Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making the Leap, Part I

I've been chatting with several people who have left newspapers for other kinds of media work and offer their observations to those who, voluntarily or not, are departing newspapers for something else. For most newspaper editors and reporters, switching to an online news operation is a relatively easy step but it's not seamless.

Rather than interpret their words, I'm going to let the interviewees speak for themselves, with occasional explanations or notes.

First up: Mark Mooney, former national editor of the New York Daily News, currently working for a broadcast TV dot-com operation.

I found that traditional skills are at a premium--(dot-coms) are populated by young people and TV people: they need an adult, they need rewrite skills--it's a new concept of taking four or five blogs where a reader has to assemble a story, to have one person put together a cohesive story. They also need people who can do breaking news.

A dot-com is more immediate--your readership peaks at lunchtime. you have to get it done and up quickly. It's a wire service skill, and then you keep growing the story.

It works as a wire service because the readership peaks over lunch time and (you) have to work quickly. There s the speed of it--quicker than newspapers but those skills become valuable here.

Things you have to adjust to--photos are less important; video is what you always have to think about because that's what's more important here.

(There's a certain) chagrin about what is read--it's a lesson to newspapers, too.

The amount of production is probably the biggest adjustment you have to make. You have to refine things.

You have to learn all the tactics for your stories to get wide distribution. To SEO (search engine optimization) your story probably is 20 to 30 minutes more work so that the aggregators will bite. If you don't do it, your story doesn't get out there.

It's harder for a dot-com to have a comprehensive news report. They don't try to be a comprehensive report but papers aren't being comprehensive, either.

Dot-coms do the major stories of the day and then the other interesting stories.

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