Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's the Web stupid

Innovation in College Media recently interviewed Howard Owens, Director of Digital Publishing at Gatehouse Media. Gatehouse owns over 430 community publications located in 18 states.

Owens has some compelling ideas about newspapers and their online presence. He advocates "Web-first publishing," where the main goal is to "publish quickly and often everything you know that might be of interest to your audience." In addition, instead of taking what was in your print product and editing it for the Web, take the best online stories, flesh out the details and "print it."

Owens also maintains that journalists need to "think like bloggers. Write in an authentic voice, be real, be honest, be transparent." It is very important, Owens says, for student journalists to understand the importance of blogging. "I don’t think many people grasp how much we can learn from blogging about how the way people consume information is changing."

"Every student journalist should spend at least six months totally immersed in blogging. Start a blog and try to draw an audience. Do the things that bloggers need to do, read other blogs, create a blog roll, link to other blogs, post frequently on topics relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach (and read those blogs in that category), comment on other blogs. Learn to be a participant. That’s my advice to pro journalists, too: if you want to learn this culture, become a participant in it."

Finally, Owens touts the importance multimedia plays in "engaging an audience." He says to
"create video that is highly watchable, fun, authentic, interesting, well thought out to the context of how it’s being used."

Owens contends that "there hasn’t been a better time since the early part of the last century to be a journalist. I think these are exciting times, a chance to be at the vanguard of creating journalism for a new era, and in a far more competitive environment than most journalists have known over the past 30 to 50 years."

Thanks to Leonard Witt for the link.


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