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Nov. 5, 2013, 2:29 p.m.
LINK: pressthink.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   November 5, 2013

When talking about objectivity in the age of digital journalism, Jay Rosen’s view from nowhere theory is one of the most frequently cited perspectives on the topic.

Yesterday, in a blog post that used the Old and New Testaments as a framework for discussing the age of mass media and the age that preceded it, Rosen argued that objectivity conservatives might be coming around to the age of the blogger.

A kind of new testament fundamentalism common in journalism from the 1970s to the 1990s held form through the early years of blogging in this century. It felt scorn for the more opinionated style and ridiculed its followers as “echo chambers.” It defined itself as “the traditional” and dismissed everyone else as marginal. This was arrogance born of monopoly.

But then new testament journalists started blogging themselves and more recently they have taken to social media with genuine enthusiasm. Today they are not as confident that they have all the answers. They know that their business model is broken. They can see the advantages in personal voice and persuasive power that accrues to the Glenn Greenwalds and other practitioners of the personal franchise model in news. They understand that the people formerly known as the audience want to participate more in the news and that the insiders are less trusted than ever.

The next step, Rosen says, is building news organizations that make an attempt to combine both types of journalism.

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LINK: www.kpcb.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 27, 2015

It’s an annual moment of print realism here at Nieman Lab: The posting of the attention slide from Mary Meeker’s state-of-the-Internet slide deck. It’s enough of a tradition that I can now copy-and-paste from multiple versions of this post. Here’s a sentence from the 2013 version:

For those who don’t know it, Meeker — formerly of Morgan Stanley, at VC firm Kleiner Perkins since late 2010 — each year produces a curated set of data reflecting what she sees as the major trends in Internet usage and growth. It may be the only slide deck that qualifies as an event unto itself.

And a chunk from the 2014 version:

What’s useful about Meeker’s deck is that its core data serves as a punctuation mark on some big, ongoing trends. The kind of trends we all know are happening, but whose annual rate of progress can be hard to judge. Like, say, the continued demise of print.

The Meeker slide that always interests me most is the one where she shows how American attention is divided among various forms of media — and how that division lines up with where advertising dollars go. How much of our attention goes to television, say, versus how much of our advertising go there?

It’s not absolute dogma that the two — audience attention and advertising dollars — always be equal. But it makes sense that they would tend toward parity. More people listening to the radio should lead to more companies advertising on the radio, or vice versa.

So let’s travel back in time. Here’s Meeker’s chart for 2011:

mary-meeker-adshare-2011

The two things that jump out at me: Print gets a lot more advertising than it gets attention. And mobile is the opposite. You’d think that would equalize with time.

Here’s 2012:

mary-meeker-adshare-2012

Equalization! Or at least the path to equalization, proportionately. Print loses attention, but loses ad dollars a bit more quickly; mobile gains attention, but gains ad dollars a bit more quickly. (Sizable margin of error here, it’s worth saying.)

Here’s 2013:

mary-meeker-adshare-2013

The print story remains the same: down in attention and in ad dollars. But note there is still a wide gap between the two — print still gets far more ad dollars than its hold on the American attention would seem to “deserve.”

Finally, here’s the new 2014 chart (it’s slide 16):

mary-meeker-chart-2014

The mobile growth everyone anticipated is happening — moving from 4% to 8% in 12 months’ time. And print continues to lose both time spent and revenue.

Let me wrap up by copying what I wrote last year:

Print advertising is not coming back. It will fall further. Substantially further. All newspaper planning for the coming few years needs to reckon with that basic fact.

Mobile continues its rocket rise, and there’s still lots of room for ad revenue growth. And now it’s even eating away at the Great American Time Suck, television. Mobile is eating the world, and most news organizations make only a pittance off it.

Lots more interesting stuff in Meeker’s complete deck.

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LINK: twitter.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 27, 2015

When Jacob Harris left The New York Times last month to work for the federal government at 18F — a sort of in-house digital consultancy to up the digital smarts of government — one could imagine the benefits of having a skilled data journalist now working on the inside. Someone who’d spent lots of time dealing with government data now might have a hand (however small — this is the federal government we’re talking about, after all) in improving the quality of that data. So it wasn’t too surprising to see him tweet this last night:

Data.gov is, of course, the feds’ open data portal: “Here you will find data, tools, and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and more.”

data-govHarris later clarified that he was asking for his “personal curiosity, not any work assignment.” But he nonetheless got an interesting range of responses — a sort of communal wish list from a group of (mostly) journalists about how government data could better serve their needs and the demands of transparency. Here are a few of the responses that stood out to me.

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LINK: nieman.harvard.edu  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 15, 2015

The Nieman Foundation (of which Nieman Lab is a part) just announced our 78th class of Nieman Fellows. (For the uninitiated: The Nieman Fellowship allows 24 journalists the chance to spend a year at Harvard, studying the subjects of their choice, and working to improve the state of journalism, in the United States and worldwide.)

It’s a great group, as it is every year. A few of the names will be familiar to Nieman Lab readers — we wrote about Grzegorz Piechota back in 2012, and we’ve written about Mónica Guzmán several times over the years.

You can find the new fellows’ Twitter handles here, and more information about the fellowship is here. Meanwhile, here are the ideas they’ll be exploring at Harvard starting this fall — the Americans listed first, then the internationals.

And if you’re a journalist who’d benefit from a year to step back from your daily work and work on something bigger, the next application cycle is only a few months away.

Debra Adams Simmons, a senior news executive at Advance Local, the parent company of a group of metro news organizations, will study the impact of the digital news transformation on newsroom leadership and diversity, media ethics and local communities.

Mariah Blake, most recently a senior reporter for Mother Jones, will study the intersection of science and U.S. government policy.

Christopher Borrelli, a features writer at the Chicago Tribune, plans to study the decline of regional identities in the United States and the role that income inequality and social policy play in that change.

Andrea Bruce, a conflict photographer, will study the history of democratic theory and new storytelling techniques beyond photography.

Christa Case Bryant, Jerusalem bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor, will study the technology and international politics of cybersecurity, with a particular focus on cyberwarfare.

Mónica Guzmán, technology and media columnist for GeekWire, The Daily Beast and Columbia Journalism Review, will study how journalists can rethink their roles to meet the demands of online public discourse.

Mary Meehan, a writer at the Lexington Herald-Leader, will examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act and barriers to sustained health improvement among the previously uninsured.

Todd Pitman, Bangkok bureau chief for The Associated Press, will study the causes and consequences of military intervention in emerging nations and examine ways to advance reporting in countries under army rule.

Wendi C. Thomas, a columnist for the Memphis Flyer, will study how to deepen the public conversation on economic justice using a multimedia news website and civic engagement campaign.

Kim Tingley, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, will study the history and philosophy of science, specifically the science of navigation and its relationship to memory and sense of place.

Christopher Weyant, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, will study the repositioning of editorial cartoons as a critical asset to journalism’s digital business model.

Christine Willmsen, an investigative reporter for The Seattle Times, will study emerging toxins and chemicals that impact the health and safety of our workforce.

Wonbo Woo, a producer for NBC News, will study the way major media events impact communities and examine the collateral effects of competitive news coverage on towns and residents after the spotlight fades.

Cansu Çamlibel (Turkey), a writer and senior diplomatic correspondent for Hürriyet, will study the rise of political Islam and how religion shaped contemporary Turkish political discourse.

Naomi Darom (Israel), a writer at Haaretz, will study the relationship between feminism and the messages about gender conveyed by popular culture.

Tim de Gier (Netherlands), head of digital and a staff writer for Vrij Nederland,will study the intersection of modern leftist theory and the political and economic challenges of digital technology.

Fan Wenxin (China), a reporter for Bloomberg News, will study how China’s domestic politics and economy impact its relations with other countries.

Olivia Laing (UK), a writer and critic for The Guardian and New Statesman, will study literature and the crosscurrents between art and trauma.

Hamish Macdonald (Australia), international affairs correspondent for ABC News, will study the intersection of traditional international affairs reporting with innovative, contemporary modes of storytelling to develop new models for collaboration and delivery.

Stephen Maher (Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellow), a political columnist at Postmedia News, will study the use and abuse of surveillance in the absence of effective civilian oversight.

Fabiano Maisonnave (Knight Latin American Nieman Fellow, Brazil), a senior reporter and editorial writer at Folha de S.Paulo, will study the impact of social and economic policies on inequality and the environment in developing countries.

Grzegorz Piechota (Poland), head of the Innovation Lab at the Warsaw-based Gazeta Wyborcza, will study patterns in digital news content engagement to identify best practices.

Anastasia Taylor-Lind (UK/Sweden), a documentary photographer, will study the ways women are portrayed in ancient and modern conflict.

Fungai Tichawangana (Zimbabwe), managing editor of Zimbo Jam, Zimbabwe’s leading arts and culture website, will study digital storytelling techniques, the development of interactive media and online security.

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LINK: www.nytco.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   May 11, 2015

The latest version of NYT Now, The New York Times’ aggregation-fueled smartphone app, is out today and, for the first time, it’s free to all users.

Though rumored and discussed for some time, it’s still a significant shift for the company, which originally launched the app as a cheaper alternative to a full Times subscription, specifically focused on younger, more smartphone-centric readers. At $8 a month, it was about half the price of the cheapest digital subscription to the Times.

But even that price was too high to attract a substantial paying audience. The Times captured a reported 20,000 subscribers, and a majority of NYT Now users were full Times subscriptions who had the app thrown in as a benefit. And so Paywalls 2.0 shifts to NYT Now 2.0.

Inside the company, the app was seen as a creative and technological success, if not a financial one. In a January memo to staff, Times executive editor Dean Baquet wrote:

We have made clear that NYT Now was not a financial breakthrough. But it has been a tremendous journalistic success, showing up on almost every ranking of best new apps. We learned many significant lessons from building NYT Now. We realized we could be more visual, and talk to readers in a different, less formal way, and still be The New York Times. We are exploring how we can make NYT Now a financial success.

That exploration has turned it into a ad-supported model that could let the app — which has been consistently well reviewed — reach a broader audience of phone-heavy readers. Some of those might eventually graduate up to the full Times experience, but there’ll be ads to serve to those who don’t.

NYT Now 2.0 collapses its first two tabs — a selection of Times stories and a curated assemblage of stories from elsewhere — into one stream, with the Times stories on top. (Who’s getting link love from the Times? This morning the app featured Vanity Fair, Quartz, BuzzFeed, Jezebel, Slate, Pacific Standard, Rolling Stone, and Deadline, among others.)

The app previously allowed only 10 free stories a month to non-subscribers; now users will be able to read 10 selected Times stories at any given time and 20 or 30 stories over a 24-hour period, Times spokeswoman Linda Zebian said.


The stories themselves are still basically unchanged, what you’d see in a smartphone mobile browser or the Times’ full app. The app now lets readers know how many new stories have been added at launch, and the bullet-point-centric morning and evening news roundups now come with optional push notifications when they’re ready.

As the Times marches closer to 1 million digital subscribers, the company has spent the last few years trying to find ways to diversify its paid offerings. NYT Now, along with the short-lived NYT Opinion app, were supposed to be the next phase in generating more revenue from readers. But slow subscriber pickup pushed a switch in models, including a greater reliance on brand advertising. As app team leader Cliff Levy put it to Ken Doctor last fall:

…we realized that perhaps we went too fast toward monetizing NYT Now and NYT Opinion. Maybe in the future, a better path is to first do audience development and then do monetization.

When NYT Now debuted, one concern was that existing Times subscribers would find the app was “enough Times for them” and downgrade from a full print or digital subscription to eight bucks a month. Making the app completely free would seem to be an even greater potential risk.

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LINK: www.washingtonpost.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   May 5, 2015

Last year, The Washington Post debuted a new app for the Kindle Fire with an intriguingly distinct user interface. Jeff Bezos was quite involved in its development, “Project Rainbow” — not surprising, I suppose, considering that it was the most meaningful crossover yet between his day job (owning Amazon) and his side gig (owning The Washington Post).

Now, the visual metaphors of that Kindle Fire app are crossing over to the web:

“Based on the success of our new tablet app, we decided to experiment with different ways to carry that experience to the Web,” said Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post. “We think it could be an excellent way to both provide users of the app a seamless experience as they navigate to the web, and to continue expanding our national and global audience, particularly among Millennials, whose readership of The Post is growing steadily.”

Starting today, a subset of mobile readers who click on a shared link will be taken to a new version of The Post’s site (Washingtonpost.com/rweb), which will evolve over the coming months, based on their feedback.

washington-post-kindle-fire-web

Reviews on Twitter have been mixed:

It is awkward when viewed on desktop. But while it’s available on the open web, it’s really targeted at mobile web only. And, I have to think, tablets, because it also looks pretty goofy on a phone:

washington-post-kindle-fire-web-iphone

There are some appealing ideas in the design, which tries to recapture some of the leafing-through-the-paper feel of print. With every story getting big visual presentation, and scrolling story-by-story as the default navigation, you do get a sense of the sweep of a newspaper. But, like the spiritually similar Today’s Paper from The New York Times, I have a hard time imagining it’ll ever be anything but a niche point of entry to Post content.

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