During my MA Arts, Culture and Media, I focused on three main subjects: art criticism, film studies and ‘new media’ practices. It were these three different fields of interest which ultimately led me to my current internship as an editor and web publisher at XGN BV, a position in which I truly feel I can combine all these interests in a productive and creative way.
First and foremost, my interest in journalistic articles and art criticism was sparked when following the “Arts and Cultural Change” course, during which I was taught different approaches to critically writing art reviews (of a journalistic nature). During practical exercises, I was given the opportunity to review films and other works of art, which I really enjoyed. This experience made me realize that a journalism internship could be an interesting way to further develop my writing skills and knowledge of art criticism.
Secondly, especially in this past year, I have grown an interest in ‘Arts and New Media’, of which video games form an important part. Having written my thesis and multiple essays on the subject of video games, it felt natural to find a journalism internship which would allow me to write on that subject.
Lastly, I wanted to write on the subject of film, since this art discipline was part of my specialization during my BA Arts, Culture and Media (and partially during my MA as well). Not only do I have a passion for film analysis; I like the practical side of film as well. Therefore, I looked for an internship which would allow me to write film reviews (as well as doing some practical film work).
Combining these three interests, I went looking for a suitable internship, which I found at XGN BV in Amsterdam. XGN.nl is a Dutch website delivering news, reviews, videos, interviews and other articles on the subjects of video games, film and technology (digital lifestyle or ‘new media’).
During my internship at XGN.nl I was able to write extensively on film, games and technology, publishing an average of 5 articles per day, including news, reviews, specials and more. I was also introduced to the subject of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which I will further elaborate on when describing web publishing as one of my activities.
Working for XGN provided a great opportunity for applying my academic knowledge of film, new media, and art criticism, in order to write and publish many different articles online.
All in all, I had a fantastic time working at XGN this summer and have easily met all my ‘learning goals’ in the process, which I will describe in the coming pages.
XGN is a large, online platform (website) for everything related to video games, film, series and tech (gadgets) focused on a young audience. The platform serves as a base for an online community for discussion, but also delivers unique content, such as news, specials, reviews, previews, interviews etc. on a daily basis. XGN reaches about 30.000 unique page views per day. This makes the XGN organization one of the important players when it comes to the game industry in the Benelux.
Brief organization profile:
XGN was founded in 2005. Founder Hugo Welkers mainly takes care of PR, marketing and other business-related deals.
Co-founder Rob Ottens mainly takes care of the technical back-end of the website as technical director (the app, bugs, the website server etc.), but also writes and publishes articles and performs other, all-round maintenance and surveillance tasks.
Rox van der Helmis editor-in-chief, and is held accountable for delegating tasks to staff members and managing them. She also takes care of the schedule-making and planning for different events, in addition to doing some PR-work. Aside from these tasks, Rox also writes reviews, does interviews and other editorial work for the website.
The rest of the staff mainly consists of interns, freelance journalists and voluntary workers, who produce the main content for the website.
XGN.nl delivers daily (and hourly) news in the form of smaller articles on the subject of games, film and tech. These articles are mainly produced by interns. The website also delivers reviews, previews, specials and interviews on a daily basis, which are longer articles (of about a thousand words). These articles are written by interns, but also by voluntary workers and freelance journalists.
Main ‘learning goals’
Before the internship began, different learning goals have been discussed, which I will list below and shortly describe:
Learning to work efficiently and on my own in order to function inside an editorial office.
The editor’s office is relatively small, consisting of four people. Two editor interns (including me), Rox and Hugo. Learning to work together and efficiently is key.
Learning to work and function within an important cultural website and community.
Given the importance and size of the website, it is important to work very precisely and keep an eye out for important cultural developments, trends and other cultural phenomena. Filtering news for interesting subjects for our target audience was one of the important daily tasks.
Learning to professionally write news articles and publish them on a half-hourly basis.
Not only do I have to adopt a professional and efficient writing style, which suits the public and the medium, I also have to learn how to publish articles on a ‘half-hourly’ basis, since speed is of the essence when it comes to news articles.
Learning to pitch interesting and relevant ideas for reviews and news articles.
While scanning the news and keeping up with mass cultural developments concerning video games, film and technology, I have to learn how to select the news, and pitch different ideas derived from current cultural developments which would appeal to the XGN readers.
Writing reviews, specials, interviews etc.
I have to learn how to write longer informal articles to be published online, using flawless language and grammar, while still delivering the articles on time.
Learning to optimize articles for web-publishing purposes (SEO).
XGN receives the large majority of its views through Google, which means it is of the utmost importance that articles are written in such a style that Google accepts them as 'corner-stone' pages. This Search Engine Optimization must be applied to all articles written for the website.
Different internship tasks, learning goals and results
The internship tasks at XGN consisted mainly of editorial web publishing tasks. Below, I have described the individual tasks, along with their relation to the learning goals and the results.
Every morning we were asked by Rox to pitch different ideas to execute during the day. We were expected to keep up with news and cultural websites, in order to scan for relevant news. In the light of these trends or news items, we would have to come up with our own ideas for specials. This pitch has two main reasons: firstly, it forces us to observe the cultural developments and keep up to date with the latest news. Secondly, it allows us the freedom to come up with our own creative ideas, inspired by cultural developments and trends.
Learning goal: Being forced to pitch ideas and keep up with cultural trends, I was able to learn how to be creative and look at the cultural developments in a new way: I learned to filter and interpret news and cultural trends and turn them into relevant articles for our medium (web-publishing) and younger target audience.
Selecting and writing news articles
News is derived from different game websites, Twitter, news feeds, press messages and other sources. Every news article should contain around 300 words. It takes about 30 minutes to complete a news article for the website.
Learning goal: While making a selection in different news sources and keeping up with different news feeds, I have learned how to select quickly and filter relevant, news-worthy information for the XGN readers. Though it was tough at first to ‘get a feel’ for what is newsworthy and what isn’t, I think I have definitely shown progress in my selection of news articles and my ‘publishing speed’.
XGN produces multiple reviews on a daily basis. These can be of films, games or gadgets. After watching the film, playing the game or testing the product, the review is written in about two hours’ time. For reviewing films, I sometimes received a DVD or Blu-ray, or was given the opportunity to view a press screening of the film.
Learning goal: I was able to use my obtained film knowledge from film studies and use my writing skills from the Arts & Cultural Change course in order to produce critical reviews. It did take me some effort at first to change my formal writing style to fit the more informal style of XGN (which is more appealing to a younger audience). This conversion of style did help me to learn how to explain complex subject matter in simpler ways.
I was given the task to correct or review other people’s articles, to check for spelling and grammar mistakes and to make sure the SEO was applied correctly.
Learning goal: Using my overall (academic) writing skills, I was able correct or edit different articles. Doing so also trained me in my precision as a writer, which is also part of my learning goals.
I was given the opportunity to interview actors and directors, in order to produce written articles and/or a video of the interview. I held one interview over the phone, and one interview in the Amstel Hotel with several actors. I also edited the video of one of the filmed interviews, to be published on the website.
Learning goals: Using my film knowledge, I was able to ask analytical and critical questions, in order to create a more in-depth interview with actors and film directors. I also learned from Rox how to set up the interview, and how to work the final results into different relevant articles for XGN.
For XGN, it is important to offer interesting cultural background content, which takes into account recent developments and trends. These specials are spread out for multiple pages, each containing smaller bits of information.
Learning goals: Selecting different topics for relevant specials. Creating a special within a certain time frame, to keep it (news) relevant.
Applying extensive Search Engine Optimization to my own articles
Part of my internship was to make sure all the news articles, reviews, specials and interviews were optimized for search engines, in order to be relevant on the internet. Using XGN’s content management system (CMS), I was provided with an 'SEO checker' for each article. By entering a key word into the SEO Checker, I was able to easily optimize my content.
Learning goals: This was one of the biggest learning curves for me, as I had no prior experience in applying SEO to articles. Though it was tricky at first- it surely took me more time in the beginning to write a standard news article- I did learn how to quickly write from an SEO-perspective, making it easier to integrate the SEO Check in my articles.
One of the important channels through which XGN reaches out and interacts with fans (and the audience in general), is through social media. I was given the task to manage the XGN Facebook account and post different messages, photos or videos.
Learning goals: Using Facebook as a tool, not only to post messages but to also interact with the XGN community. I have learned how to use Facebook to increase popularity, and which posts resonate with the community and which don’t.
Metacritic, IMDB and NuJij.nl
For a website, it is important to be linked to on other website, as this increases its importance for Google and other search engines. By sending in the URL (the link) of different articles to different websites, XGN creates its own external links. This ' link-building' is done in three ways:
Metacritic.com – A large-profile website collecting all professional reviews of games, films and more.
IMDB.com – The film reviews of XGN are added to the metacritic part of IMDB.com.
NuJij.nl - Two game news articles are posted on NuJij.nl every day.
Learning goals: Getting to know how link-building works. Also learning to communicate with large-profile websites. Aside from this being a very standardized task, it does help me to keep up with my planning, to make sure I work it into my schedule on a daily basis. In this way, it taught me to combine tasks such as writing important articles with daily routine-tasks such as mailing a review to Metacritic.
During my internship, I kept an activity log, which I sent to Rox on a daily basis. In this activity log, all my different activities were time-marked and chronologically ordered. This was necessary to keep check of my workflow, and to detect possible problems with my activities, making sure everything went fine.
9:00 Nieuwtje Phantom Pain
9:27 Nieuws Call of Duty 9:57
10:00 Nieuws Gears of War – 10:19
10:25 Nujij 10:30
10:30 Apple Watch nieuws – 10:55
11:00 – 11:30 Amiga nieuws
11:37 – 11:57 Flash nieuws
12:00 Leage of Legends nieuws – 12:09
12:10 Nieuws For Honor en trailer 12:30
12:33 Verder met Leage of Legends nieuws 12:52
12:52 even koffie gezet
13:00 Xbox One muis 13:25
13:30 Flags SPECTRE special
13:50 Sharknado geboost – 13:55
15:00 Spectre special afgemaakt 15:09
15:10 Beginnen aan tweede Kracht van games special
15:21 nieuws Life is Strange – 15:45
15:53 Lords of The Fallen 2 nieuws 16:20
16:20 gezocht naar nieuws 16:29
16:30 Lords of the fallen aangepast 16:38
16:40 ESL line-up nieuws 17:30 (Was flinke lijst met beschrijvingen, Affiliates en meer)
17:35 NuJij FIFA geplaatst
17:40 special unieke kracht van games - de wetenschap achter realisme 18:05
The professional communication between staff membersof XGN is mainly done by e-mail, Slack or verbally. Rox was my main 'port of communication' for any editorial or practical questions. She was very open and accessible, and was a great help. She often advised me on SEO, and also on setting up interviews and reviews. When editing the articles she would critically review my writing skills and content, giving notes and remarks when necessary.
Hugo was also available, offering mostly advice on SEO and optimizing articles for publishing. The setting for communication was very informal, which made it easy to reach out to people for help if needed. It also created a nice working environment; very open and free, allowing creativity.
I also communicated often with Joris van Venrooij, the other editorial intern at XGN.nl, given roughly the same daily tasks. We were sat opposite of each other, allowing easy verbal communication.
Slack was mainly used to communicate messages when we were very busy. Because it’s a messaging service, it was easy to read back messages later, or passively work them into my activities.
Communication with external companies was done by e-mail. Sometimes we received press messages, which we could work into (news) articles, other times we would receive review codes, or streaming codes. The latter allowed us to review films and games which hadn’t appeared yet. E-mail was also used to receive and respond to invitations to press conferences, events and more.
When reviewing films, games and ‘tech’, we were given complete freedom to reflect on the artwork or technology in question. Though we had to grade the product or work, we were still allowed to independently create our own verdict.
The main source of income for XGN.nl is derived from web commercials, ads and affiliate links (partner programs for large online stores). Though these are prominently used on the website, they do not directly interfere with the journalistic independency of the written articles; reviews can still be negative, despite a sponsorship or commercial campaign running on the website.
Even affiliate links are used in a subtle way to link website visitors to other websites for money; this is only done when relevant, and helps visitors find the best deals. Balancing between income and journalistic independency isn’t a problem in this way.
During my three-month internship at XGN, I was able to develop multiple skills and reach the learning goals as described in this report. All my activities were do-able and interesting. I was given the opportunity to work in a creative and friendly environment, being allowed to come up with my own creative ideas. This, in addition to being constantly challenged to sharply follow cultural developments, filter relevant news to write and create meaningful cultural content for a large community, made this a suitable internship for my MA Arts, Culture and Media.
As I have demonstrated throughout this report, I was able to apply my acquired knowledge from different MA courses into the work field of XGN. This internship gave me important insights in online web publishing, social media and more. It taught me how to work efficiently inside an editorial office and communicate accordingly with all parties involved.
I would recommend this internship to anyone wanting to venture into the world of web publishing or any other journalism-related field. My one problem with XGN as a platform, is that the level of depth can be a bit shallow at times. While reviews and specials allow us to write in-depth articles, most news articles are a matter of quick writing and interpreting. The community of XGN is a young audience, meaning the articles on the website need to be accessible for all ages. This excludes very in-depth, complex articles. On the other hand, it did challenge me to ‘translate’ more complex material into easy-access articles, informing all ages.
Lastly, I want to thank XGN.nl for allowing me to write for them, and for putting their trust in me as their representative at interviews, press screenings and other activities. They provided me with many interesting opportunities and taught me all about web publishing, for which I am very grateful.
Because it’s very unpractical to add all the articles I’ve written in this report, I have compiled a list of all the articles published, which can be found on XGN.nl if needed:
Tijdelijke One Direction break - de apps op een rijtje 24/08/2015 15:23
Assassin's Creed Chronicles dialogen aangevuld met Ezio's stem 24/08/2015 13:47
T-Mobile 4G+ verbinding vanaf november beschikbaar 24/08/2015 12:35
The Shattering project website online - van maker Gears of War 24/08/2015 12:23
SOMA release is erg dichtbij - game is bijna af 24/08/2015 11:06
Stel hier je vragen voor de Q&A Tuesday! 24/08/2015 10:32
Music System Three+ Review - de radio van de toekomst 23/08/2015 16:02
Toon je creatieve talent tijdens de Imagination Studios Awards! 21/08/2015 17:47
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 beta PS4 update - nieuwe map! 21/08/2015 16:56