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Angela Washeck

Angela Washeck is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas. She is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a journalism minor. Angela serves as an Editorial Assistant at PBS MediaShift and is a contributor to Paste Magazine and TexasMonthly.com. She was previously an intern at TV newsmagazine "Dan Rather Reports." Her work has been republished on Editor and Publisher, the American Press Institute and more. When Angela is not busy writing for MediaBistro, you can find her watching “How I Met Your Mother” reruns, watching Aggie football and attending indie/folk concerts in Dallas. Follow her tweets @angelawasheck.

What Is Slate Premium? The Publisher’s New Method For Monetization

slate-premium1Slate is dipping its toe in the membership pool.

Digital publishers keep experimenting with different methods of monetization, whether through metered paywalls, crowdsourcing, events or subscriptions, to see which one’s the answer to the pressing and increasingly complicated revenue question.

In a blog post Monday, Slate Editor David Plotz introduced Slate Plus, a membership option for the most passionate Slate fans. For those who pay $5 monthly or $50 a year, Plotz said readers “who support [Slate] journalism and want a closer connection to it” get perks like access to Slate writers through Slate Plus member-only discussions, early viewing of certain articles, ad-free podcasts, 30 percent off live events, single page articles rather than pesky pagination and special commenting privileges.

But don’t worry — this is not a paywall. As Plotz noted, all the free stuff on Slate will stay free. The membership fee just buys you extras, a benefit package they’ll be adding to over time. This type of model has been described as a “reverse paywall,” one that GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram has said is a good way to reward loyal readers rather than penalizing them.

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The Silence at The Intercept Is A Reflection of Startup Newsroom Difficulties

0ca4fbfa-ee45-4a5c-8995-24920f11e534-620x372Just over two months after publishing its first revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance program, First Look Media’s The Intercept is taking a break. Well, sort of.

The newest member of the team (that we know of), built around former Guardian journalist and Edward Snowden cohort Glenn Greenwald, is editor-in-chief John Cook of Gawker. And on Monday, April 14, Cook took to the Intercept’s blog to explain why there hasn’t been a whole lot of action from The Intercept’s reporting team.

The main reason for the lack of reporting coming out of the team, which also includes Liliana Segura formerly of The Nation, is that they launched before they were 100 percent ready to launch. That is, they started posting stories detailing the NSA’s surveillance and other government programs before they were fully staffed and had a long-term vision for what The Intercept should be. Wrote Cook:

Until we have completed the work of getting staffed up and conceptually prepared for the launch of a full-bore news operation that will be producing a steady stream of shit-kicking stories, The Intercept will be narrowly focusing on one thing and one thing only: Reporting out stories from the NSA archive as quickly and responsibly as is practicable. We will do so at a tempo that suits the material. When we are prepared to publish those stories, we will publish them. When we are not, we will be silent for a time, unless Glenn Greenwald has some blogging he wants to do, because no one can stop Glenn Greenwald from blogging.

So there you go. The Intercept’s decision to go live was based on a broader obligation to just start reporting, “not based on an assessment that everything that one needs for the successful launch of a news web site — staff, editorial capacity, and answers to questions about the site’s broader focus, operational strategy, structure, and design,” said Cook.

Personally, I appreciate the sentiment that the website and editorial strategy don’t have to be perfect in order to set up shop. Ezra Klein‘s Vox did something similar and dubbed the site’s first iteration “a work in progress,” almost as if to invite criticism. The idea that The Intercept — even with such a specific topic focus — should have hammered out every single detail about what it wanted to be before launching is unfair. But, I can understand the complaints around the Web that The Intercept’s design is boring at best, given the $250 million eBay founder Pierre Omidyar funneled into the project. For all we know, though, part of their silence could be allowing for a total makeover.

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From the Tow Center: Research Indicates Video News Is Always Growing, Changing

TowCenterColumbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism is producing some important research on upcoming trends in online media, like news video, sensor journalism and longform.

Its most recently released report, “Video Now: The Form, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism,” highlights the video strategies of popular digitally native publishers like Mashable and NowThis News, longform outfits including Vice Media and Frontline PBS, and legacy papers like the Washington Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, over a five-month period. More than 50 newsrooms were examined during the research for this paper.

Study facilitator and assistant professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Duy Linh Tu set out to answer three main questions:

  • How do news organizations define video?
  • How do they produce video?
  • What is their return on investment? (ROI)

Now for what Linh Tu found: metrics across newsrooms aren’t very reliable. Typical measurements like plays and page views “are inconsistently measured across organizations,” so the report features mostly editor interviews rather than sheer numbers. The answer to digital video is that there is no answer — at least not now. Publishers are finding it difficult to capitalize on this new medium while bringing in the advertising support they need to produce quality content. In other words, there isn’t a ton of data out there on video ROI that inspires trust in marketers with limited budgets.

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Longreads Joins Forces With Automattic, Owner of WordPress

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 1.36.20 PMDuring the month of its five-year anniversary, Longreads was bought by Autommatic, the web development company best known for its ownership of WordPress (also Gravatar and Polldaddy, for the nerdiest types).

Longreads, started by former journalist and longform journalism enthusiast Mark Armstrong in 2009, announced April 9 it was joining forces with Autommatic in order to expand its impact and better equip itself to share the best longform (1,500+ words) work on the web.

“The world cannot live on 140 characters alone,” Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said to Bloomberg Businessweek. “Longreads embodies a lot of what we really value with Automattic and WordPress.”

This move makes total sense. WordPress.com is the “largest and most influential publishing ecosystem in the world,” as Armstrong wrote, and its content management system powers the work of big news brands like NYPost.com and Quartz, and lesser known yet immensely talented freelance writers. Longreads is constantly looking for great journalism to share, while competing against sites like Byliner, and Automattic’s WordPress offers writers a place where their journalism can live. So, it’s a win-win situation. And, in a SXSW talk last year, Mullenweg said WordPress was looking for a way to delve deeper into — and monetize — longform journalism, as what became known as the longform “renaissance” had really started to take shape.

 


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Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What Do You Think?

Vox-MediaFinally Ezra Klein‘s Vox.com has debuted, and the Internet has spoken. Of course, the former Wonkblogger and Washington Post resident celebrity’s move away from legacy media to, essentially a startup, was big news, so anyone interested in new media is watching closely.

Vox Media has been known in recent years for its success in online publishing — because they’re digitally native, they’ve been able to pioneer the art of creating cool-looking “verticals,” relying on a combination CEO and Chairman Jim Bankoff often champions: top-notch talent and the best possible technology.

The seventh of Vox’s properties behind The Verge, Polygon, Eater, SB Nation, Racked and Curbed, Vox.com is a slight departure from the company’s typical paradigm; instead of focusing on sports or food (SB Nation and Eater, respectively), its role is to report and analyze general news. Klein, several of his Post colleagues and other reporters, totaling a 20-person team, were brought in to do explanatory journalism. That is, to provide ongoing resources for understanding the concepts behind news stories, whether they’re politically, financially  or culturally focused.

Which brings us to “Vox Cards,” a sort of digital index card akin to how you studied for college exams. The cards take big topics like the Affordable Care Act, Bitcoin, global warming, immigration reform and my favorite — “Congressional dysfunction” — and break them down into 20 or so simple questions and answers that hopefully help readers understand the why it matters aspect of the news. Vox Cards are linked to in articles, which include “highlighted” words. Basically, Vox Cards help you digest the “vegetables” of current events in a slideshow form.

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