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Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What Do You Think?

Vox-MediaFinally Ezra Klein‘s Vox.com has debuted, and the Internet has spoken. Of course, the former Wonkblogger and Washington Post resident celebrity’s move away from legacy media to, essentially a startup, was big news, so anyone interested in new media is watching closely.

Vox Media has been known in recent years for its success in online publishing — because they’re digitally native, they’ve been able to pioneer the art of creating cool-looking “verticals,” relying on a combination CEO and Chairman Jim Bankoff often champions: top-notch talent and the best possible technology.

The seventh of Vox’s properties behind The Verge, Polygon, Eater, SB Nation, Racked and Curbed, Vox.com is a slight departure from the company’s typical paradigm; instead of focusing on sports or food (SB Nation and Eater, respectively), its role is to report and analyze general news. Klein, several of his Post colleagues and other reporters, totaling a 20-person team, were brought in to do explanatory journalism. That is, to provide ongoing resources for understanding the concepts behind news stories, whether they’re politically, financially  or culturally focused.

Which brings us to “Vox Cards,” a sort of digital index card akin to how you studied for college exams. The cards take big topics like the Affordable Care Act, Bitcoin, global warming, immigration reform and my favorite — “Congressional dysfunction” — and break them down into 20 or so simple questions and answers that hopefully help readers understand the why it matters aspect of the news. Vox Cards are linked to in articles, which include “highlighted” words. Basically, Vox Cards help you digest the “vegetables” of current events in a slideshow form.

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Rumble and Digital First Media Partner Up, Update Their Ideas of Mobile

rumbledfm

Last week, Digital First Media announced a partnership with Rumble, the mobile publishing platform. I’ve written about Digital First Media before, when they announced their plan to “unbolt” digital newsrooms from their print culture. This partnership is a move in that direction.

They aren’t just a new Rumble client. The two companies instead have partnered up for mutual benefits. According to Rumble cofounder and CRO Uyen Tieu, they had a team of developers in DFM’s newsrooms for a week, going through their systems, poking around their servers and taking stock of what they are currently working with. This way, says Tieu, Rumble can work with them to give them exactly what they want and need. Tieu says that they are a good fit for publishers like Digital First Media because they are a centralized platform “but we are agnostic in that we are open to working with everyone…we play well in the sandbox with others.”

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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

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