Media Picks #11 – Digital storytelling, web versus apps, making economics fun

Media Picks #11 – 27 February 2015
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New York Times to double the number of stories open for comment on its site
Bucking the trend toward closing down online comments, the New York Times is not only not planning on going that route but it actually has plans to expand online comments by opening up more articles for reader opinion. Interesting fact: NYT typically opens 23 articles for comments every day and has 13 moderators looking after those.

Stunning digital storytelling
After spending a weekend judging digital entries in the 2015 Society of News Design competition, Mindy McAdams chooses some of her personal favourites. She also offers great insight into what makes, or breaks, a good digital story.

Guardian headhunters reach out to New York in search for new editor
An external recruitment firm retained by The Guardian’s ownership, The Scott Trust, has cast a wide net on both sides of the Atlantic with its own search for suitable editor candidates, which is separate from the newsroom ballot.

+  The four internal candidates for the Guardian editorship have released their vision statements

Bringing readers into the conversation
“Where was God in Aurora?” When CNN’s religion editor Dan Gilgoff asked this question on Twitter in the aftermath of the shootings, the responses were numerous. He then turned the responses into an article which itself garnered more than 10,000 comments. Quickly the original tweet had taken on a life of its own. “An engaged journalist’s role in the 21st century is not only to inform but to bring readers directly into the conversation.”

Web vs App:  apps are undergoing a revival but for how long?
For new publisher it has long been a challenging question: app or web? Focus too much on apps and you risk being ignored by the social web. Focus too much on the web and you end up being a lonely webview inside someone’s Facebook News Feed. Focus too much on apps and you risk getting lost on the fifth homescreen of someone’s phone. Focus too much on the web and you lose out on tools like push notifications that can drive attention.

So what is Buzzfeed doing with apps?
“You might have heard we are working on a news app,” writes Chris Johanesen, Buzzfeed’s VP of Product, on the company blog. “You might have heard that we’ve recently acquired not one, but two app companies.  … And today, you might have heard we launched our first new app in years and that it’s called … wait for it… Cute or Not.” What exactly is Buzzfeed up to?

An ethical checklist for robot journalism
News organizations are experimenting increasingly with robot journalism, using computer programs to transform data into news stories or news stories into multimedia presentations. What are the ethics of robot journalism? When editors consider using automated news writing, what issues of accuracy, quality and transparency arise?

An excellent reason for allowing anonymous sources (via Mother Jones)

Behind the scenes: Making economics reporting fun
If you’re unfamiliar with NPR’s excellent Planet Money podcast then you might well wonder if it is possible to make economic reporting entertainment. Stacey Vanek Smith is a reporter with Planet Money and in this interview she provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the what it takes to produce a compelling piece of journalism.

Why serious journalism can coexist with audience-pleasing content
“For too long, it’s been easy to mock legacy media organizations that dare dabble in relatively new, digital platforms or formats that are perceived to be low-brow,” says Ann Friedman. “When outlets with long-established reputations do take a stab at entertaining an audience rather than just informing it, critics have been quick to couch the move as a play for advertising and lowest-common-denominator clicks.”

How journalists are using Slack and Hangouts (instead of email) to stay connected​
Conferences are great, but they’re often really expensive and require having additional staff members to backfill positions. That’s often hard to manage in smaller newsrooms. Some journalists are turning to hangouts to fill gaps and some are even using Slack to discuss new media developments.

BuzzFeed newsletter begins expansion into breaking news platform
“We want to put readers in a position where they know about big stories before anyone else, and are always the ones in-the-know,” says Dan Oshinsky, Director of Newsletters at BuzzFeed, “The newsletters are a standalone project for now, but the News App team is building out a whole series of emails, apps, and notifications. This is just the first big launch in what will be a series of launches for that team.”

Try this at home: Six web-based tools and applications that can help you communicate visually
These “off-the-shelf” products — many free and some open-source — make tasks do-able and efficient that would have taken huge amounts of time and money in years past. They are, in a sense, democratizing the ability to communicate.

What the connected future means for publishers
Media companies need to understand how the environment we live in today is being changed by web-connected devices if they want to fully grasp the future mindset and expectations of readers. In turn, we can then understand how we should be dealing with our customers going forward.

Tips: Debunking a Twitter hoax in 30 seconds
The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Marshall offers some tips on verifying tweets.

5 ways to get around Twitter’s 140-character count
Saying what you want to say in 140 characters is tough. Sometimes you just need more space.

How I’m using WhatsApp to host a newsletter
Alex Laughlin decided that WhatsApp might be a nifty way to distribute a small scale newsletter. So she started doing exactly this. Here she shares her thoughts on the whole process.

Drilling down: A quick guide to free and inexpensive data tools
Newsrooms don’t need large budgets for analyzing data – they can easily access basic data tools that are free or inexpensive. This is a pretty comprehensive list.

Until next week

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Media Picks #10 – Immersive stories, the algorithms are coming & don’t post Facebook pictures

Media Picks #10 – 20 February 2015
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The company automating stories for AP now has its sights set on sports journalism
A few weeks ago Media Picks included a story about how AP was using algorithms to automatically generate more than 3,000 company stories every quarter.  Now the company behind AP’s automation, Automated Insights, has been  bought and will start looking at generating automated sports stories. No doubt some will claim this to be the end of journalism but, as AP points out, the automation has freed up time for journalists to focus on other more important areas of news.

Posting a photo is the worst way to get people to see your Facebook posts
Say what?! Not so long ago everyone knew that the best way to hook readers on Facebook was to include a good picture. But that was then and this is now. The new flavour of the month, apparently, is video which, according to a long-term study, is the format that most attracts Facebook users. That in itself is not surprising but what is surprising is that pictures fared even worse than just simple text in attracting interaction.

Inside The New York Times Instagram strategy
To appeal to a new generation of news consumers, The New York Times is going all-in on Instagram: “It’s not an effort to drive traffic to the site. That’s very hard to do on Instagram. It’s much more about building awareness and, hopefully, loyalty for The New York Times broadly, but particularly for the Times’ incredible visual storytelling.”

Riddle me this: How can news organisations better use games and quizzes?
The New York Times’ most popular piece of content in 2013 wasn’t an article — it was, of course, its now famous dialogue quiz. The quiz, published Dec. 21 of that year, was also the paper’s third most popular story of 2014. Similarly, the most popular story in Slate’s history was the Adele Dazeem Name Generator, built after John Travolta butchered Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars last year.

‘Tweet your story four times’ and other social media advice for journalists
Social media is hard work. It’s no longer any good to just tweet a link to your story and move on to the next article. No, you need to post that tweet three or four times, in different ways, if you’re going to get any serious traction.

How Mic turned Tumblr into a big traffic driver
A little more than a year ago, Mic (then still known as PolicyMic) had just a few hundred followers on Tumblr and was doing nothing but reblogging posts from other accounts. Today, Mic’s Tumblr has nearly 100,000 followers and the referrals it generates constitute 5 percent of Mic’s total monthly traffic.

Under the Hood of ‘Chasing Bayla,’ an immersive story from the Boston Globe
If you haven’t seen Chasing Bayla, do yourself a favour and head over there right now. Last October, Laura Amico coordinated the production of “Chasing Bayla,” an immersive story about one man’s quest to save a whale ensnared in fishing nets. The story features over 6,000 words juxtaposed with multiple photographs, videos, audio recordings, and animated illustrations.

Vox experimented with a new format for its daily email and the audience really hated it
Anyone who has spent any time working in digital media knows the feeling: you slave over a new way of presenting the news. You finally launch your new baby, proudly, and barely seconds later you start receiving the hate mail. Readers are often a lot less tolerant of change than we think they are.

Irish Times creates analytics team to drive reader-first strategy
In effort to grow audience and revenue, The Irish Times hired a business analytics team in 2014. The team tracks reader behaviour in three categories — occasional, frequent, and heavy — then identifies articles that would be of interest to each.

There is still a place for blogs in an overloaded media world
Following the decision by Andrew Sullivan to stop blogging, much has been made of the demise of blogging. But, argues Ira Stoll, reports of blogging’s death have been overstated.

Don’t get caught out: tips for live coverage of breaking news
When a big news story breaks, live blogs spring up across most major news sites. Live blogs are well suited to breaking news events, but they are evolving stories which are riddled with risk and pitfalls.

The gorgeous typeface that drove men mad and sparked a 100-year mystery
No one seemed to notice him: A dark figure who often came to stand at the edge of London’s Hammersmith Bridge on nights in 1916. No one seemed to notice, either, that during his visits he was dropping something into the River Thames. Something heavy.

Swarmize in the newsroom: Collect, analyse and output data 
“Editors can set up simple polls and embed them onto a Web page in minutes. Developers can build more custom interactives like a live TV feedback mobile app.” – Guardian’s Matt McAlister.

New York Times ramps up digital, will retire system of pitching stories for the print page one
Editor Dean Baquet says The Times will continue to have its distinctive morning meetings, but rather than focusing on which stories will make the front page of the next day’s print edition, the paper will compete for the best digital, rather than print, real estate.

Tool of the week: Creating images for social media with Canva
We all know images work well on social media (okay, except for on Facebook which is reported higher up) but creating them can be time-consuming. Not so with Canvas which makes it dead simple to create quirky pictures perfect for sharing on social networks. Downside: It’s not completely free but if you’re willing to spend a little money, check it out.

Here’s a recipe for successfully crowdfunding journalism in 2015
American Public Media has decided that doesn’t work any more in today’s crowdfunding environment. But they also investigated what does — and laid out a model for others to use.

Geekery: How many of your readers are using AdBlock to hide the ads on your site? 
Adblocking software like AdBlock Plus have become mainstream and now pose a significant threat to web businesses that are dependent on online advertisements. But do you know how many users are hiding your ads? This Google Analytics snippet might just have the answer.

Until next week

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Media Picks #9 – No home pages, the end of Twitter buttons, FTW!

Media Picks #9 – 13 February 2015
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The news site with no site: NowThis drops website, goes all-in on social
NowThis, which was founded to try and reinvent the way video news is delivered, took another step in that direction Friday by scrapping its website of video content and establishing it as solely a repository of links to its presence on outside social media platforms.

On the other hand, if you like the idea of actually having a website, here are 64 ways to think about a news homepage

What news can do for Google (and itself)
Editors and publishers shouldn’t be surrendering their news judgment to Google, says Jeff Jarvis. “Shouldn’t they, the news professionals, be telling Google how Google should judge the news? Shouldn’t they be identifying the news that is original, relevant, and important and urging Google to point to that?”

Making the most of Tumblr: Tips from NPR 
NPR insights into what works for media organisations on Tumblr:  “While photo posts tend to do the best, we’ve tried to include a mix of link, video and quote posts. This strategy ensures that we avoid monotony in our feed and it can help us stand out from the Tumblr crowd. Using a variety of post types also gives us some easy workarounds for really interesting stories where we don’t have a strong visual element or are not allowed to use the images that come with the story.”

How The New York Times works
Ever wondered what it takes to produce a newspaper like The New York Times? Wonder no more. Reeves Wiedeman takes a fascinating and detailed look at what goes into a paper like the Gray lady.

Strategies for making your newsroom think mobile-first
In May, CNN staffers celebrated “Mobile de Mayo,” where the newsroom dedicated its focus to all things mobile. For one week, content decisions were made with mobile users as the primary audience … And they were on to something. Three months later, CNN’s mobile traffic surpassed its desktop traffic.

How did they do that? 
8 great online visualisations and the tools behind them.

And if you like that, you won’t want to miss part II.

Building great media products through anarchy
How can you build better software products that involve everyone on the team? The Guardian Workflow team tried a little anarchy and found it to be a great way to build software.

Are online media part of the problem of misinformation rather than the solution?
“Too often news organizations play a major role in propagating hoaxes, false claims, questionable rumors, and dubious viral content, thereby polluting the digital information stream. Indeed some so-called viral content doesn’t become truly viral until news websites choose to highlight it. In jumping on unverified information and publishing it alongside hedging language, such as “reportedly” or “claiming,” news organizations provide falsities significant exposure while also imbuing the content with credibility. This is at odds with journalism’s essence as “a discipline of verification” and its role as a trusted provider of information to society” – Craig Silverman

+  Move quickly, keep it simple and other tips for debunking​ misinfomation

Social tips for editors: How PRI’s Executive Editor David Beard makes a Twitter feed worth following
David Beard is a scanner. Every day, the executive editor of scans every story from his site, as well as stories from the many newsletters, Twitter feeds, and news sites he follows throughout the day. He then selects ones that he thinks will particularly resonate with the audience, adds a bite-sized fact or quote from each piece, and pushes them out on his own Twitter feed.

Imagining the 21st-century personal news experience & how publishers need to collaborate to create it
Does Jane Doe want a 21st-century news experience? Would she even think of it that way? As media we know what we want or what we need but what does the personalised news service look like for consumers? In part two of a new series of reports for RJI,Bill Densmore imagines exactly this.

+  Part 1: The future begins with P: privacy, personalization and payment

Tweet Buttons are less of a big deal than they used to be for your Twitter strategy
Whether it’s the growth of mobile, the shifting user base of Twitter, or something else, those Twitter sharing buttons littering news sites appear to be generating a shrinking share of tweets linking to news stories.

And then there’s this:

USA Today’s For The Win dropped Twitter buttons in favour of SMS sharing buttons. The result: FTW!
The early results have been staggering: the SMS button has been used three to four more times more often than the Twitter button ever was, according to FTW’s editorial director Jamie Mottram.

For the geeks: Building the new web Flipboard
Skip this if you don’t enjoy a little code. Flipboard was built around the idea of mobile-first but now it is going back to the web. In a detailed blog post the team walks through the challenges and the solutions in going from mobile to desktop.

Audio: Digestible media
We’ve suffered from information overload for years. But Wall Street Journal social media editor Sarah Marshall sees a future with a “finishable” news experience.

Until next week

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Media Picks #8 – Killing comments, the real value of paywalls and tips from the experts

Media Picks #8 – 6 February 2015
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It’s Friday, so why don’t we start this week’s email newsletter with a story about … email newsletters:

Email newsletters: mixing the old and the new in the news world 

News on digital platforms may feel like a revolution, says Ken Doctor, but a lot of the underlying behaviours — by readers and by publishers — date back to an earlier era. And they’re proving effective.

Guardian digital chief: Killing off comments ‘a monumental mistake’
The Guardian’s executive editor for digital has described the trend among some news sites of switching off reader comments as a “monumental mistake” – saying user interaction is a “huge resource we are largely ignoring”. Delivering the opening keynote at the news:rewired conference, in London this morning, Aron Pilhofer said sites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy were “quite frankly eating our lunch” – and news organisations need to do much more in the areas of community engagement and user analytics.

+    Why I’ve found that online communities on media sites always seem doomed to fail

Hip chat: how top publishers are using Snapchat
If you’re more than a couple of decades old you probably have no idea what Snapchat is and why it is so popular. And if you have heard of it and you have tried it you might still not know why it is so popular. And yet Snapchat is the “next big thing”, particularly among millenials and big news organisations are starting to use the platform to reach this younger audience.

Real paywall value may lie in the data​
At first, publishers built paywalls to keep revenue from leaking away. As it turns out, they may be much more valuable for the data they’ve helped to collect.

Why “above the fold” still matters, even in digital
What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience — regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above verus below the fold is 84%.

Ben Thompson’s Social/Communications Map
$200,000 a year from blogging? Who says the blog is dead? 
Ben Thompson is busy building a pretty decent business with his blog. A one-man operation, Thompson has more than 2,000 subscribers paying him $100 a year for his business and tech insights. So who better to respond to the post-Andrew Sullivan “blogging is dead” meme? In a fascinating breakdown of the business of blogging Thompson argues for the robust health of blogs.

How to produce value and revenue with digital video
More than 62 billion videos were viewed online in December 2014. Digital video has become a market imperative — something every publisher must understand and do well, regardless of one’s history.

How Ta-Nehisi Coates built the best comment section on the internet—and why it can’t last
Ta-Nehisi Coates started blogging for The Atlantic on August 4, 2008. His first post was titled “Sullivan… McArdle… Fallows… Coates???” and it laid down his terms from the start: “My only rule, really, is simple,” he wrote. “Don’t be a jerk to people you disagree with.”

How newsrooms should cover ‘the hashtag election’
Election coverage thrives off data journalism, and for the next election we have access to more data than ever before. But Alberto Nardelli, data editor at the Guardian, cautioned that “just having lots of numbers and figures is not necessarily a good thing.”

Follow the money and you’ll find the future of news
Emily Bell and James Harding are thinking challenging thoughts about the media. But the bottom line is still the bottom line

Live events: Some of the best current ideas for better funding of journalism
“Are there solutions to this dilemma of how news coverage will be funded in the future? Let’s hope so, since if there are some “magic bullets” around already, they haven’t become apparent.” – Steve Outing summarises his online brainstorming session looking for new and better funding models for news media.

5 Must-try apps for newsgathering & publishing
When more than 50 percent of your audience says it accesses news on mobile, it’s time to listen up. Especially, when almost a quarter of them say they get news via a cellphone or tablet. However, not all journalists and newsrooms have embraced the importance and benefits of mobile devices.

+   Journalism tools the experts recommend
30 journalism experts and digital wizards to choose their 3 best tools in their field of expertise. Great execution and loads of good ideas.

How the BBC’s Ebola WhatsApp service is battling virus and finding great stories
With the Ebola crisis growing quickly, how could the BBC distribute public health information to people in West Africa, so they could receive it directly on their mobile phones? WhatsApp, of course.

Until next week

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Media Picks #7 – Automated news, fixing news hyperlinks and radical designs

Subscribe to get the weekly Media Picks email newsletter in your inbox. Missed previous Media Picks editions? View the archives.
Robot journalism: AP’s automated company reports are giving journalists more time to pursue other stories
“Like all media, we are working with limited resources and it’s critical that we maximize the time reporters have to do journalism and break news. We estimate the automation of earnings reports has freed up about 20 percent of the time that we had spread throughout the staff in producing earnings reports each quarter.” – AP’s Philana PattersonGlimpse inside the 2015 digital reporting toolkit
There literally is an app for everything. This list is not so much a toolkit as toy barrel promising hours of fun and experimentation. There’s something for everyone here from finding trends to doing virtual reality to making mobile video.

Six digital journalism tools you need to try
From running Q&A sessions, to visualising data, to making your own memes, this list from The Whip is a good introduction to some of the lesser known digital tools available to journalists.

The Beeb on the future of news
The BBC has released the first report from its Future of News project. The report looks at the various ways journalism will change over the next ten years.

Editors react: Condé Nast enlists its journalists to create ads
Condé Nast, publisher of famous glossies like Vogue and GQ, said it would use its editorial staff to write the ad copy as part of the creation of a new branded content arm, inciting a predictably visceral reaction from journalistic corners.

Emily Bell on the ‘tabloidisation of everything’
“I think this has brought us to a very interesting and challenging moment in the press and in broader society. The ‘too long didn’t read’ version of this speech is journalism needs a lot more journalists who are technically proficient, and the new gods, the platform companies, social networks and search engines, need to hire a lot more technologists who are proficient in news. Because at the moment we have a situation which is not working for either of us.”

Why journalism students need a baseline understanding of coding
“Teaching students about code should be part of a broad liberal arts education. Code is about more than just a shiny new thing; it’s about a better understanding of our world and producing better communication and journalism.”

Online links are broken: how a Dutch publisher is trying to fix hyperlinks
The Dutch publishers of De Correspondent are convinced that hyperlinks are broken, or at least intrude into reader enjoyment. They’ve come up with three ways they think will fix the problem.

Guardian overhauls site in anticipation of publishers selling ads based on time
Aware it needs to prove advertising effectivess beyond clicks, the publisher is increasingly leaning toward time-based metrics to push its inventory. Its site has been relaunched with this shift in mind, blending images, video and text in a “container” format that allows for more flexibility in terms of how content and ads are laid out online.

Constantly tweaking: How The Guardian continues to develop its in-house analytics system
The Guardian wants staffers to use Ophan, its in-house analytics tool, to make even the slightest of changes to stories or locate sources of traffic. Say someone notices an influx of traffic to a story from Reddit or that users are lingering longer than usual on a story, the staff can then tweak the headline to capitalize on that social platform or add in new links to the story to give those users more information and increased exposure to Guardian content.

Joshua Topolsky on uncomfortable news design, new ad units, and why they killed the comments
Bloomberg launched a fresh, new Bloomberg Business this week, to both acclaim and confusion. The new look — inspired in part by the boldness of Bloomberg Businessweek, the print magazine the company bought in 2009 — is fresh, colourful, and not a little bit dizzying.

Until next week
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Media Picks #6 – Integrated newsrooms, recycling news, and latte art with a journalism angle

Media Picks #6 – 23 January 2015
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Can you ask for specific questions to be asked? Can you get a full list of questions in advance? What happens if you want to be off the record? All the questions about the questions you might have wanted to ask.

Should you or shouldn’t you: The case for, and against, integrated print-digital newsrooms
In the dot-com days, publishers tended to treat their online counterparts as second-class bolt-ons to their print editions. When it became clear the Web was here to stay, they had to demonstrate they were serious about growing their Web operations. One way to shed their Stone Age image was to eliminate the distinction between their print and Web editorial staffs and combine them into one.

Don’t try too hard to please Twitter — and other lessons from The New York Times’ social media desk
“On the Times social media desk, we work to maximize the impact of our journalism on Twitter. But we aren’t alone in this work. Our colleagues on copy desks around the newsroom are excellent wordsmiths. And we can often rely on their judgments that what makes good headlines in print or on will also be powerful on Twitter.”

Why it’s risky business for publishers to build their own CMS
2014 was a crazy year for news technology. A new wave of publishers running custom software gained traction, while established news organizations continued to embrace open-source technologies. The overall awareness of the humble content management system (CMS) grew substantially and became an even bigger part of the “future of news” conversation. And building your own CMS is in style again, except now we sometimes call it a platform, especially in front of investors. But building your own CMS is still very risky business. Technology is strategy, and culture eats strategy for breakfast.

+ That’s one side of the story. Here’s another:

Building an open source newsroom CMS
“If I could, I would ban the term “news CMS” for its glib disingenuity. A CMS is OK if you’re a corporate or a small business. If, on the other hand, your business is news, you need something more than a one-size-fits-all box. Even as news media continue on the path to convergence, the tools to handle each media type retain the need for specialism, and the expertise of specialists to design them.”

Recycling the news: Vox experiments with re-publishing old stories
“For one week, we asked our writers and editors to update and republish a number of articles — one each day — that were first posted more than two months ago.”

+ a cartoon from the Columbia Journalism Review 1963 when recycling the news was hilarious (via Jim Romenesko)

How deep is the newspaper industry’s money hole?
Forget keeping up with the economy — what would it take for the newspaper business just to keep up with inflation? Even the “growth” areas are slowing down. If you like some numbers with your doom and gloom then there’s no-one better than Ken Doctor.

Building journalism with community, not for it
At so many publications, journalists are rebuilding their newsrooms around new technologies from smartphones to social networks. But for the most part, the community is left on the other side of the screen. In 2015 there is a huge opportunity to engage communities in the work of helping build powerful journalism.

Fight! Fight! Mathew Ingram kicked this one off with his post titled:
How much work the NYT has to do on social sharing, in one chart​
To summarise: a lot. Ingram’s premise was that The New York Times’ social lunch was being eaten by the likes of Buzzfeed and others.

Naturally, others responded:
Who cares if Buzzfeed has more social shares than the New York Times?
“We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.”

And one more, albeit earlier, perspective here:
No, BuzzFeed isn’t “beating” the New York Times
The New York Time’s 875,000 digital subscribers are worth many times their number in web visits to BuzzFeed – not only are they producing more direct revenue, but there’s also an argument that you can sell advertising to them at a higher premium. This is why comparing website traffic between BuzzFeed and the New York Times is largely apples to oranges.

How The Guardian became the most tweeted UK newspaper
Stories from The Guardian are tweeted on average 392,358 times per week making it the most popular newspaper in the UK on Twitter. However that’s not to say that The Guardian creates the most shareable individual stories, that win does in fact go to the Daily Mail.

Lessons from 2 months of a newspaper’s daily WhatsApp newsletter
When a Finnish paper noticed a drop-off in activity on Facebook among young people they turned to WhatsApp to reconnect with these readers. Two months on and the project has opened up a direct line of communication with its target group.

Tough love: How best to move forward after newsroom layoffs
We don’t like to talk about it but layoffs in the media world are real. And responding to layoffs can be difficult both for management and staff. After studying newsrooms that had been through layoffs Professor Brian Ekdale identified four types of reactions to layoffs.

This is not just pretty cool latte art but also the subject of a fantastic step-by-step guide to shooting iPhone video
The video is titled “King of Coffee,” and tells about Seivijus “Elvis” Matiejunas, who has been training around the clock as he prepares to represent Ireland at the World Latte Art Championships in Australia. This news report was shot on an iPhone 5S and broadcast on RTÉ News, Ireland’s national broadcaster.

And finally,

Don’t try to be a publisher and a platform at the same time
Publishers seeking new business models are often tempted to become more platform-like by enabling their audience to post user-generated content; they hope to increase revenue by selling ads on this “extra” content. Sometimes, they also hope to develop a content management system that other publishers can license and use to distribute their content.

Until next week

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Media Picks #5 – Smart journalism, crowdfunding, online video and data journalism


Media Picks #5 – 16 January 2015
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Smart move: Australian news site forges new media model by partnering with academics
Australian site The Conversation is not only boosting the quality of its content by teaming up with universities but is also attracting a growing readership.

It’s not about the clicks: the New York Times’ audience development strategy is about loyalty, and no bullsh*t

It was the fall of 2014, and Alexandra MacCallum was filling out her new audience development staff as The New York Times’ newly appointed assistant managing editor for outreach. The timing couldn’t have been more awkward; the newsroom had just learned that the paper was seeking to eliminate 100 jobs through buyouts. And there was MacCallum and her team, unpacking their boxes on the second floor of The New York Times newsroom.

Threat level: newsroom cyber attacks are real and growing
Around 11am on Tuesday, journalists at the Maryland CBS affiliate WBOC noticed that their Twitter password had been changed. Employees watched, powerless, as a string of militant tweets were blasted to the station’s 18,000 followers. A half-hour later, photos declaring support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began appearing on their website’s homepage.

Ten tips on using Contributoria to fund your journalism
2014 was the year in which crowd-funded journalism took centre-stage and a number of new sites appeared giving journalists new ways of funding stories close to their hearts. Here Contributoria editor and co-founder Sarah Hartley offers tips on getting the most out of the site.
What I’ve learned about crowdfunding journalism​

Putting a smile on it: How Buzzfeed added emojis to its content management system
What do you do when the boss wants emojis – those little icons that convey emotions – to be installed in the CMS? Naturally you do it by any means possible.

Download deathmatch: compare internet speed worldwide
Before you publish your next HD video it might be worth taking a look at this to get an idea of how long your poor users will take to download it. A great data visualisation and equally good time waster. View at your own peril.

Media predictions 2015 (PDF download)
Wearables, hearables, nearables and payables will be some of the buzzwords of 2015 as the mobile revolution takes the next great leap. Nic Newman has written up an interesting set of predictions worth downloading.

Is data journalism teaching repeating the same mistakes as online journalism teaching?
Paul Bradshaw raises an interesting and important question: “A decade ago teaching online journalism was problematic: few lecturers were able to teach it. Journalism faculties were full of print and broadcast experience, but very few who had worked online. One of the symptoms of this was a tendency to teach ‘online journalism’ as HTML production, in the same way that desktop publishing was taught, leaving little or no space to explore the editorial qualities of the medium.” Are we repeating this problem with data journalism?

Using Reddit for a social campaign
Reddit. Just the name can strike fear into the heart of an editor. Reddit is a thriving community and a potentially massive traffic driver for publishers. But from the outside it looks chaotic, anarchic and overwhelming. NPR’s Wright Bryan shares some tips on navigating Reddit.

How do you get millennials to care about local news? Here’s one idea
Every weekday at 7 a.m., the countdown clock atop the Charlotte Five homepage resets — counting the hours, minutes, and seconds until another batch of five stories are posted.

Do it right: a publisher’s masterclass in producing online video
Too many videos play as if they have been produced for company bosses. Brevity, focus and the ability to teach viewers something new are key ingredients, says Jon Bernstein.

Quartz’s digital media strategy begins to crystallize
“One of the bets that we’re placing is to try to avoid slugging it out in the commodity space, where you need 100 million unique visitors to sell $2 banner ads to make any revenue,”

Tip of the week
Looking for a good Instagram picture? Try one of these tools

Instagram passed the 300 million users milestone in December, and the number of people who actively use the app continues to grow. But finding posts and information on the platform is not that easy, particularly if you don’t know the hashtags you need to monitor or which users are at the scene of a story.

And finally, this is what happened to journalism:

HT: Adam Tinworth

Media Picks #4 – Lean journalism, cooking up an app storm, suggestive headlines


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For many of us the new year is the traditional time to be re-evaluating lives, making resolutions and planning for the year ahead. So, if your new year plans include launching your own media startup then make sure to read the two articles below. They could save you a lot of pain.

Top five digital media launch mistakes
It’s one thing when large organisations, with dozens of stakeholders all needing a voice, make bad decisions, says Elizabeth Spiers. “It’s actually more frustrating to me when smaller, more agile companies make mistakes because I think they’re better set up to learn and adapt.”

It doesn’t matter where people read your articles, and other lessons in lean journalism
Sarah Marshal looks back on her time at, an online-only publication, and draws out ten things she learned about making quality journalism out of limited resources.

Naturally, as you’re launching your startup, you’ll need money and as I mentioned in the final newsletter of last year, Kickstarter is one of the go-to places for funding journalism and publishing:

Kickstarter publishing projects raised $22m in 2014
Publishing was the third most common type of project on Kickstarter, with 2,064 successfully funded ventures worldwide, after music (4,009) and film and video (3,846). Another six categories – art, design, food, games, technology and theatre – had more than 1,000 projects.

Why aren’t more newspapers cutting the number of days they print each week?
This is certainly not the first time the question has been asked but it’s worth asking again, especially if you’re going to put some real numbers into the equation, which Martin Langeveld does in this piece.

+ In the long run, news will be an unbundled product

Five trends for nonprofit news in 2015
Investigative News Network’s Kevin Davis is not just upbeat on the future of non-profit news organisations, he says 2015 is going to be the year of the non-profit news org. “What Serial [podcast] proves is that people will go out of their way for good stories that they can discover and share.”

The hidden cost of annoying ads is fewer page views
Many ads are annoying. It doesn’t take a scientific study to figure that out. But could annoying ads online actually cost more – in lost, irritated or disengaged readers? One study says yes.

NYT Now may not be popular but readers are gobbling up the New York Times’ cooking app
The NYT Now app might not have been as successful as hoped, says NYT editor Dean Baquet, but its cooking app is selling like hot cakes. The NYT cooking section has attracted more than 8 millions readers on the web and the app has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

Read with caution: How headlines change the way we think
We all know that headlines are especially important in the digital media world, but have you considered that headlines shape the way readers view an article and in some cases might actually affect what they remember from the article.

The mobile ad industry knows more about us than publishers do. Could they use this inside knowledge to spin off a data business?
“There’s a ton of interest [in our data] from others, and clearly, there are opportunities to develop ways to break these things off and make them stand alone businesses that could be monetized independently of media,” says McCall. “But one of the biggest problems is that companies often do not have the budgets for data. They may have budgets for media with data, but not data on its own.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: Aggregator apps: Friend or foe to publishers?
People are turning to news aggregate apps for a curated and personalised experience. But publishers are concerned about losing front-page readers and control of advertisement placement as third-party providers take over the distribution role.

How do online publishers get more women to participate in the comment section?
“We should also consider the algorithms used to recommend articles to readers. The New York Times, like many websites, recommends articles that are similar to those a reader has previously read. This can perpetuate gender divisions if, for example, a woman is recommended primarily articles on the Parenting Blog simply because she read a few articles there in the past.”


The Sandbox mega list
The Sandbox is NPR’s Tumblr blog that documents its online work. Before leaving NPR Melody Kramer set to indexing the vast array of information on the blog and the result is a fascinating (and time-sucking) list of how-tos and ideas. From finding decent journalism Facebook groups, to running Twitter searches around breaking news, to tips on using Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, it’s a treasure trove of ideas and tips.

Tip of the week

The fastest way to search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram​
Of course you could open the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram websites and search from there, but if you’re running Google’s Chrome browser you can search all of these sites (and any others you use regularly) firectly from the Chrome URL bar. Nice tip.

Until next week

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(New) Adventures in Ubuntu

There was a time I was a Linux and free software evangelist. Over the past few years, however, work and life have conspired to make me a Windows user, albeit a reluctant one.

Screenshot from 2015-01-07 18:31:08A few weeks ago I bought a new cheapie laptop (an Acer Aspire V11 Touch) to mess around on. It’s far from high-spec but looks good, has a decent touch screen and solid battery life. After a couple of days with Windows 8.1 (not bad, but not my thing) I wanted to install Ubuntu Linux on the Aspire. Which I did and in the main its been pretty painless.

The touch screen worked straight out of the box (I wondered how well that would work) but there were a few other things that didn’t work exactly as expected:

  • Screen brightness keys didn’t work
    A quick search turned up this post and adding acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor to Grub sorted this out quick enough.
  • Shutdown from the top menu bar didn’t work and the system would appear to hang while shutting down 
    This was a little more challenging and I eventually opted for the ugly-but-effective option. I tried dozens of things to get shutdown/suspend to work properly and eventually happened upon this post. Right at the end is the seemingly odd advice to delete “quiet splash” from the Grub options. I did that and suddenly shutdown and suspend worked as expected, except that at startup and shutdown you also get a scrolling list of startup and shutdown messages. Effectively “quiet splash” hides the internal workings from the user but also seems to be causing the hanging shutdown. It’s not pretty but I’d rather have a laptop that suspends and shuts down properly than one that has a pretty splash screen but doesn’t.
  • Suspend didn’t work
    This is related to the shutdown issue above. Once I had the shutdown problem sorted, suspend worked as well.
  • Wireless card wasn’t recognised
    This was the one I was most worried because almost all Linux installs I’ve done have some sort of wireless problems. As expected the Aspire wireless connection didn’t work straight away. Running lspci showed that the Aspire had a Broadcom BCM43142 card which has a relatively easy fix. To get the Broadcom wireless device going I installed the bcmwl-kernel-source package as described here.

Things I’m still working on:

  • Bluetooth seems a little flaky
    There are some issues with Bluetooth discovering devices but because I’m not a big Bluetooth user this hasn’t been a significant challenge. I’ll get to it later.


12 March 2015: Suddenly yesterday I started having problems with the wifi connection on the Acer. If I was sitting really close to the access point it worked okay but the moment I left the room it would stumble and be unable to connect to URLs. And then it would drop the connection every few minutes. It would reconnecct each time but only for a few minutes and then wifi was off again. I plugged in a USB wifi dongle and tried that and it worked fine. But the built-in wifi remained flaky. So I presumed it was the Broadcom drivers so Googled a bit. One fix was to tun off the quality of service so the connection wouldn’t shut down when the signal dropped. (See details here). That kept the wifi connection on but it was still almost unusable. A little more reading and I found that many users had found that switching ipv6 to ignore in the connection settings on Ubuntu fixed the flaky connection. I did that an boom, everything was back to normal.

Media Picks #3

With the end of the year in sight retrospectives and predictions abound, headed up by Nieman Labs’ Predictions for Journalism for 2015. If you haven’t already checked this out it is definitely worth putting on your holiday reading list.

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Smart (news) filters on the rise
The old challenge was often phrased as getting it first or getting it right, but in the knowledge-first era journalists face a new mandate — getting it to make sense.

The fall and rise of the news bundle
The notifications from news apps that make it onto that lock screen are in prime position to capture attention. The lock screen is the new bundle.

One of the big media moves locally over the past month has been the appointment of Andrew Trench as the News24 editor. Trench has a reputation for pushing the boundaries of storytelling as well as having an appetite for finding new ways of doing news. In From print trenches to digital forefront Trench talks about his plans for SA’s largest news site.

Mobile tools for data collection
Mobile is big news in the news industry as publishers do their best to get their content in front of an increasingly mobile readership. But what of using mobile devices as news and data collection tools? Joachim Mangilima has put together a great introductory list of mobile data collection tools.

There’s never been a better time to run a niche media business
It’s easy to look around the media houses making waves (think Buzzfeed, Vox and company) and think that the news industry is all about the big players while the small fry get, well, fried. There is some indication, however, that that’s not the case and there is a growing opportunity for niche players to thrive in the market.

And what about the nano-publishers?
Felix Salmon has been one of the voices championing the role of niche publications in the face of the media giants. In an intriguing piece on medium Salmon talks to one of the current leading examples of niche publishing, Ben Thompson, about the role of the nano-publisher.

10 funding options for journalism that blossomed in 2014
There’s no shortage of great journalistic content being produced right now. From video interviews to longform writing to entirely reimagined storytelling vehicles, journalistic creativity and heft are at a high. But how do you pay for it?

The beginning of the end of Facebook’s traffic engine
In a provocative piece Felix Salmon argues that the age of Facebook as a major driver of news traffic is starting to unravel. “The losers are going to be external websites who have become reliant on the Facebook traffic firehose. That traffic is going to start falling, in 2015, for the first time.”

VIDEO: Jeff Jarvis on journalism as a service
You may have heard that journalism professor Jeff Jarvis is publishing his latest book, Geeks Bearing Gifts, for free on Medium. It’s worth a read but if you want a short(ish) summary of some of the concepts in the book it’s worth watching this interview with Jarvis in which he expands on some of his ideas.

Tool of the week
Kimono Labs
There are a fair number of web scraping tools around but Kimono Labs’ tool is one of the easiest to use. It’s literally click-and-scrape: load up a website with the data you want, select the elements you want too scrape, and save. The scraped data can be downloaded in a variety of formats, including an API if you want to continuously scrape the data as it gets updated.

And finally, How we used WhatsApp for storytelling
A German news organisation commemorates the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Heilbronn using WhatsApp, with great success.

This will be the final Media Picks newsletter of 2014. Enjoy the holidays and here’s to a profitable news new year.

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