Be Relevant. Be Essential.

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September 18, 2012 by Judy Gibbs Robinson

The Daily’s campus editor, Lindsey Ruta, did a great job summarizing Rob Curley’s speech last night kicking off OU Student Media’s semester-long study, Imagine the Future: Campus Media in a Digital Age.

Curley made it clear that, in his view, the path journalism must follow is less about the platform — print or digital, computer or mobile — and more about the message. Readers started abandoning newspapers when newspapers stopped being essential, Curley said.

I was particularly impressed with the way Curley’s crew at the Las Vegas Sun used data to test their ideas and reformulate their product. They displayed in the newsroom video boards showing, in real time, what readers were looking at on the Sun’s website at that moment, so editors could watch interest in stories rise or sink. And they had real-time data showing what people living in Las Vegas were searching for via Google — often discovering stories that way.

Curley’s crew also tested coverage of complex (and sometimes boring) issues like reapportionment. They found the average reader spent only about four minutes on Story A, written with a traditional approach. But when they broke the story into smaller pieces (Curley called it “multipliers”), readers spent twice as long with the same information.

If news organizations fill their pages — whether in print or on the Web or on mobile devices — with information readers want, audience keeps growing, Curley said.

One takeaway for me: This study needs to help The Daily identify what information our readers want and need.


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