If No One Reads, Why Bother?

In Chapter 11, Briggs discusses journalism not being able to survive without readership.
This is true. Just as artists cannot survive without fans, journalism cannot survive without readers.

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The web is expansive and there’s room for everyone.
News is now competing with thousands of other sites for the same viewers.

Briggs notes that making smart business decisions in today’s world will be the most important skill to have. In this particular chapter he talks about content tracking, web analytics, search engine optimization, effective headline writing for the web, and distribution through social media.

Everything can be tracked and measured today. Even journalism.
Newsroom leaders track progress and skill levels of their journalists–
and this in particular shows that developing a culture such as this is important in a date-driven world.

Everything is tracked. So as a journalist, Briggs teaches you to track everything you publish. But what should you track? Everything.
His start list includes podcasts, blog sites, slide shows, video stories, email alerts, newsletters, etc.
He uses a web-based excel sheet as the easiest example to use.
He also advises to track your audience–
And using web analytics software is the easiest method in doing so.
(Look at page views, visits and unique visitors, engagement and referrers)

Search engine optimization will also help you out for viewership.
Spiders and robots, indexing, and queries are terms that you should understand in order to understand SEO.
The best way that SEO can help journalists is to grow your audience.
By using content, linking, title tags, HTML meta tags, and effective headlines you’re audience can grow.
Writing effective headlines is one of the most important that Briggs points out.
How do you do this? KEYWORDS, using conversational language, and not being afraid to inject a little attitude.

And the very last tip he gives is to target specific channels. Find the site that will most benefit your content. Where are your readers? Find them and get them.

News is a conversation?

Or at least that’s what Briggs tells us.

“The speed of communications is wonderful to behold.
It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of
information that we know to be untrue.” – Edward R. Murrow

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The man that said this passed away before the digital news even happened.
Now, this quote remains true.
One of the challenges that journalists now face is how to manage that conversation.
This chapter really looks at a couple questions:
1. How do journalists participate in the conversation without sacrificing objectivity?
2. What about legal and ethical issues now that everyone can publish anything they want?
3. What happens when you really want audiences to participate, but they don’t?

Now, moving on in the chapter, Briggs offers tips to make the conversation.
How do you do that?
-> Answer all questions
-> Address criticism
-> Publicly or privately respond
-> Share good responses
-> Publicly correct yourself
-> Always acknowledge news tips

I personally enjoy these tips. It may seem like common sense, but they are tips because there can be right and wrong ways to do things. There is no perfect way to do things, but there are things that may work better than others and this is one of those things. And the rate of growth for social networking sites makes it obvious how important these tips are.

He also advises to build a community online.
He says that the link is the first building block, then comes the comment or the contribution.
Journalists must get involved- by using their time, energy and resources.
Developing sources through the community is a perk of this commitment.
In the collaboration, journalists usually can provide the how and why when the network provides the what.
But the journalist must keep conversations accurate and ethical.  Briggs says to set guidelines for participants, monitor postings for offensive content, know your legal responsibilities and correct errors.

Overall, great chapter with alot of useful information.

Digitize Me.

Chapter 9 is all about the digital age. What should we use to make our lives easier? What are you already doing? How can we make digital tools work to our advantage?
Briggs starts off the chapter with asking us about our digital life? We take a look at what digital tools are already in our lives.

Firstly, he tells us to organize your email.

Then, he tells us to find the right productivity tools. As journalists, you have to be able to manage your to-do lists, your contacts, calendars and notes. Things such as google docs and Microsoft Office Suites are your friend in this case. Easy tools that can make communicating and sorting your information that much easier.
He also notes that a strategy is important. What will help you do better in your own life and work? How much are you willing to spend on personalized tools?

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We also look at data-driven Journalism in this chapter. Data such as test scores, public employee salaries, summer camp for kids, new movie listings, and property taxes are all different types of databases that are being built and can be helpful in your story.
Briggs talks about stories being data and journalists much research this data in order to make a story.

He moves from using data into creating it. Do you know how to make a spreadsheet? This is an easy way to share data with others and could be helpful to you in your field. This isn’t just applicable to journalists but it goes across career fields.
Maps are also technology that are useful. He used Google Maps as an example. Map mashups use different databases in combination with the usual map to help people find something like an apartment or restaurant. He also mentioned how this could help stories-like murders. On a map you could find points in which murders occurred digitally.

This chapter was really interesting to me and I found it helpful. Whether we like to admit it or not, we live in a digital world. The best thing to do is learn what works for  you and own it.