Posts by Melody Kramer

About Melody Kramer

Melody Kramer spent the majority of her career in public media, where she directed, produced, edited, and wrote stuff for several shows, including Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. More recently, she worked as a digital strategist at NPR, where she launched and then directed projects that helped NPR make better decisions and build audiences online and on-air. She was a 2014-2015 Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and just received a Knight Prototype Grant to build out Media Public. Mel has a newsletter where she shares stuff she's learned. She lives in Carrboro, NC.
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The Office of Creative Research, a New York data lab, has a lot to teach journalists

If you were walking on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin campus one spring night in 2012, you would have seen a number of people getting their news from the side of a five-story building. Phrases from Walter Cronkite’s legendary broadcasts, as well as live news feeds from around the country, were projected onto the side … Read More
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The definitive summer reading list for journalists who just can't put their work down

Last year, I asked journalists to talk about their work habits while on vacation. Some were able to completely break away; others found it difficult to head to the beach without checking their work frequently. If you can’t break away this summer, you might as well jump in with both feet forward. Whether you’re vacationing at the beach or … Read More
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If ad tech is not sustainable, what can publishers do?

This is the third installment of an ongoing series by Melody Kramer looking at ad tech and the future of publishing. In the first, she interviewed Aram Zucker-Scharff about the major issues facing publishers. The second installment examined what happens when publishers don’t own their data. In this article, she talks to researcher Dave Carroll about alternative … Read More
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Where should news apps go? With 'Citizen’s Toolbox,' the CT Mirror provides an answer

I love examining how newsrooms display data-driven news apps on their websites. News apps take a lot of time to make, and I think they deserve a different treatment than a quick news piece or a sports headline. I like seeing how newsrooms socialize and promote their news apps to their audiences through the design decisions they make. Among my … Read More
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When newsrooms don’t own their data, other companies profit

Last Friday, the head of Bloomberg Media told The Guardian that publishers are “feeding on the scraps” of Facebook’s ad business. Justin Smith said that Facebook makes a lot more from ads in its News Feed than publishers do from linking content on the social network: It’s a problematic situation. On its current trajectory this could not end … Read More
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How scientists at the South Pole get their news

I found out that there was a newspaper at the South Pole during my senior year of college. I went back to my dorm room and immediately applied for a job there. I didn’t get the gig — they suggested I reapply once I had some more science clips under my belt — and then life got in the way. Read More
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Ad tech is broken. Here's how newsrooms can help fix it

Aram Zucker-Scharff, a developer who works at Salon, was recently testing an ad unit when it broke the page he was on. He then went on Twitter and published an essay about his views of the ad tech industry today. I reached out to Aram and asked if he could expound on some of his tweeted remarks because I … Read More
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Before using third-party tools, publishers should ask themselves these questions

Datensparsamkeit is a German word that refers to collecting only the minimal amount of information necessary to complete a task. I learned about datensparsamkeit from a colleague who was creating a confidential survey tool. I thought about it again recently while considering what information news organizations may collect and store from users, either through themselves or third-party tools. March … Read More
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Why isn't there a Fitbit for news?

People can now track how many steps they take, what they eat, their sleep habits, their air conditioning usage and their finances from their phones. But there are still relatively few ways for folks to track their news consumption across publications from their mobile devices. Most news analytics packages are still aimed at newsrooms to help them learn about their … Read More
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It's time for news organizations to embrace Creative Commons

For the past several years, Cards Against Humanity has been Amazon’s No. 1 bestseller in the “Toys and Games” category. But the card game, which has raked in millions of dollars and inspired dozens of imitations, is also available for free on the Cards Against Humanity website. Anyone can download, remix, or share the game, which is licensed … Read More
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Here are 27 ways to think about comments

About a year ago, I gathered some really smart people who don’t work in news together in a room. I set out some index cards and some beer and told them we were going to think about new ways to design a news homepage. Over the next few hours, the group came up with dozens of new ways to … Read More
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Looking to reinvent your storytelling? Look to civic hackers for inspiration

The city of Miami has a detailed map, created by its downtown development authority, where anyone can see planned and proposed real estate development projects in the city. I learned about Miami's map while attending Open Data Day, an annual international event that’s held in dozens of cities around the globe. In each, people come together to brainstorm … Read More
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At Stream Lab, broadcast journalists team up with students to examine West Virginia water

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has thrown water quality issues into the spotlight. But Flint isn’t the only place in the U.S. struggling with water quality. Two years ago, the Elk River in West Virginia made national headlines when the coal scrubbing chemical called MCHM spilled into the Elk River, leaving 300,000 West Virginia residents without drinkable water. Read More
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'Radio Atlas' transports podcast listeners around the globe

I often listen to audio while doing something else: driving or working or cleaning my house. Because my attention is divided, I listen to podcasts or audio stories recorded in English for the sake of convenience. Of course, not all podcasts are recorded in English. But until recently, it’s been hard to find and listen to offerings from non-native speakers. Read More
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Want to follow the New Hampshire primaries tonight? There’s an app for that.

One of my favorite hobbies is to Google various phrases and see what the giant search engine returns before I ever have to click a link. Search for New Hampshire, for instance, and Google returns a paragraph containing information about specific cities and points of interest within the state. Google Bernie Sanders, and the search engine shares some images, his … Read More