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Lauren Hockenson

Lauren Hockenson is a professional technology journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her profiles and musings on all things tech can be seen across the Internet at Mashable, The Next Web, and IGN Tech. Follower her on Twitter at @lhockenson.

The New York Times Hits The (Pay)Wall

Last Thursday, the New York Times released a bleak report that indicated weak revenues throughout the first quarter of 2013. But bleaker still is the dismal reporting from the paywall: this quarter saw the weakest growth from its digital subscriber base, raising just 5.6% to 676,000 total users.

The new subscriber base for the Times has slowed considerably year-over-year, but this is the first time that growth dipped under 10%.

This graph, developed by Quartz, shows the progression from the last year:

Read more

Instapaper, Digg, and the Social Reading Revolution

In the ensuing months after Google made the decision to unceremoniously discontinue Google Reader (which is,  in this journalist’s opinion, one of the best news-gathering methods around), panicked users have made the mad scramble to find a suitable replacement before the plug is pulled this July.

But perhaps our best option for a new reader isn’t even out yet — and it comes from a pretty unlikely place.

Well-known startup developer-turned-budding publishing company Betaworks is making a serious gambit to change social reading as we know it today. Last year, the company snapped up forlorn social news aggregator Digg, and gave it a new lease on life. Today marks the company’s follow-up acquisition of Instapaper, a stunningly simple article saving service that has been known and loved by journalists and the broader public for years. With both companies now under the same umbrella, it’s no surprise that Betaworks is planning on somehow revamping newsgathering on the web.

But how? Well, filling Google Reader’s shoes is a great start.

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This Handy Tool Separates Journalism from Press Releases

Everyone has been in contact with lazy journalism — whether its one article looking a bit too full of market-speak or a group of articles using the same descriptive terms — but it’s always been very difficult to suss out whether it’s a coincidence or a purposeful cut-and-paste job. Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit focusing on governmental transparency, has decided to tackle the problem head-on with its new website, Churnalism.

If you think a particular article looks, well, suspicious, simply paste the link’s URL or  the text directly into Churnalism’s free scanner (or add on a free browser extension) and the tool will match phrases to press releases within its database. The tool scans through many popular PR hubs, including PR Newswire and MarketWire, and it has also revealed it can grab text from Wikipedia and the US government’s websites. You can compare the article side-by-side and see what was lifted from source material — and whether it’s taken out of context.

Check out the video on Churnalism below. Read more

Can MediaWire Bridge the Cross-Platform Gap?

Developing a comprehensive digital experience for a publication is no small task. While very few outlets have the financing and manpower to produce a custom app, the low-cost appeal of micropublishing could leave organizations still wanting more — especially when it forces you to choose between platforms rather than catering to all of them.

Cross-platform experiences are the goal of MediaWire, a new startup that enables publishers to create and distribute their publications directly through smartphone stores. Unlike some micropublishing apps, MediaWire charges a flat fee per upload and leaves the revenue from sales alone.

The tool already publishes apps to the Apple App store and Google Play, with BlackBerry App World and Windows Store to follow. MediaWire is one of the only companies that supports all of these devices from a single source, meaning that it’s a good candidate to use for digital publishing if the goal is to be truly cross platform across all mediums. MediaWire also allows for users to share publications across major social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, for no extra cost.  Read more

Boston Marathon Tragedy Exposes Twitter’s Reporting Flaws

Around 2:50pm EST, as runners were crossing the finish line at the end of the Boston Marathon, a bomb apparently placed in a garbage can exploded. Roughly ten seconds later, a separate bomb hundreds of feet away also went off — both amid spectators. After that moment though, things begin to get hazy.

As Boston Police and media outlets work to piece together the tragic events that happened yesterday, a look back at Twitter uncovers a massive amount of disinformation propagated by both verified and unverified accounts from all over the world.

12 people were killed. The Boston Police Department has a Saudi national as a suspect. Cellphone service had been cut off. There were seven undetonated bombs found in neighboring buildings.

All of these above reports, which occurred within hours of the explosion, have all been proved unverified at best and false at worst. Read more

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