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


guardianfeatured

At The Guardian, the homepage is far from dead

You’ve probably heard rumors of “the death of the homepage,” but The Guardian isn’t having it.

During a demo of the newly redesigned U.S. website in New York this week, Wolfgang Blau, The Guardian’s director of digital strategy, said the homepage was The Guardian’s “single strongest lever to direct attention.” He and other digital leaders at The Guardian surprised me by focusing so much on the homepage when talking about the new site, which went live today.

The homepage consists of new responsive “containers” of content. Anyone who has edited a newspaper site’s homepage with a CMS constraining presentation to one or two above-the-fold templates will be jealous of The Guardian’s seemingly infinite array of options for arranging content in a four-column grid. Stories can go as wide as necessary — with an image or without! — and can include various combinations of headlines, kickers, and byline photos.

The result: a modular design that translates well to mobile but doesn’t resort to the sameness plaguing other news site redesigns.

(Erin Kissane takes a closer look at the backend at Source.)

The previous Guardian homepage, top, and the new one, bottom.

The previous Guardian homepage, top, and the new one, bottom.

More choices for how content is presented throughout the day offers more opportunities to exercise editorial judgment, and that’s where The Guardian thinks it has a competitive advantage. “People go to edited sources because they trust to be told what really is important,” said Alex Breuer, The Guardian’s creative director. Throughout the day, some stories get louder and others get quieter; now, the homepage reflects those nuances, Breuer said.

“We want to be world’s most influential news organization,” Blau said. That means continuing to grow in the U.S. (it topped The New York Times in unique visitors in September). American readers don’t know and trust the brand thanks to a print newspaper like UK readers do, said Cecilia Dobbs, VP of product for the U.S., so a redesign of its online presence is even more important in the U.S. (The beta site was rolled out to 5 percent of U.S. users earlier this year, allowing The Guardian to gather feedback, and the new design will go live for other Guardian sites soon.)

When the Guardian looked at its competitors, Blau said, it saw homepages that generally become repetitive farther down the page. The various ways homepage editors can arrange stories now — along with a new color scheme — gives readers visual cues that are especially useful given The Guardian’s mix of quick-hit news updates and in-depth features across many different subject areas, Dobbs said.

Globally, 31 percent of sessions at The Guardian’s sites include a trip to the homepage, and direct visitors to news sites are generally much more loyal, according to Pew. Still, the fact that 59 percent of visits to the site originated on article pages in September makes the homepage emphasis a fascinating choice. Will new U.S. readers — likely acquired through social media — decide to explore the homepage? It’ll be interesting to see if The Guardian does more to direct these visitors to the homepage to get a comprehensive view of what else the site has to offer.

Despite the way newspaper sites are often derided for looking too much like newspapers, I noticed that elements of the site’s design felt newspaper-like. Blau said the careful crafting that goes into a well-designed newspaper or magazine is often missing online. The Guardian’s new grid — guides that provide a rhythm and structure without sacrificing flexibility — make The Guardian’s new site more of a pleasure to browse.

Article pages revamped too

Of course, The Guardian recognizes that more and more readers are entering the site through article pages (and about half are arriving via mobile, where social media is even more important), so articles pages are better now, too, with more prominent social sharing buttons. Stories are wider and contain more white space. Article pages — not unlike the ones debuted by The New York Times this year — feel less cluttered.

The typography is now consistent across all Guardian platforms, including print. On the Web, it’s bigger, too, with more line spacing, and that’s one very obvious change that rankles long-time readers. But to those who say the text is too big, The Guardian can ask, “well, do you like Medium?”

The Guardian didn’t adopt continuous scroll on article pages like many other recent news sites have, but those containers from the homepage can be placed beneath articles, too, to lead visitors elsewhere. In the future, The Guardian hopes to better customize these “journeys” through the site based on referral sources and other reader behavior.


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Canada’s Postmedia newspaper chain reinvents its smartphone and tablet app strategy

At 6 a.m. on Oct. 21, print subscribers to the Montreal Gazette received a new-look newspaper focused on news analysis. At 6 p.m., they read the first edition of a magazine-style iPad app. In-between, they were able to access a smartphone app geared toward millennials with short snippets of local news, as well as a new responsive website.

The four relaunched products constitute an effort by Canadian newspaper chain Postmedia to reach audiences it sees as distinct based on audience research:

  • Smartphone users, age 18-34
  • Tablet users, age 35-49
  • Print readers, age 50-64
  • Web users, age 18 and up
The old Montreal Gazette in print, left, and its new look, right.

The old Montreal Gazette in print, left, and its new look, right.

Postmedia used a research firm to survey 17,000 people across Canada, with more than 2,000 of them located in Montreal, to determine what readers wanted from the four platforms. It rolled out its first big newspaper transformation at the Ottawa Citizen in May, launching smartphone and iPad apps and differentiating content based on audience profiles developed from the research.

The Gazette is the second Postmedia newspaper to get the treatment. Lou Clancy, Postmedia’s senior vice president for content, said the Citizen has seen an 18 percent increase in time spent since launching the “2.0″ versions of their mobile apps, but he couldn’t break that down by platform yet.

One key lesson the Gazette learned from the Citizen being the first to debut reimagined mobile and iPad apps: Readers were upset about losing the old versions of the apps. So those “1.0″ versions will remain active but automated at the Gazette, Clancy said. The new apps are curated experiences, whereas the old ones mostly displayed content from the Web and didn’t target content to specific audiences.

“There are very different characteristics for each platform, but there is a line of continuity,” Clancy said. Much of that continuity comes from the design of the products, as Mario Garcia has blogged. The goal: experiences that are separate but complementary.

“People who are the most engaged with print are probably not the people who are most engaged with smartphones,” said Lucinda Chodan, the Gazette’s editor-in-chief.

Reinventing workflow

“We’re no longer focused on doing stories for print at 11 o’clock at night,” said Clancy. “We’re focused on getting things ready first thing in the morning for the mobile phone and deciding which stories will go in the tablet that day.”

Chodan added that she expects some workflow hiccups as the staff adjusts to new deadlines and figures out best practices for publishing content on two new mobile products every day. No, reporters don’t have to write four separate versions of their stories, but a major challenge is making sure each platform gets what it needs from reporters. Each platform team has an executive producer to champion for that platform in the newsroom.

Newsroom transformation comes with some new efficiencies, too. For example, the national and international content in the new iPad apps will be produced in Toronto and shared across all newspapers once they launch their reimagined products. Also, each Postmedia newsroom will have a “super city desk,” Clancy said, allowing all four platform teams to work near each other.

The risk of this content-differentiation approach, as Mathew Ingram pointed out when he looked at the Citizen’s relaunch, is that the suite of products segments the audience to the point of confusion. Will each audience segment use the apps with enough frequency to justify the dedicated teams of six FTEs for the tablet app and 3.6 FTEs for the smartphone app?

Here’s a closer look at Postmedia’s editorial app strategy:

Mobile app

The new Gazette app is available for iOS and Android. Reader research convinced Postmedia that millennial readers want news throughout the day in a quickly readable form.

“It’s not a shock to find out that younger people tend to use mobile phones more than others in terms of things going on right now and things to do today,” Clancy said. “We weren’t surprised by that, but it certainly reinforced our approach.”

These three iPhone screenshots show the goals for story length — and tone — in the Gazette's new smartphone app.

These three iPhone screenshots show the goals for story length — and tone — in the Gazette’s new smartphone app.

The short, paginated snippets of news resemble Circa’s app (and it has a feature for following stories like Circa does, too). But the writing is conversational. The trick, Chodan said, is to be informal while remaining authoritative and trustworthy. Stories are written exclusively for the app.

From the app’s welcome page: “We’ve designed this app to appeal to you: Montrealers on the move. Skimmers. Sharers. Readers who are never far from their smartphones.” Breaking news is updated from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the app includes weather info and roundups of “the Montreal Twitterverse.” Everything is local. The app is free.

iPad app

The target audience is mid-30s to late-40s, people who don’t have a daily newspaper habit but are very interested in lifestyle and entertainment news. “What we built a profile of is people who are not deep, traditional newspaper readers,” Clancy said, but who still want a more immersive experience than the Web tends to provide.

The iPad app also includes sports stories, but not game stories from the previous night. Instead, because the iPad edition is published at 6 p.m., the night’s upcoming games are previewed. (The tablet does have a news ticker that jumps readers to the website.)

The front page of Thursday's edition of the Gazette iPad app.

The front page of Thursday’s edition of the Gazette iPad app.

Enough news happens on a schedule, Chodan said, that the evening iPad edition can often be planned in advance. Content that originally runs for the iPad at 6 p.m. can be repurposed from the Web, and then repurposed again to fit the next morning’s newspaper.

Among the featured in Thursday's iPad edition of the Gazette: an interactive map with pop-ups tracing the path taken by a gunman in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Among the featured in Thursday’s iPad edition of the Gazette: an interactive map with pop-ups tracing the path taken by a gunman in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The Orange County Register made a similar bet on an “evening edition” iPad app. It folded in 2012. Other tablet magazine failures include News Corp’s The Daily, of course, and the format in general has been slow to grow.

The website still has a metered paywall, but the Gazette’s evening app is free thanks to a three-month sponsorship. The company doesn’t know how it will monetize the tablet app beyond that; of course, it has to see how readers respond first. (Postmedia reported a quarterly net loss of $49.8 million on Friday.)

The “evening edition” concept has some throwback, counterintuitive appeal, but will it find a large enough audience? Although design templates and shared resources with other Postmedia papers will facilitate production of the app, thriving in Apple’s iOS Newsstand is a huge challenge. Readers have to remember to seek it out, and they have to be willing to put up with large downloads. But Postmedia is trying, and other newspapers should keep an eye on the company’s tablet strategy as the industry try to figure out what place these devices should have in our lives.


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Pew: 4 in 10 Internet users have experienced online harassment

Pew Research Center

Women are more likely to experience severe forms of harassment online, according to a Pew survey, and 65 percent of both men and women between ages 18 and 29 have experienced some form of online harassment.

pewwomenharassment

Overall, 4 in 10 Internet users have experienced online harassment, while 73 percent have seen it happen to others.

Online harassment is especially pronounced at the intersection of gender and youth: women ages 18-24 are more likely than others to experience some of the more severe forms of harassment. They are particularly likely to report being stalking online (26% said so) and sexually harassed (25%). In addition, they are also the targets of other forms of severe harassment like physical threats (23%) and sustained harassment (18%) at rates similar to their male peers (26% of whom have been physically threatened and 16% of whom have been the victim of sustained harassment).

Most online harassment takes place on social media sites: “66% of internet users who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident occurred on a social networking site or app,” Pew reports. The second-most commonly mentioned source of recent harassment, at 22 percent, was online comment sections. Women were more likely to cite social media as a source of harassment:

Fully 73% of women who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident occurred on social networking sites or apps, compared with 59% of men. Men were more likely to cite the comments section of a website as the site of their most recent harassment – 21% of harassed men vs. 11% of harassed women.

pewanonymity

While 63 percent of respondents agreed the Internet allows people to be more anonymous, fully 92 percent said it allows people to be more critical of others. Over half of those who have been harassed online said they didn’t know the identity of the person who harassed them. Reducing anonymity is a controversial way some news organizations have attempted to cut down on comment section vitriol.


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Cue the outcry — more big Twitter changes on the way

Friday. Good morning (or good evening, if you’re reading this at night). Andrew Beaujon is back next week.

  1. Let’s freak out about Twitter changes: Sayeth Twitter: “in many cases, the best Tweets come from people you already know, or know of. But there are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy.” Noooooooo! (Twitter) | Stuart Dredge weighs in: “The difference between the two social networks is that Facebook is taking stories out of its news feed – it prioritises around 300 a day out of a possible 1,500 for the average user – while Twitter is only adding tweets in. For now, at least.” (The Guardian) | Previously: I wrote about the Facebookification of Twitter and the Twitterfication of Facebook. (Poynter)
  2. More Twitter changes: Now with audio! “Notably, Twitter is teaming up with Apple to let users listen to certain tracks and buy the music directly from the iTunes store,” Yoree Koh reports. Twitter is also partnering with Soundcloud. (Wall Street Journal) | “Throughout your listening experience, you can dock the Audio Card and keep listening as you continue to browse inside the Twitter app,” product manager Richard Slatter writes in a blog post. (Twitter)
  3. The media kinda sucks at covering Ebola: Just look at how it covered #ClipboardMan, Arielle Duhaime-Ross writes. (The Verge)
  4. Liberian media really sucks at covering Ebola: The Daily Observer newspaper “has become a feeding ground of phony conspiracy,” Terrence McCoy reports. “The top three news stories on the website all allege medical professionals purposely infected the country with Ebola, ideas that have drawn the conspiratorial from across the planet.” The bad journalism is leading to a debate over press freedom in the country. (Washington Post) | From yesterday: The BBC is using WhatsApp to spread accurate information about the virus in Africa. (Journalism.co.uk)
  5. Correction of the week: Deadspin retracted its story claiming U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner didn’t actually play high school football, as he claimed, after the primary source changed his mind. “As serial collectors of media fuck-ups, we add this self-portrait to the gallery,” editor Tommy Craggs writes. (Deadspin) | Earlier, Craggs told Erik Wemple, “If you’re looking for someone to blame here, blame me for getting way too cocky about my site’s ability to prove a negative.” (Washington Post)
  6. Whisper vs. The Guardian: A damning report in The Guardian on Thursday claimed Whisper, “the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be ‘the safest place on the internet’, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.” (The Guardian) | Whisper editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman angrily denied the report, and wrote on Twitter that the piece “is lousy with falsehoods, and we will be debunking them all.” (Washington Post) | Here’s a good explainer from Carmel DeAmicis: “The two sides disagree over what constitutes ‘personally identifiable information,’ whether rough location data tied to a user’s previous activity could expose someone.” (Gigaom) | And here’s a take from Mathew Ingram, who says Whisper’s problem is that it “wants to be both an anonymous app and a news entity at the same time.” (Gigaom)
  7. American journalists detained in Russia: Joe Bergantino, co-founder of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, and Randy Covington, a professor at the University of South Carolina, are in Russia to teach an investigative journalism workshop. They were found guilty of “violating the visa regime” and will return to the U.S. on Saturday as scheduled. “Russian authorities have used visa issues in the past as a pretext to bar the entry for certain individuals to the country,” Nataliya Vasilyeva reports. (AP via ABC News)
  8. Good times at High Times: Subscriptions and advertising pages are growing for “the magazine about all things marijuana” as it celebrates its 40th birthday. Dan Skye, High Times’ editorial director, tells Michael Sebastian, “I think the legalization has everything to do with the boom.” (Ad Age)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: The Daily News (see it at the Newseum).NY_DN
  10. No job moves today: Benjamin Mullin has the day off. But be sure to visit Poynter’s jobs site. Happy weekend!

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Jeff Bezos

Newspaper distributor to do same-day delivery for Amazon

mediawiremorningIt’s Thursday. Here’s a pop quiz: How many media stories do you think you’re about to get?

  1. UK newspaper distributor will do same-day Amazon deliveries: “Connect Group will make early morning deliveries at the same time as it delivers daily newspapers and use contractors to fulfill a second delivery in the afternoon.” Connect distributes The Guardian and The Mirror, Rory Gallivan reports. (Wall Street Journal)
  2. Longtime S.F. Chronicle editor William German dies at 95: “Mr. German began his career at the paper as a copy boy. When he retired 62 years later, he was the dean of West Coast editors. He had helped transform The Chronicle from the No.3 newspaper in a four-newspaper city to the largest paper in Northern California.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  3. BBC battles Ebola in Africa with WhatsApp: “The service will deliver information on preventative care, health tips and breaking news bulletins specific to the region about the virus in French and English, and often in audio formats,” writes Alastair Reid. (Journalism.co.uk) | Related: 5 tips on covering Ebola from the Dallas Morning News and KERA News. (Poynter) | Related: 5 Ebola falsehoods, via PunditFact. (Poynter)
  4. Ken Doctor on Kushner’s OC Register: “Aaron Kushner, by age 40, may be setting a land-speed record for entry, meteoric rise, embarrassing fall and exit from the newspaper industry.” (Nieman Lab) | Related: A lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles Times alleges not only that Kushner has failed to pay more than $2 million owed to the Times for delivery services, but also that the Register kept tips intended for the LA Times newspaper carriers who delivered the Register. (OC Weekly) | Related: “I admired his daring approach, his insistence that investing in newspapers rather than constantly cutting them back and weakening them would give them a better chance to prevail in the digital age,” Rem Rieder writes. (USA Today)
  5. Another alt-weekly closes: The Knoxville News Sentinel, which owns the Metro Pulse, laid off all 23 staffers, including everyone at the alt-weekly. “Yes, it’s true. We don’t exist anymore. We no longer have jobs either. This week’s issue will be our last,” Metro Pulse wrote on its Facebook page. (Poynter)
  6. Indianapolis TV news crew carjacked: No one was hurt after the van was stolen by a gunman after a reporter and photographer for WXIN covered a prayer vigil. (Fox59)
  7. Ernie Pyle statue has a misspelling: The Indiana University alum who covered World War II is referred to as a “U.S. War Corespondent.” The sculptor says it could become “part of the lore of the piece.” (Indiana Daily Student)
  8. ICYMI: At the Washington Post, “what began as a simple experiment to improve the site’s author pages has evolved into the beginnings of a completely new content management platform,” explains Benjamin Mullin. (Poynter)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: The Kansas City Star celebrates the Royals’ trip to the World Series (courtesy the Newseum).kansascitystar
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Ryan Kellett is now audience and engagement editor at The Washington Post. Previously, he was national digital editor there. (The Washington Post) | Dean Haddock is a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. He is director of web and information technology for StoryCorps. Melody Joy Kramer is a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. She is an editor and digital strategist at NPR. Donna Pierce is now a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. She is a contributing editor at Upscale Magazine. Jack Riley is now a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. He is head of audience development for The Huffington Post UK. Freek Staps is now a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. He heads up business news start-up NRC Q. Amy Webb is now a visiting fellow at the Nieman Foundation. She is the founder and CEO of Webbmedia Group. (Nieman Lab) | Job of the day: BuzzFeed UK is looking for a political reporter. Get your résumés in! (BuzzFeed) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

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Connor Schell, Bill Simmons

ESPN ‘frees’ Bill Simmons, but will he seek more freedom elsewhere?

mediawiremorningIt’s Wednesday. That means you get 10 media stories.

  1. Freed Simmons: ESPN’s Bill Simmons returns to the network today after his three-week suspension “for calling N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell a ‘liar’ during a podcast, and then effectively daring ESPN to punish him.” His contract expires next fall, Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir report. Will he leave? (New York Times) | Deadspin would take him. (Deadspin) | Previously: At the time of the suspension, Kelly McBride wrote, “when your biggest star declares himself above his newsroom’s standards, the boss has to respond.” (Poynter)
  2. Oops — ABC News didn’t beat NBC after all: Two weeks ago, Nielsen reported that ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped “NBC Nightly News” for the first time in 260 weeks. But it turns out NBC actually kept its streak alive thanks to revised ratings after Nielsen discovered inaccuracies, Bill Carter reports. (New York Times)
  3. How Time is getting all that traffic: “Time, together with sister site Money, published at least five different pieces” on the day the cable channel FXX began its marathon of “The Simpsons.” Joseph Lichterman takes a deep look at how Time is engaging its audience — and how it has more than doubled its unique visitors in a year. (Nieman Lab) | Previously: Time.com’s bounce rate down 15 percentage points since adopting continuous scroll (Poynter)
  4. AP’s Gannon speaks: “Honestly, I’ve thought it through so many times — I know neither Anja or I would have done anything differently,” says AP correspondent Kathy Gannon in her first interview since she and photographer Anja Niedringhaus were attacked in Afghanistan in April. Niedringhaus was killed, and Gannon “was hit with six bullets that ripped through her left arm, right hand and left shoulder, shattering her shoulder blade.” (Poynter)
  5. Layoffs at CNN, Conde Nast: CNN has closed its entertainment news division, and shows including Christiane Amanpour’s have lost their production staffs, Alex Weprin reports. (Capital New York) Meanwhile, “Condé Nast is expected to lay off 70 to 80 employees within the next week or two, primarily from the group that oversees ad sales,” writes Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg. (Wall Street Journal)
  6. Baltimore Sun redesign: A Los Angeles-times style redesign comes to another Tribune newspaper. Among the advantages, writes executive editor Trif Alatzas: “Endless-scroll technology connects you to other news categories and related articles and images without page breaks at the end of an article or Web page.” (Baltimore Sun) | Previously: New L.A. Times site: precooked tweets and a new flavor of infinite scroll (Poynter) | How news sites are adding continuous scrolls to article pages (Poynter)
  7. Vox’s email newsletter debuts today: One differentiator: It’ll be sent in the evening, not the morning. And it’ll consist of, uh, “sentences.” (Nieman Lab)
  8. ICYMI: The South Florida Sun Sentinel is reducing its emphasis on print, and that means changing things beyond workflow: “It’s our language, how we talk,” associate editor Anne Vasquez told Kristen Hare. For instance, “‘That was a great paper today’ or ‘Write that story for 1A.’” (Poynter)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: The final edition of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, “one of the most venerable, staunchly independent, and defiantly weird of America’s great alternative weekly newspapers,” as Slate’s Will Oremus describes it.
     
    sfbg
     
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Justin Bank is deputy editor of audience development at The New York Times. Previously, he ran The Washington Post’s audience and digital news team. (The New York Times) | Dao Nguyen is now BuzzFeed’s publisher. Previously, she was vice president of growth and data there. (Poynter) | Michael Dimock has been named president of the Pew Research Center. Previously, he was executive vice president there. (Politico) | Tessa Gould is senior director of native advertising at The Huffington Post. Previously, she was director of HuffPost’s partner studio. (Huffington Post) | Kevin Gentzel has been named head of advertising sales for Yahoo. Previously, he was chief revenue officer for The Washington Post. (Poynter) | Peter Cooper will be the writer and editor for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He’s a music columnist for The Tennessean. (The Tennessean) | Sean Kelley will be managing editor of Cooking Light. Previously, he was director of content and video for Sharecare. Katie Barreira will be director of Cooking Light Kitchen. Previously, she was food editor of Every Day with Rachael Ray. (Fishbowl NY) | Job of the day: GoLocalPDX is looking for an investigative reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

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Dorian Nakamoto looks to sue Newsweek over Bitcoin story

mediawiremorningHey, hi. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Lawsuit over Newsweek’s Bitcoin story? The man who Newsweek’s Leah McGrath Goodman identified as the founder of Bitcoin is raising money on a website to sue the magazine, claiming he was “targeted and victimized by a reckless news organization.” Dorian Nakamoto has been unemployed for 10 years, the site says. “Donations, obviously, can be made by bitcoin.” (TechCrunch) | Previously: In March, Nakamoto told the AP he hadn’t heard of Bitcoin until his son told him about it after talking to Newsweek: “I got nothing to do with it.” (Poynter)
  2. Snyderman sorry for violating Ebola quarantine: The 21-day quarantine for NBC News crew members who traveled to Liberia is now mandatory after Dr. Nancy Snyderman violated the voluntary quarantine. “As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused.” (THR) | The freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola and is recovering, Ashoka Mukpo, tweeted his “endless gratitude for the good vibes.” (NBC News) | Ebola-related: The New York Post fronts the Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola — and her dog. (New York Post) | Bentley “is being held in isolation and watched closely, but it is unlikely that he will have to be euthanized, Dallas city officials said.” (Mashable)
     


     

  3. Christie and Clinton overkill? Since Jan. 1, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was been the most-mentioned potential Republican presidential contender, according to a LexisNexis search of 15 top newspapers, with Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul not far behind. Hillary Clinton, of course, is the most-referenced Democrat — and it’s not close at all. “Overall, more stories have talked about potential GOP candidates (202) than Democratic ones (115).” (Pew Research Center)
  4. Kushner no longer OC Register’s publisher: New publisher and CEO Richard Mirman takes over for the beleaguered Aaron Kushner, who remains CEO of Freedom Communications, which owns the newspaper. Mirman is an investor in the Register. (Orange County Register) | Previously: The Los Angeles Register closed last month after just five months of operation (Poynter), and the Register reportedly owes the Los Angeles Times $3.5 million in distribution fees. (OC Weekly)
  5. Rift between Guardian and NYT? When The Guardian’s hard drives were being smashed by British authorities in 2013, the newspaper arranged for The New York Times to share and protect some of its Snowden documents. But now, Lloyd Grove reports, some Times editors are frustrated with The Guardian’s “total control over the Snowden cache, including how and when it can be used to develop, pursue and publish investigations.” Counters Times executive editor Dean Baquet: “I don’t feel held captive by The Guardian, because I wouldn’t have access to these particular documents without The Guardian.” (The Daily Beast)
  6. White House’s Secret Service spin: “White House reporters are often too swamped to fully check out every assertion made by the White House’s press operation, and in this case officials seized on a phrase that is in the report. The report is rather complicated and someone reading quickly might not catch the nuance that this was not actually a finding, but merely a claim made by, among others, by the very person whose credibility is questioned throughout the report.” (Washington Post)
  7. BBC looks at “hybrid” broadcast-Internet radio on phones: “Nearly two thirds of the mobile phone owners surveyed found the idea of hybrid radio appealing and said it could be a deciding factor when faced with a choice between phones with similar specs.” (BBC)
  8. Not front page of the day: A story on A1 of some editions of The New York Times today is missing a byline and lede.
     


     

  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: Times-Journal of Fort Payne, Alabama, with a very not-lifesize picture of Ebola (Courtesy the Newseum).
     
    AL_TJ
     
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Betsy Woodruff will be a politics writer for Slate. She’s currently a politics writer at the Washington Examiner. ‏(@woodruffbets) | Carlos Lozada will be a nonfiction book critic at The Washington Post. Previously, he edited Outlook there. (Washington Post) | Josef Federman is now Jerusalem bureau chief for The Associated Press. Previously, he was a news editor at the AP. (AP) | Chris Carter is now digital services sales director for The Alliance for Audited Media. Previously, he was director of business development for DG Interactive. (AAM) | Job of the day: The Associated Press is looking for a photo editor. Get your résumés in! (AP) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

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How will gigabit connectivity change journalism?

Pew Research Center

Faster bandwidth in the next 10 years is likely to mean “online life will be significantly changed, though the precise contours of the change are not fully clear.” In a new report, the Pew Research Center canvases 1,464 experts on how gigabit connectivity — “50-100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed connection” — will change our lives.

While the respondents didn’t make many direct points about journalism and the news media, some of their predictions would of course fundamentally alter the business of gathering, creating and disseminating news:

More telecommuting

Marti Hearst, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, wrote, “These ideas aren’t new, but they will finally work well enough if given high enough bandwidth. Entertainment: you play sports and music virtually, distributed, across the globe. Co-living: You have virtual Thanksgiving dinner with the other side of the family. Work: finally, we greatly reduce flying around for meetings because virtual conferencing feels real. Healthcare: remote assessment, treatment, and surgery. More generally, more interaction will be done with others remotely. For example, your golf lesson could be done with a coach remotely, in real time, while he or she watches your swing at the tee and has you make corrections and adjust your grip.”

While Google Hangouts, Skype, and various chat apps are great for keeping remote reporters in contact with editors, much higher Internet speeds will remove much of the friction that exists today in virtual newsrooms.

One of BuzzFeed’s lessons from how they covered the Golden Globes on Twitter was making sure everyone was in the same room. That might not be as important in the future — or maybe we’ll be subject to think piece after think piece about what you’re missing by having a hologram in the room with you instead of a physical person.

Augmented reality and virtual reality

Alison Alexander, a professor at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, wrote, “One killer app that could take off is a virtual reality environment. Forget reality, live in your selected world. Visit wherever and whenever.

David P. Collier-Brown, a system programmer and author, predicted, “Avatars to go to meetings for me in Texas, rather than me flying down. Bus tours of Istanbul on Saturday afternoon from the comfort of my living room. Playing a game of football with my cousin in Ulan Bator from the gym downtown.”

Gannett has begun experimenting with virtual reality experiences using the Oculus Rift. Geoffrey Long, the Technical Director and a Research Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, told Adam Hochberg: “All the pieces are there for virtual reality to go over the tipping point from a niche gaming application to mainstream entertainment.”

Context-aware applications

Marina Gorbis, executive director at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research organization, commented, “We will make significant advances in delivering context-aware applications of all kinds, i.e., providing information and resources that are relevant to the needs and context of the situation. These applications will automatically read the environment (location, mood, social and physical settings, intentions, etc.) and provide highly customized information that is relevant to a particular context.”

Imagine a news experience that adapts not only to where you are (see Breaking News for an example there), but also what you’re doing. Amy Webb has talked about how context-aware features could be applied to journalism.

Rapid increase in user-generated content

Breanne Thomlison, founder and president of BTx2 Communications, a marketing and strategies firm, wrote, “Gigabit killer apps will be related to health and wellness and education. Tools will monitor us from birth and predict sickness and heal us faster. Genetics will be patented and evolve to have cures to current and new disease that will arise. All of this will happen rapidly. People will be able to connect with others who share similar DNA and experience a personal connection to focus on prevention versus treatment. When it comes to education, there will be an app for every child’s learning ability or disability… Children will be learning and tracking 24/7, while sharing their experience with selected-in peers and networks. Everyone will be the media and a newsmaker. Journalism will be more personal and targeted.”

The more potential there is for generating user-generated content (thanks to higher quality and quicker upload speeds anywhere), the more journalists and journalistic tools will be required to filter it. (The Online News Association is exploring the ethical challenges of using such content in reporting.)

More algorithms to filter information

Clark Sept, the co-founder and principal of Business Place Strategies, Inc., wrote, “One such killer app will be a ‘personal information assistant’—a digital agent that will filter incoming information (news, education, entertainment, lifestyle) in a way similar, but more relevant and successful, to online services such as Pandora or iTunes Genius do today for entertainment.”

Or Facebook. Will news consumers welcome even smarter algorithmic filtering or fear it?

And finally

Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, wrote, “I could not have predicted Google, Facebook, Blogger, or certainly Twitter. So there’s no way I can predict what ubiquitous gigabit bandwidth will bring. I only know I want it.”


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Twitter sues U.S. government for right to disclose info about surveillance requests to users

Twitter | Associated Press

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, “seeking to publish our full Transparency Report, and asking the court to declare these restrictions on our ability to speak about government surveillance as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

Ben Lee, the company’s legal VP, writes in a blog post:

It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance – including what types of legal process have not been received. We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.

The AP reports:

Twitter’s filing follows lawsuits by Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and others to gain permission to share more information on surveillance requests with the public. The government has said that it will publish the total number of national security requests for customer data annually. But Microsoft and Google maintain that they should be able to break out how often the feds request specific user content, such as email conversations, for example, from how often they demand subscriber data associated with an email address.

The fight for the right to even talk about surveillance requests has proven difficult for tech companies, never mind the fight against those requests in the first place. The Washington Post’s Craig Timberg reported last month that Yahoo was threatened in 2008 with a $250,000-per-day fine “if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications.”

Companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have called for government surveillance reform.


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As David Cohn exits, Circa looks to double its editorial team

Circa’s chief content officer David Cohn will exit the company after two-and-a-half years for a job at a broadcast network, CEO Matt Galligan announced to his staff Friday.

With Cohn’s departure (no specific date on that yet), editor-in-chief Anthony De Rosa will assume full responsibility for editorial operations at Circa. De Rosa was brought on board in May 2013, and Cohn’s impending move — and last week’s launch of the latest edition of the Circa app — made this a good time to streamline how the news team is organized, Galligan said.

“I think it is one of the most interesting endeavors in journalism right now, bar none,” Cohn said of Circa, adding that it has led the growing movement of structured journalism.

Cohn has written about the goals of the Circa mobile app and its “atoms” of news for Poynter.

Larger editorial team in New York

Leadership will be more clearly defined going forward, Galligan said — and it will be based in New York. Editorial operations are mostly split between San Francisco and New York now — with two international members on the editorial team — but Circa will soon focus more on the East Coast, where the majority of the news cycle tends to happen, Galligan said.

Evan Buxbaum has been promoted to deputy editor to oversee Circa’s West Coast news team, while Daniel Bentley will also take on a senior editor role to aid De Rosa in New York.

Circa has an “immediate desire to grow 2x or more,” Galligan told me. That doubling of the editorial staff — which stands at 11 now — could potentially mean new verticals like politics, sports, and business. The company is also having “active conversations” with potential partners about adapting Circa’s next-generation CMS for other news organizations, but Galligan wouldn’t reveal any specifics yet.

The company also still isn’t ready to say anything about audience metrics like daily users, but Galligan did tell me 50 percent more people are entering the app every day since the launch of the third edition of Circa for iOS and Android last week. Morning app traffic has more than doubled, which Galligan attributed to Circa’s new “Daily Brief” feature.

Full website on the way

Galligan and De Rosa did hint that a forthcoming Circa website could be very different from the mobile app. “On the phone, it doesn’t really make any sense to do any long-form,” De Rosa said. “The web will allow us to go a little deeper and longer.”

The website’s role will be as a funnel for the app experience, Galligan said, noting that Circa had a story on the Scottish referendum go viral on Reddit recently (individual stories are currently available on the Web and linked to by Circa’s social media accounts, but there’s no homepage or navigation).

So Circa obviously doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to better reach readers on social, which is increasingly important to any mobile strategy (as of Friday afternoon, Circa has about 25,800 Twitter followers and 8,200 Facebook likes). But, Galligan said, “Circa as a company will still have its main focus on apps.”


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Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Circa had 13,000 followers. That’s actually how many accounts it’s following; Circa’s actual follower count is 25,800 as of this posting. Read more

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