Tuesday, November 17, 2009...9:30 am

Reed’s Karl Schneider: “What is online journalism?”

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Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;
More from Karl Schneider’s talk to UCA Farnham journalism students (there’s no video for this section – stay tuned for the full multimedia experience in subsequent posts).
How does web journalism differ from print? What are its defining characteristics?
Five key areas:

  1. Multimedia
  2. Links
  3. Global
  4. Measurable
  5. Interactive


Video is a key element. But it’s easy to get it wrong.
Broadcast is different from web

  • TV – you need to show moving images all the time
  • Web – you can use video only where it really adds value

Early mistakes:

  • Picking an area where video is used and then replicating it
    So, taking the traditional TV news/interview package and repeating it on the web is a no-no.


  • Figure out what your site visitors might use video for.
    Reed’s Hairdressers Journal Interactive uses video guides to hairdressing techniques, for example.

Example: The 2004 tsunami had a lot of talking heads coverage after the event. But the content that got most visits online and had most impact was the user-generated video of the wave as it hit.
The model is not finished. Reed – and everyone else – is still trying to understand how video works best online.

  • How do you combine video with text, pictures and audio?
  • What’s the story?
  • Which elements work?


The web is pervasive and distributed. This means you don’t have to show everything

“Cover what you do best, and link to the rest”
Jeff Jarvis – Buzzmachine

There’s no point in reworking press releases for your news in brief column – someone has already done it better and sooner. In effect, that old trainee reporter’s job will be transformed into a links round-up

  • A key part of the value of a good news blog is its links.
  • News sites act as a pathfinder for the reader.


Web content and formats are global – implications

  • Go to where the audience is: YouTube, Flickr, Twitter etc
  • Think about scheduling your content for different time zones.


  • Journalists need to get used to responding to numbers
  • Follow up stories that generate traffic quickly
  • But don’t be driven by stats – bring interpretation to web analytics

The web changes what and how people read…
…and quickly

How page views for Reed’s sites changed over a nine-month period


  • Away from “traditional” journalism
  • Towards user generated content – forums, user videos etc

There’s a lot of room for more user content growth, because half of Reed’s sites don’t yet even have a user forum

“The vast majority of journalism in future will be done by amateurs”

Journalists’ role will be editing, filtering, packaging.


Fundamental change for the role of the journalist
In some ways takes the profession back to its roots – (there was news before there were newspapers)
Journalists develop a closer relationship with their audience

Print – a burden or an asset for your web strategy?

  • Pros: Print titles have an existing relationship with readers
  • Cons: Costly to produce; print publication schedule shapes editorial thinking

Sites such as Tech Crunch or The Register can run with whatever the web offers without worrying about the impact on print, and without the cost base of print.
Print may in future be a millstone around publishers’ necks.
How long has print got?

“Everything we do in paper will go online in 10 years”
Karl Schneider, Reed Business Information

But print has some life yet as long as it  makes use of its advantages:

  • High quality images (see recent double page spread images in The Guardian and the success of glossy magazines)
  • Big space (easy to scan, lots of content)
  • Portability (read it on the train)
  • Cultural legacy (old folk – the over-40s – like it)

Some legacy formats survive – others don’t:

  • Cinema coexists with TV
  • Horse and cart was superseded by automobiles

“Journalism is valuable, but we are arrogant to think we are the only people who can tell stories effectively”
Karl Schneider, Reed Business Information

You can sell news when it is:

  • Very niche and can affect financial decisions
  • Packaged in a way that makes it easy to use

Example: Reed packages human resources news and information into guidance notes to help HR professionals do their job more effectively and avoid employment litigation. It’s the same information freely available elsewhere, but packaged usefully
It doesn’t look like journalism, but it is gathered by journalists.
Next: “Can we make money from the web?”
Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;

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