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Push Notifications for Everyone: Launches ‘Broadcast’

appnet alertsYou don’t have to make your own app or hire an editor to handle push notification headlines for it anymore., the social networking and micro-blogging site, launches a new service, Broadcast, today, allowing anyone — from the freelance blogger to web magazine mogul — to send out their own push notifications.

All you have to do is download the app, released today on both Android and iOS markets, set up your ‘broadcast channel,’ and publish your notification. On the consumer side, they’ll have to sign up, too. And subscribe to you. But CEO Dalton Caldwell doesn’t see it as a hassle: Read more

Wibbitz: Turn Text into Video, ‘Readers into Watchers’

Video editors of the world, unite! Wibbitz is a new news application that turns text based articles into short videos using RSS feeds and smart algorithms, complete with natural voice narration and infographics. In five seconds. It’s either the next big thing or the next sign that we’re one step closer to ‘The Fifth Element.”

They’re backed by Horizon Ventures (Spotify, Siri, Summly, among others), so it’s probably both.

The idea behind the technology falls directly in line with the habits of “news snacking” on mobile devices. But don’t publishers have a problem with taking their content and aggregating it? Not really, Wibbitz co-founder Zohar Dayan told me over the phone this week:

Not once they understand our long term vision. Our consumer facing vision is to be a platform that allows third party content providers to produce their own videos out of their own content. It’s mobile friendly and generates higher CPMs, especially with mobile devices.

We all know that producing videos is expensive, and as Dayan notes, “there’s only a certain amount of videos you can produce on a daily basis.” He hypothesizes that on a medium sized website, about 15% of articles have videos, some produced in house, some grabbed from the internet. “We enable them to leverage their own existing content and turn that 15% into 80% percent. Once they understand that, they’re interested in using it on their own platform, and that’s we’re going to enable them to do in the coming months.” Read more

How Instagram Ads Could Affect Journalists

Allegedly, all good things must come to an end — so, use of the photo filtering and social network Instagram without advertisements (a very good thing, in my opinion) — will soon end.

Now that we know (even more definitively) that Instagram is on the verge of filling our news feeds with unwanted sponsored photos/posts, I wonder — will journalists take to the app any less to congregate around eyewitness photos of newsworthy events?

Instagram has always intended to be an actively monetizing platform, so this shouldn’t come as a big shock. The question is, even with a whopping 150 million confirmed Instagram users, can the app afford to lose people? And if they do lose those of who might decide to filter and share our photos someplace where our user experience is not disrupted by posts from car dealerships and retail shops, where will we go instead?

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ifussss: New Video Sharing App and Newsroom for Journos

If you see something, share something. That’s the motto and logic behind a new video sharing app called ifussss. Say it with me now: EYE- FUSS. 

While Twitter and Facebook already have us all gathering images and looping videos, ifuss is targeted to news organizations. Co-founder Edward Brooks explains:

Right now, it’s a ton of effort. Users are looking for good content, they’re interested in things happening in their area. If you know a story’s already broke, you can go to Facebook or YouTube, but even if you find the content, you don’t know if you can use it, if it’s been used before — the whole process in the middle is difficult. 

The concept is the same as, say, Instagram. You see traffic on a bridge, for example. You shoot and upload it to the ifussss network. It’s automatically geo, time, and hash tagged. News editors can search and monitor the ifussss newsroom platform and, this is where it gets interesting, buy the content. 

They still haven’t worked out the kinks on pricing, but it’s going to be a “very low cost” price, says Brooks. ifussss collects that revenue and pays a percentage to the citizen journalists who took the video in the first place. 

Brooks mentions that a contact of his in a local New York City newsroom says they had five or six people combing through user-generated video after Hurricane Sandy. 

It would make that process much easier. We’re not asking you to change that behavior, but now the archive is there, it’s verified content, and ready to use. 

There’s been much discussion around Twitter’s Vine and Instagram video, but both of the behometh’s continue to tell us that they aren’t a media company. ifussss could fill in that gap. The big question is: will newsrooms pay for user generated video content? Brooks thinks they should. 

“It’s about video with value,” he says. “It’s not just about breaking news. I saw a Lisa Liu filming in Washington Sqaure Park the other day… It’s of no value right now, but when that movie comes out or wins awards, the footage could be of value later. It’s in the archives, tagged, and ready to be used.”
The app is set to release in the store in late August, but they are offering limited pre-release access to the app if you sign up now. I’m curious to know what you all think of the concept, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter.


App Updates: Buzzfeed, Boston Globe, and More Build-Your-Own News

Readers of Buzzfeed and/or The Boston Globe can now enjoy a more personalized reading experience. If you’ve got an iPhone, that is.

Last week Buzzfeed announced an updated version of its iOS app (Android to follow), which allows users to completely customize what headlines they see upon opening the app. Because we all need another way to waste time consume news, Buzzfeed wants avid news readers to determine our nonsense to substantive news ratio to make the process more efficient. So, your custom news feed might contain a wealth of stories about New Jersey politics (since Buzzfeed has increasingly become a source of  balanced, original reporting) or, perhaps, 90s boy band lyrics (for those of us who prefer mindless entertainment while waiting in line for coffee).

The Boston Globe did something similar with its iPhone app, launching a customizing feature June 21. The Globe‘s executive director for emerging products Michael Manning explained it like this: “We know that readers want to stay on top of topics they care about, whether that’s the Red Sox, local politics, national news or entertainment. The new Boston Globe app lets the reader decide what news takes priority.”

Manning says the homepage will be a hub of all the reader’s preferred topics and sections, with an “infinite” number of relevant stories available.

It’s good timing for this rise in personalization of news consumption, too, since Google Reader was laid to rest yesterday.

Though writer Jeff John Roberts says personalized news feeds on apps may not have an earth-shattering outcome since the majority of people still get their news from websites rather than apps, that number may change as news organizations continue to develop more options for personalization on mobile devices.

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