Tag Archives: news

Friday #Content Reads 25.02.17

Greetings.

Over the last two weeks we’ve also read a lot about Mark Zuckerberg’s post/manifesto discussing Facebook’s role in ‘Building a Global Community‘. In response, some were concerned by the lack of apparent detail from Zuckerberg on how to fund good journalism:

“A strong news industry is also critical to building an informed community,” Zuckerberg wrote in his manifesto. “There is more we must do to support the news industry to make sure this vital social function is sustainable—from growing local news, to developing formats best suited to mobile devices, to improving the range of business models news organizations rely on.”

There is more Facebook must do. But what? Lip service to the crucial function of the Fourth Estate is not enough to sustain it. All of this is the news industry’s problem; not Zuckerberg’s. But it’s also a problem for anyone who believes in and relies on quality journalism to make sense of the world.

Zuckerberg doesn’t want Facebook to kill journalism as we know it. He really, really doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean he won’t.”

Contrast this point of view with Jeff Jarvis who recently wrote:

“Facebook, Twitter, and all the platforms should invest their considerable intelligence, imagination, and resources in helping reinvent journalism for this age. New tools bring new opportunities and new responsibilities. I would like to see Facebook help news companies understand how to serve communities and how to reimagine how we inform citizens’ conversations where they occur. I wish that Facebook would find more ways to introduce us to new people who can tell their stories in safe spaces where we can come to learn about each other. I would like Facebook and media to collaborate convening communities in conflict to informed and productive discourse. I would like to see Twitter finally address its and perhaps society’s key problem: Can we be open and also civil? I hope Google will be more transparent about those who would manipulate it and thus us. I hope they all help us invent new business models that no longer reward just clickbait and fame, cats and Kardashians, sensationalism and polarization (Zuckerberg’s words). The platforms should spend less effort trying to help journalism as it is — except insofar as it buys us time for innovation — but instead support journalism as it can be.”

There you go. Some food for thought.

Elsewhere, Google announced it was taking steps to prioritise fact-checked articles in it’s search results. Good to see both Google and Facebook taking steps to address the proliferation of Fake News, but the point raised by Emily Bell above remains – good journalism needs investment. However, according to this article from Politico, getting platforms to fund news might be a step too far.

In other news, Digiday published a great interview with Jeff Steinberg from Cheddar looking at how scale affects relevancy for publishers. Essential listening for anyone building a brand online plus he mentions a deal he has with Twitter that drives more traffic to his sites than Facebook. Hmm…

For those following the confirmation bias/echo chamber topic, New Yorker have published an amazing, thought-provoking article by   called Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds:

“A recent experiment performed by Mercier and some European colleagues neatly demonstrates this asymmetry. Participants were asked to answer a series of simple reasoning problems. They were then asked to explain their responses, and were given a chance to modify them if they identified mistakes. The majority were satisfied with their original choices; fewer than fifteen per cent changed their minds in step two.

In step three, participants were shown one of the same problems, along with their answer and the answer of another participant, who’d come to a different conclusion. Once again, they were given the chance to change their responses. But a trick had been played: the answers presented to them as someone else’s were actually their own, and vice versa. About half the participants realized what was going on. Among the other half, suddenly people became a lot more critical. Nearly sixty per cent now rejected the responses that they’d earlier been satisfied with.

This lopsidedness, according to Mercier and Sperber, reflects the task that reason evolved to perform, which is to prevent us from getting screwed by the other members of our group. Living in small bands of hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were primarily concerned with their social standing, and with making sure that they weren’t the ones risking their lives on the hunt while others loafed around in the cave. There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.”

Well worth reading, although entirely pessimistic of course.

Lastly,  I popped along to Stationers Hall to listen to a great debate concerning Article 40 and press regulation. Hosted by The Society of Editors and chaired by the most excellent  Roy Greenslade, it was a good to hear the various points of view around this topic. I think there was general agreement that the press needed regulation and that the regulator needed to be independent; but that Article 40 was considered too harsh and would penalise the smaller publishers for the sins of some UK newspapers.

Our very own LBC presenter Stig Abell had an interesting take on the press regulation debate on last week’s Media show which you can listen to here. As a previous member of the PCC he points out that what Article 40 doesn’t really address the more pressing issue of fake news. Who, after all is said and done, is going to regulate the platforms?

And that’s it for now folks. Bye, bye.

Friday #Content Reads 03.02.17

Sean Spicer

Here’s my selection of top reads from the last two weeks…

I have to admit when Melody Kramer wrote How do we design the news for people who are burned out? I sort of baulked. Do people really suffer from news burn-out? Do we really need to create tools so people receive less updates about important topics? Don’t we have a duty as editors to inform all of our audience all of the time?

But, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I think it’s an excellent idea considering the political events that have occurred over the last six months. Expect news audience ‘burn out’ to become a regular topic as we explore solutions proposed by platforms, publishers and people.

Elsewhere, there’s been some great discussions this week on the notion of objectivity in journalism. I recommend listening to this CJR podcast as they dissect the impact of the recent US elections:

This week this also happened: Objectivity is dead, and I’m okay with it.
This was followed by this which was a little ironic because this had happened previously.
Then Fusion published this:

A news outlet like Fusion, then, can never be impartial. We are proud to be the voice of theresistance, the marginalized, the underrepresented. We tell the truth, including the truth about ourselves. We will not be censored, we shall not be silenced.

UPDATE: On The Media covered the above topic on their latest podcast. This really is essential listening. 


The theme of objectivity was also tacked by David Greenberg who looked at The Perils of Calling Donald Trump a Liar:

Historians debate the reasons for objectivity’s emergence in journalism. Some emphasize economic motives, the desire to reach a wider readership. Others argue that the idea of objectivity was linked to a growing awareness of subjectivity—that the difficulty journalists faced in pinning down clear-cut facts led them to adopt regular practices that could assure readers of their credibility. Still others point to a new political ethos of the Progressive Era that encouraged citizens to think for themselves and not take cues from corrupt party leaders.

The embrace of the objective news model didn’t happen all at once. But a critical moment was undoubtedly Adolph Ochs’s purchase of the New York Times in 1896, when the new publisher resolved, in his famous credo, “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.” Over the next decades, news organizations championed objectivity, and with the development of radio and TV, network news followed suit. Not only revenue but—more important—credibility, prestige and influence flowed from being seen as a reliable source to all consumers, no matter their ideology.

It wasn’t long, however, before pitfalls became evident. No master text set down the tenets of objectivity and how to adhere to it. Journalists had to find their way. Some interpreted the idea as an adherence to factuality, seeking to strip out the writer’s personal voice. For others, the key was nonpartisanship—presenting the news so as not to favor one party or the other. Others emphasized the disavowal of advocacy. Most journalists probably operated—and still operate—with all these interrelated principles at play to some degree.

 

NPR’s Dana Fox had some great ideas around driving maximum return from Facebook for Publishers. I thought this was a healthy reminder that we need to really understand these platforms in order to reap the rewards:

If we are putting the audience first, consider how the average person on Facebook uses the network: It’s a mix of links, statuses, photos and videos. Different stories require different treatment. Facebook itself recommends this approach (and 11 other best practices for media organizations), and when we are talking about succeeding on Facebook, guidance from the platform itself is not insignificant. It is possible to both stay true to our journalistic integrity and respect the rules of the social space.

Do we need to dump the current economic model that fuels our journalism? Probably, but can it actually be done? And what would that exactly look like? These were the questions poised by Victor Pickard this week:

America’s commercial media system might be great for business, but it’s terrible for democracy. Uncoupling journalism from commercialism requires a structural overhaul. Alternative models from the American past and from other countries demonstrate that different systems are indeed viable. But they require policy interventions that establish safeguards and incentives for responsible and informative media. Ultimately, these policies must remove profit motives from the news.

So that’s it for this week folks, apart from this amazing PopBuzz quiz of course…

Sean Spicer

 

 

 

Friday #Content Reads 27.01.17

Here’s my selection of top reads from the last two weeks…

Buzzfeed have started to take a leading in the Fake News debate. Their feature suggesting that the UK newspaper industry has been peddling fake news for yonks was inspired and shows just how complex this issue has become:

BuzzFeed News has revealed how Macedonian teenagers could make tens of thousands of dollars fabricating stories about Donald Trump, how fake news is spreading to Germany and Italy, and how fake news stories outperformed real news outlets during the US election.

But equivalent analysis of UK social media habits reveals the most popular dubious stories on British politics were almost always the work of long-established news outlets and relied at most on exaggeration rather than fakery. The evidence suggests that rather than reading complete lies, British audiences appear to prefer stories that contain at least a kernel of truth, even if the facts are polluted or distorted.

“We have always had a partisan press that people enjoy and have become acclimatised to,” said Charlie Beckett, professor of journalism at the London School of Economics. “Hyperpartisan news has always been part of our audience’s culture – and we do it better in some ways than fake news.”

Elsewhere, in What does a news organization optimized for trust look like? Melody Kramer wrote:

Perhaps that means thinking more closely about design and editorial choices in terms of media literacy. Maybe that means indicating to readers how many sources were used, or how facts were obtained. Or, if you’re using algorithms to make editorial decisions, maybe that means making that clear and obvious to the reader on every page where the technology is used. Or maybe it means developing more tools like the one The Wall Street Journal made, so that people can realize that what they’re seeing may not be what everyone else is also seeing.

Snapchat have become more vocal about their editorial guidelines:

The new rules more clearly state that publishers should not use overly sexualized or violent images as the initial visual that users are exposed to when they look at Discover and that content intended simply to shock or disgust is not allowed. Some exceptions are made for otherwise-forbidden material that has news value.

For the first time, the guidelines have a dedicated section detailing the warnings that publishers must run when graphic images are deemed newsworthy, as well as when to age-gate that content.

Meanwhile, Axios has launched. I’ve already subscribed to their excellent newsletter and their editorial strategy (Twitter meets The Economist’) is worth keeping an eye on:

The overall feeling these features create is that of a nesting doll, with individual articles nestled within excerpted summaries within a larger news stream. This idea runs counter to the principles of news design on many major websites, which put greater emphasis on article pages. But because every excerpt can be shared on social media, readers are left with a single page that’s composed of dozens of mini-articles.

The design was based on a listening tour undertaken by Axios’ co-founders, who wanted to better understand how people were consuming the news, Schwartz said. The prevailing response: People felt inundated with news and information and spent too much time deciphering what was worth reading and what wasn’t.

Remember photo galleries? That’s right, those things we were told to avoid because it’s all about video now. Well, apparently, people are still clicking on them.

Lastly, in other news, I recently presented at the London Agile Content Meetup group. You can find out what happened here.

Thanks y’all.
 

Content Strategy Links of the Week, November 20

Why social is key to creating habit-forming news products

“According to Nir Eyal, it’s often fear that encourages a person to return to a product again and again. Boredom drives return visits to YouTube, loneliness encourages people to go to Facebook, uncertainty encourages people to search Google, he says.

So for newspapers, news sites and digital products, perhaps the driver is FOMO, a fear of missing out. People return to find out about the key news events that they don’t want to miss.”

Latest from the NPR social media desk

“1. Everyone’s talking about Serial. Seriously. Vox has gone one step further and built an interactive guide to keep track of who’s who in this character-driven crime story. Brilliant? Yes. A step too far? Maybe. But the resulting audio cards are really user friendly and offer sideways entry points into the story, in addition to making it all easier to follow. Now, just think of other ways we could break down a story that might make it easier to for the
audience to enter and understand.”

Why We Crave Human-Curated Playlists

“Context is key for music, and that is where services like Songza and Beats Music are picking up tips from FM radio. These services are essentially using algorithms to help people discover new playlists, instead of discovering new songs. This allows for a marriage of both technology and human curation.”

This woman is Hearst Magazines’ secret digital weapon

“Sharing content is another key part of the strategy. Other publishers aggregate news from elsewhere or open their sites to outside contributors to increase their publishing volume quickly and at low cost. With all of Hearst’s magazines as well as newspapers to draw from, the publisher has a long way to go before it has to look to outside sources for content. Part of Lewis’ mandate, then, has been getting Hearst to surface stories that can work across brands. Ultimately, the goal is to have 20 percent of a given Hearst site’s content coming from another Hearst property.”

More than 7 in 10 believe radio will not decline, survey finds

“An ageing population and an increasing numbers of retirees could mean increasing popularity. However, the test is to ensure that young people continue to reach out to radio as they grow older.

“To address this challenge, radio must continue to be a place of ‘music discovery’ and must adapt to new ways of enjoying content on the go – and on modern media devices.”

Quartz rethinks the newsroom for the digital age

“We don’t adhere to the preset roles you have in news organizations,” Seward said. “It prevents a myopic view of how stories need to be told. When you have the ability to think about how to tell a story differently, then it leads to more creative ways.”

Why Instagram isn’t (yet) a great platform for news publishers

“So while Instagram currently isn’t the best host for what most publishers are doing right now, as the platform becomes more video focused publishers with expertise in creating narratives in video form will find Instagram’s a more effective way to reach audiences. Until then, though, as Guyatt says, there’s very little purpose to publishing content to a platform on which it does not belong.”

Why podcasts are suddenly “back”

“The money and raw numbers have finally gotten investors to pay attention, and investors have a lot of press influence. But podcasts have never exploded and have never died. The truth is that they’ve grown boringly and steadily for almost a decade, and will likely continue to do so. And that’s great!”

The web is alive and well

“To see the mistake here, just look at the most popular mobile app supposedly leading this turn away from the web: Facebook. A substantial portion of Facebook content offers links to other websites. Tapping them opens a browser within the app, and there you are, on the web. The latest version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, in fact, brings in-app browsers on par with the company’s own Safari browser in terms of capabilities and performance.”

It’s small touches that can make a difference in New York’s layouts

“Each week, Williams and his designers choose one of the feature articles set to appear in the print magazine, usually the cover story, and brainstorm ways they can add visual design elements that improve the storytelling process. This has become increasingly common at many publications ever since the launch of Snow Fall, the multimedia story project produced by a team of New York Times journalists, designers, videographers, and coders — though when I mentioned Snow Fall, Williams was quick to note that New York’s forays into the medium are much less epic in scale. “It’s possible to build them with each issue and without overwhelming the team,” he said in a phone interview.”

Content Strategy Links of the week: September 26th 2014

Ok content strategists, here’s my roundup of the best content strategy links from the last week. Prepare to be amazed.

Ok, well, let’s not over-sell it.

How to make an audio slideshow: My step-by-step advice to students
A great reminder of the power of audio slideshows. We used to see a lot of these doing the rounds about five years ago but they’ve seemed to have dropped off the radar in recent years. Still a compelling story-telling format, especially as we move away from galleries. If you’ve spotted any great recent examples please let me know!

Responsive Website podcast: Virgin America
Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte have published their latest responsive design podcast. Always interesting to hear about all those internal challenges that need to be addressed in order to serve the audience a better experience.

Fifth of all UK newspaper readers only use mobile devices to access content
If you’re a newspaper and don’t have a mobile strategy, then I’d be pretty worried about the data discussed here.

Why YouTube isn’t enough for publishers
Interesting predicament for publishers – on the one hand you need YouTube to extend reach, but on the other you’re never going to command those CPMs you could via your own player. Answer? Do both…

Lessons learned from the redesign of major news sites
Great article by Ashley Nguyen. Had to agree with this particular point:

“Midway through the [redesign] process, we sought to avoid referring to the project as a redesign at all,” Bob Cohn wrote in November 2012 when he served as the  digital editor for The Atlantic. “That seemed to trivialize it, suggesting a facelift or a fresh coat of paint. The goal, we realized, was more strategic than aesthetic.”

The 18 Blogs Every UX Pro Should Follow
Some old favourites here including UX Matters and A List APart… 

One secret to the success of Quartz, BuzzFeed and Gawker: They look at news as a service
Matthew Ingram hits the sweet spot:

“Journalists often seem to believe that  their job is to tell the reader what they think is important or relevant, rather than thinking of journalism as a service that they are providing, one in which the reader’s needs or desires are paramount, rather than the journalistic instincts of the author. Approaching news as a service or — even worse — as a product is seen as somehow beneath them.”

Meanwhile, this is a great opportunity to introduce our #fakesomenoise social media campaign Global’s brand new charity Make Some Noise.

Here’s the latest entry from our Capital FM team, please share and get involved!

Until next week…