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writing

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

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Children's Book Writing and Illustrating

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This User-Generated Magazine Wants to Pay Contributors

storybyThis week, StoryBy officially launched as the first peer-generated, crowd-sourced, forum-based “magazine” that also aims to share its revenue with contributors.

The platform was spawned out of frustration with what CEO Olavi Toivainen calls “old style” forums: hard to search, difficult to follow and to contribute to. StoryBy is focused on making reading an immersive experience, which will benefit users and brands. Organized by topics, or what they call “zones,” users can write their own articles. Right now, lifestyle topics like home, travel, and entertainment populate the site.

In addition to creatine a reading experience using an algorithm that ranks entries by popularity, Toivainen is focused on making the site easy to use and personalizing the experience. “The ranking order is driving the experience,” Toivainen says.

For readers, there’s no obligatory log-in, so you can create your adventure within the site without the algorithm. Contributors do need to log in. But once you write an article on a topic, that’s it. Their platform categorizes and tags it for you. Like Quora, StoryBy is founded on the belief that everyone is an expert on something.  Read more

New York Times Steps Up Political News Presence

New-York-Times-Logo1Today the Grey Lady launched a politics-themed email newsletter and micro-site underneath the Times‘ main site called First Draft.

First Draft is a piggyback on Washington-centric blog The Caucus, which hasn’t seen much consistent action. As the Times‘ Carl Hulse told the Huffington Post, the new site will house an ongoing political dialogue, written in a similar voice as the paper’s NYT Now app’s morning and evening briefings. Additionally, First Draft will feature both original scoops (that may be developed into full stories for the newspaper later on) as well as aggregated content.

So far, the blog features pull quotes from political figures, videos and even a curated Instagram photo of Cory Booker. Content runs the gamut, as events dictate coverage, though it is definitely an informal take on a sometimes dry topic. As HuffPo’s Michael Calderone wrote: “The Times plans to update First Draft frequently, with hopes that political news junkies will return throughout the day.”

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Grading the Media on Ferguson Coverage

Now that the Ferguson protests are slowly beginning to wind down, it’s likely a good time to assess how the media handled the coverage of the recent unrest, triggered by the police shooting of unarmed teen, Michael Brown.

From the coverage I’ve seen myself, I would have to grade the media a C to C-, mainly for coverage that I thought was uneven, at best, with some national reporters even crossing journalistic lines to become advocates, rather than unbiased, objective third-parties. Read more

How Should Publishers Assign Value to Writers?

SIAmong all the highly complicated questions media companies are grappling with, Time Inc. is still in a seriously unique transitional period. But when Gawker reported that the publisher — more specifically, Sports Illustrated magazine — scores its editorial writers based on how much they benefit the respective magazine’s advertiser relationships, it was a bit hard for me to feel sorry for them.

To be fair, that’s not the only thing they’re applying a numerical value to. “Quality of Writing,” “Impact of Stories/Newsworthiness,” “Productivity/Tenacity,” “Audience/Traffic,” “Video,” “Social” and “Enthusiasm/Approach to Work” are all categories that appear on the writers’ scorecards. But “Produces content that [is] beneficial to advertiser relationship” is still there.

Wrote Gawker watchdog reporter Hamilton Nolan:

“(Time Inc. provided this document to the Newspaper Guild, which represents some of their employees, and the union provided it to us.)  These editorial employees were all ranked in this way, with their scores ranging from 2 to 10.”

TimeInc Read more

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