The LION Summit 2013 welcomed professor Rich Gordon, director of Digital Innovation at Medill School, Northwestern University.
As the keynote speaker and pioneer of journalism databases, Gordon focused his hour-long discussion on the topics he teaches his students to analyze.
“The web is the most measurable medium,” said Gordon.
The class he teaches will begin in the spring semester, and Gordon said his students will examine networked audience development practices, or how users are exploring a webpage for hyper-local websites. Any online publisher is welcome to bring their concerns to his students for a future plan that will identify the problem areas and provide an improvement plan.
The innovation project, as this process is generally recognized, calls for students to develop new products and further test journalism technologies such as Go Skokie and locative storytelling.
The most valuable tools to online publishing sites are the social media outlets that bring viewers to the pages through quick teasers. Referrals such as Facebook and Twitter bring the most attention. So, knowing what type of information to put out there is crucial, said Gordon.
One part of his discussion included a demonstration through visual photos, including how a computer detects a webpage from the inception of a Google search to landing on a page. The technological terms were kept simple, but also showed exactly why online publishers should understand where viewer numbers are gathered.
Gordon said from his experience, there are three dimensions of data journalism, which include the computer-assisted reporter, the news application developer and a data visualization specialist.
“I have seen visitor duration numbers thrown around a lot, as if they mean something,” Gordon said.
It’s important to not only have headlines that catch readers, but also content that will make them click away from the main page, he said. The calculated main-page numbers mean nothing if viewers are not exploring through the website.
“If you are a publisher, your job is to get people to come to your site,” Gordon said.
Gordon majored in history at University of Pennsylvania and began his career as a reporter at Richmond Times Dispatch and later, Palm Beach Post.
Immediately he worked with what was labeled as precision journalism, which incorporated computer-assisting technology into the reporting.
Gordon started Medill’s first graduate program in news media journalism.
He was part of the first generation of journalists to bring newspaper efforts to the online medium.
Early on in his career, Gordon began working with the computer as an extra leg of assistance to all of his reporting. In 1995, he was named the first media director at The Miami Herald.
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