Citizen Media Watch

april 13th, 2009

Citizen Media Watch teaching at Fojo – Project Belarus

Posted by Gitta Wilen

Gitta at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus

During Januari and Februari this year, I did some teaching at Fojo, the Institute for Further Education of Journalists. I talked about online journalism and how to make good SEO for an article, at the web journalist seminar for Belarusian journalists and students from the University of journalism in Minsk. Some weeks later I managed the web design seminar for Belarusian independent media.

When teaching at the Project Belarus I met journalists working under different economical and technical conditions. Independent media are more depending on Internet especially if their necessary ration of paper for printing the newspaper is drawn back – for some reason.

But since the broadband is not always that broad and the freedom of speech comes with a price, the online solution is not always an affordable option as it would be in Europe.

CMW teaching at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus
Each course was five days long with a follow up, a couple of weeks later in Minsk/Vilnius. I managed the web design course, Jonas Söderström, inUse, is managing the other four.

Fojo is aiming for:

  • To build up a high quality of journalism characterized by professionalism, integrity and interaction with the audience.
  • To enhance the capacity of media to report on important national issues such as poverty alleviation, the fight against corruption, grassroots democracy and civil rights perspectives.
  • To promote openness and democracy of media trough improved capacity of Belarusian journalists.

On the Fojo web site you’ll also find an on line guide to Belarus.

Ola Henriksson,
Ola Henriksson at

I brought some of my material for the lectures on film. Made some clips in Stockholm, before going to Fojo in Kalmar. Have a look at Ola Henriksson, developement editor at talking about their SEO work. I am sorry, it is only in Swedish. But here’s a quick translation and summary:

Ola Henriksson has been working at for about ten years, as a web editor, news editor in chief and now as one of the two developement editors of the editorial office. He is project managing the technical needs, questions and projects for

During the second half of 2008 they started a SEO project. They had several reasons to do that. The traffic of visitor is important for the site. The site has 650 000–700 000 unique visitors per week. Newspapers have similar material. The competition is hard. Every paper is aming for being fast/first and they have pretty much the same news. It is necessary to attract new visitors to the site.

SEO is also important because readers are using Google and other search engines to find the information they want to read. There for it is important to use relevant key words, to be able to be at the top of the search result on Google.
– To get clicks you simply have to be at the top, at least at the first search page, Ola says.

When they started this project at, they put together a group of colleagues that looked in to this subject. They made a list containing 50 things that they had to carry through to be able to get more visitors from the search engine to the site.

A consultant agency helped to carry this through and to follow up on the results. The made few and small changes to increase the relevance for the search engines.

They did put this project through this autumn 2008. They have done several different things, some of them are: looking in to the in- and outgoing links, adding meta descriptions to the sections on the online newspaper, looking over the headers for the articles – there can be a huge difference between a journalistic header and a search engine friendly header.

They are not done with this project yet. There are still working with the search engine  optimization.

The journalists at are not forced to write a describing header, for the search engine, but that is something that they would like them to do.

They are also looking in to keywords. It is also making relevance for ranking at the search engines. The keywords will be put in together with the article as it is published. Ola is mentioning New York Times as an example. They are using keywords in the topics index.

– There are lots of things that can and should be done. We think it is important because the search engines are important becuase there are lots of in traffic from these kinds of sites. This project has increased the visitors traffic with ten percent, Ola Henriksson says.

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april 2009
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