Because I’m more behind the scenes, Editor Dan Evans asked me to write a column this week to share what the industry leaders are saying about online journalism.
A panel interestingly called “Mind Control” applied psychology principles to web use. Much like a person, said speaker Ben Scofield of Viget Labs, a site also needs to be likable (importance of design here) and have authority (here’s where content comes into play).
While I think the Burbank Leader and the Glendale News-Press are leaders in community news (reporter Max Zimbert broke the Amy Beck story and wound up on CNN), the look and functionality of the websites don’t match the solid reporting.
Since I started in September, much of my job has been fixing the sites and broken links, finding content that somehow disappeared, fighting with our content management system and assuring readers that something better is in the works. And it is: I’m in the process of rebuilding the BurbankLeader.com and the GlendaleNewsPress.com basically from scratch.
I’ve also crafted much of our social media networking (you can fan us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/GlendaleNP and twitter.com/BurbankLeader, if you’re so inclined).
Scofield also said that websites also need to create a sense of community with readers, and I hope this makes our newsroom more accessible.
Online journalism is in many ways uncharted territory, especially when it comes to making a profit. Another panel called “News of Tomorrow” discussed where the media is going online. For the most part, the panel — which included the blog specialist from The New York Times — asked questions that couldn’t be answered.
Journalists have a vast amount of knowledge that’s condensed into an article — how can we tap that unpublished data in a way that readers can use? Reporters are used to communicating with editors, but should they also learn web skills so their stories can be better displayed online?
Should readers, rather than reporters, choose their news based on personalized streams as opposed to the one-size-fits-all format?
One perk of online is that it allows for more interaction with readers. Comments on blogs and websites get noticed in the newsroom, as do e-mails and letters, so feel free to send me feedback (jamie. email@example.com). Tell me what you like about our current sites or what you would change. As I redesign the sites, I’d like all the help I can get.