Washington Post cracks down on bad comments

The Washington Post
Editor for interactivity and community Jon DeNunzio announces a new approach to comment moderation at washingtonpost.com, aimed at fostering “smarter, livelier and more civil conversations.” The Post will be more aggressive about banning low-quality commenters, deleting any name-calling and insults, and eliminating the trolls who try “to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations.” There is positive reinforcement coming as well: More badges for good commenters and more Post reporters posting comments. || Earlier: New York Times overhauls comment system, grants privileges to trusted readers (Poynter) | How badges help news websites (Poynter) | Browse other coverage of website commenting trends and studies. Read more


New Guardian blog puts readers next to editors as stories unfold

You might remember last year that the Guardian tried publishing its story budgets online to invite feedback and tips from readers. Today the UK newspaper takes the next step toward a transparent, “open” newsroom with a daily live blog from the news desk.

Newsdesk Live is not another bloggy account of today’s top stories like Yahoo News’ The Upshot or The New York Times’ The Lede. Newsdesk Live includes the day’s story budget and conversational updates on what Guardian journalists are seeking and learning. The blog invites readers to contribute by posting comments, emailing or tweeting.

Newsdesk Live is a home for top news updates, newsroom process and reader engagement.

This is a noteworthy experiment in both form and function. Readers can quickly gauge the leading stories of the day, how they’re unfolding and what the public might contribute. Read more


The New York Times’ 8 steps for holding engaging live chats on Facebook

Two New York Times reporters behind this week’s in-depth report, “The iEconomy,” took an hour Thursday afternoon to answer questions on the Times’ Facebook page.

Charles Duhigg and David Barboza’s chat about poor working conditions at high-tech device manufacturers was the latest instance of the Times extending Facebook users direct access to its journalists.

The New York Times holds Q&As with journalists through comments on its Facebook page.

Earlier chats included correspondent Jodi Kantor about her book, “The Obamas,” Lydia Polgreen about India and Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal on the redesign of the online opinion section.

Social Media Editor Liz Heron told me she considers Facebook live chats a successful experiment that helps the Times serve its nearly 2 million fans. Read more

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4 ways Muni Diaries readers document San Francisco bus riding

Complaining about riding the bus is sport in San Francisco. So when we started Muni Diaries, a website documenting stories that happen on public transit, there was a high chance that our website could devolve into a cesspool of whining and bigoted rants.

But the exact opposite happened: For the last three-and-a-half years, our readers have contributed the majority of the content on our site, and we’ve turned a significant slice of the transit-riding population in San Francisco into our contributor base.

Our readers have helped us break news, be the first to tweet about accidents, and provide other useful information to San Franciscans who depend on public transit.

So how do you get the best from your readers? And how do you cultivate a focused audience that consistently shares ideas and contributes to conversations?  Read more


How to use Urtak, a collaborative polling tool, to increase reader engagement

A week before Thanksgiving, conservative news site TheBlaze.com posted a story about whether retail stores should be open on the holiday. The post received more than 120,000 responses in less than two days, reaching 140,000 by the end of the month. This spike in reactions was 500 times the site’s norm, but it’s not the first time it’s happened.

A popular story on The Blaze will typically get anywhere between 200 to 800 comments, but the site’s editors have discovered a way to increase user engagement on some stories by orders of magnitude. The Blaze’s 140,000 Thanksgiving story responses weren’t comments; they were reader interactions sparked by an interactive polling tool called an Urtak. (The same story received 264 comments at last count.)

Urtak is not like other Q&A tools; it’s a social poll that grows as a community engages with it. Read more


Guardian readers shape stories during first week of open budgets

One week after The Guardian began disclosing its upcoming story budgets prior to publication, National Editor Dan Roberts writes that the experiment is going well. “Whatever competitive advantage may have been lost by giving rivals a clue what we were up to was more than made up for by a growing range of ideas and tips from readers,” he writes. Readers’ feedback now shapes the Guardian’s coverage in advance. For example, many said they wanted more coverage of the UK government’s health reforms. “We initially responded by ramping up our live coverage of the two-day NHS debate in the House of Lords – attracting over 1,000 comments. But we also asked our health reporter to do a bit of digging and list today an upcoming story on how cuts have already begun to hit services,” Roberts said. Read more


Guardian publishes upcoming story budgets, invites reader feedback

The Guardian will publish “a carefully-selected portion” of its internal lists of upcoming story topics, inviting readers to get in touch with reporters or editors if they have something to contribute. The goal is to treat news as an open, interactive process, instead of a finished product concealed until completion. National News Editor Dan Roberts explains:

“What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what’s wrong with our stories after they’ve been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?”

“Obviously, we’re not planning to list all our exclusives or embargoed content and we’ll also have to be careful not to say anything legally sensitive or unsubstantiated.

Read more

With promise of audience growth, Facebook pulls news organizations within its walls

With changes announced last week, Facebook aims at making a major transition from a content discovery and sharing engine to a platform for the consumption and distribution of content.

In the old Facebook, we used Like and Share buttons and posted links on Pages to drive traffic somewhere else. In the new Facebook, news, music and video live in Facebook apps, on Facebook.com, fed by a feedback loop of the Ticker activity stream and personalized recommendations.

The Guardian is among major news providers launching apps that put their content within Facebook.

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Guardian are among news organizations that just launched social news apps that place the entire content experience inside of Facebook.

Clearly this is in Facebook’s interest. Read more


Public streaming, recording make Google Hangouts more useful for journalists

Journalists have new ways to use the group video chat Hangouts in Google+ thanks to new features announced today. A new version called “Hangouts On Air” allows a discussion to be publicly livestreamed and recorded.

Some news organizations have used workarounds to broadcast their Hangouts publicly, but now it’s a built-in feature. Journalists can use this to conduct public discussions in new ways:

  • Create a virtual town hall where reporters or outside experts discuss an issue in the news via a Hangout.
  • Reinvent the editorial board meeting by having a guest and the board join a Hangout, then publish the recorded video with the written editorial.
  • Moderate a political debate with several candidates in a Hangout.

Google announced several other new Hangout features as well, including support for Android phones with front-facing cameras (and soon the iPhone). Read more


As TV newscasts push the boundaries of social media, some hit walls

WSLS in Roanoke, Va., recently replaced a two-year-old newscast that relied heavily on social media with a more traditional program. After a while, the novelty wore off, Diana Marszalek reports. Several local television newscasts are experimenting with interactive social media tools in interesting ways. At KOMU in Columbia, Mo., an anchor uses group video chats, texting, tweets and emails on air. But there may be a limit to how much TV viewers want to participate. Hofstra University journalism professor Bob Papper says as few as 5 percent of TV viewers engage with TV news via social media. “Part of the success of TV news is that it’s the ultimate passive medium,” he says. || Earlier: Anchor creates iPhone newscasts Read more

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