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RealMatch: Innovation in the Classifieds Section

The golden age of newspapers all ended with Craigslist and Monster.com, right? When job boards left their rightful place in the back of the publications. Interestingly enough, those same job boards are starting to come back and create revenue streams for content publishers.

RealMatch has changed the game of recruitment and founder Gal Almog is leading the charge. The company has revolutionized the model of employers and job seekers posting and clicking through gigs on various sites with their Real-Time Job Matching technology. It’s like a dating site for recruitment, says Almog. A user uploads a resume and specifies what they’re looking for and when a job opens up, the technology alerts you. Employers and advertisers post jobs on one site and it gets distributed through RealMatch’s network. “We do all the heavy lifting,” as Almog puts it.

So what does this have to do with newspapers? Everything. Read more

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Tool of the Day: Google Public Data Explorer

Last week, we talked about the Google Chart Wizard that allows you to create detailed charts and graphs. Google now has a new tool called the Public Data Explorer which combines the power of the Google Chart API with publicly available datasets. Here’s an example:

The Google Public Data Explorer uses datasets from organizations like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Office of Management and Budget from the Executive Office of the President. As you can see in the above chart, data can be filtered and animated across whatever factors are available in the dataset, and even supports geo-location. Organizations can upload their own datasets using an open source XML-based metadata format called the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL). Example datasets and full documentation about DSPL are located at Google Code.

Visualizations of public data like this can add great context to news stories, and the embedded charts and links update automatically to share the latest data available from the dataset. The Google Public Data Explorer is a Google Labs project, so it is still a work in progress. You can give your feedback at the Google Public Data Explorer Group if you have any feature suggestions.

Tool of the Day: Google Chart Wizard

We’ve talked before about using Google Docs to help build charts and graphs using a simple spreadsheet. But with Google’s newest offering, the Google Chart Wizard, you can build even more robust and dynamic graphs through an easy to use interface with great customization options.

Google Chart Wizard

The new wizard allows you to quickly construct graphs from any set of numerical data without deciphering the mystery of the Google Charts API URL syntax. Right now, the wizard is limited to creating line charts, pie charts, bar graphs, radar charts, scatterplots, and more. Here is a quick graph I put together using a random data set:

Fall 2007 Semester Grades

The great thing about the Google Chart Wizard is the way you can present your chart once you’re done building it. You have the option of sharing the graph using a URL, or you can drop the single line of HTML code it provides you into any content management system. There is even an option to add your graph as a widget using the Google Chart API, which is a great choice for those who want a little more fine-tuned control over the graph’s presentation and functionality.

Aside from charts, you can also create QR codes, which are matrix barcodes that you can scan with your smartphone. The QR code below was generated using the URL for 10,000 Words.

10,000 Words

If you need a little inspiration to get you started, than that’s no problem either. The Google Chart Wizard also features a gallery of example graphs so you can get an idea of the sorts of visualizations you can put together using this handy tool.

Create your own graphs today at http://imagecharteditor.appspot.com.

Why Local News Sites Need Twitter In Bad Weather

Over the weekend my hometown was hit by some pretty nasty thunderstorms. While it wasn’t nearly on the scale of what happened in Joplin, MO, the word “tornado” was thrown around a few times in Facebook updates from people in the area.

I don’t live in the area any longer, I have friends and family who do. There are a few different news sources both in town, and regionally, that were covering the storm as it was happening.

But when I wanted to get information about what was happening, I chose Twitter over all of them.

Read more

Social Sharing Buttons: Too Much Or Not Enough?

News can break at a moment’s notice, and whether you have the exclusive scoop or not, chances are that readers coming to your website to read the story will want to share it with their friends and family. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networking services can help give your story a greater platform, especially if you use their social media buttons to facilitate sharing. But is your organization’s website overusing these widgets? Or worse, are they there for the wrong reasons?

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A few months ago, a screenshot circulated on the Web of an article from The Washington Post showing nearly a dozen links to Facebook; the different links allow users to recommend or share the article, or to become a fan of their Facebook fan page. CNN’s articles include buttons for Facebook and Twitter with their articles, along with a general “Share” button including links to other services. These buttons are meant to increase engagement between users and their friends, but these examples may show that sometimes news organizations need to fill whitespace on their pages, and they do so by adding additional social widgets.

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Whether or not the user experience of using social media buttons on news sites is good or bad, the overall numbers show that good content is the fuel of the social web. A recent study by AOL and Nielsen shows that 23% of social media messages include links to content (published articles, videos, and photos), which equates to roughly 27,000,000 pieces of content shared each day. A number like that may be a case for including as many share buttons as possible on your website, but less is more when it comes to adding these social sharing buttons for a few reasons.

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From a marketing standpoint, it’s important to make sure that an organization’s social media sharing options are focused based on their audience’s demographics, and minimalistic enough so that the user doesn’t have to spend too much time figuring out their next step for sharing the article. That not only includes the quantity of social sharing buttons, but also the placement of these buttons. The New York Times does a great job with their social networking buttons, including Facebook and Twitter and a button to more services in a simple box near the top of the article. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also takes the simple approach to content sharing by having only one social sharing button with each article. The other benefit of having a minimum of sharing buttons for articles is a shorter load time for the page.

Have you seen any good (or bad) implementations of social sharing buttons on news organization websites? Share your findings in the comments!

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