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Which Tweet Wins? See If You Can You Out-Predict A Computer

If you work in social media, or any online media site really, for very long, you learn that it’s hard to predict which post or piece of content will go viral. That doesn’t stop people from trying.

The latest attempt? The New York Times has the details on a collaboration by three computer scientists who developed an algorithm that, with relative accuracy, can tell you which of two tweets to the same content by the same user will more likely be reshared. This is how those developers explain their project:

… [W]e take advantage of the surprising fact that there are many pairs of tweets containing the same url and written by the same user but employing different wording. Given such pairs, we ask: which version attracts more retweets? This turns out to be a more difficult task than predicting popular topics. Still, humans can answer this question better than chance (but far from perfectly), and the computational methods we develop can do better than an average human …

How is that possible? A huge body of data to pull from. In A/B tests, it predicts which tweet will be more popular correctly 67 percent of the time, compared to the 61 percent of tweets more likely to be retweeted that humans guess correctly, according to the NYT. Before you get too depressed, read the full article to see why your computer won’t be replacing you or your social community manager anytime soon.

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Then just for fun: The NYT’s The Upshot takes this idea one step farther and put together this fascinating 25 question gut check to see if YOU can beat their algorithm and predict with more success whether one tweet will go viral or one tweet will go silent.

It’s harder than it sounds! I got 15 vs. the computer’s 19. So what do you get?

Pitch ‘Immediately Engaging,’ Photo-Heavy Pieces to BBC Travel

BBC-Travel-Blog-ImageTop 30 Vacation Spots in America. The 10 Best Places to Visit in Rome. How to Take a Road Trip on a Budget. For travel websites and blogs, it’s easy to use listicles as a way to deliver stories. They’re short, sweet and to the point. However, BBC Travel has a different approach to travel content.

The 3-year-old site focuses on ”stories that are unexpected or surprising, have a timely ‘Why now?’ hook, and weave a strong, context-heavy narrative,” says deputy editor Ellie Cobb. Editors are also looking for visual elements to supplement your story:

Concise pitches that are “immediately engaging” will avoid the editors’ slush pile, and mentioning availability of high-resolution photos will further distinguish a pitch, as editors are commissioning “photo-heavy” pieces, including photo essays that are formatted as slideshows.

Cobb encourages writers with multimedia skills to send queries, too. In particular, she’s eager to consider infographic pitches and videos.

For more on what stories to pitch, read: How to Pitch: BBC Travel.

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Philadelphia-Based News Outlet Brother.ly In the Works

cropped-cpij300x100It was a bummer to hear about the shutdown of Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome in April. But former editor-in-chief Jim Brady is moving onto another local news experiment this fall.

USA Today’s Rem Rieder reported yesterday that Brady will launch a for-profit Philadelphia-centric editorial project called Brother.ly after DFM’s failed attempt at producing community journalism on a national scale.

Brother.ly has a staff of six, which will produce original reporting, as well as aggregate and curate web content. They also plan to pursue partnerships with other local outlets.

The initiative will also be incubated by Temple University’s Center for Public Interest Journalism. Brotherly.ly is intended to replace AxisPhilly, which enjoyed some success but couldn’t be financially sustained.

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Why Are Journalists Publishing Before Checking Facts?

INGreport2A new survey from Dutch company ING found that 45 percent of international journalists “publish as soon as possible and correct later,” while only 20 percent always do their due diligence before publishing.

Additionally, the 2014 Study Impact of Social Media on News report, created for PR professionals and journalists, reported that one-third of journalists don’t consider social media posts a reliable source of information. Still, 50 percent said the majority of their news tips and facts come from social.

But journalists don’t seem to mind questions of accuracy too much, since 60 percent said they feel less restricted by journalistic standards in their social media reporting. Twenty-two percent reported that they treat social media posts the same way as traditional methods when it comes to journalism ethics.

Finally, PR professionals, who once worked quite closely with journalists in setting up interviews and providing timely, accurate news items, say reporters aren’t as quick to get in touch with them. The assumption for this is that journalists are relying more frequently on social media info, despite their low levels of trust with the medium.

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Best World Cup Coverage Around the Web

nytwc14.jpgIf you don’t have soccer fever yet, I feel sorry for you. It’s the one sport I can actually tolerate, and thanks to an extended overseas stint, know how to watch. With the World Cup playing on every television screen I walk by, it’s hard to not feel like there’s a extended holiday (and if the U.S. advances, it will only get more interesting).

Because I am a soccer geek, I’ve been consuming every bit of content I can find. Explainers that I don’t really need, background on Brazil, and listicles of the most attractive goalies from Ghana to Chile. Here are some of my favorite outlets for the game.

1) The New York Times. The New York Times has made downtime between the noon and three’o'clock games much more informative. Not only is their World Cup homepage clean and easy to follow — you don’t have to fight to find rankings and schedules —  they have great interactives like these diagrams of the clubs that national players come from. There’s also a great collection of essays about how different countries play the game that’s enough to make even the most skeptical soccer fan swoon a little for the game.

2) Vox. True to their mission, Vox does a lot of explaining and curating the World Cup. There’s the primer for those who want to care, but don’t really. And this collection of GIFs that not only shows some of the most popular (or infamous) players, but also has enough stats to fake a conversation with someone about Messi’s performance in past Cups.

3) Slate. By far, I have found myself tweeting and clicking on Slate’s coverage the most. Covering all things cultural surrounding the games, they take taje World Cup to another level with  this explainer about how Mexicans cheer, the ultimate defense of objectifying  soccer players, and my favorite: the Jerk Watch.

How are your favorite news outlets covering the games? Share your favorite World Cup content with me in the comments or @10,000Words.

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