On Wednesday afternoon, our Reinventing the News class took a trip to the North End, where we visited the GlobalPost headquarters. Although it is based out of Boston, GlobalPost is a website dedicated entirely to international news. Once there, we met with Charles Sennott, executive editor of the site, and Rick Byrne, director of communications and marketing. They spent some time speaking with us about the site and some of its recent content.
According to Sennott, the site has more than 70 correspondents in 50 countries around the world, in addition to a full time staff of 15 people in Boston, including 8 editors. The site makes money through online advertising, syndication and its subscription model, entitled “Passport“.
Overall, GlobalPost is an incredibly well put together site for international news. It is well organized, with drop down menus located at the top of the screen that list all of the countries and beats which the site covers. Further down, five boxes feature the biggest stories of the day. Other, more general sections such as “Women in Politics” and “Global Headlines” are listed below, followed by a multimedia section and a list of ongoing GlobalPost blogs.
To be honest, I hadn’t read the GlobalPost site until just before our trip to their offices on Wednesday. I am impressed with the selection of content throughout the site, and have already bookmarked the site with intentions of visiting it on a regular basis. The layout of the main site isn’t my favorite – I don’t necessarily like how all of the content is stacked one item on top of another. The international news that I read comes mostly from the New York Times or LA Times, and occasionally The Jerusalem Post, and in comparison to the NYT or LAT, I love the more in depth coverage GlobalPost provides.
During his presentation, Sennott highlighted a multimedia piece he worked on entitled “Life, death and the Taliban”. The piece, which features written articles, photo essays and video, is incredibly detailed and has dozens of different parts. Overall, I am impressed with the depth of reporting throughout the piece. The videos are well narrated, the photos are beautiful and the content well written.
I began by reading the “Blowback” piece, but the layout confused me a bit. The integration of the video is a good concept, but is choppy within the text. The additional bar with content options only a few paragraphs into the story is also confusing, and somewhat distracting. I do appreciate the quotes from people within the country – after reading dozens of articles about the complex situation of the Middle East, it’s refreshing to read an article that quotes a people from inside the effected area.
The home page of the article features a timeline of the Taliban, which I found incredibly informal. I like that you can click on different years and read about what happened at that point in time. I do wish that the timeline opened on its own, bigger page, where the text could be bigger and more in depth.
GlobalPost also has a Study Abroad page, which features content produced by college students studying abroad. My professor has asked us to come up with three story ideas for the page, and here are mine:
– If I were to write for this page, I’d love to do a feature on a typical weekend – comparing and contrasting how I would have spent my weekend in the states versus how I spent it abroad. The story could be mainly text, but also feature a media component with a voiceover and photos.
– I traveled to China two summers ago, and we had a lot of fun pointing out interesting signs throughout the country, many of which were translated incorrectly. A photo slideshow featuring some of these signs from across the world might be a fun, light feature for the page.
– On the same trip to China, I was lucky enough to interact with some local Chinese university students. Another great story might be a profile on a university student in another country – asking them questions about everything from their studies to their goals for the future. The piece would be text, in addition to some photos of the student’s daily life at school.
After working as a reporter and editor for the MetroWest Daily News, Jennifer Paluzzi was laid off in October of 2008. Despite her frustration, Paluzzi pushed herself to do more than just settle for a PR job at a local hospital (as the health report at MetroWest, everybody expected just that from her).
Jobless, with a multitude of time on her hands, Paluzzi began to realize how terrible the news sources for Grafton, her home town, really were. In ranting to a fellow parent at the bus stop one morning, Paluzzi had an epiphany. She challenged herself to become the news source in Grafton that she longed for as a local citizen and mother. Plauzzi began to update her Word Press blog GreaterGrafton.com three to five times a day with a variety of local stories. She covered everything from local town meetings to questions surrounding the new high school being built in town. Slowly but surely, her readership grew.
Eventually, Paluzzi got an offer from a publisher asking her to become the editor of the Grafton Times, a brand new online newspaper. After some discussion, The Daily Grafton evolved, and has since become one of six local online-only news sources for towns in western Massachusetts. Their hub, CentralMassNews.com, is one of the fastest growing journalism businesses in Massachusetts, and is one of the only news organizations hiring journalists instead of firing them.
In speaking to our class on Wednesday afternoon, Paluzzi noted that creating a website is about more than just the act of writing – its about how you utilize that site. She features video and photos on her sites and if citizens demand something, she can put it up in seconds. Important information like snow day announcements and posts about big events in town can all be found on her sites. All of the sites send out daily emails, use social media like Facebook & Twitter and focus on immediate, constant coverage. By targeting local advertisers, Paluzzi makes enough advertising revenue to turn a significant profit.
“I’m covering this like its world war three,” she said. I guess that’s the trick to being a dependable local journalist -dedicate yourself wholeheartedly, no matter how insignificant the subject matter may seem.