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Karen Fratti

Karen Fratti is a media and technology writer based in New York City. You can follow her at @karenfratti.

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.

Longform.org Releasing New App Today

longformSet your timers, friends. Today Apple is set to release its new operating system (probably around the traditional 1ET/10PT hour) so your phones will be a buzzing. Once it’s installed, you can also download the longform.org app, which they are releasing today with the new iOS.

Their current app costs $2.99, this one will be free and will include around 1,000 publishers. Users will be able to ‘follow’  publishers and other users, creating the home newsfeed. Capital New York reported that Longform founder Max Linksy sees the app as a move to adapt to new technologies, and making reading as easy and beautiful as possible: “We’re trying to make it so you don’t feel bad everytime you spend ten minutes on your phone.”

Do you ever feel that bad about it?

h/t Capital New York

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.

 

 

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.

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