Author Topic: News editor  (Read 2772 times)

Offline Peter Coleborn

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News editor
« on: October 29, 2015, 03:33:54 PM »
I was delighted to hear at the AGM that Phil Lunt is aiming to reinstate the role of online news editor. It will help make the BFS' website feel vital again. I fully support this.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: News editor
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2015, 07:14:46 PM »
Oh gosh, I hope not. We only just got the bandages off that foot. Or threw that albatross into the ocean. Killed that dorsal monkey! If we have any budding journalists we should get them writing for the journal, not wasting their time on writing news items that no one will ever read. Hopefully no one will volunteer to do it, but if they do, I look forward to a year of people complaining that they don't post enough, and then a year of people complaining that they don't post at all, and then a year of further complaints before we abolish the position once again.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: News editor
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2015, 10:42:35 AM »
Oh gosh, I hope not. We only just got the bandages off that foot. Or threw that albatross into the ocean. Killed that dorsal monkey! If we have any budding journalists we should get them writing for the journal, not wasting their time on writing news items that no one will ever read. Hopefully no one will volunteer to do it, but if they do, I look forward to a year of people complaining that they don't post enough, and then a year of people complaining that they don't post at all, and then a year of further complaints before we abolish the position once again.

The sort of negative comment I expected from you, Stephen.

Offline CarolineC

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Re: News editor
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2015, 11:54:22 AM »
Oh gosh, I hope not. We only just got the bandages off that foot. Or threw that albatross into the ocean. Killed that dorsal monkey! If we have any budding journalists we should get them writing for the journal, not wasting their time on writing news items that no one will ever read. Hopefully no one will volunteer to do it, but if they do, I look forward to a year of people complaining that they don't post enough, and then a year of people complaining that they don't post at all, and then a year of further complaints before we abolish the position once again.

That comment actually makes me want to throw my hat into the ring and have another go at it - except I really don't have the time and energy at the moment and I'm no longer a BFS member anyway.

Here are my thoughts on it based on what I was trying to do in the role. I saw it as a PR role. I believe that the website should be the "shop window" for the BFS - the place that attracts people to join the society. I base this belief on the fact that, when I first "discovered" the BFS, the website was so dormant that I actually thought the society had folded. So I didn't bother to join at that time. I'm sure I'm not the only one who came across the site and thought that too.

Sadly, today, it looks like the same kind of dormant website. If the BFS can find someone willing to take on this role, to build up the website as something interesting for people to read, then I think you've got a really useful PR possibility there. But the BFS does need to support that person well with assistance and helpful comments about how they're doing. I say good luck to who ever takes this on!
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Offline Neil C Ford - BFS Web Admin

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Re: News editor
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2015, 12:59:37 PM »
Stephen is not alone in that thinking. Given the choice I'd go all Ripley on the website and reduce it to an informational site, pointing interested parties at suitable alternatives for news, etc. But it's not my decision, thankfully I expect some would say.

I am in the unenviable position of seeing the usage stats, and they make for depressing reading. They mostly consist of foreign search engines and foreign hackers looking to exploits to distribute malware.

If the reality was faced up to, then the society's web presence wouldn't be the burden it currently is.

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Offline CarolineC

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Re: News editor
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2015, 02:03:35 PM »
I am in the unenviable position of seeing the usage stats, and they make for depressing reading. They mostly consist of foreign search engines and foreign hackers looking to exploits to distribute malware.

If the reality was faced up to, then the society's web presence wouldn't be the burden it currently is.

Yes, I can believe that the site doesn't get many visits as it currently is. But what I'm saying here is the BFS now has a choice. You could, if you wish, decide to use the website as a PR tool and build a steady stream of traffic to it. To gain traffic you know as well as I do that you need interesting content. Without interesting content the site will continue to stagnate.

So I think the committee needs to make a decision - does it want to:

1) build a website which will gain traffic and, hopefully, increase the society's membership? If so, then it needs to support the news editor in achieving this. Without that support, it will be a thankless task the new news editor faces (been there, done that, got the T-shirt)

OR
2) does the society not want to bother with using the site as a promotional tool for what it does? If it doesn't, then there's really no point in recruiting a new online news editor. You folks in the BFS (and, particularly, on the committee) need to make that choice.

Right, I'm out of this discussion now. I'm no longer a member, but this is something I feel strongly about due to the way I was treated when I wanted to make the website a useful promotional tool. What happened there is the reason I left the society. I'd hate to see someone else treated that way too. You folks need to decided if you really want an online news editor to help promote the society or not (and you need to back them if you do).
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Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: News editor
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 02:06:39 PM »
Stephen is not alone in that thinking. Given the choice I'd go all Ripley on the website and reduce it to an informational site, pointing interested parties at suitable alternatives for news, etc. But it's not my decision, thankfully I expect some would say.

I am in the unenviable position of seeing the usage stats, and they make for depressing reading. They mostly consist of foreign search engines and foreign hackers looking to exploits to distribute malware.

If the reality was faced up to, then the society's web presence wouldn't be the burden it currently is.

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My feeling is that traffic is so poor because the site doesn't look inspiring enough to want to return. If it had more news that changed  regularly I'm sure traffic would pick up. That's my hope, anyway.  Otherwise saying that few people visit so there's no point in doing anything is a bit Eyeore-ish -- sorry.

What do you mean by "informational site"? What kind of info, who posts it and keeps it up to date? Sort of like an online news editor.

For the record, I did the news editor role for a couple of years (2010-ish?) and it was hard work sourcing news but people did seem to appreciate my efforts.


Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: News editor
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 02:07:19 PM »

Here are my thoughts on it based on what I was trying to do in the role. I saw it as a PR role. I believe that the website should be the "shop window" for the BFS - the place that attracts people to join the society. I base this belief on the fact that, when I first "discovered" the BFS, the website was so dormant that I actually thought the society had folded. So I didn't bother to join at that time. I'm sure I'm not the only one who came across the site and thought that too.


I agree

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: News editor
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2015, 02:09:13 PM »

Right, I'm out of this discussion now. I'm no longer a member, but this is something I feel strongly about due to the way I was treated when I wanted to make the website a useful promotional tool. What happened there is the reason I left the society. I'd hate to see someone else treated that way too. You folks need to decided if you really want an online news editor to help promote the society or not (and you need to back them if you do).


Not being a BFS member doesn't exclude you from discussing things that might encourage you to rejoin.


Offline Neil C Ford - BFS Web Admin

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Re: News editor
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2015, 02:20:27 PM »
My honest opinion is that posting non-bfs news does not equal promoting the society, it is just noise that drowns out the signal. There are plenty of other sources for appropriate news. Posting relevant information about events, publications, etc., is what would promote the society. Much as it is probably an unpopular view, not even the reviews generate much traffic and they are posted to the front page and syndicated out to Facebook, etc.

Ultimately it comes down to what the society is about and what it's purpose is.

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Offline Djibril

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Re: News editor
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2015, 02:31:47 PM »
True that the main job of the BFS site should be BFS news, of which there's probably not enough to post an item every other day (even if the incoming News Editor and her/his team had the energy and enthusiasm to post that often in the long term). If the posting of news were the job of a team, however, and if "BFS news" were stretched to include "BFS member news," then there might be a bit more.

A news site, of course, is not merely a page that creates and posts news. It is also a site that links to other sources of news, as Neil suggests. It is also a site that aggregates news from some of the more relevant and more reliable of said sources of news (either automatically via an RSS stream, or perhaps curating that news manually to keep it relevant/interesting). It is also a site that commissions news and opinion pieces from members and other writers (reviews are a good example of this, but can't be the only or main thing, they're too labour-intensive ever to gain the volume we'd need). A news site also can't be run by a single person (pace Dave Langford!)—as Caroline says, the editor needs the support of the committee, and especially others on the web manager/publications side, and needs a full and active team, including a deputy who can take over the administrative side of the role at a moment's notice.

It does depend on whether the committee and the membership decide that the BFS should support and put resources into such a site, as well as whether a suitable editor (and team members) can be found. Caroline's experience suggests that it can't be done half-assedly, even with the best will in the world from the person in the role.
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Offline Neil C Ford - BFS Web Admin

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Re: News editor
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2015, 03:01:43 PM »
What do you mean by "informational site"? What kind of info, who posts it and keeps it up to date? Sort of like an online news editor.

I mean simply: How to join the society, how to contact the committee, what publications it produces, events it puts on, where online conversations occur, constitution, awards constitution, the (if any) services it offers, that's it. None of which changes on a regular basis, with the possible exception of the events listings. So no massive maintenance task, no need for a heavyweight backend,  just a simple site that is easy to maintain and easy to secure.

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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: News editor
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2015, 07:24:37 PM »
Sadly, today, it looks like the same kind of dormant website.

I can't imagine many people would go to the website of a literary society, see a news item from five days ago - one that made the website of a national newspaper! - and assume that the society is dormant.

The problem with the society having an online news editor is that there's no way to win, and many, many ways to lose. Even when we had Phil posting news on average every other day, people complained that it wasn't enough. When we didn't have a news editor, I had people moaning that I should be doing that as well as my own job. For about three of the six or so years that the post existed, the person in the post didn't do the job, and that was a constant drag on the reputation of the society - hence why I describe it as an albatross.

If someone is desperate to do it, to gain experience as a news writer, well, I think the society is here to provide our members with opportunities like that, so let them, but don't announce it as a permanent post, just give them a corner of the website to do it in and see how it goes. BFS news should always be front and centre.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 07:27:11 PM by Stephen Theaker »