May 13th, 2013

‘Mobile,too’ or ‘Mobile first?’

Above is a sample of the ipad’s interactive design.

This week I found an article on Poynter that addressed the effects that mobile media consumption will have on journalism. In this article mobile device use is going to affect journalism to the extent the rise of the internet did about 10 years ago. At first, I found this statement a little extreme, but then I thought about my own news consumption. I quickly realized that much of my news consumption is done on my ipad and my iphone.

The article states that in order for a publication to not only thrive, but survive, it must adopt an efficient mobile strategy. There are five main topics discussed in the mobile first strategy. These include:

  • A responsive design isn’t a mobile strategy
  • Mobile will not only surpass the desktop, but begin to erode it
  • The desktop decline will pressure news revenues
  • News needs to solve problems
  • Technology companies are mobile first and spending like it

The author of the article, Cory Bergman, believes that mobile strategies are a more important discussion than social media development. Bergman, the GM of NBC’s Breaking News, states, “growing mobile experiences should be the top priority.”

Fiona Spruill, NY Times emerging platforms editor, predicts within the next year, “…many news organizations will cross the 50 percent threshold where more users are visiting on phones and tablets than on desktop computers and laptops.” One statistic that piqued my interest was that in the past year, nearly 100 million more people started using social networking sites only on mobile devices.

One section of this article I found interesting was how a mobile shift will negatively affect advertising rates. The mobile shift will create revenue pressure unless news organizations are able to create new mobile revenue streams to compensate. According to the article, Google and Facebook control nearly 70 percent of mobile advertising dollars. Mobile advertising involves companies purchasing ads when the category of their business is searched.  GPS locators will then primarily lists the businesses who have purchased advertising.

I agree that publications should be focusing increased attention on mobile media consumption. Devices like the ipad and smartphones are becoming increasingly popular and relevant in today’s society. Also, most people that consume the news are doing so on the go. Studies indicate that the ipad is now the second screen at night when people are winding down after the work day.

I believe the most significant change the mobile revolution will inflict on traditional journalists and newsrooms is that content must be ready when people are most prominently consuming news. These most popular times include early mornings, common break-times during the work day and late night when people are watching television.

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May 6th, 2013


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May 6th, 2013

‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out’

The power of social media.

Because we are discussing social media in our Journalism for the Web class this week, I started to think of the impact social media has had on the way media distributes news. I also began thinking about an issue many associate with social media: truth. Facebook is another method for publications to connect with their audience by allowing followers to share articles with their friends. Twitter allows journalists to beat blog so that readers can follow the story as it develops. In my RSS feed, I came across a Mashable Op-Ed titled It’s time for truth on social media. 

The article begins with the quote, ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ After taking several journalism courses throughout the past couple of years, I could not help but laugh. Verification is a topic frequently discussed in journalism and media ethics. Because news is no longer centrally controlled, it can also become less trustworthy.

Social media has also created a new ‘delegation of trust’ among news consumers. Bloggers and tweeters do not have an obligation or moral standard to check facts with trusted, qualified sources. Because creating stories is not their career, they do not hold much stake in the information they post for the public eye. This small difference between ordinary citizen journalism and professional journalists has completely altered the consumption and distribution of news.

Several different social media applications used to disseminate information.

One part of the article that I had never thought about in depth is how much the role of a journalist has changed as a result of social media. According to the article, Mark Little, the founder and CEO of Storyful states, “Not too long ago, reporters were the guardians of scarce facts delivered at an appointed time to a passive audience. Today we are the managers of an overabundance of information and content, discovered, verified and delivered in partnership with active communities.” Journalists and reporters use to be referred to as gatekeepers, now the terminology has slightly changed, and rightfully so. The new title is news curator. The difference is that journalists and reporters use to be the select few that had access to the news. The public would only know about the story when news outlets felt it was time to release the story. However, this has completely changed with the rise of blogging and social media. Instead of releasing the news that primary sources can easily release in real time, curators have the responsibility of highlighting important information and providing readers with credible, verified information.

In several readings this semester it has been mentioned that some journalists have been  resistant to social media. However, I do not think citizen journalism, especially in the form of blogging and social media applications, are a threat to professional journalism developed by employees of news outlets. For example, if I see a tweet about a breaking news event from a friend, the first thing I do is check the news outlets I find most credible to confirm the event or occurrence. Anyone can post a tweet or Facebook status about what they heard or what they think they saw; however, it is not just anyone that is employed by the New York Times or BBC.

I think social media can be used to help news outlets connect with audiences and potential sources. I do not believe that social media decreases the quality of journalism, but rather, increases the rate at which it is produced, distributed and consumed. Whether journalists like it or not, social media is here to stay. It will only benefit the work they produce if they learn to utilize the many benefits of social media.

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April 23rd, 2013

E-commerce: a win-win

Image Courtesy of Flickr.

Time Inc.’s Essence and Conde Nast’s Teen Vogue have added e-commerce capabilities to their publication sites. E-commerce is a new trend that allows users to purchase products and services without leaving the site of the publication they are consuming.

Essence.com features a tool that helps woman find different makeup tools that compliment a user’s appearance. The products presented to the women utilizing the tool are all products that are provided by retailers supporting the publication. Women can then add products they like and desire to purchase to a shopping cart and buy the products without leaving the publication site.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Teen Vogue plans to begin a similar process involving back-to-school shopping in late July.

I think that many magazine sites will begin to integrate this feature into their sites. Magazine publications are known to appeal to niche audiences, which are extremely valuable to advertisers and companies. E-commerce benefits publications because they are able to charge premium for advertising. Companies are equally benefitted because they are able to display products and services directly on the publication site. In a time of instant gratification, e-commerce features on sites makes shopping seamless and convenient.

In another article by Mashable, the compromise of integrity is questioned. However, I do not feel this method of revenue is ethically wrong. As mentioned in many of the readings this past semester, journalism is a business that needs revenue to thrive. Utilizing their access to a niche audience is a smart business move that will benefit profits. These publications plan to advertise these products regardless. So, why not make the purchase of endorsed products and services just a little easier for consumers?

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April 16th, 2013

Google Drive Offers Hope to Boston Runners

I found myself searching the Internet for any information I could find after hearing about the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I was informed of the event via Twitter. As I was browsing the Internet, I was amazed by the number of posts, pictures and videos that flooded my Google search because it was just a couple hours after the event occurred. In my search I found an article by Mashable that had “hope” in the title, and I had to read it.

Just hours after the bombings that occurred at the Boston Marathon, Google established a spreadsheet for local Boston residents to list contact information and housing accommodations.

Google also established a feature called Person Finder that allowed users to track family members or friends that checked in with Google. Because service was unavailable to those in the Marathon vicinity, this feature allowed people to find information about the possible location of loved ones.

The document lists hundreds of residents that are willing to host runners that do not have shelter, food or comfort for that matter.

I found this spreadsheet touching. Boston-area residents felt compassionately compelled to open their homes to victims of the Marathon bombings.

Although I am use to the notion of instantaneous news posts to the Internet, I was still surprised at the vast selection of information that appeared. To me, this demonstrates the impact technology has on our communication. Social media and news sites allow readers access to their information the moment they discover crucial facts.

Through the Person Finder and Boston accommodations spreadsheet, Google used technology and intensive audience reach to provide viewers in need of information about a tragic event. Both of these features demonstrate the power of technology, and the good it can bring in this crazy world.

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April 14th, 2013

Ways to Measure an Audience

A couple of weeks ago, our class engaged in a group discussion exploring the ways we can further engage our audience. By using tools such as Google Analytics, we measured page views, bounce rate and visit durations.

How Journalists Can Measure Engagement, a Poynter article written by Meena Thiruvengadam, explains what different major publication engagement editors value most in audience statistics.

I think in a digital age, examining analytics in social media shares or page visits is not only a benefit or advantage, but a necessity. If a news site is not measuring audience engagement and interaction, they have no way to know if their content is found valuable. Publications also will not know how they can improve content and design to please readers.

For audience relationships that occur primarily online, it is more difficult to truly gauge audience impressions.

Aaron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news at NY Times, says publication’s must go beyond measuring re-tweets and likes to measure audience engagement. To truly engage an audience, there must be more ways for readers to participate than simply reposting content on their social media accounts.

Because of the new social media craze with users constantly checking Facebook and Twitter feeds, it’s easy for publications to forget about other forms of audience engagement and outreach.

“It’s like having a numerator in search of a denominator,” Pilhofer said. This quote explains the idea that social media data is sometimes incomplete because publications do not know if their content is being tweeted/shared at higher than expected rates.

I think that Amanda Zamora, the senior engagement editor at ProPublica, said it best, “At the end of the day a successful result for us is when people somehow added to the journalism we’re doing.”

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April 9th, 2013

Extinction of RSS Feeds?

Sample home page of Google Reader.

Lately there has been a panic concerning Google’s recent announcement to expire Google Reader as a service in July of this year.

Google Reader has solved a huge issue for those who regularly consume information from various sites and blogs.

Michael Surtees, a product designer at Dataminr in New York, wrote about his predictions about the bleak future of RSS feeds. He believes RSS feeds will become extinct if no longer offered by Google.

After using Google Reader for the past semester, I have really grown to like it. I would even say that I rely on it when it comes to my news intake. I have also began following several blogs as a result of setting up a Reader account. Before this taking Journalism for the Web, I had never heard of Google Reader or any of its comparable programs.

Mashable offers several Google Reader alternatives for users who may be looking for a new program that allows them to sort through their regular sites and blogs. I have also found a tutorial that allows Google Reader users to export their feed listing.

 

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April 1st, 2013

NY Times New Website Design

 

Just a few weeks ago several of the blogs in my Google Reader feed addressed NY Times announcement of a new design for their web page. Because NY Times is such an influential and prominent news source, this change attracted attention.

The new web page design feature improvements include:

  • The ability to more easily browse and explore. Readers can flip through articles in a section they are reading just as they could when reading an actual newspaper.
  • More convenient to navigate through sections that interest readers by adding shortcut lists to favorite sections.
  • Interaction by featuring the comments directly next to the article so they are read within context. This allows readers to converse about featured topics and issues.

According to a press release the new design’s benefits include a cleaner, more engaging design, designs optimized for both desk tops and tablets and higher impact presentation of advertising.

The new website will also rely more on photography and visuals associated with articles. This reminded me of last weeks post about Facebook’s redesigned Newsfeed. FB’s Newsfeed focuses on a more visual account of user’s profiles. I think that NY Times and Facebook’s shift to a more visual format reflects how our society consumes information. This is vital knowledge for journalists so that they can shape their stories or news to meet the needs and preferences of their audience.

Before simply changing the site’s design, NY Times first released a prototype so that they can gain feedback about the functionality, design and navigation. I think that this is a smart approach before re-designing a web page because it would be frustrating for regular users if NY Times were to suddenly change navigation features without any warning.

It is possible to gain a request for the opportunity to interact with the site.

 

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March 19th, 2013

Top Five Travel Destinations


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March 12th, 2013

Facebook’s New Visual News Feed

With new social media outlets emerging such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, Facebook needs to introduce new improvements to keep up with competition. Last Thursday Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, introduced the new layout for user’s news feed.

Because 50 percent of content posted by users is visual, such as photos and videos, the News Feed will emphasize visual media.

The new News Feed reflects not just the user’s friends but, also, businesses, artists and world leaders that interests the user. To please FB shareholders, there will also be more ads displayed within the News Feed.

Some of the new features will include a photo-only feed and a music-feed to more easily isolate certain media you want to further explore. The photo-only feed will consist of picture uploads and Instagrams. The music feed will tell you what friends are listening to on sites such as Spotify.

Many times users’ initial reaction to changes is negative. However, because there has been a clear shift to visual media, I think many users might respond positively to the News Feed alterations. The only down side I see to this change is the amount of ads anticipated to be included in the Feed. This could potentially annoy users who use Facebook primarily for contact with friends, like me.

Hear more about the News Feed changes from Facebook founder and CEO:

On Thursday morning Zuckerburg revealed the new Facebook News Feed in Menlo Park, Calif.

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