For my latest Harvard’s Nieman Lab article, I profile StateImpact, NPR’s attempt to take the resources of a national news organization and apply them at a local level, utilizing data-driven tools:
Billed as “station-based journalism covering the effect of government actions within every state,” StateImpact essentially takes the extensive resources of a national news organization and applies them to the local level. For its initial iteration, NPR member stations from around the country sent in applications, and from those eight were chosen to receive grants. The grants, in part, funded the hiring of two reporters for each state: one for broadcast and another for the web. NPR also hired a team of project managers, designers, and programmers to work at its D.C. headquarters; this team collaborates directly with each of the participating states to create platforms and other tools to mine deeper into a given topic. Because every state differs in its most important issues, each participating team focuses on a particular topic. The Pennsylvania StateImpact reporters, as you may have guessed, focus on energy, with a concentration on the impact of drilling. Three of the states (Florida, Indiana, and Ohio) cover education while the remaining ones (Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Texas) report on issues ranging from the local economy to state budgets.
In my latest article for Harvard’s Nieman Lab, I interview Craig Finlay, a hobbyist photographer who stumbled into a lucrative wedding photography business through Facebook:
The way Finlay described “this Facebook thing,” it seemed like it had occurred mostly on a whim. He and Mysi had been editing photos from Rebecca’s shoot and decided to throw some of them up onto the Facebook page they had created for their company, Soda Fountain Photography. They tagged the bride and the groom in these initial photos and went back to editing the rest of the batch. But a curious thing happened: When the photos hit the bride and groom’s Facebook walls, friends who had attended the wedding started going in and tagging themselves, thereby publishing the photos to their friends’ walls. In essence, every person who was at the wedding was promoting Soda Fountain Photography’s content — each picture with the company’s watermark at the bottom — to their social graph.
“Almost immediately, our clients were being generated on Facebook,” Finlay recalled. “Because there were the people in the wedding who were getting tagged, and I guess the fortunate thing about wedding photography is that the friends of your clients are the demographic you’re always trying to hit. They’re 20-somethings, and they’re either getting engaged or are engaged. So when you take photos and throw them up on Facebook, you tag the bride and the groom, and, yeah, a lot of people looking at the album are family members, but a lot of them are their friends too, and the people who are engaged really interact with your photography in a much deeper way than they could with just a pretty ad in a magazine. They’re clicking through dozens of photos that you immediately throw up on Facebook from the wedding and they don’t think they’re looking at an advertisement — they just think they’re looking at their friends’ wedding photos. But every photo has a watermark on it, so every time you look at it it’s like it’s being imprinted.”
For my latest article at PBS’ MediaShift, I interviewed activists from Firedoglake and Daily Kos to explore the various ways netroots bloggers are influencing Occupy Wall Street:
But though the decentralized structure of OWS has helped its public perception, its sluggish decision-making has made it ill-prepared for one major obstacle: winter. As the protests stretch on into December, many of the northern locations will be plunged into below-freezing temperatures. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already predicted OWS will peter out with winter, and unless the protesters adequately prepare for the next few months, the cold will likely pose a significant challenge. Yet because of an inefficient mass-voting system, it’s difficult for any particular encampment to make the kind of executive decisions needed to purchase the expensive supplies that would shield protesters from the chill.
Jane Hamsher initially addressed this problem by purchasing supplies out of her own pocket. Hamsher, founder of the popular progressive blog Firedoglake, had been attending Occupy DC protests when she realized that the protesters didn’t seem to have a contingency plan in place.
For my latest Harvard’s Nieman Lab article, I interviewed Nico Pitney, the executive editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, about HuffPo’s liveblogging tool and whether it’s a new evolution in the art of liveblogging:
I asked Nico Pitney, the executive editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, whether HuffPo’s liveblogging tool is an attempt to marry both kinds of journalism. “We basically imagined three types of readers,” Pitney said. “One who just wanted the key facts from the story, a solid overview that’s basically a traditional news story. This person is not interested in the minute details and the liveblog coverage. Then there’s another type of user who already knows the overview and does want the key facts and liveblog coverage. And finally there’s a third kind of user — and we count this as a large percentage of our users — who wanted the overview, but then once they saw the liveblog, it got them in deeper, and it made them more engaged in the story.”