Online Journalism: Fall 2009

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Your work for next week

Your teams have been assembled. Now you need to get together and start making plans on how to move forward. You have a very important document due next week, an audience & editorial plan for your site. This plan needs to include the following and must be signed by every member of your team:

  1. A detailed description of your site. It is OK, at this stage, if the site idea has changed from the initial pitch, either subtly or dramatically. This should lead with a clear one-sentence description, and then build with a paragraph explaining the site & idea in more detail.
  2. A clear description of the audience for this site.
  3. Interviews with three actual members of the audience/community you’re targeting (new folks, not the same faces), about the space your site is operating in, not the site itself.
  4. Informed by these interviews, a discussion of the type of content you would like to do and at least ten specific content ideas.
  5. A plan for the integration of tools and media beyond simple text/blogging.
  6. A basic plan for marketing your site: How do you connect with the communities that are already out there?
  7. An overall plan for the equal distribution of labor: How will you share the reporting work? The data entry? The coding? The images/video/audio? The marketing?

Please post your reports here, but also bring in a hard copy that–everybody now–has been signed by every member of your group

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Filed under: Homework

2 Responses

  1. Jeff B says:

    Jeff Biertzer
    Jennifer Ensign
    Veronica Libman
    Annye DeGrand
    Laura Kozak

    http://WWW.outoftownfan.com will provide displaced sports fans living in Chicago (or visiting) with information on where to watch their favorite sports team(s). The idea for the website came when searching for this type of site. Existing websites only provide bars that will have the game the sports fan wants to watch and not a bar dedicated to the sports fans’ team. http://Www.outoftownfan.com will provide a list of all bars in Chicago dedicated to ‘your’ team. The website will describe each bar by listing location, times of games, bar specials, and a brief review done by writers of the web site. The review will focus on what to expect at the bar (crowd size, bar size, etc.). The website will also include a user comment box so a sports fan of a specific team can read and write comments directed to sports fans of the same team. This site’s mission is to unite out of town sports fans through social media and provide them with locations and reviews of their sports teams’ bars in Chicago.

  2. Evan Minsker says:

    Evan Minsker, Danny Fenster, Megan Owen, Margaret Smith, Mark Hertvik

    7″ Garage

    The name of the website is 7” Garage (7inchgarage.com). It’s a website that reports on current and upcoming 7” garage and indie rock releases. The site would feature audio of featured releases, written content relating to 7”s and the people behind them, a forum for readers, and sidebars featuring related content.

    The audience for 7” Garage consists of 7” record collectors and fans of indie and garage rock. Obviously, not all fans of indie or garage purchase 45s, so the audience would have to be twofold. They’re the people who frequent the local record stores, go to the small clubs and obsessively collect lost Jay Reatard B-sides. It’s the people who read message boards, sign up for multiple mailing lists and go to extensive lengths to find out about new 7”s.

    We interviewed Richard Furniss, or DJ MopTop, a 21-year-old who spins records. In his interview, he said, “Major record collectors are big diggers, and they like to get older things. At the same time, if someone comes out with new 7″‘s, it’s definitely something to pick up.” This shows that he sees value in both old 7”s and new ones. He also referred to 7”s as a piece of the audiophile puzzle for diehard collectors.

    Furniss’ interview shows that it’s extremely important for us to not only report on new 7” releases, but also focus a bit on 7” re-releases and older 45s, as well. Any time a noteworthy 7” is re-released, we’ll do a special feature on it. Also, we’re going to have a gimmicky sidebar called “From the Dollar Bin,” a profile of 45s found at Reckless or other record stores for $1.

    Next, we talked to a salesman at Reckless Records on Broadway. He talked about how the 7” market is big in Chicago and that a big chunk of the market is punk rock. He said that 7″ consumers are generally “the same people that buy LPs,” which informs that 7” consumers aren’t tunnel-visioned on one form of media.

    He informed the site of two things. First, we can’t ignore punk rock. It’s the elephant in the 7” room, and we have to acknowledge it. More importantly, however, is that 7” consumers buy music in every format. They download digitally, they buy vinyl, and they probably still buy CDs, as taboo as that is. We can’t treat our readers like they don’t care about other media, because no matter what, that’s not true. We keep the focus to 7”s, but we should definitely have a sidebar about other small format releases.

    Finally, we talked to David Anthony, a record collector who bought his first record at the age of 12. He owns about 160 7”s total. He likes to seek out rare things, like different colors of vinyl. There are a few specific, very rare and expensive singles that he’s on a perpetual quest for. He said that he still buys the 7” even when he has the digital copy of the song. He acquires most of his 7”s from trades with other collectors.

    Anthony gets his album release news from many sources: newsletters, websites, message boards, forums, etc. He said, “It’s really hard to sift through all that information.”

    “It would be a huge burden off my shoulders,” he said, to know that all the 7″ news, announcements, dates and information is in one place. “It would be great!”

    One thing that Anthony said triggered an idea: Grail Quest Singles. There are tons of impossible-to-find 7”s out there, and it would bring an interesting historical aspect to hardcore collectors.

    Also, it’s important that throughout the site, we take note of things like vinyl color or whether or not the release includes a digital download, as that’s more incentive for somebody to want it.

    And he said that he gets most of his records in trades with other collectors. Perhaps we could link to a record forum like Vinyl Collective, and do a micro-blog of updates, like Gapers Block or Chicagoist. Example: “Today: – user1 is looking for a copy of Marvin Gaye’s blah. – user2 is putting his copy of blah up for $25. –There’s a meet-up in Milwaukee, hosted by blah!”

    Here are some more specific content ideas:

    – This week’s rotation – On weekly rotation. The essential piece of news content. An update of all the week’s releases, highlighting the ones we deem essential.
    – Band interviews – On weekly rotation. Talking to the bands about the specific 7” that has just been released.
    – From the dollar bin – A sidebar about singles we find at local record stores for a dollar, including audio and a description.
    – Better know a label – On weekly rotation. This is a longer profile about labels who produce 7”s.
    – Sidebar of upcoming releases – A list of releases by date, similar to Insound.
    – Reissue and repressing features – A profile on repressed or reissued 7”s.
    – Collector profiles – A Q&A with a set list of questions (weirdest record in your collection, proudest piece of your collection, favorite record store in the country, etc.).
    – Small format sidebar – A sidebar that profiles this week’s small format release – a new cassette or 12” record. MAYBE including digital singles.
    – Reviews – Hopefully from outside correspondence.
    – Cover artist interview – On rotation. An interview with somebody who does cover art for a new 7”.
    – Forum and message board aggregate – A sidebar featuring a list of our favorite forums and message boards.
    – Microblog of trading updates – Linking to online trading deals, events, and other 7” personal news (not so much “upcoming” or what have you).
    – Grail quest singles – A profile of rare, obscure 7”s that people are always on the quest for.
    – Outside the genre feature – On rotation. Each week, one of us will do a feature about 7”s that aren’t rock-related. Each of us will pick a beat (like Danny – blues, Margaret – jazz, Evan – dub, or whatever) and write a feature about the releases for that genre that month.

    In addition to text-based content that would take up regular posting, we would include one song from the 7” as often as we could. Or, if there’s a YouTube video of the song, that would certainly be incorporated into the post. In addition, we’d like to do a podcast, during which we talk about 7” news and play some 7”s.

    To market the site, it’s important to reach out to bands, labels, music bloggers, and vinyl communities on the web. If we work with a band, we should do our best to get the band to tweet/post about it. We should make a point to incorporate the ideas and even correspondence of music bloggers and vinyl forums we come across on the web—their participation is key to the site’s success. That’s why we get into the forums and not only say, “Join us,” but we engage with them about what we’re excited about. We e-mail the labels and bloggers, we comment, and we spread the word by actually starting a conversation and not just spamming and saying, “LOOK OVER HERE.” Also, we’ll put flyers in record stores to promote it.

    To equally distribute the duties of data gathering (finding 7”s to put on our website), we need to start a beat system. We’ll create a database of labels and websites to keep an eye on, split them up between the five of us, and we’ll all update a Google Doc accordingly with what we find. With posting, since we have so many different types of content, we can go Round Robin with the types of post. One week Evan will interview a band, the next week Danny will interview a band, etcetera. Images, video or audio are going to be essential to every post, so it’s up to whoever is updating that post that day to make sure there as at least one of the three incorporated in their post. Marketing is also going to have to be undertaken by everybody. Everyone will have to update the Twitter account, be in contact with bands, and talk to a label, all based on his or her current posting. Coding is something we’re not entirely sure how it’s going to be split, but we’ll learn more as we actually dive into the coding process.

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