A digital shift: Changes in student media news delivery

Photo by Andrea Behling

The Badger Herald student newsroom located at 152 W. Johnson St. Suite 202, in Madison, Wis. The Herald is one of many student media that have made significant changes to the way news is presented in print and online. Photo by Andrea Behling

By Andrea Behling

WHITEWATER—There’s been big changes at the Badger Herald student-run newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin in the past few years.

Changes that are happening in student newspaper offices across the country in a daring new shift in news delivery.

The Badger Herald has recently implemented a dual staffing structure focused on digital-first delivery, completely reinventing the way its staff thinks about the news.

Photo by Andrea Behling

Katherine Krueger, Badger Herald EIC

It’s become what Editor in Chief Katherine Krueger calls the most massive shift in at least the four years she’s been on staff.

“I wasn’t sure if it would work,” said Krueger, who studies journalism and political science at UW-Madison. “But I’ve seen so much good feedback which has really justified the decision for me.”

The paper’s shift included printing bi-weekly instead of daily, putting out two beefier issues a week and constantly uploading content and breaking news to badgerherald.com. The dual staffing structure divides the staff into a print news team and a digital news team.

The idea behind having teams focused on each product, Krueger said, is that both products have different production schedules and methods of delivery. The print staff is constantly thinking about the next print issue and slowing down the news cycle by working on features and investigative pieces. Meanwhile, the online staff focuses on posting breaking news and developing the paper’s online presence.

“I really do think having staffers focus on a digital product allows you to have people who aren’t just kind of putting things online—they’re really thinking about what story would work best in a digital medium and what can be added to the story that’s multimedia,” Krueger said.

The Badger Herald, which is independently run and operated by students, is not alone in this new take on the news. It’s what Poynter’s calling college media 2.0.—student journalists around the country are diving into the unknown and massively reinventing the way they do things and the products they create.

These changes mirror what’s been happening in many professional newsrooms. Yet student journalists have a unique advantage, which also proves to be one of their biggest challenges.

The student newsroom lends a more forgiving environment for trial and error, risky changes and the implementation of structures that have yet to be proven successful. But with this room to explore the digital age comes the challenge of establishing a lasting model and designing correct and useful training.

This can be said about the student newspapers at the 14 four-year universities in the UW System, which have indicated a number of changes to their print and digital products in the past five years.

Print product changes

The EICS from these student newspapers participated in an online survey regarding changes that point toward a new focus on digital-first news delivery.

In the past five years, eight out of the 13* student newspapers have lowered the number of printed copies of the newspaper, including the papers associated with UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Parkside.

Colton Dunham, editor in chief of UW-Milwaukee’s UWM Post student media, might know more than any other UW System student editor how prevalent this change is.

The UWM Post no longer has a print product. It is a completely online-supported student media.

Dunham said there has been many challenges associated with this transition.

“The largest issue in establishing a strong online platform is making former readers aware that the UWM Post is not dead,” Dunham said. “There’s a great number of people who believe that the Post died when the printed version died.”

The Badger Herald has also made a drastic change in its printing schedule. The Herald, which has a circulation higher than 11,000, used to be a daily paper. Now the paper prints twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.

While some of the eight papers made the change for financial reasons, Krueger said the Herald’s printing change had nothing to do with saving money. Krueger said print advertising is still the Herald’s primary source of income.

It was a decision solely based on the changing needs of the paper’s audience and a desire to devote more time to online content.

“It was really a proactive and very conscious, calibrated move to better meet the needs of our readers,” she said. “Students aren’t picking up a daily paper anymore and when news breaks overnight, they’re certainly not waiting to see the headline on the front page tomorrow. People have just been engaging with our online content so much, it’s really been successful.”

In contrast, Megan Hanna has a different perspective as editor in chief of the Fourth Estate at Green Bay.

“As far as we can tell, our students aren’t very interested in looking at the paper online,” Hanna said. “We feel that before we can get online and multimedia materials to take off, we need to focus on rebuilding interest in the paper as a whole, and at this point, that’s best accomplished through print.”

Hiring a new editor

Another change UW System editors have indicated is the hiring of a multimedia or online editor in the past five years. Of the 13 papers that participated in the survey, 12 of them have hired such an editor.

Photo by Andrea Behling

Andrew Reuter,             digital content coordinator at The Janesville Gazette

Andrew Reuter was a web editor for The Exponent at UW-Platteville in 2009, when gaining web experience as a student journalist was invaluable experience looking ahead to employment after college.

Today, Reuter is one of two digital content coordinator for The Janesville Gazette in Janesville. Looking back at his time at The Exponent, Reuter said he faced several challenges, including training coworkers and doing more than just shoveling content onto the website.

Reuter said before the position was split into two positions—a web master and web editor—the paper was not focused on the presentation of news online. It was basically just fulfilling the requirements of making sure the Exponent had a website, he said.

“I saw that and I thought there’s an opportunity here to actually be doing more here on the Web,” he said.

A supportive, hands-on adviser helped Reuter in his role as web editor, but Reuter said he still had a hard time to get other coworkers actively working on the paper’s online product.

“I was trying to make a shift to get people to upload there own stories. … Anytime that you pass of that responsibility, management is not easy,” Reuter said.

Now as a digital content coordinator at the Gazette, Reuter still faces challenges with implementing training and helping get the entire staff on board with online news delivery.

“While we’re training people to do this stuff, we have to know for sure that it’s going to be valuable and it’s going to pay off on the business side,” he said. “So there’s always that in the back of your head, are we training people in the right ways, or is this wasting their time?”

Below is a breakdown of the 14 UW System papers and the degree of training the editor in chiefs think their staff has as a whole:

Video Production

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Social Media Updates

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Stories Written for the Web

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Interactive Graphics

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A slow process

Collectively, the UW System papers are taking steps to enhance their digital products, including implementing training in video production, social media management, stories written for the web and interactive graphics.

While these papers are making significant changes, the vast majority have indicated that implementation has been slow and steady.

“It’s been a slow process, but more and more readers are jumping on board … there’s more work to do this summer and into next semester,” said Dunham.

Hanna echoes the thoughts of Dunham.

“Progress on an online platform is slow. Our focus is on the print edition at this time due to the interests and behaviors of our student body,” Hanna said.

Maggie Lawler, EIC of The Ranger News at UW-Parkside, said the paper has made significant positive changes, but they have not found the perfect formula for a print and online balance.

“As much as we will fight to maintain a print paper, we understand the importance of having content on the web,” Lawler said.

Stepping into the unknown

While the many variables student journalists are currently grappling with don’t exactly spell out what the perfect model is yet, one thing is certain in all of this, according to Steve Buttry, a digital transformation editor for Digital First Media.

“Students live digital-first lives. Student media need to become digital-first. They should consider and experiment with new approaches even more vigorously and daringly than professional media,” Buttry said in his article published on the Nieman Journalism Lab.

The students working to create new ways of doing things at student newspapers, like the editors within the UW System, could become some of the journalists that will use their experiences in their student newsrooms to make big decisions for professional news organizations.

“The skills-based, boots on the ground reporting—like how do you react when news it breaking, what tools should you use—all of that has come from my time at the Herald. I consider those my most strong and marketable skills,” Krueger said.

*Jeff Gebert of Stoutonia at UW-Superior did not participate in the second half of the survey. The fourteen student newspapers that participated in this survey are the following:

-Nate Hanninen of The Stinger at UW-Superior
-Martha Landry of The Spectator at UW-Eau Claire
-Megan Hanna of The Fourth Estate at UW-Green Bay
-Nicole Laegeler of The Racquet at UW-La Crosse
-Katherine Krueger of The Badger Herald at UW-Madison
-Abigail Becker of The Daily Cardinal at UW-Madison
-Colton Dunham of The UWM Post at UW-Milwaukee
-Jessica Kuderer of The Advance-Titan at UW-Oshkosh
-Maggie Lawler of The Ranger News at UW-Parkside
-Shelby Le Duc of The Exponent at UW-Platteville
-Amanda White of The Student Voice at UW-River Falls
-Andrew Davis of The Pointer at UW-Stevens Point
-Jeff Gebert of Stoutonia at UW-Stout
-Samantha Jacquest of The Royal Purple at UW-Whitewater

Bill German’s life alongside the Rolling Stones

Bill German presents a lecture held at UW-Whitewater describing his experience writing about and living alongside the Rolling Stones.

Bill German presents a lecture held at UW-Whitewater in April 2014 describing his experience writing about and living alongside the Rolling Stones.

WHITEWATER—It was on a New York City street outside of a nightclub where it happened.

Bill German peered into the window of the limousine to see Ron Wood nudging Keith Richards sitting next to him to look at the newsletter a kid had just handed him seconds before.

“It was the moment that started everything,” German said. “It changed the course of my life.”

Nearly 30 years from that moment, German is now traveling the country promoting “Under Their Thumb,” his memoir chronicling the 17 years he spent in the Rolling Stones’ inner sanctum.Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 5.07.55 PM

In the beginning
An avid Rolling Stones fan—despite the social pariah it made him growing up in Brooklyn during the disco age—German took to his natural medium of writing to chronicle the rock band’s career and adventures when he was 17 years old.

After breaking into his high school’s mimeograph room after-hours to print his cut-and-paste project, the Stone’s-only newsletter, Beggars Banquet, was born.

“It really required passion. … It took so much work,” German said.

His “Saturday Night Fever” peers weren’t too interested in his “fanzine,” but he was undaunted.

After a while his fanzine started looking better, and he began gathering sources. Subscribers sent their yearly $3 fees directly to German’s childhood bedroom, where he peeled and licked every stamp for his accidental business.

He began waiting for the rock band outside of their favorite nightclubs just to catch a glimpse of the Stones and maybe hand them a newsletter. It didn’t really occur to German that when he handed the Stones an issue of Beggars Banquet at one fateful encounter that they would actually read it.

“I was really excited to know they were getting the issues,” he said. “I just kept making sure they knew I existed.”

German persisted. His labor of love hobby and small-time business eventually wrote his ticket into a world he had only dreamed about. The Stones began giving the fanzine cred for its intensive storytelling, and before German knew it, he was hanging out with the band and interviewing the rock ’n’ rollers themselves.IMG_4867

An official gig
In 1981, German quit school at New York University to go on tour with the band, acting as his own primary source for his newsletter.

“I remember telling my parents when I told them I was quitting that, ‘School was getting in the way of my education,’” he said.

Shortly after following them on tour, German received a call telling him that the Rolling Stones wanted his fanzine to be the band’s official newsletter and would be advertised in their next album.

It was more than German could have imagined would ever happen to him in this endeavor.

“This little thing I started in my bedroom, now a million people knew about it.”

For the next 13 years, German lived and breathed the Rolling Stones, documenting nearly every notable moment in their presence.

From spilling orange juice on Jagger’s priceless rug to going over the Wood’s house at three in the morning to work on his autobiography, German had insider stories any Stones fan would appreciate.

And it was German’s choice to remain clean and sober that allowed him to fully experience and document these moments.

“It’s not easy hanging around the Rolling Stones, but somehow I survived,” he said.

Coming off Cloud Nine
German was 33 years old when he decided to finally leave the Rolling Stones life behind.

“Things started to change for me,” he said. “I got really disenchanted by how money started to play a role with the Stones.”

But after publishing 102 issues of Beggars Banquet and devoting up to that point half his life to the band, German has no regrets.

In surviving what he quotes as being a life people only leave in a casket or handcuffs, German went on to publish “Under Their Thumb,” to tell his side of the story.

In the pages of his book and at in-person speeches he gives at universities across the country, German recalls with great clarity the interactions he had with the Stones. In his speeches, he provides a perfect British accent to narrate the voices of Jagger, Richards and Wood to present a captivating oral history of his whirlwind life.

And in the last line of his memoir’s epilogue, German sums up his life with the Stones: “As for me, I’m not sure anything I do will ever be as exciting as what I did those seventeen years. But I know I’m headed in one direction—and that’s forward, brother.”

German is living in New York and currently working on a second book, a family memoir that will act as a back story to “Under Their Thumb,” which is available on Amazon.

Jefferson County Board writes first check for highway facility

By Andrea Behling

JEFFERSON—Writing its first check to begin building a new highway shop facility, the Jefferson County Board on March 11 awarded $1.2 million to Miron Construction for the pre-cast concrete component of the project.

The new highway shop facility—which has an estimated total cost around $15 million—will include garages, meeting rooms, repair facilities, a truck wash and materials storage for the Jefferson County Highway Department.

The board also held a lengthy discussion on sustainability and cost following the amended decision to rescind a September 2013 resolution to include a geothermal system for heating and cooling in the project. A bid for the system would cost the county $35,000 and the payback of construction would take 69 years, which the board decided was not a good use of taxpayer money with a 28-0 vote.

“We have a responsibility to look down the road and look to the future. … That being said, geothermal doesn’t make sense,” Supervisor Dick Schultz said.

The board’s ensuing discussion brought up ideas including an energy feasibility study and utilizing biomass technology in an effort to resemble a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-certified facility. The board ultimately urged the county Infrastructure Committee to keep looking for sustainable design elements to include in the project.

“We all have varying opinions about alternative energies for a variety of reasons and I think its good if we move forward carefully and conscientiously and keep both science and taxpayer money in mind,” board member Dwayne Morris said.

Sheriff’s deputies contract
Also on Tuesday the board ratified a three-year contract with the county’s law enforcement union, which represents sheriff’s deputies.

A 27-1 vote put in place a contract running from Jan 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016 that sets three yearly wage increases for the Jefferson County LAW Local 102. Formerly exempt from Act 10—state law that restricts bargaining rights for public employees—deputies will now be required to pay more toward health insurance and pensions under this contract.

WIth an estimated 8 percent annual increase in health insurance costs, the cost of this package will be a total of $945,341 over the three years.

In other business
Also on Tuesday, March 11, the board:

-heard from County Clerk Barb Frank about the new voting machines scheduled for use at the April 1 elections. Frank said the ES 200 machines are “very user-friendly” and present a “very similar ballot.”

-approved a $112,714 contract with Wisconsin Community Services for the newly formed Jefferson County Alcohol Treatment Court, which intends to require treatment for repeat drunken drivers.

-authorized the purchasing of a property located at 211 E. Washington St. where a house will be razed to increase the size of a parking lot across the street from the Sheriff’s Department.

-presented the public finance office with an Achievement in Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finances Officers Associations.

Dave Ehlinger, former county finance director, presented the award noting that of the state’s 2,300 public finance offices, only 52 others have achieved this award and they now join an “elite group of committed county staff.”

What’s next
After discussion, the board decided to hold its next organizational meeting at 5 p.m. on April 15, where members will select a chair. All 30 board member seats are up for election on April 1, and six members—including Chairperson John Molinaro—will face challengers.

Three board members, Greg Torres, Pam Rogers and Sarah Bregant, will not seek re-election and were honored by the other supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting for their work and service on the board.

Whitewater Common Council sets hearing for rezoning changes

By Andrea Behling

WHITEWATER—Calming the impatience of community members and landlords, the Whitewater Common Council set a public hearing for March 10 on residential rezoning changes to make room for more student housing in the city.

At this public hearing, the city will vote to approve the R-2A code, which allows higher student occupancy per residency in designated areas on the UW-Whitewater campus. The R-2A area includes South Summit Street, South Janesville Avenue, West Center Street, West Whitewater Avenue and Fourth Street.

Council members and community members alike expressed an intrinsic need for more student housing in Whitewater.

“There is an issue in this community that there is a shortage of student housing and frankly, there’s no economy in this city without students one way or another,” said Aldermanic District 2 Stephanie Abbott, who also works for DLK Landlord in Whitewater.

Aldermanic District 3 James Winship made clear that if occupancy density goes up in that area, there should be something to make sure that the quality of the housing remains the same.

“We’re giving property owners something they didn’t have, which is the option to increase the number of people and increase the revenue coming in. And so what gets in return? Essentially it may be to the city itself if things are better maintained,” Winship said.

A separate hearing on the industrial-commercial changes is set for Feb. 25.

K9 Unit
Also on Monday Whitewater Chief of Police Lisa Otterbacher announced that the Whitewater Police Dept. reached its financial goal to officially implement its first K9 Unit after a generous $12,000 donation from Stan Kass.

A swearing in ceremony will take place based on a requirement that the canine be treated as an officer in the eyes of the law and to allow the department to enforce criminal action using the K9 partner, according to a news release issued by the Police Department.

The department intends to formally introduce the canine and handler to the community once they’ve completed training, according to the release. The K9 Unit will continue to be sustained through community donations.

“The program from the beginning has been by the community for the community so once we have everything in order, we are going to have a large ceremony for the folks that have been so supportive to be able to meet and greet the canine that they so generously supported,” Otterbacher said.

Stormwater Management and Ordinance amendments
The council also received an update from Chuck Nass, superintendent of streets and parks, on the Stormwater Management and Stormwater Ordinance amendments. Nass discussed a drainage study of the insufficient storm sewer pipe and intake capacity of a storm sewer system that has been causing overflow in areas of Whitewater.

The biggest problem area is the intersection of Satin Wood and Woodland Drive where a 15-inch diameter storm sewer transitions to a 12-inch pipe between the two residences at 256 and 266 Woodland Drive. The 12-inch pipe connects to a 36 inch storm sewer that transfers through the Mound Meadows subdivision. The 12-inch pipe has less than a two year storm capacity and is clearly the bottleneck of the system, Nass said.

“This is a situation that was done back in the 50s when the subdivision was most likely put in,” Nass said. “This whole area has a serious problem with drainage … so now we are faced with this problem it has.”

In order to establish a sufficient 10-year sewer system capacity and a safe overland flood route for rainfall exceeding a 10-year storm event or a system blockage, an 18-
inch diameter storm sewer pipe will need to replace the existing system to drain the Woodland Drive low point to the existing 36-inch diameter trunk line in the Mound Meadows subdivision.

To do this, the city has the following options:

  1. Install new 18-inch diameter storm sewer between the residences at 256 and 266 Woodland Drive. Cost of this option is approximately $48,000.
  2. Install new 24-inch diameter storm sewer and establish a 100-year storm sewer system capacity. Cost of this option is approximately $62,000.
  3. Extend the 18-inch storm sewer approvimately 90 feet to the north along Woodland Drive in between the residences at 256 and 248 Woodland Drive. Cost of this option is approximately $73,000.
  4. Install new 24-inch diameter storm sewer and establish a 100-year storm sewer system capacity. Cost of this option is approximately $86,000.

In other business
Also on Monday, Feb. 3, the Common Council:

  • amended and adopted the Bike and Pedestrian Plan into the Comprehensive Plan on a 8-1 vote, Abbott voting against the measure. The amendment clarified that the bridge near Washington Elementary School needs to be replaced but no final location has been recommended.
  • appointed citizen member Nathaniel Parrish to the Whitewater University Technology Park Board.
  • appointed citizen member Timothy O’Toole to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
  • approved the vacation of an unpaved alley intersecting with Main Street between Lots 4 and 5 in Tripp’s 2nd Addition.
  • looked into regulations relating to distribution of advertising material.
  • discussed the feasibility report for Wastewater Treatment Digesters and approved a contract with Trane.

Website Review: Rolling Stone offers organization, clean design

Written by Andrea Behling, Andrew Bayliss and Jessica

Upon visiting RollingStone.com, the initial appearance of the site is crisp and professional. Sections and departments are organized neatly, with black copy on a white background and the iconic red Rolling Stone logo running across the top of the page.

Right under the title, each department is listed in a row. The top left corner of the home page allows the reader to view the current homepage, with articles from the most recent magazine, or click into a search of the magazine’s archives. A federated search box is in the top right hand corner. This allows visitors to search recent issues and historical archives simultaneously.

The home page of RollingStone.com.

The home page of RollingStone.com.

The home page is built vertically in three columns. The news section is on the site’s left side and features the day’s top story, followed by stories listed in chronological order, with the most recent at the top.

In the center of the screen, a box of photos and titles of their corresponding articles, similar to Yahoo’s home page, scrolls continuously.

A list of new and “flashback” music videos, titled “The Mix,” is opposite the news feed, on the right side. Other sections include photos, lists (such as “The 25 DJs That Rule The Earth”), the current issue, videos (news and documentaries, not music), reviews and movies & television.

Two designs are used for the departments’ pages. Politics and reviews both use a simple list of their most recent stories. The other departments are designed like the home page. The photo and video sections have their own design, emphasizing a box that scrolls through the latest and greatest pictures and videos.

Overall, the design of the homepage is nothing spectacular. However, the ease of navigation and generous use of photos are huge positives. In case of a huge breaking news story, such as the death of Michael Jackson, the web site may have to create a special design, because it is not built as a hard-news website.

For instance, the Huffington Post will often display a huge headline on its homepage that makes viewers immediately recognize what the day’s top news story is. RollingStone.com is built to complement the biweekly magazine. News is broken on the website, but usually small stories such as “Shakira’s Ex-Boyfriend Sues for $100 million” that can be relegated to the news feed.

The home page of www.huffingtonpost.com on Dec. 2, 2012.

The home page of www.huffingtonpost.com on Dec. 2, 2012.

Rolling Stone’s mobile website is completely different than the full website. Whereas the complete website is not focused on breaking news, that is the mobile website’s primary focus. Latest news and videos are at the top of the mobile website, which has a simple design.

A news-first approach to the mobile site is sensible, because those visiting from phones are most likely not looking to read a big feature article. Plus, when they are, the option of going to the full site is available at the bottom of the mobile homepage.

Social media does not appear to be a main concern of the site. The ever-present Facebook and Twitter icons are available on the home page, but blogs seem to be a bigger area of promotion for RollingStone.com.

Blogs is one of the departments listed on top of the home page. A list drops down, revealing links to four writers’ blogs, a political blog, a technology blog and a fashion blog.

Once a visitor clicks goes to a blog, the option of following that specific writer or department on Facebook or Twitter appears in a sidebar.

Of Rolling Stone’s four most popular writers, David Fricke (music reviews), Peter Travers (movie/television reviews), Matt Taibbi  (politics) and Rob Sheffield (music, movies, pop culture), only Sheffield utilizes social media on a regular basis. He sends out an average of two or three tweets per day, while the others may go days, or even weeks, between tweeting.

Rolling Stone’s audience is defined by their longevity. The magazine itself has been a piece of Americana journalism for nearly 50 years, with each generation discover what the generation before them had discovered: that Rolling Stone is the hip magazine to read.  The audience is long tail in a unique perspective. Those who read Rolling Stone online are the same people who will be the magazine in stores as well. Those who read Rolling Stone are dedicated users, who are brand loyal, and read multiple articles that vary in a wide range of topics. Rolling Stone does not specifically say on the website who their main target audience is because they already have a built in audience they know will stay loyal to them. That’s why the magazine has stood the test of time.

Rolling Stone has interesting concept relating to paywalls. A lot of the material readers see in the magazine are present online as well. However, in order to get the entire spectrum of content given in the current issue, readers are given the option to subscribe to all access: Rolling Stone. If a reader signs up for the all access membership, they get a subscription to the magazine, archives, and all of the content from the current issue available online. The magazine offers its best deal at 0.50 cents an issue, or 78 issues for $38.95. It was reported in 2011 by publishingexecutive.com that the magazine had seen a major jump in advertising revenue, mostly due to the summer rock festival season. Ad pages have increased from 158.2 ad pages in the 2010 March issue, to 221.2 in the March 2012 issue.

I would dare say that the Rolling Stone website is the corresponding media outlet next to the magazine. The magazine is what started the rock journalism trend in the 1960s, and the online presence of the magazine only increased this level of cool to its readers. A lot of the feature stories on the website are much shorter than those featured in the print magazine. A feature story runs about 7 pages in the magazine, but online can only be a few paragraphs or maybe two pages if it is a cover story. Rolling Stone’s bloggers live and breathe online content, and generate opinion pieces that enhance the rock tone of the magazine as an entire medium. A lot more Internet videos are used on the website, including movie critic Peter Travers have is own video section where he can connect with his print readers through video. Content on the website is much shorter and to the point, including many list articles and videos.

Multimedia is integrated into the text through links, links, and more links. Each article has a corresponding link to another related Rolling Stone article. This gives readers a sense of credibility to what they are reading, and it shows the author of the piece knows his history on the subject he is writing about. Text is integrated into multimedia through captions for videos. Each video on the website has a lengthy paragraph describing what the video is about, and what you may hear from the interview subject. The videos are much more intimate than YouTube videos, and the subject matter the video can go to is much more personal, and can be PG-13 rated instead of PG. Their media player is not linked to YouTube at all, but is simply created by those affiliated directly with the magazine. Multimedia is key online in order to have visitors want to see more in text in print.

The Rolling Stone’s most recent website update came in April 2010. What was a big deal for the magazine, but less of a big deal for the audience, was that the new website would be controlled internally. Before, RealNetworks controlled the magazine’s online presence, but the contract expired. The biggest update that came with the reveal: access to archived content all the way back to 1967. Nothing like old content being the front lining feature for a brand new website. Although the re-design reveal may have been anticlimactic, Fact Company said it was long-needed in a review.

Rolling Stone magazine has had a bad track-record when it comes to message boards. First launching the message board forum in the late 1990’s the website generated a growing community of regular, worldwide contributors. Due to an Internet troll and hacker problem, the site deactivated the message board feature in May 2004. In an attempt to fix the problem, a more limited message board was reactivated in late 2005, only to be removed again, a year later. A third attempt in March 2008 produced the same results, and was deleted in April 2010.

Hyperlocal content is not a specialty of the magazine overall, but the federated search option, which searches both the website and the archive, gives online readers better search engine results for articles related to a specific location.

Rolling Stones does modify and revise its content from the print versions to the web version. One example had to do with a misquote in a blog and the correction ran like this:

When it comes to sharing articles on social media, the website makes it visible and easy to share content. It shows you the numbers at the top of each article, in an attempt to persuade you to do the same. Commenting is activated for all online content, except reviews. It

Screenshot of a Rolling Stone correction.

Screenshot of a Rolling Stone correction.

gives you the option to post a review of the song, movie or album being reviewed, yet no comment box is provided. None of the recent reviews have any comments at all. When it comes to sourcing, the Rolling Stone uses hyperlinking for secondary sources. When they do have one, the hyperlink format reads, for example, “The New York Times reports”. The blog posts are filled with external links which are shown as key highlighted words.

The site obviously has yet to master the message board option online. This is an area the website could work to bringing back, for a fourth and final time. Possible corrections could mean a stricter enforcement of comments, a more intense sign-up method or a better system to block hackers and virus spreaders.

Another frontier the site has yet to fully address is the paywall problem. Will readers continue to pay for online content? Especially in the music industry, Rolling Stone could be the first domino in the line to revolutionize the niche music media industry. With growing competition in other smaller and even more niche publications and websites, the Rolling Stone has to take the lead of The New York Times and continue to prove itself as the forerunner.

The website should also continue to improve the free phone App and iPad App. The iPad magazine App was released earlier this year, but still seems very much like the print edition and doesn’t have any added features or content, sadly. Wenner Media, which has been slow to convert to tablet content, tested the waters with a Beatles special edition iPad App. Appadvice.com deemed the special edition as “underwhelming” and that “The Beatles deserve better”. Something closer to Popular Mechanics’ impressive interactive edition would be in the magazine’s best interest moving forward when it comes to a full-force interactive iPad App.

Anderson Cooper: The king of sharp-tounged Twitter talk

The life of a celebrity is commonly coupled with the burden to act, dress and think a certain way.

So often celebrities attempt to convince people, “Celebrity isn’t easy. I’d like to see you try.” Many, in fact, can put themselves in those shoes, realizing the day-to-day difficulties of being under the 24-hour surveillance of the media.

Anderson Cooper. Screenshot taken from CNN.com

Now try being Anderson Cooper, a media member himself, who has reached celebrity status. As a well-respected celebrity journalist, Cooper is expected to be the perfect picture of ethicality and awareness. One slip up could avalanche into a great fall from grace.

Recently, the “silver fox” exposed himself to one of the easiest media frenzy targets; He had a Twitter tantrum. Reporting from the front lines of the Israili-Palestinian conflict, Cooper let emotions get the best of him when responding to disgruntled Twitter followers.

Here are a few examples of Cooper’s display of responses toward these “Twitter trolls” :



Screenshot taken from MailOnline website

Screenshot taken from MailOnline website









Cooper isn’t the only celebrity recently put under the spotlight. Chris Brown deleted his Twitter account after a graphic Twitter feud with Comedian Jenny Johnson.

Similar to Brown, Cooper responded after personal attacks to his integrity. For anyone who knows anything about the sharptoungued journalist or follows @andersoncooper on Twitter, they know this isn’t a new occurrence. Cooper often responds to Twitter trolls leaving nothing back.

In his response to the recent tweets in a video interview aired on his own show, Cooper said he “kind of felt bad,” in an unapologetic apology.

Cooper is constantly having to prove himself as a trustworthy, reliable source. At the same time, he must remain friendly and relate to his audience. While his Twitter responses were borderline inappropriate for a man of Cooper’s status, it isn’t uncommon to be a little less unscripted on Twitter, especially when it’s on a personal account, as opposed to Cooper’s @AC360, @AndersonLive or @CNN handles.

In every instance of this recent scandal, Cooper was defending his journalistic integrity. He could have left out the personal attacks, which may have cost him a few fans, but then again, isn’t unscripted Twitter talk what all followers want when following a celebrity’s personal feed?

New York Times Facebook Page Review

The New York Times masters new technologies before other news organizations even hear about it.

This also goes for The Times successful utilization of its Facebook page.

Screenshot taken from the New York Times Facebook Page

When it comes to providing social media followers with timely, relevant and consistent content, The Times delivers. With 2.5 million followers, the newspaper’s Facebook page is a hub for reader interaction. Many posts are liked, shared and responded to by thousands. Browsing the page,The Timeshas a good mix of video links, story links, featured images with links and teasers.

One way the publication differentiates the page to keep posts as varied as possible is to mix up the way stories are presented. As a way to draw more attention to a particular post, The Times sets it as an important event so it shows up bigger on the timeline. The paper also posts a picture with a description instead of just the link package, so it shows up bigger.
The Times has a number of sub-pages that cater to specific audiences including Soccer, Movies, Theater, Travel, Politics pages. Competitors like The Chicago Tribune also have sub-pages. This is a good way to create niche audiences and give readers exactly what they want. It is often a turn off to readers when a news site updates too often. By dividing the areas of interest, readers are updated half as often with more relevant information.
One of the publication’s choices when it comes to interaction is to leave the conversation mostly up to the readers. Conversations are started and finished by readers with little to no input from a Times administrator. USA Today has a very different strategy. When it comes to interaction, USA Today is possible over-exaggerated with feedback and individual reader responses.
The Times’ Facebook page is a very valuable tool for the publication. With a 2.5 million person following, not counting the paper’s sub-pages, the following is comprised of an audience the paper needs to reach in the digital journalism transition. The active followers on Facebook are most likely in a younger age group and more tech-savvy than the daily print product consumer.

What lies beyond the paywall

Online paywalls, as they relate to news content-based websites, are shaking up the way news does business, and it may mean a shift in the way people consume news for the survival of the industry.

Paywalls, which have been hinted and threatened to Internet users since 1996, is a payment model for viewing online content. A threshold paywall, which is a popular model among well-read news sites like The New York Times, allows users to view a certain number of pages before being cutoff and forced to pay an online subscription. A hard paywall, most common to niche, business and technical publications, does not provide any content without first charging a fee.

According to a blog post written by Clay Shirky, the threshold paywall model is asking a lot from a minority group of loyal readers who are expected to pay for the news. No longer is the news organization selling a product to a large target audience. Instead, the news organizations that have implemented threshold paywalls are trying to sell readers the idea of becoming a committed, engaged reader.

At first, this paywall seemed like digital suicide. Casual users, who make up approximately 60 percent of the market, are turned off by paywalls. Even some regular users, making up 30 percent, could be turned off of a site that asks for a subscription. These readers are non-commiters and are not brand loyal.

This leaves the 10 percent of users who make up the core. These readers are the politically minded, RSS feed using, social media connected readers who live and breath news. With the paywall model, news organizations must convince the other 90 percent of people to switch over to this type of news consumption, and then some.

This, Shirky said, is not an easy task. It does not aline with any past model of selling the news. Threshold paywalls are asking for long-term, dedicated, politically involved readers who have the interest of the paper in mind when they decide to pay for a subscription.

Again, digital suicide threatened an early death for the new-formed model for the digital journalism industry. Newsday, a nationally renowned news organization, launched its first paywall in 2010. Three months later, a total of 35 subscribers were recorded. This resulted in a redesign, a financial loss and proposed pay cuts. The crumbling of the paywall idea was well underway.

In just two short years, things have changed.

Today, Newsday’s digital circulation now represents more than a quarter of its total circulation of 404,542. Most notably, The New York Times continues to blaze the trail, as it so often does, to online paywall success. Thanks to the NYT’s porous paywall, the organization collects 4,750 new subcribers on average each week. Other news sites took it up a notch too, like the Chicago Tribune, providing premium features and a new website redesign fit to transfer to a paywall method.

While NYT and other newspapers currently have paywalls, it is still in a stage of experimentation and perfection. One clear problem with the paywall is the disconnect with the traditional advertising model. When a hard copy newspaper came as a bundle of news, sports, entertainment coupled with print ads, it offered advertisers a product sold to a mass market.

Online, this bundling effect has disappeared.
Advertisers’ target audience does not match the target audience catered to by paywalls. Advertisers want non-partisan coverage, as to not eliminate any potential customers. Paywalls pinpoint users with the highest level of opinion and niche interests, which currently, is a small group. This means a larger number of people being turned away by paywalls lead to less potential customers to advertisers.

Yet there is a desirable benefit for advertisers behind the paywall. Once a user subscribes, an advertiser gets what is most coveted in the world of advertisement: niche customer information. For subscribed users, advertisers are guaranteed multiple advertisement views suited for an individual users interests. Access to readable, usable demographic information is what puts online advertisement in the frontline of the industry, as well as its most promising venture moving forward.

Although demographic information is desirable, the negatives still seem to outweigh the postives when it comes to paywalls. Shirky’s advice for this conflict of interest, wait. It will take time for form to follow funding. In order to ensure long-term survival, news organizations must find an incentive for committed subscribers, while continuing to perfect the paywall equation.

Mitt Romney’s Google Bomb assumption is ‘completely wrong’

In what has made out to be the latest election scandal, Mitt Romney has recently shown up as the number one image, and number 36th for that matter, when the phrase “completely wrong” is typed into Google Images.

Typing in “completely wrong” will pull up pages of Mitt Romney pictures in Google Images. This screenshot was taken on Oct. 10.

At first, this coincidence seemed to be a Google Bomb. Google Bombing, which is a term used when a site is linked to a key phrase to artificially elevate the site in search results, is often politically motivated.

In this case, the image result was a legitimate link to Romney’s recent response to the “47 percent” remark made at a private donor event.

The presidential candidate’s statement to Sean Hannity on Fox News reads:

“Clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

The final two words of this excerpt “completely wrong” were then linked as key words to articles containing Romney images.

While the incident wasn’t a Google Bomb, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan said it doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. The Huffington Post comments on comedian Rob Delaney’s tweet reading: “Ha! Do a Google image search of the term “completely wrong.”

Romney’s embarrassing moment wasn’t the only to occur on a Google search result page. President George W. Bush was a victim to a legitimate Google Bomb when his official biography was linked to the key phrase “miserable failure”.

More recently, President Obama’s image appeared with the key phrase “debate fail”. More vulgarly, Rick Santorum’s last name came up as a sexual biproduct in a Google search.

In Romney’s case, Google said it wasn’t a “fixable” problem, rather a “natural” effect of the algorithm.

Whether it’s deemed a Google Bomb or not, there’s no doubt it will receive feedback. Wisnefski told FoxNews.com, “The more attention such sideshow distractions receive only takes away from politicians’ ability to get their message out.”