Going through my FOO notes, I noticed that many conversations sparked ideas that were relevant to participatory media. Here's a quirky list of do's and don'ts that reveal some of the best practices being used by others in the New News Media:
Five things to do
- Take advantage of news aggregators when gathering information. According to Digg CEO Jay Adelson, aggregation quality matches or parallels the editorial decisions of traditional media. (Disclosure note: Omidyar Network is an investor in Digg, and I am a board observer.) Newsvine CEO Mike Slade agrees, positing that "At the very worst, it's no worse...and at its best, it's better."
- Use the Web if you're a pundit as vs. a journalist. Unlike print, you won't need to work to editorial constraints such as word count or topic assignment. John Gruber from Daring Fireball
also prefers Web publishing because it enables him to be more of an auteur - he gets to control the design, length,
and frequency of his works.
- Release different parts of your story at different times. What should be released for the 3PM web surfer, as vs. the 7:30AM news reader? Even in the blogosphere, there has been a tendency for news to be released in the morning or in the evening. Different age demographics will access content at different times. Retirees may be heavy morning users, while teenagers may go online in droves at 4PM, when they get home from school.
- Remember that page views are money. Since page views correlate to revenue, you have to maximize your page views in order to make money. The model may suck, but that's the convention.
- Develop both long- and short-form content. On Gawker, featured content does better than the short posts, and drives most of the traffic. The short posts, however, are what bring in new readers.
Five things to keep in mind
- Don't look for sensationalism from news aggregators. Stories on Digg may sit in the background for several days before hitting the front page. Alternatively, articles may appear so fast, they become repetitively posted and/or delisted as false because the information has not yet been referenced in the traditional media.
- Don't count on reader customization. Adelson reports that most Digg users don't customize their Digg interface, and wouldn't use MyYahoo. The desire for content relevance is not the same as the need for interface personalization.
- Don't dismiss the luxury of a secure readership. Gruber's hilarious comment was that "Writing a weblog is like sitting down to the typewriter, typing something up, and then balling up the piece of paper and throwing it over your shoulder in the hope that someone will pick it up."
- Don't be afraid that your content isn't good enough. As many people noted: "even bad news is entertainment."