December 28, 2012

Five Media/Tech Innovations for your 2013 Newsroom


Nonprofit newsrooms and news ventures have a great opportunity to make changes in 2013 that can keep them ahead of the competition, help improve the news operation, inspire staff, and lead to new efforts in storytelling and reporting.

We have five ways to make your newsroom different in 2013:

  • Tablet
  • Software in the Cloud
  • Data Training
  • Visuals
  • Social Media Metrics

Tablet. If you have not started thinking about how to offer your news content for the tablet, 2013 is the year that you need to do so. Sales of tablets will continue to rise in 2013. What does this mean for the news organization? More news consumers will be looking for local news content that they can access from the tablet.

If you are uncertain of how to get started and what to consider when presenting news content on the tablet, a good guide is the recent e-book by Mario Garcia entitled, iPad Design Lab. Check our past review of this e-book and tips on how to get started with storytelling on the tablet.

Software in the Cloud. Nowadays, news organizations have to deal with tight budgets and few resources, this also includes careful purchases for items such as software applications that require physical installation and constant updates.

Software companies are quickly realizing the opportunity of selling their software applications in the cloud. Google Docs is one perfect example of how software applications can be housed in the cloud and accessed from anywhere, anytime with less hassle and expense.

In 2013, you can make the difference in your newsroom to go green and consider purchasing software applications for your staff that are accessible through the cloud.

For example, Adobe Creative Cloud includes access to their most popular applications such as Acrobat, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and several others, for rental on a monthly or yearly basis.

Microsoft Word also offers its applications in the cloud via Office 365 with access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. A free trial is available and special rates are offered for small to medium-sized businesses, which may be perfect for the news venture.

Software applications in the Cloud can save your operation money and resources in the New Year.

Data Training and Education. In 2012, data and the use of data visualizations in storytelling was a big trend. In 2013, we will see more of the same.

As more organizations (both public and private) continue to go digital with their data, news stories abound for news organizations in terms of the potential of doing some amazing news stories with data in 2013.

Newsrooms should seize the moment in 2013 and make sure to train their staff on data-driven reporting techniques. This can be an investment that will lead to many long-term returns in making your news organization’s reporting stronger and more impactful in the coming year.

If you are not sure how to get started, look inside your organization first. Your reporters may be the perfect trainers to give an afternoon workshop or series of trainings to the rest of your staff.

If that is not an option, there are many places online where one can learn data-driven reporting techniques such as Poynter’s NewsU, which offers a variety of webinars, online courses and tutorials on the topic.

IRE has a variety of tipsheets on data-driven techniques and tools. There are also free tutorials available on the Knight Digital Media Center’s website on data visualizations. In addition, the Data Journalism Handbook provides a good primer for any journalist or news organization jumping into data-driven reporting and storytelling. It’s available for free online or you can buy the book.

Resources abound for journalists who want to learn about how data and journalism can come together to make impactful journalism, it’s just a matter of having the tools and time to learn it in 2013.

Visuals.  We now live in the era of the visual – news consumers nowadays want to see visuals whether that is an image, photo or video. In 2013, we will continue to see more visual content in all its forms.

In the New Year, you may want to consider new approaches to add visuals to your existing news coverage. This doesn’t mean replacing or substituting your news reporting for a visual but see the visual as a compliment. You may want to ask your staff to think of the following questions with each and every story they cover in 2013:

  • Is there a way you can incorporate an infographic with that investigative piece or local story you are writing? It may not entail a deep analysis of data but can be something as simple as a basic interactive timeline.
  • Is there a photo or a collage of photos that may engage your readers into the story? Perhaps a Pinterest page may be an option?

Not every story your staff covers may require a visual, but you should be thinking of ways where the visual can help elaborate, conceptualize and present information from your existing news coverage in a new and different way.

Social Media Metrics. In 2013, news organizations need to go beyond the number of followers or likes on social media and make an investment to know who is following them and what they are doing with the content they share with others.

Those news organizations who are savvy to know how their news audiences are engaging with them and their news content, will be the ones who will be ahead of the curve, leaving other news competitors in the dust while gaining new audiences and maintaining a loyal audience base at the same time.

The following measurement tools can help you to have a better understanding of social media metrics via the reach, relevance and resonance you can achieve with your news audience (See our previous article on the three key pillars by Brian Solis):

Each of these tools provides different kinds of information and metrics about your social media presence, and it may be best to experiment with a variety of tools to see which ones work the best for your news operation. It’s important to note that you should not settle on just one measurement or tool, but have a combination of tools and metrics in order to help you to have a better understanding of your news audience and how they engage with your news content.

In 2013, visuals, data, software applications in the cloud, the tablet, and social media metrics will be some of the major trends. The opportunity awaits those news organizations that seek out these trends and implement them in the New Year.

The New Year brings a clean slate and a chance to help make your news operation better, while making a significant difference in the kind of journalism your staff does as you serve the community you cover.