Modern journalists should go beyond just news and putting words on a page, said Stephen Hull, editor-in-chief at Huffington Post UK, speaking at the Association of Online Publishers autumn conference yesterday.
"Our job as journalists now is to provide the analysis, the how and the why," he said, adding that digital journalism was exciting because "it's video, it's infographics, it's even events, it's so many more things".
But as more people access news from different devices, how are publishers producing content in this multiplatform environment?
Here's how The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Cosmopolitan approach it, as explained at the conference yesterday.
Know your digital audience
Hull told delegates there was a risk for digital publishers to "forget that actually the future is mobile", and to continue to produce content in the same way they would for the web.
"Multiplatform really means different audiences on all our different platforms," he said.
"I think we're very lucky to be digital only. We're born on the internet and even at this stage we have our desktop audience, we have a mobile audience, we have an app audience and they're completely different."
Knowing not just what devices people use to access content, but also when they do it, is an important step towards digital success.
John Crowley, digital editor EMEA at the Wall Street Journal, said he is not only looking at the number of mobile users the media outlet has, but also at the times this audience comes to the Wall Street Journal.
At seven in the morning almost 40 per cent of traffic comes from mobile, he said, but this figure drops to 18 per cent three hours later.
"You have to think about what content you're offering to people at a certain time of day," he told Journalism.co.uk.
While all interactives and visuals at the Wall Street Journal are tested to make sure they work on mobile and are accurately represented on a smaller screen, Crowley said publishers shouldn't put the desktop experience to one side yet.The way [journalists] work needs to change if you want to cope in this new environment.Jimmy Maymann, chief executive officer, The Huffington Post Media Group
"Desktop isn't dead at all and we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater," he told conference delegates.
To accommodate its growing mobile audience, The Wall Street Journal is rolling out a "future-proofed" responsive article page platform, "which will fit to any size or scale of device that has been invented or has yet to be invented," he told Journalism.co.uk.
Know the trends
Hull said the philosophy at The Huffington Post was to "empower all of our staff" to work in a variety of formats, and the media outlet has been organising video training courses for its reporters.
Also speaking at the conference was Jimmy Maymann, chief executive officer of the Huffington Post Media Group. He said the organisation made a big bet on online video with HuffPost Live after looking at digital trends, and that 12 per cent of pageviews at The Huffington Post are video views at present.
Maymann said he wanted half of the pageviews to be video-based by the end of next year, and to achieve this The Huffington Post needs to produce a lot more video, and have a "different commitment" to video than they do today.
"The way [journalists] work needs to change if you want to cope in this new environment, because if you just think that you have to write the piece, then forget it," he said, and reporters at The Huffington Post are given the technology to film video to match their written pieces where relevant.
How analytics can help with storytelling
With social media, comments from the audience can be sent straight through to journalists, but another way to get feedback on stories is through analysing how the audience interacts with web pages and articles.
Louise Court, editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan said "multiplatform is everything" for the media organisation, and that Cosmopolitan journalists "like seeing the analytics board".
"Because you work on a monthly magazine, you don't always get feedback on your stories however much people may enjoy it," she said.
Analytics can also act as a signal for the need to change the approach to storytelling when pieces do not do so well. At the Huffington Post, disappointing analytics results are a prompt to ask "is there a better way we can do this story," said Hull, and perhaps present it in a different way, like adding infographics or explainer videos.
But while analytics plays an important part, content is still king at the Wall Street Journal.
"Analytics informs your decisions," Crowley said, "[but] it shouldn't be the overriding factor."
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