Offline for a few hours? Here’s the best app to catch up on the news.

February 11, 2019
Category: Tech & Tools

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.

NEWS, DISTILLED: My morning routine goes something like this: water, shower, Nuzzel. After tending to basic needs, I want the news. Rather than check homepages, where much of the news isn’t tailored to my interests; or Twitter, where worthy reads mingle with journalists with aspiring comedic careers (I might be leading that charge), I use Nuzzel to sort the wheat from the chafing Twitter trolls. The tool pulls in articles shared by your social media friends and orders them based on how many people have shared them. Tailor the timeline to view more long term posts or move from friends to friends of friends to inch away from your filter bubble. Speaking of the latter, I wouldn’t use this as a sole source of information. But if you’re looking to catch up up the posts you missed while you were catching up on sleep, Nuzzel is perfect.

  • I’ve been using Nuzzel for a while now, even though this is the first time I’ve mentioned it in the newsletter. Why? First off, I have to keep some secret weapons! When social media seems like a ghost town (a rare phenomenon these days), I use Nuzzel to pull things out of the ether and amaze my colleagues. Second, Nuzzel was just bought by Scroll, a service from the founder of Chartbeat that aims to make journalism easier to consume by removing distractions. Expect improvements.

JOY TO THE BIRD: Twitter and Marie Kondo seem about as compatible as bugs and trucks. One is a jumbled yarn of humanity where regular people try their best to ignore Nazis and racists. The other helps you decide which pair of socks to throw away. But Julius Tarng found a way to make them coexist. Tarng’s Tokimeki Unfollow tool surfaces a handful of tweets from the people you follow, follower by follower, so you can more easily decide who doesn’t spark joy and remove them from your life. It transforms a tedious but necessary task into an oddly soothing exercise in self care.

SOCIAL COMPASS: In 2018, I saw the best minds of my profession destroyed by madness, starving hysterical clickless, as Facebook changed its algorithm and upended our traffic sources. Or did I? The big picture, as surfaced by Kelsey Arendt at Parsely, shows that Facebook traffic was actually up by 14 percent in 2018. At the same time, sources like SmartNews and Flipboard offered growth opportunities (though still at a tiny magnitude compared to Facebook). Arendt ranked traffic-driving platforms by year-over-year and month-over-month change to help you decide where to put your energy in 2019.

CALENDAR PAL: Speaking of things that forecasters get wrong… Did you know you can add the weather to your Google Calendar? It’s as simple as replacing a zip code in a URL and pasting it into a menu.

FLICKERED OUT: If you uploaded photos to the internet in the mid- to late-aughts, there’s a good chance you used Flickr. The site transformed the internet by allowing users to easily upload, share and embed photos. After rounds of layoffs and slumping popularity — amateur photographers tend to share on social media and professionals have plenty of other options these days — Flickr announced earlier this year that all accounts with more than 1,000 photographs would have to pay $50 annually or risk deletion. That change was supposed to take effect Feb. 5, but Flickr users now have until March 12 to download and divest or pay up. No word on whether Photobucket will dust itself off and follow suit.

OCTOPUS, DOUGHNUT, OGRE: Have you ever wanted a mosaic of your face made entirely out of emoji? No? Me either. Here’s a way to do it anyway.

Try This! is supported by the American Press Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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