Essential vitamins for your journalism

It’s that time of year again where I find myself doing a tour of various rooms and buildings introducing myself to new students. By a quirk of timetabling and course structures I don’t get to see many of them to teach until later in the year. So I spend a bit of time in my intros talking about the benefit of getting their digital presence in hand now. A healthy online presence takes time to grow and develop; it can’t be left until you graduate.

So how do you keep your digital journalism healthy? Why not try these vitamin supplements in your daily routine:

Vitamin A: Aggregation

Social media and the ‘river of news’ is where it’s at but how do you manage the flow of content and information around you. Do you have a reader like feedly or do you use something like IFTTT to collect all your tweets or tweets around a certain tag? Do you bookmark with things like Diigo?

Vitamin B: Brand

Everything is a brand these days and annoying as the word is I still think its one of the best ways to quantify the space between the professional of journalism and the more personal of social media (maybe persona works as well but there isn’t really a vitamin P!) All the negative aspects of the word are just as useful to consider when thinking about how you represent yourself online. So, what are you doing to make sure people see you online? More importantly, who are you online? Do you need a Facebook page? What about google+? Are you confusing your personal and professional audiences or are they the same?

Vitamin C: Community/Curation

Community is not just a buzzword it’s a job description for some journos. The best way to understand a community is to be part of it. Being a journalist that works with/represents a community can often mean simply collecting and presenting the best and most interesting content and conversations that community has to offer. In other words, curation. How do you gather the material you aggregate and present it to the audience? Do you use Storify? What about Tumblr? Twitter lists? Email newsletters?

Vitamin D: Data (also Development)**

Data journalism is big news these days so it never hurts to get your head around new tools ( for example) In that respect* D could also be about development*, developing new practical skills. Collecting data and understanding the practice of data journalism are skills that’ll going to be in demand for a while yet.  But the industry focus on data is as much about metrics and response to data: Data driven journalism. How are you measuring your engagement with people? Is it followers on twitter or likes on Facebook? Do you need to invest more time in finding other metrics to help you target and develop your content?

Vitamin E: Engagement

The health benefits of the vitamins above are amplified by engagement. Getting out there and connecting with people is key to what you do. Finding new people in communities, or people who can help with a spreadsheet or bit of software. But it needs to be a real connection,; a conversation. So what are you doing to connect over and above a follow or a like? What’s the value of the connections you make to you and the people you connect with? What opportunities are there to meet people in the real world?

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