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Dec. 17, 2012, 2:03 p.m.

Device-aware content, integrated video, and the Internet of things: Some of Spark Camp’s big ideas to watch in 2013

Looking backward inevitably leads to looking forward: What trends from 2012 will we be watching in 2013?
Editor’s Note: What were the most interesting and provocative ideas in journalism in 2012? We’re partnering with Spark Camp to produce a special end-of-year series to ask a group of smart people — Spark Camp’s alumni — that question. (Learn more about Spark Camp at the first post in this series.)

To wrap up the series, here are a variety of quick thoughts from a range of Spark Campers — including Melody Kramer, Matt Thompson, Amy Webb, John Davidow, Scott Klein, Hari Sreenivasan, Benet J. Wilson, Joe Webster, Matt Waite, Jonathan Stray, and Tony Haile — on trends they’ll be watching in 2013.

Melody Kramer, former associate producer for online media at Fresh Air with Terry Gross: The rise of the parody meme, the consolidation of news and social media platforms, the growing success of Reddit’s AMA, public radio’s transition to mobile platforms, and hyperlocal news projects like Philadelphia’s GunCrisis, which is working to document a specific topic in much greater depth than any local news organization here in Philly.

Matt Thompson, Spark Camp co-founder, manager of digital initiatives, NPR: I’m one of many folks fascinated by Nintendo’s Wii U. When the concept of the original Wii started leaking wide in mid 2006, it was a sign that gestural interfaces had arrived. The iPhone’s launch a year later demonstrated exactly how central gestures would become to the future of digital interaction. As Ian Bogost has brilliantly laid out, Nintendo’s now making a really interesting guess about how the screen experience is evolving. I’m definitely paying attention.

Amy Webb, Spark Camp co-founder, CEO of Webbmedia Group: I’m fascinated by the notion of “atomic units of news” and device-specific content. We know that consumers don’t spend hours and hours reading lengthy stories on their mobile phones. We also know that consumers spend more than 50 minutes a day reading on their tablets. So why are media organizations simply launching responsive websites that display the exact same content everywhere? Content-driven organizations that produce individual stories intended for different devices will do well in 2013. I should be able to start with a basic unit of news on my mobile phone (one that’s appropriate for my subject knowledge level), then dive deeper once I’m on my tablet, and then participate in discussion when I’m sitting at my desk with some more time. The same story package should be customized — written at different lengths, in different styles and have varying kinds of multimedia — depending on the device, type of story, and time of day.

John Davidow, executive editor for digital, WBUR: One journalistic truism has always been “follow the money.” But when it comes to economic viability for media organizations in 2013, it will be be even more important to follow the data. Data is where the dollars are when it comes monetizing online content. In 2013, the more targeted the messaging, the more money news organization will have to not only survive, but to thrive.

Scott Klein, editor of news applications, ProPublica: We’re really starting to learn how to integrate video and other forms of news data. We all loved The New York Times’s “Navigating Love and Autism” story, which integrated wonderful, short, contextual videos in the text itself and Frontline’s video “A Perfect Terrorist,” which integrated high-definition video and interactive data elements in an interesting way. I’m excited to see how this develops, and if we get a chance to try these techniques out at ProPublica, we’ll jump at it.

Hari Sreenivasan, correspondent, director of digital partnerships, PBS Newshour: Will be watching the work of the public media accelerator getting kicked off in San Francisco. Hope to see the ideas incubated there spread quickly.

Benet J. Wilson, social media/newsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Chair, National Association of Black Journalists Digital Journalism Task Force: Storination. I used it to document the NABJ and Unity conventions and felt it was great that folks could read Storifys from a single event in one place.

Joe Webster, director of marketing, SmartBrief: Content marketing or native advertising. Brands will hatch newsrooms as an extension of their social media efforts. They’ll license content from sources like NewsCred and/or create their own. There is an opportunity for legacy media to spin out parts of their editorial muscle to for-profit content creation. It doesn’t just have to be Gawker. The next time Reuters, AP, the Tribune, etc. plan layoffs, they should instead look at using the staff to create content for agencies and brands.

Matt Waite, professor, University of Nebraska: Using mobile devices as both passive and active sensors, writing software for the realtime web, and citizen science + the Internet of Things.

Jonathan Stray, project lead, Overview Project: I’m fascinated by Quartz’ concept of obsessions not beats. I think Prismatic might just be the first truly good personalized news aggregator. And I am deeply concerned about the outdated and inconsistent law on personal data privacy, because I believe that data is our generation’s civil rights issue — we just don’t know it yet.

Tony Haile, CEO, Chartbeat: Two trends have been sticking out recently. One: The move from juicing pageviews to building audiences. Advertising in publishing is struggling — RTB platforms mean buyers can aggregate the demographics they want more cheaply elsewhere. Publishers are having to move from trying to increase commodity pageviews to building a loyal audience that they can monetise in a variety of ways (paywalls, events, etc.). The promise here is that, possibly for the first time, the goals on the business and on the editorial side could actually align behind common metrics they all believe in: creating quality to build loyalty.

Two: At Chartbeat, we’re constantly watching the evolving relationship between content, brands, and advertising. Everybody’s talking about content marketing/native advertising/bespoke content (I love the name bespoke content — “I get my content from Saville Row”), and while understandably a lot of journalists aren’t in love with the former, it’s a trend that is only going to grow. Without judgement, I’m interested to see how much the church-state separation becomes less hard and fast and what that means for our ethical shibboleths.

POSTED     Dec. 17, 2012, 2:03 p.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Spark Camp's Big Ideas of 2012
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