This tool transforms print pages into social and mobile-ready stories

This article originally appeared in Try This! — Tools for Journalism, our newsletter about digital tools. Want bite-sized news, tutorials and ideas about the best digital tools for journalism in your inbox every Monday? Sign up here.

A major update is coming to one of the biggest news publishing websites. It's not Facebook or Google, but another site where 3.5 million publishers around the world have shared nearly 40 million publications that 100 million unique viewers read every month.

I’m talking, of course, about Issuu, which many news organizations use to upload and share their print products online. Issuu’s update is an effort to solve the biggest problem with its titanic trove of information — it isn’t terribly accessible.

“All of this content had been buried beneath a cover,” said Joe Hyrkin, Issuu’s CEO.

The update, Issuu Stories, “automatically enables every publisher to be able to turn their content into automated articles that can become stories that are shareable anywhere,” Hyrkin said, including popular venues like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.

Users upload documents, most often PDFs, and then Issuu ingests, indexes and identifies individual stories within them. Users can select pages they want to share and Issuu creates a mobile-optimized version of them with the text, images and other content already there. Users can then preview the story and share it just about anywhere.

Hyrkin said Issuu’s goal was to scale online publishing to everyone so publishers can get more value from their work and readers can more easily access it.

“For publishers, there are a very thin layer — count them in the dozens — that have the resources to manage their content across all the different formats by which that content can be consumed,” he said. “We’re facilitating the ability to upload once and … atomize every element of your content and widely distribute it in the digital formats that people are consuming.”

More information and tips for using Issuu to make social-friendly stories are available here

Tools from Poynter

I’m Poynter’s digital tools reporter, but many of my colleagues use and share some great tools, too. I am periodically going to invite them to my newsletter to share some of their favorites. This week’s comes from Kristen Hare, a fellow Poynter reporter who covers local news and innovation:

Getting information from the internet and social media often feel like drinking from a firehose (I am not taking credit for that line. Someone somewhere said it already. Probably on the internet.)

I have found that newsletters are more like an old-school drinking fountain. They’re there, waiting, and all I have to do is push a button and a much more manageable stream of information comes out. And as a local news reporter, I rely on some fantastic newsletters.

The newest comes from the Center for Cooperative Media, and it’s a great tool for reporters. The Local Connection “features a handful of national and regional news stories with specific details about how to find a local connection or angle.”

The Local Fix, from Democracy Fund, gathers timely resources and coverage. Local Matters features investigative reporting from around the country. Lenfest Institute’s Solution Set offers deep dives with an easy way to catch up on specific local projects. And, humbly, my newsletter Local Edition takes a conversational approach to figuring out the future of local news.

Digital News To Know

MEASURE THIS: In what I’m sure will be an addicting new feature, Chartbeat is updating its dashboard this week to show total pageviews an uniques for the day. The new analytics will appear alongside concurrent users, engaged time and recirculation. This will be great for those moments when your boss pops by and asks how that story you just published is doing.

QUICK DRAW: If you’re an artist or illustrator or just play one in your newsroom, here’s a solid set of tools and resources to help you in your work. Some are obvious, like Photoshop and Illustrator, but you won’t know how handy tools like Cooler (to generate color palettes) or TinyPNG (to compress images) are until you need them once. Or twice. Or every day.

40 BETTER HOURS: This guide to productivity from designer, illustrator, and author Frank Chimero is a perfect read on a Monday. If you don’t get to reading it today, try to at least heed this advice: “A person is not a brain driving a meat robot; it all runs together.”

GET SOCIAL: The Texas Tribune is launching a Facebook Group specifically for college students to talk about higher education news and policy. I’ve written before about how Facebook Groups have quickly become useful vessels for growing engagement and building a feedback loop in which audiences read and respond to journalists’ work and help to guide coverage. Maybe just keep John Blutarsky out of this one. (If you want to learn more about how journalists can use Facebook Groups, we have a course.)

READ THE COMMENTS: Literally every time I roll into the comments section on our site I can’t help but brace myself and think of that cat meme about the comments being mean. But comments don’t have to be this way. I’m trying to commit this wonderful guide from the Coral Project to memory, but I’ve also hung their printable checklist on my wall just in case.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

  • The new Google News app is out. It uses algorithms to find the best stories for you and machine learning to break down complex stories into easily understandable bits and pieces. (Disclosure: Google is a partial funder of this newsletter.)
  • A stunning quote from this Guardian piece about tech humanism and the power of Big Tech: “If being technological is a feature of being human, then the power to shape how we live with technology should be a fundamental human right.”
  • Facebook shut down 583 million fake accounts in early 2018. That’s about the same as the combined population of the United States and Indonesia, the third and fourth largest countries in the world.
  • A plugin from Storyful that promised to help journalists find and verify photos and videos was actually tracking what those journalists were watching.

Try This! is powered by Google News Initiative. It is also supported by the American Press Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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