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    AP experiments with live streams as appetite for video grows

    New Media

    AP experiments with live streams as appetite for video grows

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    The amount of live video output produced by The Associated Press (AP) increased by 25 per cent last year, to 2,073 live stories and events covered between October and December, compared to 1,605 during the same period in 2014.

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    Bloomberg’s 2015 in graphics


    Bloomberg’s 2015 in graphics

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Bloomberg picks its favourite graphics of 2015. Put some time aside because this could be a complete time-sink. From the Fifa scandal to the fact that Americans are addicted to trucks, this is deep dive into data and graphic visualisation.

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    5 digital journalism predictions for 2016

    New Media

    5 digital journalism predictions for 2016

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    The disruption of television, rise of the podcast and growth of online video are some of the key trends that could mark 2016, digital strategist Nic Newman outlined in his Media, Journalism and Technology Predictions report published today.

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    How to get rich or die podcasting

    New Media

    How to get rich or die podcasting

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Despite a successful career in public radio, Alex Blumberg says he never showed any “entrepreneurial spunk.” That was before he and Matt Lieber launched Gimlet, which has attracted at least 4 million monthly listeners and $1.5 million from investors.

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    How Vox Media grew from a sports blog into one of the internet’s biggest publishers

    New Media

    How Vox Media grew from a sports blog into one of the internet’s biggest publishers

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    “It’s been a bit surreal watching it all happen, and at times a little bit unbelievable. It takes my breath away at times, but in a lot of ways it makes sense because [the sites] all have a commonality to them, and that is the fiercely passionate people who cover whatever the topic happens to be.” – Tyler Bleszinski

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    Visualising China-Africa trade


    Visualising China-Africa trade

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Over the past few months I’ve been trying to learn D3.js, the extremely powerful Javascript visualisation library. As a relative newcomer to Javascript (some background in PHP) D3.js has been a challenge. I first started trying to learn D3.js in April 2014 but gave up after some false starts and frustrations. Then earlier this year I tried again, after having spent some time working with Javascript.

    In late November and early December we had a project at work that probably could have been done with far less effort using something like Tableau Public or one of the other popular data visualisation tools but I decided to give it a go using pure D3. The result is not perfect but it did the basic job, I think. We originally published this on IOL.

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

    Media Picks

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

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Media Picks #11 – 27 February 2015
    Subscribe to get the weekly Media Picks email newsletter in your inbox. Missed previous Media Picks editions? View the archives.
    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

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

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Media Picks #10 – 20 February 2015
    Subscribe to get the weekly Media Picks email newsletter in your inbox. Missed previous Media Picks editions? View the archives.
    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 Spot.us 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

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

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Media Picks #9 – 13 February 2015
    Subscribe to get the weekly Media Picks email newsletter in your inbox. Missed previous Media Picks editions? View the archives.
    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 PRI.org 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

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

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    Media Picks #8 – 6 February 2015
    Subscribe to get the weekly Media Picks email newsletter in your inbox. Missed previous Media Picks editions? View the archives.
    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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