With its new iOS app, The New York Times is finally unifying its iPad and iPhone experiences

The New York Times unveiled a new version of its iOS app yesterday. Version 6.0 — the first major update since last October — adds a handful of notable new features, including simpler personalization, support for split-screen multitasking on the iPad Pro, and support for 360-degree video. The most noticeable design changes are on the iPad, where the new homepage has some of the modularity that the Times’ ongoing web redesign has. Here’s what the new (top) and previous (bottom) iPad apps looked like this afternoon: Also noteworthy is what’s under the hood: This is the first version of the app that’s universal for iOS devices, meaning that the same code is at work across the iPad, iPhone, and even the Apple Watch. The Times released the first version of its iPad app in April 2010, just a few months after Apple announced the iPad and shortly before Continue reading "With its new iOS app, The New York Times is finally unifying its iPad and iPhone experiences"

A new program wants to help more people in news orgs — beyond journalists — get literate with data

News organizations these days are spending a lot of time and energy making sure that data plays a central role in their newsrooms. But fewer are putting as much effort into building that kind of data culture into their organizations overall. That argument is core to the Data Culture Project, a new effort designed to help nonprofit organizations expand data literacy to more of their staff and leadership. While the program isn’t designed exclusively for journalism nonprofits, its creators are interested in seeing how, for example, data-literate reporters and editors can extend those skills to less technical people in other departments. The program’s activities, which focus on topics such as data storytelling, spreadsheet analysis, and test mining, are designed to be accessible, and assume no prior knowledge of how to work with data. “When we’re talking data culture in a journalism organization, we’re not just talking about data journalism,” said Continue reading "A new program wants to help more people in news orgs — beyond journalists — get literate with data"

A new report examines the state of automated journalism in Europe — and what’s holding it back

Fear not, journalists: Roboreporters are not coming for your jobs, at least not yet. That’s the takeaway from a new report from Alexander Fanta at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, who took a look at how 15 news agencies in Europe have implemented automation in their organizations. While the news agencies have been drawn to the the efficiencies of the technology, organizations still have a lot of work to do with realizing that promise. Fanta’s conclusion: “So far, automation is limited in its scope and complexity,” as he writes in the report. Here are a few of his standout findings: — Automation’s role is growing, but still limited. Big news agencies like AP, Reuters, and AFP are producing thousands of algorithm-aided stories month, particularly in finance and sports. But adoption is still uneven. Organizations such as Spain’s Efe and Ansa in Italy are still reluctant to make the Continue reading "A new report examines the state of automated journalism in Europe — and what’s holding it back"

First Look Media’s Topic.com is leaning on video and illustrations to tell stories (and break out of the news cycle)

It was circa 2010 when Anna Holmes says she started to fall out of love with digital media. The web, once an exciting place where discussion could flourish, had, in Holmes’ view, become home to a series of parallel monologues as people increasingly talked at each other. Hot takes had taken over the web — including Jezebel, where she was editor — and become increasingly identical and predicable. Nuance, she believed, was slowly dying. Holmes hopes that Topic.com, her new project at First Look Media, will help rekindle her love for the web. The consumer-facing publication, published monthly, is designed to be the antithesis of the kinds of publications that induced her disillusionment: Rather than focus on text to tell stories, Topic.com is highly visual, and will be built around video, photography, and illustration. Furthermore, the necessarily extended development times of these visual projects means that Topic. Continue reading "First Look Media’s Topic.com is leaning on video and illustrations to tell stories (and break out of the news cycle)"

With help from local papers, USA Today is boosting the ambition and publishing speed of its VR projects

Earlier this year, Facebook approached the USA Today virtual reality team with a proposal. Facebook’s developer conference, F8, was a few weeks away, and the company was looking to partner with news organizations on VR projects that showed off some new interactive tools that it was building. USA Today was interested, but concerned that its small VR unit wouldn’t be able to turn around a project in time for the event. The team did have ideas for projects that it wanted to do, however. One idea producers were particularly interested in was a VR tour of a whiskey distillery, which had never come to fruition. The Facebook partnership offered a new chance to chase down the idea, and gave Gannett’s Louisville Courier-Journal an opportunity to help things along. Reporters at the newspaper connected the USA Today VR team with staff at the iconic 200-year old Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Continue reading "With help from local papers, USA Today is boosting the ambition and publishing speed of its VR projects"

WSJ’s What’s News app (R.I.P.) is getting a second life in the latest refresh the paper’s main iOS app

Last month, The Wall Street Journal pulled the plug on What’s News, its standalone news digest app that offered a different, more swipe-heavy reading experience from its main app. Now, the Journal is keeping to its promise of using some of the lessons from What’s News to inform the design of its main news app, which got a refresh yesterday. The new version of the app, which the newspaper says is designed to be a “more deeply-engaging, interactive destination for users,” features a curated What’s News feed with more variegated story presentation than the previous app’s rote list. Users can also customize their experience in various ways, such as saving articles, and opting into notifications for specific categories and from specific authors.

With its Take Action newsletter, The Nation is giving readers ways to act on the stories they read

When it comes to politics, the first half of 2017 has given people plenty to protest. And while some have responded to current affairs by becoming more politically active, others, certain they can’t have an effect, have shrugged and tuned out. The liberal magazine The Nation is experimenting with new ways to get those on the left of both of those groups — the active and the inactive — involved. Late last month, the magazine launched Take Action Now, a weekly newsletter designed to offer readers three ways they can act on the issues and stories they read in the news. In one recent edition, the newsletter offered readers opportunities such as donating to the disability-rights organization ADAPT, whose members protested the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicaid. It also highlighted the work of #AllofUs, Democracy Spring, the Democratic Socialists of America, which were organizing
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