Articles about "Social media"


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Mental Floss a big winner after Facebook’s mysterious ‘high quality’ algorithm change

When Facebook announced in December that it was altering its News Feed algorithm to focus on “high quality content,” speculation centered on which sites might be in danger of excommunication as Facebook took aim at the viral bubble.

Was BuzzFeed’s silly clickbait a target, or would the site’s growing commitment to real news and longform save the domain from banishment? (It’s doing just fine.) What about Upworthy, the viral site that ruled Facebook in November with its widely mocked and mimicked “you won’t believe ____” headlines? (Business Insider declared it “crushed” after a December traffic dip, but a wider view of Quantcast data leads to a less dramatic conclusion.)

Meanwhile, some sites stood to gain, and one winner seems to be Mental Floss, a source of eminently shareable trivia, historical facts and answers to hundreds of questions you didn’t know you had. Read more

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Facebook vs. Google, social media vs. SEO: Why BuzzFeed data shouldn’t declare a winner

Last week, the latest traffic referral report from BuzzFeed caught Marshall Simmonds’s eye. The data indicated Facebook delivered about 3.5 times more page views to BuzzFeed Network sites in December than Google did:

 

 

If that observation were broadly applicable to publishers across the web, it would be a game-changer. Simmonds, CEO of Define Media Group, thought it wasn’t, so he posted a rebuttal responding to writers who he felt interpreted the chart too broadly. Read more

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Some wooden cubes forming the word law, in front of a gavel. Digital illustration. (Depositphotos)

Who’s a journalist and other digital issues: media lawyers weigh in on #wjchat

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3 ways Facebook’s Paper app outperforms other news aggregators (and 3 ways it doesn’t)

Paper, the first app from Facebook’s Creative Labs available now for iPhones, could challenge Flipboard, Zite and Feedly in the business of aggregating news on mobile devices. Not only does it beautify your Facebook newsfeed, but it also links to content from major news sources in various sections like Headlines (news), Score (sports), Exposure (photos) and Planet (science and sustainability). Here are some reasons Paper might be the news reader for you (or not):

Pictures feel bigger (but not always better)

Almost all screens, from movie theaters to TVs to computers to tablets, are horizontal for a reason (tablet users seem to prefer the landscape orientation to portrait, but of course it’s used both ways). So it’s often frustrating to view our horizontal world through the tiny vertical window of a phone. Pinch-to-zoom works OK for seeing more detail, but the multitouch gesture is a little cumbersome and, of course, zooming makes it impossible to see the entire image at once.

Paper’s tilt-to-pan function sometimes misses the mark, as in this photo of Philip Seymour Hoffman that isn’t improved by automatic zooming.

Paper offers an interesting solution to the problem of awkward mobile photo exploration by automatically zooming in on images and allowing users to pan left or right by tilting their phones. That makes for a cool immersive experience when viewing photos of scenes such as this one, with Kenyan police raiding a mosque.

But other times the feature feels gimmicky, disorienting and arbitrary. Is it really necessary for me to tilt my phone if I want to see either of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ears? A simple tap of the photo brings up the full, letterboxed view, but I’m not convinced a zoomed-in, full-screen image is always the best way to come across new photos, even on a small screen. In the future, hopefully Paper can develop a way to employ the tilt-to-pan feature only when it makes sense.

Navigation is fun and mostly intuitive (but a little slow)

Paper’s lengthy, audio-narrated guide when first opening the app made me worry about how complex the app’s navigation would be, but the layered navigation was easy to get the hang of. There are no “X” buttons or “done” buttons to get in the way of viewing content, just swipes to dive deeper into content or swipes to dismiss it. Exploring the app’s layers was intuitive in ways exploring Inside.com for the first time wasn’t.

While this view in the Paper app allows readers to see more than one story at once, zoomed-out story cards at the bottom of the screen are practically unreadable.

Yet the story-selection process itself isn’t as pleasurable as it is in other apps. In single-story view, for instance, you lose the the quick-browsing advantage of flicking your finger to scroll through your newsfeed in Facebook’s primary app. Each story has to be evaluated and considered in isolation before you flip to the next one, slowing down the process of zeroing in on the content you really want.

Each piece of content, from a status update to a shared photo to a link to a news story, gets its own story card taking up the entire screen. Jumping back a layer in Paper does allow you to see a carousel of zoomed-out story cards (see screenshot), but the photos and type are hopelessly tiny. Feedly, Zite and Flipboard all allow more than one legible piece of content on the screen at once, providing more on-screen choice and requiring less thumb action.

It’s very social (but only when it comes to Facebook)

One beauty of Zite, the smart aggregator owned by CNN, is that I can thumbs-up or thumbs-down stories without worrying about anyone but the algorithm knowing what a sucker I am for fake Apple product mock-ups or statistical analyses of Peyton Manning’s legacy. At the same time, if I want to share what I read via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, it’s easy to do so. But Paper, naturally, is all about Facebook, so likes are public and you can’t even tweet from the app.

(To be fair, the official Twitter app doesn’t exactly facilitate posting to Facebook, either. You can always link your Facebook account to Twitter and vice versa, but the platforms often demand different types of sharing, limiting the usefulness of posting the same content simultaneously.)

That Paper is so intensely Facebook-centric brings all the advantages of in-app commenting on stories, engaging with friends and seeing which news stories are most popular according to more than a billion users. But as a pure news aggregator it falls short of multi-platform sharing functionality of Zite, Flipboard, Feedly and Inside. If you’re a Facebook junkie and want a little bit of aggregated news on the side, Paper could become the only Facebook app and only news app you need. But it’s no major threat to Flipboard and the like yet.

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Five questions answered about reporting on your local confession site

Confessions sites are popping up in teen communities all over the country. There is a Twitter feed called yococonfessions, targeting the community of York County, Pa. A post about a weapon on the Facebook page, Amherst Regional High School Confessions, closed the high school for a day.

Sometimes confessions sites disrupt schools, making it likely that local reporters will pay attention. Here are five questions to consider when writing about confession sites: Read more

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Poynter's Future of News Audiences conference kicks off Sunday with a discussion on demographic trends with Paul Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at the Pew Research Center, and moderator Jill Geisler, Poynter senior faculty, leadership and management. (Dave Pierson/The Poynter Institute)

Future of News Audiences: what’s next as young fail to become strong news consumers

Paul Taylor, executive vice president of special projects at the Pew Research Center, talks about demographic trends impacting the news industry, at a Poynter discussion moderated by Jill Geisler, Poynter senior faculty, leadership and management.

Journalism executives and other participants at Poynter’s Future of News Audiences conference heard Sunday night what some would have preferred not to hear: younger generations simply aren’t growing into dedicated consumers of news the way their parents and grandparents did.

As young adults age and begin families, the theory goes, they start to care more about the world around them and read the news — a development that would help reverse the fortunes of news organizations which have seen precipitous declines in their audience numbers. But this may be a false hope — so far there is no “life cycle” effect, at least none that can be detected.

Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center executive vice president of special projects, said researchers in 2012 asked consumers how many minutes they devoted to taking in the news the day before. While the Silent Generation spent 84 minutes with the news, Boomers devoted 77 minutes and Gen Xers reported 66 minutes, Millennials said they spent just 46 minutes consuming news — a figure that hasn’t changed appreciably since 2004.

Decreasing news consumption among younger consumers is a challenge for news executives, more than two dozen of whom are meeting at Poynter through Monday to discuss how audiences are changing — and journalism with it.

The country is in the throes of a dramatic demographic transition, Taylor said: the United States will soon be a majority of minorities, and its population is growing ever older. And for the first time in U.S. history, young adults in their 20s and 30s are worse off than their parents, with less wealth and higher rates of poverty and unemployment. Further, when the young grow old, the traditional safety net provided by Social Security and Medicare won’t be as strong as it was for their parents and grandparents.

“The math doesn’t work anymore,” Taylor said. “You end up with a generation aging in with its own economic difficulties.”

For news organizations, the dilemma is how to engage this younger audience. Taylor said the Millennial generation is interested in the world, but doesn’t feel a strong need to tap traditional news sources. Instead, younger consumers are more likely to “bump” into the news as they go about their way on social media.

They also are somewhat narcissistic, Taylor said, and more wary than their elders of institutions — religious, political, economic, and perhaps media as well.

Yet Taylor said he remains optimistic about the future of news.

“I don’t think it is inevitable that people will lose an appetite for news,” he said, noting the human need to know what is going on. At the end of the day, he said, people do want a clearer understanding of the developments around them and better ways to navigate information than they have now.

If nothing else, Taylor said, he wanted to leave the message that there are stories to be told in these shifting trends, many of which Taylor and his colleagues at Pew have captured in a new book, “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown” scheduled for release in March.

The Future of News Audiences conference, supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the Council for Research Excellence, continues Monday. Among the discussions will be one focused on audiences for news and information that serve democracy, led by Vivian Schiller, Twitter’s head of news.

Related:  Pew surveys of audience habits suggest perilous future for news | Pew: TV is ‘the dominant way that Americans get news at home’  Read more

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3 lessons from BuzzFeed’s Twitter swarm during the Golden Globes

BuzzFeed wants to own the Twitter conversation when events of national interest take place, and Sunday’s airing of the Golden Globes gave the social news site another chance to hone its craft.

I spoke with BuzzFeed social masters Mike Hayes and Samir Mezrahi via phone about their strategy for covering awards shows and Super Bowls. Here are some lessons: Read more

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This July 20, 2012 file photo shows police outside of a Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo. after a shooting during the showing of a movie. Police and fire officials failed to tell each other when and where rescuers were needed following the Aurora theater shootings, according to reports obtained by the Denver Post. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

Learning from prize-winning journalism: how to cover a breaking news story

In Poynter’s e-book, “Secrets of Prize-Winning Journalism,” we highlight and examine 10 award-winning works from 2013 through interviews with their creators.

These works are inspiring. They’re also instructive. Starting with the “secrets” shared with us by their creators, we’ve extracted some great lessons about how to learn to do better journalism, and paired them with questions to ask in your own newsroom.

In this first installment, we explore lessons learned from The Denver Post’s coverage of the Aurora theater shootings, which earned the newsroom recognition for its work, winning the ASNE distinguished writing award for deadline news reporting, the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News and The Scripps Howard Award for Breaking News. The Post also received positive feedback from the community, which pleased Post’s News Director Kevin Dale even more.

In “Secrets of Prize-Winning Journalism,” Dale examines the factors that contributed to the Post’s multiplatform coverage of a news story that broke shortly after 1 a.m., when only one person — the night digital producer — was left in the newsroom.

In Dale’s interview with Poynter affiliate faculty member Chip Scanlan, he shared some helpful lessons for covering breaking news:

Aim for accuracy

In breaking news stories, information develops rapidly, and credible sources are even more critical to understanding the true story. The Post didn’t publish a tweet or post until someone in the newsroom confirmed it.

“We knew we would be the source that people in Denver and around the world would turn to for accurate information,” Dale said. The lesson: keep your standards high even in a news frenzy when you see other organizations reporting information that hasn’t been verified.

Ask: what standards do you have for vetting information? How do you ensure the information you distribute is credible?

Use social media to listen and report

The Post dedicated a team to monitoring social media in the wake of the shooting. But it also used social media in three ways: to get information to the public, build stories and find sources. The newsroom posted entries to social media and compiled reporter and photographer tweets of verified facts. Reporters used Twitter and Facebook to find people who were in the theater. That let the Post obtain material, including raw phone video taken by people running from the theater after the shooting.

Ask: how could you more effectively use social media to listen for news and story ideas? How could you find (and vet) sources online (e.g. Facebook’s Open Graph search tool)?

Seek to understand developing narrative, craft strategy to deliver it

The Post’s coverage reflected a remarkable marriage of old and new media.

When the news broke, Dale knew it would be more than 24 hours before anything would be printed in the paper. But he immediately sent reporters and photographers to the scene, organized planning sessions and prioritized story assignments to publish digitally.

Most breaking news situations have several moving parts. Faced with this, the Post decided to prioritize creating a profile of alleged shooter James Holmes. Several reporters collaborated to create a complex and thorough story that took advantage of the strengths of both new and old media. They posted verified facts as online snippets throughout the day, then crafted a long-form narrative for print that put those details into better context.

Ask: what’s the most important content from a breaking news situation? How can you put your best resources to the most effective use? How do you decide on the best publishing vehicle?

Have a process, practice it often before breaking news happens

Faced with the question of whether or not to name the shooter, Dale and his team used previous experiences and discussions to guide their decision-making process. That process, coupled with social media and digital training, has helped the newsroom refine a “full-court strategy” that it put into motion for many major stories throughout the year.

“Plans can be written and put in a drawer and forgotten,” Dale warned. “I’m a fan of practicing solid breaking news, multiplatform journalism every single day. If that is the daily mission, the staff can respond to any story.”

Ask: what processes do you have in place for ethical decision-making on deadline and assembling resources to cover breaking news stories on multiple platforms?

Related: A victim’s mother asks journalists not to name suspect | Denver Post covers yet another shooting, ‘and the whole newsroom gets it’ | The story behind a compelling investigation into how Aurora shooter got his ammo

Resources and Training: Resources for Covering Gun Violence | Telling Smarter Stories about Gun Issues | Ethics and Credibility of Breaking News Online Read more

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Twitter’s custom timelines won’t kill Storify but could become robust filters

Twitter announced Tuesday a “custom timelines” feature that seems to mimic many of Storify’s functions. But is it a Storify killer?

All Tweetdeck users will soon be able to drop individual tweets into a “custom timelines” column with a name and short description. Then, those curated timelines are publicly accessible and can be embedded and shared. Read more

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Twitter image preview can be either interesting or maddening.

Twitter image preview either interesting or maddening

Remember when Twitter was just a 140-character microblogging platform?

The service today added in-line images and videos to timelines accessed via Twitter.com and Twitter’s mobile apps. Depending on how many accounts you follow, this new ability to view image previews without clicking or tapping a link could save you some time and make your feed more visually interesting — or make it maddeningly longer to scroll through.

Curiously, the image previews can be turned off on mobile devices (they’re turned on by default), but not on the Twitter site. We’ll have to see how the change — which affects only images uploaded directly to Twitter or videos posted to Twitter-owned Vine — impacts engagement with tweets.

A recent study showed pic.twitter.com images were 94 percent more likely to be retweeted than other images were, a homefield advantage that could grow larger because poor Instagram and Facebook are left out of Twitter’s image preview game. There’s also evidence that Facebook’s introduction of larger images in page posts this summer significantly impacted engagement.

Also, of course, sponsored tweets just got a heck of a lot more appealing — for advertisers, at least.

Meanwhile, Tweetdeck already offered the option to preview images in three different sizes. And, crucially, it also offers the option to turn image previews off — for now.

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