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Times Haiku Proves News Can Be Poetry

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? The New York Times sure does, and the venerable publication is making the most of it with their newest blog, Times Haiku. The blog itself is actually a bot, combing through all of the Times‘s articles from the day and putting them together in neat little haiku packages — naturally displaying in the standard five-seven-five syllable set the poem requires.

“We started with a basic rhyming lexicon, but over time we’ve added syllable counts for words like “Rihanna” or “terroir” to keep pace with the broad vocabulary of The Times,” writes Senior Software Architect and Times hacker Jacob Harris.

Scrolling through the blog, which is powered by Tumblr, one can easily snicker at the randomness of it all — evoking the odd pleasure of other bots like the popular @horse_ebooks, which combs through free ebooks online and takes out snippets of the words. But Harris, who actually reverse-engineered @horse_ebooks to understand the nature of bots, has a little bit more sophistication up his sleeve in the form of careful curation by the Times‘ own journalists, who comb through the bot’s results to find the most interesting poems. Read more

How to Embrace Digital Design Like NYT

This morning, The New York Times announced a radical redesign of its website — a slimmed-down and minimalistic experience that evokes the Times stunning and oft-replicated digital experience “Snow Fall.” The design marries a lot of what users have raved about the Times‘ iPad experience, while also offering “premium” space for ads.

“As we continue to develop our rich content offerings across video, slideshows, data visualization and interactive graphics, these adjustments to NYTimes.com provide the structure our newsroom needs to deliver a best-in-class digital news report,” says excutive Jill Abramson in the company’s blog.

As the Times continues to aggressively keep up with the evolution of digital design, there’s plenty of takeaways to apply to any website. Keep in mind these three tips, and you can ensure your website is ahead of the curve.

1. Web Design Is Constantly Evolving

The Times has certainly come a long way from the design it had ten years ago, but there’s no denying that it’s missing the edge of some modern publications, such as the responsive design of Mashable or the new Kinja layout of Gawker publications Deadspin and Jalopnik. In order to keep up with the times, the Times has to adapt.

Here are just a few features the Times is including in its beta design: Read more

Sponsored Content: How Much is Too Much?

The past few months have been a rocky one for sponsored online content or “advertorials.” Between the Atlantic‘s Scientology dust-up and increasing paid content on websites like Buzzfeed and various outlets within the Gawkwer network, publishers are pushing boundaries and blurring the line between editorial and advertisement.

It’s a sticky subject, for sure, and the centerpiece of a Social Media Week debate in Buzzfeed’s Flatiron District office between Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith and conservative blogger and The Dist Andrew Sullivan. To describe the debate as a blood bath is even a little bit of an understatement, as the two personalities clashed vehemently over the advertorial’s place online — and the effect it has on journalism at large. Here’s a quote from the debate moderator, the Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson, from his write-up of the event: Read more

Rev3′s Adam Sessler Discusses the Ethics of Review Journalism

Adam Sessler, a popular gaming reporter and former host of Attack of the Show on NBC’s now-defunct G4 (now known as the Esquire Network), has built his career on giving honest reviews of entertainment and tech products for his longtime, gaming-obsessed fans. As the host of online TV show network Revision 3′s weekly segment  ”Sessler Something,” he’s successfully bringing his same upfront and magnetic personality to Youtube. But, his normally ardent fans felt Sessler hit a sour note last week, placing a Slim Jim ad that promoted a contest with Electronic Arts — right before a review of Dead Space 3. Immediately, viewers cried foul of his ethics.

In response to the accusation of a “pay for play” review — hinting that he could have taken a kick-back for a positive review of the game by EA — Sessler tackled the issue head-on in this week’s video, titled, “Publishers, Game Journalists, and OTHER EVILS!” In it, he firmly denies that the EA logo before the review was anything more than an honest mistake, and adds that he and his producers decided not to fix it because “The horses were out of the barn.” Read more

Andy Carvin of NPR Shares Wisdom On Reddit

The rapid rise of the online social community Reddit has born out a phenomenon that has captured a large swath of the Internet: the “Ask Me Anything” or AmA. Everyone from Icelandic indie band Sigur Ros to President Barack Obama has hopped onto Reddit to answer user questions about their lives, their dreams and their goals. It’s a growing medium for communities to connect to a heretofore unreachable public figure, and every once in a while it creates a major teaching moment.

That happened today when NPR’s Andy Carvin —  a senior strategist and reporter whose work on the Arab Spring, primarily through his Twitter account @acarvin, led the Washington Post to call him a “one-man Twitter news Bureau” — dispensed helpful advice about digital journalism and production on stories that occur thousands of miles away. His hour-long AMA gave great insights into his own reporting style, and the toll of covering the Arab Spring.

Here’s a roundup of some of the highlights.

On Authenticating Video

The most import thing to do is look for context. Is there something visible in the background that can be IDed, like a building or other landmark? If people are speaking, what kind of accents do they have? If there are weapons involved, what kinds are they? Does the timestamp of the video match the weather forecast, or the location of the sun and shadows? Etc, etc. Fortunately, I have a lot of Twitter followers who love this type of detective work. Read more

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