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Digital Publishing Gets A Little Smarter (and Better Looking) With Matter’s 2nd Round of Startups

matterdemodayThis week, Matter’s second round of start-ups took over New York City for a demo day at WNYC’s Greene Space. All of the companies spent the past 100 days in a work space in San Francisco, working with mentors and each other, to bring their ideas to fruition.

All the start-ups are focused on innovating in the media industry and a few specifically are targeting digital publishing. Contextly was the ‘oddball’ of the group, according to co-founder Ryan Singel, because they already had a bit of a foothold in the market. Forget Outbrain and recommended content recommendation faux pas (ever found a right wing article linked to on a liberal leaning news site? It happens.), Contextly’s algorithms help you find better content, micro-manage it as much as possible, and focuses on building reader engagement and community on your site. Says Singel: Read more

Your App is a “Walkie-Talkie” and You Need to Start Using It Like One

docwalkietalkieAs news publishers talk about ‘unbolting’ their digital enterprises and newsrooms work on being more mobile in the name of more engaged with their audiences, it’s hard to imagine what that eventually looks like. To start, it might be helpful not to change our actual news products but focus on new ways of using what we have.

Investing in baby steps, if you will.

That’s what the guys behind the software seem to think anyway. Mag+ is the ‘content publishing ecosystem’ and software behind many of the newspaper and magazine apps you might read — New York Magazine, The Atlantic Weekly, Bloomberg Markets, Chicago Sun-Times, Popular Science, and The Next Web to name a few.

They’ve also just released an upgrade to their software that mirrors some general trends in news publishing. Mike Haney, co-founder and creative director for Mag+, says that the upgrade focused on redesigning the storefront and better sorting, so users know what they have when they want it. They’ve also partnered with eMagazine Insight, so publishers can track the effectiveness of in-app links and banners and hone their marketing campaigns. Most interesting for a mobile newsroom is the take on push notifications and alert channels. Another partner, Appboy, brings custom segemented messaging to Mag+ apps. From their release:

In addition to issues, the app can deliver custom push notifications, promotions, cross app promotions, in-app notifications and news feed items that can be specifically targeted to users based on what they’ve done in the app. Combined with a built-in feedback tool, these features make the platform a more effective communications tool and opens it for a broader range of uses.

It’s just one step in looking at the app as a multi-channeled tool to build better engagement with readers. Haney explains:

We talk about being a content hub. Its not about just designing your issue and pushing it out, but it’s about creating a relationship with your consumer. It’s like a walkie-talkie — you have one in your pocket and they have the other one, and you have the ability to reach out and talk to them and give them control about what they get from you. Read more

Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund Announces 24 New Projects

Photo courtesy of Knight Foundation

Photo courtesy of Knight Foundation


Earlier this week, the Knight Foundation announced funding for 24 new projects as part of its Prototype Fund. The fund allows innovators to move from idea to demo with $35,000 in funding.

A spokesperson for the fund says there are several noteworthy elements particular to the current round of funded projects. Read more

Ready For An Upgraded New York Times (and Native Ads)?

nytThe New York Times‘ long-awaited redesign will grace our computers next week, complete with updated typography and responsive design.

Wednesday, Jan. 8 will also mark a shift in The Grey Lady’s advertising model, as the new and improved design allows for the Times to display sponsored editorial content, or “native ads.”

NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told staffers in a Dec. 19 memo that the move to paid editorial was mandatory for the paper to sustain itself digitally and noted that designers and NYT editors were working to ensure no confusion between sponsored content and reported news. Announced to start appearing this month, Sulzberger said advertorial will feature a “distinctive color bar, the words “Paid Post,” the relevant company logo, a different typeface and other design cues to let readers know exactly what they are looking at.”

Read more

Does WaPo‘s “Know More” Blog Represent the New Journalism?

knowmoreThis week The Washington Post launched a blog that aims to wise you up and make it easier for you to share your new knowledge, too.

Know More” is a new Web space hosted by WaPo and maintained by the popular Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein and reporter Dylan Matthews with the expectation that a visually-strong display of both impactful and relatively inconsequential news could create a viral effect, especially on the social Web.

You’ve got two choices once you click on the image, graph or tweet that tickles your fancy: “No More” or “Know More.” If you do indeed want to learn more about that particular topic, you’re led to various sources on the Web (some WaPo, many others not) that provide deeper context for the tile that originally interested you.

There’s no rhyme or reason for the way these tiles are arranged. A Grumpy Cat blurb is next to a photo explaining the exorbitant costs of putting people in prisons, and a link leading to a song about Target sits above a fascinating graphic breaking down how a U.S. debt default would affect other countries, pensions, social security, etc. The key for Know More — Klein told Gigaom‘s Laura Hazard Owen — is that they’ve created a place where it’s easier to pluck one image or a single compelling quotation from an overarching story and use it as a lede or headline that wouldn’t work on a traditional news site. This way, the team at Know More can try to determine what it is that makes people want to learn more about a topic and then present that tidbit first.

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