improving the credibility of your content

Our First Ever Digital Content and Digital Media News Roundup

digital content newsDigital media, in a lot of ways, is still an emerging industry. There's a lot going on, but still a lot that needs to be figured out. The biggest issue that needs to be figured out: what works and why. Here's some of the latest and greatest in this week's first ever digital content and digital media news roundup: Digital Seen Surpassing TV in Capturing Our Time - NPR - For the first time ever, the time average Americans spend on digital media has outpaced the time spent watching traditional television. Digital media does include watching TV shows on Hulu and Netflix, if you were wondering. This means that there's huge potential in digital media, particularly in tablets and smartphones, which are predicted to have the highest growth in the years to come. But, don't ditch the old tube quite yet. There's still going to be value in watching something live, and many traditional TV networks aren't going to start live streaming things online. If you want to watch the Super Bowl next year, then you will have to be in front of a television.

The Most Valuable Commodity in Online Marketing - Digiday - Email addresses, specifically personal email addresses, are the most valuable commodity online according to this article. They do have a point, as it's something that we'd never get rid of and rarely, if ever, changes. It's not mutable like a screen name or a user name. With cookies under fire for tracking and retargeting, everything will shift to email as a way to figure out who we are and what would be best to advertise to us.

Let's Get Personal: Why We Need to Market to Individuals, Not Audiences - HubSpot - Do you like the idea of a personalized front page for your website? It's a difficult thing to achieve, as individuals are complicated and variegated beings. This article argues the value of creating a personalized experience for your customers/readers, and that the news industry is far behind on this concept. Depending on your website, personalization could be difficult or easy to achieve. Imagine how much more content you'd have to create to meet the personalization standards of everyone in your audience!

Are Brands Confusing Advertising with Marketing - Six Pixels of Separation - In our humble opinion, brands are still struggling with this distinction. We think that many brands still think that advertising is marketing, even though the two are essentially mutually exclusive in online channels. Many brands are still struggling because it's still too much about sales and generating leads, when it's more worthwhile to create something that actually benefits their customers and to help them solve their problems. That's the marketing aspect of it.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Acquires Washington Post. Co - Media Daily News - We're really curious to see what impact this will have on the news industry, and what Bezos will do with his new properties. We think this won't hurt the news industry by constricting voices or purporting a particular point of view the way a Koch Brothers purchase would have. We also don't really think that Bezos is doing this to jump into the news industry itself. It will be interesting to see what changes take place with the Washington Post, and if the quality of content ever decreases at all.

Tiny Pulitzer-Prize Winning Newsroom May Be the Future of Journalism - eContent - We never heard of InsideClimate News, but we'll be following all that they're doing from here on out. This news site, run by seven people, won a Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for their coverage of the Dilbit oil spill in Michigan. This little news site accomplished something that seemed reserved for only the big guys, showing that these niche news sites might be the future of the news industry. After all, as the established news organizations struggle to cover everything and shutter different news desks, these niche sites doing it right will be the ones picking up the slack.

Related Links:

What a Koch Brothers Newspaper Purchase Would Mean for News

3 Big Principles for Media Creators

How News Websites and Online Publications Can Do SEO

Copy Editing 101

copyediting 101 Copy editing is the process of improving the formatting, style, and accuracy of the text. This is different from proofreading, which looks as spelling and grammar errors and corrects just spelling and grammar errors. Copy editing involves making sure that the facts states are correct and properly cited, that the entire article is understandable from start to finish, that words are used appropriately, among other things. Copy editing is very important for blogs and online publications, which often don't have a dedicated person to assess each article in this way. Here's an introduction to copy editing and a brief overview of what needs to be done when checking your blog posts or articles for formatting, style, and accuracy.

The Five C's of Copy Editing

When evaluating the formatting, style, and accuracy of the article, there are five "C's" that need to be examined. It's important that your article has each of the following before it's published. To evaluate this, you need to ask certain questions and make the necessary changes. The five "C's" are:

  1. Clear - Is there anything in the article that could be confusing, such as acronyms, sources, locations, references, words etc? Is there a better word or a better way to say something? If in doubt, ere on the side of caution and do what it takes to make it clear.
  2. Correct - Are the facts correct? Do people have their names spelled correctly? Do they have the right titles associated with them? Are statistics cited and stated correctly?
  3. Concise - If a sentence is 10 words long, can it be said in eight or seven without changing the meaning? Are there words and/or sentences that are redundant? Are there words and/or sentences that don't provide any meaning or value to the overall paragraph or article, and can be removed?
  4. Comprehensible - Can the article be understood from start to finish? Does it use any industry jargon that needs to be defined or explained? Is the information organized in a way that is logical and easy to follow?
  5. Consistent - Are things like tone, perspective, and the spellings or proper nouns the same throughout the entire article? Does the article fit your brand and the topics that your blog/online publication covers?

Why Copy Editing is Important

Copy editing is important for any blog or online publication because it is the last defense against bad writing and serious mistakes that could end up hurting your credibility. Instead of publishing an article that is confusing, or has a factual error in it, taking the time to edit the copy in this fashion can prevent those mistakes from getting published. You don't necessarily need to have a person dedicated to copy editing the way that newspapers and magazines do, but taking this extra step will set you apart from the rest. Everyone understands that your articles need to have correct spelling, great grammar, and need to be original. However, not everyone understands the difference clear, concise formatting makes to an article, or the difference in quality when industry terms are properly explained or when the best words are used.

Of course, copy editing saves you from embarrassing headlines and text fillers that shouldn't have gone live in the first place. It also provides an extra set of eyes to catch mistakes, or simply allows one more run through of an article before it goes live. Sure, it's a digital world where things need to get published quickly and where mistakes can be changed without everyone knowing that the mistake was made in the first place.

Hopefully, you want to be better than everyone else. Copy editing is a way to do that because hardly anyone else is paying attention.

Related Links:

Homonyms and Frequently Misunderstood Words for Content Creators

Additionally Commonly Troublesome Words for Content Creators

An Introduction to Trademarks

Subscribe to the News Guru

Determining a Conflict of Interest: An Introduction

determining conflict of interestIf you're just blogging or writing an online publication on your own, then you don't have to deal with a conflict of interest all that often. It's easy to recognize within yourself, and you could perhaps use your conflict of interest as part of your branding, as part of building the business, and as part of the message you want to communicate. However, if you have a team helping you with your blog or online magazine, then you need to be able to determine conflict of interest so that you're team doesn't sacrifice the best interest of the publication for their own goals or gain. A conflict of interest is defined as, "a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest." In publishing, determining a conflict of interest involves figuring out if a story, or a source, that you're going to use or to publish is influenced by these secondary interests, such as money, connections etc. Essentially, you don't want to publish or use a source that isn't there based on its merit or its value, but because the writer was paid on the side to cover that topic or is covering something out of personal bias or gain. Here's a quick start to determining a conflict of interest and how to handle one that could jeopardize your blog or magazine.

Figure Out the Two Interests

A conflict of interest cannot exist if there isn't two competing interests. Of course, there are some conflicts i.e. the need to make money versus the desire to tell great stories that aren't all that bad and don't need to be investigated or vetted. Both of those interests are generic, and can work together. The point in figuring out the two interests is if the two conflicting interests cannot be compatible at all.

For example, if one of your writers wants to write about a particular company, and it comes to your attention that the writer currently works for that company, then there's a conflict of interest there that needs to be evaluated. The fact that the writer works at the company could skew the story that's written i.e. it could be overly positive because the writer wants to keep his/her job at the company. In this case, you would need to decide if the company should be covered at all (by another writer, of course) or if the story should be dropped. It's possible that the writer only wants to do the coverage because he/she supports the company, or knows that something will come from that relationship if the story gets published and produces good results for the company.

In this case, these two interests cannot work together. The writer cannot fulfill the interest with the company while fulfilling the interests of the online publication. One needs to be somewhat sacrificed for the other, and it looks like the interests of the online publication would take the hit. Therefore, this is a conflict of interest that needs evaluating and needs to be handled appropriately.

Finding the Conflict

Sometimes, finding the conflict of interest takes a little investigative work. In the previous example, it's unlikely the writer would disclose that s/he works for the company. If s/he does, then that makes things easier and you can decide to have someone else cover the story to ensure that there isn't an overly positive overtone or bias. If the conflict isn't disclosed, but you suspect one to be there, then you might need to ask a few questions or do some additional research. In a future post, we'll go over a few techniques to find hidden conflicts of interests as well as good questions to ask to find these conflicts before the story is written.

How to Find a Source for Your Story

finding a source for your storyFinding a source for your story involves knowing the purpose of writing it in the first place. Is it to educate, or entertain? Is it to inspire or to sell a product or services? Finding a source has a lot to do with knowing what interests your readers and what you feel best about covering with your writing skills. Sources can be as simple as an inspiration that you then do additional research. It can be a photo or a news story that you decide needs more in-depth exploration. Finding a source for your inspiration can be a Google search, a walk outside, a browse through the local newspaper, or a walk downtown.

If you are working to find new ways to inspire readers about your key website topic, a good place to start is with the news. Finding the right keywords to search for new news about your area of expertise can be surprising. Learning new things yourself is part and parcel of discovering exactly the right source, and your excitement is usually what tips you off to the right-fit discovery.

Perhaps you are writing a newsletter or posting an inspiring success story on your Facebook page regularly. It can get difficult to always be working to find new information. Finding a way to consistently provide new, fresh inspiration can provide for a lot of frustration if you aren't sure where to look..

When you find dependable sources that inspire, provide education, news or other interesting material-- nurture and cultivate these relationships. Your source will be someone who has deeper knowledge of your topic than you do. It will be someone who has access to more information or news or ideas or facts, or has retained/studied or had access to much more of this content.

For those looking for news this source might be a police or fire chief. For someone writing about education this person can be a school principle or university professor, and so on. When blogging, it is important to become a trusted information source for your topic, so the information needs to be presented in a professional manner and contain accurate, compelling and factually correct content.

A source can also be a company, a sports team, a medical clinic with a special focus, a dentists office with a special focus, etc. Find juicy content from the place where large amounts of your information reside, waiting to be extracted and transformed into a story.

Focusing on the information your readers want most is the best compass toward your source that your can utilize. You can also find competitors or information from the other or counter side of your issue to write on. For fact-based consideration, highlighting both sides of your topic is very wise and helps to show an open-minded, fair viewpoint.

Resist the temptation to wander off your focus to cover interesting things you are not promoting as your specific area of expertise, focus or topic, as this can lead to a loss of readership. People like to receive what they ask for, and come for a specific purpose. This means unless this is part of what they expect, use caution when feeling inspired to wander off-topic.

Finding fresh content that is compelling to readers can be an exciting adventure that leads to new relationships, enhanced story telling and satisfied readers. For those doing it for business-- it can lead to on going relationships online with those who value your expertise, products and services. It can enhance productive lifestyles on every level.

Discovering high quality on going sources of rich content is every writers dream come true. Creative license, inspired compositions and plain old fun-to-read stories is a wonderful thing to have to offer others. Regardless if you blog for fun, business or for activism, tapping a deep well of information enhances everyone's lives.

Taping your source for content takes organized thinking, a list of priorities, an understanding of what your readers want and expect, and a clear approach to detailed and talented story writing. There are many places online that offer simple and effective writing tips to help enhance what you are doing. If you feel a need to improve your story writing skills, use the source finding skill to discover simple steps to more compelling stories, as well.

Finding your source is satisfying. Like an information meal, so to speak. And regardless if you are providing burgers and fries, a gourmet entree or a home cooked banquette, those satisfied feelings will continue with every fresh story you post.