Make web interactives work for you

By Marta Gouger
Online Reporter Project

Media groups are embracing technology with data visualizations, video and interactive elements, but Eric Uhlen says it’s not worth the effort if people aren’t looking at it.

Uhlen, the managing editor and vice president of digital content for Philadelphia Media Network, moderated the “News Nerdery for Audience Engagement” panel Saturday morning at the Pennsylvania Press Conference.

Panel members suggested ways to create interactive elements and measure their success.

Joel Shannon, audience analyst for the York Daily Record/Sunday News, said, “Websites should define success beyond page views and time spent on site. Social media brings brand recognition.”

“If people look at it on Facebook, they will look at it on your site,” Shannon said.

Lauren Ancona, senior data scientist for the city of Philadelphia, agreed. “Web analytics are more than page views,” Ancona said.

It’s important to know where people come from to your site, how they found the video and the pattern of behavior over time.

Erika Owens, program manager for Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, added that the success of a project is whether it moves people to action.

Owens suggested some free web apps to help journalists.

OTranscribe is a free web app to take the pain out of transcribing recorded interviews. The app works well with Trint, which syncs text with audio and video, making it faster and easier to get at content.

Census Reporter is another helpful tool. “It makes it easier to understand Census data without all the annoying work,” Owens said.

The app allows people to create a quick and easy snapshot of the data and turn it into charts.

NPR Visuals also offers open source tools such as Carebot, analytics for journalists and Elex, which allows people to integrate election results.

“These tools are freely and openly available,” Owens said.


Photo: Eric Ulken, managing editor and vice president of digital content with Philadelphia Media Network, discusses interactive elements with the panel on “News Nerdery for Audience Engagement.” Panelists, from left, are Lauren Ancona, senior data scientist with the city of Philadelphia; Erica Owens, program manager for Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, and Joel Shannon, audience analyst with York Daily Record/Sunday News.

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