How to be a journo in a digital age

How to be a journo in a digital age

By Jessica Holland 04/03/13

The internet is blamed for the decline in print journalism but a new breed of writers are making technology work for them. Jessica Holland finds out how...

How do you start making video content for the Guardian? Is there money to be made from crowdsourcing? Does Google need editorial staff? These issues and more were discussed at the Creative + Digital: Journalism Showcase spa, hosted by The Loop and TechHub, with Guardian video producer Laurence Topham, The Church of London's Content Marketing Director Matt Bochenski, Blottr founder Adam Baker and The Literary Platform's Associate Director Joanna Ellis.

 

By pitching multimedia stories

Have a camera that can shoot video? Pitch a multimedia package to The Guardian, which, Laurence says, is increasingly interested in interactive multimedia series with lots of hyperlinks, video and photos, as well as text. Think about exploring grey areas in a story by linking to evidence to allow readers to draw their own conclusions, or showing an issue from multiple points of view. "The old model of journalism is throwing stories over the castle wall," Laurence says. "The Guardian wants a conversation with readers."

By linking up with activists, worldwide

Adam saw a gap in the market for a service that verifies citizen journalism from places like Syra and Mali and sells it on to major news outlets. Two years on, Blottr has Channel 4, Sky, Fox News and The New York Times among its clients. When it comes to an event like the London riots, Adam says much breaking online news can contain scaremongering and misinformation, but if you can filter and aggregate blogs, tweets and video quickly and accurately, you'll be in demand.

By innovating

Of course, in order to launch a digital newswire or pitch an interactive feature you need to bone up on the latest tech developments. One good source of ideas is The Literary Platform, which reviews book apps and other products at the intersection of writing and technology, and has also launched two bursaries pairing up writers and techies with brilliant new ideas for digital journalism.

By being yourself

If you develop an interesting style, build up a discerning readership by blogging or self-publishing, or make a name for yourself as a forward-thinking brand, digital companies will want in. It's what happened to Matt after he founded The Church of London and launched two print mags, Little White Lies and Huck. "We didn't do any customer research," he says, "we just did what we wanted to see in a magazine." The launch of the print titles led to Google asking TCOL to manage its magazine, Think Quarterly, then take over the company's content strategy. Just be careful what partners you pick once the corporate work starts to roll in; Matt advises against being too "promiscuous" and says TCOL is "quite chaste". 

 

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Image by Mr T in DC, used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 licence.

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