How One Newspaper Launched an Online Rap Show To Boost Sales

A version of this piece originally appeared at The Splice Newsroom. As newspaper sales stagnated, the Phnom Penh Post began looking for ways to appeal to more young Cambodians. Koam Chanrasmey, the 28-year-old head of the newspaper’s video department, searched for inspiration. He found it in online clips of newscasters rapping the news in countries like Uganda and Senegal, but felt the approach had to be carefully considered before it could be introduced to conservative Cambodia. “Rap is not Cambodian culture, it’s African-American culture,” he says. “But we could see the increasing popularity of rap among young people, and felt it was a different way of engaging the young people with reading the news.” “We took that idea and [decided] let’s see what we can do in Cambodia to fit the Cambodian audience.” The Phnom Penh Post has distinct English- and Khmer-language editions, with the latter known as
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The Struggle to Keep Science Reporting Scientific

Markian Hawryluk, health reporter at the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin, recently posted a sad tweet. “With today’s layoffs at the Oregonian,” he wrote, “I may be the last full time health reporter working for an Oregon daily newspaper.” His update was not entirely surprising; the words “journalism” and “job security” rarely go together these days. Newsroom employment at the nation’s daily newspapers is down 40 percent compared to a decade ago, and an additional drop of about 30 percent is projected by 2024. That’s a lot of former reporters looking for work. But as a former science and health reporter, I also pity those who are still at their desks — especially the general assignment reporters and others now increasingly tasked with covering this specialized beat. The fact is, there is more science to cover than ever before but fewer full-time, dedicated science reporters to cover those stories. That’s
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Why ‘Dialogue Journalism’ Is Having a Moment

Turn on the TV today, and chances are you’ll see political commentators sparring. Log on to Twitter and you’ll see the latest heated tweet from President Trump. We’re living in a time of overwhelming connection thanks to the interwebs, but chances are, we’re not nearly as connected to those those who don’t hold similar beliefs. In a polarizing moment when trust in media and the government is low, a number of new projects, now commonly called “dialogue journalism,” from organizations including Spaceship Media, Hello Project and the Seattle Times are focusing on bridging communities and pushing diverse viewpoints. Dialogue journalism uses engagement projects to tap into nuanced audiences, providing them with a platform—such as a Facebook group or a video call—to encourage sometimes difficult conversations. Journalists are present to help guide the dialogue, fact check and use the platforms as a launch pad for stories. These projects attempt to use
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Why Paywalls Won’t Save Journalism

A version of this piece previously appeared at Big If True. Paywalls aren’t new or groundbreaking, but Nick Thompson, Wired’s editor in chief who implemented a paywall at the magazine today, seemed to suggest otherwise in several interviews on the topic. Paywalls are essential to journalism’s future, he told Nieman Lab. “We don’t know exactly how the web will develop, which platforms will become big, but we do know that having a direct monetary relationship with your readers is one way to insure that you have a stable financial future,” Thompson said. To be fair, Wired’s new subscription package is a helluva deal. For $20, readers get a year’s worth of the magazine’s print and digital products, including online access. To sweeten the deal, the package offers a rarity in online subscriptions – no website ads. That means no standalone ads thrust in your face like a jack-in-the-box while you’re
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Why Small Newsrooms Do the Best Data Journalism

Turns out you don’t need a big newsroom to do award-winning data journalism. For my research on data journalism in small newsrooms, I talked to heads of data teams in Germany, Austria and the UK. I found that size is no barrier to innovation. Data journalism is all about team work, and smaller newsrooms can be at an advantage when it comes to integrating data teams. The small, traditional newsroom Berliner Morgenpost had an almost fairytale-like success story with its efforts in incorporating data journalism.

Enthusiasm from the bottom up

Julius Tröger started working for Berliner Morgenpost’s online team in 2010. It’s a small team of just eight reporters, and the entire newsroom of this local newspaper in Berlin comprises less than 100 reporters and editors. At the same time, Tröger started studying computer science. In 2011, he did his first data journalism story on the parliamentary elections in Berlin. With the
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Here’s How One Japanese Newspaper Is Moving Robo-Journalism Forward

A version of this piece appeared at the Splice Newsroom. In another step forward for robo-journalism, a regional newspaper in Japan is rolling out an artificial intelligence system that automatically generates summaries of news articles for distribution across a range of media platforms. The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun teamed up with Fujitsu, Japan’s largest IT services company, to create the software based on technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories. Staff at the broadsheet have been producing summaries manually, a task that takes up to five minutes per article. The software creates summaries instantly and with greater accuracy than a different summarizing method that begins with the lead and stops when the word limit is reached, according to Fujitsu: “The system uses a combination of natural language processing and machine learning to pick out the most salient parts of the article, scoring each sentence in terms of importance.” During a trial,
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Lessons From ‘The Wall,’ USA Today Network’s Collaboration on Border Security

A version of this piece previously appeared on Medium via the Center for Cooperative Media.

When it comes to collaboration, newsrooms often have mental barriers to overcome. Concerns such as who will be in charge, lack of focus and general disinterest or distrust of working with others are some of the most common issues that come into play.

But one of the largest journalism collaborations of 2017 — based on a proposed physical barrier — proved that working together can produce stronger results. That collaboration yielded The Wall, a project that involved the Arizona Republic, USA Today and journalists in the USA Today Network from around the country. Together, they spent six months reporting on core questions about Donald Trump’s push for a wall along the 2,000 miles of the United States border with Mexico. The project was a massive feat of organization, communication and journalistic cooperation that taught participants crucial lessons in coalition-building, including

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