Newspaper Best Practices

Proven Newspaper Publisher Leading Practices to Adopt

  • Best Practices (#402) / Newspapers / Advertising Sales

    Best Practice (Good)
    Communicate deployment procedures of an online media campaign clearly between the publisher’s website and the advertising client. Ensure that both parties agree on distribution strategy, ad design and pricing (price per click/view/impression).
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Numerous server configurations or third-party hosting solutions may present technical obstacles, which can cause deadlines to be missed during the launch of an advertising campaign. Project managers on the publisher-side are often unaware of these details, or they are tardy relaying them to the client.
    Benefits: Communicating deployment parameters will aid in the client’s development of creative assets and help to ensure smooth campaign launches.
  • Best Practices (#403) / Newspapers / Advertising Sales

    Best Practice (Good)
    Upcharge customers for larger ad space, but also for more prominent ad space, such as the space "above the fold" both in print and online (the space that fits into a browser's screen without forcing a customer to scroll down) and for which page (print and digital) the ad appears on. Provide real-time tracking codes for customers' Google Analytics accounts for web ads or ensure their call monitoring system is effective at tracking traffic from print ads.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Charge the advertiser a flat fee based on the size of an ad (e.g., full-page, half-page, quarter-page). Compile the ad data after a set period of time and send to the advertiser.
    Benefits: Increases the options potential customers have when selecting their ad, allowing them greater control over who sees their ad and how many readers see it, as well as increasing revenue for the advertising group.
  • Best Practices (#404) / Newspapers / Assignment Desk

    Best Practice (Good)
    Verify information with an EMS dispatcher before assigning reporting resources. EMS workers are trained to give accurate information to the media and generally only minimal facts are needed before putting reporters in motion.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Because of time constraints, the assignment desk might be tempted to leap without looking. This may improperly allocate reporters. At worst, the assignment desk may find itself short-handed when genuine news is breaking.
    Benefits: Verifying information with EMS dispatchers will help to eliminate faulty news leads. A short conversation will not only get the facts straight, but it will provide the assignment desk with an opportunity for a twitter entry: “Police report jewel robbery – reporters on their way #crimebeat”.
  • Best Practices (#405) / Newspapers / Assignment Desk

    Best Practice (Good)
    Hire and empower more product editors to help develop reader-facing products for the website, mobile apps, email, video and community platforms, as well as the reader-facing features of cross-platform products, such as breaking news and personalization. They would work closely with their product manager counterparts on the business side and represent the newsroom's interests in new product initiatives.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    A newspaper's digital products, especially mobile, are out of date and people who serve as product editors are focused on short-term fixes rather than long-term editorial vision. Other products, like email, are neglected. Because the team is understaffed and has little guidance from the masthead, their efforts are focused on business-side initiatives to generate revenue, not newsroom needs.
    Benefits: Increases cross-platform reader traffic with relatable user interface designs and solutions. This addresses the ever-increasing relevance of a newspaper's digital presence to not simply have one, but have best-in-class solutions for delivering the newspaper's work.
  • Best Practices (#406) / Newspapers / Editorial

    Best Practice (Good)
    Recognize stories that pose libel dangers and subject them to prosecutorial editing to ensure that all facts are accurate.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Time pressures sometimes lead to corner-cutting during the editing phase, and important factual errors sometimes slip through and make it to print.
    Benefits: Close scrutiny can help to avoid factual errors that result in costly libel or slander lawsuits, which can generate enormous legal fees for a newspaper even if the paper is vindicated in court.
  • Best Practices (#407) / Newspapers / Editorial

    Best Practice (Good)
    Analytics skills are needed in many parts of the newsroom, including for top-level strategy as well as desk-level decision-making. Hire analytics experts to work with news, platform, and product editors, newsroom strategists and the people trying to grow the newspaper's audience. Work closely with data scientists in the Consumer Insight Group.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    The editorial staff does not regularly use data to inform decisions in the newsroom. This makes it more difficult to set goals and assess progress.
    Benefits: This allows staff to better understand reader behavior and adjust their editorial calendar accordingly. Identifies new trends for the newspaper to adjust to in order to drive traffic to the newspaper's work.
  • Best Practices (#408) / Newspapers / Information Graphics

    Best Practice (Good)
    Institute a specific editing phase to verify that numerical scales on charts align with the data and verify that the percentages on pie charts add up to 100%. Losing track of the scale and normalization details during graphic design is very easy.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Graphics are seen as an adjunct to a news story and are often given only a cursory edit.
    Benefits: Following a standard procedure to verify the figures and scales of information graphics will prevent retractions.
  • Best Practices (#409) / Newspapers / News Collection & Reporting

    Best Practice (Good)
    Use anonymous sources only as a last resort, and even then a managing editor must review the circumstances and decide whether the information has enough gravity to justify the use of an anonymous source.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    The use of an anonymous source does not always pass a high level of rigor and can simply be an easy way to generate a story on a tight deadline.
    Benefits: Solid sourcing can enhance the credibility of a newspaper and maintain readership and advertising dollars.
  • Best Practices (#410) / Newspapers / News Collection & Reporting

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create platform editor positions to serve as the newsroom leads on internal products like the CMS, working closely with colleagues in Interactive News and Technology to identify problems with our publishing systems and prioritize and build solutions. Platform editors also could identify successful one-off projects that could be turned into replicable templates. They could also advocate for and develop models for structured data and tagging. Platform editors could work with product editors to identify how reader-facing product innovations can be absorbed into newsroom workflows and publishing systems.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    No single newsroom owner of the content-management system (CMS), which is where all of our digital content is created. As a result, the CMS lags behind systems at peer newspaper companies in terms of functionality, ease of use and speed. Lack of an Interactive News department because their work is not replicable as it's not built into journalist-facing technology. Because the newsroom leadership has not set clear priorities, the CMS technology team is forced to address minor fixes, often for individual desks, instead of focusing on major editorial innovation.
    Benefits: Allows for a standardization of content into the CMS, with access for multiple departments and levels of management, streamlining the organization of information and metadata on content. This will allow for content to more quickly be organized for a reader-facing platform.
  • Best Practices (#411) / Newspapers / Online Community Development

    Best Practice (Good)
    When performing on-page search engine optimization (SEO), use a checklist covering 5 major aspects to assess each page: URL structure (simple, easy to read), keyword use (in h1, title tag and first paragraph), mobile-friendliness (responsive design), sharing capability and page load speed.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Devote the majority of on-page search engine optimization efforts to keyword use. Pay little or no attention to other aspects of page content and design, such as URL simplicity, mobile usability and sharing features.
    Benefits: Using a simple checklist to assess five major SEO-related componenets of each page narrows your focus and can improve the likelihood of achieving higher search engine rankings.
  • Best Practices (#412) / Newspapers / Online Community Development

    Best Practice (Good)
    erform A/B email campaign testing to assess the performance (open rate, click rate, leads generated, etc.) of email subject lines, from names, and content. Adjust campaigns continuously based on the results.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Test the performance of each email campaign (content, subject line, etc.) based on basic metrics, such as open rate, click rate and leads generated. Adjust subsequent campaigns based on the findings.
    Benefits: Conducting email campaign A/B testing provides marketing managers with actionable data from a single marketing campaign. Adjusting campaigns rapidly based on findings from A/B tests can improve open/click rates, leads generated and sales.
  • Best Practices (#413) / Newspapers / Online Community Development

    Best Practice (Good)
    Automate only certain, non-customer facing social media activities (such as internal reporting or email notifications).
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Automate any and all possible social media activities in order to reduce the amount of effort devoted to social media campaign management.
    Benefits: Keeping automation to a minimum maintains the ‘human element’ and prevents the audience from thinking that your account is being run by a robot. Effective engagement through social media requires swift responses to events, such as replies, comments, retweets, etc.
  • Best Practices (#414) / Newspapers / Online Community Development

    Best Practice (Good)
    Flag aggressive or offensive community members and ensure that community moderators swiftly reprimand them. Comments that have been flagged should be easily recognizable on a web page with the use of proper user-interface elements.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Aggression or ad hominem attacks are frequently tolerated by moderators and a community and can greatly increase user attrition.
    Benefits: A healthy online community with judicious moderation can increase the visibility and number of click-throughs on a website, increasing the top-line of a newsroom.
  • Best Practices (#415) / Newspapers / Online Community Development

    Best Practice (Good)
    Focus on growing audience and keeping existing readers on our site longer. This comes from optimization of the website and off-site distribution, especially in social media. The content needs a newsroom-driven promotion strategy ahead of and just after publication.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    The newspaper is not aggressive enough about promoting newspaper's work - lacks a presence on important social platforms, with social accounts managed by different departments. Website editors do not use some strategies for maximizing traffic that are standard practices elsewhere, even though these approaches would not conflict with editorial values. A number of valuable tools like repackaging, personalization, optimization, and direct outreach are not being used strategically.
    Benefits: Raising strategy implementation in audience development would help win back the traffic around your own content that other similar news sites repost. The need is particularly urgent given the declining number of people reaching content through site home pages.
  • Best Practices (#416) / Newspapers / Photography

    Best Practice (Good)
    Clear any significant digital alterations with a team of editors when editing photos that have controversial undertones to determine whether an alteration has an unintentional effect of skewing the meaning of the photo or misrepresenting the facts.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Editors are not always consulted before a digital manipulation takes place, or sometimes photographs from the field are not inspected for signs of inappropriate manipulation.
    Benefits: Photography scandals are particularly embarrassing and high-profile results of editorial missteps. Conforming to a standard procedure of peer-reviewing digital photo manipulations will help to minimize such instances.
  • Best Practices (#417) / Newspapers / Content Publishing

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create a unified set of business performance metrics to maximize audience size and monetization.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Online publishers place a higher focus on operational performance (system performance, operational improvements) instead of business performance (effectiveness). This leads to financial metrics taking priority over business performance metrics.
    Benefits: A balance will be struck between financial and business performance metrics which will help to maximize audience size and revenue.

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