A Look Inside Charlotte.com

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Anyone who’s followed the news recently knows that daily newspapers are experiencing dramatic change. (Need to get up to speed? Check out stories here, here, and here). Most of these changes are driven by the fact that more and more people are using online newspapers (or the Web in general) as sources for news and information.

This shift has sparked debates across the country about how the newspaper industry will respond and the future of daily papers. Only time will tell. What’s evident now is that the explosion in online newspaper readership has transformed newspaper websites into multimedia portals that not only deliver news, but also videos, pictures, and even blogs from popular reporters. Because of this continued growth, I thought it would be beneficial to get an inside look at how online newspapers operate in comparison to their print brethren.

Dave Enna, the Senior Producer of the Charlotte Observer’s Web partner Charlotte.com, was gracious enough to provide insights that will help you navigate this terrain. In the below exchange, he shares tips that range from stories that work better in an online news environment to what you should avoid sending to content editors at Charlotte.com.

KTM: How long have you been at Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: I have been with Charlotte.com since it launched in March 1996. Our staff in ’96 consisted of 2 editors and we worked at night, alternating days off to cover 7 days a week. Our staff now includes 7 editors (including me), and the newsroom multimedia director, Dee-Dee Strickland. We cover from 6 a.m. to midnight 7 days a week. The newsroom also provides a full-time online reporter, Steve Lyttle, who works Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a newsroom photographer who shoots for online and begins work at 6 a.m. I have been at the Observer since 1982. I have been national editor, weekend editor, and the real estate editor in past positions.

KTM: You are listed as a “Senior Producer” on Charlotte.com. Can you tell me what your specific duties entail?
Dave Enna: I guide the daily content on the site. I work from 6 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. M-F, and also Sunday mornings. The six online producers report to me. I report to the newsroom multimedia director. Her job is more ‘big picture’ — planning for the future and working with the newsroom’s top editors.

KTM: How many visits does Charlotte.com receive on a daily basis?
Dave Enna: Measured in page views, Charlotte.com averages about 30 million a month. On a typical weekday we generate 1 million plus page views. That equates to about 150,000 visits a day, with each visit generating about 7 page views.

KTM: How is news covered on Charlotte.com vs. the Charlotte Observer?
Dave Enna: The online team re-packages the content from the Observer and then presents breaking news and updates through the day. A lot of our most popular content was never in the printed newspaper. We get about 40 breaking news stories a day from the newsroom, plus many others from wires.

KTM: Any tips on how people can better shape story pitches for the print environment so that the ideas also work well online?
Dave Enna: Generally, the online team will re-route story pitches to the newsroom. The exceptions are events that have a lot of potential for photos or video. The newsroom generates about 20 videos a week, and that number is growing. Also, many more photos appear online than appear in print. The Black Tie slideshow – Charlotte’s social scene – is an example. It generates about 100,000 page views a week.

KTM: In your opinion, are there any particular stories that work better online vs. the print environment?
Dave Enna: Breaking news, traffic, sports and weather are the most popular stories online. The stories do not need to be highly detailed. We can update them often. Photos of people at parties are also very popular. Celebrity news is very popular.

KTM: What kind of multimedia elements do you accept for Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: Videos and photos can be uploaded by readers at www.charlotte.com/upload.

KTM: Do story ideas that include video or photos have a stronger possibility of being used on Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna: Possibly. We welcome videos from readers, but it is still the topic that will determine play.

KTM: Being that Charlotte.com is online, do you face the same deadlines as your counterparts at the Charlotte Observer?
Dave Enna: Our deadlines are constant. We face constant pressure to keep the site updated. We do not keep the same lead story and lead photo more than about 3-4 hours.

KTM: Is there an ideal time to submit story ideas or contact content producers?
Dave Enna: The mornings are extremely busy, but this settles down after about 9:30 am.

KTM: One final question. Are there certain things that people should avoid doing when submitting information to Charlotte.com?
Dave Enna
: They should avoid attaching things like word documents or Excel spreadsheets, which we generally will delete without opening because of the virus risk. The only way we will open them is if we have advance word from a trusted source. A .pdf document is safer. If they are attaching photos, they should drop them down in size, and only attach one photo per e-mail. Photos for online don’t need to be larger than 600 pixels, height or width.

Thanks for the interview, Dave. One important takeaway from this “inside look” is that the popularity of online newspaper sites expands how you can share your story with the local community – and even the world. When thinking about your next PR campaign, try telling your story using video or photos. Your ability to do this is a key ingredient to succeeding in this new media landscape.

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About Kristina Hill

An expert in marketing communications, Kristina Hill provides integrated marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses through MarComm Creative Group, LLC. The business offers an array of services, including: public relations and media relations; advertising planning and placement; integrated marketing plan development and execution; and, writing services.

Related Topics:

  1. Tips For Avoiding The PR Spam Zone
  2. Add Video To Your Press Releases
  3. The Ever-Evolving Press Release

What Should I do Next?
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One Response to “A Look Inside Charlotte.com”

  1. A Look Inside La Noticia « The Eastonsweb Multimedia Blog Says:

    […] A Look Inside Charlotte.com […]

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