Even starting to answer those questions turns developing a digital news strategy into a combination of contradictions.
I discovered Paul Bradshaw's news diamond a couple of years ago, and generally like the approach behind it.
And here it is, operationalized:
His basic ideas address the many ways digital news is gathered, published and used by the audience. Here's an example of how it might work on an Orion story:
The Chico Police Department issues a press release that says sexual assaults have increased dramatically over the past two years.|
An editor opens the email that contains the news release and posts a Tweet: Police say sexual assaults up dramatically in Chico. More later at theorion.com.|
A reporter is assigned to the story and does some initial interviews with the police to find out why the department issued the release and what's behind the increase. She writes a 100-word story for the website, which is posted as soon as it's edited.
The daily webscast staff hits the street and interviews young women about how safe they feel walking home from Chico bars. They use the interviews in a package about the increase for the next morning's newscast.
The Orion Facebook and Twitter accounts promote the webscast and website stories.
The reporter continues to research the story, finding specific examples of assaults, looking for a pattern (they're almost all after bar close, happen downtown and involve young women), interviewing victims, sexual assault counselors, etc., for a print story. The editor, in the meantime, meets with the art director, photo editor, copy editor, etc., to develop a map and chart that can run with the story.
The multimedia editor and the person working on the map figure out a way to make it interactive and post it on the website. The update is posted on Twitter and Facebook.
The opinion page staff decides it's an issue worth commenting on and writes an editorial.
The story and editorial are published in the newspaper. Twitter and Facebook promote both. Continuing coverage on the Web is promoted at the end of the print story.
In the meantime, visitors to the website have been leaving comments. It's clear from what they write that a lot of assaults aren't reported for various reasons.
A blogger who writes about public safety or life in Chico or city government writes a post that puts the news in context: Chico has fewer police officers patrolling downtown than it did three years ago or bar patrons in Santa Barbara have organized a buddy system to help each other get home safely.
Letters to the editor are sent to the newspaper about the sexual assault story. They're used as the foundation for follow-up reporting that results in a poll about after-closing safety, a web story about strategies for keeping safe, an interview with the mayor about the level of public safety in Chico, etc. Of course, they're published in the next issue of the paper.
|The Orion Facebook page asks fans and friends to offer their stories about assaults or close calls. The paper develops its own database of crimes and near crimes that becomes an interactive map of dangerous places, suspect descriptions, arrests, etc.
Next time: How to organize a newsroom to cover a story in all these different ways.