeattlePI.com a testament to journalism’s endurance

11 Feb

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The SeattlePI isn’t what it used to be. That’s apparent by their already small office that seemed to include several empty cubicles. At first glance, the operation isn’t impressive.

But really, it’s quite impressive that they are able to be there at all. When the Rocky Mountain News folded, it didn’t stick around in an online-only format. It disappeared. SeattlePI.com has managed to be relevant even in an online-only format for nearly four years.

Of course, they can’t cover everything they used to. But nobody expects them to look, feel and act like a daily newspaper when they are neither daily nor a newspaper. Instead, they are constantly publishing content online to entertain and inform their audience. They mentioned using slideshows as an effective way of presenting information online. Some of my classmates questioned that this was simply “dumbing down” the news. I’d argue that mediums if used efficiently, slideshows included, could present quality journalism.

SeattlePI.com is an anomaly, and has created a model that other dailies in similar situations in the future could learn a lot from.

-Laura Davison

Kris Peterson teaches lessons for succeeding in corporate world

10 Feb

Kris had a lot to offer us with her trifecta industry experience at Amazon, Starbucks & Microsoft, as well as industry & alumni-level advice. Her expertise is desired at many companies with good reason, and she really cares about what is best for the customer and knows how to articulate this to her vendors. I was very impressed by her work and think she is one of the most humble and honest individuals we met with.

Mizzou’s Strategic Communication program prepares students to work at an agency after graduation, and tends to neglect what corporate offices do. Professors position corporate companies like where Kris has worked as overly conservative full of older employees who are stuck in the past and unwilling to try new things. Kris’s words not only gave inspiration to the benefits of working on client side, but also proved that these companies are looking for ways to move forward and come up with the next big idea.

At the end of the day, if an advertising agency develops a cutting-edge research product, it won’t gain as much traction as when Microsoft or Amazon releases the product. Corporations have industry power that agencies and consultancies do not, because they are attached to a stronger, consumer-facing brand name and not a branded agency name.

Her advice of embracing ambiguity resonates and I will keep that message in my head forever. It has been and will continue to be difficult with Millennials entering the work force and not receiving recognition for their work, but her words show students that this is normal and adults at large companies struggle with the same thing. It taught everyone to present ourselves well in the work place, come with questions and be prepared to work hard.

-Katie Artemas