Upvoted, the website, follows on the launch of some earlier editorial experiments from Reddit this year, including Upvoted the podcast, and Upvoted Weekly, an email newsletter, both designed to showcase some of the best material working its way across Reddit.
This launch of upvoted.com is the next logical step in celebrating the Reddit community: a hub for original content to give Redditors credit, as well as go beyond the original story to learn more about the people and ideas that bubble up across this site of 202 million monthly users (bigger than Brazil!). And of course, you can discuss every piece of original content at r/upvoted.
Upvoted, the website, has been in works for some time, as Reddit, like a number of tech-focused companies this year, began hiring editors.
Upvoted is both a fresh start for Reddit and a nod to the diehards. As an independent website, Upvoted will likely be easier to navigate for the uninitiated than diving into sometimes confusing maze of subreddits. But the stories themselves will come from the Reddit community itself, with posters getting credit for discoveries or being interviewed by Upvoted staff. Interestingly enough, the site won’t have comments, instead directing readers to take their discussion back to Reddit.
Upvoted is also a way for Reddit’s community to capture some of the success from viral stories that have migrated onto other sites. In recent years, Reddit users have frequently accused individual writers and news sites of plagiarizing their discoveries.
As Julia Greenburg writes at Wired, Upvoted presents an opportunity for Reddit to grow its community and potentially collect new advertising revenue:
“The stuff our community creates on a daily basis blows our mind,” Upvoted’s team said in an email. “Unfortunately, rather than telling that story, some news outlets take our users’ content and repackage it as their own. They don’t tell the backstory of our communities. We think our users’ stories need to be told, but with them at the center of it.” That’s exactly what Upvoted sets out to do. It also shows that Reddit is anxious to keep the eyeballs — and ad dollars — that go to other news organizations closer to home.
The LION Summit for local independent online news publishers took place in Chicago on Friday and Saturday. In two days of panels, there was plenty of focus on ad-selling strategies and other revenue-generating ideas, but one thing was largely missing: mobile strategy.
“The local news experience for American audiences is mediated on the social web,” Holcomb said. “Younger news consumers are getting news about their community on their mobile phone and they’re doing so at rates just as high as other groups, if not higher.”
There were encouraging, if fledgling, signs that some sites are looking beyond banner display advertising. Supplemental sources include crowd-funding, membership programs, sponsored content, and events. For now, however, banner display advertising is a mainstay…
That’s a vulnerability. If any source falters, companies with diverse revenue sources have others to fall back on. Online display advertising is taking a lot of hits these days, including ad blockers, concerns about impression fraud, and concerns that people simply ignore banner ads.
And Joe Hyde, founder and publisher of the Texas-based San Angelo Live, created a custom ad size for his email newsletters — they’re 570×216, to match the size of an iPhone screen and a finger.
Site founders often develop for the desktop web first, with mobile-optimized or responsive sites sometimes an afterthought. Brian Wheeler, the executive director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, discussed three crowdfunding projects the site has done. Two, where people saw a “pain point,” were successful, but the third — a project that aimed to enhance Charlottesville Tomorrow’s mobile site to make it more similar to the Texas Tribune’s — failed, raising less than a third of its $15,000 goal.
“We thought it would be an easy success via Kickstarter,” Wheeler said. “It did not get anyone motivated to help us. It was too backroom, too infrastructure. People said, ‘I don’t think your site’s that bad on my phone.'”
You can find LION’s blog here, video of some of the presentations here, and the Twitter stream here. In addition, conference attendees took notes in shared Google Docs — here’s the combined coverage of the Friday and Saturday sessions.
A previous version of this post referred to Brian Wheeler as founder of Charlottesville Tomorrow. He is executive director.
“Our job is to really talk to each other and push back on our story ideas and the lenses we’re applying to these stories, and then try to invite the audience into the conversation as much as possible.”
News organizations must treat reader comments with the same level of consideration that they treat their own stories, New York Times community editor Bassey Etim said today speaking on a panel at this year’s Computation + Journalism Symposium at Columbia University.
“We have to treat comments as content,” Etim said. “We can’t cede the social world to large companies.”
Etim, speaking on a panel about comment moderation and community building, discussed the Times’ attitude toward commenters and shared the results of a Times survey that asked commenters why they comment:
Only 5 percent of Times commenters said they comment on stories to actually communicate with other, and Etim said that most readers prefer the comments that Times editors choose to highlight. News organizations, he said, need to make building community around news more of a priority. (Though, of course, that’s easy for an editor from the Times to say when, unlike most news organizations, it has a full-time staff dedicated to moderating comments.)
A Community department that is focused and dedicated can tell the comments section's story cohesively. Yes to that. #CJ2015@BasseyE
The symposium is sponsored by Columbia’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation and it continues through Saturday. If you’re not in New York, you can follow along on Twitter using #CJ2015 or you can watch a livestream, which we’ve embedded below.
Two reminders on Thursday that publishers face an daunting battle against ad blocking technology. First, The New York Times released its analysis of homepage loading speeds for the top 50 mobile news sites, including CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Gawker, BuzzFeed, Elite Daily, and the Times itself.
We measured the mix of advertising and editorial on the mobile home pages of the top 50 news websites — including ours — and found that more than half of all data came from ads and other content filtered by ad blockers.
Our neighbors across the Charles River at Boston.com performed the worst: 8.1 seconds to load editorial content and a whopping 30.8 seconds to load advertising. The Times estimates visiting the homepage of Boston.com once a day for a month would cost $9.50 in data usage on an average American cell plan. (Boston.com’s upscale sibling, BostonGlobe.com, took a more reasonable 1.8 seconds to load ads and 4.3 seconds for editorial.)
Call it a platform, call it a content management system, call it an “umbrella of interconnected services” — the set of tools the Post has built for itself is now being licensed to other publishers, who might find it more useful than their alternatives.
We can’t seem to stop talking about millennials, that elusive age of young people — roughly mid-teens to early 30s — whose numbers have surpassed the baby boomer generation. Recent research suggests, unsurprisingly, that millennials are not a “monolithic group” when it comes to news consumption habits, but in fact fall into several distinct categories.
It turns out that a significant percentage of this diverse group says it’s willing to pay for content, according to research released today by the Media Insight Project. But news is a harder sell than other forms of entertainment, whether digital or not.
The study found that 93 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed regularly use some type of paid content (whether they’re paying for it personally or someone else is) and 87 percent have personally paid for such services (but that includes things like Netflix, Candy Crush, or iTunes downloads). Forty percent say they have personally paid for some sort of news product or service (though that can also include anything from The New York Times to a gaming magazine. Older millennials were understandably more likely to pay for news than their younger peers. Some other notable findings — with the caveat that all of these data points are self-reported, and that people sometimes like to say they do civic-minded things like pay for news when they don’t:
— More millennials say they’ve paid for print magazines (21 percent) and newspapers (15 percent) than digital magazines (11 percent) and online newspaper content (10 percent).
— No significant socioeconomic differences between those who pay for news and those who do not pay for these services.
— Those paying for news are more likely to follow sports (56 percent vs. 44 percent) and current events such as national politics (51 percent vs. 38 percent) than those who do not pay.
— Those paying for news also tended to engage with the news more on free platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
This is not to say that getting this younger group to pay for news is easy. As one 19-year-old interviewed in the course of the research said: “I really wouldn’t pay for any type of news because as a citizen it’s my right to know the news.”
The data for this study was drawn from a nationally representative survey of 1,045 adults between the ages of 18 and 34, conducted between January 5 and February 2. The Media Insight Project is an initiative of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and you can read the full report with more detailed findings here.
The Associated Press has nabbed $400,000 from the Knight Foundation to hire more data journalists and expand the types of projects that it does. In particular, the money will help AP share more of its datasets with local news organizations. From the release:
With the funding, The Associated Press will add additional data journalists to its team and increase its distribution of data sets that include localized information to thousands of news organizations. This expansion will lead to more collaborative projects with newsrooms across the country. The Associated Press will also establish and distribute data journalism best practices as an addendum to the 2017 Associated Press Stylebook, focusing on style, ethics and standards. Additionally, it will create an online portal where customers can download market-specific information.
In 2014, for example, the AP published an investigative story on flood insurance rate hikes nationwide. That story was distributed with an interactive map and sidebars for each of the 50 states, and data for 18,000 communities across the country. The data meant that “local reporters could really dig in deep and write their own stories about their town or city, regardless of size,” national investigative editor Rick Pienciak said at the time.
This sort of national/local collaboration is something Knight’s been increasingly interested in supporting. Last month, for instance, Knight gave ProPublica $2.2 million to, among other things, increase the nonprofit’s work with local outlets on data projects. You can view Knight’s recent grant to the California Civic Data Coalition through the same lens — using the data skills of a national or regional group to provide useful data to local outlets that may lack that capacity.
The pope’s visit to the United States dominated the U.S. news cycle for days, but it was especially important for Crux, The Boston Globe’s Catholic news site. During the nine-day visit, all three of Crux’s reporters were on the ground following Pope Francis.
Crux’s livestream of the visit was particularly popular; the livestream page, which included Vatican video, a video player providing translation, and Crux reporters’ tweets, drew more traffic than Crux’s homepage three days in a row. “People who are stuck at work without access to TV rely on us,” Crux editor Teresa Hanafin said. “We rely on people slacking off at work.”
Crux, which launched in 2014, is the Globe’s second standalone news vertical. The first, BetaBoston, covers tech news. The third, Stat, which covers healthcare news and the life sciences, is launching soon.
John L. Allen, Jr., Crux’s associate editor, was a member of the press on the papal plane. Inés San Martín, the site’s Vatican correspondent, followed the pope in Cuba, then flew to Philadelphia to translate for Allen and for Crux’s national reporter, Michael O’Loughlin. One of her jobs was to listen for the times when the pope went off-script, which he often does; because she speaks the same Argentinian dialect of Spanish that the pope does, she was “unbelievably valuable,” Hanafin said.
Hanafin edited from Boston and mixed up her reporters’ coverage with syndicated content from the Associated Press, Religion News Service, and Catholic News Service. The Globe’s design team created interactive maps, and Crux also prepared quizzes ahead of time. “When you cover the pope, there are so many serious issues that he talks about — you have to temper that with some lighter fare,” Hanafin said.
Overall, “Francis was very good for Crux,” Hanafin said. Half the site’s September traffic came during the nine days that the pope was visiting, with pageviews up 162 percent and uniques up 203 percent over the same period in August. Crux’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers also both increased by five percent during the visit. (Hanafin wouldn’t give actual traffic numbers.) The next step: converting those visitors into loyal readers.
“You like to think that they came for the visit, liked what they saw and will stick around,” Hanafin said.
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