Thursday, April 24, 2014

Four FREE e-learning courses and a video-based seminar snapshot are now available to help suburban and community journalists ease the transition from a print only to multimedia publishing platforms. While the courses are mainly geared to newsrooms, most lessons are applicable for anyone in local media companies who desires to think differently and learn new skills.

Sponsored by the Local Media Foundation with a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, these e-learning modules are professionally produced by The Poynter Institute’s News University ( Many are finding these free, self-paced, and interactive e-courses not only teach valuable lessons but are excellent training tools useful with staff members of all experience levels. Join the over 3,000 students who have already enrolled!


At Work: Making New Ideas Succeed

You can change what seems unchangeable in your organization and this latest e-course from the Local Media Foundation provides practical guidance and tips to do it. Innovation is invention, but it isn’t always about new technology or new products. It’s about creating a new match between a need and a solution, or taking an existing solution and applying it to a previously unrecognized problem. “Innovation begins with curiosity, with asking "Wouldn't it be neat if....?" It's playing round with ideas to do new things or better things,” says an early student of the Innovation course.

Let your own curiosity lead you to this e-learning module quickly! In this brand new course you will learn how to tilt your natural tendencies into innovation territory and put the ingredients and processes of innovation to work for you. Among other key lessons, you’ll learn:

  • To identify innovative projects that have improved journalism and the newspaper business in general
  • To recognize roadblocks to innovation, generally and within your organization
  • To define the type of innovator you are naturally and to identify skills to develop and improve your innovative tendencies
  • To start a conversation with colleagues about opportunities to innovate in your organization

Course authors Mark Briggs (author of Journalism 2.0, a digital literacy guide for the information age, and CEO and co-founder of Serra Media, a Seattle-based technology company) and David Cole (editor and publisher of NewsInc., the weekly newsletter on the business of the newspaper business, and proprietor of The Cole Group) have hit a home run with this course — it’s full of top notch lessons and interactive tools and is already receiving high praise as “the best online course from Poynter’s NewsU that I have ever taken!”

Build & Engage Local Audiences Online

Get to know your local online audience and see what the power of local content can mean for you.

Our first interactive and self-directed NewsU e-course focuses on how you can better understand your local online audiences and how you can attract them and keep them engaged with your Web site. You’ll hear from many community editors and others about their strategies and experiences so far, including how to create meaningful web content with a small staff. One editor shares her story of publishing a weekly newspaper but a ‘daily’ Web site with just 3-1/2 staffers including herself. Interactive activities and a simulation add to the learning experience. You'll also hear about the tools you can use to draw readers to your site and create a plan to put those tools to work for you. Released last year, this course already has registered more than 1,300 enrollees.

Leading An Online Newsroom: What You Need To Know

Learn how to manage your newsroom for timely multimedia publishing.

The second in our series of free NewsU e-courses follows on the heels of Build & Engage Local Audiences Online. Leading An Online Newsroom is geared to editors and publishers who have made the commitment to multimedia but now need a game plan to organize their newsroom structure and leadership as part of the overall goal of achieving a Web first mentality. You’ll learn how to improve your newsroom’s workflow using proven methods. Industry professionals share strategies and best practices used in their newsrooms to produce timely content across multiple platforms.

The course addresses staffing needs and how to create the right rhythm to meet consumer expectations of updated content on your Web site. You’ll also learn about project planning including utilizing resources beyond your newsroom and ideas for collaboration. And, there is a Case Study Showcase which features newsrooms of all sizes in many diverse markets and how they are deploying their resources, the successes and hurdles they are experiencing and their future objectives.

Seminar Snapshot: Layout Driven Editing

When the SNA Foundation sponsored Innovation Mission traveled in Scandinavia, they met many inspiring media professionals who imparted valuable lessons to the North American contingency. One who stood out was Margaretha Engstrom, publisher of two community newspapers in Sweden.

Engstrom discussed the positive effects that her adoption of Layout Driven Editing, which she created, had brought to her newsroom and her newspapers. This new approach to creating pages not only streamlined the process of editing and laying out her papers, improving their appearance along the way, but also enabled her to dismantle a team of night copy editors and redeploy them into more feet on the street to gather the local news that is so vital to the continued good health of her papers and websites. Now, when her reporters and photographers tackle assignments, they know beforehand just how much space and what shape their work will fill — a step that vastly increases direct involvement with page layouts while decreasing wasteful efforts and the need for significant copy editing.

She discussed the layout driven editing concept in depth at a recent SNA Conference and her session was recorded by the team from Poynter Institute. They used it and other elements to professionally produce the just released Layout Driven Editing Seminar Snapshot found at

This e-learning tool is video based, fast paced and free — it will take about half an hour to complete. You’ll hear Engstrom candidly talk about her experience in developing her layout driven editing approach, see many examples of her newsroom’s work and learn practices that can be wholly or partially adopted by your media company.

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