News Industry

Is The Doc Filled with News or Noise?

news or noise, determining news over noise,
news or noise, determining news over noise,

At work, the editorial team and I used to have a document called, well, "The Doc." The Doc was a Google Sheet where we placed all the stories we intended to cover and we simply went through the stories in order. We broke the order if an important story broke that needed to get into the app and into Top News right away, but besides that we went in chronological order. Stories first on the doc were first in the app, and we did our best to ensure that we placed stories on a wide variety of topics and from a wide variety of sources on the doc. It doesn't look good in the feed when there are too many stories in a row from one source or on one topic and we don't want to come across as an app that favors certain topics or sources.

Filling the Doc Was My Favorite Thing to Do

I thoroughly enjoyed "filling the doc," as the task was called when The Doc needed to be refilled and I was good at it. I could easily find 30 stories in 30 minutes for the doc, maybe more. One way I was able to do this was that, at all times, I was fully aware of 90 percent of the stories we covered in the past 24 hours. The knowledge meant I didn't have to spend as much time checking for duplicates, since I just knew whether or not we had the story. The only time I would check for a duplicate was if the story I found was an update to a previous story or is part of a developing story. With developing and ongoing stories, it's much harder to keep everything straight versus a one-time story. Another tactic that made me so efficient was that I utilized Google News to find stories from credible sources on specific topics. I would search terms like, "North Korea," "marijuana," "sex" and "space" to find stories on those particular topics. Using Google News in this fashion was much better way than searching Twitter or following specific hashtags to find stories on these specific topics.

I loved "filling the doc." I loved encountering all sorts of different stories on all sorts of different topics. It certainly helped that I was pretty good at it too. It was especially thrilling to find a "gem," an interesting, well-written and/or very important story that hadn't yet become a big deal or that wasn't being covered by other/more mainstream outlets. Two "gems" that I personally found were the Ice Bucket Challenge and the first photos of Officer Darren Wilson in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. I ended up on the Ice Bucket Challenge early because Michelle Wie was one of the first celebrities to participate in the challenge, and since I'm originally from Hawaii, I care about everything Michelle Wie. I wish I could claim being on Michael Brown story before it turned into Ferguson and the subsequent movement, but I really don't recall coming across the story. The Darren Wilson photos I remember, since it took several days for the Ferguson Police Department to release his name, and photos were only uncovered on Facebook after the public had his name confirmed.

I Want to Bring This Back Somehow

I'm not quite sure how to bring back The Doc and in what capacity, but I think there is value in finding so many stories in such a short amount of time (more so than the fact that I enjoy the task). Part of that value is finding the "gems" before those stories become part of the mainstream conversation. Another part of the value is finding stories that wouldn't have become part of any conversation or wouldn't have come to the surface for exposure without The Doc and spending the time to find all sorts of stories. Typically, news sites showcase stories according to the same categories: World, U.S., Politics, Local, Weather, Business, Entertainment, Sports, Tech, Arts, Health, Science etc. Maybe Food, maybe Travel, maybe Cars, maybe Lifestyle to encompass several of the topics previously mentioned.

All news stories worth covering must fall into those categories. Very rarely is the Sports category segmented into football, baseball, basketball etc. unless you're a sports publication like ESPN, for example. Otherwise, it just gets filed under Sports. Only so many Sports stories can be covered or featured in a day. Because there are limits to everyone's time and attention regarding the number of stories to read and feature, only the most popular sports are going to be featured unless something really big, incredible or viral happens in a sport like lacrosse, climbing, rugby, ultimate frisbee etc, like rugby war goddess Georgia Page. Her bloody nose is awesome for a day, but the next time anyone is covering women's rugby and encouraging women to play the sport (which is what Page wants out of all of the media hype and exposure) is probably the next time another woman breaks her nose during an impressive tackle.

Let's Talk about What's Not Being Talked About Because Much of It is Probably Important or Interesting

Rugby is important and interesting to someone, and those someones aren't just people in the United Kingdom where rugby is a much more popular sport. Topics like design, books, social media, education, the environment, architecture and more don't have to be reserved for niche publications, in my opinion. There are plenty of stories that are worth discussing, worth knowing about and worth sharing in these topics. It seems like many topics only become important or only get covered when it easily comes with a salacious headline or an eye-catching photo or video.

Overall, news should be what you make of it and what you find important or interesting, not what the local television news says or what the mainstream media decides to cover or to air on primetime. It's only when the time is spent to scour the interwebs for those sorts of stories that the conversation can start on topics we don't normally talk about, for whatever reason.

Need to Know vs. Cool to Know

My team and I used to have to do an exercise in "fascinating" and in finding fascinating stories. The exercise involved choosing, in our opinion, the five most fascinating stories that we covered within the past 24 hours. Now, we all understood the definition of the word "fascinating" and the general concept of how it feels and what it looks like. The trick was really avoiding stories like the AMA's repudiation of the military's ban on transgender people because, well, it's hard news, it's sad and it's not quite something you'd share on social media quite like #TheDress. Although I didn't share the dress. Quite frankly, it's an ugly dress. Nonetheless, most news falls into three categories: "need to know," "cool to know," and "not news stop reporting on it". I'm not going to talk about the last category because I think everyone with intelligence and critical thinking skills knows what sorts of stories belong in that category. Okay... I'll talk about it a little bit just to get it out my system.

The first ever TED Talk I watched is this one below featuring Alisa Miller. It was the TED Talk that introduced me to the wonderful world and brand that is TED Talks, and I've watched plenty of them since. I don't quite remember how I stumbled upon it, but I do remember that I showed the video as part of my Political Issues class during my senior year of college. That week, we were discussing the media, and this video illustrates the "not news" category quite well. I also totally just got another idea, but first, the video.

With the third category out of the way, that leaves "need to know" versus "cool to know." "Need to know" is similar to "not news" in that it's quite obvious what sorts of stories would go into that category. They're the type of stories, no matter the topics, that will influence a decision regarding our lives or careers or that may change our world view. They're stories about events happening in our area or that affect people we know or people similar to us.

Cool to Know/Fascinating is a Grey Area

"Cool to Know" is the grey area because there are many stories and topics that clearly fit into this news category, but depending on who you ask, would also fit into the "need to know" or the "not news" categories. For example, I know plenty of people who would argue celeb news is really "not news," but there are specific stories like Robin Williams' death that would fall into one of the other two categories. Perhaps much of the aftermath and the reaction to his death wasn't necessarily news, but the point is that "cool to know" news is much like the fascinating news that I had to choose and put together.

It's subjective, so "cool to know" news is harder to spot and to put together into an email or a feed. The five stories that I would put on my list is likely to be very different from what my fiance or what my mother would put on their list. I also think that the "cool to know" aspect of news is one that is very under-reported in the media, at least "cool to know" news that is still informative and intelligent. Like, #TheDress is cool to know in a lot of ways, but the story was spun in ways all over the web that were just fluffy and clickbait. Doing cool to know news without it being a puff piece, or clickbait, or a middleman to the good, original journalism.

Maybe finding fascinating isn't the hard part. The hard part is showcasing why something is fascinating and why others ought to be fascinated by the story. All of that part is the reporting and the news that's not the clickbait and that's not the fluff. That's the hard part.

Content for Readers, Local Search, and Other Online Media News Stories

online media newsIf it was just about writing the darn articles, then the online media business wouldn't be as tough as it is. However, because some think it's that simply, it makes the industry that much more competitive. This is why the stories in this online media news roundup are so important: they illustrate the nuances blogs and online publications need to think about to set the bar high and to be successful in digital content. Below are the latest and most important stories in digital content and online media:

It's Not Just Getting Positive Press, It's Amplifying It Too

In content marketing, the new trends that's working really well for brands is a combination of earned and paid media. This is when brands are paying specifically to amplify and to syndicate earned media, particularly earned media that's positive. Publishers are experimenting with this combination as well, purchasing paid promotions on social media to highlight content that they want to highlight. The New York Times is experimenting with allowing brands to place specific ads with specific articles, and then allowing those brands to share those articles.

Readers Don't Like Gimmicky Content

It's unfortunate that something like this finds its way into the news roundup, but it bears repeating that an attractive headline on a crappy article will generate traffic while leaving your readers cheated and unsatisfied. Link baiting will hurt your brand in the long run, even though there is the short-term benefit of the traffic and the boost in advertising revenue. Readers don't like it, and without your readers, your blog/online publication is nothing. Also keep in mind that when blogs and online publications participate in this kind of content practices, it hurts the entire industry as well as the particular website. If one is willing to link bait and to cheat readers, then they will be suspicious of other websites. Also, put out one horrible piece of content and risk being labelled a link-baiter and publication just out to pull in advertising revenue.

Tailoring Blog Content for Local Search

Many blogs and online publications with a local twist, especially those starting out, often fail to include enough "local" into their content. This makes it tough for them to have their content rank for local search queries, to leverage local events, or to tie their niche to the local scene. This article from the Content Marketing Institute offers eight great tips on how a blog, online publication, or a local business can tailor their content toward local search. Two of these tips: using social media to promote posts (so many forget to do this, or don't do this enough/well) and nurturing your audience. You don't want to write just for the search engines!

Content Curators Aren't Without Impunity Either

Content curators and syndicates such as (which also employs a few writers and editors) typically don't create a lot of their own content. They find great work, and then share the great work. What's in that great work, and whether or not it's true or false, isn't the responsibility of the curator. However, a few hiccups with platform might be changing that perception. Several posts have gotten onto the site that have been misinformation or mindless rants, and something should be done to ensure that this doesn't happen again. It also means that companies like need to decide whether they are software companies or publishing companies, and ought to act accordingly.

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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

Google's 200 Ranking Factors, and Other Content Marketing News

content marketing newsIt's been a while since we did a content marketing news roundup, so we're coming back with it this month! We got a roundup of great content marketing and inbound marketing news articles for you, including 30 business blogging tips and the complete list of Google's ranking factors. There's something here for everyone.

Google's 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List - Backlinko - A big thanks to Brian Dean for this one! This is one of the most comprehensive lists and explanations we've come across when it comes to search engine rankings. We even learned a thing or two from this list, such as using a geographic ending such as .fr or .in can help you rank for that particular country, although it does not help for global rankings.

Why Partnering with a Content Marketing Agency Can Lead to a Better Business Blog - DigitalSherpa - A content marketing agency has a lot of offer a small or medium-sized business that at least has a business blog, but might want to try white papers, case studies, and other longer forms of content to market their business. An agency has the resources and expertise in place to get your business blog (or content marketing strategy) started right and to keep it going with the commitment necessary to make the strategy and effort successful.

20 Enlightening Pearls of Wisdom from Marketing Experts [SlideShare] - HubSpot - Want some tips on how to be a better marketer? Need a breath of fresh air on how to think about marketing? These 20 'enlightening pearls' are as refreshing as the visuals they come with.

Don't Waste Your Time on a Business Blog: 30+ Tips for Doing it Right - Business2Community - This is an incredible list of business blogging tips, and it includes several that we haven't covered in our own posts offering tips. Two of these include using excerpts for SEO value (not sure if all blogging platforms have an easy way to do this) and focusing on structure of the post, which includes an introduction, middle, and conclusion.

7 Lessons from 7 Years of Blogging - Small Business Search Marketing - Seven years of blogging is a long time! Can you imagine your business blog being seven years old, and what could be accomplished in that time? This posts has seven awesome lessons from all that time and experience. The toughest lesson here is that no one is going to read your business blog for several months. It is serious commitment, and one that does not see results overnight.

9 Questions to Help you Prioritize Your Content Creation - Content Marketing Institute - One of the most common challenges for businesses engaging in content marketing is creating enough content. So, when there's not enough time and/or not enough people to create content, how do you decide the content that you will spend your time and resources on? This article comes with a genius template that you can share within your company to determine needs, time, where it fits in the sales funnel etc.

Lead Generation Poses Biggest Challenge for B2Bs - eMarketer - No surprises here, as over 60 percent of B2B companies cite lead generation as their biggest challenge for the year. This is about the same as last year, and coming in second is the challenge of reaching more of your target audience. Content marketing, as it fits into all this, is the second most popular way for B2Bs to generate leads.

Related Links:

How the Buying Process Affects Your Content Marketing

Importance of Content Marketing: The 2012 Digital Influencer Report

The 5 Ws (and H) of a Content Marketing Strategy