Should we scrap website comments?
The arguments against website comments are as follows:
- They’re uncivil.
- They add little value.
- They deter voices that might provide valuable viewpoints.
- They are provided by a small fraction of the total number visitors to a website.
- Proper moderation take away valuable staff time
I can’t object to these arguments. They’re all valid, and I’m not at all surprised to see NPR scrap them. I expect more to do the same.
I would object to something else I frequently hear from those who advocate for ending website comments: The conversation has moved to social media.
There certainly is a lot of conversation on social media, but I’m not sure why we would want to cede that tremendous engine of engagement to social media companies. We should be hosting conversations on our own websites. We should be leading discussions in our own communities. Why let social media own that exclusively?
I’m confident that there’s a way to host comments on a website in a way that addresses many or all of the objections above. We haven’t found it, but we won’t find it if we stop trying.
Facebook has released a series of algorithm updates lately, but have they actually affected broadcasters?
Newsrooms are used to getting news releases sent to their inboxes from local police, fire and other public service offices. But more of those agencies are now turning to Facebook to distribute public information.
When we spend so much time generating online content, it can sometimes be hard to remember that it’s also important to cultivate content.
That is to say that generating the content is only the first step. You also need to present it properly to best serve the audience.
What I’ve seen happen in some situations is what I call the “shoveling” method of managing online content. This is when content is simply shoveled onto a site without much regard for how it’s placed or, more importantly, if it’s even needed.
The audience is busy. They don’t want to sort through all the shoveled content. The audience wants you to tell them know what’s most important. More importantly, they might not want or need everything you’re offering them.
We all know that quantity is important for generating traffic, but what you DON’T produce sometimes matters as much as what you DO produce.
There’s no shortage of information on the internet. Users can find it. What they really need is someone to cultivate it for them. That might be the most valuable skill for tomorrow’s digital journalist.
I don’t like to make any assumptions about anyone’s media consumption habits, so forgive me if you’re already a reader of Mashable.
If you’re not a reader of Mashable or any other digital-first media site, then I suggest you take a look. It’s what a news website looks like when it didn’t start with a broadcast or newspaper company.
Take a look at what makes the site different in terms of site design and content. Do you find that you’re producing the type of content you see on Mashable? Are you producing more of it than you used to?
I’m not here to declare one model better than the other, but I do encourage those of us in broadcast to take a close look at what the digital native companies are doing.
We’re not going to replicate them, nor should we feel obligated to, but they’ve approached journalism with a fresh set of eyes. That kind of insight is the kind we should be hungry for.
Most newsrooms have at least experimented with Facebook Live, but the uses have varied.
New platforms are always a good way to get newsrooms thinking creatively.
NPR got into Facebook livestreams in a big way shortly after the feature was launched. Two months later, they’re talking about how it’s going.
“It’s all part of a bigger mandate at NPR to do more and better live content.”
The first lesson: Don’t go live just to go live. This is a common trap for newsrooms trying new technology. Technology often gives us a solution to a problem we haven’t found yet. That leads to confusion about when and how it should be used. You need to have a purpose and a plan when you decide to go live.
NPR also found a huge audience for live news and explainers. Based on what I’ve seen, I think many newsrooms that have been spending time with Facebook Live have found that there is a large audience there…perhaps even larger than what they’ve previously been able to generate from native livestreams.
Livestreams have been available for longer than the majority of the audience has been looking for them. It’s a technology that, thanks to Facebook, is finally finding mass appeal.
My question: Can that be translated into more popularity for native livestreams (that can be more easily monetized)?
NPR’s final conclusion is that engagement is what matters most. That’s always been the case for Facebook. Engagement is the currency of social. Livestreams need to generate reactions, comments and shares.
How is your newsroom using Facebook Live? How are you using it outside the newsroom (promotions, events, etc.)? Tell us what’s working for you.
Everyone is writing an article today about FB’s decision to tweak it’s news feed to give more time to friends and family and less time to publishers. Here’s my two cents:
- Don’t panic.
- Don’t be surprised.
It’s not clear now much this change will affect publishers. I’m sure there will be some effect, but I don’t think the effect will be dramatic. Facebook needs still needs news content and publishers, including broadcasters, are a huge supplier. We’ll probably lose a little traffic, but let’s not lose any sleep over it.
On the second point: We should not be surprised when Facebook decides to do whatever it wants to do with its platform. Broadcasters needs to be on Facebook, but we cannot depend on Facebook. It’s not our platform. It belongs to someone else. We don’t have a say in what they do with it.
We’ll keep plugging along and looking for new ways to exploit the FB algorithm, and they’ll keep changing it to stay ahead of us.
You can at least rest easy knowing that you and your competition are in the same boat.