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The (Digital) Radio Star Lives: PRX Launches Podcast Network for Story-Driven Journalism

radiotopia finalThis week, PRX announced the launch of Radiotopia, a podast network for story-driven journalism, backed in part by a $200,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, likens Radiotopia to an independent music label:

The analogy works in two ways. We’re trying to create a collective around a particular sound and approach in style so these artists, essentially, share an affinity for story driven, high quality audio inspired by public radio but designed for digital listening. And then role that the label ends up playing is one of marketing, distribution, promotion, sponsorship… and experiment with editorial collaboration, crowdfunding and so forth.

PRX has built mobile apps for podcasts such as This American Life,  The Moth, among many others, and plans on using Radiotopia to continue to learn and implement some ideas gained from their experience. Says Shapiro:

We are very interested in creating a feedback loop that gains from those insights and data and help improve not only PRX’s own tools for distribution and tactics but also becomes information that producers can start to use about better serving their audience. Radio for decades has honed ways of producing a broadcast, but in the world of producing for mobile listeners, we are still in very early days.

It may be early days, but story-driven journalism is certainly having a moment on the radio and in podcast form. And, unlike in print or on television, it’s somehow easier to make investigative journalism entertaining for broader audiences. Shapiro says exploring that space is inherent in PRX’s mission:

There’s a spot between making sure that we’re doing informative, mission driven journalism but still aiming for a broad audience with something thats extremely engaging and high quality and entertaining and well produced…it’s about finding that spot.  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

Steve Buttry Wants to Change How You Work (It Will Be Better, We Promise)

project unboltMost of our newsrooms, if we’re honest, are print organizations with the digital initiative “bolted on.” Or so admitted Digital First Media CEO John Paton. I can’t decide whether I’m jealous of or pity the man, Steve Buttry, who has been tasked with unbolting four test newsrooms as DFM’s digital transformation editor.

He obviously knew what he was getting into. More than just refocusing attention to mobile reporting, engaging with audiences over social media or creating new ways to play with and use data, Project Unbolt is about actually changing how newsrooms think and act. Buttry elaborated on his blog this week about what it will actually entail and look like to ‘wrench’ newsrooms away from thinking for print. Here are some highlights:

  • Everything is live, all the time. He writes:

Virtually all event coverage and breaking news coverage are handled as live coverage, with ScribbleLive, livetweeting, livestreaming, etc. This includes sports events, government meetings, trials, community festivals, etc….Live coverage is routine for the unbolted newsroom. Reporters and/or visual journalists covering events plan for live coverage unless they have a good reason not to (a judge won’t allow phones or computers in a courtroom; a family would rather not have you livetweet a funeral; connectivity at a site is poor).

  • In the unbolted newsroom, you post content when you have an audience. Digital content is fresh every morning, you aren’t planning for morning editions, and those ‘Sunday magazine’ style features go up during the week. Read more

Where to Get Free or Low-Cost Digital Journalism Training

dig. journ feat picNeed to brush-up on your digital journalism skills? You might want to check-out some free or low-cost, online courses being offered within the next few months.

The Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley is always a good bet for training as is the Society of Professional Journalists and of course, Poynter’s News University. 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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