8 questions about shareable content

Paul Bradshaw does an interesting thing in sharing his answers to student questionnaires on his site. It’s revealing, because sometimes the questions are as indicative of the mindset amongst students as the answers are about the rest of us. So, here’s a recent questionnaire I filled in for an LCC student…

While I’m a business journalist by background (starting around 20 years ago), for the last decade I’ve worked largely on digital journalism and publishing — understanding what the internet does to our reporting — and our business models.

Spreadable news is news that is designed to spread on social media and find its audience that way. It’s an acknowledgement that news is less of a destination than it used to be. Social networks have drawn people’s attention, and so sometimes we have to piggy back on them to be read. Social is now the biggest traffic source across news sites generally — just beating out search.

Principally it requires a different style of headline writing — one that is designed to invoke an emotional reaction. But beyond that, it’s spending into new formats for news — especially video. Social video doesn’t look anything like the standard TV news package and finding a vocabulary for that is a struggle for many news organisations.

We certainly have to be closer to our audiences — to understand them better. Competition is fiercer than ever, and the person who best understands her audience is the most likely to win. I’m not so sure about space for them to create their own news stories. The old “citizen journalist” idea never really found traction. Instead, people commit acts of citizen journalism — usually on social media, that then get drawn into stories via aggregation.

People create and publish things. The audience either react to — and share it — leading to success, or they ignore it, leading to failure. The news creation is still driven by the journalist, but its spread is driven by the audience.

Yup, the game has new rules. We can no longer rely on the old distribution channels for our news. I have no idea what the second phrase is meant to mean…

An idea or concept that spreads “virally” — like a virus reproducing itself. Richard Dawkins actually created the term. On the internet, that usually means an image, phrase or video that spreads and then is mashed up by others, prolonging its spread. It’s been going on for at least 16 years.

These two things are not in opposition to each other. They tend towards the humorous — but not always — and they can be used in news storytelling, but rarely in the most serious of stories.

memes everywhere
memes everywhere
A life unshared
A life unshared

Blogging since 2001, journalisting (which isn’t a word, but should be) since 1994, and sleep-deprived since 2012. Journalism lecturer, consultant and trainer.

Blogging since 2001, journalisting (which isn’t a word, but should be) since 1994, and sleep-deprived since 2012. Journalism lecturer, consultant and trainer.