Lessons From ONA ‘10: What It Takes, Part 2

Written by Ryan Thornburg November 3, 2010 8:50 am EDT No comments

Aggregation continued to be one of the online news community’s big buzzwords at the 2010 Online News Association conference last week. The idea behind aggregation is that individual news organizations can achieve comparative advantages and that the entire information economy can function more efficiently if the news organization links to reliable information from bloggers, sources and other news organizations rather than replicating the information with its own take.

But aggregation isn’t free. You can either automate it, which might cost a newsroom $25,000 to $100,000 in up-front costs, plus constant tweaking of the algorithms and processes that gather, organize and automatically publish news stories from external sources. Or, you can put humans and their infinitely superior cognitive flexibility on the task.

But what does that cost? Based on some estimates I’ve put together based on conversations at ONA:

* It takes an average of 8 minutes for a news producer to read a blog post or news story, write a summary and categorize it by location and subject.
* Based on a VERY limited sample that desperately needs further research, you can estimate pulling in one blog post per week for every 4,500 people in your market. (Please send me any data you have that would help me solidify this number.)

In my home market of Raleigh-Durham, which has about 1.5 million people, aggregating local content might take about one full-time position and cost a news organization maybe $35,000 a year plus benefits.

How does that match your experience with aggregation? What am I missing?

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How to Blog

Written by Ryan Thornburg January 28, 2009 11:54 pm EST No comments

While talking earlier this week to a journalist about the future of news, I again heard the story of newsroom leadership that has issued an edict that all reporters must blog. While I believe there are many contributions that the blog format can bring to news reporting, I can think of no more certain way to kill their potential than by making them mandatory.

If you think “blogs suck,” then there ain’t anything I’m going to say here that will convince you otherwise. I never knock another person’s religious beliefs.

If you are looking for more evidence to arm yourself in the battle of whether bloggers are/are not journalists, then please stop reading now. I have about as much interest in the answer to that question as I have in debating whether figure skaters are athletes.

BUT… if you are a journalist who wants to start blogging or be a better blogger then welcome. And if you’re a blogger who wants to be more newsy, then read on, my friend.

And if you don’t have time, just check out the PDF one-pager.

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Journalists Without Journals

Written by Ryan Thornburg April 6, 2008 3:11 pm EDT No comments

Journalism is an inalienable state of mankind. Professional journalism is not.

By coincidence, I recently found myself reading two things that, as a pair, illustrated nicely the reason I’m so sanguine about the future of news and so panicked about the future of news companies.

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What I'm reading

  • Writing from Video Exercise 1 hour ago
    These video writing and editing exercises are from the 4th Edition of the Broadcast News Handbook by Charlie Tuggle, Forrest Carr and Suzanne Hoffman.
  • News Corp. Donation Clouds Fox Coverage of Prop. 24 - NYTimes.com 2010/11/02
  • How to Count Items in a Filtered List in Excel 2010/10/25
  • Relational Databases - Example - Martin Baker 2010/10/16
  • MySQL :: MySQL 5.0 Reference Manual :: 10 Data Types 2010/10/16

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