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How newsrooms are using machine learning to make journalists’ lives easier

Much of what many journalists do every day doesn’t involve gathering news.

Just consider the typical process for publishing a story: The reporter reports, writes (or produces) the content, and the editor makes suggestions for revision. Then comes fact-checking and proofreading and other processes focused on polishing the copy. After that are processes geared toward presenting and distributing the story: Selecting a photo, designing art, creating interactives and crafting headlines for social media and the Web that are attuned to search-engine optimization.

But this isn’t the only way. Using “machine learning,” technologists at news outlets around the world are helping newsrooms eliminate extra time-consuming tasks and giving humans more time to do what they do best: reporting the news. And it’s a good thing, too: As significant cuts hit the industry, the need for automation has become more urgent. Read more

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The death of Mr. Spock was the most tweeted story in February

NewsWhip, the Dublin-based technology company that tracks how news stories are shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media sites, has released its list of the most tweeted news Web sites for the month of February. Here are the details.

The British Broadcasting Corporation easily won Twitter last month, as its stories were shared more than 5 million times. The New York Times came in a distant second, with readers tweeting its stories just over 2.6 million times. Interestingly, the number of times Mashable stories were tweeted rose by 400,000, making it the third most tweeted news site and trailing the Times by just 7,680 tweets. Mashable was the most prominent of all the digital news sites, but BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and the Bleacher Report all competed with more traditional outlets like CNN and ABC for slots in NewsWhip’s top ten list. Read more

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Brian Williams reportedly lobbied to succeed David Letterman

Good morning! Here are 10 media stories.

  1. More tales of tumult from inside NBC News

    Gabriel Sherman's much-anticipated longread about the turmoil surrounding Brian Williams' suspension from the anchor chair dropped Sunday. Among the juiciest tidbits: Williams asked CBS CEO Les Moonves to be considered as a replacement for David Letterman upon the comedian's retirement from "Late Show," according to "a high-level source"; Four NBC and NBCUniversal officials visited Williams at his apartment to notify him he was being taken off the air; Richard Esposito, the investigative producer at NBC News conducting a review of Williams, "delivered a 45-minute presentation at [NBCUniversal CEO Steve] Burke’s apartment" that unearthed "more issues" with Williams' disputed claims; Williams can't talk to the press under the terms of his suspension and "can’t wait until he can speak" publicly about the situation, according to "a close friend." (New York) | "If Brian Williams proposed to CBS that he take over when Letterman retires, that alone is reason he should not return" (@jayrosen_nyu) | "Last weekend, workers at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters briefly wiped away promotional photos of Brian Williams." They went back up the next day.

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Major news organizations to reveal new freelancer safety guidelines

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011.  Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011. Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

A coalition of prominent news outlets and journalism advocacy groups Thursday will release a set of guidelines at Columbia Journalism School for the protection of freelancers.

The recommendations, which will have the support of several prominent wire service organizations including The Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse, set forth best practices for both freelancers and the news organizations that employ them.

The new directives come amid a perilous time for freelance journalists, said Robert Mahoney, deputy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Widespread access to publishing tools has enabled terrorists to spread their messages widely without media organizations, making journalists more valuable to these groups as gruesome spectacles than bearers of witness. And financial setbacks have prompted many news organizations to shutter their foreign bureaus, leaving freelancers to pick up the slack in dangerous regions. Read more

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Career Beat: The New Republic adds 4 staffers

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Jamil Smith will be a senior editor at The New Republic. He’s a producer at MSNBC. Elspeth Reeve will be a senior editor at The New Republic. Previously, she was a senior writer at Racket. Bijan Stephen will be an associate editor at The New Republic. Previously, he was an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair. Cathy Park Hong will be poetry editor at The New Republic. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. (Poynter)
  • Alex Pareene will be special projects editor at Gawker Media. Previously, he was executive editor of The Racket. (Poynter)
  • Gregory Gittrich is chief content officer at Vocativ. Previously, he was founding general manager and editor of NBC News Digital.
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‘It’s been a tough month for factchecking.’

Good morning. Here are eight media stories.

  1. Who wants to be a teenage millionaire?

    New York high school senior Mohammed Islam didn't make $72 million on the stock market. He lied. If it's any consolation, his parents are really mad. "My mom basically said she’d never talk to me." One more line from that story, which is possibly the lead that captures 2014: "It’s been a tough month for factchecking." (New York Observer) | Here's New York's original story, with another non-correction correction. (New York) | New York Post also ran it. (New York Post) | RELATED: Craig Silverman's best and worst corrections of the year piece will be out soon. Here's last year's. (Poynter) | Journalists remember their first fact checking jobs.

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Career Beat: Ad Age gets new editorial director

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Eli Lake is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a national security correspondent. Josh Rogin is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a senior correspondent. (Huffington Post)
  • Simon Dumenco is editorial director at Advertising Age. Previously, he was a columnist there. (Ad Age)
  • Fran Unsworth is now director of the World Service Group at the BBC. She’s deputy director of news and current affairs. (The Guardian)
  • Chris Moody will be a senior correspondent for CNN Politics Digital. Previously, he was a political correspondent for Yahoo News. (Politico)
  • Jeffrey Schneider is founding his own PR firm, Schneider Global Strategy. He’s a senior vice president and spokesperson at ABC News.
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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.
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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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BBC website blocked throughout China

BBC

The BBC’s website has been subjected to “deliberate censorship” across China in the wake of its coverage of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution, the network reports.

Weeks ago, the BBC reported that Instagram appeared to be blocked in China, and phrases like “Occupy Central” and “Hong Kong students” were hidden on Twitter searches.

The BBC notes that it has been the subject of “intermittent blackouts” in China while reporting on the country.

Also on Wednesday, Reuters reported that a Chinese official in Hong Kong told foreign journalists to report on the ongoing Umbrella Revolutions demonstrations “objectively”.

Related: Kristen Hare’s Twitter list of journalists covering the Umbrella Revolution

The BBC’s website was most recently blocked in April 2012, during the network’s coverage of activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape, according to the BBC. Read more

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