College Journalism, Meet Strategy

Posted: June 30, 2011

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Coming from a collegiate newspaper background, I didn’t really give business strategy much consideration as I generated written and multimedia content for my college newspaper, The Appalachian. As far as I was concerned, the only thing that matters is the story. Getting the scoop, tracking down sources, crafting the product and editing were front and center, everything else was complementary. 

Now that I’ve become an editor, I’ve realized that as a leader, the time for simply publishing content is over. In a world in which there are millions of sites producing stories and videos, I have to use tools like social media and Google Analytics to promote, track and understand the successes and failures of my work. The ability to look at the performance of our content online a week or a month after it is published provides incredibly valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t.

My month as a VisionPoint intern has, without a doubt, provided a much more realistic and global understanding of how to command the attention an online audience. I’ve learned that content, while it remains king, is not complete without a well-planned, data-driven strategy. As I prepare to enter my year as editor-in-chief, I’m reading up on leadership, recruiting, communication ethics, story forms, launching investigative projects, storytelling and more.

What am I adding to my list that I bet most college editors aren’t considering? Social media strategy, search engine optimization and analytics.

This unexpected additional responsibility for The Appalachian brand is somewhat daunting, but also incredibly valuable as a learning tool. The real long-term benefit of my editorship will likely be challenges I face (and hopefully overcome) involved with fusing online strategy and the traditional concerns of any print publication.

Strategy and content, I’ve realized, are mutually reliant on one another. Quality journalism will never reach its full audience or achieve its intended social impact without a savvy strategy, especially in the messy, crowded and constantly changing marketplace of ideas in this digital era.