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.