Upcoming Frontline workshops: Writing for the Web and Mastering Social Media

My first two Frontline Club workshops of 2017 take place in the coming months. Here are the details:

How to Tweet – Mastering Social Media
Friday, 17 March 2017
1. Social Media: Understanding the basics
– What is social media and why it matters
Exercise #1: Defining social media
– Two tales from the newsroom that demonstrate the power of social
– Six ways journalists use social networks
2. Getting to grips with Twitter
– The Twitter Audit
– The Twitter Glossary
Exercise #2: How to Tweet
3. Social media in action
– When to post online: how consumption habits are changing
– Eleven examples of social media in action
– The Audit: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and the rest
Exercise #3: Creating a social media campaign
– How to manage your social media footprint all in one place
4. How to blog
– Blogging basics
– What kind of blogger are you? Introducing three archetypes
– Establishing a tone of voice
– How to get noticed
Exercise #4: Writing a blog post
– Blogging dos and don’ts
… Final thoughts: Eleven social media tips
Book now

Writing for the Web with Jon Bernstein
Friday 21 April 2017
1. The principles of writing
– Why writing for the web is exactly the same as writing for print. And why it’s completely different
– What George Orwell can teach us about language and readability
– EXERCISE #1: Simplifying language
– EXERCISE #2: Decoding the press release
– Understanding online reading habits
– Six more tips for writing online
2. News writing and the fundamentals of storytelling
– The Inverted Pyramid of news. And why it still matters
– The Five Ws (and the H) of news
– How to define an audience
– Establishing length
– Defining tone of voice
– EXERCISE #3: Reworking the press release
3. Blogs, longer reads and structure
– How to create a structure
– How to plan
– How to blog: the ‘atomised’ Inverted Pyramid
– Three blogging archetypes that work
– EXERCISE #4: Writing a blog post
4. Headlines
– Why headlines matter more on the web
– Tailoring headlines for the web
– Newspaper headlines that probably don’t work online
– Headlines that do work online
– EXERCISE #5: Writing a killer online headline
5. SEO: an introduction
– A practical guide to keyword research
. . . Final thoughts
Book now

If the London location is inconvenient or if you are looking for bespoke and/or in-house training, do please contact me directly.

Writing for the web: a June 2015 reading list

A random selection of articles on the art (or more accurately, the craft) of writing for the web:


Why I blog by Andrew Sullivan | The Atlantic (November 2008)

My life in the blogosphere by Ben Smith | BuzzFeed

Article treatment

In Defense of the Listicle by David Leonhardt | New York Times

How to make journalism work online: five writing tips by me | Press Gazette

Beyond the churn by Sarah Smarsh | Aeon

New Associated Press guidelines: keep it brief by Paul Farhi | Washington Post

Quartz’s Kevin Delaney: Time to kill the 800-word article by Brian Morrissey | Digiday

The allure of the finishable news experience by Sarah Marshall | NiemanLab

The homepage

64 Ways To Think About a News Homepage by Melody Joy Kramer | Medium

The homepage is dead, and the social web has won by Zachary M Seward | Quartz

Homepage as front page is an historical accident by me | Guardian Media Network

Paywalls, format and why we don’t always know what’s going to happen even when the signs are there

For observers of digital media two things stood out in Alan Rusbridger’s valedictory column in Saturday’s Guardian. The first was more obvious, the second more interesting.

1. On paywalls
The outgoing editor compares what he calls the “polar opposites” of the UK newspaper trade – the paywalled Times and the free-to-air Guardian. The Times, he notes, claims a daily audience of 281,000 while the Guardian registers 7 million unique browsers a day.

On an equal accounting basis, we’re losing (or investing) about the same amount of money. You’ll have to come back in 10 or even 20 years time to find out who judged the future best.

While he’s right to say it will take a while for the winning formula to be identified – and it may well be neither of the above – I wonder if The Times accept the phrase “equal accounting basis”.

2. On newspaper formats
Today’s discussions about publishing formats are most likely to involve 6in smartphones and 10in tablets but back in 2005 format meant broadsheet, tabloid or – in the case of the Guardian – the mid-sized Berliner. Why did the Guardian go for the third option when The Times and The Independent went tabloid? Rusbridger says there were “various reasons”. Intriguingly, one of those reasons was:

the amount of classified advertising we still took in print at that point

With the benefit of hindsight, print classifieds were already in terminal decline by 2005 with job boards, Craigslist, eBay and others making deep in-roads. Signs of digital disintermediation were evident everywhere. The chunky Monday Guardian, bulked out by media job ads that made it a default purchase for those us in the industry, was already thinning out.

Should the Guardian have read the signals better a decade ago? Perhaps. Will we continue to miss emerging trends likely to have a similar impact? Probably.

Mastering social media: more things worth reading

Here are some articles I’ve come across recently that I’ve found useful. At the bottom of the page there are links to previous social media reading lists, too.



Introducing the Tweet Activity Dashboard (Twitter)

What does it mean when someone favorites your Tweet? Here are 25 possible answers (Washington Post)



News Feed FYI: A Window Into News Feed (Facebook)

Facebook timing its users to crack down on ‘click-baiting’ headlines (The Guardian)

When Does A Facebook Post Get Most Traction? Sunday! (Forbes)

FB Newswire, A New Tool for Journalists (Beyond Bylines)

Best Practices for Journalists on Facebook (Facebook)



How a single LinkedIn blog post took 5 days to outperform my entire blogging output over the previous 4 years. And what we can learn from this. (Andrew Bruce Smith)

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn (HubSpot)



Understanding the Knowledge Graph (Kahena Digital Marketing)

How to Create Google+ Hangouts On Air: A Step-by-Step Guide (Onlinevideo.net)

What the end of Google Authorship says about the difference between search and social (The Media Briefing)


More reading
Social media reader: Mastering Social Media
Mastering social media: a reader
Mastering social media: another reader


Social media reader: Mastering Social Media

Some recent articles and resources I’ve come across that may prove useful.

Facebook at 10: Tips and tools for journalists (Journalim.co.uk)
12 Best Practices For Media Companies Using Facebook Pages (Facebook.com)
FB Newswire, A New Tool for Journalists (Beyond Bylines)

7 ways news outlets can use Instagram (Journalism.co.uk)
 How journalists are using Instagram (ReadWrite)

5 Ways Journalists are using Pinterest (Poynter)
Journalism tools (Pinterest.com)

5 Ways Journalists Use LinkedIn for Research and Reporting (Beyond PR)
10 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Company Page (Social Media Examiner)
Long-Form Posts on LinkedIn – Overview (LinkedIn.com)
LinkedIn for Journalists (LinkedIn.com)

How to Create Google+ Hangouts On Air: A Step-by-Step Guide (OnlineVideo.net)

If a tweet worked once, send it again — and other lessons from The New York Times’ social media desk (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Twitter freshens up its service (Battenhall)
Study finds that most UK Twitter users follow newspapers (Press Gazette)

More reading
Mastering social media: a reader
Mastering social media: another reader

How can media brands strengthen their relationship with their customers?

Last week I chaired this session at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit. The contributions from all five panelists are worth revisiting but I was particularly struck by:

– Ashley Highfield, CEO Johnston Press, on engagement (“I don’t think we do engagement well enough”) [26:35 apprx]

– Natasha Christie-Miller, CEO Emap, on how they measure what she calls “customer joy” [12:45 apprx]; and

– Tim Hunt, marketing director, Guardian News and Media, on the lessons from the title’s Facebook app [34:40 apprx]

You can view the discussion here and in due course I’m going to put some thoughts together for the Guardian Media Network.


Digital Media Business Model #543: Forbes.com

From today’s Guardian interview with Lewis DVorkin, chief product officer, Forbes Media on the cash-for-clicks journalism model for Forbes.com‘s 1,000 or so contributors/bloggers:

[N]ot only do contributors self-publish, but they are paid according to the size of the audience they attract … [E]ach contributor gets paid a certain number of cents for every visitor per month.

There is a clear incentive for them to get repeat custom, as they get paid 20 times that amount if the same person reads another of their posts during that month.

According to the piece, last year “two contributors made more than $100,000, several made $75,000 and 25 made $35,000”. And, one assumes, 900+ made not very much at all.

You can read the full piece here.