South by Southwest

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Death and writing short – the missing SXSW session

I once heard the great Francis X. Clines of the New York Times tell a group of journalists never to apologize for writing about death.  “We tell the morbid truth,” he said.

I was scheduled to deliver a workshop on “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times” on St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW.  But on Friday the Thirteenth my mother, Shirley Clark, died at the age of 95.  I cancelled my trip to Austin and turned my writing skills to crafting her eulogy.

Here are some of the things I would have said at SXSW if I had been able to make the trip.  It riffs off my handout for the session, which you can access here.  When I picked the selections of short writing for study, I didn’t realize how many of them were about death:  dying, almost dying, fear of dying, recovering from a death, remembering a death, the legacy of death.  Read more

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Behind the scenes of Radiolab’s walking tour of an Austin serial killer

Ellen Horne had a problem yesterday morning: she couldn’t find the TV remote control to occupy her eighteen-month-old daughter. “I imagine she’ll just play by herself,” she laughed.

DetourRadiolabSXSW300This was the least demanding task she’d had to perform in three months. Starting in January, Horne, the executive producer of WNYC’s immersive science radio program Radiolab, had overseen a project unusual even by Radiolab’s standards: guiding smartphone users through a walking tour of Austin, Texas, tracing the path of the “Servant Girl Annihilator,” a mysterious serial killer who stalked the city’s streets in 1885. Radiolab, in conjunction with the mobile app startup Detour, had just finished rolling out the experience before the more than 50,000 people who annually attend the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Playing with her baby girl was a long way from helping the world’s most important tech and media professionals feel what it was like to walk the same streets as a murderer. Read more

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SXSW report: Washington Post’s digital numbers even better than officials claimed

According to Capital New York, Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron and Chief Information Officer Shailesh Prakash gave a presentation at the South by Southwest Interactive festival on how the technological innovations introduced by Jeff Bezos have changed the newspaper’s fortunes. And they made a remarkable claim: according to numbers produced by comScore, the Post’s number of unique visitors jumped 71 percent in a single year, to roughly 42.6 million in December.

But according to comScore, the Post’s numbers are even better if you look at what happened in February. comScore Vice President of Marketing and Insights Andrew Lipsman claims that in February, The Washington Post’s number of unique visitors jumped to more than 48 million, a 63 percent increase over the same month last year. Read more

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From Dan Rather to Vice, here’s a look at what SXSW Interactive has for journalists

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None of the sessions journalists may enjoy at South by Southwest Interactive actually use the word journalism as a theme. Most of them are called “content and distribution.” Whether you’re going or just hoping to follow along virtually, SXSW has a lot for journalists.

“I think that for 2015, this is probably the most extensive collection of what we’re calling content-related sessions that we’ve ever offered,” said Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive’s director and a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board.

Sessions include one on metrics, what drives social traffic and “what BuzzFeed, what Vice, what a lot of these kind of news startups are doing and how that is changing the game.”

And many of those sessions, including “The Art and Science of Shareability” with BuzzFeed’s publisher, Dao Nguyen, and Lessons from BuzzFeed from BuzzFeed’s co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, aren’t just interesting to journalists, Forrest said. Read more

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Upworthy co-founder at SXSW: ‘This is what media should do’

The cofounder of Upworthy, speaking at South by Southwest Interactive on Monday, called for traditional news organizations to find better ways to engage readers with important journalism that previously never had to worry so much about promoting itself.

Grilled by David Carr of The New York Times on Monday, Eli Pariser defended Upworthy’s viral headline tactics with free market language: “We don’t do well unless people like what we do so much that they share it.”

He emphasized Upworthy’s social mission, rejecting Carr’s challenge that some of the site’s content constitutes clickbait without a cause. The site is partnering with ProPublica and advocacy groups for climate change and human rights, and recently shared a video by Lean In about girls being called “bossy.”

Pariser also pointed to a video of aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics in New York that was viewed 17 million times in five days. Read more

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Tuesday at SXSW: Sessions for news junkies

Editor’s Note: Poynter is at South by Southwest, the annual music, movie and interactive festival, March 7-16, in Austin, Texas. Look for our Poynter faculty members, Roy Peter Clark, Ellyn Angelotti and Kelly McBride, and digital media reporter Sam Kirkland. We combed through the interactive schedule to find the sessions journalists attending the conference won’t want to miss. Read more

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ONA introduces 5 ethical challenges of social news gathering at SXSW

A working group formed by the Online News Association has identified five key challenges facing those who gather news via social media. Board members Eric Carvin of AP, one of the working group’s founders, and Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media explained the challenges at South by Southwest Interactive on Sunday.

Here’s a quick look at what they covered. Read more

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n this Wednesday, March 9, 2011 photo, photographer Brandon Stanton, left, prepares to photograph a man on a New York City sidewalk as he works the streets of New York City seeking photos of people he finds interesting, for his project entitled “Humans of New York.” The photos go on his website, at humansofnewyork.com, and are linked to the neighborhoods in which they were taken. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Seven lessons from Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton at SXSW

Standing in line to see Brandon Stanton, the man behind the Humans of New York blog and book, was like discovering his blog for the first time.

Because Stanton was scheduled to speak at 11:15 a.m. on the stage inside in the SXSW trade show, which didn’t open until 11 a.m., it seemed like something big was about to happen.

“Is this the line for Humans of New York?” people kept asking. “Yes,” someone in the line would say. Then three other people who were standing in the line would say, “What’s Humans of New York?”

Then someone would explain the simple concept behind the blog turned book: Some guy takes simple portraits of people in New York, tells a small story about them and people love it. Read more

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Sunday at SXSW: Sessions for news junkies

Editor’s Note: Poynter is at South by Southwest Interactive through Tuesday, in Austin, Texas. Look for our Poynter faculty members, Roy Peter Clark, Ellyn Angelotti and Kelly McBride, and digital media reporter Sam Kirkland.

Sunday’s a packed day of sessions of interest to journalists and those in the news media. Read more

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FiveThirtyEight to relaunch March 17

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight will relaunch March 17, ESPN President John Skipper announced Saturday at South by Southwest as he introduced Silver and Grantland’s Bill Simmons for a panel on personal media brands.

While talking about leaving The New York Times and deciding to partner with ESPN, Silver criticized old media brands for being “being slow on their feet and not having entrepreneurial spirit.” They have no concept of return on investment, he said. Read more

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