Following Facebook’s changes, publishers can use these strategies to overcome the loss of traffic

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By James Breiner, IJNET

Now that Facebook has made clear that it will not be promoting journalism to its users there are several tactics and strategies that publishers can take to replace what they have lost (and will lose) from Facebook’s pivot away from news.

1. A tactic: start an email newsletter with links to your content. Think of it as a walled garden that protects you from Facebook.

Daily, weekly, or monthly newsletters create a more intimate relationship with users. Some publications have several on different topics, such as technology, business, public safety, or politics that users can select from. Local news sites in particular can benefit from daily newsletters.

The links to your content send users directly to your site, and any ad revenue goes to your business rather than Facebook. Many digital news publishers report higher response rates from email subscribers to offers of subscriptions, premium content, or memberships.

2.  Focus on the quality of users instead of the quantity: relationship rather than scale, engagement rather than volume.

The metrics of the “attention web” focus on showing the value of the audience’s relationship with the media brand rather than with an advertiser’s product.

Some of these metrics are:

  • duration of user’s visits per month
  • frequency of visits per day or per month
  • time spent reading or viewing a piece of content
  • user’s path in scrolling through a piece of content (to see if more than the headline was viewed)
  • comments on content
  • shares through social networks

Engaged users are the ones who become loyal users. They develop an emotional connection with a media brand.

3. Identify your loyal users and tailor special offers and services to them.

In Analytics, the loyal users are the ones who return to your site many times a day, week, or month. Media researcher Alfonso Vara-Miguel, a colleague of mine at the University of Navarra, has written(Spanish):

A loyal reader will repeatedly buy their paper, will better tolerate price increases, will be more inclined to buy other products from that brand, and is much more likely to recommend those products to other people.

Users of the Washington Post, for example, who visit the site at least three times a month are the ones most likely to buy a paid subscription to digital content.

4. Focus most of your editorial resources on content that differentiates you from competitors — content that is available nowhere else.

When your content is different, your users feel like they are members of a special club who get privileged information. This makes them loyal (Point 3), which has economic value.

Also, this strategy frees your editorial team from chasing stories that may produce clicks but distract them from the differentiated editorial mission of your publication. If all the media are chasing the latest scandal involving a political figure, your team can investigate the how and why of that story to give it context, meaning, and added value for your audience.

5. In a time of distrust of media and misinformation, credibility is the new currency. It is the most important asset of the publication.

Here is my take about the importance of credibility and trust for media 2018:

Independent media — those based on serving the public rather than turning a profit — will grow in importance through revealing corruption and holding authorities accountable… That credibility will have economic value that will be monetized.

Now is a good time to approach brands with the message that they gain credibility for their products and messages when they are surrounded by credible content — yours.

6. Focus on native advertising or “sponsored content” rather than targeted advertising.

So-called “native advertising” can help publishers move on from Facebook in several ways. In the first place, it gets past ad-blockers because it appears to be editorial content, not an ad. This makes the content load quickly, which is especially important to mobile phone users, now the majority of news consumers.

When it is done right, native advertising — also known as advertorial or sponsored content — will give readers valuable information that complements a publication’s editorial content. It will feel less intrusive than targeted advertising of the kind used by Facebook, and will keep users engaged.

7. Take advantage of what Facebook doesn’t know about your users and their friends.

While Facebook’s uses its vast storehouse of information on individual users and their networks to send them targeted ads, journalists in a particular town, region, or country know much more than any algorithm about local customs, traditions, language, expressions, personalities, power-brokers, history, and much more.

Publishers can take advantage of this specialized knowledge to offer highly differentiated content (Point 4) and attract a different kind of sponsor or advertiser (Point 8, to follow).

8. Talk about ethical values and public service with potential sponsors and contributors.

Facebook is a business designed to get people’s attention and make money. Ultimately it serves the investors first, the advertisers second, and the public comes in last.

People want to be part of an organization whose mission is to search for answers and attempt to inform rather than serve vested interests.

9. Monetize the social capital you create.

Social capital is a value that media entrepreneurs generate through their ethnic, social, professional, and business networks, which is enhanced through public service.

Social capital is not as concrete as financial capital, but it can be monetized, as many digital media organizations have done around the world. Crowd-funding, partnerships, collaborations, grants, sponsorships, and donations are some of the ways to convert social capital into support.

out loud
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By Carla Foote

During a dinner table conversation, I read an interesting piece of copy to my husband. It was from an editorial project I’d worked on earlier in the day and I thought he would resonate with the topic. As I was reading the selection out loud, I noticed a typo. What should have been the word “it” was “if” in this first draft. Not a problem, because the article was still in the early stages of the edit and design phase and I could easily make corrections. But the experience reminded me of the value of reading out loud to catch errors.

Brains are amazing in speed and ability. Fluent readers quickly move through text and their brains process content so quickly that many small errors are smoothed over in the process. This is especially true if the reader is already familiar with the content. It is as if  the brain has an autocorrect feature – one that is much better than autocorrect on texts!

So how do we counteract this auto-correcting brain process and catch errors before they get to print?

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Did you know that the MTI Online section of our website provides free access to a wealth of information on all aspects of magazine publishing. One user put it best:

“You can’t imagine how happy and blessed I am since I started interacting with MTI Online last night! I spent about three hours reading different materials and continued this morning. For me, this is an answered prayer. Your online library has resources that answer almost all the questions I’ve been asking myself for over a decade as a publisher.”

So what is included in MTI Online? The resources listed below cover magazine editing, design, management, writing, and digital publishing.

  • on-demand webinars
  • e-books
  • training videos

We also added recordings of each session from the Crisis Publishing Initiative, which discuss how journalists can cover crisis situations with integrity and accuracy.

Best of all, it’s all free!

Start Learning!

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Designers and photographers often have their own lingo as it relates to magazine publishing. Find out the meaning of some of the terms:

  • composition: The visual arrangement of all elements in a photograph.
  • crop: To eliminate portions of an image.
  • emotional tone: The feeling a page or image gives the viewer upon seeing it.
  • frame: To position a photograph within specific boundaries.
  • image: An illustration or photograph.
  • noise: Busyness, clutter.
  • visual: Illustration or photograph used as part of a page design.
  • aperture: The opening in a lens system through which light passes. It is usually expressed as a fraction of the focal length, that is, f/stop.
  • burn: To darken selected areas in a photograph.
  • depth of field: The distance between the nearest and farthest planes that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph.
  • digicam: A compact, automatic digital camera.
  • digital camera: A camera which uses pixels instead of traditional film.
  • dodge: To lighten selected areas in a photograph.
  • environmental portrait: A photo of a person that includes some of his/her environment.
  • exposure: The quantity of light allowed to act on a light-sensitive material; a product of the intensity (controlled by the aperture size) and the duration (controlled by the shutter speed or enlarging time) of light striking the film or paper. Also used to describe the actual act of taking the picture.
  • focus: To adjust the distance scale on a camera so that the image is sharp on the focal plane.
  • JPEG: A digital file format which offers reduced file sizes by discarding some information. Digital cameras usually store photos in JPEG format.
  • megapixels: A million pixels of information, usually 1280×960 pixels or more. The resolution of digital cameras is measured in megapixels.
  • pixel: The shortened form of “picture element,” for the dots that make up an image or character on a display screen or image file. The more pixels, the better the resolution.
  • pixelization: When the pixels in an image become visible as a result of low resolution.
  • RAW: A digital file format which does not discard image information when compressing the file.
  • real time: The time in which the occurrence of an event and the recording of it are almost simultaneous.
  • still photography: As opposed to motion pictures.
  • TIFF: A digital file format which does not discard image information when compressing the file.
  • viewfinder: The camera device such as a lens or small video screen which allows the photographer to preview and compose images before shooting the picture.
  • white balance: A setting on digital cameras that adjusts for the type of light available in order to make the image appear more natural.

fake news
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By Bianca Fortis

If journalists must wage war against fake news and misinformation, Bill Adair is the general leading the charge.

Adair, who created PolitiFact in 2007 and is now the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University, is leading the Tech & Check Cooperative, a project working to develop new automated fact-checking efforts.

“The same things that make fact-checking possible at a large scale also make it possible to spread falsehoods at an even larger scale,” Adair said.

The Cooperative recently received US$1.2 million in grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project and the Craig Newmark Foundation.

The origins of fact-checking technology

When Adair started PolitiFact, the concentrated fact-checking effort at the Tampa Bay Times (then called the St. Petersburg Times) 10 years ago, he never anticipated the proliferation of fake news the way we know it today.

Misinformation spreads because it appeals to people’s “political sweet tooth,” Adair said. But the speed at which it spreads is largely due to advances in technology.

“What we’ve seen is that the same things that make fact-checking possible at a large scale also make it possible to spread falsehoods at an even larger scale,” Adair explained. “[Fake news] lends itself to bots in ways I don’t think any of us anticipated.”

PolitiFact, at first, wasn’t very popular. Adair recalls how when the site first launched, he would spend his weekends at home refreshing the PolitiFact homepage because the site’s traffic was so low. However, those early fact-checking efforts helped lay the groundwork to make new projects, including those by the Cooperative, possible.

PolitiFact structures its content in a way that allows and encourages user interaction, making it easier for search engines and apps to access the content. That framework is useful for the news apps and projects being built in 2017.

The projects

Adair said the overall goal of Tech & Check is to get fact-checking to more people.

There are three parts to the Cooperative: a suite of fact-checking apps; a series of tools that will automate the most repetitive aspects of fact-checking; and convening and collaboration with organizations around the world to learn from each other’s work.

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By Judith  Langowski

Countering fake news and propaganda has been journalist Margo Gontar’s mission since she co-founded the Ukrainian fact-checking website StopFake in 2014. A project at the Kiev School of Journalism, a group of professors, students and volunteers established the site in response to the stream of fake news that exploded with the occupation of Crimea.

“The aim of fake news is not that people believe [it],” said journalist Margo Gontar. “Their aim is to confuse the audience. At some point, they just don’t trust the media at all.” Gontar theorizes that, when inundated by fake news, many people just distance themselves from political discourse altogether.

To fight this type of disinformation in Ukraine, independent and quality reporting is vital, a sometimes challenging prospect in a country ranked 102nd out of 180 in freedom of the press, according to Reporters Without Borders. Three-quarters of the Ukrainian media market belong to only four oligarchs.

Iryna Slavinska, a news anchor and editor for “Hromadske Radio,” works at one of the few media organizations that doesn’t belong to an oligarch. Financed through donations and grants, the independent station was founded in 2013, a few months before the Euromaidan protests, and quickly became the voice of the protesters.

“We have become much more professional since then,” said Slavinska. Nine hours of programming reach 100,000 listeners every day, with half of this audience listening to Hromadske’s informative content on state radio, where the station is given a two-hour live slot every evening.

“We diffuse our programming from Kiev, Mariupol and Dnipr. We have temporary licenses for the regions of Donezk and Luhansk,” Slavinska said. “Our air waves reach even the occupied territories [areas occupied by separatists] of these regions.” Independent reporting is especially difficult from there as Ukrainian journalists have limited to no access to these areas. For those broadcasts, Hromadske Radio relies on anonymous contacts in the regions or foreign journalists, who have easier access.

Even for independent media organizations, defining news in the context of war remains difficult. Should Ukrainian journalists prioritize freedom of speech over the security of their compatriots fighting in the war? This question was heavily debated at the media conference “Inside Our Blind Spots,” held October in Kiev and organized by the German NGO, the Network for Reporting in Eastern Europe (N-ost).

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mental health
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By Arun Karki

This post is the second piece in a two-part series about how journalists can protect both their physical safety and mental health, as well as the health and safety of their subjects, when covering dangerous or traumatic events. You can read part one, which addresses physical safety, here.

Twelve years ago, I didn’t know how impacted I was by Nepal’s civil war and Maoist insurgency. For a year, I had to pore over raw footage of the aftermath of the war in post-production. After six months, I started dreaming scenes from the war. The same thing happened in 2015 after spending months producing numerous stories on the April earthquake in Nepal.

Amantha Perera, the Asia-Pacific coordinator at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, explained this condition is known as ‘vicarious trauma.’ It’s caused by working with victims of trauma or, in the case of journalists, covering traumatic events. While many of the symptoms are similar to the more commonly known post-traumatic stress disorder, many people don’t know vicarious trauma, also known as compassion fatigue, exists. But traumatic incidents can have psychological impacts on subjects, audiences and journalists alike.

The following techniques may help journalists build own resiliency and learn how to report sensibly on trauma-related issues:

1. Remember the importance of telling the story

When Narendra Shrestha, a Nepalese photojournalist, was covering a 2017 flood in the southern plains of Nepal, he photographed an incident in which an eight-year-old boy died of pneumonia after his village flooded. The pictures disturbed Shrestha, and he balked at publishing them online. But he realized he may regret not telling this important story. After he posted the story online, the story went viral and was later carried by international media outlets. “Our job is isn’t always luxurious,” Shrestha said. “Sometimes, we have to face the ugliest situations.”

2. If a story becomes too overwhelming, take a break or give the story to someone else

Shrestha felt overwhelmed covering earthquake stories for a prolonged period of time. To get away from earthquake survivors’ heart-wrenching stories, he went overseas for a different assignment. “It was sort of a a way to let me forget the trauma,” he said.

3. Camera people and photographers should allow privacy during interviews

When reporters interview trauma victims, the camera persons and photographers should allow the reporter and interviewee to establish a rapport. Victims may not want to open up in the presence of photographers or videographers. To enable the reporter to build trust and not impact the conversation, videographers and photographers should put their cameras down and allow conversation to flow before getting consent and resuming filming and shooting pictures.

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staying safe
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By Arun Karki

A week after the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that rocked central Nepal in 2015, Prakash Mahat, a cameraman with Nepal TV News, was covering both the aftereffects of the earthquake and the ongoing search for survivors in Kathmandu. Minutes after reaching the scene, a powerful aftershock almost toppled him into the wreckage.

“I didn’t care that I was covering a rescue operation by standing on debris piled up nearby,” said Mahat. “As the place started shaking, I was so scared. I lost my mind for a while and nearly lost my balance because I was shooting videos from a big, professional-sized camera. I forgot that tremors could come anytime.”

Dilip Thapa Magar, a Kathmandu-based freelance television reporter and activist who has reported hundreds of news stories on war, natural disasters and street protests for the past 16 years, said trauma reporting is different from standard reporting — and thus requires a specific set of skills.

Ten years ago, during the Maoist insurgency uprising and conflict in Nepal, a family member of a police officer recently killed by Maoist rebels smashed Magar’s camera.

“Due to being perceived as insensitive to the feelings of the victim’s family, I was attacked physically,” said Magar, who also serves as the vice chairman for the Federation of Nepalese Journalists. “So we must be highly sensitive and thoughtful. Published content should be ‘trauma sensitive’ and should not affect or harm anyone — victims and their families, audiences and journalists themselves, too.”

Based on their decades-long experience in journalism, Magar and Narendra Shrestha, a Nepalese photojournalist who also covered the earthquake, shared some tips for staying safe when reporting in dangerous and traumatic situations:

1. Know the geography well while reporting war from a conflict-hit zone

Journalists need to know transportation routes, both ground and air, if they’re reporting from a conflict area. And journalists should also have a place to hide if violence or chaos erupts, like during a protest.

“Never take sides,” Magar advised. “Neither police nor protestors, if you want to keep yourself safe.” The better a journalist knows an area, the more likely he will eventually return to his newsroom.

2. Sometimes, journalists have to be clever

“Prepare yourself for situations where you have to deal with gunmen, warlords or rebels,” said Magar. He recollected giving money and clothes to rebels who stopped his team in Nepal during the Maoist insurgency period. “I did not reveal my real identity and disguised myself as a tourist guide since the situation was life-threatening,” he said. “After three days in captivity, they allowed me to leave.”

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It’s performance review time. Don’t cringe. Instead of a painful experience that you begrudgingly complete, take the time to give real feedback to your employees to empower them for the next year.

Maybe it’s not the fact that you have to give feedback that is painful, but trying to remember everything about your employees’ individual performance over the past year.

If that is the case, maybe you should try dropping the annual performance reviews in favor of something even better. Microfeedback. Some call it “building a performance culture” or “consistent feedback” or just regular feedback. No matter what you call it, it’s changing the way companies, large and small, look at performance.

So what does this trend mean for you during annual performance review time? Well, if you’re reading this blog, chances are, you’re procrastinating and trying to find some way, any way, out of these annual performance reviews.

“The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Sure you’ve heard that quote. The wisdom inside it is obvious. No you might not be able to get out from under the deluge of annual performance reviews you have to do this year, but you can lay the groundwork for why it needs to change before the next time you have to slog through it.

1. Track Your Time.

If you know how much time is spent on annual performance reviews when conducted in one large swath, you can easily calculate how much time and money you will save by implementing microfeedback across the organization. Check out our handy ROI calculator to save you a step or two.

2. Survey Your Employees.

There’s never a better time to ask employees how valuable their reviews are than right after you conduct one. You can have someone from your department ask immediately after the review how beneficial your employees thought the experience was. Or send out a simple survey via email.

3. Do Productivity Checks Post-Review.

Does productivity shoot up? Does it go down? What do your retention numbers look like? This is all information that can be used to make a case for more consistent feedback.

4. During Your Reviews With Employees:

Ask them what they need from you to do their job better. Document this feedback to prove to your executive team that feedback is a great choice when offered more consistently to improve productivity, engagement and morale.

Everyone else is trying microfeedback. Why are you still slogging through annual reviews?

Based on an article by Michael Heller

For more tips on giving helpful evaluations, click here. Or, download our free “How to Work with People” e-book for more tips.

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There are bosses and there are leaders. Just managing a group of people does not automatically make you a leader.

Having the right qualities to lead and inspire a team can be both satisfying and a challenge. On the other hand, ineffectual management can often cause poor performances and high turnover. One of the reasons many people quit their jobs is due to a bad boss.

This infographic compares both types of leadership methods. Anyone in a supervisory position can become a great leader instead of a bad boss. The trick is to acknowledge your strengths and work hard to become a leader.

leaderRead more by Alonzo Manch