Community Journalism – Week 3

Robert Mills

I was looking forward to getting stuck into week three of the course as the summary mentioned that we’d be looking at the essentials of a good story.

The start of the week’s content included a video of Alun Edmunds, Editor in Chief at Media Wales. Edmunds talked about the incredible ability to break news on the web and the new opportunities to engage with an audience in a two way conversation. He also delved into the audience to Media Wales’ online content. They have two million unique users a month and aside from the expected local visitors, that figure is also comprised of Welsh ex pats and non-Welsh readers who are located further afield.

Edmunds touched on the challenges for a media outlet in the ever changing digital world, including how they need to learrn new editorial skills and new advertising sales skills in order to monetise online content and develop a sustainable business model.

The question was also asked, what makes great local news? The answer included the fact that the fundamental principles of what makes a good story have not changed but journalists need to learn new skills. At Media Wales they focus on the ‘snackable’ audience in the early morning who just want the headlines and news sumamries/snippets and then the tea time audience who want more detailed news. Edmunds added that the treatment of the story needs to change depending on what medium it’s being told across.

Deference to Reference

Sara Moseley discussed the changes in communicating with communities. Moseley states that there are new powerful opinion formers and curators of content emerging online and as a consequence there has been a shift in dynamics. This change has been from deference to reference.

Moseley continued that there are more channels, more content and more noise but through all of this there remains a search for authenticity in both what is being said and how it is being said.

Digital Landscape

Some stats were quoted in this week’s lesson too. We were told that:

  • an average household now owns 3 internet enabled devices
  • a fifth of households own 6 or more
  • tablet ownership more than doubled in 2013 from 11% to 24%

Those figures come from the Ofcom Communications Market Report 2013.

I was also introduced to a new phrase related to when people multi tasking when watching TV. The term is Media Meshing and an example of this is when someone Tweets about a programme whilst they are watching it. Media Stacking is when someone emails whilst part watching the evening news. I felt that latter term needed further explanation but none was offered.

Authenticity

The lesson then took us back to authenticity, something we talk a fair bit about here at Bluegg in relation to client’s content, language and tone of voice. The lesson told us that authenticity cuts through everything and it is real people, in real places, talking about real events. Hyperlocal sites have this going for them as they have roots in the community and know the people they serve.

What makes a good story?

This is a question that Sali Collins answered in her video. Collins informed us that the good news is that there is no secret formula. We were advised to tailor our content to our medium. Collins also stated that the principles remain the same for writing a news story, the five W’s and one H:

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • How

We should be able to answer all those questions before we start writing. Language was also a topic of discussion with suggestions that anyone creating content for a hyperlocal shouldn’t get lost in language that nobody would use in a day to day situation. Write like you are telling the story to a friend or relative. This was definitely a good refresher to my main journalism degree I did a while back. Collins reassured us that it was fine if our content doesn’t read like professional journalism so long as it is accurate and again, authentic. In fact, content on hyperlocal sites is almost expected and preferred not to be too ‘professional’.

The final mention in this section that took me right back to my Uni days was that of the inverted pyramid. Good times.

Tone of voice

I’m not sure how I feel about this section of the lesson. It is great that tone of voice is being mentioned but I did feel the methods for finding your own tone of voice were too simplistic to be of real value. Consistency was mentioned and we were encouraged to ask questions such as who am I talking to? The exercise suggested was to think of your brand like a person, and what sort of person that brand would be, as in formal, relaxed and so forth.

Then it moved onto the audience and thinking of them in terms of – car, house, job, hobbies, family, entertainment. There were no real details in this section so for me it wasn’t very practical or useful as it just asked people to make two lists. It just seemed odd that so much focus was on authenticity and consistency but then a topic like branding and tone of voice was dealt with so swiftly even though it is so important to achieveing that authenticity and consistency. I appreciate not every facet of this topic can be covered in detail though and the discussion at the end of each lesson allows for sharing of resources and knowledge so not all is lost.

Onwards and upwards, week 4 of 5 has just started and it looks at building an audience so I’m excited to get stuck in.

If you liked this, you might like:

Community Journalism – Week 1

Community Journalism – Week 2

Community Journalism – Week 4

Community Journalism – Week 5