Citizen Media Watch

december 9th, 2008

Sandra Jakob at HD.se – It's not laziness, it is fear

Posted by Gitta Wilen

This is a conversation with Sandra Jakob about online journalism, transparency, the future way of publishing on the web and the need to inspire colleagues to explore and to use the internet.

Sandra Jakob works as an online journalist at hd.se. Helsingborgs Dagblad is a daily newspaper situated in the south of Sweden, in Helsingborg.

CMW: What are you thoughts about the editorial work at HD in the future. Do you think you will have to change the way you work and think differently about the way you are publishing your content?

Sandra thinks that they have to start to think about how to publish the news, based on the type of content, instead of the editorial staff.

– The process of integrating the different channels into each other will be more important. I think that it will somehow be the ultimate test to see which newspaper that will make it out of this big crisis that we are in, that everybody is so afraid of.

– If we are starting to think about how we are going to, all together, work towards a goal of reaching out with our information and news. Then we are going to be successful, Sandra says.

CMW: Why are journalists avoiding to embrace the internet and use it the way it can be used? Is it about fear, laziness or convenience?

Sandra does not think it is laziness and it is not the lack of journalistic confidence. She thinks it is about fear. Not knowing how to use the technical tools and how to communicate on the web.

– You just have to somehow go over the threshold and try it once for yourself and see that you can’t ruin everything. We have backup systems, she says.

Sandra thinks that the biggest challenge of reaching out to a journalist who is not used to working with the internet, is to show them that it is not dangerous. It is not going to make them look stupid. That it is going to help them and that is going to change the way they will go about their work in the future.

– People that are very humble and say that: ”I don’t know this but I’m willing to learn,” that’s an amazing start. If I just get that, I am very happy, she says.

When Sandra teaches her colleagues at hd.se how to use the blog tool, they sit down and walk it through step by step. After trying it out for themselves for a while, they do think it is so much fun and easy. She believes that you should not be afraid of the blogs just because the word blog is misused by a lot of people, it is an information source like everything else.

Sandra did work for Mindpark earlier this year. Mindpark is a web developing agency with the swedish morning newspaper industry as its main clients and beneficiaries.

Sandra Jakob and Joakim Jardenberg had this conversation (in Swedish) on her first day at work.

[Roughly translated]: The conversation, which contained nine parts of laughter and one part of seriousness (before the editing) was about why journalists should blog, why user generated content is a good thing and a little about where Rubbet is heading. [Published at mindpark.se 2008 03 06]

Joakim asked Sandra if she could come up with a more suitable word for the concept user generated content. She promised to think about it.

CMW repeated that question and asked her if she had managed to find a better word for the interchange of content and information:

Sandra has thought about it but she thinks it is hard to find a new word, because it is user generated content. Even though she does not like the word user.

– They are people that we work with, because they send us their pictures and their movies. They call us and give us information, she says.

Sandra believes that user generated content is the best terminology at the moment.

In the Mindpark sofa, Sandra also talked about the need of linking to the blog, as the original source of the news or the conversation.

CMW asked her if she still thinks it is the way to work. Does hd.se link to bloggers and external sites?

– Yes, I still think it is is the only way to go, Sandra says.

Sandra think it is important to pick up subjects that people are talking about and that it is important to give credit to the person that wrote about it on her/his blog. She thinks that if they start a conversation about the subject, it will only benefit the newspaper in the future. Sandra hopes that people will see that the newspaper do respect their work and what they are doing and that they do want to be in contact with them.

Sandra has not yet any example of a local blogger that has been creating any news for hd.se, but she does hope that it will happen soon. But they have been writing about bloggers and the internet.

– Then we are always make sure that we do link back to the person that we are writing about, she says.

CMW: The web is about conversations and expressing personal thoughts. Do you think that journalists should be more open with their personal opinions?

Sandra has an example from hd.se sports blog Sportbloggen. In the beginning they were only linking to funny YouTube clips.

– It did generate a lot of ha ha-comments, but it is nothing that will draw attention in the end, Sandra says.

She advised them to have a personal opinion. If they can have that in a column in the newspaper they can have that on a blog too.

– But, you have to think about it. What am I comfortable with saying? Can I stand for this?, Sandra says.

Sandra believes that you have to be comfortable with what you are saying on the blog. If your are not, maybe you should not do it. They want their journalists to blog, but everybody might not be comfortable doing it.

– If you are open with where you stand and what you think, the audience is going to respect you more, she says.

CMW: How are journalists going to handle transparency? Is there a good transparency level for a journalist?

– There is a bad transparency level, let’s start with that, it is so much easier, Sandra says.

She thinks that a bad transparency is when you tell everybody who gave you that tip. All of their sources are protected by the Swedish law. But a good level of transparency would be to be more open with the process of working as a journalist. It could be as a blog where you write about what kind of seminars and conferences you go to and tell more about how you find information about the subject you are writing about.

– I would love to see somebody who writes about the process and all the frustration there is to be a journalist. It is not always that fun even though we love it. Because there are people hanging up on you, people not liking you. Maybe you get the answers that you would like but it still doesn’t happened. Or you don’t get the result you would like to have, Sandra says.

She believes that bad transparency is when you tell people exactly who told you what, that is gossip. Good transparency is being open with the process, how you think, how you work, how you relate to your readers – both negatively and positively. And It is important to be honest.

– Because if you’re not honest, in the end it is coming back to bite you, Sandra says.

CMW: Do you still think that the internet is something good and useful for a journalist?

As a curious journalist Sandra does think that internet is an amazing way of possibilities and she loves the conversation that is going on out there, even though you have to be critical as usual against information and disinformation.

Sandra talks about the way the Swedish blogs handled the FRA affair. She thinks that it is a good example of a subject raised by bloggers and that ended up as a discussion in old media.

– I can only see the internet as a very positive thing, she says.

CMW: What do you think the newspaper will look like within five years. Do you think that they are still going to exist in print?

Sandra does still believe in the printed newspaper but not the way it looks like today. But she thinks it should be more of a magazine and not be distributed seven days a week. Maybe three days a week, or just over the weekend. A magazine that is going to be customized. More feature, more background and more thoughts.

– I still believe in print in some other way than we have today. The feeling of using print paper and have it in your hand, is something that we can not replace with a PDA or a mobile phone, she says.

CMW: Where do you see yourself with in five years?

Sandra hopes she will be able to dedicate herself full time working with inspiring colleagues to use the internet in a useful way. Integrating and developing newsrooms for the internet. She hopes to be working, not with in the news rush, but with people that works with news and that are interested in new ways to come out with their information and keep track on what is happening on the internet.

– I love developing stuff for newsrooms and news organizations. I hope I will be able to work with something like that, she says.

Sandra Jakob ends our conversation with a request. Sandra would like to have a conversation about online journalism if you are interested, you are welcome to contact her at sandra.jakob@hd.se.

And of course and as always, you are welcome to post your thoughts about this subject as a comment.

Related post: Will there be a dark period for journalism? Joakim Jardenberg at Mindpark on how Helsingborgs Dagblad can survive as an online paper. A version in Swedish at mindpark.se.


Tags: , , ,


december 2008
M T O T F L S
« Nov   Jan »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
www.flickr.com