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New Brookings Essay Examines ‘The Bad News About the News’

brookingsessayThere’s always more and more bad news about the news, which is the theme of a new Brookings Institute essay by Robert Kaiser.

“The Bad News About the News” is available here, but brace yourself. It’s a long, well researched look at the decline of newspapers. The juiciest bits come from a memo Kaiser wrote to his bosses in 1992, which you can read here. Some highlights:

Design the electronic classifieds now. Figure out how to capture and organize the digital computer information that we already create for each day’s classifieds into a user-friendly data bank. Explore software alternatives. Figure out how this could be launched. Make sure all would-be competitors know what we’re doing. But reserve the right to postpone implementation until a moment when we’re confident we’ll make more money (or deter a competitor) by launching the electronic product.As part of the same effort, explore the feasibility of a Post electronic Yellow Pages for the Washington Area. Why not seek to become the dominant provider of electronic advertising and information in our region?

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This Twitter Bot Doesn’t Like Your Headlines

twitterMargarita Noriega, Fusion’s director of social media, wants you to stop assuming things about your audience. Yesterday, she and Andrew Briggs, a web developer who’s also behind whowritesfor.com, let loose a little Twitter bot: @speak4yrself.

The bot responds to lame Twitter teasers and headlines that we all write: “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppies.” “You Have to Try This Beer.” Not even Fusion is above a scolding:

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Digital Pub OZY Receives $20 Million In Funding

ozyIf you’re into the next big thing in digital magazines (and why wouldn’t you be?), you’ve probably heard of OZY. If, however, you aren’t privy to the latest and greatest when it comes to online culture publications and enjoy Vice, BuzzFeed and Mic, OZY is for you.

The mag just became the recipient of a $20 million investment from a German publisher called Axel Springer, according to Fortune, and it’s ready to move ahead of the pack when it comes to offering a fresh take on daily news and interesting features.

OZY’s Presidential Daily Briefing is a NYT Now-ish type of roundup on the day’s most pertinent information, and its mix of unique headlines (interviews, personal narratives and reported pieces) along with short video make it an ideal destination for those looking for hard news then just a little bit extra. With the added bonus of OZY’s redesign for its one-year anniversary, the pub is a win all-around. I trust that its content and presentation will improve with the recent boost in funding — OZY is certainly a contender for a spot alongside the likes of BuzzFeed and its competitors, but only if the mag plays its cards right on monetization.

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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

Shareaholic Talks New Features and Digital Advertising

shareaholicIf you publish content and no one shares it, does it even matter anymore? Not really. Shareaholic is a “content amplification platform” built around that idea. Launched in 2009, they’ve recently launched some new features for publishers and advertisers. Marketing manager Danny Wong filled me on some of the details.

What’s new?

Our revenue generating tools come in three forms at the moment: Promoted ContentAffiliate Links, and Post-Share Ads.These are all simple and easy ways to drive revenue which, fortunately, do not substitute other ad offerings. Instead, they supplement existing monetization opportunities. For example, anyone can insert Promoted Content while still running display ads. Our affiliate links don’t override existing affiliate set-ups. Instead, we append affiliate tracking codes to URLs that aren’t currently being monetized. Post-share ads are a neat opportunity to drive revenue from your most engaged readers because they’ve completed the action of sharing your article. This is especially engaging for readers that may already be blind to banner ads. Our revenue tools round out the logical Shareaholic experience for users. Originally, our tools aimed to help amplify and market your content (with Social Buttons that encouraged users to share your content, with Related Posts which surface relevant content recommendations to keep readers on-site longer, and with Analytics which allow publishers to gain valuable insights about their audience to, then, produce content that’ll consistently outperform.)

Who’s writing the native ads? 

Advertisers. We provide specs around character limitations and image quality but, ultimately, they drive the creative. That said, we do provide guidance around best practices to ensure readers will actually appreciate the ad, publishers will feel it’s inline with their site’s brand, and advertisers get the ROI they deserve from the campaign. We also make it a point to reject campaigns that do not meet our quality standards to ensure the reader and publisher experiences are not compromised.

Many major publishers have become their own creative agencies. Are there outlets that are better served than others with your product?  

For the longest time, we’ve catered to the well underserved market of independent publishers. These outlets benefit the most from our tools because they may not have massive marketing or sales teams. In fact, some publishers have built their business to suit their personal lifestyles, and they may not be experts in sourcing advertising deals or in promoting their content. Nonetheless, they have super strong and loyal readerships that brands would die to get in front of. Then there’s Shareaholic, a platform that bridges these formerly distant parties. This helps advertisers reach targeted audiences at scale (vs piecemeal) and publishers that want to monetize their content without the headache of account management, sales, etc.   Read more

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