Monthly Archives: November 2013

#collegemedia Thanksgiving turnabout: Do we deserve our audience’s thanks?

This Thanksgiving, why should our college media audience be thankful for us?

Permit me to offer three reasons — and to encourage you to think about how well you’re earning each category of appreciation from the members of your audience.

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NOLA Notes: Tips for “owning” local breaking news online

Another in a series of posts drawn from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

“Meaningful, local, breaking news works. … Once you break it, you own the story. People keep coming back to you.” The words came from Ryan Frank, president of the Emerald Media Group (serving the University of Oregon), and I heard no disagreement from any of the digital-savvy college media folks in New Orleans.

This means jumping onto big news in a big hurry, but it also means re-thinking coverage of scheduled events, like SGA meetings and sports. If you’re looking for big-picture thinking on a digital-first structure, this earlier post is for you. These are some examples and tips:

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NOLA Notes: Build digital-first structure and culture (or, do you have a prayer or a plan?)

Another in a series of posts from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

Update appended Dec. 1 regarding the “digital managing editor” at The State News.

Updated Dec. 6 with a link to details of Emerald Media Group’s restructured newsroom. 

You’ve figured out that the “right now” needs of your digital audience are not the same as the “read more in depth later” needs of your print audience. You’ve coached and cajoled. And if you’re like most college media editors and advisers, you seem a long way from your goal.

The biggest reason may be pretty simple. Your organization’s structure and culture are at odds with what you really want.

Ryan Frank, president/adviser at Emerald Media Group, said he had a moment of clarity when he considered the digital vs. print needs created by every University of Oregon football game. He realized that “the kid who worked 12 hours on gameday,” filing furiously and writing the digital game story (actually only part of the Emerald’s game coverage) was simply not going to thoughtfully write the smart follow-up for the Emerald’s Monday print product. Either she would think print-first and neglect the immediate online needs, or she’d be exhausted by the digital needs and file a print story that just shoveled what was already online.

“That was my light-bulb moment. The structure just doesn’t fit if digital journalism is a priority,” Frank said.

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NOLA Notes: Focus on ‘true’ digital audience

Another in a series of posts from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

You could be discouraged when Omar Sofradzija says the “true audience” for statenews.com, the student news site serving Michigan State, really is only 22 percent of the site’s visitors.

Or you could recognize that the “true audience” is a local, engaged audience that wants your local journalism and is valuable to advertisers. That leads you to then focus on building that audience without wasting time producing “clickbait” that really doesn’t serve your true audience or the advertisers who want to reach them.

That takeaway in two tweets from Judy Gibbs Robinson of the University of Oklahoma:

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NOLA Notes: ‘Don’t just write words. Write music.’ A brief, important point about varying sentence length

Because I couldn’t get a projector to work at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans, I read aloud a passage in a “Free Your Writing Voice” session that I’ve sometimes just flashed on a screen. I had not prepared for a dramatic reading, so I was surprised at how powerful it sounded coming out of my mouth.

The audience seemed to like it, though it’s a long passage. So I encourage you to read it aloud.

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NOLA Notes: Applying ‘resource velocity’ to our most important resource: student journalists

Another in a series of posts drawn from my notes at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

Arvli Ward, the student media director at UCLA, is far from the first speaker at a college media convention to talk about the importance of recruiting, training and retaining student journalists. But he’s the first I’ve heard who talked about maximizing the “resource velocity” of those students.

In fact, Ward recruits his student resources by treating them as customers. I thought that was fascinating and so pounded a lot of notes into my laptop. Here are some lightly edited highlights, along with related points I heard later from Candace Baltz of Washington State University:

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NOLA Notes: Maximizing print income in college media

Another in a series of posts drawn from notes taken at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

For all the well-deserved attention on the shift to digital consumption of news, there are two important reasons most of us in college media are not ready to abandon print newspapers:

  • Print is still the way many students prefer to get campus news (60 percent according to a 2011 survey). We are all right to be concerned about whether that number is on the way down. But even campus papers recording drops still report numbers that would make off-campus papers green with envy.
  • Print advertising profit is vital for most student media programs. We need that money to fund the training it will take to fuel that vital digital innovation.

So one of my priorities in New Orleans was hearing about ways to maximize print income. What follows may not be surprising for advisers who are heavily involved in advertising and distribution. But for those like me who’ve spent more time on newsroom matters, this may be helpful.

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NOLA Notes: What’s your above-the-fold rating?

One in a series of post from the zillions of words of notes I pounded into my laptop at the National College Media Convention in New Orleans.

Erica Perel showed us a front page from The Daily Tar Heel, the excellent (and Pacemaker-winning) student newspaper serving the University of North Carolina.

Perel, the DTH’s newsroom adviser, described that particular edition as a “really good daily paper.” Above the fold were a good centerpiece feature with a photo of a giant pig, a football story and a strong news lead. So where did it rank on the DTH’s 1-to-5 “above the fold” rating?

She gave it a “3.” The reason why it’s not a “4” or “5” is important.

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