Posts tagged strategy

Pushy Notifications

AdAge reports that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are using more push notifications on their mobile and tablet apps than they did in the past.

The move reflects a strategy to increase user engagement with the apps that while downloaded, sometimes sit dormant on people’s devices. Specifically, each newsroom is using notifications for breaking news.

Via AdAge:

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in terms of U.S. digital circulation, according to the Alliance for Audited Media — are putting more emphasis on using mobile alerts to distribute breaking news stories and promote their mobile apps.

News publishers have long considered push notifications, which pop up on phone and tablet screens, too intrusive to use more than sparingly. In recent months, however, The Journal and Times have reconsidered that stance and started using them more often.

"We felt comfortable that our breaking news alerts have been well-received by readers and that we may have been a little too stringent about what alerts we should have been sending," said Jonathan Ellis, deputy editor of digital platforms at The Times, which has revised its guidelines on the subject. "More frequently, we’re asking ourselves the question ‘Should this be a mobile push alert?’"

FJP: The strategy is similar to one used by app developers and their frequent updates, no matter how small. It’s a reminder to the User that the app exists and hopefully prods him or her to use it again.

AdAge reports that those that opt in to push notifications are five times more likely to use an app but does take this warning from Brent Hieggelke, CMO at Urban Airship, “Push is not a channel to nag your customer. That’s a terrible experience.”

The situated documentary allows us to examine the emerging transformation of the storytelling model of journalism from the analog to the digital age. In the traditional model of analog journalism, storytelling is dominated by a linear presentation of facts, typically from beginning to end. The audience experiences the story in a passive—almost voyeuristic—mode. Stories tend to have a single or sometimes dual modality of media forms (e.g. text, or text combined with photographs, infographics, audio, and video). A story is published and fixed in time. Corrections might be published later as an afterthought. Stories tend to be based on events, and as such, are episodic rather than contextual. The voice of a typical story is that of a third-person narrative, perhaps best characterized by legendary CBS Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite’s signature sign-off, “And that’s the way it is.”

The new media storytelling model is nonlinear. The storyteller conceptualizes the audience member not as a consumer of the story engaged in a third-person narrative, but rather as a participant engaged in a first-person narrative. The storyteller invites the participant to explore the story in a variety of ways, perhaps beginning in the middle, moving across time or space, or by topic. Nonlinear storytelling may come as a bit of a shock to some traditional journalists, but it is possible to adapt to new technology without sacrificing quality or integrity.

~John V. Pavlik and Frank Bridges’ monograph, The Emergence of Augmented Reality (AR) as a Storytelling Medium in Journalism, published in Journalism and Communcitaion Monographs, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2013. (via virtual300)

FJP: This came across my Twitter radar a few days ago where Jill Falk was kind enough to share the quote. It’s an interesting concept and one that has roots beyond contemporary multimedia storytelling.

For example, my favorite books growing up were of the choose your own adventure variety. You read a chapter and were then told to proceed to chapter X, Y or Z depending on your plot desires. Later, as a teenager, I was fascinated by Julio Cortázar’s “Hopscotch”. The table of contents told you you could read the book traditionally, from Page 01 to the end. It also gave you an alternative reading. That is, read Chapter 01, then jump about nilly-willy, forward and back between chapters. The end result is a type of narrative driven more by “impressions” than linear storytelling.

William Burroughs did this as well. “Naked Lunch” can supposedly be read any which way. Front to back, back to front, jumping about the middle. It’s all good. Urban legend has it that Burroughs dropped the manuscript on the way to his publisher. Despite pages spilled on the ground there were no worries. Again, the book could be read any which way so he gathered the pages up, stuffed them in his binder and continued on his way.

Film plays with this too. Fans of Memento enjoy the front to back and back to front chronologies. Other films employ this technique as well. Back in the 1960s, Jean Luc Goddard famously remarked, “I agree that a film should have a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order.”

So let’s go back to multimedia storytelling with the Internet as a primary distribution platform. The underappreciated hyperlink is our key to moving back and forth within a narrative. Our design and UX considerations help control where the story inquisitor might go. But despite our best intentions, that independent viewer is going to pick and choose his or her way through a narrative.

Check our Multimedia Tag for references here. These are stories that have beginning, middle and end. But they’re also stories where the viewer chooses what his or her beginning, middle and end actually is. Site visitors are independent operators. We can try to guide them with our design but they’ll go where interest guides them to go.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to the crux of the matter — multimedia storytelling or not — and that’s the atomic unit of online consumption.

This is a concept that’s been around for a while now. In my interpretation it means something like this: Whatever you do, whatever you post, whatever you research, whatever you pour your heart and soul into, the following will happen: your story will be sliced and diced and shared on social networks and otherwise refactored elsewhere. This could be the mere title. It could be a sentence buried deep within you article. It could be seconds 00:45 - 00:55 of a video. It could be an animated gif of that video. It could be metadata of the information that you produce. It could be an API mashup of all the above.

Simply, whatever story you produce, and whatever media you use to produce it in, your content will be broken down into its smallest parts and shared on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs and the like.

This is not a bad thing. It’s an agnostic thing. This is remix culture.

Simply and unambiguously, we must deal with it. And from this side of the Internet, we deal with it pleasurably so. — Michael

Fail cheap. Fail quick. Fail often.
Pro tip from GapingVoid.
Bonus: JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement address on how failure helped her succeed.

Fail cheap. Fail quick. Fail often.

Pro tip from GapingVoid.

Bonus: JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement address on how failure helped her succeed.

Building Passionate Communities the Slashdot Way

For geeks of a certain age, Slashdot was a revelation. Founded in the late 90s, the site aggregated news and views about software, science, gadgets, tech policy and more, all under the umbrella of its tag line: “News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters.”

In a Web before social bookmarking and user generated content, Slashdot was (and still is) a rolling curation of the nerdiest news found online.

Behind all this was Slashdot’s creator, Rob Malda, who was known on the site as CmdrTaco, and his classmate at the time Jeff Bates.

But after fourteen years, thousands of posts and the sale of the site to Andover.net (which later became Geeknet), Malda had enough and announced last fall that he was moving on. As he told me when we met at a conference two weeks ago, after years of doing the same thing it’s time to try something new.

That something new is Chief Strategist and Editor at Large for the Washington Post Company’s WaPo Labs, a team of technologists and journalists exploring new ways to create, work with and present information.

In this video though we focus on what Rob learned running Slashdot, and how to create and nurture passionate niche communities. The long and short of it is be authentic, follow your passions and an audience will follow.

You can view other videos with Rob here.

THIS LINK IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, IT IS NOT TO BE POSTED OR SHARED.

Email from Vanity Fair PR to media reporters. The link is to a PDF version of a story about the Washington Post that will appear in the magazine’s upcoming issue.

Via Advertising Age:

Rather than do a big dump of all the new stories as soon as the issue drops and obviate the need for anyone to buy it, the content is doled out in dribs and drabs over the course of the month. For those of you hoping there is some sort of process or perhaps even an algorithm behind this schedule, you will be disappointed.

"Every story is different. There’s no formula," said a Vanity Fair spokeswoman. "We try different things all of the time."

This bit of sausage-making is interesting given the challenges before magazine publishers. Many have been underwhelmed by how much ad revenue they can pull in from posting their (often very expensive) print journalism on their website.

"We want people to buy the magazine," said the spokeswoman. 

I was thisclose to Rickrolling a link on this one.

One Way, Or Another

Two opposing newsroom strategies are flaring up today.

First, comes good news from Salon. Editor in Chief Kerry Lauerman wrote yesterday that as the online magazine committed more resources to original reporting and reduced its aggregation efforts, the site’s page views and unique visitors skyrocketed.

His takeaway is something that makes news junkies smile: quality trumps quantity.

Via Nieman Lab:

In December and January, Salon published 33 percent fewer posts than it had in those same months the previous years — but it saw 40 percent greater traffic. Slashing the amount of content it published by a third, the site still logged record-high unique visitor numbers — 7.23 million at the end of January — and without any “big viral hits” that would have skewed the numbers, Lauerman said.

Meanwhile, Jim Romenesko reports that AOL’s Patch is pivoting in the opposite direction:

A Patch insider tells Romenesko readers that the AOL-owned hyperlocal news sites plan to cut staff and freelance budgets and start producing “easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy.” Examples: Best Ofs, and features like “What’s happening to this vacant storefront?”…

…Patch has implemented a new “One Team One Goal” strategy, with a budget that effectively eliminates anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of freelance dollars, depending on the Patch region and how the supervising editor and regional ad director choose to allocate dollars…

The editorial emphasis is now on “easy, quick-hitting, cookie-cutter copy,” including mandatory “Best Of” features (i.e., best coffeeshop, best burgers, etc.) that compel businesses and readers to visit and participate in the Patch directories.

When Hard Times Hit, Young Journos Hit the Road

Wired profiles young journalists who’ve taken matters into their own hands in the face of uncertain job opportunities. 

For example, the Hussin brothers raised some money on Kickstarter in order to bike across the country and document people they believe are rethinking American values.

Via Wired:

With most of the country experiencing hard times for the last few years, many young adults, and young journalists in particular, are feeling uncertain about their future. Heading out on the road can be a way to take back control of one’s destiny and grow as a person and hone one’s storytelling chops.

When in doubt, do.

Amazon and Long-form Journalism

Anecdotal evidence is trickling in that Amazon is turning into a legitimate outlet for long-form journalism.

For example, Marc Herman recently wrote about Libya for The Atlantic and then turned his additional reporting into a Kindle Single selling for $1.99. Current result: the title is in Kindle’s top 500 and Herman is on pace to recoup the costs of his Libya trip.

Over at GigaOm, Matthew Ingram writes:

As newspapers and even magazines have declined in both reach and financial health, there has been a lot of concern expressed about the future of journalism — particularly longer-form or what some call “investigative journalism.” This is arguably where the most value lies, especially when breaking news can easily be aggregated by outlets like The Huffington Post or distributed widely for nothing. But how does this kind of journalism pay for itself? Herman’s example is one potential answer to that question: it pays for itself when readers subsidize the writer directly for content that they appreciate.

A News App for Political Junkies
The New York Times is out with a new app for political junkies who need their news fix right now.
What’s particular notable about it is that the Times isn’t limited articles to their own coverage. Indeed, they’re bringing coverage from their biggest competitors.
Via Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab:

For example, the current top story is this one on Democrats seeing the GOP primary as a two-man race. That’s shown as the lead story in a cluster that also includes this Washington Post story, this Business Insider story, and this Washington Examiner story. (Some interesting choices there! I also see links to National Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Talking Points Memo, CNN, and a YouTube video.)
Maybe most interesting of all, one of the current top items in the app isn’t a New York Times story at all. It’s actually a one-sentence summary of a L.A. Times story on Sarah Palin (“Sarah Palin said she would not weigh in early on the G.O.P. race, but she did offer praise for Newt Gingrich and the Trump debate”), on top of a link to the LAT story making that exact point.
The glorified link is given the same weight in the app’s UI as a regular Times story. That feels noteworthy to me — I can’t think of anything else as linkbloggy that the Times has ever done.

The app is free but you need to be a digital subscriber to get the complete content (read: actual New York Times content).
That caveat aside, it’s nice to see that the Times putting readers first.
After all, political news is most valuable when seen in the context of different coverage standing side by side.

A News App for Political Junkies

The New York Times is out with a new app for political junkies who need their news fix right now.

What’s particular notable about it is that the Times isn’t limited articles to their own coverage. Indeed, they’re bringing coverage from their biggest competitors.

Via Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab:

For example, the current top story is this one on Democrats seeing the GOP primary as a two-man race. That’s shown as the lead story in a cluster that also includes this Washington Post story, this Business Insider story, and this Washington Examiner story. (Some interesting choices there! I also see links to National Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Talking Points Memo, CNN, and a YouTube video.)

Maybe most interesting of all, one of the current top items in the app isn’t a New York Times story at all. It’s actually a one-sentence summary of a L.A. Times story on Sarah Palin (“Sarah Palin said she would not weigh in early on the G.O.P. race, but she did offer praise for Newt Gingrich and the Trump debate”), on top of a link to the LAT story making that exact point.

The glorified link is given the same weight in the app’s UI as a regular Times story. That feels noteworthy to me — I can’t think of anything else as linkbloggy that the Times has ever done.

The app is free but you need to be a digital subscriber to get the complete content (read: actual New York Times content).

That caveat aside, it’s nice to see that the Times putting readers first.

After all, political news is most valuable when seen in the context of different coverage standing side by side.

When reporting major events, gravity’s natural pull brings us to where everyone else already is. It’s a herd instinct. If this is where everyone else is something important must be going on. At least this is what we tell ourselves.

Unfortunately, it’s a totally understandable if totally frustrating recurring example of how we’re not as independent and creative as we might actually like to be.

It also doesn’t help in any way to distinguish us from everyone else who’s covering the exact same thing we are in whatever chosen medium we might be doing it in.

Enter Gregg Bleakney

Earlier this summer he covered the Tour de France. Not only did he leave the typical media scrum. He ditched his DSLR in favor of shooting with an iPhone.

Via a Q&A with Wired:

As an emerging photographer, I feel like I should always push hard to separate my work from everyone else’s, and I started to look for another way to cover the event. I was really blown away by the energy and spectator culture outside of the restricted-entry press areas at the start and finish lines of the race; the occasional moments when athletes leave their security perimeter to interact with fans, the security perimeter itself, and with the spectators interacting with each other. So I decided to spend several stages working outside of credentialed areas without a press pass and jokingly dubbed this my “Totally Not Behind the Scenes at the Tour de France” project.

Images: selected photos from Bleakney’s Tour de France coverage.

The Half Life of Shared Links
Via Bitly:

The mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, on facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. So you can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on facebook than if you post on twitter…
…Not all social sites follow this pattern. The surprise in the graph above is links that originate from youtube: these links have a half life of 7.4 hours! As clickers, we remain interested in links on youtube for a much longer period of time. You can see this dramatic difference between youtube and the other platforms for sharing links in the image above…
…Many links last a lot less than 2 hours; other more sticky links last longer than 11 hours over all the referrers. This leads us to believe that the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!

H/T: Sanjiv Desai.

The Half Life of Shared Links

Via Bitly:

The mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, on facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. So you can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on facebook than if you post on twitter…

…Not all social sites follow this pattern. The surprise in the graph above is links that originate from youtube: these links have a half life of 7.4 hours! As clickers, we remain interested in links on youtube for a much longer period of time. You can see this dramatic difference between youtube and the other platforms for sharing links in the image above…

…Many links last a lot less than 2 hours; other more sticky links last longer than 11 hours over all the referrers. This leads us to believe that the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!

H/T: Sanjiv Desai.

The Man Who Got Us to 'Like' Everything

The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey A. Fowler profiles Soleio Cuervo, Facebook’s product designer:

"We have a saying at Facebook: Photoshop lies," said Mr. Cuervo. Instead of relying on mockups filled with pretty fake text, Facebook designers create Web-browser-ready versions of their designs that can be filled with real user content, which tends to look very different from what designers might want ideally. "On Photoshop, it is very easy for me to fabricate an imaginary world where users type in very poignant statements, but that is not how people will populate the system," he said.

Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Wall Street Journal. The Man Who Got Us to ‘Like’ Everything.

H/T: Zach Seward.

Facebook today released the results of a study it conducted on what types of posts by the Facebook Pages of journalists performed the best. Among the highlights: Incorporating personal analysis in posts increased referral clicks by 20%, and including a thumbnail image when posting a link boosted Likes by 65% and comments by 50%. While these findings are for Pages of journalists, the best practices they illuminate can be useful for the admins of any type of Page.

Facebook’s Study of Journalist Page Engagement Reveals Page Post Best Practices

This isn’t telling most what they don’t already know about packaging content for the web.  Here’s what it does do: Make the point clear that a non-tailored RSS feed into Facebook isn’t going to get job done—just like personalized tweets are proving to win for brands and journalists alike on Twitter.

 ”It’s mostly tha voice.” © Guru.  Matter of fact?  Let that bass line walk: (some strong language)

YouTube clip to Gangstarr’s “Mostly Tha Voice”

“A lot of rappers have flavor and some got skills but if your voice aint dope then you need to chill.”

What they have to say about engagement vs click thrus is very interesting. 

(via dominickbrady)

FJP: Liking the Gangstarr quote.

It’s not that far-fetched to imagine 20 to 25 percent of magazines’ readership existing in a digital platform three to four years from now.

Scott Dadich, Condé Nast’s vice president of digital magazine development, explaining the company’s tablet strategy.

Justin Ellis, Nieman Lab. Condé Nast’s Scott Dadich on reinventing mags for the iPad and why partnering with Apple matters.