Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Digital last

I know there's a newspaper full of news in The Orion office right now, but very little of it appears on theorion.com this morning. My guess is I'll see a lot more of it later today, when it's shoveled (as in shovelware) onto the website.

This is The Orion of old, when reporters and editors were completely focused on putting out the print newspaper, which the online staff then dumped wholesale on Tuesday (features) and Wednesday (the news). It's also the antithesis of "digital first," which is where I thought this newspaper was going.

Hard to know who's to blame here, so I won't. But I will make a couple of suggestions:

• Create a GoogleDoc or some other single online file or folder that the copy editors can share with webmaster and online editor. When stories (ALL stories) are ready for print publication, a copy is  added to the file or folder. Same thing for art. The online staff can tweak it for online publication, then post it on the website.

• Even better, create a gmail account for the online editor where a 100-word version of news and sports stories (and art) are posted immediately after an event happens by reporters and photographers. These can be immediately edited and posted.

• Reporters should be Tweeting stories when they've confirmed the basic who, what, where and when. The Orion news and sports Twitter account passwords should be shared with everyone on staff. Smart-phone photos AND VIDEO should be tweeted too.

• It's time to stop thinking of photos merely as illustrations for print stories. Photographers, and everyone with a smartphone or digital camera for that matter, should always be carrying cameras or phones and looking for great shots that can posted immediately on Twitter and Facebook or taken back to The Orion for editing and posting. Online, a photo and a cutline is as good as a regular news or sports story.

• Think about copy flow in a new way. This illustration of the news diamond sees newsgathering as a series of steps that starts with Twitter and Facebook alerts, gets a brief story online, publishes a final version in the paper and then continues the story with commentary or analysis and further development with the help of readers. Keeping this image in mind will help The Orion on its path to digital first.

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