Archive for the RTNDA Category

Driving Audience to Traditional Media

Posted in Breaking News, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on September 24, 2010 by James Rowe

The cinders outside of Boulder, CO, scene of recent wildfires, have burned out, but lessons to learn remain.  The editor of “Lost Remote,” Steve Safran writes stations and newspapers in Boulder did a good job of covering the fires but their best coverage was not on their websites.

The website editor made a substantial point during breaking coverage of the Colorado fires.  A point many news executives may have missed regarding how to exploit the huge increase this year in the use of social media.  Safran wrote about the wildfires:

“…the real news is on the station’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where moment by moment updates are flying.”

As a reporter, I spent decades in the field covering breaking news; natural disasters and all.  Traditional media has tremendous experience covering developing events.  Social media and user generated content are changing newsroom practices though.

Mainstream media has to break the circle of wagons and use the power of new media to deliver news and drive viewers, readers and listeners to traditional media for long form reporting.  New thinking has to begin in editorial meetings and travel to the assignment desk and into the production process.

Just as news executives plan teases, bumps, graphics, etcetera; they need to plan new media status updates for Facebook, Twitter, and their websites.  Here’s a suggestion from Safran, who wrote for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association blog.

“…whenever there’s a big event in your  community, snap up the Twitter name.  The media outlets should have snapped up and used it as a dedicated feed.  Instead, they put the information on their standard feed.”

He argues the name of the event draws a larger audience.  A station’s website can use a widget to aggregate the stream of topic related tweets.  You can use lists and hashtags as well to gather user generated information readers and viewers will understand is unsubstantiated.  With the station’s branded Twitter account direct the audience to your website, where they’ll collect all sorts of information from users and reporters and learn about your station’s coverage.  “If it’s good enough for social media,’ Safran says, ‘it’s good enough for regular news.”  I second his advice on branding and placing user generated content in context.  Recent studies affirm traditional media is still the most trusted source of information.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC


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Battlefront New Media – A Patch Invasion Is Underway

Posted in Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on August 21, 2010 by James Rowe

A classic David and Goliath story is presented in a Radio Television Digital News Association post on America Online’s entry into local journalism. The American broadcast news association’s Communicator page headlines with a report from Steve Safran, Editor of Lost Remote.

Safran writes “Patch is moving in…it’s time to pay attention.” He lays out the conflict between local newspaper, radio and television websites and AOL’s effort to remake itself. AOL’s Patch has 100 local sites in operation at this writing and a plan for 500 before year’s end.

The RTDNA story gives notice AOL has “deep pockets” and is going after market share local media has to reclaim as their own. Safran warns Patch has designs on the territory owned by local outlets and advises there is still time to thwart a “Philistine” like invasion. However he cautions local “Davids” to get their staffs, stones and slingshots ready for confrontation.

The “How You Can Beat Patch” report is one of the more informative posts I’ve read on the RTDNA site. The strategy is as old as media itself and was once a condition of licensing by the United States’ Federal Communications Commission. It’s refreshing to see a return of tried and proven practices almost 30-years since the tactics were abandoned.

This is the pitch made by Tewksbury, Massachusetts Patch editor William (Bill) Gilman and it presents the Patch battle plan.

Tewksbury Patch is one of AOL’s newest sites. Obviously video is part of the Patch local strategy. To counter AOL Safran counsels local media websites to “use the inexpensive multimedia tools available to them to report, constantly, via a river of news.”

Similar advice is presented often and previously on Broadcast Newsroom Computing. So, I’ll repeat get local and get social. Local media profits by being good citizens serving the audience what they need as much as what you believe they desire.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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Time to Get Completely Social

Posted in Internet, NAB, new media, RTNDA on August 6, 2010 by James Rowe

Using social networks depends on how you interact with people – your audience. defines social as “pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.” Translating that to social network technology for business and traditional media requires a strategy.

Pundits attempt to explain “social media” for business. Rich Brooks, president of flyte new media, writes for SCORE, the United States Small Business Administration advisors, social media is “in its infancy.” New social networks enter the game as quickly as you learn of existing networks. You’ve probably read Google plans to create a social network to rival Facebook.

The social media landscape is perplexed like this graphic on flickr called Scoble’s Social Media Starfish.

Scoble's Social Media Starfish by DBarefoot

However, you are urged to beef up your social media aptitude by the author of “SocialnomicsErik Qualman in his YouTube video “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh).”

HP Labs releases a study on the most influential users of Twitter with part of the headline reading the “research may provide answers.” You can download the newly published research paper on Scribd, a social network. Forrester Research offers some very expensive studies on social media such as Jeremiah K. Owyang’s 15-month old report “Social Media Playtime is Over.” The technology and research is so fluid this report will be aged as soon as it’s posted. Poynter Online presents a one week old post headlined “7 Ways to Use Facebook to Merge News with the Social Web.” Get the message. You need to get social now.

The Radio Television Digital News Association website links to the Poynter article and tweets about it. However the National Association of Broadcasters seems the more social of the two media organizations or clubs when you surf their websites. RTDNA and NAB are clubs and associations constitute social networks in the real world. How you adapt human life to the online world is a blueprint you develop.


James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

New Order to Network Television Journalism

Posted in Economy, Jobs, Journalism, Management, News Production, RTNDA, television on March 7, 2010 by James Rowe

The Radio-Television Digital News Foundation’s First Amendment Leadership award was given to the President of ABC News days after he announced a reorganization of the network news operation. David Westin sent an email to ABC employees telling them 25-percent of the news division’s 1400 members would lose their jobs. Voluntary buy out packages had already been offered to many according to the Los Angeles Times. ABC is closing all United States bureaus except Washington and laying off half of the networks domestic correspondents. They’ll be replaced with a dozen “digital journalists” or “backpack journalists.”

Westin told the digital news organization, that changed its name to Radio Television Digital News Association/Foundation late last year to agree with the times, “I can see no greater challenge to the First Amendment than the threats that are being faced by so many of our news organizations…threats to their ability to have the wherewithal to employ reporters and support them with the resources that they need."

So the future in ABC’s crystal ball is new media technology. The economy has certainly made world class organizations like ABC consider other and new ways to produce their product. The network has already deployed “digital journalists” of sort on news assignments. One man or two men bands with laptop computers, digital video camcorders, and accessories will cover most stories for ABC in the future. The concept of backpack journalism is very old. Editor and Publisher magazine detailed the practice years ago.

Given Westin’s statement to the news director’s fraternity the sad state of the economy is driving his embrace of digital media technology and reduction in human resources. It is best summed by ABC anchor Bill Weir, who shot and edited some of his own work in Afghanistan recently. Weir told the LA Times “…it can be done. Hopefully, we can come out on the other side of this and keep doing our work in a more efficient, nimble way. Because if we don’t change now, maybe the entire place goes."

Next, Broadcast Newsroom Computing examines the Poytner Institutes’ webinar on using smart phones to cover the news.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

Metadata is Part of the Public Record

Posted in asset management, Journalism, Management, RTNDA on February 18, 2010 by James Rowe

A recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court in the United States establishes a precedent regarding data about data, that’s how metadata is defined. The Arizona case had media organizations in Phoenix filing briefs on behalf of the plaintiff who had requested metadata regarding electronic notes taken by a public official.

The news media seeks public records under freedom of information. For journalists the metadata associated with electronic records could reveal much more than the public document itself. However, beware it’s a two way path. The “Lake versus City of Phoenix” appeal, I believe, sets up a model for maintenance of metadata as part of business records; news archives.

All sorts of metadata is collected about news stories and associated media. The records of metadata held by news agencies will someday be requested in a lawsuit. Is media ready to fight release of metadata associated with video or scripts?

As broadcasters and content purveyors demand more robust collection of metadata associated with their product, the ruling of the Arizona Supreme Court justices will have greater import. The justices decided unanimously “if a public entity maintains a public record in an electronic format, then the electronic version, including any embedded metadata, is subject to disclosure.” The discrimination case against the Phoenix police department deals expressly with electronic public records. I believe public documents are where it starts.

The court found all tracking and management of an electronic document can be disclosed under the Arizona Public Records Law. As a journalist I would find the ruling favorable to news gathering. However, as an executive I see the high court decision as another issue I will have to address.

The Radio Television Digital News Association reported the Arizona decision on its blog. The post is matter of fact. Interpretation and what the decision portends make for future discussion. You can leave comments here to get the conversation underway. What are you going to do with the story slug, video ID, story revisions newsroom systems track, and assignment schedules when a lawyer argues the information is part of a the record for a story that was presented to the public?

Broadcast Newsroom Computing next reminds you this is an election year in the United States.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

In Newsrooms It’s – Hey Computer Guy

Posted in Internet, IT, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on May 18, 2009 by James Rowe

If you’ve followed our companion blog “Journalism”  then you’re acquainted with the idea floating in academia of coders as journalists.  Software writers were always in newsrooms I worked  albeit clandestine because of uneasiness in relations with journalists.

“Hey computer guy” is the call I remember from many of my uninformed colleagues even though I am a nationally award winning journalist.  The report in TechCrunch about journalism schools trying to save the news industry by offering free scholarships to software developers IMHO is about time.

Now comes debate and I pray genuine new thinking as academics and news people determine how to blend the practice of news gathering with digital forms of presentation. Some of the comments on the TechCrunch blog were Internet style biting and professionally useless while others ask why editors and journalists should ignore opportunities to learn to write software.

There are already many schemes for teaming journalist and programmer or turning journalist into coder and vice versa going around among j-school professors with whom I’ve spoken in past months.  Northwestern University’s Medill School has a call for software writers on their web site. reports despite the doom saying in the news business journalism school enrollment is doing well.  The contradiction cited by TechCrunch in stats from the Pew Center for Research indicates thousands of journalists lost jobs last year.

Perhaps Tim Berners-Lee’s lengthy presentation at brings back the beginnings of the World Wide Web and thinking behind it all.  Information technology and data sharing are long in the tooth in newsrooms.  There is a wall between IT and the newsroom.  Maybe fences will be removed and colleagues from the two departments will get to know each other better and what each brings to the presentation of news.

If reporter/photographer relationships are an example of what to expect when adding a programmer to the mix it’s going to be interesting and varied.  It will be rewarding if each respects what the other offers.

Broadcast Newsroom Computing on Wednesday reports the RTNDA takes up Community Journalism.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

Friday’s Memo — Richer Biz at NAB

Posted in Events, Friday's Memo, NAB, RTNDA on April 24, 2009 by James Rowe

Many consider attendance numbers at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas a barometer of broadcasting health.  Examining raw counts fails the reasoning of statistical analysis.  Evaluation of those visiting the American desert this week requires some interpretation.

Quite a few attending the National Association of Broadcasters confab were upbeat about business despite more than 20,000 fewer attendees.  Official NAB reporting of preliminary attendance is 83,842.  Final numbers are promised.  NewscastStudio writes attendance declined significantly from the 100-thousand plus report last year. 

The Radio Television News Directors Association meeting at NAB has yet to publish assemblage results.  RTNDA attendance pales NAB participation so much as to be insignificant.   RTNDA outgoing president Barbara Cochran in a TVWeek interview expected 2009 involvement to fall below 775 journalists attending in 2008.  

One thousand took part in RTNDA meetings in 2007, however same year numbers were a few thousand more for NAB.  A huge contingent of exhibitors and supporting staff haunt NAB.  The big one missing this year was Apple.  Fewer support RTNDA although many bankroll the PBS Technology convention held before NAB.

The Broadcast Education Association meets after NAB.  I can empirically tell you Las Vegas is a city abuzz when PBS meets early but a ghostly environ when BEA gathers late.

Broadcast Professionals’ group discussion on NAB attendance had a paltry three posts to give an indication of worldwide interest.  I spoke with a number, like myself, who skipped Nevada this year.  However, I also talked to a many who attended the technology flea market for broadcasters, content producers and distributors.

Those in attendance, everyone I spoke with or read about, agreed the quality of business discussions in Las Vegas this year felt more serious.  Many leave the desert expecting a greater chance of business opportunity.

The numbers of attendees were down at NAB but attitudes regarding commerce were greater.  Exhibitors felt those attending were essential decision makers offering solid transactions.

Broadcast Newsroom Computing examines news maps next week.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC