Posts Tagged 'journalism'

Outsourcing The News Business?

The OC Register announced it would outsource some copy-editing and layout work to India, the AP reported. The one-month test will include editing for the flagship newspaper as well as layout for a smaller community paper.

Mindworks Global Media, which does editing, “content creation” (writing) and design, will handle the work from offices outside New Delhi.

Other papers, such as the Miami Herald and the Sacramento Bee, have experimented with the outsourcing production and/or editing of editorial or advertising work to India.

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That’s What I Call A Rewrite Desk: A Timeless Blogging Story

BusinessWeek has revised a story from May 2005 about blogging. While it may seem unusual to revise such an old story, it’s actually a reflection of the continued popularity of the story by Stephen Baker and Heather Green. Type in “blogs business” in Google and the top result is this story.

The original story was titled “Blogs Will Change Your Business” while the new headline ( May 22, 2008 ) is “Social Media Will Change Your Business”–an indication itself of how things have changed. As the writers point out, the tech landscape has changed dramatically since 2005, when twittering was associated with birds. The writers used feedback from their blog to write an updated version of the story. Arguably things have changed so much that just updating the story doesn’t do this interesting story justice. But the larger point is, when you have a top listing on Google, that means something, enough to rework a story that you presumably would otherwise have no reason to update.

User Generated Content + News = ?

City University’s Neil Thurman (U.K.) has an interesting study on the use of user-generated content by news companies. Is UGC the solution to the problems that many news companies face–such as declines in print circulation, and blogs and Google sniping at their heels? Engagement is important for these companies, as is building something that fits seamlessly into the existing business.

First, from the audience perspective, how do audiences respond to “citizen journalism”? According to Thurman, the adoption has been slow so far. On a popular debate forum on BBC’s site, 0.5 percent of users contributed, which is lower than the average of 1 percent on many social media sites, noted the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss.

However, news companies aren’t social media companies, and expecting them to have Facebook-like virality is expecting too much. It is still early days and many news organizations are trying to figure this problem out. Some have been working on it for a while. The Bakersfield Californian was an early tester of this model when it launched Northwest Voice in 2004–itself inspired by South Korea’s OhMyNews.

How do news companies react to UGC? Thurman notes:

“A belief in the need to control, moderate or sub users’ submissions so that they met the standards of professionally produced output was strongly held.”

Does user generated content add to news companies’ business? The question is probably better asked as, what is the best way for news companies to drive more traffic and keep readers on their sites? Of course, the business of news is different from that of a Disney or Scion, which are building communities to engage with their audiences around their brands. News companies are built on their reputation and credibility of their news. Mixing hard news with UGC news is a delicate matter. But it is a necessary issue to confront, increasing competition on all fronts. It can be done, and is completely necessary, a number of writers have argued.

Interestingly, in the Thurman study, 80 percent of the methods used to engage users were using moderators and/or pre-editing all of the content. This seems to make it difficult for UGC sections of news sites to scale to the level of the the “professional” news portions of their sites. Either news companies will have to give in and do away with most editing of UGC (and let the misspellings and low quality postings in) or a company needs to come up with an automated solution to edit UGC. Moderated UGC sites are just too expensive, Thurman’s study found.

There are a number of companies working on different aspects of socializing news, such as Mixx, Thoof, Digg and Reddit.

A Virtual Newsroom?

Duke University’s Idealab has an interesting post on the future of the newsroom. Will it be a virtual newsroom, as one venture capitalist suggested to the San Jose Mercury-News’ Chris O’Brien?

With all the problems facing newspapers these days–from Google News on one side to Craigslist on the other–newspapers are clearly in the future going to be more and more on a digital platform and less and less rolled up and tossed onto someone’s lawn. So will the newsrooms that produce the stories also be distributed and connected digitally? Many growing Silicon Valley tech blogs already run remotely with writers and editors spanned across the globe, communicating over IM and email, and rarely even meeting in person.  

The journalists at Duke have an interesting discussion going. Having been at a newspaper, I’d have to agree with those who say that there’s nothing like the camaraderie of a newsroom and the buzz of electricity that runs through it when a big story hits and everyone in the room knows it and feeds off of each other, getting that night’s issue out the door.