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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.

New Brookings Essay Examines ‘The Bad News About the News’

brookingsessayThere’s always more and more bad news about the news, which is the theme of a new Brookings Institute essay by Robert Kaiser.

“The Bad News About the News” is available here, but brace yourself. It’s a long, well researched look at the decline of newspapers. The juiciest bits come from a memo Kaiser wrote to his bosses in 1992, which you can read here. Some highlights:

Design the electronic classifieds now. Figure out how to capture and organize the digital computer information that we already create for each day’s classifieds into a user-friendly data bank. Explore software alternatives. Figure out how this could be launched. Make sure all would-be competitors know what we’re doing. But reserve the right to postpone implementation until a moment when we’re confident we’ll make more money (or deter a competitor) by launching the electronic product.As part of the same effort, explore the feasibility of a Post electronic Yellow Pages for the Washington Area. Why not seek to become the dominant provider of electronic advertising and information in our region?

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This Twitter Bot Doesn’t Like Your Headlines

twitterMargarita Noriega, Fusion’s director of social media, wants you to stop assuming things about your audience. Yesterday, she and Andrew Briggs, a web developer who’s also behind whowritesfor.com, let loose a little Twitter bot: @speak4yrself.

The bot responds to lame Twitter teasers and headlines that we all write: “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppies.” “You Have to Try This Beer.” Not even Fusion is above a scolding:

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Shareaholic Talks New Features and Digital Advertising

shareaholicIf you publish content and no one shares it, does it even matter anymore? Not really. Shareaholic is a “content amplification platform” built around that idea. Launched in 2009, they’ve recently launched some new features for publishers and advertisers. Marketing manager Danny Wong filled me on some of the details.

What’s new?

Our revenue generating tools come in three forms at the moment: Promoted ContentAffiliate Links, and Post-Share Ads.These are all simple and easy ways to drive revenue which, fortunately, do not substitute other ad offerings. Instead, they supplement existing monetization opportunities. For example, anyone can insert Promoted Content while still running display ads. Our affiliate links don’t override existing affiliate set-ups. Instead, we append affiliate tracking codes to URLs that aren’t currently being monetized. Post-share ads are a neat opportunity to drive revenue from your most engaged readers because they’ve completed the action of sharing your article. This is especially engaging for readers that may already be blind to banner ads. Our revenue tools round out the logical Shareaholic experience for users. Originally, our tools aimed to help amplify and market your content (with Social Buttons that encouraged users to share your content, with Related Posts which surface relevant content recommendations to keep readers on-site longer, and with Analytics which allow publishers to gain valuable insights about their audience to, then, produce content that’ll consistently outperform.)

Who’s writing the native ads? 

Advertisers. We provide specs around character limitations and image quality but, ultimately, they drive the creative. That said, we do provide guidance around best practices to ensure readers will actually appreciate the ad, publishers will feel it’s inline with their site’s brand, and advertisers get the ROI they deserve from the campaign. We also make it a point to reject campaigns that do not meet our quality standards to ensure the reader and publisher experiences are not compromised.

Many major publishers have become their own creative agencies. Are there outlets that are better served than others with your product?  

For the longest time, we’ve catered to the well underserved market of independent publishers. These outlets benefit the most from our tools because they may not have massive marketing or sales teams. In fact, some publishers have built their business to suit their personal lifestyles, and they may not be experts in sourcing advertising deals or in promoting their content. Nonetheless, they have super strong and loyal readerships that brands would die to get in front of. Then there’s Shareaholic, a platform that bridges these formerly distant parties. This helps advertisers reach targeted audiences at scale (vs piecemeal) and publishers that want to monetize their content without the headache of account management, sales, etc.   Read more

This User-Generated Magazine Wants to Pay Contributors

storybyThis week, StoryBy officially launched as the first peer-generated, crowd-sourced, forum-based “magazine” that also aims to share its revenue with contributors.

The platform was spawned out of frustration with what CEO Olavi Toivainen calls “old style” forums: hard to search, difficult to follow and to contribute to. StoryBy is focused on making reading an immersive experience, which will benefit users and brands. Organized by topics, or what they call “zones,” users can write their own articles. Right now, lifestyle topics like home, travel, and entertainment populate the site.

In addition to creatine a reading experience using an algorithm that ranks entries by popularity, Toivainen is focused on making the site easy to use and personalizing the experience. “The ranking order is driving the experience,” Toivainen says.

For readers, there’s no obligatory log-in, so you can create your adventure within the site without the algorithm. Contributors do need to log in. But once you write an article on a topic, that’s it. Their platform categorizes and tags it for you. Like Quora, StoryBy is founded on the belief that everyone is an expert on something.  Read more

NPR’s ‘Snap Judgement’ Looks for Millennial Support on Kickstarter

Do you want the biggest, baddest season of Snap Judgement ever?  How anyone could resist Glynn Washington‘s request for donations is beyond me.

Washington, the host of the Snap Judgement podcast you can hear on NPR, and his team are trying to attract new audiences and raise funds for their next season. Snap Judgement is one way public radio has reached out to millennials; in their own words the show is about engagement, according to a release about the crowdfunding:

For the past few years, this multi-platform radio show, unlike any others on NPR, has been drawing from across the demographic spectrum.  Storytelling with a beat, the show uses music and video, incorporates live stage productions that sell out nationwide, encourages web downloads, Twitter and interactive dialogue. In short, Snap Judgement is everything public radio is not known for.

Even more interestingly, Washington says in the video that they’re hitting up the audience last in their fundraising. With backing from PRX and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, he ditches the usual public radio drive schtick of: “you owe us, really, for all the good that we do,” and gets right to the point: donate for a t-shirt or concert tickets. Donate because you actually like us; which is what Kickstarter is all about to.

The campaign ends on October 10th and they’re almost at their goal of $150,000 to keep the lights on. If you donate, they’ll produce the “biggest and baddestseason yet. It’s not a bad deal. Especially if you can make public radio cool again (was it ever?).

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