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New Year’s Resolutions for Digital Journalists

New Year, new you. If you’re a digital journalist, some of the resolutions below will help you bring in the new year on a positive note. Here’s to actually keeping them!

1. Start considering new definitions for the roles of journalists. The age of journalists as “gatekeepers” are over. Anybody can find anything thanks to Google. These days, many journalists are more like “tour guides,” aggregating the best parts of the web for their users, while still providing original content. Journalists have become thought leaders, commentators, live bloggers, and conversation starters. How does your audience view you?

2. Talk about your audience as “users” not “readers.” Your audience does more than just read things on your website – they click links, scroll around, watch videos, use search bars, comment and share socially. Calling them “readers” boxes our focus only on content. How are your users interacting with your site? Do you want them to do more (or less) of something? Look at your UI and UX. 

3. Learn how to talk with developers, programmers, graphic designers and photographers. Digital journalists often need unique elements for their content, whether it’s special photography or additional graphic designs. This is especially true for programming. Learn their languages. Understand the Rule of Thirds. Dabble in network administration. Know the difference between Ruby and Python. Better communication, better collaboration.

4. Start using Reddit. Reddit is the model for successful internet forums, and the communities here are influential across the web. Find where you belong, whether it’s /r/TheWalkingDead or /r/cumberbitches. There’s a lot to learn about commenting, moderation, and building an internet community, all valuable lessons for digital journalists. And don’t forget to install the Reddit Enhancement Suite.

5. Plan ahead. It’s a lot easier to finish projects when you aren’t scrambling for content at the last second. If you’re uploading somebody else’s content, do you know where to find it? Save yourself some deadline grief, man.

6. Don’t forget journalism is a business. It’s a never-ending cycle: good stories bring more users, more users bring more ad revenue, more ad revenue means better stories. Once again, communicate. Have conversations with the advertising department. They’re probably in your own building – stop in and visit. I bet they like coffee.

7. Uploading a story doesn’t mean it’s finished. If an error runs in print, retractions are noted in the following issue. Online, the fix must happen instantly. Once a story goes live, be prepared to continually update it.  Sometimes code doesn’t work. The more you prepare, the less you have to do later.

9. Be a part of the community. You’ll find Voxers at Ragtag Cinema every Friday night, all seeing the latest movies. By the time you’ve heard it, restaurant gossip is old news in the Vox office. Because our journalists are out there as active members of the community, we know what’s happening and when. This is the true nature of journalism, isn’t it? By the people for the people?

10. ????? Whats a best practice for digital journalists I’ve left out? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Crowd Expedition, Flickr.