Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Next meeting

Early notice that the next Digital Editors’ Network event will be on January 29th at UCLan in Preston.
We hope to cover two topics in reasonable depth: law and online publishing and search engine optimisation.
There will also be a short session to exchange ideas and share problems.

We expect to meet at 1pm again and finish in time for the Journalism Leaders forum which takes place the same day and will be focusing on sporting journalism.

Speakers and further details to follow.

If you are thinking of coming along please ping me an email.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A great success

  • Just to report that our meeting on Oct 16th was a great success – both in terms of the turn-out and the content.
    In attendance were (in no particular order and sorry if I got a job title wrong or missed somebody out):
    Sarah Hartley, Manchester Evening News
    Jon Barron, Yorkshire Weekly newspapers
    Oliver Luft, www.journalism.co.uk
    Chris Leggett, electronic editor MNA
    Ian Harvey, assistant electronic editor MNA
    Arup Biswas, Group Editorial Content manager, Johnston Press
    David Higgerson, diigial editor, Daily Post
    Rob Artisan, PR
    Steve Bennedick, head of SKY news online
    Nick Turner, CN Group
    Craig McGinty, freelance journalist and blogger
    Lee Swettenham, Guardian Media Weekly Newsapapers
    Shelina Begum, theasiannews.co.uk
    Mike Hill, Lancashire Evening Post
    Andy Dickinson, UCLan video journalism

    Andy Dickinson led a discussion about video journalism that was packed full of useful tips and useful info
    Craig McGinty then pointed the way for newspapers wishing to connect to the blogosphere
    Finally I kicked off a session on what drives web traffic

    Among the ideas and tips shared during the session were:
    Using Soundslides.com, Windows Media Player or Microsoft Photostory to create slideshow presentations that combine still pictures and audio
    http://www.sitbonzo.com/ which is created by the Croydon Advertiser is a good example of how to do this
    Videos posted on YouTube can be used to trail content in paper or on your website
    Why not make DVDs of your video content? If you make over 100 they only cost £1.50 each
    2-3 mins of video take 2-3 hours to produce
    http://www.podsafemusic.com/ is a good source of free music for podcasts and videos
    Some papers have begun to negotiate agreements to use sound clips of pop music in their videos. More information at: http://www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk/
    Help community groups to set up blogs which you can monitor through RSS and take copy from
    Set up blogs for interest groups such as fishing to help plug gaps in your coverage
    Ensure your pages, copy and videos can be linked to by bloggers
    Give clips of content to bloggers when you have content to promote eg an interview with a celeb who will have an online community eager to devour any content about their hero
    Use a Flickr account as a way to receive readers’ pictures
    Compile a directory of local bloggers
    White-label fantasy football (with password in print for transfers) has been a big traffic driver for some websites – sponsored by DIY store with their name incorporated into team graphics
    Check http://www.gonetoosoon.co.uk/ for memorials of local people which may lead to stories
    Nightclub pictures have proved so popular that a gallery of them has been sponsored and may lead to a standalone website
    Headlines using full names of sports players and other popular terms may lead to spikes in traffic thanks to google news alerts

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Join us on the 16th

THE next meeting of the Digital Editors' Network, at UCLan in Preston, will be focusing on what works in online publishing, getting the best out of video and how blogs and the established media can work together.
The Digital Editors’ Network is an initiative to enable sharing of best practice between journalists running media websites.
The three discussions will form part of the 7th Journalism Leaders Forum, on October 16, featuring the regional editorial director of Trinity Mirror Neil Benson, who is amongst the panelists considering the global impact of the local news business.
The schedule for the get together is:
1pm: Meet for spot of lunch
1.30pm: Video journalism - Q&ADiscussion led by Andy Dickinson, lecturer in digital journalism at UCLan, giving pointers on developing web content and topics such as using Youtube
2.45pm: How journalists can connect with the blogosphereDiscussion led by Craig McGinty covering topics such as setting up community blogs, staff blogs, enhancing blogs with widgets, etc
4pm: What works?Discussion led by Nick Turner, head of digital content for CN Group, with participants passing on the best ideas for increasing online traffic from the last 12 months.
5.15pm: Forum drinks reception – a chance to network in the Greenbank Building
6pm: Journalism Leaders Forum. Panelists include Neil Benson, Trinity editorial director, and crowd-sourcing advocate Jay Rosen.
The afternoon talks will be very much in the style of an open discussion, with the use of an internet connection to highlight features and examples and so letting people share their own insights and observations.The Digital Editors’ Network discussions are free to attend. To book a place and get full venue details please email Nick Turner at nturner@cngroup.co.uk

Friday, September 21, 2007

Next meeting


An early heads up about an event for the Digital Editors Network next month.
Neil Benson, regional editorial director of Trinity Mirror, will be among the panelists considering the global impact of the local news business at the 7th Journalism Leaders Forum organised by the University of Central Lancashire’s Journalism department.
I am sure the hyper-local project at the Gazette will feature in the discussion.
The open event on Tuesday October 16th, which is the first of three planned for 2007-8, starts at 5:15pm with a networking reception in the foyer of the Greenbank Building. The 90-minute Forum begins at 6pm.
We are also organising discussion sessions for earlier in the day for network members on hyper-local online journalism, how journalists can use blogs and video journalism.
These sessions will be a chance to exchange ideas and raise problems with colleagues and university staff.
Details are being finalised and I will send out further information next week.
Please let me know if you able to attend or could suggest other people who would benefit.

Nick Turner
Head of digital content, CN Group

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What works for you?

One of the most basic issues that anyone involved in a media website faces is what on earth they can do to drive up traffic.
Obviously a bloody good story or perhaps more precisely a story involving either a UFO sighting or a man marrying a goat will create a nice spike in the unique users stats, but what can we do to keep the numbers climbing from one month to the next?
One of the pleasures of editing websites is that you can uses stats to pinpoint what’s working on your site and what’s proving to be a bit of a flop. You can have an idea one day and then the next week can see that it added 20,000 to your page impressions.
So what works for you? Are there ideas we can share that have proved to be winners? I’ll get the ball rolling…
Amid the scramble to get video on to websites it’s worth remembering the power of the humble photograph. We have always found that photo galleries have been the surest way to increase traffic. A few hundred pictures from a local fun run or a gallery of pictures of freshers’ week at the Uni would add tens of thousands of hits to the site.
Our most popular galleries are our nightlife pictures which show snaps we’ve taken of Carlisle’s bright young things at nightclubs around town and encourage readers to send in their pictures via mobile.
Each one of those pictures is being viewed an average of 1,000 each in a month. The gallery index page has around 10,000 hits in a month. Clearly people like to browse through to see who’s been snapped or who’s making a prat of themselves.
And, no, it’s not just lecherous men ogling teenage girls because the most popular picture in the gallery is this one.
We’ve also managed to monetise the idea by getting the galleries sponsored.
See the gallery of pictures we take here and the gallery of submitted pictures here.
Any other bright ideas, anyone? Please post your comments or questions.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Let's get going

After Tuesday’s meeting at UCLAN’s journalism department I think we can now say that the Digital Editors’ Network is now up and running.
For the record the meeting was attended by: Nick Turner (CN Group); Francois Nel (UCLAN); Mike Hill (LEP, Johnston Press); Andy Dickinson (UCLAN); Craig McGinty (freelancer); Robin Hamman (BBC); Martin Stabe (Press Gazette); Jane Singer (UCLAN); John Baron (Wakefield Express); David Rowell (Johnston Press).
Apologies and expression of support were received from numerous other digital editors from papers such as the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Yorkshire Evening Post, Wolverhampton Express & Star and Bolton Evening News.
There seems to be broad agreement that there is a need or “gap in the market” for a network that helps digital editors and journalists exchange information and views.
During the meeting we discussed a number of issues such as the level we are pitching DEN ie is it for strategic managers or journalists?
We also talked about the best way to carry the idea forward and the part this blog, a google group and meetings or social events might play in the development of DEN.
Obviously some of these issues will become clearer once we see what support the idea has and who is prepared to support the discussion on this blog.
We agreed that as a start we would get the online discussion going so that people could see that something was happening and would commit to sharing best practice.
So please contribute to this blog – with both ideas for the network and information or questions that you think would contribute to the discussion.
And if you know of anybody in the industry you think would benefit from being part of DEN please point them in this direction.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Venue change for inaugural 'DEN' roundtable on May 15th

The interest in the Digital Editors Network is growing . Coming to the first meeting on tomorrow will be both freelance editors and folks representing the following companies:

- Cumbrian Newspapers
- Guardian Media Group
- Johnston Press
- Newsquest
- Trinity Mirror
- Wilmington Media

(If I've left someone out, please post a response and let us know)

As a result, we've moved the first roundtable discussion to Room 228B (from 123A) on the second floor of Greenbank Building, home to the Lancashire Business School and the Department of Journalism. Coffee will be available from 2:30pm.

From 4-5pm DEN members (not quite sure of the acronym, perhaps we should go for 'DigEd'?) can join a special Journalism Leaders Programme session on blogging. Robin Hamman, co-ordinator of the BBC's Blogging Network, will give a presentation on the much-discussed BBC Manchester Blog, which he describes as "a project to engage with user generated content without owning the platform, moderating, or incurring any of the usual costs and risks associated with hosting audience communities." With three of the UK media industry's top bloggers in the room - Andy Dickinson, Martin Stabe and Robin - the discussion is guaranteed to be lively and informative.

Spaces for this session are limited, so please let me know soonest at leaders [at] ukjournalism [dot] org. Following this hour-long workshop, there'll be a networking reception (Read: wine & snacks) before the Forum, which typically wraps up officially around 7:15pm, though discussions are known to continue at the Variety pub nearby.

Will keep you posted on the outcome of the roundtable.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do you link?

Jeff Jarvis has some interesting things to say about the role of journalism in his latest Guardian Column (re-published on his blog).

His summary

News organisations can no longer afford to own, employ, and control - to vet, verify, and sanitise - everything that happens. The only way they can expand is to work cooperatively with witness-reporters, community members, experts, people who publish on their own, finding and sending readers to the best and most reliable among them. How? Via the link.

I feel a slight contradiction here. Without the role of providing the content we take on the role of providing access to the content that is out there. What makes us different from a search engine is that we apply some editorial guidelines to the process - we vet, verify and sanitise. That's supposed to be our USP in a digital age. How is that different from " finding and sending readers to the best and most reliable"

Regardless of the language used it seems that filter rather than gatekeeper. Trusted guide rather than trusted voice may become defining parts of a digital editor's role.

Update: Paul Bradshaw has a real world example of how far newspaers haev to go on this issue.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Internal convergance

Having trouble persuading your peers of the value of this digital stuff? You aren’t the only one.

Trade journalist Paul Conley has come across some pretty entrenched views:

Consider the editor who told me he wouldn't think about providing headlines for mobile devices because "no reasonable person needs more than a PC to stay connected."

Or consider the reporter, told by his boss to include links in his copy, who insists that his publication "has to hire a specialist to do hyperlinks for me."

Or consider the managing editor who told me she'd fight any attempt by her staff to launch new online products because she liked her job and her schedule "just the way it is."

Sound familiar?

The temptation may be to leave the hard-headed behind and go for the fresh young team. There are plenty out there. New journalist Meranda Watling is one.

Thing is, the industry is being flooded with “kids” like me. Bright-eyed and ready for anything, willing to take everything on and to become an expert on whatever you put on the budget with our name beside it. Willing to learn. If there’s someone there to teach us.

And that’s the point. Will there be anyone around to teach her? Conley starts his post with:

Many of the journalists I know have adopted a strange, delusional vision of their value. I could say that they are in a state of denial. But that hardly describes the sorts of things I hear from people.

Rather, I think it's fair to say that these folks -- veteran journalists with years of experience -- have moved from denial into fantasy.

They've gone from being stubborn about adding new skills to being rigidly opposed to any change in their job description. And they cannot see the damage they are doing to themselves, their peers and their publications.

Does a digital editor have a role in changing this mindset? I think they do.

Traditionally bright-eyed and jaded journo don’t often mix but digital editors are in an enviable position at the moment of having the influence to be able to pull together those different generations.

So why not try a little internal convergence. Everyone may thank you for it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Digital Editors' Network to link up before next Forum

It seems appropriate that a Forum about entrepreneurship should be used a launch pad for the new Digital Editors' Network
. For those who are keen to join Nick Turner for a roundtable about this new network, we've booked Room 123A in Greenbank Building, the home to the Lancashire Business School of which we (the Department of Journalism ) is a part. The suggestion is that folks meet up at around 3pm to plot a way forward. From 4-5pm DEN members can join a special Journalism Leaders Programme session on blogging. Robin Hamman, co-ordinator of the BBC's Blogging Network, and Richard Fair, a Senior Broadcast Journalist from BBC Radio Manchester, will give a presentation on the much-discussed BBC Manchester Blog, which they describe as "a project to engage with user generated content without owning the platform, moderating, or incurring any of the usual costs and risks associated with hosting audience communities." Spaces for this session are limited, so please let me know soonest at leaders [at] ukjournalism [dot] org.

Following this hour-long interactive session, there'll be a Networking Reception (Read: wine) before the Forum, which typically wraps up officially around 7:15pm, though discussions are known to continue at 'the local' nearby.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

  • Hi

    I am hoping to use the next Journalism Leaders seminar on May 15th as an opportunity to kick-start the idea of a Digital Editors’ Network.

    Just to recap the aims of the Digital Editors’ Network are:
    To provide an online community for journalists involved in running media websites
    Facilitate discussion between digital editors and encourage sharing of best practice/tips, etc
    Allow digital editors to access the expertise at the University of Central Lancashire’s journalism department

    I hope we could have an opportunity for an informal discussion about how best to take forward this idea on May 15th at UCLAN.

    At 6pm The Journalism Leaders Forum discussion will include Nick Jaspen (North West Enquirer and now How To website), Eamonn Carey of the mobile media start-up, Random Thoughts Media, and Robin Hamman. More details at http://journalismleadersforum.blogspot.com

    It’s an open invite and I would be grateful if anyone interested in a discussion about the Digital Editors’ Network beforehand would get in touch soon (UCLan have offered a room).

Please let me know if you will be able to make it and any suggestions you have for taking the Digital Editors’ Network forward.

I have already had some encouraging support from regional and national journalists and can report back on this on May 15th.

Nick Turner
07764 657037

Friday, March 23, 2007

Let's work together

What is the point of the Digital Editors’ Network?
After all, we already have the new media landscape being discussed online at Media Guardian, Press Gazette, Journalism.co.uk, holdthefrontpage, the Sociey of Editors, the Online Journalism Review and a wide variety of media industry and academic blogs.
The usp has to be in the last word - Network – and the ability to connect people charged with delivering the digital revolution on a day to day basis.
It might be a utopian idea born from the less competitive media environment here in Cumbria, but the aim is to develop a way for media websites managers to discuss the nuts and bolts issues with people in similar jobs.
So we might be able to share tips or ask each other questions about how certain website features work or indeed whether they work.
Already we have been able to pass on work done with the Newspaper Society on ways of developing reactive moderation for forums and blogs.
You’ll find other websites that regurgitate press releases or other forums that discuss the direction of the digital revolution.
But the Digital Editors’ Network is about helping those of us who are responsible for making it happen.
We might be able to work out together the best ways to tackle issues such as search engine optimisation, maximising the potential of videos, developing ad revenues and increasing user generated content.
In many cases this can be achieved with a phone call or email to ask: Have you tried this? Or how does that feature on your website work?
Hopefully, we can do this in a way that is not constrained by the competition between rival media.
It’s early days yet, but if you want to be involved please get in touch.
Watch this space for more details of Digital Editors’ Network events at the University of Central Lancashire.

Nick Turner
Head of digital content, CN Group

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Good news for media websites

News and media websites have seen a surge in their online audiences in the last year.
That was the positive message to come out of a briefing at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston to which supporters of this digital editor’s network had been invited.
Heather Hopkins, vice-president of Hitwise UK, revealed the findings of her research into the UK online media sector and fascinating stuff it was too.
Hitwise, which monitors the proportion of visits made to sites rather than unique users, found that during 2006 news and media sites had seen a 28 per cent growth in their share of UK internet visits.
Heather, who describes herself as a “data geek” was able to provide a detailed insight into how the online media market works thanks to the way Hitwise is able to track online traffic flows, search terms and visits through its partnerships with internet service providers.
Here are some of the things that I picked out of her talk:
Surprise, surprise the BBC dominates the online media market with 15 per cent of visits After the Beeb the list according to Hitwise goes something like: Yahoo; Telegraph; Met Office; Sun; Google News; Guardian; Times; ITV.
IT media has seen a huge growth – 57 per cent. A useful tip for those of wondering which areas of content might be worth expanding on our sites.
Weather is a an area of huge interest online with BBC weather and the Met Office both featuring in the top six media sites.
Brands matter. Virtually all of the top search terms are brand names.
The Sun benefits from 18 per cent of its traffic coming from paid links ie google ad words. These can be surprisingly cheap and newspapers could do well to experiment with these to see what benefits are to be had.

More information:
You can read more from Heather Hopkins and Hitwise at http://www.ilovedata.com/ The amount of information there is mindblowing.
The day at UCLan also featured a forum discussion on the challenges facing traditional media brands in the age of web 2.0. The panel included Jane Singer, Alan Moor and Mark Tungate. Hear the discussion here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"What's the biggest bullshit assumption being made about digital publishing?"

Jeff Jarvis of City University in New York reponds to this and other key questions that faces the industry (and makes a few points about the difference between digital publishers in the UK and the US).

What are other answers to that question? What other other key questions need answering?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Welcome to the Digital Ediors' Network blog which has been created as an online resource and discussion area for media website editors.

It has been created as part of a project supported by the the Department of Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

On this Digital Editors’ Network blog, journalists who create and manage media websites will discuss issues a range of current issues, from the best ways to increase traffic to the pitfalls of running forums and messageboards.

The Network will not aim to deal in the latest product announcements and press releases. Instead, it will get to grips with issues important to the increasing number of journalists who ply their trade online, whether it’s measuring website traffic or making the most of video content online.

It will also allow journalists direct access to the expertise in online journalism on offer at UCLan’s Department of Journalism.

The network will operate on three levels:

  • Members can exchange information and views on the nitty-gritty of digital developments via this blog. We hope this will become a distinct community for journalists leading the digital transformation of the media industry.
  • Exclusive access to special events at UCLan’s Department of Journalism. The first will be an Editor’s Briefing which will include a presentation of a new report on the UK Online News and Information Landscape by Heather Hopkins, vice president for research for the online intelligence company Hitwise. and an examination of online branding by Mark Tungate, author of Media Monoliths: How Great Media Brands Thrive and Survive. Details are attached.
  • Members will also be invited to the popular series of Journalism Leaders Forums at UCLan where issues critical to the media industry are discussed by leading academics and journalists. The next forum and networking reception is also on February 6th at 5:30pm for 6pm is entitled, Media Mashups! How Traditional Media Brands Survive and Thrive in a Widely Wired World.

    To get linked into the Digital Editors’ Network and for further information or suggestions, contact us at:Nick Turner nturner@cngroup.co.uk or Francois Nel FPNel@uclan.ac.uk /01772 894758 .

    Details of the 5th Journalism Leaders Forum on February 6th are at http://journalismleadersforum.blogspot.com/ and you’ll find more about all the the Journalism Leaders Programme activities at: http://www.ukjournalism.org/jleasders.

Nick Turner, Head of Digital Content Development, CN Group

Fran├žois Nel, Director: Journalism Leaders Programme, UCLan