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Mediabistro Circus: Interactive Newsroom, The New York Times

A combination of risk-taking and innovative thinking has made the Times a leader in interactive multimedia reporting.

1. Highlights

Table of Contents

  1. Highlights FREE!
  2. Fiona Spruill on User Contributions (11:13) 11:13 FREE!
    The first segment features Fiona Spruill, who was named editor of the web newsroom for The New York Times in July 2006. She begins by noting that the Times launched its commenting platform in 2007, which allowed them to ask readers for their opinions on breaking news and articles. Projects that allow readers to interact with the site are key to the success of the online newsroom. One such project captured readers' reactions to the election results by asking them to identify the candidate they supported, then to choose one word to describe their feelings, with fascinating results. User-submitted photos are another key part of the site, and Fiona describes how the Times' new upload system was tested "on the fly" on the day of the "miracle on the Hudson," and later used to highlight coverage of President Obama's inauguration day. A feature using readers' photos of the Grateful Dead had 2.5 million clicks and readers viewed an average of 50 photos per person—audience makes a difference. Fiona closes by explaining what her team has learned from their work on these projects.
  3. Andrew DeVigal on the Challenges of Multimedia Presentations (18:11) 18:11 FREE!
    This segment features Andrew DeVigal, who has been the multimedia editor at the New York Times since October 2006. His presentation spotlights The Times' Lens blog and describes some of the challenges that producers face when presenting content online. He shows a piece from the One in Eight Million weekly series produced by Sarah Kramer, and a video/motion graphics piece that focuses on the presidential election. Next, DeVigal describes and screens portions of the DNA Exonerated project, a collaboration with the Metro desk. Finally, he shows portions of what they affectionately "the debate-inator," a project that lets users analyze the words used in video through transcripts.
  4. Steve Duenes on Experimentation with Visual Forms (13:00) 13:00 FREE!
    Where do you find journalist-developers? How much time does it take to create interactive content? Do reporters have to change their methods of covering news to make it appropriate for the online format? Are bloggers journalists? What metrics are used to determine if interactive content is effective? How is advertising evolving in the online news arena?
  5. Questions and Answers with the Panel (15:25) 15:25 FREE!
    Moderator Jon Fine begins by asking the panel: What are the rules of the road for multimedia storytelling? How do you get all of the elements right: the writing, the voicing, the graphics? How do you prepare for the multimedia job market? What skills are needed? Questions from the audience: You're looking for forms that readers aren't familiar with. What do you use for inspiration to find what's going to work? Your longer form pieces seem expensive to produce: how many clicks make the investment worth it? What's morale like in your newsroom? What about the debate about charging for online content? What do you know about the differences in demographics between print readers and interactive content readers? What kind of advice would you give to producers who have small budgets?

Video Details

During the presidential campaigns, the New York Times interactive team pushed ahead by developing groundbreaking features, like Word Train: poll data meets art piece, and becomes a new form of journalism. At a time when newspapers are shutting down weekly, the gray lady is no stranger to the catastrophic shifts in the media industry. But innovative thinking, combined with a certain element of risk-taking, is the key component of the interactive newsroom. Could the outcome be a sustainable new model for journalism and publishing? And what can you learn from their strategy?

This Mediabistro Circus panel, moderated by Jon Fine (Media Columnist, BusinessWeek), features Times staffers Andrew DeVigal (Multimedia Editor), Steve Duenes (Graphics Director), and Fiona Spruill (Editor of Web Newsroom).


4 videos
58 minutes

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