Publishers responding to Facebook’s video push are doing all they can to get more videos on the platform — even if those videos started off as something very different. (And even if it turns out that some elements of Facebook video use has been significantly overstated.)
The Economist has created a handful of the videos over the past few weeks, using the format to repackage stories about the collapse of a South Korean container line, Chinese children left behind by their parents’ migration to cities in search of jobs, and a review of Johan Norberg’s optimistic book Progress. The magazine’s social team has kept things simple, limiting the videos to roughly 30 seconds and rarely going beyond a few words, a chart, or a photo in each individual slide. Most don’t have music. The entire creation process can take as little as two minutes, says Economist social media writer James Waddell. “But extracting the relevant copy from the article and making sure it looks good and reads well takes a little more work,” he added.
The videos are a variation of the approach that many publishers have taken when creating video for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Responding to the way that users watch videos on the platform, publishers have produced videos that rely on text overlays rather than sound keep viewers hooked.
Economist readers seem to responding well to the format. The video adaption of the Norberg book review reached 3.3 million people, which Waddell owes in part to its reliance on few words and lots of statistics to tell the story. Numbers in general seem to work well with the videos, he said. Adapting its existing content is not a new tactic for The Economist, which has also used Facebook video to create and “audiogram” snippets of some of its podcasts.
“One of the things you’ve seen across the marketplace for the last five years is a lot of companies are chasing the same kind of traffic from the same social distribution mechanisms…It’s not a recipe for producing a distinctive media brand.”
60dB, named for the volume at which a human speaks and founded by a former Planet Money reporter and two others with backgrounds at Netflix, is being teased as a “service for high-quality, short-form stories.”
Need more proof that second screens are fast becoming first screens? Both Facebook and Twitter announced this week that they were partnering with news organizations to broadcast the presidential vice presidential debates live on their platforms.
On Tuesday, Facebook said it was working with ABC News to show the debates and additional coverage on Facebook Live. On Wednesday, Twitter said it would show debate coverage and analysis from Bloomberg Politics.
The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is Monday night.
Over the past few months the platforms have been ramping up their video offerings as they try to attract users to their services. Twitter, for instance, has been streaming other Bloomberg programs and is also broadcasting the NFL’s Thursday night games this season. Facebook for its part has been courting publishers to use its Facebook Live service by paying them to produce a certain number of videos. Outlets including The New York Times and BuzzFeed are participating in Facebook’s program.
Facebook and Twitter’s businesses are built on advertising, which to succeed requires users to actually use their services. As a result, both of them have been looking for ways to increase user engagement and keep users on their platforms, and that’s why they’ve been courting publishers.
Last week, at the Online News Association conference in Denver, Fidji Simo, Facebook’s director of product, outlined a number of ways Facebook is trying to further entice publishers to use its platform and services.
For Twitter, the debates are the company’s latest attempt to try to grow its stagnant user base. In its second-quarter earnings report in July, Twitter reported that it had 313 million active monthly users — an increase of just 3 million from the first quarter of the year.
2.1 million users watched Twitter’s first NFL broadcast this month, with an average of 243,000 viewers tuning in at the same time. It remains to be seen whether the audience on Twitter (or Facebook for that matter) will top that for the debates.
@brianstelter u think Twitter debate livestreams will top NFL? 250,000 +
The group, a collaboration effort from the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Mozilla Foundation (and funded by the Knight Foundation), has been researching how to improve commenting online for both commenters and news outlets and building out open-source tools for newsrooms to test. Its latest product Ask, released to the wider public on Monday (The Coral Project held an install party at SRCCON in July), is a system for crowdsourcing reader contributions:
‘Ask’ enables editors to create embeddable forms to invite contributions from readers. These could come in several formats, including text, photo, video, audio. The contributions can be (optionally) linked to existing user profiles. Editors can filter, sort, share, and manage the contributions, and then display the best ones in a gallery.
The Coral Project hopes Ask will simplify the workflow of engagement editors, journalists, and anyone who needs to put out calls for (and subsequently sort through) reader responses, as well as improve readers’ experience submitting material to news organizations. The tool will also help publishers avoid sharing user data with third-party, cloud-based systems like Google Forms, since the reader contributions are processed on a news organization’s own servers. For interested newsrooms, Github here.
Similar crowdsourcingtools exist, but Ask was built to address some features lacking from other platforms, and it can handle the whole process, from requesting reader contributions to editing them to finally displaying reader-submitted content.
— Existing tools aren’t optimized for journalistic use — common complaints center around poor design, poor mobile experience, poor accessibility, time consuming to create galleries/share the results based on call outs, inability for contributors to be remembered across different call outs, don’t connect with existing user databases or include the context of previous comments/contributions
— It’s an important part of our “contributions, not just comments” philosophy
— It allows us to build and test scalable curation management tools with something more manageable than a full comments system, as Ask isn’t real time or user-to-user facing, so likely to be lower volume and suffer less trolling
The Coral Project also recently unveiled a Comments Lab, which lets anyone play with features they’d want in an ideal comments space online (you can turn on or off emojis, for instance, or turn on or off displaying basic data on a commenter).
The podcast world is much broader than those who first heard about it through Serial would think. But what role can news and journalism play in the evolving medium? Part 5 of a five-part series on the business of on-demand audio.
Shows are moving well beyond a simple MP3 file and an RSS feed. But will new data, targeting, discoverability, and social tools push podcasting in the direction of commercial radio? Part 4 of a five-part series on the business of on-demand audio.
Five foundations on Thursday said they were continuing to support a program administered by the Online News Association which provides grants of up to $35,000 to universities to conduct experiments in journalism education which allow students to report on local news.
The five foundations — the Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation — said they were contributing $985,000 to support the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education for an additional two years.
The program is administered by the Online News Association, and the new funding was announced in Denver at the association’s annual conference.
The fund will begin accepting applications this fall, and the accepted projects must be completed during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. At least one of the projects that is deemed most impactful will receive a grand prize as well.
The foundations initially launched the fund in 2013, and it has supported 23 projects over the past two academic years. Winning efforts from the previous two cycles included TruthBeTold.news, a factchecking website out of Howard University that focuses on the African-American community; Hack the Mold, a partnership between CUNY and the New York Daily News that covered unsanitary living conditions in New York CIty’s public housing; and the Georgia News Lab, an investigative reporting collaboration between four Georgia universities and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB. The News Lab won the $65,000 grand prize and raised an additional $90,000 to continue its reporting.
In a statement released by the Knight Foundation (which, full disclosure, is also a funder of Nieman Lab), the fund explained how it would choose the winning teams:
Teams will be selected based on ideas that show the most potential for encouraging collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridging the professor-professional gap, using innovative techniques and technologies, and learning from digital-age news experiments. This round will also focus on projects that experiment in four key areas: diversity, technology, community engagement and civic participation.
All the details about how to apply for a grant are available on ONA’s website.
Knight and the Google News Lab on Thursday also announced that they will jointly fund a $500,000 effort to support experiments in 360º video, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
The project, called Journalism360, will also be administered by ONA. It will put on workshops and events and produce digital resources, such as case studies, to help journalists experiment with these immersive storytelling methods.
Next year, Journalism360 will also launch its own challenge fund, which will award grants from $5,000 to $35,000 to support experiments in these fields “that will advance the collective understanding of these new forms including narratives, ethics, production and other issues,” according to a statement from Knight.
This week, most of the Nieman Lab staff is in Denver for ONA 2016, a massive three-day gathering with well over a thousand attendees, multiple simultaneous sessions morning to evening, and receptions and parties every night. Even if you’re there, it’s impossible to keep up with everything.
This year, we’re breaking out the Nieman Lab Lounge — our special backchannel Slack for moments like this — for the conference. Join us, whether you’re in at the conference or around the world!
Some of you may remember that we used our Slack as an unofficial backchannel during ISOJ back in April, with more than 200 people joining us. But ISOJ is a much smaller conference — a single room, one session at a time.
So this time, we’ve divided the Lounge Slack into several channels, based on the eight official ONA session “tracks”: Audience Engagement & Analytics; Audio, Photo + Video; Business+Revenue; Career Building; Developer Tools; Educators + Students; Mobile Tools; Newsgathering, Tools + Techniques. In the Revenue Roundup session? Hop into the #revenue channel and chat away! We’ve also added #jobs and #meetups (for, well, job listings and arranging meetups), and #intros remains the place to introduce yourself.
Here’s what you do to join the conversation, whether you’re here in Denver or following along at home: Go here to sign up for an account on our Slack. Login information will be sent to your email, then you can join the Slack here or in the Slack apps on your Mac, PC, iOS, or Android device. We’ll be talking about the presentations, the issues being discussed, and most likely at least once, legal weed.
Getting revenue directly from listeners is not an immediate priority for most podcast companies. But when payment does arrive, will the money go mostly to producers, networks, or platforms? Part 3 of a five-part series on the business of on-demand audio.
Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to get people to read and spread fake news. Readers love to share surprising, shocking or worldview-affirming stories, and publishers, eager for more traffic and ad revenue, love to write them — often without confirming first-hand whether those stories are true. Just look at the news today, rewritten and unconfirmed by many major news sites, that a Chinese zoo named a newborn gorilla “Harambe McHarambeface.'”
The fake news problem is at the heart of the latest effort from First Draft, the Google-backed organization created to help newsrooms and other groups improve how they handle the sourcing and verification of stories from social media. The new First Draft Partner Network, which it announced today, will bring together over 30 news organizations (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and BuzzFeed) and tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to share best practices on how to verify true news stories and stop the spread of fake ones. The group’s upcoming efforts will include training programs, the creation of a non-binding set of best practices, and the development of “collaborative verification platform.”
The standout organization here, of course, is Facebook, which has had an outsized role in spreading fake news, thanks largely to its scale and the nature of its algorithm. Facebook has developed a handful of efforts to curb the spread of fake news on its platform, including tweaks to its algorithm and a feature released last January that let users flag posts as “a false news story.”
The First Draft Partner Network comes at a key time for publishers, which are sourcing an increased share of their stories from social networks. The problem: People don’t trust them when they do. A new study in the journal Journalism Studies found that people see stories sourced from Twitter and Facebook nowhere near as credible as those sourced from interviews and press conferences. Changing that dynamic isn’t likely to be easy.
Podcasts have benefited from the unique intimacy of its ads. Can that strength survive the rise of programmatic and dynamic ad insertion? Part 2 of a five-part series on the business of on-demand audio.
Through its early history, podcasting seemed separated from the waves of change happening in other sectors of digital media. But today, it’s increasingly facing the same questions. Part 1 of a five-part series on the business of on-demand audio.
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