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Gamifying Current Affairs: Al Jazeera Launches ‘Pirate Fishing’ Game

Al Jazeera launched an interactive game this week based on investigating the illegal pirate fishing in the Sierra Leone. Gamers become a reporter, gathering evidence and notes. By watching videos and viewing photos, the “reporter” puts the content in the correct “notebook” and can move up levels.

The game is based on a report called “Pirate Fishing” done by Juliana Ruhfus for the Al Jazeera series People & Power, nominated for the Royal Television Society Awards. An Italian based agency, Altera Studios, partnered with the news organization to create the interactive game, which can be played on a desktop or on mobile. The angle of “building a case” is a nice lesson for younger students or people outside of the field, even; it makes journalism seem adventurous, which it should be. The game focuses on evidence collection, fact checking, and background note taking. Ruhfus is quoted in the release:

Investigative journalism can be seen as quite high-brow, whereas ‘gamification’ can open it up to  a new generation of digital-savvy journalists. It’s important for us to push the boundaries and explore new ways to reach audiences…The game highlights how news stories are created, and the benchmarks needed to qualify your reporting. We’ve been encouraged by the response so far.

You can play the game here.

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Matter 3: Big Ideas for Media Focused on ‘Real People’

Last week, Matter’s third round of start-ups demoed their products in New York City. Two were particularly interesting for journos and publishing outlets. First, there’s Stringr, a platform for licensing freelance video content. News organizations can put out a call for content, what kind of shots they need, of what, how long, all of that good stuff. If it’s breaking news, videographers with the app can run out and shoot it. The goal, according to CEO and co-founder Lindsay Stewart, is not only to get the news org the content within an hour, but also pay the freelancer right away.

Organizations pay Stringr, they take a cut, and process payment for the videographer. Another good feature is that it’s not just for breaking news, but also evergreen content for media organizations to browse and use. It’s a much better system than the current one. Right now, they’re live in San Diego, which is kind of a bummer if you’re anywhere else. Stewart says they originally planned to stay out West and push out but that because of the Matter program and contacts, they’ve been talking to newsrooms elsewhere and “are having as many conversations as we can” and might be open to reevaluating their original plan. Here’s hoping.

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New York Times Steps Up Political News Presence

New-York-Times-Logo1Today the Grey Lady launched a politics-themed email newsletter and micro-site underneath the Times‘ main site called First Draft.

First Draft is a piggyback on Washington-centric blog The Caucus, which hasn’t seen much consistent action. As the Times‘ Carl Hulse told the Huffington Post, the new site will house an ongoing political dialogue, written in a similar voice as the paper’s NYT Now app’s morning and evening briefings. Additionally, First Draft will feature both original scoops (that may be developed into full stories for the newspaper later on) as well as aggregated content.

So far, the blog features pull quotes from political figures, videos and even a curated Instagram photo of Cory Booker. Content runs the gamut, as events dictate coverage, though it is definitely an informal take on a sometimes dry topic. As HuffPo’s Michael Calderone wrote: “The Times plans to update First Draft frequently, with hopes that political news junkies will return throughout the day.”

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Dreamstime Stock Photos Adds Social Features for Designers

dreamstimeDreamstime, a stock photo agency we’ve covered before, has added a new social feature to their platform. Via a fancy algorithm (aren’t they all fancy?), the platform will now make suggestions to users choosing a photo based on past preferences and similar searches from other designers. Sort of like when you can see what you Facebook friends have watched on Netflix. It means you get to see more images and merchandise that actually works with what you’re doing.

They’ve also added a share feature for most major social networks; by sharing what pics you’re choosing, you give them more data to make recommendations for you. Says cofounder Serban Enache:

We turn this data around to help create a better, overall user experience. In an effort to expand our horizons, both of Dreamstime’s new features are key in driving user discovery, as well as assist customers in easily finding contemporary stock images that they never knew existed. Users will now have the opportunity to take a peek at stock photos that other designers and photographers are selecting, and have the option to further explore on first sight.

Now even stock photos, which are the epitome of impersonal, want to be your friend on Facebook.

Apply for the Matter International Reporting Fellowship

matterreportingfellowshipMatter announced that applications are open for their reporting fellowship today. The magazine, which was bought by Medium in 2013, will award $10,000 to a journalist or team of journos who will:

Investigate and report a narrative feature on an issue of global importance—or local stories of global interest. We’re open to a broad range of topics and interests, though we’re looking for stories that are provocative, timely, and idea-driven. It’s our mission to take big swings at big issues, and this story should reflect that.

It won’t be easy to get it, though, so beware. You need three writing samples and a pitch for a story that you’ll write as a Matter “Draft.” They’ll publish all the drafts here and then they’ll pick the Top Seven. They’ll be completely public and Medium/Matter readers will be able to vote on them. There will be a week of voting, and then the number of ‘recommends’ will be tallied to determine a winner.

So make sure your idea and story and writing is shareable, well-thought out, and ready to be reported. The deadline for submissions is November 1st.

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