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The Times story:G-spot is a myth

January 3, 2010 8 comments

Frontpage news on The Sunday Times: What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth. What qualities does this story have that earned itself a place on the frontpage?  

The Sunday Times Frontpage

A new research reveals that the universally believed G-spot in women’s vagina doesn’t exist at all. It’s imaginary in the first place, then reinforced by media reporting and experts’ talking. 

As you can see, this piece of news takes the lower left space, accompanied by stories of failed terror attack, public pay and MP staying above law stories on the front page. 

The G-spot myth is not the topic of this post, but its news value triggers some thinking. 

What makes news?

It’s boring to talk about ‘criteria’ without looking at real stories. So let’s see what values this G-spot story has got. 

I’ll go through the list of news values I learned from school and tick where it fits: 

  1. immediacy.
  2. conflict. √
    Some say there isn’t; some insist there is. Both sides argue in the story.
  3. proximity.√
    Except for those too young or too old, people are sort of related to the news, married or unmarried.
  4. threat to public safety.
    Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Hard to tell.
  5. public interest.
    Not this one but the next one.
  6. human interest. √
  7. entertaining. √
    Absolutely. Full stop.
  8. Big name involvement.
    This is where the journalist can improvement on the story. LoL~
  9. unusual. Half √
    It’s not usual, at least.
  10. impact. Half √ again.
    Don`t know what kind of impact there will be. Maybe positive for some, but negative for others.
  11. breaking.
  12. exclusive story.
  13. topical. √
    You want to hear about it, but you might feel shy to talk about it.
  14. scandal.
  15. juicy. √
    A lot, isn’t it?

If a story has any one of these values, it could have become news worth publishing or broadcasting.

This G-spot story has 7 out of 15. Wow, didn’t realize that before. Nearly half !

Surely it is news, and a piece of good news. I have to agree with the editor to put it on the frontpage. 

Readers decide contents

Was I joking when talking about news values just now? Maybe. 

But the interesting thing is that this story has never been published on the front page of Times Online. There is nowhere to find it no matter how deep you scroll down the page. You have to search. 

Why? 

By my guess, Times Online readers don’t change much on weekends from weekdays. Almost the same group of people visit the site looking for the kinds of news they are familiar with. 

This G-spot story, as categorized on the site under ‘science’ channel, might not appeal to news readers. 

But for the print version delivered to home, people read it for relaxation. It’s weekend anyway. People need something soft, interesting, fun, surprising, or anything but serious. 

It is readers who decide what the contents should be. 

The Times did a good job in this sense, didn’t they?

PS: Do click G-spot is a myth on the Times site to see the picture they use. This is a good example where pictures say more than words.

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How NOT to attract traffic to your blog

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Log in to your blog. Wait for the statistical figure to show. Fingers crossed—wish Total Views number surprisingly skyrocketed. “What the hell is wrong with people? Why don’t they read what I write?” You wonder.

 

Yong checking his blog view statistics

Almost all rookie bloggers fit into the profile I just described. Don’t feel ashamed if you are one of them, even if you are already a veteran blogger.

It is human nature to be noticed, cared, praised or criticized, and liked or hated. Your blog is part of you. It wants spotlight as well.

Basically, every blog is important to at least 5 people: your father, your mother, your husband/wife, your kid, and of course, yourself.

But you want more people to read what you write up there, make their comments, or just leave a smiling face like :-).

How to generate traffic

So you learn to write online, fighting some old habits of so-called “good writing” in the traditional sense.

Thanks to David and Paul, two funny lecturers who specialize in online journalism, I now have some golden rules for online writing, including blogging.

  • Write for Google search engine (SEO).
    Over 40% of all traffic to a site comes from Google search. This doesn’t include those who first know your site through Google but later visit your site by typing the URL or clicking your URL address in their bookmark.
  • Key words for headlines
    and less than 60 characters. Jacob Nielson acclaimed BBC News for having the best headlines
  • Keep sentences short and simple.
  • One idea per paragraph and keep paragraph short.
    Why? Because it’s easier for online readers to scan. (I know there are two ideas in the above line. No need to remind me.)
  • Use sub-headings after 5-6 paragraphs.
  • Use list or bulletin points.
  • Cut, cut, cut and cut again.
    or, shall I say cut just once and cut the other three cuts?

Dailyblogtips gives 30 traffic generation tips. I would suggest Jacob Nielson’s Writing for the web before worrying about the number of your blog visitors.

How NOT to generate traffic

It’s always easier said than done. And persistence requires even stronger mind.

I could have finished piling up what I want to say in a lump within 15-20 minutes, but one hour later, I’m still here writing because I’m trying to follow those golden rules.

Back to the headline of this blog, how not to generate traffic, or how to lose traffic, the answer is very simple: Do not follow any online writing rules.

You can tell I’m kidding, right?

Well, I noticed some habits, or “mistakes” over the past few months that might cause bloggers to lose readers.

  • Write about things of not much “value”
    You can write about your own life, but unless you are a celebrity like Opera Winfrey or Brad Pitt, you should not expect people to be interested in your blog.

    Jonathan Morrow from Coypblogger wrote a touching story On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas that best makes clear this point.

  • Force” readers to visit your site
    Many people now read in RSS readers such as Google Reader or Blogline. Some set their feed export to “abstract” or “headline” instead of “full text”.

    What makes you so confident that you write better headlines than BBC News or irresistible first paragraph (with a few more lines, usually considered “abstract”) so that people would click on the feed and go to your site?

    Most probably, they will just never bother checking your feed or simply cancel their subscription of your feed.

  • Bolden sub-headings
    Sub-headings not only function as road signs all the way down your post, but also gives tags to Google search.

    If you just bolden the sub-headings, they are actually still body texts put in that <p> tag.

    You have to set them into Heading 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 according to your blog layout. Headline 1 is usually reserved for THE headline. This gives a <h> tag that Google spider catches.The Headline block usually is located in the style tool bar, next to other layout buttons such B (bold), I (italic), U(underline), etc.

  • Update blogs irregularly
    “Sorry, I’ve been busy these days so I didn’t update.”People don’t care about your schedule.

    If they come to your site on day 1, and see no new blog, then on day 2, still nothing, then there is a slight chance they might still come on day 3, but if then they still see no updated blog, they might never come back.

    And on day 4, you feel like writing, and you publish 3 blog posts, or 4, or even 5, but sorry, the gone readers are gone. They are not coming back.

All in all, blogging is about quantity, but more about quality;
it’s about talking to yourself, but more about interacting with others;
it’s about following hot topics, but more about offering original idea; and
it’s about finishing assignment for the Online Journalism module, but more about polishing your writing and getting prepared for a journalism career.

E-reading ushers into a new generation

December 17, 2009 1 comment

An innovative platform for the next generation of E-magazines was revealed recently. If reading on screen is no longer different from, or even better than reading on paper, does it mean the end of paper era?

This platform is jointly developed by five newspaper and magazine publishers including Times Inc. and the News Corporation.

It is supposed to set up the standard for the industry. No name of the platform or the equipment is given. How much they have invested is not known either.

The companies will sell the new electronic versions of their contents through an online store like iTunes.

Features demonstrated in the video released by Times Inc. are just some of the sophistications of this new platform.

E-reading won’t kill paper reading

The media conveying messages have changed dramatically throughout the history: from stones to bamboos, from parchment to papyrus, and now from paper to electronic screens, such as Kindle of Amazon.

No medium has incurred so many controversies as the latest development of electronic screens. To many, this is brand new experience.

The benefits one could possible get from e-reading include:

  • enormous materials in one “book”, the e-reader
  • visual and audio entertaining compared with black-and-white of most books
  • interactive with authors, writers, publishers, and even advertisers
  • cheaper content, hopefully, at least after wide application of such an e-reader
  • real-time multi-user sharing, with the incorporation of Internet access in the future

Younger generations have already accustomed to reading online. They would be more than happy to embrace a portable screen.

However, book lovers might stick to their old habit. You can touch the screen to read the next page, but you’ll lose the pleasure of actually feeling the books: its weight, its texture, its papers, etc.

Besides, your eyes might easily get tired after long-time reading on a screen. You will also not be able to send a good book as a gift.

Therefore, e-reading won’t take the place of paper reading, at least in the foreseeable future.

Sociology of news for semester 2 and online magazine for final project

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Two days later, it will be deadline for selection of modules in semester 2 and final project.

So far, I have only decided one module, Online Jounalism. I’m thinking about replacing my other choice of Politicial Communication with Sociology of News.

As for the final project, I prefer working on an online magazine or writting a dissertation, because both allow me to control my own schedule.

Radio final project and TV final project might be interesting as well, but I’ll have to follow others’ steps, e.g. the interviewees or the person I’ll be filming.  

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Internet changed, is changing, and will continue to change our life

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

The Online Journalism classes will begin next week.

Needless to say, Internet has changed our life. In fact, its daily use is so essential that it now becomes almost impossible for a journalist to work without access to Internet. Even old people are trying to learn to use Internet.

To an extreme, some people become so addicted to Internet that they have to go to a doctor or a psychiatrist for consultation. To find out if you are one of them, you can take this Internet Addiction Test.

What concerns me is that Internet has fundamentally changed the way we study.

We treat information as knowledge, consider bookmarking as studying, mistake reading as thinking, and take it for granted that archiving means having mastered the knowledge.

I have been always amazed by some old people that they remember so many things. They have the habit of learning stuff by heart. Little by little, they form their own knowledge schematism. This is the traditional way of learning.

What happens with the wide application of computers and Internet is that we seldom try to memorise most of the things. We no longer turn to great minds; instead, we just “google” it, and in most cases, we are not disappointed.

I remember someone said this when TV became prevalent:

Whenever someone turns on the TV, I go back to my room and read.

Is there any chance he can still do so whenever someone turns on a computer?

By the way, this is one of the very few quotations I remembered without having to google it.