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


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How Time’s email newsletter achieves a 40 percent open rate

It seems like everybody’s starting an email newsletter these days. The web offers an endless stream of information, David Carr wrote in June, so “having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos.”

But the newsletter business is getting crowded now, too. The Financial Times and Vox have recently launched new newsletters, and Quartz’s has been widely celebrated. The New York Times recently made its “What We’re Reading” newsletter free for everyone.

(Ahem, you can sign up for Poynter’s new morning and afternoon newsletters here, by the way.)

Time’s newsletter strategy is different. While it’s trendy to offer links to stories your organization didn’t create itself, Time’s goal is to provide the best of what it has to offer every morning — “a snapshot in Time, as it were,” said Edward Felsenthal, Time.com’s managing editor.

When Callie Schweitzer was hired to be Time’s direct of digital innovation last year, the magazine offered RSS-generated emails for 10 different verticals, with open rates averaging about 17 percent. Read more

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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. Read more

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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. Read more

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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).

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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