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Listicles vs. Journalism: Mashable’s Jim Roberts Talks Apocalypsticles

apocalypsticalAt Social Media Week NYC, our sister blog SocialTimes caught up with some notable digital journalists at a panel hosted by The Wall Street Journal. The panelists weighed in on a piece in Politico that criticized certain web-based publications for turning violence into clickbait:

The Kyiv protests were also starting to look like clickbait. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Business Insider, Talking Points Memo, Buzzfeed and Mashable had all published their own listicle versions of what Huffington Post called “Ukraine Crisis: 12 Apocalyptic Pictures After Nation’s Deadliest Day.” High in resolution, low on explanation, the articles painted Ukraine’s carnage by numbers.
 
A new genre had been born: the apocalypsticle.

“I was outraged by [the Politico piece]… It bothered me personally because I had invested a lot of real dollars in covering that story since December,” said Mashable’s executive editor and chief content officer Jim Roberts at the panel.

Here, he talks more about the publication’s coverage of the crisis: Read more

#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:

 

 

 

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Upworthy Quits Page Views, Measures ‘Total Attention Minutes’ Instead

upworthyUpworthy released a blog post today announcing their new model for measuring success: Attention Minutes.

Their source code and more information about its implementation is promised for the coming months (something to look forward to besides spring?). But for now, let’s take a look at their reasoning

Pageviews have long been on the way out and Upworthy has decided that shares, unique visitors, and Google Analytics’ time on site metrics just aren’t cutting it for them. By tracking “everything from video player signals about whether a video is currently playing, to a user’s mouse movements, to which browser tab is currently open,” Upworthy says this move ”will accelerate the drive toward quality.” But it’s really about being able to bottle that engagement and sell it to someone — advertisers, subscribers, investors.  By tracking what engages users, there’ll be more insight into why they share, which is the goal of viral content.

For real news organizations, watching how Upworthy tracks engagement is a highly recommended winter activity. Knowing what beats your users are most interested and where they’re consuming is vital to improving any digital newsroom. Shares and uniques are good estimates, but Upworthy’s right: it’s not enough, and sometimes misleading. Who knows what we’ll find out about our audience.

Has your newsrooms experimented with new metrics across sites? What’s the focus for you — shares or pageviews? 

What Happens When Journalists Show Up To An Unprepared Sochi: Twitter Gold

Journalists often fall into one of two extremes: The nothing-fazes-me, I’ve-seen-everything sort, and the quick-to-complain, give-me-what-I-want-now set. It’s not often the two overlap, but this week both of those types have a reason to vent in unison.

That’s because the cadre of journalists covering this year’s winter Olympics have arrived and taken to Twitter to vent their frustration and amusement with how host-city Sochi is so unprepared for this year’s winter games. It’s the most expensive Olympics in history, and many reporters report their hotel rooms aren’t finished or are lacking essential ingredients, like running water, light bulbs or even door knobs.

If there were a medal for making us appreciate what we have, these guys would have won the gold. The following are my favorites, but the Washington Post collected many more good (or bad depending how you look at it) observations as well:

Dan Wetzel, of Yahoo Sports, joked that “Early impressions of Sochi is that everything should be ready and spectacular for the 2015 Winter Games.” He wrote at length about what he encountered when he arrived in Sochi to find an unprepared hotel and city, but he also shared this:

Sorry folks, they fixed his doorknob, so the offer’s not valid anymore. But he might be in the market to trade for some new light fixtures soon: Read more

Facebook’s ‘Paper’ App: What You Should Know

paperToday is Facebook’s 10th birthday (feel old yet?), so it’s only fitting that the Mark Zuckerberg-led team launched a pretty bold (and, in my opinion), beautiful reincarnation of itself just yesterday.

Universe, meet Paper, the app that’s meant to combine your traditional Facebook feed, complete with your friends’ photo albums, statuses and check-ins, with news stories from a host of respected, national publications in one experience.

Paper pivots around the abstract notion of stories, and its focus on this concept is quite successful. In its most basic form, Paper has all the functionality of the Facebook mobile app. But Paper is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor because it was structured with a mobile-first mindset, unlike Facebook, which had to be reimagined years after its initial design during the “desktop age,” Business Insider reviewer Jim Edwards wrote Monday.

“Paper appears to be Facebook’s answer to the question, ‘If we were to re-create Facebook as a standalone app that delivered a beautiful, simple, highly focused experience, what would it look like? Well, it looks like Paper,’” he continued.

After spending some time with Paper, I think there are just three things you should know about the app:

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