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Archives: April 2013

The New York Times Hits The (Pay)Wall

Last Thursday, the New York Times released a bleak report that indicated weak revenues throughout the first quarter of 2013. But bleaker still is the dismal reporting from the paywall: this quarter saw the weakest growth from its digital subscriber base, raising just 5.6% to 676,000 total users.

The new subscriber base for the Times has slowed considerably year-over-year, but this is the first time that growth dipped under 10%.

This graph, developed by Quartz, shows the progression from the last year:

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Harnessing Big Data to Measure Media Impact

The Norman Lear Center at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced a new program today aimed at measuring media impact. With $3.25 million in funding from the Knight Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Lear Center Media Impact Project hopes to help news outlets and journos understand engagement on a deeper level. Sure, journalists can measure engagement by number of retweets or Facebook ‘Likes.’ But just because many people retweeted a headline doesn’t mean that the story will promote change. (Especially if they haven’t even read it.)

“The metrics that have been used for this have been astonishingly primitive,” Martin Kaplan, director of the Lear Center, told The New York Times. The center is in the process of assembling a team of journos, analytics experts and social scientists to figure out how media affects the behavior of consumers. According to a post on the Knight Blog, the project aims to: Read more

Help On The Media ‘Fix Twitter’

There’s been a lot of moaning about misinformation on Twitter the past few weeks; myself and other 10,000 Words contributors have done our fair share of kvetching. 

But the team over at the On The Media podcast are actually trying to do something about it. In a short segment in this week’s podcast, which you can listen to here, they’re asking listeners to help ‘fix Twitter.’

When news breaks, it’s commonplace to just tweet and retweet what people are reporting, and then find out later that the information was totally wrong. The problem is that most organizations or individuals will either delete the tweet, or correct it another one. We all know the scrolling feed moves at a breakneck pace, and sometimes the correct tweet can be overlooked. Meanwhile, the incorrect one is left to be found by users later on in someone’s feed and the cycle of misinformation continues. 

So, there has to be a way for people to tweet to-be-confirmed information that fits into the overall Twitter aesthetic and that sticks with the original tweet itself, so that the “not yet confirmed” status of the information doesn’t get lost in the ether. 

On the Media host (and editor…) Brooke Gladstone suggested a question mark. The punctuation fits into the lexicon of Twitter — it’s just one character. But, as they point out in the segment, that mark could potentially be deleted in retweets. OTM producer PJ Vogt suggested a ‘flag’ function, that would immediately gray out a tweet that needs to be corroborated. Then as he puts it, the ‘onus is on the reader’ to seek out more information. 

Got any good ideas? Head over to the OTM Blog and leave a good suggestion — the comments are already filling up withpretty good ideas ranging from the highly technical to simple key-worded hashtags that journalists could propagate. 

Instapaper, Digg, and the Social Reading Revolution

In the ensuing months after Google made the decision to unceremoniously discontinue Google Reader (which is,  in this journalist’s opinion, one of the best news-gathering methods around), panicked users have made the mad scramble to find a suitable replacement before the plug is pulled this July.

But perhaps our best option for a new reader isn’t even out yet — and it comes from a pretty unlikely place.

Well-known startup developer-turned-budding publishing company Betaworks is making a serious gambit to change social reading as we know it today. Last year, the company snapped up forlorn social news aggregator Digg, and gave it a new lease on life. Today marks the company’s follow-up acquisition of Instapaper, a stunningly simple article saving service that has been known and loved by journalists and the broader public for years. With both companies now under the same umbrella, it’s no surprise that Betaworks is planning on somehow revamping newsgathering on the web.

But how? Well, filling Google Reader’s shoes is a great start.

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15 Steps For Changing Newsroom Culture

Change is hard. We all know that. But something about being in a newsroom makes it harder — the legacy systems, old habits, the necessity of providing content for old and dying mediums. But I think now more so than ever, newsrooms are ripe for change. They’ve been resistant for so long, but now I’m witnessing them coming around. The turnout to NICAR this year was the largest ever, Pulitzers are being awarded more often for digital storytelling, breaking news events keep teaching us more and more about social and mobile consumption. So in a very anecdotal way, I think the news industry might finally be at a place where it’s stopped denying that it’s moving too slow. Now, how to make that jump? This is my list of mechanisms, published here as a more thought-out version of an Ignite Talk I gave at West Virginia University last week. Not everything on this list will work for you, but it’s based on lessons I’ve learned first-hand and observed elsewhere.  Read more

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