Grote Expertisedag Nieuwe Media 2013

Click here for the pictures of the New Media Day of Expertise #3

Click here for the presentations of the speakers

Click here for the presentation of Amanda Michel

News rooms aren’t making a lot of money but journalism is experiencing a rebirth, observes Amanda Michel in her closing thoughts on this New Media Day of Expertise, organised by the Expertise Centre for Journalism (ECJ) and the NVJ Academy.

Nine speakers in total sought to educate the visitors on the realities of new media. “No more utopian predictions”, the day’s announcement had said. “What works and what doesn’t?”

There have been many exciting speeches on what journalists could, would or should do with new media, but the majority of them have been theoretical, not practical. This day had to show what the realities of new media are – its best practices and current developments. “If there is anything questionable at all about the ECJ, it’s that we always organize courses on sunny days”, director Bas Mesters had commented in his opening speech. Outside, the sun shone over Amsterdam.

Inside, opening and keynote speaker Michel shared her crowd sourcing experiences at the Huffington Post, ProPublica and The Guardian. The internet should be used to find relevant expertise and to do this, Michel argued, the media should philosophically change the option for online commenting. “Set standards for submissions. When possible, model one”; “Don’t ask people to do your work. Ask them to share their experience and expertise”; “Get names and numbers.” The idea is to get more specific information out of online readers by interviewing them. Sure, some might walk away, but some who are affected by the addressed issue will take the time to fill out the form. The acquired information can be valuable. But the relationship should be reciprocal: “Answer the public’s questions” and “give credit. Thank everyone.” (Watch her presentation).

After Michel, research fellow Sanne Hille presented her research of the news media’s use of Facebook. Among her findings were that public debates start easier on the news media’s own homepage than on the Facebook page. And asking people to respond is useful measure. (Watch her presentation)

“How do we tap in to the daily rhythm of our members? How do we stay afloat by using only membership payments?”, asked Ernst-Jan Pfauth. “De Correspondent will be live in September – probably at 23:45 on September 30th”, joked Pfauth. De Correspondent wants news that is easy to read and spread around on the internet, while not giving up on subtleties. De Correspondent will offer depth through modern means, and create a club feeling for its members. “Every member should be able to become a correspondent”, reminding the public of Michel’s tips. This feeling and the acquired reputation should spur people on to become paying members. (Watch his presentation)

A few words into his presentation Business Development Manager Ward Wijndelts had likened newspapers to “a dinosaur”. And new media to a “comet that had already entered the atmosphere”. Which is why Wijndelts is helping his employer NRC Handelsblad to make better use of the iPad and iPhone market. One measure will be to have the newspaper automatically downloadable on the devices. This way digital reading could become like picking the paper the paper off the mat every morning (it’s tapping into members’ daily rhythms again). And the NRC Reader will create possibility to read a selection of a selection of NRC articles every day against a small price, instead of paying the full membership. (Watch his presentation)

In the lunch break, 94 lunch packets waited in the cafeteria, and the crowd chatted about what they’d heard.
After the break, social media editor Bas de Vries shared experiences of crowd sourcing. “There are always people who know more”, said De Vries. “Non-journalists give us the news sooner, we check it inside and outside the network and we let ‘news partners’ tell the news themselves.”(Watch his presentation)

Next up: data journalism and social media, explained by Dmitri Tokmetzis of Sargasso-fame and Maarten Marx of the University of Amsterdam. Together they developed a program that mapped the networks of The Hague’s politicians, lobbyists, spinners and journalists. “Data analysis is really easy”, started Tokmetzis. (Watch his presentation).“Data analysis is incredibly difficult”, he continued. At a basic level, Tokmetzis explained, data analysis is easy to learn and a lot of the work is already done. But for the more complicated work, journalists will have to work together. He suggested hackathons, where people come together to collect online info. And he suggested working together with scientists, which is where Marx came in.

Marx’ demonstration showed the advantages of data analyzing for example The Hague. Apparently, since the last election hardly anyone has taken the trouble to interrupt Pvv-politician Geert Wilders in debates. These kinds of finds could lead to interesting articles. (Another find: premier Mark Rutte’s signature words are nondescript, like ‘affect’, ‘occur’, ‘talk’, ‘modernise’ and ‘train’.) (Watch his presentation)

The problem of how to sell feature-length journalism in this age was addressed by Fosfor’s Jeroen van Bergeijk. Journalists want to write longer articles, the public wants to read longer articles, and Amazon found that people stopped reading novels after ten thousand words. So, concluded Van Bergeijk, Fosfor is going to publish longreads – relatively long, narrative journalism – via Fosfor’s specialty, the cheap and easy to distribute ebook. (Watch his presentation)

The real problem in modern-day journalism, said final speaker De Nieuwe Pers’ Jan-Jaap Heij, is the plethora of roles a journalist should be able to assume: a brand, a publisher, a salesman, a marketer, a distributor, an aggregator, a curator and a creator. “It almost requires a split personality.” His solution: “Don’t try to be an expert on everything. You should be able to do one thing really well, rather than a lot of things mediocrely.” De Nieuwe Pers’ best-selling author, according to Heij, is not someone who does a lot of things at the same time, but simply someone who writes a lot and writes well.

Michel summed up. “Journalism’s excited about what journalism can do, but the conversation is coming back to money. Social media is at the centre of that conversation. An aggressive way of thinking is needed on how journalists can benefit.”

Read the article in NRC Handelsblad