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Posts Tagged ‘The Washington Post’

Knight Foundation Grants $3.89M to Build Open Source Platform for Engaging with Readers

knight2-262x193Yesterday, the Knight-Mozilla Open News initiative announced that it will lead a collaboration among Mozilla, the New York Times, and the Washington Post to create a new platform. With $3.89 million in funding, they’ll work together on a platform that will allow readers and users to upload pictures, videos, and other media for news outlets to use. From the release:

This open-source community platform will allow news organizations to connect with audiences beyond the comments section, deepening opportunities for engagement. Through the platform, readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions; and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers will then be able to collect and use this content for other forms of storytelling and to spark ongoing discussions by providing readers with targeted content and notifications.

It’s sort of an unusual partnership, but it could turn out to be very fruitful. Instead of shying away from the internet, the projects seems to capture the essence of all things digital and all things journo: it’s open sourced so other outlets can use it, allows for management of data and verification, and treats readers as equal partners in news gathering. If that’s not what the digital publishing industry needs right now, I don’t know what is. The platform will also have a new sort of commenting system where users can highlighting system for journalists to better interact with readers. Instead of banning comments, they plan to make them more useful. Dan Sinker, the head of the Knight-Mozilla Open News Initiative writes on his blog:

Finally, this is a project that has the opportunity not only to improve community engagement in journalism, but to strengthen the web itself. Technologies likeBackbone.jsD3, and Django have all been forged and tested in the demanding environment of the newsroom, and then gone on to transform the way people build on the web. We don’t know that there’s a Backbone lurking inside this project, but we’re sure as hell going to find out.

Here’s to seeing what happens.

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Watchup Partners with The Washington Post

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Last summer we told you about Watchup, the free app that aggregates news video content. As CEO Adriano Farano put it: We offer all that comes with the immersive experience of video, and a chance to read print articles.” At the time, Watchup had partnered with two high-profile TV stations: PBS and Univision.

Eight months later, the app is expanding their political news coverage by partnering with The Washington Post. PostTV video reports (plus Post Sports Live content) will become available on Watchup’s 3.0 version, which is set to launch on March 13th both on iPad and Android tablets for the first time. I’ll let Farano explain:

post-tv

“The Post’s trustworthy journalism coupled with its latest, outstanding video efforts align with Watchup’s mission to reinvent the video news experience for emerging screens and deliver a multi-channel personalized newscast to people in need of quality information in video format.”

The Washington Post launched PostTV last summer, indicating that they are one of several legacy media outlets feeling the pressure to enhance their digital video efforts. Hey, they seem to be doing something right– average monthly video starts grew 128 percent in the second half of the year after the PostTV launch.

To learn more about Watchup, click here.

Changes Come to The Dallas Morning News. Will They Work to the Paper’s Advantage?

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 9.33.45 PMJust over the last couple of weeks, The Dallas Morning News has announced that they’re ditching their paywall altogether AND that they’re introducing native advertising on their web product.

First came the news that Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton, also a former DMN reporter, broke about the paper’s upcoming advertorials: “Our approach is straightforward and low-risk by serving up original, high-quality content in a contextually relevant environment sponsored by an advertising partner,” read a press release from the News.

The News‘ official explanation of the jump from traditional advertising strategies to the much-debated but increasingly popular digital native ad plans describes that its first experiment with native ads was a success (This consisted of a story run alongside the DMN’s entertainment content on the GuideLive page called “5 ways to create perfect pumpkins without carving,” written by a local candle vendor, but it appears like any other DMN editorial.)

Read more

PostTV Senior Editor Talks Video Content: ‘Find the Right Voice and Be Authentic’

There’s more happening at the Washington Post than Jeff Bezos. Last week, they launched two new shows to PostTV, focused on getting in depth with politics. ‘In Play,’ and ‘On Background,’ were added to the lineup to complement the ‘The Fold,’ which launched last fall, a weekly sports show and original reporting videos. You can watch the shows live, in full on the web or snack on shorter clips after they air.

I was able to get senior video editor Andrew Pergam on the phone to talk about how the shows fit into the Washington’s Post’s overall brand of journalism.

Are People Watching?

He wouldn’t get into numbers, but he assures me that yes, people are watching. What’s more important to the video team is that they create good content and grow their audience.

It was really important in creating all of this that we create content that we ourselves want to watch, and that we would want to share with other people, and grow our audience. That there’s a way to bring people into it in a different way…That was a founding principal. Video is very ‘of the web,’ this is where our audience is, let’s go meet them there.

 

Sharing and engaging with audiences online is also very of the web. The shows are an extension of the traditional reporting the Post is known for and with video, it’s very easy to get caught up in the obsession to go viral.

The journalism and the story is still it. That’s what we’re after. What we’re doing is creating really good journalism that on top of it all, is also ahre-able. It’s pretty important that we create journalism that matches our reputation.

What were trying to do is have an ongoing conversation with our audience. We’re trying to be as flexible as we can and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Now we know how people are watching and how they’re engaging with it and then we can adjust accordingly.

 

Trial and Error

As your own organization makes moves towards creating video (and if it hasn’t, it should be), there are two things to keep in mind. The first is to actually be a part of the newsroom. Video teams don’t need to be replacements for wordsmiths:

I think everyone should be exploring video, it’s a big way that a traditional news organization can enhance its brand going forward… The Post has been successful at integrating video into the daily activity of the newsroom. We’re very much a part of this newsroom, I’m a senior editor in the newsroom, we’re in the same editorial meetings, the politics team works closely with the video team. It’s an unprecedented addition to this newsroom, as opposed to the video group being outside the newsroom, we’ve added a whole new group of journalists to the newsroom, which is very cool.

Pergam also notes that your video content doesn’t have to be perfect, though it should be authentic:

It’s important to figure out what you’re good at and what your audience can connect to…One of the things that’s attractive about the web is that it doesn’t have to be fully produced. The unfiltered, the raw, the grainy, sometimes that appeals to viewers because they feel a connection to that. Find the right voice for your operation, and be authentic. That’s what it all adds up to.

 

Kickstarting Journalism and Climate Change Reporting

I never thought Veronica Mars and long form reporting on climate change had anything in common, but it turns out, they both have the same business model. You want it? You’ll have to pony up for it.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has been reporting on nuclear weapons, power, disarmament and general military issues surrounding it since 1945, sustains itself with a combination of digital subscriptions, individual donations, and foundational philanthropy. This spring, William and Eleanor Revelle, who’ve led the clean energy cause and have supported The Bulletin with donations and insight on their editorial board, are offering a Challenge Gift. They’ll grant $50,000 and match every donation made to the Bulletin until May 31, 2013 in the hope of raising $100,000 to be used toward reporting on climate change. A week after announcing the challenge, $10,000 has already been raised and Bulletin publisher Kennette Benedict is hopeful that they’ll meet their goal.

It’s a good example of what news organizations need to do to thrive. Here’s why it works:

1) Diversity is Key

According to Benedict, donations and grants like this make her journal work. Individual donations makes up about 20% of their revenues. Ten percent is from subscriptions to digital content and the rest is from philanthropy. When the Post announced its paywall yesterday, the internet was already lamenting its ‘leaks.’

But that is sort of the point. When advertising just doesn’t work, subscription and membership models have to be dynamic. We’ll see how the Post works out this summer. But for niche news, like the Bulletin, there should be options. The Bulletin offers some content, like roundtables and short articles for free. You can buy single articles. Or you can subscribe to the full digital version, as an individual or as an organization. Since their news is, well, news-worthy, they offer free subscriptions for media personnel. So a journalist reporting on climate change or nuclear power can get research from the Bulletin experts.

2) Stay on Your Beat

But to depend on donations from readers, you have to offer good content. Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter campaign worked because they had not just a fan base, but a script ready for pre-production and the big name stars to offer. You can’t start from scratch. Likewise with news. Read more

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