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Chapter 9: The Multimedia Story: How to Help Audiences Get What They Want and Need

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Andy Carvin, National Public Radio’s social media strategist.

Andy Carvin, National Public Radio’s social media strategist, identifies how social media may not be the best choice for some news stories.

David Clark Scott, online director for the Christian Science Monitor, points out how he looks at the csmonitor.com’s website traffic for insights about audience and interests.

David Clark Scott, online director for the Christian Science Monitor, discusses the purpose and the writing of a great, searchable online headline.

John Yemma, editor of the Christian Science Monitor and csmonitor.com, compares how a print reader looks at a headline as opposed to an online news user.

Rita Rubin, msnbc.com and Today.com health and medicine contributor, comments on how she curates information through links on Twitter.

Richard Gingras, CEO of Salon.com in March 2011 before becoming Google’s news products head, talks about why journalists should not fret over using SEO to help audiences find their work.

Richard Gingras, CEO of Salon.com in March 2011 before becoming Google’s news products head, points out that journalists aggregated and curated news long before the web.


  1. Use a different search engine/browser (Google, Yahoo, bing, etc.) and give yourself just one hour to find the top five news stories in each. Examine how each provides different results and what might be the reasons. Compare with three online news sites.
  2. Use OpenCalais or Tagaroo for WordPress or Google’s AdWords and write three or four headlines on two stories you have produced for class to determine the best ones to use via SEO.
  3. Go to a national news organization’s website (CNN.com, msnbc.com, usatoday.com) and check out the title tags and the headlines to see how they match up. Think of ways in which you would make the headline and title tag more “searchable.”
  4. Choose a major news story (a weather disaster, a national or statewide election, a major holiday, a protest, a major state or national sporting event) and use Storify to curate information and reports. Consider how you will verify the information being provided and determine what you would use in your story. No online encyclopedia links will be accepted.
  5. Find a long print news story (newspaper or magazine) and develop a list of links that would be useful for the audience to learn more about the story topic and its sources. See if the story is online and compare and contrast your links to what is online.
  6. Take any news story you have already produced in print or broadcast and curate a list of links that audiences might find useful. No online encyclopedia links will be accepted. Also plan how you would use social media to inform an audience about your story.
  7. Sort through information from a daily news wrap story and other research from your beat or topic area and begin to develop three ideas for a small multimedia reporting project that would require a few weeks of steady reporting. Write a focus statement for each idea and prepare a list of at least five sources for each idea.


Links to articles mentioned

Student journalists need to learn SEO more than they need AP style

In search of meaningful “social media optimization”

Links to articles and websites on links, SEO, SMO, and curation

Digital journalist survival guide: A glossary of tech terms you should know

Google’s real-time search raises importance of link sharing via social networks

5 ways to turn traffic spikes from major news stories into return visits

The lessons of the past are the lessons for the future in search engine optimization for news websites

5 small steps journalists can take to build a bigger, more engaged audience

The seven steps to a successful aggregation strategy for your news organization

How The Economist’s conversational tweets drive clicks, while Al Jazeera’s automation drives retweets

Build your own URL shortener for security, branding, reliability

How headlines can help

The flip side of black hat SEO: If your news site publishes paid links, you risk suffering Google’s wrath

The thorny question of linking

Making connections: How major news organizations talk about links

Linking by the numbers: How news organizations are using links (or not)

5 ways news sites can improve their use of links

H is for hypertext: What makes a good link

How, and where, to hyperlink within a news story

Why journalists need to link

Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink

When to hyperlink within an online news story?

Requesting metadata with electronic records

How news organizations can create a mobile-first strategy

5 strategies to lower your site’s bounce rate

How to: write headlines that work for SEO

“Google doesn't laugh”: Saving witty headlines in the age of SEO

10 questions to help you write better headlines

Newspapers search for web headline magic

How much should journalists know about SEO?

Social media replacing SEO as Google makes search results personal

Journalists are cheap: SEO and why newspapers should cut out the middlemen

What impact is SEO having on journalists? Reports from the field

Why SEO and audience tracking won’t kill journalism as we know it

A message for journalists: It’s time to flex old muscles in new ways

SEO is dead. Long live social media optimization!

The Newsonomics of social media optimization

Share and share alike [content-sharing arrangements]

Sharing sites like Pinterest raise copyright concerns

News organizations that haven’t learned to share
The seams in certain outlets’ social sharing strategies.

Build a better journalism career by shifting your focus from writing stories to creating assets


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Bhargava, R. (2010, August 10). The 5 NEW rules of social media optimization (SMO). Retrieved August 18, 2011, from rohitbhargava.com: http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2010/08/the-5-new-rules-of-social-media-optimization-smo.html.

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Cohen, P. (2011, July 15). Internet use affects how we remember. New York Times, p. A14.

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Katz, I. (2011, March 14). SXSW 2011: Andy Carvin—the man who tweeted the revolution. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from guardian.co.uk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/14/andy-carvin-tunisia-libya-egypt-sxsw-2011.

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Thompson, M. (2011, August 1). 10 questions to help you write better headlines. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from poynter.org: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/140675/10-questions-to-help-you-write-better-headlines/.

Usher, N. (2010, September 14). Why SEO and audience tracking won’t kill journalism as we know it. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from niemanlab.org: http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/09/why-seo-and-audience-tracking-won%E2%80%99t-kill-journalism-as-we-know-it-2/.

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Wheeler, D. (2011, May 11). “Google doesn’t laugh”: Saving witty headlines in the age of SEO. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from theatlantic.com: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/google-doesnt-laugh-saving-witty-headlines-in-the-age-of-seo/238656/.