Sam Kirkland

Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor, where he helped launch digital magazines and ebooks in addition to other web duties. He also served as a copy editing intern at the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times via Dow Jones News Fund. A Midwest native, he graduated from Northwestern University with a master's from the Medill School of Journalism. He lives in New York. Reach him at skirkland@poynter.org. Follow @samkirkla


Courier-Journal to Kentucky basketball coach: Sorry we photoshopped your head on a baby

Indianapolis Star | The (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal

A photo illustration depicting University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari as a whiny baby on Friday “reflected neither the tone of the column it accompanied nor our editorial standards,” Courier-Journal editor Neil Budde writes in an apology.

Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker apologized on Twitter, too, notes Matthew Glenesk of the Indianapolis Star (which, like the Courier-Journal, is owned by Gannett).

Budde wrote that editors “have reiterated to those involved and our entire staff that any illustration of this nature must be approved by senior editors, which did not happen in this case.” In June, the Courier-Journal laid off many top editors, including the managing editor, metro editor, multimedia manager and a graphic artist.… Read more

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Can iPhone widgets make news apps cool again?

The Financial Times notably embraces HTML5 web apps — and print! — over mobile apps. Quartz, perhaps the most widely praised new media site of the last year or so, is similarly app-less. Vox and FiveThirtyEight launched this year without native apps, and the Gawker network gets by without them just fine, too, thank you very much. The tech-savvy folks at The Verge just killed theirs.

A native app can be expensive to develop and maintain, and unless your push notification strategy manages to provide real utility rather than sporadic annoyances, the only way a reader ever enters it is by deliberately searching for the icon — perhaps buried on the third page of a home screen or inside the dreaded Newsstand on iPhones — with no idea what content awaits.… Read more

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Facebook: More timely News Feed on the way

Facebook

It doesn’t refer to Ferguson, Ice Bucket Challenge videos or a solemn responsibility to bring you news that really matters, but Facebook does seem to be addressing concerns about the service’s ability to surface timely, important news stories.

Here’s what software engineer Erich Owens and engineering manager David Vickrey wrote in a post today outlining more changes to the News Feed:

Our goal with News Feed is to show everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show.

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AP shifts style on Islamic State again

Associated Press

Here’s yet another style change related to the terrorist group that has been known as ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State: the Associated Press now refers to it mostly as “the Islamic State group.”

Previously, the AP told Poynter its approach was “to refer to them on first reference simply as ‘Islamic militants,’ ‘jihadi fighters,’ ‘the leading Islamic militant group fighting in Iraq (Syria), etc.’”

Vivian Salama reports on the latest change:

The AP now uses phrases like “the Islamic State group,” or “fighters from the Islamic State group,” to avoid phrasing that sounds like they could be fighting for an internationally recognized state.

“The word ‘state’ implies a system of administration and governance,” said David L. Phillips, the director of Peace-Building and Rights Program at Columbia University.

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BuzzFeed and Facebook Host Bowties & Burgers During 2014 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Advice for newspaper editors: Pay attention to BuzzFeed

A group of legacy media executives was told on Monday that it has a lot to learn from the likes of BuzzFeed. “You may not approve of their editorial content,” said Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia Group. “But you must learn from their digital strategy.”

During a presentation at the ASNE-APME 2014: Fast Forward conference in Chicago, Webb praised BuzzFeed’s use of data analysis to predict user behavior based on variables like time of day, which photos are used, and social networks.

She mentioned Vox, Vice and even TMZ as brands with strong voices succeeding across platforms by shifting from the product business to the platform business.

Citing Media Insight Project research, American Press Institute executive editor Tom Rosenstiel told attendees “You do not have a ‘mobile audience’ or a ‘print audience.’” They aren’t distinct audiences, he said, because most Americans are cross-platform news consumers.… Read more

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How two products for kids teach news literacy by understanding audience needs

John Carroll, former editor of The Los Angeles Times, summed up the way he and many journalists tend to worry about the future on day one of the News Literacy Summit in Chicago: “If the old media fail, who will supply the journalism that the nation needs?”

But now Carroll is chair of the News Literacy Project, and the question he thinks about is different: “What about demand?”

During the summit, funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and organized by Poynter, two news products for kids highlighted how they’re contributing to the news literacy movement by making the news accessible and interesting to kids as young as 7. Their efforts to make kids want to read the news could offer lessons to all news organizations.… Read more

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Let’s start using clickbait for good

John Herrman’s take on the proliferation of “takes” — seemingly every news organization’s urge to publish something, no matter how unoriginal, about the hot issue of the day — has of course generated lots of takes on his piece itself.

In his post at the Awl, Herrman describes how news outlet after news outlet posted anything they could about a nonstory in July — the EPA accidentally sending a tweet about Kim Kardashian’s app:

There were dozens more of these stories, all about a single tweet, from virtually every outlet that publishes news. And they served their purpose admirably: They left no attention on the table. They represent “we should have something on this” news impulse stripped to its barest form, left unspoken and carried out as a matter of course.

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Tampa Bay Times gives up naming rights to hockey arena

Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, home of the region’s professional hockey team, will be renamed the Amalie Arena.

The Poynter-owned newspaper — previously called The St. Petersburg Times — has had naming rights since 2002, when it agreed to a 12-year deal for about $30 million. The agreement was later extended until 2018, but the Tampa Bay Lighting approached the Times about Amalie Motor Oil taking over, Jeff Harrington reports.

“Putting our name on the Forum helped the St. Pete Times connect with new customers, and then helped establish the Tampa Bay Times as our new name. Those business goals have been met,” said Paul Tash, the Times chairman and CEO.

For example, the paper’s Sunday circulation for Hillsborough and suburban Pasco more than tripled between 2002 and 2013, he noted.

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How to crop photos for Facebook and adapt to the News Feed’s latest algorithm change

Lost in the noise over Facebook’s crackdown on clickbait last week was another change to the social network that could impact all news organizations: the News Feed algorithm will now favor link posts over photo posts and status updates.

When you paste a link to an article on your news organization’s page and Facebook automatically generates a preview box containing the story’s headline, a photo and other information, that’s a link post (here’s documentation on making sure the Facebook Crawler identifies the right information for the link preview). Alternatively, Facebook says, “Some publishers share links in status updates or in the text caption above photos.”

Here’s an example of a link post:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

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Bar b cue barbecue fire BBQ coal fire iron grill

Texas Monthly BBQ editor travels ‘from one end of the state to the other eating smoked brisket’

Happy Labor Day weekend. Andrew Beaujon’s back on Tuesday. Thanks for reading this week.

  1. Ask him about his cholesterol: The nation’s only full-time barbecue editor — no, he doesn’t weigh 400 pounds — understands why readers are obsessed with his health: “My job requires that I travel from one end of the state to the other eating smoked brisket, one of the fattiest cuts on the steer. And I can’t forget to order the pork ribs, sausage, and beef ribs,” Daniel Vaughn writes. Former Texas Monthly editor in chief Jake Silverstein says Vaughn has “figured out how to make the barbecue lifestyle compatible with staying above ground.” (Texas Monthly)
  2. What to do when you’re arrested: Whether it happened in Ferguson or elsewhere, first you should call the station where you were booked to get your arrest report.
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