News and gig guide issues

I am posting in a three-way conversation from emails etween David, gig guide editor, myself and Greg, news editor. I would appreciate any thoughts about the following, particularly whether 'news' should stop being simple call-outs from the gig guide, and whether features might merge more into real news to make it more of a magazine linked to the notion of "what's going on in poetry, or in open-mic poetry, or in live-literature, or..."?

Email from Julian:
I am getting lots of ‘new’ gigs coming per day by Facebook;

The thing I am trying to do is to balance our need to have (to be seen to have) the most comprehensive listings – it being our usp - with a need to get the impresarios to want to list, so that – as you point out, David – we can still manage the whole thing because that way most of the processing is being done by users rather than us. They will want to list if we are THE place to be seen (profile/branding) and they get results (which few of them measure – how did you find out about us?).

Unlike the GG, the news is impossible to keep comprehensive, it seems to me. I suppose more space for it, better layout and changes in the way we archive stuff instead of removing it might make it a useful resource down the line (hmm), but our key aim right now is to keep the front page interesting and lively

The Features as presently configured work against that desire, being the only thing on the home page that rarely turns. I need to discuss this with Dermot, though anyone’s opinon welcome of course.

We have two current objectives for the news I suppose: change it from being only call-outs for information on the gig guide, which is largely there to please the gig owner and bribe them to list for themselves, to having more stuff of real interest to our users, like the arts council piece, or competition announcements, so forth. We also want to demonstrate that we are UK, not Bolton. The desire to favour our Write Out Loud night announcements militates against that, which causes me other strategic dilemmas.

Having more general interest (to poetry lovers, literature too) stuff will up our ratings, as Paul Emberson has just written to remind me (he was praising the choice of the Arts Council piece).

So, I receive all these facebook thingies, sift through – some are invitations to be ‘friends’, some invites to gigs, which is where we pick up new gigs so new users.

If I diverted all FB stuff to you, David you would also get all the ‘will you be my friend’ ones, although I largely agree now. Why not. Hey, peace and love, man. Far out.

So I shall endeavour to send you all that I have. I could, I suppose, copy Greg in? Trial period, but it might get too much for Greg – talking about time available rather than competence, Greg.
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David’s note:
Finally, you raise the point that some of what I get as GG Editor may well be also a candidate for a news item. I can use my own judgement here - as to what to forward as a candidate, but a clue or two from you/Greg would help me on my way.
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From Greg:
, I had a few thoughts when I woke up this morning. Maybe one thing to do with the front page would be to get rid of the magazine (junk everything apart from poem of the month and reviews?) and fill the gaps by creating new sections, such as (1) Publications - new books, mainsteam and self-publications, poetry only; (2) Competitions; (3) Creative writing courses and talks (poetry only, or maybe wider).

These new sections would have to be self-listing on the whole, otherwise too time-consuming, although we could reserve the right to dive in and edit and moderate and remove if necessary. We might also have to do some work to get them started. I would loot them for rewritten news items if I needed something fresh that caught my eye.

All comments much appreciated.
Sun, 10 Apr 2011 10:27 am
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