Tag Archives: Interhacktives

Social media editorship at Islington Now

Over the course of this week, I’ll be social media editor at Islington Now, the news organization periodically run by students at City University.

In addition to the normal functions of a social media editor, which include publicising stories after they’ve been posted and sourcing material for stories from social media, I’ve come up with a project for the week: a series of articles called “Going out in Islington”.

Stock Content

The main thinking behind this was to create a good base of stock content for the site.

Stock content is that which is useful for weeks and even years after the usual news cycle. It is one of the multitude of innovations that writing for the web involves, in comparison to writing for print, when a newspaper would usually be thrown away a day or two after publication. An example of stock content is an explanatory article, such as the Interhacktives article on how to perform a reverse image search.

It creates a consistent stream of traffic to a site, in contrast to the sporadic peaks and troughs of traffic that accompany its opposite: flow content.

Community engagement

Another important part of the rationale was the desire to engage the Islington Now community.

Once the first article has been posted, people will be better able to comprehend the concept of the series, meaning they’ll be more likely to respond to attempts by us to use social media to crowd-source content. For instance, one of the articles we’ll be doing will be along the lines of “most hipster bars in Islington” and, by both publicising articles and requesting help for future articles, we’re hoping that we can inspire some strong engagement.

Follow-up content

I’ll also be attempting to follow up on content, where possible. For instance, to supplement the article on the best ways to get home, I’m planning to post a link to a map showing all of the night bus routes in and out of Islington. As far as I’m aware, such an Islington-specific map doesn’t currently exist anywhere on the Internet.

Look out for the posts on Twitter and Facebook throughout this week.

Who cares about Interhacktives?

I will soon be helping to run #Interhacktives, a website for students on City University’s Interactive Journalism MA to share their experiences as they learn about digital journalism.

Journalism, like any industry, should consider the people it serves: its readers. Otherwise, in the digital age, the readers will go elsewhere.

So: who will use the Interhacktives site?

Profile of an Interhacktives user

Well, you might think it is most likely to be someone interested in the field of digital journalism.

The problem is: this might limit our audience somewhat. After all, how many people are interested in digital journalism? And what proportion of those would be we able to attract?

Therefore, we need to aim more broadly. As UsvsTh3m has shown, simple, topical news games can go viral – but these require technical skills currently beyond us.

But two things we can do are infographics and data visualisations.

Infographics can make information come alive

Infographics can make information come alive

Data visualisations help to put numbers in context

Data visualisations help to put numbers in context

Not only will producing these allow us to develop our digital skills, but they are also popular beyond the narrow realm of digital journalism. People are interested in pictures. And pictures that give them information more succinctly than any prose could?

Bingo.

This is how we can meet the key journalistic aim of adding value for our readers.

HOW TO REACH PEOPLE

With fifteen or so of us running Interhacktives, it might seem easy for us to reach a large audience – we just each tweet every article, and our followers all click through.

If only.

Twitter has notoriously low click-through rates. Although it has its uses, it should not be the only way to promote material.

Other possible methods include:

  • Posting on Facebook – which has relatively high click-through rates, but remains a generally non-public space;
  • Linking on our own blogs;
  • Connecting with journalists with large followings who can then promote our work to their followers;
  • Connecting with the relevant community for a certain article; and
  • SEO (search engine optimisation).

Although promotion is very important, though, content is king. And that is our main challenge.