A newspaper journalist offers practical online advice to her colleagues

My name is Gina Chen. I’ve been a newspaper journalist for 20 years, and I’m worried — but excited — about the future of the industry I love.

chenGina Chen is really no different than the thousands of journalists in newsrooms around the country, trying to make sense of where the news business is heading. Except this: She’s doing something to help her colleagues along.

Save The Media, Chen’s recently-launched blog, exists, as she puts it, as a “kick in the pants”:

I got into this business with the typical idealism. I wanted to be a voice for those who had none. I wanted to expose the wrongs in society. I wanted to make a difference. And in my small way, I have.

But like a close relative who sometimes needs a kick in the pants, journalism needs to get its head together, I think.  New media is here, and you need to use it.

I’m worried because so many journalists I know are  stubbornly digging their heels in and refusing to change quickly enough with the times. Yes, it would be nice if this were still the 1960s, and people had nowhere else to get their news except the mainstream press. Wake up. Those days are gone.

Each of the posts so far is direct and full of valuable information on a specific topic. Take the current post, on Search Engine Optimization for journalists:

First, what is SEO? In the very simplest terms, it’s using words in your post and headline that will help search engines find your content. So it’s back to “thinking like Google” as I explained in my post about picking your blog name. You need to use words that will let Google and other search engines — which are computers, not humans — understand what your post is about.

Why does it matter? One of your goals as a journalistic blogger is that people will find your post on a given topic. So when they type a search into Google, you want your blog to be among the first few sites that come up. (The first few sites are the ones that most people will go to.)

She then outlines 10 specific steps any writer, copy-editor or producer can take to increase readership to their stories, simply by changing their approach to headlines.

This kind of simple, actionable advice is what Save The Media is all about. As Martin Langeveld, who first noted Chen’s blog on his own excellent News After Newspapers, says, it’s well worth putting into your feed reader.

Tim Windsor

VP, Content & Conversion at LendingPoint LLC
I lead media companies and other organizations that want to develop and improve their mobile and digital strategies and technologies, grow audience, and build sustainable digital revenue.