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Israeli Tech Start-up Spot.IM Enables Publishers To Turn Visitors Into a Community

spot.im post picThe creators of Tel Aviv-based Spot.IM say that their free platform, now currently in Beta, can turn any website into its own social network, thus greatly diminishing the need and reliance on external, social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and countless others.
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Personal Essay Writing

Personal Essay WritingStarting October 28, work with a published journalist to draft, edit, and sell your first-person essays! Jessica Olien will help you to workshop your writing so that it's ready to pitch to editors. You'll learn how to tell your personal story, self-edit you work to assess voice, style, and tone, and sell your essays for publication. Register now!

Hacks and Hackers New Executive Director is Planning for Growth

hackshackers post picFor the uninitiated, the Hacks and Hackers Network is an international, grassroots organization of journalists and technologists who use technology to visualize information and find and tell stories.

Since the group’s first meeting five years ago, in a bar in San Francisco, more than 80 communities worldwide now boast a Hacks and Hackers group.

In an effort to continue that growth, Jeanne Brooks, the group’s first-ever executive director, has come up with a plan to help the global journalism and technology group bolster its numbers as well as its impact.

Brooks, who is supported by a 2014-2015 fellowship from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, wrote on her blog, “At the outset, my aim is to create a roadmap for not only sustainability but for scaling the impact of the network.”

She added that while a global network of volunteer leaders has helped grow the movement, using various methods to organize and nurture local communities, a more comprehensive strategy is now needed to encourage new growth. Read more

Storytelling Conference May Have Tips for Digital Pubs

11Interested in how storytelling will continue to take shape online? An upcoming event in New York City called The Future of Storytelling (FoST) Summit is inviting media and technology professionals to gather and learn about innovative ways that stories are being told.

Guests include Ze Frank, president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, as well as BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti, and Webby Award founder Tiffany Shlain.

The series of workshops and master classes is geared toward filmmakers, communications officers and media members, though I can see how learning about what’s on the cutting edge of “storytelling” — in terms of methods, current trends, and future outlooks — could be extremely useful for product developers, digital editors, and analytics folks at news organizations. With consumption on mobile devices rising exponentially, presenting information and stories in a functional yet efficient way is any media person’s challenge. Apps, data visualizations, video, longform text, infographics, aggregated content — what’s the right way to go?

The FoST event may just have a few answers. FoST is invite-only, but you can follow the discussion on Twitter during the Oct. 1-2 conference here, using the hashtag #FoST.

SEO and Other Terms to Know for Digital Media Success

As print publications continue to close shop or move content entirely to the Web, more and more writers and editors will need to adapt to the digital landscape. And with this new environment comes a new language every online journalist should know.

At the top of the list is SEO or search engine optimization. No doubt you’ve heard of it. ”SEO… determines rankings in Google, Bing and Yahoo searches,” said Brande Victorian, deputy editor of MadameNoire.com. She added:

It’s sort of this game of picking out keywords that are going to make the content that you write show up in these searches so that you’re getting more page views than anyone else.

Once you have your keywords (another important term) determined, the next step is to incorporate them in your headline, dek and body copy — in a cohesive, natural way. Forcing keywords into your copy won’t fool Google — and does a disservice to your readers.

For more vital words digital journalists should know, read: 7 Terms Every Digital Media Journalist Should Know.

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Can Netflix-Style Personalization Help Your News Org’s Homepage?

Dynamic_Yield_LogoThis week, Dynamic Yield announced a new personalization feature to it’s “automated real-time customization engine.” It’s a mouthful, but it could mean new things for your homepage.

Using automated A/B testing, the software helps your website offer a super personalized experience for a user based on their habits and clicks on past visits. CEO and co-founder Liad Agmon says that it helps editors solve the problem of deciding what they want users to see (like Vox’s vegetables) and what users usually click on.

Homepages shouldn’t be generic, because the user that comes to a site via a shared link on Facebook is very different from the one who arrives at the homepage through the url, he notes. Why shouldn’t you cater to them? If you know that one user reads long features, but another is just watching your video content, you can also adjust paywalls to be more fair and more attractive to users.

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