I’m at the Association of Health Care Journalists’ annual conference, called Health Journalism 2008, in Washington, D.C. I just met Scott Hensley from the Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog, who is one of the panelists in this session on new media tools for telling stories. Appropriately, his presentation is going to be a blog. He set it up here free on WordPress.com.
Other panelists include Amy Eisman, director of writing programs, American University School of Communications, and Joy Robertson, anchor/reporter, KOLR-Springfield, Mo.
Amy sees the following trends in news:
- need more video, more pictures, better presentation
- Better text – SEO
- Social networking
- More readers finding content “sideways”
- Hyper-link off site
- Mobility (information on mobile phones)
She also said you need to think about what you can do on the web that you can’t do in print. Think interactivity, links to archives and multimedia. Covering an event for users who can’t attend, via liveblogging.
She recommended Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” as a handbook for writing and web design.
Scott Hensley says the WSJ Health Blog has over 2,000 posts in the last year, and more than 21,000 comments. You really should check out his presentation on the blog he set up for this purpose. Here are some highlights:
Blogging isn’t Newspapering. Every post should have art, and a few grafs is ideal.
Program Your Blog. Think about what you want your blog to be. Is it news, opinion, consumer health? Think about your likely audience, and how you might attract them. As a news-driven blog, WSJ Health Blog aims for three posts by 9 a.m. ET. More posts are better, because you don’t know which ones will “stick.” Experiment and see what works.
Blogging Shouldn’t Be Homework. Put corrections in the blog, but leave your mistakes (
struck through) for people to see. Have some fun with the blog, such as the WSJ’s bracket on CEO survival, and it’s poll. They don’t moderate comments. He says you should start with the least control possible, and only increase as required. Let your readers flag offensive comments for you. Scott calls blog comments “crack” because it’s cool when you get an email that someone has commented.
Blog Talk is Bar Talk. Here’s a link to Scott’s post on Dennis Quaid.
Flickr is My Art Department. Since, as Scott says, the Wall Street Journal doesn’t have a great photo department, he goes to find images on Flickr that have creative commons license for commercial use.
Video Is In Your Court. YouTube is a great source for eye candy.
Google Can Be Your Front Page. Need to make headlines appealing for
Worth a Post? Worth a Pitch. If you write a good post, pitch to some other bloggers.
Six-Pack Abs are Gold.
Scott’s closing comment: Just start doing it.
Joy told her stories as a TV journalist of taking her miniDV camera with her on story shoots to give the behind-the-scenes extended view. Her story of “noodling” with “crowbar” drew lots of applause.
One thing that gives me a lot of optimism about health journalism is the strong turnout for this session.
…and the large number of people lined up to ask questions….
This was a great session, with lots of people engaged. I’m glad to see these journalists, who are by nature and by training storytellers, learning more about how to use social media.
Journalists attending this session should also check out Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog. This post highlights some of the challenges newspapers are facing, which is a good reason for the big turnout at this session.