Final year BA (Hons) Journalism student, Aaron, wrote a piece about his recent class trip to Maximum Media headquarters. Read his full story below.
Students of the Online Journalism module at DBS recently took a trip to the home of JOE.ie and Her.ie.
As part of our Online Journalism module, our lecturer, Sarah Gilmartin, took us up to The Distillery Building in Dublin 8 to meet Paddy McKenna, the broadcast director of Maximum Media so he could show us the inner workings of JOE.ie, Ireland's most popular online media outlet.
After setting up as a part of Maximum Media seven years ago, JOE.ie now has over 700,000 Facebook fans and over 400,000 Twitter followers as well as thousands of viewers and listeners each week on their podcasts and Facebook Live shows. These numbers look set to continue to rise, with Facebook soon to introduce a new feature to the site called Facebook Watch. McKenna described the feature as “a game changer” for the industry.
McKenna, who previously worked for RTÉ on both radio and television, took us into the heart of Ireland’s most high profile solely online media outlet to see how the operation runs on a day-to-day basis.
The most striking thing when going into the main building was the seemingly laid back atmosphere. The bright green colour of the walls and the basket of crisps and chocolate bars at reception didn’t give off the impression that we were entering a high pressure working environment, where content needs to be written to deadlines - until we saw some of the 86 employees typing away intently in the open plan office next door.
After giving us a brief history of the business, Paddy took us to the studio where they record their five weekly podcasts and their weekly Facebook Live show. From the outside, it wouldn't strike you as the type of building where Ireland's most watched online outlet broadcasts from. A narrow staircase with barely enough room for two people to pass each other led to a room where JOE produce their podcasts. It was a small room with some soundproof padding, a desk and a round table in the corner with five microphones where the podcasts were recorded from.
Paddy then showed us a much larger main room and studio where their live shows happen every week. They were still setting up the equipment, having brought it back from The Academy from the previous night where they had interviewed Hollywood A-listers Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, the biggest interviewees the company have had to date.
Each week after the live show, they pull out the funniest 90 seconds of the episode and upload it online. This was when Paddy told us about Facebook’s “game changer.” It's called Facebook Watch and is a new section which will be introduced to Facebook where all live streams will be stored, for people to watch any time. He also told us about Facebook’s plan to buy the rights to sporting events and then subcontracting the rights to television stations across the world. Another business coup for Zuckerberg and Co.
The day was a fascinating insight into how online media works and would give anyone sceptical of the industry a newfound respect for how hard they work. It was also a great trip for us as students. Given that 90% of everything we publish in our careers will now be solely online, it was great to see how websites like JOE work on a daily basis. It gave us a fair idea of what to expect when we leave college and head into the world of employment.