Start your meetings with a folk song — and other ideas from the community-driven, crowdfunded Danish news site Zetland


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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— Every Tuesday, the entire staff of the Danish news site Zetland gathers for a meeting around a long wooden table in the conference room of its airy office in a formerly industrial area of the city. < blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> At its events, Zetland journalists would get on stage and share stories, conduct interviews, and put on performances. These stories were often attendees’ first introduction to the site’s reporting. “It was in garages at the beginning, but it turned out that it hit something and we could sell out in eight minutes,” Korsgaard said. “That was the entry for most people. That’s how they got to know us and then they discovered: Wow, they also do written journalism.” But it proved difficult to build a business off of the singles. Zetland’s team hoped that Amazon would formally launch in Denmark, which could help with sales, but Amazon still hasn’t. While readers could
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This tool is helping newsrooms collaborate on factchecking and verification projects


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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In the run-up to the French election this spring, 37 organizations came together to form CrossCheck, a collaborative factchecking effort that, over 10 weeks, debunked 60 misleading and false stories. As part of its reporting processes, CrossCheck had to coordinate between newsrooms and keep track of multiple stories at once. To manage the workflow, the team turned to Check, an open web–based verification tool developed by Meedan, a group working to build non-commercial tools for journalists and non-profit groups. “If we had not had Check there as a tool, it would’ve been very difficult to manage that workflow,” said Sam Dubberley, CrossCheck’s managing editor. “It meant that people from different organizations could go in, see that the verification had been done, and then contribute or say, ‘I don’t agree with that,’ ‘I agree with that,’ or ‘I’ve seen something that might mean it’s true or not’ and
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This Danish startup evolved into a “newsletter company” because that was what its readers wanted


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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— Every weekday at noon, subscribers to the Danish news site Føljeton receive an emoji-filled email notification or push alert. That’s when the site publishes its daily briefing, which has evolved into its core editorial product over its nearly two years of existence. It’s published as an email newsletter, in Føljeton’s app, and on its website. The briefing features a mix of original reporting that focuses on a single topic each week (“føljeton” means “serialize” in Danish) — cultural writing, an editorial, and curated links to other outlets around the Internet. “I think of us as service providers, basically,” CEO Søren Høgh Ipland told me when I visited Copenhagen this spring. “We’re building a routine, a product you get every day, a feeling, something that you buy,” he said. “Of course, we’re trying to involve our readers, but it’s like buying a cup of coffee every day.” A subscription
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People who get news from social or search usually don’t remember the news org that published it, survey finds


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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British news consumers who get news via social media or search platforms are more likely to remember the platform where they accessed a particular story rather than the outlet that originally published it, according to a study out Wednesday from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. Just 37 percent of users who came from search, and 47 percent of those who found a story via social media, could correctly name the news organization that published it (2 days later). By comparison, 81 percent of users who directly arrived on a story could later recall where it was published. Meanwhile, 57 percent of users could remember that they found a story via search and 67 percent recalled accessing stories from social sources — with 70 percent of those who found a story on Facebook recalling their path and 60 percent for Twitter. “The finding
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With a network of sites across the U.S., this company is trying to redefine local fitness content


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Working out and getting healthy can be hard for a lot of people. Brothers Anthony and Joe Vennare know this. The Pittsburgh natives had previously owned a gym before deciding to get into the content business when they saw a void in locally focused health and fitness coverage. “A lot of times people are put off by diet hacks and workout plans in Men’s Health and Women’s Health,” said Joe, Fitt’s COO. “What we said, and continue to believe, is that nobody wants to be unhealthy, and if they can get healthy in whatever definition that means for them and have fun doing it, that’s kind of the ultimate.” That’s the thinking behind Fitt, their bootstrapped network of local fitness sites, which now operates in 16 different U.S. cities with another seven slated to launch soon. The sites feature stories such as “Summer Long Schedule of Continue reading "With a network of sites across the U.S., this company is trying to redefine local fitness content"

Slate’s first virtual-reality talk show was “a hilarious disaster”


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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If, hypothetically, Georgia and Florida went to war, which state would win? That was one of the questions posed to actress Carrie Preston in the first episode of Conundrums, Slate’s new virtual reality Facebook Live talk show that launched Thursday. Preston and host Dan Kois, Slate’s culture editor, were presented as legless avatars as the show is produced using Facebook’s VR app Spaces, which was launched earlier this year as a way for Oculus Rift users to interact with each other as avatars. Facebook this week announced that it was adding a livestreaming feature to Spaces, and Slate says it is the first outlet to utilize this platform in this way. Kois and Preston began their conversation outside of a Brooklyn-based brewery that’s sponsoring the show before using the magic Continue reading "Slate’s first virtual-reality talk show was “a hilarious disaster”"

A new report says Democrats and Republicans actually get news in pretty similar ways


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Though Republicans and Democrats have differing — and well documented — views of the media, members of both parties still follow the news and access media in similar ways, according to a study out Thursday from The Associated Press, the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and the American Press Institute. Similar percentages of Democrats and Republicans said they get news multiple times a day, actively seek out news, get news on social media, pay for news, and get news from local sources regularly, the study found. 72 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans said they get news more than one time a day. 75 percent of people in both parties get news on social media. 58 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans say they pay for news. One-quarter of Democrats and 21 percent of those in the GOP said they routinely access local news sources.
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This Canadian rock star and author is starting a monthly print paper for his Toronto neighborhood


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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The West End Phoenix is a new community newspaper launching this fall in Toronto’s West End. While the paper will cover a diverse but gentrifying area in Canada’s largest city, its origins can be traced 3,000 km (1,900 miles) away to Yellowknife, the only city in the Northwest Territories. Dave Bidini, a Canadian author and rock star (best known as a member of Rheostatics), traveled to Yellowknife in 2015 to write a book on the city. While there, he got to know the staff of the Yellowknifer, the city’s paywalled newspaper that published no wire copy and only local coverage. “When I came back to Toronto and finished the book…I thought, I’m 53, how can I challenge myself? What can I do differently that I haven’t done before? Then I thought: What about a newspaper?” Bidini told me via phone recently as he biked into Continue reading "This Canadian rock star and author is starting a monthly print paper for his Toronto neighborhood"

“There’s an opportunity to go deep”: What’s next for Rafat Ali’s growing travel site Skift, 5 years in


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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If you’ve spent even a little bit of time on Media Twitter, you’re probably familiar with Rafat Ali. Ali, the cofounder and CEO of the travel news site Skift, is a voracious advocate of focused, niche-driven media outlets — which he prefers to frame as vertical media. I think in hindsight, a lot of the troubles that a lot of other media companies went through, we went through them a bit earlier than them — two years or three years before them, so we sound like the wise guy now. It clarified a lot of things for us in terms of the direct relationship with users, which now has become a fashionable thing to say, but we’ve been doing it for a while. I wrote an internal memo earlier this year and the title was “2017 is the year of the Skift subscriber.” Subscriber for us means anybody Continue reading "“There’s an opportunity to go deep”: What’s next for Rafat Ali’s growing travel site Skift, 5 years in"

Here are the results of the first two rounds of Google’s European Digital News Innovation Fund


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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On the heels of announcing another $24 million in funding to support 107 journalism projects across Europe in the third round of its Digital News Initiative, Google also released a report detailing the results from the first two rounds of the program. Google launched the DNI in 2015 and through the first two rounds of the fund it handed out more than $58 million in funding to 252 projects. There were more than 3,000 applications and Google offered interviews to 748 applicants. (Former Nieman Fellow Ludovic Blecher leads the innovation fund.) The grantees were broken down into seven different classifications covering topics such as data management and workflow, social and community, and business models. “We soon realised that there was no existing taxonomy in the news industry and in the end we decided upon a set of categories that we feel accurately distills the spirit and the activity of
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This paper has a text marketing editor (who compares the job to picking people up at a bar)


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Every day as the clock ticks toward the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung’s 5 p.m. print deadline, Jenny Buchholz sits at her desk in the heart of the paper’s Munich newsroom and reads through the stories that will be posted online that evening and in the next day’s print paper. Buchholz is hunting for stories to highlight in a section on the paper’s homepage called Das Beste aus der Zeitung: “The best of the newspaper.” Buchholz is SZ’s text marketing editor. Her mandate is to decide which stories will only be available to the paper’s premium subscribers, and which might appeal to potential subscribers if they’re packaged in a way that will convince people that they’re worth paying for. She works with Andrea Landinger, who helps refine the coverage to improve SEO and clickthrough rates. SZ created the text marketing role to coincide with the launch of its digital
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You can now use social audio app Anchor to publish podcasts


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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The social audio app Anchor is on Thursday introducing a new feature that allows users to easily publish podcasts to major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Users can initially set up the podcast through the app by choosing a name, art, and more, and then subsequent episodes will be automatically added to the feed. “They’ll be able to control everything about the podcast that they need to control from Anchor,” cofounder and CEO Michael Mignano told me. “Our hope is that we can remove all of the technical and difficult aspects of the process to the end user. If we had it our way, the user would never even need to know what an RSS feed is. It’s an older piece of technology that we think most creators need to even be aware of.” Even though users will be able to upload podcasts through the app, Continue reading "You can now use social audio app Anchor to publish podcasts"

The New York Times is now charging for its cooking site


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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The New York Times on Wednesday relaunched its NYT Cooking recipe site and app as a paid product, part of its continued push toward building a sustainable subscriber-based business. A subscription to the app will cost $5 every four weeks. Users who don’t pay will still have access to a limited amount of Cooking content. At launch, the Times is offering 28-day free trials, and “for a limited time,” Times digital and print subscribers will continue to get complimentary access. The Times launched Cooking in 2014 as part of a spate of standalone apps — remember NYT Now and NYT Opinion? — but it had until now kept the app free, adding new features and growing the user base. Cooking has 10 million monthly unique users, the Times says, while editor Sam Sifton’s regular email newsletter has more than 1 million subscribers. “When we launched Cooking way back, there was
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Google News launches a streamlined redesign that gives more prominence to fact checking


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Google on Tuesday launched a redesigned desktop version of Google News that introduces a more streamlined design, highlights fact checking, and offers users additional personalization. Google News’ desktop site is now broken into three main sections: Headlines, which features the day’s top news stories; Local, which allows users to follow news from certain locations; and For You, which contains specific topics a user has said they’re interested in. The redesign also introduces a card-based interface that is less cluttered than the previous iteration of Google News. The new layout is meant to highlight publisher titles, article labels, and offers more prominence to video. Users can also expand the cards to show more coverage on a certain topic. Google News product manager Anand Paka said users often found the previous version of Google News too cluttered and confusing. “Our goal here was to make every frequent task and every user need
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This startup is trying to create a set of blockchain-based marketplaces for journalism


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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It’s no secret, of course, that many news organizations are struggling to find sustainable business models, finance ambitious reporting, and build trust with audience. And while many startups over the years have attempted to deal with these issues, a new platform said Wednesday it was looking to address these challenges with a new type of technology: blockchain. Here’s how the startup, Civil (not to be confused with commenting platform Civil), explained themselves in a Medium post:
We propose a solution called Civil, an Ethereum-based decentralized platform that can be used to create “newsrooms” and “stations” — blockchain-based marketplaces where citizens and journalists form communities around a shared purpose and set of standards, financially support factual reporting and investigative work, and substantially limit misinformation through effective collaborative-editing methods. The net result is a self-sustaining global marketplace for journalism that is free from ads, fake news, and outside influence.
Whew.
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How one journalist used postcards to report on gentrification in his Boston neighborhood


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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It’s a warm afternoon in mid-April and journalist Jorge Caraballo Cordovez makes his way down a busy street in East Boston. Passing convenience stores, a Colombian bakery, and a hair salon, Caraballo stops to talk with nearly every passerby in this primarily Latino neighborhood in Boston, Mass. He hands everyone a postcard, and speaking in Spanish, asks them about their living situation: Has their landlord tried to raise their rent recently? Have they gotten an eviction notice? Caraballo meets a man working two jobs who moved to a further-out suburb because he could no longer afford his rent. He speaks with a young mother, living in a four bedroom apartment with three other adults and four kids, whose landlord wants them all to leave. The postcards Caraballo hands out are the heart of a reporting project he launched last year called East Boston, Nuestra Casa (“East Boston, Our Home”). The
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What are the ethics of using AI for journalism? A panel at Columbia tried to tackle that question


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Journalism is becoming increasingly automated. From the Associated Press using machine learning to write stories to The New York Times’ plans to automate its comment moderation, outlets continue to use artificial intelligence to try and streamline their processes or make them more efficient. But what are the ethical considerations of AI? How can journalists legally acquire the data they need? What types of data should news orgs be storing? How transparent do outlets need to be about the algorithms they use? These were some of the questions posed Tuesday at a panel discussion held by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University that tried to address these questions about the ethics of AI powered journalism products. Tools such as machine learning or natural language processing require vast amounts of data to learn to behave like a human, and NYU law Continue reading "What are the ethics of using AI for journalism? A panel at Columbia tried to tackle that question"

The Swedish startup Kit is rethinking analytics for a broader view of what makes a story successful


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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Every time a staffer at the Swedish news startup Kit produces a story — no matter if it’s a Facebook video recipe for avocado hummus or a text story on Kit’s own website about coal-fired powerplants — they have to fill out 17 categories of metadata that the company developed to classify stories. Those data points include 145 different classifications (for a total of 43 billion combinations) covering things such as the tone of the story (is it funny? Is it dry?) and the story’s intent (was it created to surprise the user? Is it supposed to explain something to them?) Kit also collects more than 200 different output data points on every story, including time spent on the page, scroll depth, reach, engagement, and more, depending on the story’s format and the platform where it was posted. The goal of collecting all the information is to create Kit Core,
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This new tool will help your newsroom create better email newsletters


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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So you heard that email newsletters are the hot new trend for news organizations looking to reach highly engaged audiences and now you’re thinking of starting one in your newsroom. But where should you start? A new tool out Monday from the Seattle-based Crosscut Public Media and Reynolds Journalism Institute hopes to help answer newsroom’s newsletter questions. The guide, called Opt In, offers a best-practice guide to starting and optimizing email newsletters with tips for design, revenue generation, content suggestions, metrics to follow, and more depending on what you want to accomplish with your newsletter. “If someone opens up an email and it’s not relevant or it’s not useful once or twice, they’re not going to send feedback or help improve it. They’re just going to unsubscribe, or they’re going to blacklist it, or they’re going to spam-filter it. You then burn that relationship for the longer term,” said
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The Wall Street Journal is killing its What’s News app (but bringing lessons from it to its main app)


This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab


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The Wall Street Journal on Thursday said it was shutting down its standalone What’s News digest app — one of the few survivors of a period when top publishers were launching secondary mobile apps aimed at reaching different audiences and incubating innovations harder to execute behind the outlet’s primary homescreen icon. The Journal is currently in the process of revamping its main news app, and it plans to introduce features it developed for What’s News into the main app. The What’s News app — named for the Journal’s daily front-page briefs — launched in the summer of 2015 as the paper’s first mobile-only product. The app features a swipe-heavy design with a select 10 news stories at a time (plus some opinion). It’s updated regularly throughout each weekday, puts stories in quick summary form, uses custom headlines distinct from those on WSJ.com, and allows users to follow specific news Continue reading "The Wall Street Journal is killing its What’s News app (but bringing lessons from it to its main app)"