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AJ+ Targets the Millennial News Consumer

AJ+This week, Al Jazeera launched a new app, AJ+, geared towards the millennial news consumer.

The app centers around stacks, with video content, chat options, and quizzes and polls. It’s an immersive news experience, focused on context. But what’s really interesting is the AJ+ editorial’s team methods. The content on the app isn’t pulled from Al Jazeera and repackaged for the app — it’s specifically for the platform.

They have an editorial team and and engagement team; they call their morning meeting an “engage-atorial” meeting, as a perfect blend of the two. Executive Director of Strategy and Development, Dr. Yaser Bishr says:

The core changes are in the workflow. We give a lot of power to the engagement team and our journalists on the ground that make it unique…Icome from a software background, so I can talk forever about the features of the app. I look at the apps and everything around it as the way to tell the story. The change is the way we operate.

The have journalists on the ground all over the world and regional fellows: they divided the world into six regions to have a fellow in each one, to report on important stories and events, but also to “manage and curate,” as Bishr puts it, a social, local community in that region. They received over 3,000 applications for the six positions. Bishr says that those who didn’t make it have also connected over social media and have their own, organic group to share news.

The goal of the app and the AJ+ team is to, according to Bishr, to change “not just the way news is gathered and produced, but also consumed.”

You can follow them @AJPlus or on Facebook.

 

 

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Uncertain Future for NY Times Reporter Protecting Confidential Source

New York Times reporter James Risen

New York Times reporter James Risen, photo via Alex Menendez, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

It’s been more than three months since the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from Pulitzer-winning New York Times investigative reporter James Risen, who continues to face the looming threat of jail over his refusal to reveal a confidential source.

Back in June, the Supreme Court basically sided with the government by turning down Risen’s appeal related to a case whereby prosecutors are attempting to secure evidence in what they say is a national security prosecution.

In turn, journalists contend the government is infringing upon Risen’s press freedom by demanding he turn over a confidential source from a chapter in his 2006 book, State of War. Read more

Should We Be Nicer to PR People?

newsweek_premailsThis week, Newsweek published the diary of a journalist who read and replied to every PR email that came through his inbox for a week.  I clicked on that headline like the sucker I am, though I am usually against* “I Did X For A Week” pieces that seem to be coming more and more popular. From talking to strangers to doing your kids homework, they usually scroll a few digital pages (click! click!), are formatted journal-style to make them easy to read, and often include just the right amount of snark and existential anxiety that make them easy to finish, comment on, and share. They’re digital publishing stunts.

But, anyway, could you imagine replying to every PR email you received?

I’m just a lowly blogger. I don’t know that it would actually set me two or three hours behind each day to answer all the emails and invites I get. Maybe half of an hour. But I still get a lot of them, and usually ones that make no sense to me. Why is it that so many PR emails are so wrong?

Assumption 1) Because PR is actually a skill that too many people think they have. And too many startups or party planners or grad students with a cool Kickstarter idea are just hijacking friends or broke college grads to do it. Sometimes even when a pitch is just remotely related to something I write about, if it’s well done, I’ll consider it for a minute. Good PR is sort of like porn, hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

Read more

BBC Pop Up Launches in Colorado

bbcpopupPop-up food trucks, fashion boutiques, flea markets. Now, there are pop-up newsrooms, too, thanks to BBC Pop Up. A truly mobile newsroom, BBC has sent a small crew of video journalists to travel around North America for six months to embed themselves in a place and dig around for good stories.

For their first stop, the team is in Boulder, Colo., where they’ve been since last week. Here’s their first dispatch on how residents have dealt with the aftermath of the Jamestown floods:

Mathew Danzico, of the Pop Up team and BBC’s Video Innovation Lab, says the project is about “empowering residents to tell their stories.” The team is posted together in a house and working out of a co-working space in the area. Since arriving, they’ve held town hall meetings to announce their presence, meet with residents and pick their brains about what to cover. They’re also holding journalism workshops at local universities.   Read more

Boston Globe Launches Catholic-Themed News Site

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 5.57.16 PMThe Globe is covering a new beat, and it’s not another Boston sports team. Nieman Lab’s Justin Ellis reported last week that the paper had launched a niche micro-site called “Crux,” focusing only on aspects of the Catholic faith, including lifestyle news and how the Pope and the Church handle political issues. Not only will the Globe Media-owned-and-run site feature Vatican news, it has also been designed to post quizzes and digestible chunks of content made for social sharing, Ellis found in his reporting.

It’s an interesting concept from a publication that has reported aggressively on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and an idea worth noting for newspapers that have long maintained a religion “beat” but never expanded the issues to a separate platform. The Globe‘s experiment begs the question of whether other big newsrooms should follow suit. With religion being just as much a part of many readers’ daily lives as sports, technology and food are, why shouldn’t the topic — or furthermore, a specific denomination — get its own vertical?

Read more

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