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design

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.”

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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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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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Vox Media: The Company That Did Beautiful Longform Storytelling Before ‘Snow Fall’

News organizations across the globe fell in love with the New York Times’ so-called “immersive storytelling” format with the launch of Snow Fall in November 2012, while critics of the project said it wasn’t reproducible or scaleable.  But long before Snow Fall came to fruition, folks at Vox Media — the company that brings us publications like The Verge, SB Nation and Polygon — were already perfecting a system to do similar layouts, reproducibly, with scale, on a deadline.
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Ready to Share: Packaging Your Digital Content

Chris Johanesen of Buzzfeed says that publishers should ban slideshows. Can we get a round of applause? They are remanants, like pageviews and the ‘like‘ button, of the beginnings of everything digital. Nothing fills me with a sense of dread more than clicking on a link and realizing there are ten, 30 page slideshows at the bottom of the story. It’s why it’s hard to read certain sites.

And of course, slideshows and the pageview complex go hand in hand. Johansen writes that you can’t trick people into sharing content, which is how Buzzfeed considers engagement. Which is sort of interesting in that, while also ploys to get readers to click through and add to the tally, slideshows are also perfect packages of content to share. Like silly lists.

Sometimes, content is made for slideshows. A collection of really great photos, be it of a newsworthy event or a fashion spread, that enhance a story is one. But who has a staff photographer anymore?

Other kinds of niche content will still exist in slideshow form as long as we’re clicking though on desktops, too. I’ve recently made grilling a bit of a hobby and when I’m browsing for ideas, I click through Food and Wine collections, in the same way my grandmother used to peruse her tattered recipe box.  Maybe they’re tricking me into monetizing their site for them, but there’s something inherently ‘browse-worthy’ about food and restauarant pages, much like travel.

As our content all ends up mobile, we’re going to have to be more innovative about packaging it. Even good tablet versions of good magazine just replicate the print version of the magazine, like Wired or the Atlantic, with some extra features and links. Meanwhile, content like this spread here, should just be one colorful, interactive page on the web, sort of like it used to be in the magazine.

Slideshows, and lists, will only die when mobile content really subsumes your desktop view. Do you think slideshows are ever anything but a way to garner pageviews? Are you encouraged to create them?

Photo c/o The Huffington Post

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