Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The New York Times’ new Slack 2016 election bot sends readers’ questions straight to the newsroom
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 1, 2013, 1:18 p.m.
LINK: blog.mailchimp.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   August 1, 2013

Email providers Mailchimp — they handle Nieman Lab’s daily and weekly emails; we’ve been happy with them — have a case study up on their blog on how — despite Quartz’ desires to be a future-friendly news org — it’s found good old-fashioned email to be a surprisingly important part of their content mix.

They pay attention to those readers, too, learning from the things they click — and don’t click — on. “We look at that pretty closely,” [former Nieman Labber Zach Seward] says. “In general, we see that people don’t much click on links in the first half of the email, which makes sense since those are part of pretty concise news summaries. But they click a lot on the links to opinion pieces and ‘random discoveries’ that we include in the second half of the email, which also makes sense. Sometimes we notice a particular link is really popular among our readers and assign a follow-up story for Quartz based on that. So there’s a bit of a feedback loop in the click data.”

Each Quartz Daily Brief, from start to finish, involves about five or six people. “Generally one person writes and one person edits and sends, per edition,” associate general manager Sara Lerner says. The Quartz team built a plugin to integrate MailChimp with their custom WordPress content management system. They use permissions so that only editors can send the campaigns, but everything happens within one interface. With readers and contributors spread out all over the world, though, it’s the sending and subsequent updates where things can sometimes get a little complicated.

(Nerdy aside: For what it’s worth — and mainly because we’re a lot smaller than Quartz — the Nieman Lab daily and weekly emails are designed to involve zero people. It uses Mailchimp’s ability to send regular emails based off the content of an RSS feed. I built a custom RSS feed that uses WordPress template tags to create a single RSS item, with all the email’s desired content — pulling in our stories and the latest from Fuego — that’s ready to go at 3 p.m. Eastern Monday to Friday. So I’m basically able to use the power of WordPress templating to generate an automated email. The opposite of Quartz’ approach, but evidence that Mailchimp’s tools can be made to work with a number of different workflows.)

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The New York Times’ new Slack 2016 election bot sends readers’ questions straight to the newsroom
“Instead of asking you to come to us and be part of this massive room of people shouting over each other, you can bring us to you, and have us be, essentially, one more person in your conversation.”
The Conversation expands across the U.S., freshly funded by universities and foundations
The news site that uses academics as reporters and journalists as editors now boasts 19 paying member universities and is opening up posts in Atlanta (and maybe in the Bay Area).
A Boston public radio station is redesigning its site to make audio “a first-class citizen online”
But: “I’ve tried to be really disciplined about not calling this process just a redesign,” WBUR’s executive editor for digital Tiffany Campbell said. “We’ve built a brand new platform.”
What to read next
0
tweets
Newsonomics: Setting the news table for 2016
The news business hopes it won’t end up one sandwich short of a picnic as the new year’s big trends unfold.
0The sun never sets on The Times: How and why the British paper built its new weekly international app
“We’re pursuing the idea of editions everywhere. An edition is something that can be finished. When you’ve read it, you feel up-to-date; you’ve been told what you need to know for the day or the week.”
0Hot Pod: Is the next front in podcast innovation hardware?
Plus, 21st Century Fox invests in a new podcast network, and some thoughts on the second season of Serial.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Tribune Publishing
Dallas Morning News
Gotham Gazette
Circa
Instapaper
Daily Kos
BBC News
San Diego News Network
Backfence
The Daily Telegraph
Ann Arbor News
INDenverTimes