These fashion guerillas hoisted their digital cameras, their iPhones, and their iPads aloft in order to capture the drama on the runway — and its environs — and transmit it directly to their followers. They live-blogged and they tweeted and they initiated a real-time conversation where once only silence existed. The first generation of bloggers, such as Bryan Yambao, Susanna Lau, Tavi Gevinson, and Scott Schuman were contrarians. In their words and images, there was an earnest and raw truth that did not exist in traditional outlets. They had unique points of view and savvy marketing strategies. They had a keen awareness of how technology could help them attract the attention of hundreds of thousands of like-minded fashion fans who had been shut out of the conversation…
Slowly, the legacy media fought back. Editors went on the offensive. Glamour editor Cindi Leive, Lucky’s Eva Chen, Joe Zee (formerly of Elle), Nina Garcia of Marie Claire — the very people who once were envied for their front-row view of fashion week — were now tapping out quips and bon mots to all who would listen. Legacy editors began watching the runway from the backside of their iPhone cameras as they shared their up-close views with the virtual world. Critics, instead of reserving their droll commentary for post-show dinner patter, now spewed it fast and succinctly on Twitter.
I note this not because fashion criticism is a particular interest of mine (just look at me!), but because it’s an instance of a well worn cycle: Slow incumbents leave room for insurgent newcomers. Some insurgent newcomers get co-opted and join incumbents. Others lose interest. Incumbents learn from the newcomers, and the advantages of the new class get blunted. Reminds me a lot of what we saw with political blogging in the early-to-mid 2000s, for instance: Some got hired by Big Media, others got bored, others provided the roadmap for older outlets to start their own political blogs. And then the cycle repeats when a new wave comes along.
The Establishment…will not give up ground easily. And mostly, newcomers are drawn to fashion, not because they are determined to change it, but because they are mesmerized by it. They want to be the next Anna Wintour — not make her existence obsolete. They love fashion. And fashion loves them back. Then swallows them whole.
The Tow Center at the Columbia Journalism School is out with Act 1 of a new report that examines the ways TV news organizations and online media companies employ user-generated content. “Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content in TV News and Online” is a survey of over 1,000 hours of TV and more than 2,200 online pages from channels like Al Jazeera (Arabic and English), BBC World, CNN International, France 24, NHK World, and TeleSUR.
While the report finds that UGC is used daily, there’s no consistent method of labeling material from the audience or crediting those individuals. And the reasons why news channels air user-generated content — and how they discover it — vary widely.
User-generated content is used when other pictures are not available, as the ongoing reliance on it to cover the Syrian conflict demonstrates. The way that UGC was integrated during coverage of the Glasgow helicopter crash and the razing of Lenin’s statue in Kiev during the Ukrainian protests suggests that UGC is often employed as a stopgap before news agency pic- tures emerge—interestingly, even if the professional ones are less dramatic. This was demonstrated during the coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death. The news organizations had so much material stockpiled from planning for the event that there was no need to seek out UGC. This, even though there were compelling pictures filmed by people on the streets of South Africa documenting the way the country was reacting to Mandela’s death.
UGC also inspired stories that would otherwise have been ignored, as long as the pictures were compelling enough. Within our sample there were a handful of stories that were driven solely by the UGC that emerged. Some were kicker stories like one about a ship’s cook who was unexpect- edly found alive by a dive team sent to investigate a sunken ship. Others were shocking cases of police brutality captured through secret filming on camera phones.
Researchers found that the majority of content came from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, but that many outlets also rely on agencies like Storyful, the Eurovision Newsexchange, or Reuters to supply user-generated material as well. You can read the rest of this part of the report here; the full report comes out May 30.
Some of the prototype fund awardees may be familiar to journalists, including Tabula, an open source tool created by Mozilla OpenNews fellows that pulls data from PDFs. Others — like Project Fission, a newsroom tool for collecting information, or Capitol Hound, which would develop a searchable database of transcripts from the North Carolina legislature — have plenty of potential value for reporters.
Each of the projects will go through a six-month training and prototyping program where they will learn about human-centered design in advance of a demo day. Below are the journalism-inclined projects. For the full list of winners go here.
Capitol Hound: Offering the public a searchable database of the transcripts of North Carolina legislative sessions, including an audio archive and alert system for General Assembly sessions and committee meetings.
Louder: Testing the use of a crowdfunded advertising platform that allows users to donate small amounts to spread news and information that is important to them.
Minezy: Creating a tool to help journalists more easily find information in email archives received through Freedom of Information Act requests by analyzing data and highlighting important social relationships, dates and topics.
MLRun: Helping journalists create deeper stories through a user-friendly Web platform that helps analyze large data sets by discovering patterns in documents.
News On Demand: Increasing the “quality time” people spend with news by building a system that provides news based on a reader’s available time and attention level.
Open Data Philly: Improving government transparency and citizen engagement by expanding OpenDataPhilly.org, which provides access to data related to the Philadelphia region.
PressSecure: Preserving privacy and freedom of expression by developing a secure media sharing and storage app for citizen journalists that will give them more control over their mobile content.
Project Fission: Creating a newsroom tool that allows journalists to collect and explore small units of information that can be pulled together to create new story formats.
Tabula: Improving an open-source tool that makes it easier for journalists to extract data from PDF documents.
Tipsy: Making it easier for content providers to generate revenue by developing a new way to fund news sites through micropayments from readers.
Uncovering Cost, Examining Impact: Developing a crowdsourcing tool to collect data from California residents about what they pay for common health care procedures and making the information available to journalists and the public through KQED, Southern California Public Radio and ClearHealthCosts.com.
Whilecard: Creating a tool that recognizes user preferences for news and information based on their activities (i.e. world and sports in the morning, and stocks and tech when working).
Wiredcraft: Creating an open source tool that allows people to collaboratively edit and publish geographic data and related maps quickly and efficiently.
At Poynter, Rick Edmonds does us the favor of examining new numbers from the Newspaper Association of America on how newspapers performed financially in 2013. NAA’s totals suggest “the best performance since 2006″ — which is still a revenue decline, of 2.6 percent year-over-year. The highlight is continued (relative) strength in circulation revenue, which was up 3.7 percent to $10.87 billion. (That total includes print subscriptions, single-copy sales, and digital paywalls.)
That’s the best spin. For the pessimist living in your cold, black heart:
— Print advertising revenue continues its massive slide, down another 8.6 percent in 2013 — another $1.6 billion gone missing. An annual decline in the high single digits has become the norm; you don’t hear people talking about getting back to par, as you did three or four years ago. NAA’s release notes that print advertising now “makes up less than half of total revenue,” which is true. But that’s not because of the strength of everything else; it’s because print advertising is in a state of collapse that isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
— Digital advertising — once touted as the savior of the business — was up a measly 1.5 percent. To put that in context, through Q3 2013, Nielsen estimated the online display ad market was up 32 percent. The broader online advertising world keeps growing; newspapers’ share of it keeps shrinking. (And much of that digital advertising number for newspaper still includes a lot of print advertising with a digital throw-in. Only 24 percent of what NAA counts as digital advertising is digital-only advertising.)
— Those two numbers combined mean that, in 2014, American newspapers still get 83 percent of their advertising revenue from print.
I feel confident in saying that newspaper print advertising will decline again in 2014, most likely in the high single digits again. Digital advertising will continue to muddle along with a slight increase. The key question for 2014 is whether circulation revenue gains can continue. It’s the only thing providing meaningful resistance to that ad decline.
Industry-wide, there’s probably some growth left, if only from more papers adding paywalls. Most American dailies still don’t have them (roughly 900 out of 1,400), despite the boom of the past two or three years. Many of those are small or weak enough that a paywall might be a hard sell, but there are still some candidates out there, and one could expect a boost in circ revenues just from them.
But for individual newspapers with existing paywalls, it’s a very real question. Are the John Patons right that digital subscription revenue is a one-time gain, destined to plateau or even fall off? If that’s true — and I think for many newspapers it is — you could easily see a bigger overall revenue decline in 2014 than in 2013.
(Just to get my predictions for these numbers next year on the record: print advertising down 9 percent; digital advertising up 1 percent; circulation revenue up 2 percent; new/other revenue up 6 percent; overall revenue down 3.5 percent.)
First, let me say what it’s not. It’s not a paywall. Let me say that again: It’s not a paywall! We’re not asking you to pay for stories, and we’re not turning on a meter that stops you 10 stories into the month. Everything that’s free on Slate will remain free for all Slate readers.
Instead, Slate Plus offers extras and opportunities, enhancements to the regular Slate experience.
For $50 a year, Slate superfans will get some additional content, but the biggest pitch seems to be a general closeness to the brand. Pre-show parties at live events! Private Q&As! Ask Dana Stevens that question about the cat in Inside Llewyn Davis that’s been killing you for months! Help David Weigel decide who to profile next! It’s a behind-the-scenes pitch that’s reminiscent of some parts of Times Premier. In both cases, I’ll be curious to see how much of an audience there is for that in-the-newsroom vibe, which has been talked about (mostly by journalists) as a premium upsell for years, but for which there haven’t been a lot of successful models.
Slate Plus also promises a better experience of current Slate content — paginated stories will default to a single page, podcasts will be available in ad-free versions, and the comments interface will be better. In a sense, that part is similar to The Dallas Morning News’ “premium experience,” which also promises the same content in a more easily digestible package. (I’d imagine it’s also a sign paginated stories aren’t going anywhere for the proles anytime soon.)
In its combination of VIP club, improved experience, and keeping content free — and in its $50-a-year price tag — Slate Plus most closely resembles TPM Prime, the upsell at Talking Points Memo.
In any event, I think the key value proposition for Slate Plus isn’t single-page stories or a pre-show spritzer with Emily Bazelon — it’s just the fact that it’s an opportunity for people willing to pay to do so. There are Slate superfans whose relationship with the site stretches more than a decade. Slate’s done a good job of pushing the personalities of its writers, which strengthens those reader–website connections. I suspect for many who sign up for Slate Plus, the decision will be less of a cost–benefit analysis and more of a “sure, they’ve given me a lot of good stuff over the years — I’ll throw them some coin.” Think of people who give to their local NPR station: It’s not really for the totebag.
Historical note: Slate, back in the day, was an early mover on asking readers to pay for online news, putting up a 20-bucks-a-year paywall from 1998 to 1999. (Some late ’90s Newsonomics for you: Monthly uniques dropped from 500,000 to 400,000 with the paywall, which got somewhere north of 20,000 takers.)
Anyone who is a member of the My Starbucks Rewards program is eligible to get 12 weeks of free access to the app. The promotion makes a lot of sense given the fact that NYT Now is the Times attempt at targeting mobile-centric users. My Starbucks Rewards encourages coffee lovers to pay for their drinks and gain rewards through using an app on their phone.
The overall goal of the collaboration seems to be to push more people to give NYT Now a try, whether they’re existing Times susbcribers or new readers. From Mobile Marketer:
Starbucks is promoting the partnership through an email blast that was sent to all My Starbucks Rewards members.
When consumers click through on the email, they are prompted to either sign-in to their New York Times account or create an account. After logging in, consumers type in a 20-digit unique code that is in the email to begin their free trial of NYT Now.
This is not the first time the Times has thought coffee and news would make for a good combination. In February 2013 the Times and Starbucks started offering readers free nytimes.com stories to people using Starbucks wifi network.
FourScore helps developers easily build audience sentiment maps — think of it as a crowdsourced, less snarky version of New York magazine’s Approval Matrix. WNYC had used the technique previously for a Valentine’s Day sentiment matrix, and Veltman thought it would be useful if the code was open source.
In a post at Source, Veltman and Keller describe the importance of making code for projects like this not just open to other developers, but also useful to them.
They go on to say that important considerations in writing code that’s helpful for future users include browser compatibility, logical chunking, documentation and consideration of diverse workflows.
The Association of Independents in Radio released a review of their Localore project, an initiative meant to provide support for local public media producers working on entrepreneurial projects. The report, called What’s Outside, looks at the impact of the project — including digital, broadcast, and in-person impressions — and provides insights for producers, station leaders and the public media system as a whole.
AIR executive director Sue Schardt highlights the diversity and innovation inherent to the Localore project in her introduction. She also argues for systemwide changes in the public media network:
The legacy model is one built around national programming, principally Morning Edition and All Things Considered, which serves the core audience of listeners. The legacy value proposition for stations is built around serving as amplifiers of these anchor programs. As stations and the networks continue to strengthen and build on this important core capacity, a new and distinct opportunity emerges for stations to position themselves strongly as community hubs.
Schardt also gave advice for blending traditional reporting with digital outreach for maximum impact:
Before taking on digital production, however, stations would do well to become more technologically self-sufficient. This doesn’t necessarily mean having the capacity to build and code a complex new property. it does mean having the know-how to, for example, quickly respond when Twitter changes its API. We found that working with lightweight, readily available platforms beats building proprietary distribution formats, but that expertise is still needed.
I feel like “some news orgs are abandoning comments” is a story that could have been written on any weekday since 1999, but there really is a larger trend at work here around social sharing serving as (a) the place where your readers can sound off, but (b) a way to do it away from your site and (c) a way to do it that actually drives more traffic to your content.
(I’ve considered visually demoting comments on Nieman Lab, if only because a typical story of ours might get 300 tweets, 150 Facebook shares, and one comment. But I haven’t seriously considered killing them off entirely.)
But I wanted to point out that killing or demoting comments can be reasonably done for reasons other than the retrograde “our readers say a bunch of dumb stuff that riles people up.” Note this discussion on Twitter between Chris Littmann, deputy social media editor for Sporting News, and Jamie Mottram, content director for the USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Both Sporting News and the USA Today social sports site For The Win recently killed comments.
For me, that’s a better reason to kill comments: You can only have so many things you ask your reader to do. I’ll leave it to the marketers among us to talk about the all-important CTA — the call to action — but in general, the online business folks say that it’s best to have one single thing that you’re asking your user to do. If that thing is “share this on social media,” a comment box can be a distraction.
Does anybody have any good data on this — whether sharing (or some other desired behavior) increases when comments or other less-desired end-of-article options are stripped away?
The daylong summit on new models for supporting journalism examines how the Texas Tribune diversified its funding, the injection of venture capital and private wealth into media, and the future of philanthropy for news.
Chalkbeat, Southern California Public Radio, InvestigateWest and others are awarded over $236,000 in micro-grants to support events programming, collaborative reporting, and a “native underwriting” pilot program.
Cook writes that the magazine will continue to publish NSA stories, but will otherwise hold back on publishing until they resolve “questions about the site’s broader focus, operational strategy, structure, and design.”
In a very Denton-esque maneuver, Cook then opened the comments to readers, saying he’d be available all afternoon to answer questions about plans for the digital magazine.
Regarding their publishing schedule and content formats, he writes:
We will be publishing a wide variety of stories — short, fast posts to keep the site alive to the news and lengthy reported narratives to devote attention to stories that need to be told, and all manner of story in between. And we will definitely be working with filmmakers — already are, in fact — to find ways to tell these stories beyond just blocks of text.
On who he’s looking to hire:
Not white. Not male. Fast. Interested in reporting as a live, iterative process that plays out on the internet as well as one where you go away for six weeks and come back with 4,000 words. Eager to make a name for themselves. Beat-wise, intelligence and national security are obviously important to us at the initial stages, but I’m more interested in good capable people who can apply their skills to all manner of stories than subject-area experts.
Long term, I want the site to be identified more by the posture that Glenn, Laura, and Jeremy exemplify — aggressive, honest, impolite when necessary, and unburdened by the institutional norms that govern the behavior of so many reporters at major establishment news organizations — than any menu of beats or subject areas.
We will definitely have international coverage. Not so sure about bureaus in the short term.
It’s a high priority, but it’s not likely to be the first thing to get changed. We really want a good commenting system and we’re working on it. But the first-order priority is getting the site design where it needs to be and getting the editorial structure in place to be a rolling, live operation. But yes, comments are desperately in need of improvement.
On matters of church and state:
My position is that we have publicly been guaranteed complete editorial independence (https://firstlook.org/about/). Any interference in our editorial work would be an abrogation of that agreement. I have every expectation that it will be honored. Our credibility comes from the work we have done and will do, not from our financial backer.
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