Monday, April 23, 2007

Inside the Brains of Our Readers

For the past few years at the ACES conference (see previous post about the conference), there has been a session where ACES brings in a few news readers off the street, so to speak, to find out what they like and dislike. Here's another blog posting, again from Katie Schwing, on this fascinating session:
"Sometimes it can be hard to distance yourself enough from your paper and look at it objectively, which is why I found the 'Inside Readers' Minds' panel fairly enlightening. Five people who all take in news in different ways were kind enough to spare some of their time to be quizzed by journalists. (What a fun Saturday!)It's hard to make too many generalities about what readers like, as this was far from a scientific or significant sample size, but it was interesting to hear what they had to say nonetheless.
Some observations:
They like short, easily digestible pieces of information, a la the front page of The Wall Street Journal, bulleted lists, raised quotes, etc.

They said their eyes often fall on pictures first, and those can give clues about what the story's about, even when the headline is more abstract.

Design matters. Some said that how the paper looks affects if they'll pick it up.

Sometimes we try too hard to be "hip" and conversational, and they don't always appreciate that.

Information presented should be as clear and specific as possible, and clear labels spelling out what information is where on the page are appreciated.

We're readers, too, of course, but it was nice to hear opinions from people outside the newsroom and to see how they feel about what we spend tireless hours putting together. Sometimes we can be all too close to the final product. I enjoyed hearing from people with a bit more distance."

Posted by katie schwing

Friday, April 20, 2007

Copy Editors Descend on Miami

A whole lot of copy editors are meeting in Miami this week for the 11th national conference of the American Copy Editors Society.

Those of us not lucky enough to attend can follow along on the ACES conference blog, which 13 conference attendees are contributing to.

Here's a posting about one of the interesting sessions they had this week:

Who's afraid of the big bad Web?
The people packed into the "Leaving Print for Online" felt almost like traitors, seeing how the other half works. But the impression given by Jay Wang and Jim Kavanagh was more positive than you might think. Turns out, you have all the skills you need to edit for the Web right now:
Solid news judgment.
Snappy headline skills.
Passion for accuracy.
Ability to work quickly and efficiently.
No fancy HTML coding skills required.
(Though, honestly, it probably wouldn't hurt.) It helps to be able to write different kinds of heds for the same story; for example, ones that read differently for the front page of a Web site vs. an inside page.

Most importantly, it seemed, was this message: Newspapers need to stop seeing the Web as a threat. It's a tool we can use for more content and a bigger audience than we've even imagined -- if we can get away from the way we're used to doing and thinking about things.
Posted by katie schwing

Thursday, April 5, 2007

They Shoot Copy Editors, Don't They?

What does this kitty have to do with copy editing? To find out, read the article that ran in the latest issue of the American Copy Editors Society's newsletter. I have scanned it as jpegs, so you'll have to call up the first segment of the story, which is here. Then link here to read the last part of the story. Actually, this story is about how one Universal Desk, at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, operates. It explains such things as how they're set up, who does what, what their philosophy is and how they have fun. While their entire setup may not work for us, you may find some interesting ideas in this.

The Latest from Apple!

Want to see the latest product from Apple? It's absolutely amazing. What, you say, could be better than the iMac ... the iPod ... the iPhone? Well, get a sneak peek by going to this link. Steve Jobs will show it to you. PLEASE NOTE: This link takes you to a video that will start playing. If you're going to watch it and listen to it at work (and you've got to listen to it), put on some earphones so as not to distract your colleagues. And have fun!