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December 21 2010

15:27

Videos: Building an online community from scratch

Courtesy of the BBC College of Journalism, we’ve got video footage from all of our sessions at news:rewired – beyond the story, 16 December 2010.

We’ll be grouping the video clips by session – you can view all footage by looking at the multimedia category on this site.

Ed Walker

Neil Perkin

Anthony Thornton

December 16 2010

13:03

Community editors should be an integral part of the newsroom, says Media Wales’ Ed Walker

Community editors must not be sidelined in the newsroom, Ed Walker, online communities editor at Media Wales, told news:rewired delegates today.

Responding to @datamineruk, who described how digital staff at her workplace are based in a different part of the newsroom to other journalists, Walker said he sits next to an experienced senior reporter and can tap into his knowledge.

Walker founded Blog Preston, where he found that tapping into readers’ local knowledge helped to generate traffic to the site because it produced content that people want to discuss. A regular topic was local character “Toxic Terry”, a man who drinks petrol on the high street in Preston. Rumours of his demise sparked a spike in traffic, which only ebbed when someone saw him alive on the high street.

Walker had a number of suggestions about what makes a successful online community. One is focusing on popular topics like local history and getting input from experts. He also suggested making journalism a two-way street using interactive features like pothole maps.

Neil Perkin, founder of Only Dead Fish, said he has learned more about communities from being a blogger for four or five years than anything else. He unveiled a list of things to avoid when building communities:

  • Not having a clear objective – if you have clarity on your purpose, the people in that community have a reason to be there.
  • Avoid fixation on numbers – social media a source of referrals but don’t chase numbers at the expense of saturation.
  • Don’t broadcast at your community – to quote Clay Shirky, it’s about creating an environment for supporting people.
  • Forget the idea that it’s all about the technology – it’s about the people. Understand who are the authoritative people in your market. People like something to do and respond to openness.
  • Avoid not being a part of it yourself.

Anthony Thornton, group digital editor at IPC Inspire Men and Music, started his presentation with the depressing figure that 99% of attempts to start a community end in failure. Anthony, who was instrumental in the launch of the online version of the NME, said that communities exist already, it’s just a matter of finding one.

He also discussed how building a community around a book that he was working on helped it to gain a place in the Sunday Times’ Top 10 Bestsellers list. The book, which focused on the indie band the Libertines, was embraced by fans after Anthony connected with them on Myspace ahead of publication. Sharing cover ideas and other content helped fans form a relationship with the book giving it an edge over a rival title, which was published at the same time.

September 17 2010

12:48

August 02 2010

08:00

The New Online Journalists #8: Ed Walker

As part of an ongoing series on recent graduates who have gone into online journalism, online communities editor Ed Walker talks about what got him the job, what it involves, and what skills he feels online journalists need today.

I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire School of Journalism in 2007 with a BA (Hons) first-class in Journalism. I specialised in online journalism in my final year and was taught by the digital yoda that is Andy Dickinson.

As part of my degree I was taught how to do HTML/CSS, built websites from scratch, shot video, chopped up audio, used RSS feeds for newsgathering, wrote stories, blogged using Wordpress, used content management systems and all that lovely stuff.

During the course it was obvious that you needed real experience – not just Microsoft Word-submitted stories to a lecturer – to get on in the industry. I started writing for my student paper, Pluto, as soon as I arrived – it was then in a monthly magazine format – and was part of the team that turned it into a fortnightly newspaper.

In 2005 we took the paper online for the first time with Pluto Online and I moved up to Assistant Editor before winning the election to become editor for a year.

We had some good splashes, with two stories going national, and we picked up two awards at the Press Gazette Student Journalism Awards 2008: the Scoop of the Year for an undercover investigation into an essay writing company run by a UCLan student; and one of our reporters picked up Student Reporter of the Year.

Experience

While studying I also did shifts for the Lancashire Evening Post as a reporter and got involved in the Johnston Press “Newsroom of the Future” project – shooting lots of video and audio for the website. I also had a really enjoyable placement and shifts with The Scotsman when Stewart Kirkpatrick, now of the Caledonian Mercury, was editor. This taught me a lot about how a national and regional operated in the same newsroom (standing me in good stead for my current role at Media Wales).

I also went to India for two and a half months to work for a publishing company, Explocity, on their range of magazines as a reporter and sub editor. Based in Bangalore, this was an eye-opening experience.

Finding a tough job market in the summer of 2008 I sold out and took a comms job at the university, but this involved managing the Students’ Union website and taught me a lot about content management, managing social media and databases/content management systems.

In January 2009 I started up a local news and community site for Preston, Blog Preston. This was partly to keep up some journalism experience and also to fill a void that was left by the Preston Citizen shutting down.

I used Wordpress, built up contacts and stories started coming in. Local people found it a useful resource and we had great feedback and traffic figures. It’s still going now, I oversee some very talented student journalists at UCLan: Andy Halls, Joseph Stashko, Daniel Bentley and David Stubbings – who produce content and manage the site.

The Online Communities Editor role

As Online Communities Editor with Media Wales I took on the project of starting a community website for Cardiff (http://yourcardiff.walesonline.co.uk) under the main WalesOnline (http://www.walesonline.co.uk) site.

The Cardiff section on the WalesOnline site just saw content pumped through from the papers, so my role was to get under the skin of Cardiff, focus on community and council stories and attract guest bloggers to the site. I also manage the social media presences for yourCardiff and WalesOnline.

In the multimedia age I also write regularly for the South Wales Echo, and work on increasing reader interaction with stories in the paper and working on collaborative journalism projects like getting readers to submit their parking hotspots around the city. I can go from editing a Google map, to shooting video, to writing the splash, to editing a guest blog post all in the space of a few hours during any given day.

I like regional journalism. I like getting out into the community and reporting on stories that matter to them, so I’d definitely like to stay in regional journalism and move upwards.

Ideally I’d like to get involved in improving the quality of local newspaper websites, helping them connect with online communities and also getting better integration with the papers. There’s so much more that could be done and it’s an exciting time to be a journalist.

November 30 2009

12:42

Ed Walker: Council coverage in Lancashire Evening Post 

Some quantitative evidence on local newspapers and council reporting from Ed Walker (former Uclan student and hyperlocal blogger), as part of a Help Me Investigate project. He looked at a Johnston Press title, the Lancashire Evening Post, which covers Preston and other parts of Lancashire.

“I found that there were 35 pages devoted to news on 23/11, 25/11 and 27/11 and of these 6.25 pages were given over to ‘council reporting’.

“Like others I’ve been finding there is little reporting of council meetings, more stories are created from council press releases and then a few quotes from councillors. It’s also not clear when these councillors were saying these quotes, although the councillors title and ward are always attached.”

Full story at this link…

(via Thoughts of Nigel)

Related: Headlines and Deadlines: Public service reporting, court coverage and charging online

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