Articles about "Gannett"


Report: More than a dozen walk from Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Business Courier

Cincinnati Enquirer Managing Editor Laura Trujillo is leaving the newspaper rather than stick around for the Gannett-owned title’s reorganization, Chris Wetterich reports for the Cincinnati Business Courier.

More than a dozen people in the newsroom are also departing, Wetterich reports: “Veteran employees told the Courier they are heading for the door because they would rather take a buyout package than go through another round of upheaval and the indignity of reapplying for jobs at a company they’ve worked at for decades.”

Mark Curnutte, Bill Koch, John Erardi, Sheila McLaughlin and Jessica Brown are among those leaving, as are three photographers, Wetterich reports. “Nearly all of the Enquirer’s 11 copy editing positions are being eliminated, although staffers in that department could apply for the new jobs,” he writes. “Copy editing and design of the newspaper will be done at a regional Gannett site.”

Editors will be known as “strategists” in the new Enquirer newsroom, Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn tells Wetterich. An email from Washburn to staffers says the Enquirer has hired several strategists already, as well as a daily news coach (Meghan Wesley) and a visuals coach (Michael McCarter).

Gannett newspapers all over the country are rolling out versions of a “newsroom of the future,” a massive structural change that requires staffers who want to stay to reapply for mostly new jobs. Steve Cavendish reported for Nashville Scene last week that the Gannett-owned Tennessean has brought in reporters from corporate siblings to help it put out the paper during the transition. Read more

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Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off Burlington Free Press reporter Lynn Monty decided not to consummate the process of reapplying for her job last week. The Free Press, like many other Gannett papers, has asked staffers to reapply for jobs in reimagined “newsrooms of the future.” “I loved my job, but I don’t love Gannett,” Monty tells Paul Heintz. “I will make a new way for myself that doesn’t compromise my integrity.” (Seven Days)
  2. The last circulation report The Alliance for Audited Media will release its final print Snapshot report today. Because of more rule changes, “we advise against comparing year-over-year data,” AAM cautions. (AAM) | I wrote last October about how some other recent rules made comparisons difficult. (Poynter)
  3. Two attempts to explain why your friend Gordon is blue over the Jian Ghomeshi mess Canadians have an ” intrinsic and profound” relationship with the CBC, and the scandal further diminishes the institution, Adam Sternbergh writes. (Vulture) | “[T]here was once a hope that people in powerful positions were trying their best to do well by the country,” Michelle Dean writes. “That is gone, and people are, I think, sad to see that they now must extend the cynicism and bad feelings to cultural figures as well.” (Gawker)
  4. John Cantlie “reports” for Islamic State The captured British journalist appears in a package purporting to be from Kobani. (The Telegraph)
  5. The dream of an iTunes for news will never die The New York Times Co. and Axel Springer led a funding round for Blendle, a Dutch startup that sells a la carte access to articles. (Gigaom) | Blendle cofounder Alexander Klöpping “says he’s in talks with U.S. publishers (he declined to name any), which tend to have few foreign subscribers and sell ads at junk rates in countries where they don’t have a sales force.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  6. Reporting under duress The International Women’s Media Foundation gave Solange Lusiku Nsimire, editor-in-chief of Congo’s Le Souverain, a Courage in Journalism award last week. “I want to find shelter for my children, who are very much at risk,” she tells Eleanor Klibanoff. “But as long as democracy is not established and human rights are not respected, I feel that I need to continue reporting.” (NPR) | Related: New CPJ report shows journalists are still being killed with impunity in most parts of the world. (Poynter) | Also related: At a White House Correspondents’ Association seminar Saturday, Susan Page called the Obama administration “‘more dangerous’ to the press than any other in history.” (WP) | Also related: An Israeli border policeman shot AP photographer Majdi Mohammed with rubber bullets. (AP)
  7. FBI made a fake newspaper article “The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times Web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Lacey’s Timberline High School in 2007.” (Seattle Times)
  8. Papa’s peepin’ peeps The annual Spy Prom in D.C. honored Ernest Hemingway. (HuffPost) | Related: Hemingway got a Nobel on this day in 1954. (Poynter)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare The New York Daily News uses wordplay to challenge Obama’s Ebola czar.

    NYDN-10282014  

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Sarah Lumbard is now senior digital curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Institute of Holocaust Education. Previously, she was vice president of content strategy and operations at NPR. (Poynter) | Fred Santarpia will be executive vice president and chief digital officer at Condé Nast. Previously, he was executive vice president at Condé Nast Entertainment. (Poynter) | Hassan Hamdani is editor-in-chief at HuffPost Morocco. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of TelQuel’s multimedia division. (HuffPost) | Bernardo Chévez is now vice president of technology at Hearst Magazines International. Previously, he was director of engineering at Condé Nast. (Fishbowl NY) | Job of the day: The Washington Post is looking for an editorial copy editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Gannett gives employees an extra paid day off

Most Gannett employees will get Dec. 26 off, President and CEO Gracia Martore tells employees in a memo. Anyone who has to work that day — “because as we all know, the news never sleeps,” she writes — can plan another day off before the year ends.

Martore also gives some details about what divisions will stay with each company as Gannett plans to split its publishing and broadcast businesses. Gannett Digital will stay with the publishing company, as will IT and its national sales division.

Likewise, HR will be part of the broadcast company and will provide shared services to the publishing company. Each company will have its own legal and communications teams, among others. The split, Martore writes, should occur “in mid-2015.”

Here’s the memo:

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to share some news in case you missed today’s employee Town Hall meeting.

The holiday season is fast approaching and I want to thank you for all you have done to help this company grow and thrive. The past three years have been fast-paced and exceptional as we continue to transform the company’s business and chart a new course. Without your hard work,
this company would not be in the terrific condition it is today.

Because of this, I want to give everyone a special holiday surprise: This year, the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, will be a paid day off —
a companywide holiday.

Of course there will be some of you who, like on any other holiday, will work that day because as we all know, the news never sleeps, or
takes a vacation for that matter.

For those of you who are called upon to work that day, please coordinate with your managers and plan another day off before the end
of the year. Every employee has earned this extra day off and your willingness to work on Dec. 26 is deeply appreciated.

Best wishes to all and thank you for helping to steer a strong course for our company and for your efforts in support of this journey of
transformation. I wish you and your families a very safe and joyous upcoming holiday season.

Meanwhile, on a different note, we are taking positive steps toward what we initially announced in August: the creation of two publicly
traded companies, one exclusively focused on our Broadcasting and Digital businesses, and the other on our Publishing business and its
dynamic digital assets.

This is — and will be — a long and complicated process as there are literally thousands of decisions, large and small, to be made as we go
down this road.

One of our initial considerations has been determining where the many parts of the business would be located — in other words — which group
goes with which company. And while we do not have all of the answers today, I want to share with you some of the preliminary decisions we
have made.

Obviously — the vast majority of you already know which company you will be going with — USCP, USA TODAY and Newsquest employees will go
with Publishing. Broadcasting and Digital Ventures employees will go with the Broadcasting and Digital company.

However, there are other groups that provide services across divisions. Some of the preliminary decisions on where those groups
will be housed have been made and I wanted to share that information with you.

As mentioned earlier, Digital Ventures, including G/O Digital, will stay with the Broadcasting and Digital company. G/O Digital will be a
shared service, providing its products to both companies. In addition, Cars.com will continue to offer its portfolio to the Publishing
company through affiliation agreements. Pointroll will transition to Digital Ventures over the coming months and will become part of the
Broadcasting and Digital company.

Gannett Digital will be a part of the Publishing company, where the majority of its clients are. The digital team will continue to provide
top notch products and services to Broadcasting and Digital Ventures. Over the next several months, we will be working to ensure that the
Broadcasting and Digital company has the appropriate digital expertise on staff as well.

National Sales will be housed in Publishing at separation, given it does the lion’s share of work for them but we will continue to look at
opportunities, even after the separation, to leverage both companies’ scale and reach together.

I.T. and Gannett Supply also will be a part of Publishing and provide shared services to the Broadcasting and Digital company.

Labor Relations and HR will be a part of the Broadcasting and Digital company. They will provide shared services to the Publishing company.

The Legal, Finance, Internal Audit, Investor Relations and Communications groups will be split between the two companies at the
time of separation, as each company will need its own independent teams.

I want to make it clear — I know we have the best people and corporate functions anywhere. In fact, supporting the two companies created by the separation will generate greater career opportunities for many of our current employees as we look at how to support both businesses.

Of course, until the day of separation, we are ONE company. We need to continue to produce the outstanding, trusted content our consumers and
communities expect from us; and we need to continue to support our clients by helping them grow their businesses with our strong products
and services.

So please keep up the terrific work you are doing today throughout this process — straight through to the separation, which we expect
will occur in mid-2015.

There are many more decisions to come and we will be sure to keep you updated.

Warm regards,

Gracia

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Gannett earnings strong, but publishing revenues continue a steep slide

FILE - This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE – This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Embedded in otherwise excellent third quarter financial results reported today by Gannett are some sobering numbers on the continuing decline of revenues for its newspaper division.

U.S publishing ad revenues year-to-date are down 6.3 percent. At Gannett, that difference is more than made up by booming broadcast operations and freestanding digital ventures like CareerBuilder.  So revenues for the entire company are up a healthy 13.4 percent.

But I also consider USA Today and Gannett’s 81 community newspapers a reasonable proxy for the entire newspaper industry, which has stopped reporting its financial results quarterly.  If the rest of the year is roughly in line, newspapers are on track again in 2014 to lose $1 billion-plus in advertising.

That’s against a 2013 base of $17.30 billion industrywide in daily print advertising or $23.57 billion including all form of advertising, according to estimates by the Newspaper Association of America.

Gannett’s advertising decline to date (-6.3 percent) roughly matches the industry rate in 2013 (-6.5 percent).  So 2014 is proving no better than 2013.  Recent waves of staff cuts as companies budget for 2015 suggest that revenue growth is not expected next year either.

At Gannett (and probably most U.S. papers) circulation revenues were up slightly for the quarter and holding even for the year. The papers are now cycling past one-time revenue gains of roughly 5 percent in both 2012 and 2013 from introduction of paywalls and price increases for print and print + digital subscriptions.

Digital advertising is increasing, mostly at USA Today, but not nearly enough to offset the print losses.  And the continued growth of digital marketing services, sold to local businesses, is another plus.

In an earnings conference call, CEO Gracia Martore said another bright spot for the company has been the introduction of a section of USA Today news at its 35 largest papers.  Surveys show a positive reader response, she said, in some cities justifying another round of subscription price increases.

There is an echo of that strategy throughout the industry.  This weekend both The New York Times and Washington Post introduced print supplements which regional papers can include in their Sunday editions.  The Post had earlier made a free subscription to its digital report available to digital subscribers of partnering regional papers.

This arrangement allows papers to focus on their local news report, while offering subscribers, especially the older demographic that prefers print, a fuller report of national and international news, as was standard in better financial times.

Gannett’s broadcast revenues are up 97.2 percent year-to-date in large part because the operation is much larger after acquisition of Belo’s 20 stations. Retransmission fees paid by cable systems to local stations continue strong, up 61 percent for the quarter.

And political advertising is booming beyond expectations.  At the company’s Denver station — where Colorado has both a competitive governor’s and U.S. Senate race — this year’s revenues are even outpacing those of 2012, a presidential year, said Martore.

The different trajectories of broadcast and print have prompted Gannett to plan splitting those operations into two companies, a spinoff Martore said should be completed by mid-2015.

News Corp., Media General, Tribune and the Washington Post (now Graham Holdings) have already completed such a split and Scripps and Journal Communications plan one as part of a merger.

Other public newspaper companies, New York Times, McClatchy and Lee, do not own TV stations. So, soon there will be no combined print and broadcast operations among public companies, and some larger private companies like Hearst have separated TV and newspaper divisions as well.

In theory the print-only companies will benefit from management focused exclusively on their digital transformation, audience and advertising issues.  And they won’t be competing internally with fast-growing broadcast for capital.

All that, however, leaves the big question lingering — can the companies slow the print advertising losses, generate enough digital ad growth, increase circulation revenue and bring in enough income from new ventures to make up the difference. Read more

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Earns Gannett

Gannett shifts some costs of USA Today layoffs to states

USA Today laid off about 70 people last month. Those who lost their jobs received a week of pay for every year of service, health care through the end of September and the vacation pay they’d already accrued for the year.

But as they turned in their laptops and cellphones, some USA Today journalists were surprised to find out who would pay a chunk of their farewell package: their state unemployment office.

USA Today is owned by Gannett, which doesn’t always pay laid-off workers a traditional severance. Instead, as in the case of the recent layoffs, it may provide a “transitional pay plan.” In one of these plans, Gannett, through a contractor called Total Management Solutions, makes up the difference between a worker’s old paycheck and their unemployment check for a certain amount of time.

Gannett didn’t make anyone available for an interview on this subject, but spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told Poynter in an email that “The Transitional Pay Plan (TPP) is one type of severance plan that Gannett offers. It provides one week of pay for every year of service to a maximum of 36 weeks, offset by an employee’s state unemployment benefit.”

If employees take on any paid work before the transitional pay period ends, their benefits — which are not subject to FICA deductions — are either reduced or lost. If they get a new job, the payments stop. Employees have to call in every week to their state unemployment office as well as to Total Management Solutions.

“They both interrogate you: ‘Are you employed?’” one former USA Today staffer who’d worked for the paper for more than 15 years told Poynter. “If you forget to call them one week you can presumably lose everything.”

The literature Gannett provides laid-off employees says the transitional pay benefit “provides a substantial benefit to employees as they transition from Gannett to a new job. It also allows Gannett to reduce its transition costs.”

“The taxpayers are paying part of my paycheck, basically,” said another laid-off staffer I spoke with, who said she found she could easily register with the Virginia Employment Commission online: “It’s not utter humiliation.” She found one way to take on freelance work and maintain her benefits while searching for a new gig: After speaking to her accountant, she set up an LLC and will ask freelance clients to pay her company instead.

Gannett has used this type of plan, also called supplemental employment benefits, since at least 2009. The New York Times reported on how Gannett used the plans with 1,400 people it laid off in July of that year. The distinction between transitional pay and severance, Richard Pérez-Peña wrote, was “lost on employees who say that the practical effect of being paid — or not — is the same, no matter how the program is labeled.”

Representatives of other newspaper companies, including Tribune, McClatchy and the New York Times Co., told Pérez-Peña in 2009 they provide more traditional severance packages. Attempts by Poynter to poll publishers on this point in 2014 did not meet any success.

USA Today’s newsroom doesn’t have a union, which is not uncommon among Gannett papers. (The Detroit Free Press, the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle and the Indianapolis Star are among the few Gannett properties that have Guild representation.) But supplemental employment benefit plans developed in union-dominated companies in the ’50s, said Rick McHugh, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. “The idea was really to have a guaranteed annual wage” at a time when layoffs were prevalent in the steel and auto industries, he said.

In many states, McHugh said, severance counts as remuneration and disqualifies workers from getting unemployment benefits: “That varies widely, but in the majority of states, say you worked there 10 years, and they’re giving you 10 weeks’ severance, you would lose 10 weeks’ unemployment benefit,” he said.

“I have to say this is a more beneficial approach than I would expect from Gannett,” said McHugh, who represented newspaper strikers concerning their unemployment insurance, including claims against Gannett, during the Detroit newspaper strike of 1995-2000. In the United States, he said, “with at-will employment, basically, there is no obligation to pay employees anything when you lay them off.” Read more

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News for the Minecraft generation: Gannett experiments with virtual reality

Screenshot from a video about Gannett's experiment with virtual reality journalism in the Des Moines Register's story Harvest of Change.

Screenshot from a video about Gannett’s experiment with virtual reality journalism in the Des Moines Register’s story Harvest of Change.

One of America’s largest media companies is hoping that young readers want to get their news the same way that video gamers play World of Warcraft and Doom.

Gannett Company this week previewed its first project that allows readers to experience a news story in virtual reality. The project – produced by Gannett’s digital division and the Des Moines Register — requires users to wear a futuristic headset called the Oculus Rift, a small goggles-style video device that responds to the wearer’s head movements.

While the Rift is primarily marketed for gaming – allowing users to flee blood-thirsty aliens or control a 250-story fighting robot, Gannett’s project is significantly less harrowing. Part of a Register special report on Iowa agriculture, the company’s first virtual reality presentation is a 3-D immersive walking tour of a southwest Iowa family farm. Headset-clad users can watch a tractor being repaired, tag along as a child walks a baby calf, and see a variety of other farm activities depicted in computer animation, videos, and photographs.

“This is the way we, as journalists, are going to need to communicate to the Minecraft generation,” said Gannett Digital Vice President/Product Mitch Gelman, explaining that the project is targeted at 12- to 29-year-olds “who essentially are not picking up a newspaper from their front porch or sitting down in front of Brian Williams.”

Gelman says Gannett spent less than $50,000 on the project, which included recording 360-degree video at the farm, preparing editorial content, and rendering the presentation in a software engine called Unity. The finished product borrows heavily from the aesthetic of games, with spinning icons that users can click to reveal new items to explore.

“The Minecraft generation likes to find things, build things, discover things, and have fun,” Gelman said by phone from Gannett’s Northern Virginia headquarters. “Instead of building fictional representations in this type of game play, we should be able to build factual non-fiction.”

New opportunities and new ethical issues

The Register is promoting the project as a “cutting edge journalistic experience,” but few readers will be able to experience it fully. The Rift headset is still in its developmental stage, and manufacturer Oculus VR doesn’t expect to market it to the public before 2015. For now, the audience will be confined mainly to the 125,000 or so developers and hard-core gamers who own Rift prototypes. (A simpler 2-D version of the farm tour is available on the Register’s web site.)

Still, supporters of virtual reality see it as a technology that’s on the verge of bursting into the mainstream. Facebook acquired Oculus VR earlier this year for about $2 billion, and Sony, Samsung, and Google are among the other companies readying virtual reality headsets.

“All the pieces are there for virtual reality to go over the tipping point from a niche gaming application to mainstream entertainment,” said Geoffrey Long, the Technical Director and a Research Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab.

Long and his colleagues are exploring ways that virtual reality could enhance various types of content, including horror movies, TV shows, and documentary films. A former Annenberg Fellow, filmmaker Nonny de la Peña, employs the technology to create “immersive journalism” that allows users to experience such things as a rocket attack in Syria and a long wait for a meal at a Los Angeles food bank.

“Virtual reality offers people the opportunity to put on a headset and look beyond the classic news journalism framing of a shot,” Long said, noting that the technology creates both new narrative possibilities — and new ethical issues — for non-fiction storytellers.

Because virtual reality uses animation to depict real-life scenes, creators can choose what parts of a complicated story to represent and whose field of vision the viewer sees and empathizes with. For example, Long says an immersive re-creation of the Ferguson, Missouri unrest could portray the violence from the point of view of a protester, or create a virtual reality where “you’re a riot cop, and you’re surrounded by people who are screaming at you.”

It also could portray a distorted version of reality that intentionally or unintentionally misleads viewers.

“Imagine if the government were trying to convince the world that Ferguson was just fine,” Long said in a phone interview. “There’s potential for abuse of ‘virtual propaganda.’”

 

Transformative technology or curiosity?

Not surprisingly, Long predicts that initially, a lot of virtual reality journalism is likely to center around the kind of news topics that also make good video game fodder – such as immersions into war zones.

But Syracuse University Professor Dan Pacheco, who worked as a consultant on the Gannett farm presentation, eventually sees a variety of other uses. He says virtual reality can transform travel reporting, allow journalists to recreate historic events, help science reporters illustrate potential sea level rise, and enable sports fans to “virtually attend” the World Cup or other marquee events.

“This is an area of growth for anybody who’s into storytelling,” Pacheco said in a phone interview. “This is an opportunity to move from storytelling to story experiences.”

Pacheco also sees revenue opportunities in the technology through product placements and other kinds of new virtual ads. That’s not a small consideration for a company like Gannett, which has seen a steady drop in print advertising revenue, recently completed another round of newsroom layoffs, and plans to split its digital and broadcasting divisions from its financially troubled newspaper business next year.

Not all industry observers, though, share Pacheco’s optimism about virtual reality journalism.

“I applaud the forward thinking,” said University of Minnesota Journalism Professor Nora Paul, “but I think this is the kind of thing that’s going to be a curiosity.”

Paul, a former Poynter faculty member, has studied the use of computer games in journalism and says it’s hard to predict whether virtual reality will become an effective way to tell stories. She says previous attempts to marry gaming technology and news storytelling had mixed results.

“Most people felt like putting a game skin on serious news content was a distraction,” Paul said, “and gamers weren’t interested in doing it because it invariably wasn’t a very sophisticated game.”

For now, Gannett says the Des Moines project is a one-time experiment, and the company hasn’t decided whether to do further virtual reality work.

To help gauge reader reaction, Gelman said the Register may hold town hall meetings or other events where Des Moinesers will be able to pass around headsets and experience the farm tour. He said he’s especially interested in hearing feedback on the presentation from the target demographic.

“I learned a lot watching my 10-year-old go through it,” Gelman said.

 

Note: If you are going to ONA, they will have a session on virtual reality storytelling. Read more

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Tallahassee Democrat will retool newsroom, following other Gannett papers

Tallahassee Democrat

The Tallahassee Democrat “could not get where we needed to go by simply tweaking an outdated operation,” Executive Editor Bob Gabordi writes. “So, we called a timeout and a reset.”

As at the Tennessean and other papers that, like the Democrat, are owned by Gannett, the Democrat will retool its newsroom structure.

Fewer people will work locally on production tasks and more will focus on reporting and creating content. We’ll have more people focused on breaking news and important watchdog and investigative reporting.

Staffers will get a list of new jobs this week, Gabordi writes. “We’ll interview them for the new jobs they want in late September and announce results to them – and you – after that.”

The Tennessean announced its “newsroom of the future” last month. Similar changes were due to roll out at four other Gannett papers. The goal was to get to “self-sufficient reporters producing publication-ready copy,” Tennessean Executive Editor Stefanie Murray told Poynter. (The newsroom of the future has about 15 percent fewer employees, The Nashville Scene reported.)

Gannett’s USA Today laid off about 70 employees earlier this month, saying it was “working to align its staffing levels to meet current market conditions.” Gannett plans to spin off its publishing division next year. Read more

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Games

Games are serious business at news organizations

Later this month, Gannett plans to debut a page on USA Today’s website with 70 free-to-play games.

The page will include brain training and arcade-style games, said John Geddes, the company’s first director of gaming, entertainment, and events.

“We feel that expanding our portfolio to include titantransline additional popular games such as solitaire, mahjong, and brain teasers is a huge opportunity to not only provide something new for that existing audience but for us to also attract waves of new users,” Geddes said.

Gannett is merely the latest media company to expand its games offerings. Several news organizations have acknowledged the increasing importance of games, whether for storytelling or diversion:

  • The Washington Post has pulled together an in-house team to develop a platform that will allow the newsroom to easily create quizzes, leaderboards and surveys, said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the paper’s managing editor for digital.
  • BuzzFeed — fresh from a $50 million infusion of capital from investment firm Andreessen Horowitz — has has created a small team of developers that will build games to be be paired alongside editorial content.
  • The New York Times recently launched a new mini-crossword puzzle available to non-subscribers and posted a job listing for a software engineer for games.
  • The Associated Press announced in May AP Video Puzzles, which allows users to solve puzzles built from historic videos.

Why all the playing around? Games, with their Facebook and Twitter-ready results, have caught on with users. The New York Times’ most popular piece of content in 2013 was this dialect quiz, which garnered more traffic than breaking coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, news of Pope Francis’ election and a personal column from Angelina Jolie explaining why she decided to undergo mastectomy surgery.

Similarly, Slate’s most popular piece of content to date was The Adele Dazeem Name Generator, which mangled users’ names in the aftermath of John Travolta’s faux pas at the 2014 The Academy Awards.

The market for games in news organizations is getting bigger because of the traffic the games generate, said Jessica Rovello, who cofounded the games company Arkadium in 2001. Arkadium will provide games to Gannett and, Rovello said, works with more than 30 publishers including the Los Angeles Times, CNN and The Washington Post.

“I think it’s expanding for one reason and one reason only: everyone is in an epic battle to acquire and retain users, and these quizzes have proved to be one of the best ways to get these users because they are so shared and so popular on social media,” Rovello said.

Gannett’s expansion into games began after June 2013, when the company created a task force that identified games as an area of growth for the company, Geddes said. He was named director of games strategy later that year. And after the company releases the games on USA Today’s website this month, it will focus on bringing them to other Gannett sites.

The audience for casual games is attractive for a couple reasons, Geddes said. Casual gamers are more likely to spend more time on a website per visit, and they’re more likely to visit the site again in the future. Games with social aspects, such as shareable leaderboards, also have the potential to bring new users into the site.

Further evidence of the rising popularity of games in news can be found at American University, which this year opened a lab devoted to creating games and debuted a master’s degree of game design in persuasive play.

The program’s director, Lindsay Grace, says he’s been approached by roughly one news organization per month seeking to combine games with editorial content since the program began. Non-disclosure agreements prevent him from being specific about the clients he’s working with, but he says the lab has partnerships with news organizations in the works. (Later this month AU is a cosponsor of a “NewsJam” at the Newseum, which aims to “inspire the spirit of political activism and news reporting into games.”)

Grace attributes the recent upswing in the popularity of games and quizzes to a few factors, including the ubiquity of mobile devices and a gradual shift to a culture that views play as productive. Done right, he says, games can also be useful storytelling tools, because they allow audiences to experience information in a new way.

“We process, retain and share experiences differently than reports,” Grace said. “Reports can be very efficient, but they may not have lasting impact. You can receive a report and forget the facts and figures, but an experience lasts in a different way.”

Grace cited two games that are particularly good at driving lessons home: Wired’s “Cutthroat Capitalism” — which explains the bloody economics of Somali piracy by making the user a pirate commander — and The New York Times’ “Gauging your Distraction,” which illustrates the dangers of texting and driving by forcing users to navigate a series of tollbooths while sending text messages. Read more

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Times of India publisher to staffers: Give us your social media passwords if you’re posting news

mediawiremorningHey, it’s Tuesday. Media stories coming your way!

  1. Strict, strange social-media policy at Times of India: Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd staffers have been told not to post news stories from their personal social media accounts; instead, they must create company-authorized accounts, according to Quartz India. Even weirder: the company — which publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times — “will possess log-in credentials to such accounts and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge,” Sruthijith KK reports. (Quartz India) | Quartz-related: How often should a site launch a redesign, like Quartz just did? Mario Garcia: “The answer varies, and there is a basic principle I follow: redesign (and/or rethink) when you need it.” (Garcia Media)
  2. NYT’s controversial Michael Brown profile: New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan writes that calling Michael Brown “no angel” in a profile of the 18-year-old killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was “a blunder.” (Public Editor’s Journal) | Times national editor Alison Mitchell told Erik Wemple that the phrase derived from the story’s lead, which told an anecdote about Brown seeing a vision of an angel. (Erik Wemple) | The Times has used the term “no angel” in the past to refer to Al Capone, Whitey Bulger and one of the Columbine killers. (Vanity Fair) | The profile was written by John Eligon. (The New York Times) | Austin Kleon’s “newspaper blackout” poem from Monday:
  3. Facebook cracks down on clickbait: How does Facebook define clickbait? It’s “when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.” (Facebook) | “Algorithm tweaks don’t change the bottom line: Facebook is in charge of what you see,” Mathew Ingram writes. (GigaOm) | Upworthy’s Adam Mordecai is “stoked” about the news. (Twitter) | “We welcome a focus from Facebook on engaged time,” an Upworthy spokesperson told John McDermott. (Digiday) | Previously: Upworthy released code for its “attention minutes” metric meant to go beyond clicks. (Poynter) | Previously: Facebook’s Mike Hudack famously — and ironically? — ranted against the shallowness of U.S. news in May. (Poynter)

  4. How American journalist was released in Syria: Before Peter Theo Curtis was freed on Sunday, Qatar “had been working on the case for months at the request of the Obama administration.” David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media Co., and a former FBI agent had traveled to Doha to meet with the Qataris, Adam Goldman and Karen DeYoung report. Officials insist no ransom was paid. (Washington Post)
  5. An ‘emotional cauldron’ after James Foley’s death: “When the press isn’t panicked about the Islamic State, it’s confused,” Jack Shafer writes. “Enemies exist, of course. But boogeymen don’t.” (Reuters)
  6. Ken Doctor on Gannett’s “newsrooms of the future”: “It’s easy to paint the laying off/buying out of veterans as simply getting rid of the digitally clueless. There’s some of that, of course, but this is mainly a financial exercise, as is most of the change we see sweeping the American news industry this year.” (Nieman Lab) | Previously: Gannett exec: Goal of reshuffled newsrooms is to invest “fewest resources necessary in production.” (Poynter)
  7. AP expands food columns: “Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian will join AP’s team of kitchen authorities, taking over ‘The Healthy Plate,’ a weekly column aimed at helping home cooks discover the healthier side of everyday ingredients,” according to a press release. (AP)
  8. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: John Batter will be CEO of Gracenote. Previously, he was CEO of M-GO. (Tech Crunch) | Mark Jurkowitz is the owner of the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head, North Carolina. Previously, he was the associate director of Pew Research Center’s journalism project. (Romenesko) | Jon Ward is a senior political correspondent with Yahoo News. Previously, he was a political reporter for the Huffington Post. (Politico) | Shauna Rempel is now a social media strategist for Global News. Previously, she was social media and technology editor at the Toronto Star. (Muck Rack) | Chris Tisch is now business editor for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, he was assistant metro editor there. (Tampa Bay Times) | Nathan Lump is now editor of Travel and Leisure. Previously, he was director of branded content at Condé Nast. (Time Inc.) | Job of the day: The San Antonio Express-News is looking for a web producer. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would you like this roundup each morning? This week, please email me: skirkland@poynter.org. You can reach your regular roundup guy at: abeaujon@poynter.org


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Career Beat: Ryan Tate is named deputy editor for The Intercept

Good morning! Here are some job updates from the journalism community!

  • Becky Bowers will be editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog. She’s currently manager of digital operations for PolitiFact and PunditFact. (@beckybowers)
  • Thomas Claybaugh is now president and publisher for Gannett Central New York Media. Previously, he was general manager of Delmarva Media Group. (Gannett)
  • Terry Horne will be publisher and president for the (Salem, Oregon) Statesman Journal. He was president and publisher of the Pensacola (Florida) News Journal. (Gannett)
  • Jason Leopold will be a reporter at Vice News. Previously, he was a reporter for Al Jazeera America. (Politico)
  • Ryan Tate, Margot Williams and Cora Currier have joined The Intercept. Tate will be the site’s deputy editor. Previously, he was a contributor for Wired and Gawker. Williams will be a research editor. Previously, she was research editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Currier will be a reporter for the site. Formerly, she was a reporting fellow at ProPublica. (The Intercept)
  • Chris Voccio is now publisher of the Niagara Gazette and the Tonawanda News. Previously, he was publisher at the Norwich Bulletin. (Gadsden Times)

Job of the day:The Gaston Gazette is looking for “a reporter who doesn’t bore us.” Don’t be “dull” — get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

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