The PBS documentary series POV is collaborating with The New York Times to produce a new interactive “embedded mediamaker” project covering race and ethnicity. The goal of the project is to explore issues using new media formats and “the future of digital documentaries.”
“We’re looking now for a mediamaker — whether a traditional filmmaker, an online video creator or a developer who uses code — to merge storytelling and social platforms to create a conversation that’s entirely new,” Adnaan Wasey, POV’s digital executive producer, said in a press release.
The selected mediamaker will work closely with The New York Times’ Race/Related newsletter, including a team of writers, editors, and storytellers who produce content on the effects of race in the everyday lives of people of color. The newsletter has included a number of different content types, including Q&As, photo essays, and links to other race-related links around the web. (The Times and POV have collaborated before on a number of documentaryprojects.)
The collaboration is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is “actively encouraging collaborations at the intersection of documentary storytelling techniques and digital journalism,” according to the foundation’s Kathy Im. In 2013, American Documentary Inc., producer of POV, was one of 13 nonprofits to receive the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, receiving $1 million from the Foundation.
The partners are currently seeking pitches from mediamakers, who would work with the Times team for 20 weeks. Apply here; the deadline’s July 25.
Screenshot via The New York Times; illustration by T.S. Abe.
When I talk to my friends in Canadian media, they often say something like: We’re two years behind the U.S. (Or three years, or four years — the exact length varies.) What they mean is that Canadian news companies (newspapers most prominently) didn’t see quite the same pace of decline their American counterparts did in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and they’re making up for lost time now.
For anyone seeking evidence on that point, Tuesday afternoon offered a couple data points. BuzzFeed, which launched its Canadian operation a little over a year ago, closed its Ottawa bureau and announced it would be making its Canadian content a little less Canadian. And Global, one of the nation’s major TV networks, canceled its premier investigative program, 16×9.
The BuzzFeed news got a little attention stateside and would seem to indicate content designed specifically the Canadian market wasn’t proving worth the investment of staff. BuzzFeed now has international editions across five continents, but most of those are in non-English languages (Japanese, German, French, Spanish, etc.). Canada’s potential target audience (a total population of 35 million) apparently isn’t big enough to devote major resources to English-language-but-Canada-specific news and content development. (In other words, it’s the same old Canadian media story: the outsized influence of that big neighbor to the south.)
BuzzFeed’s pursestrings have been tightening a bit, but the move makes me wonder a bit about other U.S. ventures north (like The Huffington Post Canada) and BuzzFeed’s other anglophone international editions (most notably Australia).
The Global news, while perhaps less interesting to Americans, is probably a bigger deal in Canada, with around 10 staffers laid off. Global has a new owner, Corus Entertainment, and it’s looking for costs to cut (though it says it will create some sort of new investigative unit at some point). As commenter at The Globe and Mail put it: “Sure, Corus, get rid of a good program, and leave the US crap on.” The still-memetastic Trudeau government is committed to putting more funding into the CBC, so private TV networks will soon be facing a more vibrant state-funded competitor.
Here’s the full memo from BuzzFeed’s Scott Lamb, who oversees editorial for the site’s international growth (emphases mine):
We have some news to share about a shift in what our team in Toronto will be doing, and the alignment of our editorial teams and English-language content flow around the world.
Since opening our Toronto office just over one year ago, we’ve learned a lot about our loyal Canadian audience, their online habits and the types of content they love. In line with our long-standing philosophy to test, learn and adapt, next week we’ll be making changes that will allow us to continue delivering great content to our Canadian readers while also making the best use of our content and resources around the globe.
We’ve decided to more closely align the efforts of our Toronto-based writers with our editorial team in New York, updating their reporting lines and opening up their editorial scope so they’re free to cover the topics that appeal to them from anywhere in the world, in addition to Canadian-centric content. Like other English-language international editions of BuzzFeed, the team will feed into our global content pipeline, meaning more opportunity for their posts to live on other English-language editions of BuzzFeed, and an increased likelihood they’ll be translated for other editions around the world.
Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed Canada’s fearless founding editor and office Internet Dad, will continue to lead the news and buzz teams in Toronto. He’ll also be launching a new beat for BuzzFeed at large, bringing his deep expertise at debunking hoaxes (like this one) to our reporting arsenal and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide.
BuzzFeed Canada team members will have new reporting lines into Editorial leads in New York. Beginning next week the Buzz team will report into Tommy Wesley under the guidance of Tanya Chen, who will be now be (officially!) based in New York, and Social News will be working with Steph McNeal and her team.
With the 2015 Canadian federal election behind us, we are wrapping up our Canadian political coverage and Paul McLeod will be moving to Washington, D.C. to cover Capitol Hill. Emma Loop is currently considering her options, including an offer to relocate to D.C. and join the team there as well. Their contributions have been significant, and it is our sincere hope we will be able to keep them both at BuzzFeed.
The BuzzFeed Canada brand isn’t going away — we’ll continue to publish Canadian-centric news and entertainment on both our Canada homepage and social feeds. We have a strong business with Canadian partners, and our Toronto sales team will continue collaborating with local brands on innovative native advertising campaigns from there. We’re proud of all the team has achieved thus far and excited to see what they’ll do as they step into their new roles and remits.
“From a purely intellectual, journalistic standpoint, what I think is most fascinating about this is that everybody is more or less covering the same thing, but from their own unique media perspective.”
Details are still scarce, but job listings reveal that it intends to take on everything from video series, feature films, podcasts, photo essays, and “storytelling in other formats and technologies like virtual reality and livestreaming.”
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman takes a look at The Washington Post under the leadership of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in this week’s issue. Some tidbits, most of which have an “according to sources” attached, from the article:
— The Washington Post’s digital revenue is reportedly “around $60 million, far below what the newsroom needs to function.” (By comparison, at The New York Times — a significantly larger paper, but one that Bezos sees the Post as being in direct competition with — digital revenue was around $400 million, including digital subscriptions and digital ad revenue, in 2015, and the paper wants to double this by 2020.) Bezos reportedly told staffers at a recent meeting that “the company’s annual budget, currently around $500 million, will have to be cut by 50 percent over the next three years,” though the paper denied this to Sherman.
There are 3,689 words in this story about the new Washington Post and its priorities. "Local" isn't one of them. https://t.co/yo271gSgZs
Another project analyzes reader behavior in the days leading up to when they subscribed, so that, instead of putting up a universal paywall of a certain number of free articles per month, the Post can better target potential subscribers. For instance, if a reader clicks on mostly articles on health, then he would be asked to subscribe after reading a fifth health article, when he’s most likely to want to keep reading.
— “This spring, the Post became the first publication to team with Google to build a prototype of a ‘progressive web app,’ designed to cut mobile page-load times from four seconds to 80 milliseconds and to let readers surf the Post in their browsers even without a web connection.”
— “According to a recent analysis, the Post, which has a newsroom of about 700, generates 500 stories per day, compared to 230 at the Times, whose newsroom has about 1,300 employees. That’s also about twice what BuzzFeed publishes daily.”
With California Today, the new morning newsletter it is testing this week, the Times is taking a focused look at news close to California residents. Its first edition includes coverage of the wildfires raging through California, the ongoing drought, and violence at a neo-Nazi protest over the weekend. It’s not all bad news, though: The newsletter also features coverage of upcoming summer festivals and sporting events, as well as some softer news about the world’s ugliest dog. The newsletter is led by Los Angeles-based staffer Ian Lovett, who covers the news with a loose, conversational tone.
The Times has worked on creating California-specific content before, most notably through its partnership with the San Francisco-based Bay Citizen, which teamed up with the Times in 2010 to produce special California-focused articles that appeared online and in Bay Area print editions of The Times. The relationship ended in 2012 when The Bay Citizen merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting.
“The amount of ire and vitriol that has been thrown my way over the past four or five months is a very clear indication that [publishers are] absolutely terrified…If they want my advice on how to do it legally, they can pay me for it.”
Media startup accelerator Matter Ventures announced the opening of its New York office Thursday, in collaboration with The New York Times and Google News Lab. Matter also unveiled its “Matter 6” cohort of 13 early-stage media startups, seven of which will work from the NYC office.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that New York, in addition to being our home, is the global capital of news media. To be in both places really strengthens Matter’s mission and brand,” said Nick Rockwell, CTO of The New York Times, who was key in extending the relationship between the company and Matter.
The seven New York startups revealed in the NYC class are:
Ballstar, a social database for worldwide basketball stats for league management.
Gol Labs, a platform to bring global soccer coverage to emerging economies.
Menagerie, a personalized marketplace-style online wedding planning experience.
Scout, an online community intersecting tech, economics and morality.
Stella, an intelligent production management tool for filmmakers.
This., a social network of smartly curated single links that can only be sent once a day.
Treepress, a website that allows users to discover, license, and distribute any form of theatre from musicals to plays.
The San Francisco six include:
CLEO, an AI agent that manages smartphone photo libraries to curate meaningful albums for its users.
Common, a messaging service offering real time text translations.
Discors, an independent news app ran by journalists rather than a larger media corporation.
Itavio, an app to help parents manage their children’s mobile game spending, fighting against out of control in-app-purchases.
Kira Kira, an online platform to teach design, architecture, and engineering to girls of Generation Z.
Thankroll empowers creatives by providing them with crowdfunding-style income from their fanbases.
The 13 were selected out of 687 applicants and were allowed to choose whether they wanted to work from NYC or San Francisco.The startups participate in a five-month intensive program, present entrepreneurial ventures at monthly design reviews, and, at the culmination of the program, pitch to an audience at a final Demo Day.
“We are huge believers in our own process,” says Ford. “Matter is a prototype and always will be, and will always evolve with our entrepreneurs from each cycle and just get better and better.”
“There are still challenges, and we haven’t even talked about state and local laws that have been piling up while the FAA lumbered toward today. But the future of drones in journalism is much brighter today than it has ever been.”
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