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To-do’s for journalists during Corona

How content strategy helps you to get the most out of your content in times of lockdown and quarantine.

Corona times are challenging for all of us — especially for journalists. Due to the lockdown it’s getting hard to find interview partners and to finish some stories. Especially freelance journalists often have to face existential worries in the current situation.

Yeah, the situation is hard — but no need to bury your head in the sand. There are a few things you can do with your existing content during nearly unoccupied times. In my master’s program Content Strategy at the FH JOANNEUM I got to know some tools — useful for freelance journalists as well as for media outlets. I want to introduce a few of them to you.

1. Time for a content inventory

During heavy workloads we often lack the time to lean back and do some reflection. We produce so much content day by day and often we lose the orientation in this flood of content. It’s important to have an overview about your existing content in order to make benefit out of it.

When would be a better time to start with it then during the corona lockdown? The first step is to do a so-called content audit. A content audit is an inventory of all content on your website. It gives a good overview of which subject areas you already cover and which are still missing.

The first step is a content inventory. It shows, e.g. on a news website, how many articles have been published in each category like internal affairs or economics. The content inventory is in a first step done in a quantiative way. Suitable category for journalistic sites can be:

  • ID
  • Title/Topics
  • URL
  • format (e.g. Text, Video, PDF.)
  • Source (in-house, content-partner, users)
  • Metadata
  • Traffic/usage statistics

Usually, the quantiative content inventory is done in a spreadsheet. Tools like screaming frog can help with the inventory.

© screaming frog

2. Rate your content

It’s time to analyze if your content is (still) good. After the quantitative inventory the qualitative one follows. The qualitative audit is the analysis between quality and effectiveness of content. Miriam Löffler listed some — also for online journalism quite usable — questions.

First, we should check if our content is still up-to-date. Especially, for a journalistic news site this is a crucial point. This leads to the next question: Can single sites or content elements be deleted? That’s a very critical point. Often older content is linked to current content and news sites offer search possibilities to older content. So, be careful before you delete something.

Furthermore, analyze if your content is read by your users. Page views or visits can give hints to that question. At the same time, take a deeper look beyond figures. Sometimes content with low page views can contain niche topics. One important function of journalism is to cover important issues for a society, which may haven’t received so much attention yet.

Another important question is if the content is found easily and is easy to understand. Write in a language and style your target group understands.

3. Reuse your content

Also, for freelance journalists a content inventory — in quite another sense — offers new possibilities. Analyze your existing content, take a look at the different formats of your content like audio, text or video. Have you already used all of your existing material or can you build a new story out of unused material? Just be creative and think without boundaries. You can also prepare different versions of the same topic for different media outlets. Media brands stand for different styles; therefore, you can create different stories with different styles matching to a certain media brand. Especially, in corona times, a bigger output by nearly the same input can create a big benefit.

You see, there are lot of content-possibilities for you as a journalist, you can do at home. Let’s stay productive and healthy during the lockdown 😊

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