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Karen Fratti

Karen Fratti is a media and technology writer based in New York City. You can follow her at @karenfratti.

National Journal Launches Document Library

nj logoNeed some background research for a complicated energy policy story? Or a good idea for your niche publication to demonstrate its value for readers?

Take a tip from the National Journal, which launched a the Document Library this week — free and unlimited to members and subscribers, free and limited for non-members — full of docs, white papers, reports, and more. From the release:

The new National Journal Document Library is a growing collection of research reports, testimonies, white papers, and press releases updated in near real-time from the websites of hundreds of sources that include global government agencies, think tanks, trade associations, and academic and corporate institutions.

As mentioned, member and subscribers can access the Library directly here. Non-members can access a limited version of the Library thru the policy verticals:  Energy, Healthcare, Tech and Defense. It’s not obvious — you have to scroll down the homepage of the section and you’ll see it next to the Twitter feed.

The library is interesting to me not just because it’s another resource, but because it’s another example of a publication making it clear that journalism isn’t just about reporting, it’s about researching. We all knew that, but it’s starting to be important to make that a key component of the business model. This is what First Look Media’s targeted ‘digital magazines’ are about, and in the same vein of what Ezra Klein is talking about with Project X – being not just about reporting the news but serving as a resource for the public. It’s about getting to the root of ‘journalism as public service.’

No better, or simpler, way to inform and educate than taking advantage of technology and making it free, to boot.

 

#myinternship: How Can We Make Internship Programs Better?

hamsterThis week, Doree Shafrir over at Buzzfeed wrote about the ‘internship hamster wheel,’ especially pervasive in our industry. She continued the discussion on Twitter under #myinternship, where a lot of current and ex-journo interns shared their woes, their ideas for making existing intern programs better, and rethinking the whole system entirely. In addition to being a fun and easy way to engage with her readers, there were some good anecdotes.

Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

 

Read more

‘Post-Mobile’ Is Inevitable: Why Journalists Shouldn’t Dismiss Google Glass

glassBeing cranky and snowed in on the east coast, I was ready to remain skeptical when talking to Robert Hernandez, USC Annenberg journalism professor, about his work with Google Glass and what news orgs could do with them. But his determination to explore what he calls ‘post-mobile’ tools and how journalists can use them convinced me. I (almost) want a pair, once they’re more stylish and I don’t have to talk to them, which will happen, according to Hernandez.

“When have we as an industry ever benefited by dismissing or feeling above an emerging technology?” he asks.

From the internet itself, to blogging, or micro-blogging, or mobile, you’d think we’d have learned our lesson by now. The debate shouldn’t be about when it’s going to catch on or how dorky they look or how people don’t want to talk to themselves to find information. It’s about getting in there and finding out how we might start to use the technology.

Google Glass isn’t the best iteration of itself , but the ‘post-mobile’ world is inevitable, he says, “and if its inevitable what are the features that you want?” He’s calling it post-mobile or micro-content:

I was going to call it ‘light content’ but I know haters will think of ‘fluffy’ content. The premise of Google Glass is that it doesn’t affect your life…it’s not an immersive thing, it’s about eliminating the time, those seconds, of pulling out your phone and unlocking it and searching. Is that good or bad? I’m not going there.”

He’s right. Think about when Twitter came out and we all rolled our eyes over 140 characters. Read more

What’s In A Name? For New Media Companies, It’s Everything

opendictionaryThis week, First Look Media launched their inaugural “digital magazine” The Intercept. As Matthew Ingram points out here, it’s a term that doesn’t quite fit what they’re aiming to do. It’s not a targeted vertical on a larger site, it’s not a niche blog, it’s something else, something new

Jay Rosen, an advisor to First Look, has classified The Intercept, along with Re/Code or Grantland, under “the personal franchise model.” He writes:

By “personal franchise” I mean something more: a central figure or personality has given birth to a newsroom, a larger operation. But the larger operation still feels like an individual’s site.

In practice, this means that First Look’s design, according to Rosen’s post on the company:

…accepts and incorporates the personal franchise style, treating it as no threat to the editorial ambitions that First Look has for itself. In fact, the hope is to attract others who can launch sites like The Intercept, and to offer a common core of services — data skills, design help, good publishing tools, strong legal advice, marketing muscle — that the founders will need to succeed…Under this model, the diverse paths that such sites may take are not a “distraction” from the core business or a subtraction from the editorial brand but a vital part of both.

What I find exciting is not just that there are so many examples of this personal franchise model, but that so many founders are completely rethinking how we produce, distribute, and consume journalism. Think about Ezra Klein under Vox Media with Project X: they’re thinking about doing something so differently, it doesn’t even have a name yet.

I think the culture demands that we describe our ventures in an ‘elevator pitch,’ or worse, 140 characters or less. But maybe that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you call it a magazine or a blog, it doesn’t change the editorial mission behind The Intercept, or saying that Project X is a “news site/encyclopedia” doesn’t make it less of an undertaking.

What’s more important — defining the shift in business models or focusing on the shift? What do you think about the term ‘digital magazine?’

The Guardian Already Has An In-House Tool for “Attention Analytics.” Do You?

orphanWhile Upworthy was busy writing their “down with the pageview” manifesto yesterday, it turns out that the Guardian’s been using attention analytics it since an in-house hack day, when web architect Graham Tackley and digital audience manager Chris Moran decided that they wanted to see real time data to help manage the SEO for The Guardian’s ”400 pieces of content” a day, according to this piece by Ciara Byrne on Fast Company.

Here’s how it evolved from a took on one man’s desktop, to a newsroom-wide tool called Orphan, according to Byrne’s piece:

[Tackley] tailed the logs on to a couple of servers, pushed it to a messaging queue, and created a Scala Play Framework app to consume and display the data on a dashboard…Word got around and more and more Guardian employees started to use Tackley’s dashboard, now named Ophan. Tackley decided to upgrade it to capture the Guardian’s entire click stream, which generates between 15 million and 25 million events a day and store the data for seven days. This meant moving from his desktop to Amazon Web Services…A JavaScript hidden pixel on the website now records every event instead of retrieving it from the logs and places it in a message queue. Since there were now too many events to hold in-memory, an app called Serf takes the message queue, extracts what was needed, and inserts it into an ElasticSearch cluster. The dashboard asks the same questions of ElasticSearch, a real-time search and analytics engine, that it had previously posed to the in-memory event list

There are a few lessons to be gleaned from this: Read more

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