How do the Web-savvy engage other reporters?

I’m well aware that there are journalists who simply don’t want to understand the Web and why it’s important.

But I believe there are a lot of journalists who are perfectly willing to learn more Web skills, if only the pitch was made to them in the right way. They don’t want to be forced into extra duties without any explanation, they don’t want to be looked down upon by some snotty recent graduate, and they don’t want editors talking over their head with tech jargon.

So what’s the right approach when trying to nudge your fellow journalists into trying new things online? I’d love to hear some success stories, because this is becoming a bigger focus for me in my newsroom.

A few of my initial thoughts:

  • Ditch the editors and outsiders. The training should come from previously capable reporters who can talk to the less-Web-savvy reporters on their own level.
  • Allow newsroom-wide access to the Web site’s statistics. Anyone who has written their own blog knows how intoxicating it is to see how many visitors you’re getting to your site, and where they’re coming from. It becomes more of a game with a quantifiable payoff.
  • Create incentives to learn new skills. If I ruled the world it would come in the form of bonuses.

Any more ideas, or techniques that have worked?

  • I’m finding that reporters on deadline need a certain degree of oversight and accountability to motivate them.

    For example, if you can get an editor excited about the Web, they’re the ones that are going to ask for links or a map or a poll with every story.

    It almost takes a ‘Web native’ journalist to self-motivate to get these jobs done. For everyone else, sticks and carrots aren’t just necessary — they’re part of their daily workflow.

  • I’m really struggling with the evangelizing. I’ve always been a “lead by example” person, so explaining is harder than just pointing at something and saying, “Do it like that.”
    But on the Web, it’s too much to grasp. I’m considering planning a best-practices 101-style session for fellow reporters to get people excited about what they might do. I read somewhere about regular brown bag sessions that might be effective.

  • Practicality matters.

    It’s not that most people refuse to learn (those people exist, but not in great numbers). It’s that they don’t know where to start learning, don’t know there are technical solutions to speed up their inefficiencies or they’re just complacent.

    I look for simple things that can help their beats on an individual level. If I see a crime reporter checking the court docket site every day, I point out there’s an RSS feed. If they don’t know what that means, I explain it and show them how it helps. Next thing you know they’re showing other reporters how to use feeds for stuff like news releases.

  • Definitely agree with the first two suggestions — they’re both things I try to do in my newsroom every day. What I would add is: Praise and reward those who have successes on the Web (cool extra content, blog post generates lots of page views, etc.) I think this is better than offering incentives for simply learning new technology — the bonus should come when you learn a new skill and apply it well. Anybody can slog through CMS training or setting up a blog, but will they actually follow through and do something interesting with it?

    For stats, I try to point out big page-view-getters to reporters, especially anything that gets externally linked (Drudge, etc.). It’s definitely encouraging when they see that people all over the world have read their story — people who never would have seen it on TV.