Thursday, November 19, 2009...9:30 am

How the social web has changed the journalist’s working day

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Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;
How does a cutting edge, web-aware journalist’s average working day compare to how it was five years ago? More from Reed Business Information editorial development director Karl Schneider’s talk to journalism students at UCA Farnham.


Research for a beat (eg: crime)

  • Calling contacts – police station, court
  • Looking on the web at rival publications
  • Confer with news editor to agree on the stories to write up
  • Then write up a story before lunch
  • Meet contact over lunch
  • More phoning and web browsing
  • Write up second story

Most of the stuff you do the audience never sees – it’s like an iceberg. 80% of it is research


At Reed and national newspapers, journalists are working in a different way

  • Research and contacts are much the same
  • But journalists are communicating much more
  • Virtually all Reed journalists are using Twitter now
  • Virtually none were using it a year ago
  • It’s an essential part of the way they communicate with their audience

“As they come across pieces of information, if they think it would be useful for the audience to hear it, it’s trivially easy – you can do it in seconds. If they’ve got a bit of information, why hold on to it – why wait until they’ve got five more bits and constructed it into a  complete story? Why not publish the bit of information now?”
Karl Schneider

  • Audience gets it early
  • Gives opportunity for feedback

You’re much more likely to write something that taps into their needs.

When foot and mouth broke out again recently, the story broke at 10pm on a Friday night. Farmers Weekly had recently gone live with a user forum. The first post on the forum came from a farmer who lived near the farm where the outbreak happened.
Within 20 minutes Farmers Weekly journalist Isobel David was on the forum to confirm the story and provide more information plus links to the MAFF web site. Over the weekend the journalist posted whatever information she had on the site and collected reader feedback.
At one point the Government announced an exclusion zone, preventing the movement of cattle between affected farms. Isobel David reported this online. A reader posted a question about whether the rule excluded cattle under a year old, as had happened during the previous outbreak. The journalist went away, found out the answer and came back to respond.
A conversational journalism emerged, where the readers were giving information as well as taking it.

The journalist’s day now is a continuous conversation with the audience – with some lumps of more structured forms.
It looks like 20 times more work – but is actually a lot less.
Tweets take a couple of minutes extra to write and post.
A blog post is a bit like writing up research notes.
All the hard work of research behind the Tweets and blog posts and forum posts is the work a journalist would do anyway.
All you’re doing is exposing it to public view.

“Imagine you’ve got your reader on your shoulder – think about what they want to know. With the web you virtually have. You can ask them what they want to know; they can tell you what information they need.”
Karl Schneider

Part 1;    Part 2;    Part 3;    Part 4;    Part 5;

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