The following is an abbreviated version of a presentation that I gave to Victorian Country Press Association.
Let’s stop thinking about it as newspaper versus online presence and start thinking about how you can use an online presence to widen your community catchment (for want of a better phrase). To do this it is all about value adding and thinking about stories so that they can offer more online than just whacking the print versions of stories onto a website. So how can cashed strapped media organisations embrace online?
Bill Dunphy‘s Seven Steps to Writing Like a Digital Native is a good checklist for reporters to use before they even leave the office. His suggestion of using photos with a Creative Commons attribution license from Flickr’s creative commons site to spice up a story is great. I also like his suggestion of creating interactivity by using Google Maps for stories that lend themselves to an interactive map. It’s free and quick and easy.
Finally, media organisations looking to add multimedia to their site should reconsider the current obsession with video. As I have blogged before, video is highly time consuming and doesn’t always deliver the hits you hope for. Audio slideshows (and by this I don’t mean a gallery of photos, but a story told with images and an audio track of natural sound and interviews) allow a newspaper to use its existing assets. It takes an investment of about $30 to purchase Soundslides and audio editing software Audacity is free. This will require a little training, but can get existing reporters on the road to multimedia proficiency quickly.
For more audio slideshow examples and some tips on creating them look at previous posts under the category multimedia.
For those just making the foray into the online world I suggested trying WordPress as a content management system. It’s free and there are a lot of themes which will make it look like a news site. Visit WordPress.com for an externally hosted system or WordPress.org for the version that you can download and host on your own computer.
Find more information on using WordPress as a Content Management System at my de.lic.ious page.