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#S2E1: How traditional journalism is adapting for the digital age with Darren Slade

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With the advent of social media and a shift towards digital distribution of news, reporting local stories has become an ever-evolving art. Enter Darren Slade, whose ability to navigate the journalism landscape as Group Business Editor for the Southern Daily Echo, Daily Echo Bournemouth and the Dorset Echo has kept these local news outlets thriving.

Sharing his insider knowledge of the content many Dorset locals consume on a daily basis, Darren Slade gives us insight into what makes the most compelling stories, and just how popular they can get. Weighing in on the topic of traditional vs digital media, we also discuss the viability of physical papers in a world where news can be browsed anywhere, anytime.

This episode of the 10th Degree covers:

- Darren's route into journalism

- Identifying the stories that readers enjoy

- The depiction of journalists in life and in fiction

- Using website analytics

- Effects of social media on professional journalism

- Journalists' relationships with the community

- A shift towards online content


Darren Slade: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darren-slade/

Southern Daily Echo: https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/

Bournemouth Echo: https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/

Dorset Echo: https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/

Anthony Story: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-story-4032a63/

Key highlights:

"After people had bought the paper as a package, you couldn't tell within it what they liked and what they didn't like very easily, and sometimes overestimate the difference that news makes to the paper because there's a whole lot of other reasons people buy it. So in terms of how we know what people like to read, we can now watch it in real time. You know, we have not only web browser figures, but we can see on a dashboard in the office how many people are on our site, what stories they're reading, how long they're spending on a story, how much they're recirculating around the site, so you can kind of measure it."

"People are interested in the state of the high street. So all the stories about the difficulties of retailers at the moment usually will get good readerships. And then there are surprises. You know, there are stories that take off that you might not have predicted, but usually something with a kind of compelling human story behind it tends to take off as well."

"I mean, online, everything that's relevant to business will sit in the business section as well as the news section anyway, but really in terms of the traditional printed paper where, you know, everything has to be given a page number, then we'll have that conversation about whether something is purely business or whether it's personal."

"It's a more informal process now, but essentially it's the same thing every day. You have to have something that will sell papers, only it's now also something that will attract big readerships online."

"Sometimes the company name is so well known that that is the point of interest in anything they do is interesting. But that's only the case with a small number of famous brands, really. So you're constantly thinking,

if you took out the names, who would care?"

"If your first thought is "we opened a new branch" or "we won an award, we made a new appointment" that's all good, you know, it's all bread and butter of news. But if you stop and think about the story behind that story, then you've sometimes got something better. You know, that tale of what you do that's so amazing that it got you the award is often the really compelling story."

"The printed paper is still part of many people's habits, you know, and it's still important. People who appear in it still like to - even if they're online - like to share, to take pictures of the printed cutting and share it on social media."

"So the challenge really is always to, you know, to get those page impressions, to build big readerships but not by doing absolutely anything. By doing the clickbait as people call it. You don't want people to visit and then be disappointed by what they see, so you have to earn it through legitimate, interesting stories."

"I think because a journalist is getting so much that is not at all relevant to them, however much you unsubscribe from certain lists and so on, it helps if you immediately flag up the fact that it is local if you're approaching a local journalist."