Jeff Sonderman

Jeff Sonderman (jsonderman@poynter.org) is the Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He focuses on innovations and strategies for mobile platforms and social media in online news. In addition to training journalists and writing for Poynter.org, he manages the development of Poynter-related mobile apps including Help! For Writers and Settle It! PolitiFact's Argument Ender. He is also currently an adjunct faculty teaching digital journalism at Georgetown University. Find ways to follow him at jeffsonderman.com/connect


Reading the newspaper

Washington Post appoints its first ‘reader representative’

Washington Post
Doug Feaver “will serve as an advocate for readers, responding to their questions and concerns,” the Post announced today.

Doug Feaver

Feaver was a career Postie — a reporter and editor for 29 years on the Business, Metro and National desks. He then became executive editor of washingtonpost.com in 1998 and retired in 2005. He stayed involved for a few more years with a blog called dot.comments that responded to reader comments on the site.

The Post just ended its ombudsman program, replacing it with this new reader representative. Unlike Patrick Pexton and other Post ombudsmen of the past, the reader rep is a Post employee (not an independent contractor) and will not have a regular weekly print column.

It seems the primary outlet of expression for Feaver and assistant reader representative Alison Coglianese will be a blog on washingtonpost.com. Feaver is on Twitter (@feaverdb), but has barely used it since 2011. Read more

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tweets

Twitter research shows how multimedia increases engagement

To update an old saying for the Twitter era: A picture is worth a thousand characters.

Research by Twitter shows that tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4 times more engagement (retweets, replies, etc.) than those that don’t. Read more

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Virginia paper confused over flooding location

Sent by a reader: “From today’s Newport News (Va.) Daily Press — a weird reference to Afghanistan’s Wardak province was inserted into a local weather story by the Tribune/LA Times copy desk in Chicago.”

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The Daily Caller’s Menendez prostitution ‘scoop’ unravels

The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s conservative version of Huffington Post, is at the center of a media controversy. And loving it.

In November, the Caller published a story based on two anonymous Dominican women claiming that New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez had paid them for sex.

ABC News says it received similar information at the same time, as Republican operatives organized interviews with those two women, plus a third woman the Caller did not talk to, all of whom said the senator paid them for sex. But ABC News didn’t run with the story, because “none of the women could produce identity cards with their names, and they all provided the same story almost word for word, as if they had been coached.”

After the Caller’s story was published, things started to unravel. Read more

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Atlantic case raises question: When does it make sense to write for free?

This week’s controversy over the Atlantic asking a freelancer for an unpaid contribution has reignited a debate among journalists — when, if ever, does it make sense to write for free?

Jason C. Fry says that even a seasoned writer, like himself, may occasionally choose to write for free to help out a friend or to get a particular piece in front of a particular audience. But it’s especially tempting for young, unproven writers, he says.

Fry advises young writers they might consider writing for free if the platform is prestigious enough to bolster a résumé, big enough to reach a huge audience and build a lasting relationship with readers, or has an editor who can improve their writing.

But, he also cautions:

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‘Oh, this is just unfortunate’

The fruit slice was supposed to represent a “G”:

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Atlantic is ‘sorry’ to have offended freelancer with request for free content

Nate Thayer | James Bennet
Editor-in-Chief James Bennet would like you to know this recent dustup — over asking a freelancer to provide free Web content — isn’t how The Atlantic normally operates.

Freelance writer Nate Thayer posted to his blog Monday an email exchange between himself and an Atlantic editor, who wanted to see if Thayer would “repurpose” a recent article into a shorter version for the Atlantic website. For free.

Atlantic editor Olga Khazan wrote, in part: “We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month. … I am out of freelance money right now, I enjoyed your post, and I thought you’d be willing to summarize it for posting for a wider audience without doing any additional legwork. Some journalists use our platform as a way to gain more exposure.”

Thayer stridently refused: “I have bills to pay and cannot expect to do so by giving my work away for free to a for profit company so they can make money off of my efforts. Read more

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Press+ data: Publishers tighten meters, increase digital subscription prices

Paywall software provider Press+ released new data today about the more than 400 publishers who use its service to charge for digital content. (Poynter uses Press+ to solicit donations.) Overall, publishers are gradually squeezing readers with higher digital subscription prices and fewer free articles per month.

Infographics below, provided by Press+, show the trends. Earlier data from the company showed that sites producing more content made more money from digital subscriptions. Read more

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Copy editing, page design jobs to be outsourced at Toronto Star

Globe and Mail
Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, is the latest to reduce costs by laying off copy editors and outsourcing their work for a fraction of the expense.

The Star will outsource page design and copy editing to Pagemasters North America, Globe and Mail media reporter Steve Ladurantaye reports. The cost savings come from efficient centralized production, but also lower pay for editors. “The top union rate for an editor at Pagemasters is $48,000,” Ladurantaye reports, “while the same job at the Star comes with an annual salary closer to $85,000.”

Pagemasters North America is owned by The Canadian Press news wire, of which the Star’s parent company Torstar Corp. is a co-owner. News & Tech reported in 2009 that the Star was in discussions to begin a small amount of outsourcing to Pagemasters North America, but did not. Other major Canadian newspapers including The Globe and Mail, do the same. Read more

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cycling

How The Washington Post created a breakout experience for cycling story

The Washington Post on Thursday became the latest news organization to take the increasingly fashionable step of blowing up its article template to present a feature story in a unique, immersive format.

In December, The New York Times blew some minds with its special multimedia presentation of “Snow Fall” — a six-part narrative about skiers trapped in an avalanche.

The Washington Post invented a similarly innovative presentation for sportswriter Rick Maese’s profile of professional cyclist Joe Dombrowski, a talented 21-year-old from the D.C. area who some hope will redeem the sport in a post-Armstrong era.

One section of the story has an interactive map of a cycling route, matched to audio interview clips and Dombrowski’s physical performance data from the ride.

The article presentation is notable for several reasons. Its full-width photos completely immerse the reader; multimedia elements blended throughout the text reinforce that deep experience; and the responsive design adapts to all screen sizes. Read more

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