Police departments are still figuring out how to deal with local blogs and news sites that want press passes — the key to getting past police lines in many jurisdictions. After an epic struggle, NYC blog Gothamist finally has one. Congrats to Jake Dobkin, Jen Chung, & Co. They describe a quasi-orwellian process, with a little humor leavened in:
“I was angry about having to spend so many hours preparing the exhibits and so much money on legal fees for a hearing I expected to lose,” Jake recalls. “I expressed this resentment by wearing blue socks with dinosaurs on them.”
We have the first signs of Gawker Media’s anticipated new commenting system — Gawker users are being asked to update their registration in preparation for the changeover to what’s been code-named Pow-Wow.
We don’t yet know a ton about Pow-Wow, but it appears to center around creating limited-access comments for people with significant knowledge of the post’s subject. Nick Denton talked about this at SXSW. (“The ultimate goal of the new system, Denton said, would be to attract people like American Apparel’s Dov Charney or NBC’s Brian Williams — who are at the center of news on Gawker sites — to chime in themselves.”) And you may remember a Nick Denton memo (via David Carr at the Times) from January touching on the subject:
The new comment system (coming in the spring) is designed to promote intelligent discussion. And there’s no better way to spark intelligent discussion than by publishing an intelligent article. We plan to make the new discussion areas civil enough to encourage authors, experts and celebrities to come in for open Web chats. But writers should feel the comments are a place that you can develop your points with your sources, tipsters and friends. You should be looking forward to seeing the reaction to your article, not avoiding toxic commenters. So we’ll radically overhaul the comment system technically to keep interesting conversations from being derailed.
Lauren Collins has a great piece in this week’s New Yorker on the outsized success of the Daily Mail, which has built the biggest online audience of any newspaper in the world. There’s a section about 80 percent into the story on their web strategy:
The site evolved on the fly. “We just decided to go hell-for-leather for ratings,” someone who was involved in the launch told me. “Anything relating to climate change, American politics, Muslims — we just chased the numbers very ruthlessly.” Traffic, at home and abroad, began to climb. By the summer of 2007, Mail Online’s traffic had risen a hundred and sixty-two per cent, to make it the U.K.’s second-largest newspaper Web site. The Drudge Report started linking to some of its stories. In 2010, it became the U.K.’s biggest newspaper Web site.
[Mail Online editor Martin Clarke] and his staff built the site by instinct. “I didn’t look at that many Web sites for design ideas,” he told me. Formally, they stuck with what they knew, developing a publishing system that allows them to put together the home page with the glue-pot flexibility of a newspaper, rather than having to slot stories into a template. The home page is hectic, with hundreds of stories competing for the reader’s attention. It is unusually long—literally, like a scroll—as are its headlines. (Both tactics help to bolster its search-engine rankings.) It uses far more pictures, and in larger sizes, than its competitors. “The site breaks all so-called ‘usability rules,’” Clarke said. “It’s user-friendly for normal people, not for Internet fanatics.”
Clarke also responds to criticisms of the Mail’s aggregation practices.
Elana Zak at 10,000 Words has a piece on the Journal’s Pinterest strategy, which puts selected quotes from WSJ stories into images ready for repinning. (The pic-ization of the web continues.) Smart idea, but I wish they paid a little more attention to copy editing and typography (check that double double quote at the end).
Publishers with compelling story ideas for timelines can get free help in building timelines from a team of Medill students working with Wise. Student support on the project is underwritten by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Publishers of all sizes — ranging from small neighborhood sites to large media companies — are eligible for the assistance. For more information, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a recognition that it’s not just media organisations that are now in the content business (witness Manchester City’s policy of recruiting digital heads from press and TV) — and a news publisher’s role has to be re-assessed in that context (better to be partners than competitors, perhaps?).
Good article (and even better stock art) from Betsy Rothstein at FishbowlDC on the merits of small, buzzy, viral-friendly political stories. NBC’s Chuck Todd this morning complained about how Etch a Sketch stories can grab the public’s (or at least the media’s) attention ahead of more “traditional” political themes. AP’s Liz Sidota termed it “tidbit journalism.” Rothstein lays out the debate well; here’s BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith:
I don’t see why readers have to choose between fun and serious, narrative and informational. I don’t think readers want to choose one or the other.