'New Media' Chaos

I have too much going on in my life right now. I'm back at school and shooting a ton. Not only shooting, but I'm back to editing.

I have created/taken the position of "Exponent of the Evolution" at The Daily Orange, my student newspaper. I had previously served a year as the photo editor for the paper, and has sort of assumed that my time there was up.

Little did I know that the opportunity would arise to use a lot of the knowledge that I've linked to and talked about on this blog in the 'real world' (however real an independent daily college paper is).

As the Exponent of the Evolution, I have 3 areas of responsibility:

  • Promotion and advocacy of 'new media' at the paper. Blogging, audio slideshows, video, podcasting, video podcasting, etc.
  • Establishing and expanding the paper's online precense. This can be simple, like promoting the website in print, or publishing headlines on twitter, to more complicated things like the creation of a new CMS for college papers.
  • Monetizing. I serve as an advisor to the business side of the paper for online ads. Best online ad practices, new revenue streams, etc

The good news is this: this job has never existed before, and it desperately has needed to. It is critical for the survival of newspapers in the internet age to adapt to the new, online world. At this point, no newspaper has done it successfully.

Papers like The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, have made leaps in the online realm, but none of them are able to sustain their operation entirely off revenue from the online side of the business. If print is dead, it is critical that newspapers, as the sole remaining journalists, figure out a revenue and distribution model that can maintain them.

Since this is already a bit of a disjointed, stream-of-consciousness post written at 6am out of pent up guilt for not writing a real post for so long. Let me provide a list of what I have done for the DO:

  • Twittering of all headlines @dailyorange. Our popular sports blog gets special designation for it's posts (as do videos).
  • Establishment of Final Cut Pro as our go-to video and audio slideshow editor. The result, as a movie, has a superior quality over soundslides or slideshowpro.
  • Our sports section has been publishing 'graphics' prior to games that give details on players, what to look forward to, who to watch, etc. We're trying to move this to an interactive, online, format.
  • I've developed a hypothesis: the lone reporter/photojournalist is dead. Instead, reporting will be done in teams that function like (pardon the analogy) terrorist cells. They will be largely autonomous, have a mission (a beat), and be comprised of a small group of people who have unique skills. TV media has been doing this for a long time – they always send out at least a camera man and a reporter. These teams will consist of 2-3 people (with an editor back in the office) who need to have 5 skills between them. Those skills are: 1) video 2) audio 3) photo 4) writing 5) 'personality. The last is a poor term for describing the person who is the 'on camera personality' – the person who is the front man for the team – recognizable to the public. These skills can be divided in any manner among the 2-3 members of the team. I've been working on this 'hypothesis' for months now, recognizing that in this new world it is impractical to expect a single reporter/photog to be able to deliver a complete multimedia piece. Non only is it impossible to shoot video, sound, and photos at the same time, but it cannot all be complied on deadline. Having a team of people working on the same project allows them to deliver a complete multimedia package for every story – on deadline. The point: I've decided to test the hypothesis: I have a 3 person team (who's beat has yet to be determined). At this point, they're producing a video a week on a chosen topic. We'll see where this goes.
  • Our sports section now has 2 video podcasts: On the Beat and Just Le Jus. Publishing 3 times a week, I'm hoping that this sort of thing will spread to other sections of the paper (working on Opinion).
  • I'm the front man for the DO at coPress, a collective of college newspapers who are developing an opensource, custom, content management system for college newspapers. I've written the first blog post of coPress here. This is a move to get our paper off College Publisher, and onto a more workable CMS – a critical goal for the long-term sustainability of our paper.
  • I've hired a couple of web developers (well, had hired, looks like I'm going to have to fight the board on this one) to help develop our CMS. This marks the first time the DO has hired someone specifically to develop code for our site. The sports graphics are a good example of the power that this brings.
  • We are now using vimeo for all of our videos. It's a flexible system that allows HD content hosting. We'll have our own branded player eventually, but for now, this is a great, turn-key solution.
  • Google ads don't make a ton of money, but they are something, and provide great filler for when we can't sell local ads.
  • In order to figure out who is visiting our site (and how), it's critical to have a good suite of analytics software. We're now using Google Analytics.
  • Our sports section has been live blogging for about a year now from games. I'm trying to get this work ethic expanded to other sections.

I think that's the list for now. We're/I'm working on doing more. I was just approved as a full time hire, but I'm still doing the job of more than one person, and could really use additional staff to make this all work. I'll end by sharing a very rough audio slideshow I did for a local walk for cancer.

Light the Night from The Daily Orange on Vimeo.
'New Media' Chaos

Joey Baker

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I write code most days. Prevously: photojournalist, EMT. Somewhat obsessed with jouralism.