by Kevin Anderson, on September 27, 2012
For our first Digital Briefing Live feature – multimedia interviews with digital experts – I interviewed Geir Terje Ruud, the editor of Ekstrabladet.dk, one of the most popular news sites in Denmark (hear the full audio at the bottom of the post). The Ekstra Bladet newsroom is partially integrated, meaning that the print and digital editors work closely together but the staff are still focused mostly on one or the other, with about 80 percent of the reporting staff focused on newspapers and 20 percent focused on digital.
I interviewed Ruud, and started out asking how the editors balance the needs of print and online: how they choose which stories to publish online first. Ten to twelve editors focused on print and digital sit at the same desk. They jointly make decisions, and they have no secrets amongst them, he said. It’s challenging finding the boundary between what to put online and what to print, but, he says:
If more than two people know about it, you should publish it (on the website). It’s news.
He says that the stories that work best online are the stories that are happening now and are continuing to develop, the real-time news.
He has been working in online journalism since 1999, and he says that one of the greatest changes over time is that now “news is a conversation.” It has taken time for journalists to engage their audience and get beyond what he called “school master journalism”. We shouldn’t try to educate our audience but rather enter into dialogue with our readers. “It’s really, really complicated, and … it takes a long time to learn how to do this in a simple way”.
With this change in journalism, journalists need a mix of new skills and traditional skills. He is still looking for the best story-telling skills, but he also looks for either top journalists who could learn digital skills or digital specialists who could be trained to be good journalists. Six months ago, he took this technical-editorial hybrid approach to a new level by creating a small editorial development team. The team of two consists of a web developer and a journalist who is a “little bit nerdy”. They have a page that highlights all of the work that they have done over the past six months, which boasts a huge range of interactive, visual features.
Ekstra Bladet also has a webTV initiative, a project that isn’t trying to replicate TV on the web but instead uses lightweight production techniques, including using smartphones.
The lean, inexpensive production framework is important, not just for webTV but for all of your digital efforts. Starting simple, with lean, inexpensive production techniques, is one of the lessons that he thinks is key for news organisations that are just starting to enter the digital landscape. He also says that you should hire people who have a passion for digital journalism.
You need people who will be ambassadors for the change. You can hire 10 people, but it will not have the same effect if you hire one person who really knows what to do and has some ideas.
This is the first Digital Briefing Live feature – multimedia interviews with digital journalism and media experts around the world. In the future, we will ask you to provide us with your questions to these digital journalism and digital media business leaders before the interview. Subscribe to our Digital Briefing monthly newsletter to find out about our interviews in advance, and to receive the latest in global digital media insights. Listen to the full interview below.