Category Archives: Reporting

Ramp up daily content by keeping it simple

Chase Chalker mugWhat happens when you have to post something about your campus every morning?

Chase Chalker (that’s him with the camera) became the first editor-in-chief of Georgia Southern Student Media’s “Digital Division” in fall 2014. While our newspaper, The George-Anne, continued to post news content, the new division was charged with posting something about campus life every weekday by the time our readers pulled out their phones for lunchtime browsing.

Chase and his crew tackled the mission with gusto and before long had created The Circle, a home for not only daily stories and photos but also a lot of video. (If you’re following industry trends, you won’t be surprised to know that video won the most visits.)

Chase wrote a column about the effort for the Georgia College Press Association newsletter. His advice might be boiled down to: Keep it simple. Here’s a slightly revised version.

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Engaging the audience: a progress report

Dear Student Media staff:

This will be a long message, so flag it to read later when you have a few minutes.

TL;DR? There’s a lot of good stuff going on in Student Media. While we’re all striving to do better in so many areas, it’s important to recognize where we’re making strong progress in engaging our audience.

Now, please indulge a little narrative of how I came to write this message.

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NOLA Notes: Winning the local digital audience when news isn’t breaking

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

We’ve established that breaking local news is critical to your success as a digital news outlet on campus. But news isn’t “breaking” all the time (unless you’re an annoying click-baiter). So you need to do a lot more to be part of the daily digital diet of your prospective audience. This post is full of suggestions from several leaders in digital-first campus media.

First, two quotes to encourage any journalist worried about whether “social” is taking over “news.”

“Quality matters.” — Erica Perel, newsroom adviser, Daily Tar Heel (serving the University of North Carolina).

“So do what the college press always has done. We were hyperlocal before the term was invented.” — Omar Sofradzija, editorial adviser, The State News (serving Michigan State University).

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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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Let’s improve college media coverage of rape, domestic violence

I’m happy to be among of group of College Media Association members who will sponsor a meeting at the New York convention March 10 to discuss coverage of rape and domestic violence.

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What stifles your writing voice?

Your humble blogger is leading a session at the National College Media Convention next month on the writer’s “voice,” especially in narrative storytelling. I want to focus on what STOPS so many writers from turning in a story like this:

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Take two steps to avoid opinion page disaster

A college newspaper I admire is taking a minor public relations beating at the moment over a faulty opinion column. Two steps would have spared the editors this unpleasantness– two steps I often see missing in college media opinion writing and editing.

  1. Label opinion. Prominently. Explicitly. On all platforms.
  2. Apply journalistic standards. “Facts” in opinion writing must be facts. Fairness is still a requirement.

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Social media reporting tool: a pyramid

Say you want to do a story (or start a beat) on how students at your campus spend their money. No one has studied this, and you need more than just a few students’ spending patterns. It’s unlikely you’re going to find a large number of students walking around campus who are willing to stop and think long enough about how much they spend on rent, utilities, food, beer, clothing, etc.  And that’s time-consuming.

So here’s a great suggestion from Kimberly Boim, publisher of the Dawson News and Advertiser: Pick six friends. Ask them to fill out your spending survey. And ask them to send it to six of their social media friends. Boim, who helped a student develop this idea at the Georgia College Press Association annual meeting Saturday, explained why this probably will work. Everyone in this social media (and honest) version of a pyramid scheme is helping a friend, not just taking a survey.

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Three beats campus media should start — and how

First, I propose beat reporting on three topics either much on the minds or very important to college students but severely under-reported by student media. Then, I answer the obvious question, “Can we really find enough stories about that to make it a regular beat?”

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A form to help you assign stories

I was pleasantly surprised Friday by the demand for copies of my “Deed of Ownership” form at the National College Media Convention in Chicago. I promised quite a few students I would post it here. For the benefit of those of you who weren’t with us at the “Assigning Stories Like a Pro” session, I’ll repeat a bit of my explanation of the form.

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