Journalism Next: a Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing

Journalism Next: a Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing

Summary of Mark Briggs’ Journalism Next: a Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing: Journalism has entered the digital age, and the author provides here a crash course for navigating through this shift and explains in detail how to deliver compelling and well-adapted content using new technology – a prerequisite for those who care about the information quality they offer through blogging and social networking.

Mark Briggs, 2019 (2nd edition), 321 pages.

Review and summary of Journalism Next: a Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing by Mark Briggs

About the author

Before writing this book, Mark Briggs made a name for himself with the publication of another book: Journalism 2.0, which was available for download in three languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) from the Knight Foundation website and has been read by more than 200,000 people worldwide.

Following the success of this first opus, which was mostly written in the form of a pamphlet, he decided to write a type of handbook to explain in practical terms to interested journalists and media how to effectively communicate through the Web: here is the summary of that handbook.

Mark Briggs is a journalist, speaker, and vice president of digital strategy at SmithGeiger. He also served as digital director of KING5 in Seattle.

He is also the author of Entrepreneurial Journalism, a book about the changing business model in journalism.

Introduction – Journalism is about the people, not technology

Welcome to the age of transformation. The future is now! A few years ago, journalists could still turn a deaf ear to the technological changes taking place, but those days are over. Today, we have to face the facts: the profession is changing.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mark Briggs is one of those who believe that digital technologies have the potential to change journalism for the better.

However, for that, we can no longer disregard a “culture of innovation ” but rather embrace it. [It must be part of the DNA of every organization] (Journalism Next, p. 4).

The 1970s-1990s were a golden age for the mainstream media; the 2000s reshuffled the deck. Traditional companies, which are getting bigger and bigger (and therefore also fewer and fewer), may have hoped that the Internet craze would be temporary, but that has proved to be a pipe dream.

In fact, the emerging situation may be more like that of the pre-1970s, when a multiplicity of news organizations of various sizes coexisted alongside each other.

What will my job as a journalist be like?

No one knows because the business is constantly evolving. However, you can give yourself a better chance of prediction and success by observing a few rules:

  • Look at the world through a wide-angle lens: get informed, check out websites, read books, and attend conferences.
  • Satisfy your curiosity and develop your skepticism: hone these skills that are essential to the profession.
  • Diversify: “ network ” outside your own circle to find new career opportunities.

By staying abreast with your eyes wide open to the ever-changing world you will be able to find your ideal job and adapt to the changes that will inevitably occur.

Journalism has a future

Today, the most successful new newspapers are those that have moved away from a generalist, “top-down” perspective and are instead offering very specific and local content.

[Now that anyone can publish with a few clicks, it makes no sense to try to play all the fields. The journalism of the future will be inspired by these independent forerunners – the Huffington Post, Vox Media, Buzzfeed … or Mediapart and Rue89 in France – and many others yet to come.] (Journalism Next, p. 6)

The start-up spirit is blowing over this new type of journalism. Journalists are getting creative in finding information, publishing, and interacting with an online community.

This future is in your hands

Amid an unprecedented economic crisis, major media firms have had to embrace new technologies. Most have failed, considering the sites only as “news repositories ” of no interest. Beginning journalism has a role to play here: doing things differently.

[My first job in journalism (part-time sports clerk) was mostly answering phones and doing the menial things that certainly didn’t involve me sharing my ideas. Your first job will probably be very different. In fact, I would venture to say that you won’t get that first job without your ideas, in addition to your skills and experience.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 7)

Journalism will be richer than ever

We’re at a fork in the road.  It could still all go downhill. It will depend on how the younger generations put to use the technologies that are available to them.

Those who were born with the Internet, Instagram, and iPads will have a definite advantage, but the older ones should not be discouraged. Everything can be learned and becomes easy with a little practice! So much so that it becomes natural…

Mark Briggs is committed to interactive, transparent, and collaborative journalism. Technology is at the service of professionals, not the other way around. The important thing is to dare to experiment.

[Don’t confine yourself to the path that has already been traveled before you; it is imperative that you make your own.] (Journalism Next, p. 8)

Chapter 1 — Digital Lives, Digital Journalism

Let’s start with some vocabulary and grammar. Let’s go back to the basics, to the terms we see every day, perhaps without always understanding them. The Web or Internet is not a single thing, it is a set of very diverse technologies that enable the transfer, utilization, collection, etc., of information (in the broad sense of digital information).

Digital data

Before learning how to create digital files, you need to become familiar with their size and weight – and therefore understand the standards. Reminder:

  • Kilo (K) = 1,024 bytes
  • Mega (M) = 1,048,576 bytes
  • Giga (G) = 1,073,741,824 bytes
  • Tera (T) = 1,099,511,627,776 bytes
  • Peta (P) = 1,125,889,906,842,624 bytes
  • Exa (E) = 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes
  • Zetta (Z) = 1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 bytes
  • Yotta (Y) = 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes

Today, you can get a one-terabyte hard drive for about 100 euros. That’s enough to keep all your data without too many worries. Nevertheless, you have to be careful about the weight of the files you send, download or upload, as it affects the speed of your Internet connection.

Text downloads quickly (in kilobytes), even on cell phones with little connection. Photos and videos, on the other hand, are more demanding and can slow down the loading of a page considerably: something we generally want to avoid.

How the Internet works

In fact, the Web and the Internet are not exactly synonymous. The Internet is a network of computers. It is broader and includes electronic mail (e-mail), instant messaging (IM), file transfer (FTP) and the Web – which is [a way to access information through this network, using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (http).] (Journalism Next, p. 12)

Marc Briggs explains the fundamentals of Internyouet use:

  • Web servers: computers dedicated to distributing information on the Internet and that base their interactions on URLs (Uniform Resource Locator), linked to an IP (Internet Protocol) address.
  • Browsers: tools to access published information (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Explorer, etc.). ;
  • Plug-ins and extensions: they offer services to be integrated into your browsers (ad blockers, translators, etc.). ;

RSS feeds

[Instead of visiting several different web pages each day or repeating the same searches over and over, you can set up RSS feeds to do the work for you.] (Journalism Next, p. 14)

Setting up an RSS reader and subscribing to feeds is the best way to get the information that is most relevant to you. Opting for an RSS reader is more efficient than bookmarking links.

First, choose a reader. There are several for computers, and applications for smartphones and tablets are also being developed. Sure, it’s a bit complex to handle, but it’s definitely worth it!

Then, find the feeds you want to subscribe to. A small orange icon will indicate the presence of an RSS feed. Determine which feeds you are interested in:

  • Blogs
  • Sections of news sites
  • Google alerts on your favorite topics
  • Your own articles (to keep track of them)

Creating an alert is a piece of cake. Go to the “create an alert” icon and enter your email address before confirming.

FTP (file transfer protocol)

Large files may clutter your computer or be impossible to send and download. You may need to set up an FTP client. It is the photos, in particular, that Photos, in particular, require such special handling.

There is a plethora of free software online that will help you manage these heavy files. The interface generally mimics the tree structure of your computer’s files, for ease of use.

Today, there are other online solutions (thanks to the cloud) that make life even easier and faster!

Basics of web design

It is possible to become a journalist without knowing how to code. Still, Briggs strongly recommends learning the basics:

[While it’s possible to lead a digital life without knowing the basics of programming, a journalist’s ability to execute their ideas and grow will be limited without these skills. Learning to program opens doors; when you have a new idea for your website, you don’t necessarily want to wait for the ‘web guy’ to get to it.] (Journalism Next, p. 22)

Three markup languages are introduced by Briggs. These are not programming languages as such (such as PHP or JavaScript), but languages that give the ability to modify the display and distribution of information on a web page.


Every page is designed in the HTML language. It is a language invented by programmers so that the computer can “read” what you write and know how to display it. It is useful to learn it, even though more and more online services like WordPress, Blogger, or Facebook do not require it.

To quickly build an HTML page, do a few exercises. Most importantly: get out there and tinker. Test it to see how it looks. Learn how to add images and get the hang of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) software that enables you to see in real-time the effect of what you are editing.

CSS (cascading style sheets)

HTML is technical, but not very aesthetic. CSS enables you to modify the font, the line spacing, and many other style elements. You can embed it directly into your HTML code.

Feel free to take a look at or (which became lifewire since the publication of Briggs’ book).

XML (extensible markup language)

This is the language of RSS feeds, which works with semantic tags. To familiarize yourself with its use, you may find it useful to visit the site or the two previously mentioned.

Content management systems

Content management systems (CMS) have become commonplace. They are very convenient systems for publishing text, audio, and video on a website. Most often, you can also modify the basic design of the site.

There is a wide variety of them: Clickability, Newsbase, or Saxotech are very popular with the media. But the most used CMS in the world today is without a doubt WordPress (WP). Even CNN has designed its site in WordPress!

It has become an extremely powerful CMS because of the active community that runs it. You can add widgets, plug-ins, and themes that will make your site unique. In short: powerful… And free!

Launching a WordPress site

Don’t confuse with

  • .com is the way to go if you don’t have the budget for hosting. Your site will still have a name like By paying, you will be able to customize the design and have your own domain name.
  • .org is the solution when you want to host your site and have a better domain name. You will therefore have to find a host, some of which are WP specialists (DreamHost, JustHost, Media Temple in particular).

Publishing content with WP is really easy. There are also a lot of tutorials to learn how to create a blog on wordpress online: see for example The interface for publishing an article is very simple and intuitive.

You can see your article tagged in HTML (text mode) or in word processing mode (visual mode). You can also preview the result before publishing and constantly modify your article.

In addition, WP offers the possibility of extensive customization of your website. There is a wide range of themes already developed. When you click on Appearance, you will see the options related to the selected theme.

If you like coding, you can go even further and modify the theme according to your desires, playing (carefully though, planning to keep an earlier version that works well) with the Editor.

Mobile applications vs. mobile web

Mobile users are the most numerous Internet users today. However, there are two main ways to consume content on your mobile device:

  • Going to a website(for example from a link received in an email) hoping that it will be adapted to reading on mobile.
  • Using an application.

In the first case, we speak of a responsive website if the site is designed to adapt quickly and efficiently to different media (computer, tablet, and mobile). This has become a major issue today; in fact, it has become the standard for any serious website. WordPress enables you to configure your site to be responsive.

The other solution is the application: it is said to be native since it is designed directly for mobile devices. Quite logically, the user experience (UX) of the mobile user is further maximized.

Getting started

[Make sure your browser is up to date.

Download a new web browser, especially if you don’t use Firefox or Chrome yet, Opera is another option.

Get in the habit of using RSS feeds: choose an RSS reader and subscribe to ten RSS feeds; read the source code of one of these feeds to find out how XML works; translate the tags of each item (e.g., title, URL, and publication date).

Subscribe to news alerts: create an alert on Google and add it to your RSS reader.

Create a web page: do the HTML and CSS exercises described in this chapter; add your own content and styles using additional HTML tags and CSS styles.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 42)

Chapter 2 — The Power of Publishing: How Blogging Changed Publishing and Journalism Forever

Mark Briggs examines two practices here: blogging and microblogging (Twitter, essentially). These technologies have led to a fundamental change in the way journalists work. It has become more interactive, more direct, and faster. Journalists are creating communities that can prove helpful when needed.

[With blogging and microblogging, the professional journalist can publish information outside the traditional news cycle and in a format different from the traditional article, both of which can help establish his or her authority on a given subject.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 44)

But there is no guarantee of success. Building a loyal community requires hard work, dedication, and determination. The goal: to create an ongoing dialogue between you and your readers.

Blogging basics

Blogging is a way to publish content on the Internet. It’s a site where articles are successively published according to the most recent news – with older articles being gradually pushed into the background of the site. Each article – also called a “post” or “ticket” – is accompanied by a comment area for readers to express their opinions.

[The blog as a publishing platform is perfectly suited to journalism. Its simplicity, immediacy, and interactivity have greatly enriched the profession, bringing journalists and their audiences closer together and removing the time and space constraints that were once imposed on them.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 48)

Mark Briggs gives several examples of successful blogs by U.S. journalists. For example, in the trade press, you might want to check out GeekWire, which offers information on the major digital giants. Goal: become a professional blogger.

Microblogging basics

Here, users write short posts, usually within 280 characters, with links to videos, other articles, photos, etc. You can follow individuals or organizations and receive their latest updates. You can also post here and build a community of loyal readers.

Twitter is the best-known microblogging platform, but it’s not the only one. In fact, this qualifier also applies to Tumblr, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The whole point of these networks is to create a mass of ambient information that is like a puzzle to be put together.

The interest, in fact, is not in the information taken in isolation, or at least very little. It is in the piecing back together of this information puzzle to obtain a more complete and complex overview of events. Professionals (from the media, but also from marketing) use this abundance of data for their own interests.

Of course, it is not always easy for a professional journalist to limit himself to 140 or 280 characters! However, it can be learned; make it a new challenge: how to trim the information and make it more impactful in just a few words? In fact, today, all the major media are doing it.

Become a blogger

To get started: read blogs that interest you and are relevant to your favorite topics. This is the foundation, to familiarize yourself with the practice and to know what you can contribute.

Then, learn some jargon. For example, in the lexicon of blogging, know that the blogroll is the list of external links that appear either in the sidebar of the blog or on another page. These are the “friendly” sites of the blogger. What is an internal link? It’s a link that points to another page or article on your blog.

Generate a community and take advantage of crowdsourcing – that is, the participative production of information – and the feedback received from your readers. This is done gradually, of course. It is important to familiarize yourself with the network by following others first, before publishing yourself.

In the case of microblogging in particular:

  • Be relevant and up-to-date (no useless clutter!)
  • Inform (add value)
  • Be instructive (provide guidance and advice if you can)
  • Include links (possibly use for microblogging)
  • Be true to your personality (without getting carried away!)
  • Build relationships (ask and answer questions)

Gradually, you will gain “social capital ” that you can invest elsewhere (in money or otherwise, for example) or reinvest in producing information.

Establish an action plan, create a blog

Choose a blog platform, a host, if necessary, a name and a theme. Then, customize the look of your blog in the Dashboard. Of course, you’ll need to find your blog’s audience, then build a trusting relationship between them and you.

[It’s fun to write when you know there’s someone there to read you. With a blog, it’s easy to post an endless stream of words and ideas, but there’s no guarantee that anyone will see them.] (Journalism Next, p. 69)

To increase your blog’s traffic, consider these three basic rules (which will be expanded upon in later chapters):

  • Publish quality articles regularly.
  • Create catchy headlines.
  • Interact with your community.

To write effective articles, also be sure to:

  • Put the reader first (write clearly for them).
  • Organize ideas (keep it simple, without superfluous information).
  • Be direct (keep sentences short and declarative).
  • Become a reference (avoid generalities; write about what you know).
  • Proofread (don’t rush to “publish”).
  • Write for people in a hurry (time is short; create “shortcuts”).
  • Place links, summaries, and analysis (sprinkle your sources throughout your article).
  • Use keywords in your headlines (for crawlers and readers).
  • Adopt a positive attitude (write because you like it).

But that’s not all! [A blog without images is worthless], says Mark Briggs. So, take the time to incorporate images into your articles. Use screenshots if you have to. Also, use RSS feeds to help you find topics to write about.

Start using Twitter

[The great thing about microblogging, and especially Twitter, is how easy it is to get started. It will only take you a few minutes to create a new account, upload a profile picture, and post your first tweet.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 75)

Nevertheless, don’t go into this with a blank slate. Keep your goal in mind. Who do you wantto “be” on Twitter?What kind of information do you want to share? Who do you most want to interact with? Answering these questions will help you choose the right handle (company brand, full name, pseudonym, etc.).

For example, if you want to develop your personal brand, use your full name.

To build your network, start by doing a thematic search on your chosen platform: type in journalism, for example, or whatever you like. Find interesting profiles that come up in the results. After taking a look at the profile, subscribe or not.

To find people who will follow you, you will need to follow people yourself. They will receive a notification and will be invited to follow you back. If they like your posts, they will! Don’t hesitate to share other people’s information when it’s relevant.

Also, don’t hesitate to follow back people who send an invitation. It’s polite and a good way to expand your network. You can also follow influential people by checking out applications like Wefollow.

Start tweeting

We’re all afraid of taking that first leap into the unknown, but you just have to go for it; it’s the most important thing. To help you, here are some suggestions for tweeting. Let your followers know about:

  • Your readings
  • Your thoughts (on the topic you are discussing)
  • The projects you are working
  • Your latest favorites
  • Questions and/or answers to questions you have or that people ask you

Install Twitter on your mobile and start posting, once a day.

[Journalists use their cell phones to post tweets about major events, conferences, sporting events, and more. The 280-character limit makes it a particularly comfortable medium, and also provides a simple and effective way to capture and share photos taken on the spot.] (Journalism Next, p. 81)

Getting started

[Evaluate other blogs: find three blogs on topics that interest you and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What is the strength of each blog (immediacy, analysis, depth, style)?
  • How does each blog play to that strength?
  • How does each blog build community by interacting with readers and linking to other blogs or sources?

Define your plan of action: think about the topic(s) your blog will cover.

  • What will you name it (one to three words)?
  • What would be the best description or short slogan that would define your blog?
  • Which topics will you cover on your blog? And what will be the mission (two or three sentences)?

Create a blog: set up your blog on or Don’t use the default theme; find one you like.

Publish on your blog: start with simple posts, on topics such as the RSS reader you use and the feeds you subscribe to. Include an image in your post, but don’t steal it!

Add a blogroll and include at least six blogs you follow with your RSS reader.

Join a community: post three comments on the blogs you follow.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, pp. 84-85)

Chapter 3 — Crowd-Powered Collaboration

[The best journalists are those who exploit new technologies and take an open approach to gathering and presenting information. They discover that the power of an audience can serve as a springboard for finding sources, experts, and new angles, and it also offers instant – and constant – feedback.] (Journalism Next, p. 88)

This chapter discusses the three major trends in this area: crowdsourcing, open-source journalism, and engaged journalism. These definitions are shifting and partially overlapping, but the author chooses to distinguish them.


Asking volunteers or people outside an organization to participate in solving its problems is the basis of crowdsourcing. The public is encouraged to contribute to tasks that are proposed to them (with or without remuneration).

In the context of journalism, crowdsourcing is still limited, but it is developing. For example, journalists can ask their community what themes or questions they would like to see addressed in an interview or in a future article.

Some aspiring journalists have enjoyed success in this way. This is the case of Joshua Micah Marshall who, while writing his thesis, created and managed a blog: Talking Points Memo (TPM). The blog has become an institution, and Marshall’s work has won several awards for his coverage of a legal/political scandal. How did he do it? Among other things, he asked his readers to analyze and sift through thousands of emails and official documents.

Open-source journalism

[Traditionally, readers only find out what a newspaper is investigating once the story is finished and published. While it’s still common to keep one’s information secret to prevent the competition from picking it up, the open-source journalism model involves disclosing most of one’s stories early in the process to invite readers to participate.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 95)

A media outlet can build a network of participatory readers from the emails it receives, but also from its social networks and blogs. To get this data and/or to get the readers to act, it can be a good idea to use link curation. Storify, which is a tool that enables you to group your different links into a more homogeneous stream, can help you do this.

In fact, the more links you share yourself – without the idea of secrecy or the fear of losing your readership – the more you will get back. Link curation (or content curation) is the practice of selecting, editing, and sharing the most relevant content from your network. This is a time for openness and transparency.

[Growing an audience on social networks requires effective link curation. Posting links to interesting information, photos, and videos is the surefire recipe for success in building an audience on Facebook and Twitter.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 97)

Engaged journalism

Have you heard of DIY (do-it-yourself)? Well, it’s also spreading to journalism. Why deprive ourselves of the content that our readers create?  We all create, thanks to our smartphones, video, audio, textual content. The CNN IReport website is cited here as an example.

However, the engaged journalist has no less work to do. Selecting, classifying, and then processing in detail the information sent by the readers takes time and requires laborious, tedious, and intellectual work. It is also necessary to make sure that you operate within the law and thus learn, little by little, to truly take advantage of the number of readers who follow you.

News as a conversation

[Now that news is a conversation, one of the biggest challenges journalists face is managing that conversation and leveraging it.] (Journalism Next, p. 103)

By this, it should be understood that there is incessant sharing of information, opinions, and links between readers and the journalists themselves.

How to have a successful dialogue on a blog (via comments) or on social networks (responses to posts)? Here are some things that Mark Briggs highlights:

  • Answer all questions.
  • Without getting angry, also respond to criticism.
  • Whether in public or private, the important thing is… to
  • Share answers that bring value.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and errors in public.
  • Thank the readers who help you.

Building and managing an online community

Know from the outset that not all of your community will participate. The rule is 1 – 10 – 100. What does that mean?

  • 1% of users are involved in the primary content creation (by you, your team, and possibly a few avid readers)
  • 10% “ summarize” by posting a comment, sharing, or sending a link outside the network, etc.
  • 100% benefit from the actions of the other two groups.

The journalist will have to invest time and energy in creating discussion forums and in carrying out the other tasks mentioned above.

It is important to know how to collaborate with your readers, as well as with other journalists.

[Collaboration among journalists is also thriving in the digital age. Technology makes it easy for reporters, editors, and photographers to share tips, resources, and even news coverage with each other, which is possible now that most media outlets have realized they are no longer competing with each other.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 115)

Staying accurate and ethical

Just because journalism is becoming collaborative doesn’t mean judgment and the ability to communicate clearly should go out the window. Therefore, one of the things with digital journalism is to ensure that you set rules for the participants – readers and journalists alike.

For example, you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re accepting one of your sources as a “friend” on a social network. Or, is your personal account representative of the newspaper you work for? There are many answers to these questions, and many more important ones to keep in mind. The most important thing is to communicate transparently about these issues.

Another point is offensive content. It must be tracked, detected, and banned. This is not censorship, but moderation. It is in everyone’s interest to be able to exchange in peace.

[Treat your comment sections like a garden: a little love and fresh water every day will go a long way for the health of your community. Pull out the weeds as soon as they appear.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 120)

Getting started

[Visit three or four websites mentioned in this chapter and find the best examples of collaboration between journalists and their readers. Look up what initiatives have been taken on the websites of French regional newspapers (PQR).

Create an account on Storify and use it to write an article on a particular topic, gathering the best information from social networks and the web to practice link journalism in your field.

Visit the community sites discussed in this chapter to explore how newspapers are working with their readers to provide richer, more local coverage of their communities. Visit French sites that work in this way: pure players like Rue89, use of blogs on the major online dailies (,,, but also on the sites of most of the major weeklies.

Join the online conversation by posting a comment on a traditional article and another on a blog that is not affiliated with a news organization. Compare the two experiences.

Join or follow the accounts of several news organizations on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.); include at least one local, one national, and one topic-specific organization.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 125)

Chapter 4 — Going Mobile

[ The digital and smartphone revolution has already affected journalism and has spawned a new discipline: mobile journalism. Dispatched on location, the mobile journalist does everything himself – he writes and publishes continuously, takes photos and videos, and transmits them directly to his/her audience… The deadline is always the same: NOW.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 128)

The rise of mobile journalism

In 2011, a study showed that the average age of obtaining one’s first mobile phone had dropped to 11 and a few months old.  In other words, children are almost born with a cell phone in their hand. All of us are increasingly using apps to complete our daily tasks.

The shift to mobile journalism is happening, although, of course, the development of the Web is the most significant advancement. The advantage of the mobile phone is obvious: it is a kind of “digital Swiss army knife” that enables you to capture everything you need (text, audio, video, newsfeed).

Just a few years ago, writing a full story with a smartphone, while still on the ground, would have been seen as an oddity. Today, the daily use of such devices has made it practically standard, and it’s not going to stop there.

Doing mobile journalism

Sim-pli-city! Like a scout, be “always ready”, but not just anywhere, to say anything. Before you embark on that adventure or go on the ground, ask yourself at every turn:

  • [Will the public benefit from being taken to the scene?
  • Will the journalistic reporting be better if it is done on the spot and in a hurry?
  • Can the event be communicated in small, incremental pieces?
  • Will a quickly edited audio or video report help people better understand the story?] (Journalism Next, p. 131)

Trials, celebrity speeches, news stories, sporting events, or public gatherings are just a few examples of events that can be covered by a mobile journalist. Keep the journalism as a focal point; the technology remains a means to an end (your production).

Your equipment will also depend on your preferences and capabilities. You may be over-equipped or under-equipped.  It’s up to you to decide what you take with you in addition to your cell phone (microphone, camera with tripod, etc.).

Regarding the publication itself, it can be done either on a microblogging platform such as Twitter, or on your blog, or in live blogging, i.e., through services such as CoveritLive, SribbleLive, The Verge, or BuzzFeed. For video, use Ustream or Livestream. Lastly, think about crowdsourcing, even when you’re on location!

Getting started

[Photograph a news event with a mobile device and publish the photos as quickly as possible – even on a social network like Twitter.

Report an event with real-time posts, using a laptop or smartphone and a traditional blog, CoveritLive, or Twitter.

Stream live video from an event using Ustream or Livestream.

Engage your readers by asking them to send you photos from an event or post text on a microblogging service like Twitter.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 144)

Chapter 5 — Visual Storytelling With Photographs

[Doing journalism without photos is like writing sentences without verbs.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 146)

Photographs tell the story in a different way than text; they are more direct, instantly putting the reader in a mood. It’s an essential way to capture events and communicate facts, which is why every beginning journalist needs to add it to his/her repertoire.

[Even if you don’t have the ambition to become an artist, you need to understand how digital photography works. At the very least, you’ll need to be able to process digital photos and take a simple shot, like a portrait. But once you get a taste of the fun and power of digital photography, you’ll probably want to explore all its possibilities.] (Journalism Next, p. 146)

Of course, no one expects a journalist to excel in every area. So, once you’ve mastered the basics (in case you find yourself on your own), you may as well bring in others and build a full team with complementary skills.

Digital photography

This chapter deals with digital photography by exclusion with cell phone photography (quickly covered in the previous chapter) and film photography.

Today, all digital cameras offer a high quality in terms of pixels (picture element). With an entry-level 8-megapixel (8 million pixels) device, you can get started with no problem. For publishing, make sure you have sufficient resolution (the number of pixels displayed on the screen): 72 pixels per inch (dpi) is a good resolution for computer display. For paper, it will take between 200 and 300 dpi.

Another central point: copyright and fair use. A simple rule: don’t steal someone else’s work. Always make sure you ask the author’s permission when you use their photograph (at the very least, never forget to credit the photo with their name).

Second rule: do not deceive. If you retouch photos, limit yourself to surface manipulation that does not change the essence of your image.

Improve your digital photos

The ability to observe a photo just after taking it and to repeat shots ad infinitum (or almost): these are two definite advantages of digital photography. This increases your chances of taking “the” right picture. However, you should not do it any old way.

  • First, think about the framing. Your photo should focus on a central element. Any element that might divert attention should be removed from the picture.
  • Don’t forget about lighting. The best lighting is completely natural (as opposed to full flash or mixed lighting). Be careful of the position of the sun, though!

Start by shooting portraits. A few simple rules to get started:

  • Avoid backlighting and the midday sun.
  • Opt for a slightly overcast day (if possible).
  • Use flash only as a last resort.
  • Be attentive to the background (dark and simple, for example).
  • Avoid shadows cast on walls.
  • Make sure that no objects get in the frame.

You can further improve your photo compositions by:

  • Stabilizing the camera (with your body or a support).
  • Filling in the frame (erasing the space above the head, in particular).
  • Working on the focus (focus on the eyes if the background is too complex).
  • Moving around and getting closer (it is important to do this to find the best angle).
  • Shooting vertically (for portraits!).
  • Capturing the action (if possible, don’t make the subject pose, but surprise them).

Finally, perhaps this last piece of advice will be useful to you… Be patient! The best photos sometimes entail long hours of waiting.

Working with digital photos

It is much easier to edit a digital photo: this is another of its advantages.

[But be careful not to overdo it… In fact, before you edit a photograph, you should follow the well-known precept of the Hippocratic Oath: ‘do no harm’.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, pp. 156-157)

When you select and then work on your photos, ask yourself if they illustrate the story you are telling. Which one will present the event with the utmost clarity? Detach yourself from the emotions felt at the time of the capture itself, and put yourself in the shoes of the reader, who wants to be moved by the image.

Save your photos on your computer using a USB cable. You can store, organize, and edit your photos with a variety of on-board and online software (Windows Photo Gallery, iPhoto, Picasa, Flickr, etc.). Choose an efficient nomenclature, preferably date-based: e.g., date_location_number.jpg (write the date in the following format:

More powerful editing software (such as Photoshop) will enable you to retouch your photos in more detail. Always retouch a copy and not the original (in case of an unrecoverable error). You can then crop the image, resize it, change the resolution, correct the colors, and save a web version, among other things.

Publishing your photos online

[Once you’ve chosen the photos you want to publish and prepared those images for publication, you’re ready to tackle another important step in the process: how to present those images for maximum impact.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 166)

To publish on your blog, make sure to:

  • Adhere to the maximum size allowed on your blog (most of the time, it depends on the theme you choose).
  • Surround the image with text.
  • Choose a good alternative text (Alt attribute).
  • Opt for a screenshot if you don’t have a picture to show.

You can also create slideshows. These are very popular with Internet users. It is about telling the story in a different way, using only images. You can do it with or without a soundtrack. Blogging platforms enable you to do this quite easily. The perfect slideshow is thought out in advance, of course, because you’ll need a variety of appropriate photographs (different types of shots and different action sequences).

Mark Briggs also includes the following tips from Mark S. Luckie’s “5 Common Photo Slideshow Mistakes” article:

  • Limit the slideshow to two or three minutes.
  • Use the right number of photos.
  • Pair photos with audio.
  • Use captions.
  • Avoid awkward transitions.
  • Don’t make the music too loud.

You can prepare your photo galleries or slideshows in Photoshop Elements or in Soundslides, when you want to add sound to your photos.

Getting started

[Find a camera and practice shooting in different types of lighting: natural, flash, and a mixture of both. What differences do you notice?

Practice filling the frame by taking close-ups. If you don’t have a zoom lens, you will need to get very close to your subject.

Create a slideshow from a series of photos using Photoshop or Soundslides.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 174)

Chapter 6 — Making Audio Journalism Visible

Do you know the world of podcasting? If not, it’s time that you do. Case in point: Serial, a podcast series launched in 2014 by journalist Sarah Koenig, dealing with a news story in Baltimore fifteen years earlier. A success “worthy of the golden age of radio” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Audio journalism

Conventional journalism has often relegated sound to the background. Yet here again, digital opens up many new opportunities to seize within this format. There is no longer a need for sound engineers; the reporter can edit a recording on his/her own – often with minimal equipment – and publish it.

It takes practice, so, you will need to learn how to write for audio.  Listeners of podcasts consume this format when they are alone, on public transport for example. You have to be able to keep them hooked from start to finish. Here are some writing tips for audio:

  • Write in a familiar style.
  • Write simply.
  • Create a narrative tension that “holds” listeners.
  • Introduce characters.
  • Set the stage as an actor in the story.

Audio journalism isn’t just about boring interviews! By telling a story with sound, the audio journalist brings presence, emotion, and mood that are unmatched even compared to photography.

[By combining voiceovers, natural or environmental sounds and sound effects (for transitions), you can build a multidimensional story, much like a well-written narrative or a good video documentary.] (Mark Briggs, Handbook of Web Journalism, p. 180)

The radio is no longer the only place where sound can be heard. It is currently possible to publish audio in a variety of ways, on websites and/or via specific software. Here are some of them:

  • Article summaries (this is a practice used by the New York Times)
  • Podcasts
  • Audio slideshows
  • News flashes (e.g., on Utterli)

Introduction to audio

Sure, everyone talks; however, not everyone can “spontaneously” produce quality audio material. Most of the time, it will have to be prepared beforehand.

Conducting an interview

The interview is a classic of audio journalism. There is no reason to do without it, if it can support your subject. You can use it in the various documents listed above. To conduct a good interview, follow these tips:

  • Pay attention to the environment in which the interview takes place.
  • Collect ambient sound.
  • Prepare your interviewee.
  • Watch what you say.
  • Try delayed recording.
  • Note any key moments.

Recording a voice-over

Unlike an interview, you are in complete control of the process. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid messing up your recording and ensure quality:

  • Write a script.
  • Warm up.
  • Find keywords.
  • Keep a natural tone.
  • Spice up your voice-overs (adjust the volume, range, rhythm and tempo of your voice).

Equip yourself and get out there

Choosing a digital recorder

Forget about analog! There are cheap dictation machines, but consider a product at least 100 euros, for example from Olympus or Tascam. There are also smartphone applications (iTalk, Audio Memos, RecUp), but the microphone is not as good (unless you use an external one).

SoundCloud is a social network specializing in audio. It is widely used by musicians, remixers, and can also be used by journalists; you can use it either to convey sound information to readers, or to get them to participate themselves by recording and publishing interesting audio excerpts for an investigation. It is easy to create an account, and the basic service is free.

Recording on your computer

Get a phone recorder adapter to record phone calls. Before recording (in real life or by phone), ask permission from the person you are talking to (to be sure you are within the law). Adopt an audio file management and editing software (paid such as Adobe Audition or free such as Audacity and JetAudio). Organize each file efficiently.

To improve the sound quality, you can use an external microphone. There are two types of microphones: wired and wireless (also called lavalier microphones). To ensure the quality of the sound you produce, you can also get a headset that will enable you to listen live to what you are recording. Lastly, don’t forget to be prepared and make sure that all your equipment is working and that there are no battery failures to worry about!

Editing digital audio

MP3 is the most widely used format and the best compromise between file size and quality. So, choose this format, which you likely are already familiar with. Other formats are WMA (developed by Windows), WAF, and AIFF (high quality, but heavier).

You will also probably have to cut some parts of the content, to keep only what is interesting. You can cut but also edit several tracks together, and even try out new techniques such as fading, crossfading, background music, or track sequencing.

Starting a podcast

What is podcasting?

[Podcasting is the distribution of audio files on the Internet through an RSS feed. The files can be downloaded to a mobile device such as an MP3 player or played on a personal computer. The term “podcast” (iPod + broadcast) can refer to both the content and the method of transmission.  Some podcasters also offer their files for direct download on their site, but what distinguishes a podcast from a simple download is the ability to subscribe to a feed to automatically receive new content. Typically, the podcast is in the form of a “show,” with new episodes published sporadically or at regular intervals.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 199)

With what we’ve said above, you have all the cards in hand to get started.


This is the same principle, but here you record video as well. However, if the listener doesn’t have access to the video, they can play the audio on their MP3 player. Radio France has become an expert in this field.

iTunes and podcasting

You can find and listen to an impressive number of podcasts. You can subscribe and put the podcasts you like in different collections. The content will be updated automatically. To create your podcast, just open iTunes and click the Submit Podcast logo, provided you have an RSS feed set up.

Getting started

[Record an interview, paying attention to the environment (background noise) and your diction (articulation and clarity).

Test an online recording service like Utterli from your cell phone as if you were on a story.

Listen to five podcasts on iTunes. Subscribe to the ones you find interesting or useful. Note the qualities that make them better than the others.

Explore SoundCloud. Download the app or visit and find audio stories – and music – that interest you. Follow others, find news and information accounts that appeal to you, and ask yourself why.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 203)

Chapter 7 — Telling Stories with Video

Again, the point is the same: thanks to new technologies, the cost of acquiring video equipment, as well as the cost of editing and publishing, has dropped significantly. This decrease in price and the relative simplicity of execution have greatly popularized the practice. In 2019, more than 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute on YouTube!

Impact of digital video

There is only one thing left to do: get out there and get started, without being afraid of making mistakes. On the contrary, mistakes are the best way to learn! Moreover, the quality of videos published on YouTube, for example, varies greatly. The journalist has a role to play here.

[Each project should not only inform the public about an important news topic, but also help develop a reasonable standard of quality.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 209)

Today’s Internet users have become tolerant: they are more than willing to watch someone sitting at a table from the comfort of their home, giving a presentation from a simple, cheap webcam. It all depends on the level of trust of the audience: do they already know who the presenter is? Has the latter already earned their loyalty?

In fact, the tacit agreement with the audience is different on the Web than in print or on TV. It’s no longer about the care taken in putting the video together, but rather the authenticity and immediacy of the video. Of course, some subjects lend themselves more to preparation than others, but there is no longer any reason to reject a video for being formally imperfect.

Plan your video and get started

[The best way to produce a successful video story is to frame it as if you were writing. How will the video tell the story ? Once you have an idea of what the story should tell, it’s simply a matter of filling in the blanks with the most appropriate footage.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 213)

Different approaches for different projects

The two formats you’ll need to tackle first are:

  • Short clips (narrating events or highlights)
  • Full-length documentary-style reporting

In the first case, you are caught up in the action. The conditions differ: a press conference or a sports match often make for good video content, but they are not as equally easy to pull off.

News stories usually allows you more leeway. It’s a good idea to make a storyboard so you know exactly who to interview, what footage to shoot, when to shoot it, etc. It’s work!

The most important thing is definitely to have a fairly clear idea of the scope and angle of your project.  Along the way, be open to the unexpected: a planned sequence may turn out to be boring, or an unwelcome event may turn into a nugget. Don’t be afraid to adapt your storyboard as you go; that’s how you’ll produce the best possible content.

Alternate shots

A standard to settle on might be:

  • 25% wide shots (also known as exposition, which give an overview)
  • 25% close-ups (which draw attention to a person or object)
  • 50% medium shots (halfway between the other two)

Set the zoom before you start shooting your close-ups. Avoid zooming in or out when shooting. Instead, use your legs if you want to get close to something in mid-shot.

Building five-shot sequences

Your story should have at least one interesting sequence that illustrates your theme and what you want to convey. One tip for shooting a good sequence is to shoot 5 shots. For example, to create a sequence about a tattoo artist’s business:

  • Take a close-up of the hands sticking the needle.
  • Then a close-up of the tattoo artist’s concentrated face.
  • Continue with a wide shot of the room, the artist and his/her
  • Next, take an “ over the shoulder ” shot where the camera is in the tattoo artist’s shoes.
  • Lastly, take a creative shot, from an original point of view.

Check out Mindy Adams’ page for more information.

Voice in video

This is something you have to take into account when doing a video interview. To make your video interview successful, think about:

  • Location (a place where the subject feels comfortable and that connects to the story, if possible).
  • Lighting (watch out for backlighting and unwanted shadows).
  • Your questions (prepare them if possible and remain silent when the subject speaks).
  • Staying calm, prepared, and relaxed if you have to present on camera yourself.

For voice-over, refer to the information introduced in the previous chapter.

Getting equipped

If you don’t plan to shoot much, you can opt for a cheap and very easy-to-use flip camera (i.e. with retractable USB port).

Otherwise, you can opt for a more professional camera. Either way, don’t buy something more sophisticated than you need.

You’ll need to choose the camera (high definition or standard? CCD or CMOS?), the recording medium (tape or hard drive ?), the editing software (make sure the captured video is compatible with the program you’re using), the accessories (from tripods to batteries to headphones and lighting devices).

Shooting quality videos

Most of the time, leave it to the automatic settings; learn about your camera’s focus, zoom, and exposure specifics.

In all cases, keep it simple and efficient:

  • Select shots.
  • Do away with panning and zooming.
  • Take your time in the shot (you can shorten it in editing, but the reverse is not true).
  • Be quiet (everything can be heard).
  • Frame according to the rule of thirds (divide the space into nine equal rectangles and align your subject with one of the main axes of your imaginary grid).

In addition to the image, take care of the sound recording by using a wired or wireless microphone. Use a boom if you think it is the right way to improve the sound quality of your videos.

Last point: don’t hesitate to take pictures with your cameras; most digital cameras allow it. A nice picture can be useful for presenting your video later on.

Working with digital video files

[The best video stories are made up of many short clips edited together, and your job is to shoot the best footage possible. The best way to really understand the diversity of the scenes you need to record is to do the editing – or at least be there.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 231)

Rework the storyboard, view the rushes; take your main idea and build on the selected rushes. It is possible to change your plan along the way but be careful not to lose sight of your narrative arc. Also, keep it short: video files are large and audiences expect short formats.

Editing is a complex matter. Some software is provided directly to you (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie). They may be useful to get you started. However, the key to editing is to tell a story. In addition to what has already been said above, also consider:

  • Defining your topic in the first 20 seconds.
  • The basic plan introduction – middle/development – end.
  • Dynamism (made possible by short sequences).
  • The narrative arc (at the risk of being overinsistent).
  • The characters (they are the ones who make the story).

Another important point: [show the viewer what the story is about] (Colin Mulvany, quoted in Mark Briggs, Web Journalism Manual, p. 233).

Publishing online video

You’ll probably have to go through the compression process. The Flash format is the best solution. To actually publish it, you can share it on a content delivery network (Brightcove, Vimeo, YouTube, Metacafe). Your videos will be compressed and you will get embed codes.

Of course, you can compress and publish your videos on your website yourself. However, the advantage of the above-mentioned services is that they offer you a wider audience than that of your own site; they are therefore aids for distribution as well as for publication.

You can even go as far as using a web service called OneLoad, which will send your video to nearly 20 video sharing sites!

Getting started

[Look at several sections of a news site and identify a topic in each section that would make a good video story.

Create a basic video story, less than a minute long, with at least three different shots and a separate audio track (voiceover or background music).

Publish your video online using a service like YouTube or Vimeo. Compare several free services to determine which one you prefer.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 239)

Chapter 8 – Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

The purpose of this chapter is twofold: to help you organize your digital life and to use data to transform your journalism practice.

Optimizing your digital life

That is the first goal. There are apps out there that can help you if you dare to check them out. In his book Getting Things Done (2002), David Allen simply posed the idea that it was important to write down and file every idea/task. How about digitizing it all?

Organizing your emails

Organizing your e-mails with filters and folders takes time, but then you save time. Also, make sure you limit the time spent on emails. Try responding to new messages between work periods.

David Allen suggests spending no more than two minutes on each email. Will you try it out ? Those you can’t answer will go into a “Pending” or “To Be Read” folder. The goal is to have no mail in your inbox at the end of your session.

Improving productivity with the right tools

In addition to emails, there are contacts, to-do lists, calendar, and notes. If you add data, photos, etc., it quickly becomes monstrous. Centralizing tasks is a good option. Google Docs or Evernote enable such centralization. Use cloud computing to never lose anything, organize your personal data, and always have it on hand.

[They say there are two kinds of computer users: those who back up their data and those who will soon learn to. The first time your hard drive fails and you lose important work, you’ll understand what I mean.] (Mark Briggs, Handbook of Web Journalism, p. 245)

Develop your own productivity strategy by tailoring the tools to the things you need to manage. Ask yourself what you’re willing to spend, but also how to integrate the different systems and whether you need an offline solution. Each program has its own specifics. Take an interest in them, then go for it.

Also, think about getting your contacts in order. By centralizing all the contacts you’ve acquired over the years on various media, you can ensure a potential “reader network ” to develop. Save the data of the people who contact you.

Get your work in order by using team-based project management tools. For example, Basecamp (paid) or Zoho (free) allow you to list everything in one place, assign tasks, and keep track. Project management is a skill that can you can pick up. The website or the book Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun may also help you become more proficient in this area.

Mark Briggs' Journalism Next

Data-driven journalism

[Imagine all the information that flows through a news organization every day. Now consider how little of it is available to those who work there – or more importantly, to interested members of the public. The press can solve this problem by storing this information in electronic format, in spreadsheets, and shared databases.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 250)

Some newspapers or magazines compile data that they then make available on their site (salaries of athletes or government officials, new companies, top employers, etc.). The media have understood the importance of this phenomenon.

In addition to categorizing this wealth of information, the contemporary journalist can use it to tell stories. Readers are looking for figures (reimbursements, compensation, various accounts, etc.). You can use your databases to create occasional stories (called “alternative formats”).

On a deeper level, databases can sometimes help you understand a slow-moving and complex problem. Showing numbers and graphs shows change in what – to the naked eye – appears unchanged, or conversely, shows problematic underlying trends, such as resource depletion or wage stagnation.

Data can therefore greatly assist journalists in their work. Moreover, it is a system that is becoming more and more open: APIs (application programming interfaces) make it possible to share data between media, programmers, but also administrations and other independent bodies.

Building a database

Sources should be stored in databases with as much information as possible. To turn a flat spreadsheet into a dynamic database, any authorized person needs to be able to find information based on different search criteria.

Start by creating a spreadsheet. This may be sufficient for your personal use. Create as many fields as possible for a given topic. Try with simple things (books, music, etc.) and then get into the habit of opening an Excel file or a Google sheet to compile your data.

If you want to take the plunge and move to a relational database, which has several tables separated from each other, but related to each other. The following software could prove helpful: Microsoft Access (Windows) and DileMaker (Mac), Socrata, Zoho or Grubba are free. Journalists also like Google Fusion Tables to search and cross-reference sources.

Map mashups

Visit to see what you can do with maps. Essentially, this technique enables you to visualize information on a map: from the number of homicides in a city, to sharing experiences about an earthquake, to lighter topics.

If you want to make a map mashup yourself and you’re not a programmer, check out or UMapper, which enable you to create and share your maps, but also add photos and draw routes. Think about using geolocation in web journalism!

Mark Briggs' Journalism Next

Getting started

[Convert your contact list to electronic format.  If your list is already electronic, organize, update, and enhance it.

Create a spreadsheet for something you want to keep track of, such as job postings, contacts, news sources, or the books, DVDs and video games you own.

Convert that spreadsheet into a database using FileMaker, Google Docs, Access, Socrata, Zoho or Grubba.

Build a map mashup for a personal interest of yours or a topic you are working on. Then publish the map on a website.

Visit several sections of a news site and identify a topic in each section that would have benefited from the use of data or maps.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 270)

Mark Briggs' Journalism Next

Chapter 9 — Building a Digital Audience for News

Traditional journalism is no longer viable. Today, it’s important to apply some of the metrics from marketing to journalism, as long as you understand what you’re talking about.

[Marketing is not about advertising, slogans, or logos. And measurement is not about counting articles to measure the productivity of journalists. Digital publishers need to set effective publishing goals and stick to them. Quality content published in meaningful quantities and designed to be easy to find in search engines is a recipe for success for a digital publishing business.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 272)

Measuring journalism

Tracking the daily traffic of a news site has become a daily task for newsrooms. Which articles were read? How were they shared? On which devices? These are the questions that news editors must now ask themselves. And there’s nothing better than a good spreadsheet to compile all this information!

Tracking your publications

Count the publications you have released over a week, over a month. How many reports? How many news flashes? Is your audience larger than last year? Prioritize your goals in terms of increasing productivity.

In addition to the number and type of publications you produce, you can compile (over several months) the number of followers on social networks, and analyze the content generated by your readers.  Little by little, you will be able to know how much and how to publish to increase your audience, and therefore potentially your income.

[Don’t set arbitrary goals. There’s a difference between picking a number because it sounds good and making decisions based on data. If you want your website traffic to increase by 30 percent over the next six months, what specific initiatives are you going to deploy to achieve that growth rate? Your audience, after all, isn’t going to grow just because you want it to.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 278)

Tracking your audience

You track your publications. Good. But you also want to know what the audience prefers. This helps guide your editorial activity. How can you do this? By using web analytics tools, either commercial systems (such as Adobe Omniture), free software such as Google Analytics, or by using the services provided by your content platform.

There are other options as well: Chartbeat and Clicky are low-cost options that serve their purpose quite well.

Often these programs provide you with a (new) flood of data. It is important to focus on what you want to look for and to identify the key data. Be especially interested in:

  • Number of page views
  • Number of visits and unique visitors
  • Average length of visits and referring links

Of course, this data must be interpreted with care. You can also use it to see the health of your new projects (new blog or new section of a site). See how the traffic is going, set goals. These tools will help you “grow” the seeds you’ve planted.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

A search engine works with spiders and robots (which read new content and make reports), indexing (a catalog that includes all the content found by the robots) and queries (typed by the user, and which tells the search engine what elements it should extract from the index and show you).

Journalists use SEO. Google has become a must-have here, or almost so, especially because it places special importance on links (sponsorship), which boost website authority. [This link-based credibility phenomenon is often referred to as “Google juice.”] (Journalism Next, p. 283)

The system of queries (by keywords) poses a problem for journalists. Should they write to please Google ? Or should they write to match the queries that Internet users are searching for? For Briggs, it is entirely possible to write headlines that respond positively to search engines and attract readers, without compromising your values.

Mark Briggs' Journalism Next

Using SEO to expand your audience

SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) have created a new industry. Companies promise you top placement on the SERP (search engine research page). The truth is that there is a lot of information on the Internet, and it is possible to do it on your own (or with someone else) without breaking the bank.

Some rules to follow to start navigating SEO:

  • Publish content.
  • Insert links that make
  • Tag your titles.
  • Fine-tune your meta description.

Besides HTML tagging your titles, consider writing titles that incorporate keywords. The title has a special power: it is read by Google first, as well as by your potential readers.  It must be carefully thought out. To improve your titles, consider the following tips:

  • Place the main
  • Converse with readers.
  • Be assertive (while remaining specific).

[Think about readers and bots when writing headlines. If you were searching for information on a certain topic on Google, what terms would you use? Come up with a handful of keywords, then determine how many of those keywords you can incorporate into the headline without sacrificing its potential appeal to readers.] (Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 288)

Using social media as a distribution channel

Distribute: that’s the Holy Grail. Find your audience, go get them: they don’t come out of nowhere! All the techniques mentioned above will help you increase your readership. Social networks are another one: create and maintain a community, while constantly improving the transparency and credibility of published content.

Getting the audience to become loyal and engaged: this is something you have to work on. Blogs, YouTubes, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram must become your friends. Don’t neglect social news sites like Digg or reddit either.

[Social networks give media outlets the opportunity to put a human face on the journalism they produce. Readers – ‘even the ones who hate you’ – are willing to debate with a journalist, when they would just shake their fists at an institution.] (Journalism Next, p. 290)

Mark Briggs describes this as increasing the social capital of the journalist.  By sharing more, by opening up to conversation with readers, the journalist gains more social esteem and can increase their audience.

Getting started

[Visit several sections of a website. Determine which section offers the best headlines for readers and bots. Rewrite the headlines that need to be rewritten.

Select three websites as examples, and type in keywords that you would use if you searched for these sites in three different search engines. For example, type in “ news Paris ” and see if Le Parisien appears in the list of results.

Choose a website and see how many social networks it actively participates in.]

(Mark Briggs, Journalism Next, p. 293)

Mark Briggs' Journalism Next

Conclusion on “Journalism Next” by Mark Briggs

An instructive read

This book is literally packed with advice, insights, and tips straight from the field. It is perfect for novices since all the concepts, from the simplest to the most complex, are broken down. When the author cannot go into detail on a subject, he takes care to provide the reader with links to reference sites.

In addition, Mark Briggs also gives voice to the experts in web journalism. In each chapter, a video, storytelling, or social network professional speaks about what he/she knows best.

We are gradually entering a new world: one where it becomes possible for anyone to become a web journalist or at least a well-informed amateur, participating in the revolution of engaged journalism and crowdsourcing.

What to take away from this transition into the new world of journalism

There is far too much information provided in this book to summarize in a few points. Remember that, if you are interested in the topic, you can toggle back and forth within this text to learn step by step about this fascinating profession.

Even if it cannot be summarized in a few words, some basic formulas or statements from the book are striking and worth remembering. Keep in mind that the web journalist does not have to trade his values for digital marketing. On the contrary, and this is a strong commitment of Mark Briggs, such journalism opens new doors to a more intelligent, direct, and transparent form of journalism.

Strong points:

  • The style is clear and informative.
  • There are tons of examples and images.
  • It makes you want to get out on the ground and get involved!

Weak point:

  • When there is a lot to say, specific details will sometimes be skimped on and ‘cliff notes’ will have to be used.

My rating : Mark Briggs' Journalism Next Mark Briggs' Journalism Next Mark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism NextMark Briggs' Journalism Next

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