Archive for August, 2011

Digital Journal announces project to commemorate 9/11

August 18th, 2011

Digital Journal, a global digital media network with contributors in more than 200 countries, has launched two free news apps for the Apple iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook.

Partnering with Polar Mobile, Digital Journal is releasing free tablet apps that feature breaking news, blogs, image galleries and user-generated content submitted by more than 32,000 Digital Journalists around the world.

“Digital Journal is excited about the opportunity to continue working with Polar Mobile to showcase world class user-generated content on mobile devices,” said Chris Hogg, CEO, Digital Journal. “With the success of our mobile apps on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone devices, we’re eager to extend our mobile reach into the tablet space. Digital Journal’s tablet apps offer outstanding features with a sleek design, and the tablets themselves provide unique reading experiences we know readers are going to love.”

Digital Journal’s iPad and PlayBook apps showcase top news and commentary from tens of thousands of Digital Journal members across the world. The tablet apps also include blogs, special reports and image galleries featuring an up-close-and-personal look at communities, people and events from thousands of cities.

“We are excited Digital Journal has picked our tablet platform to further extend their presence in mobile,” said Jon Zifkin, Director of Customer Success, Polar Mobile. “Tablets will play an integral part in Digital Journal’s user engagement and monetization strategy.”

Digital Journal’s tablet apps boast an immersive and engaging reading experience with a stunning layout and social media features such as the ability to share content on Twitter and Facebook from within the apps.

The tablets apps also offer readers access to read and share Digital Journal’s Twitter and Facebook streams right within the apps.

Digital Journal’s iPad and PlayBook apps are available for download from the iTunes App Store (link) and BlackBerry App World (link) today.

This article was originally published on Digital Journal [Link]

Digital Journal offers editorial blueprint for newsroom success

August 16th, 2011

My company, Digital Journal, issued the following press release this morning:

After receiving widespread praise for its Global Editorial Meetings, Digital Journal today released feedback to give newsrooms and editors a chance to hear about the types of content people are looking for.

Throughout the month of July, Digital Journal hosted online story meetings that were open to the public. The live-chat discussions invited reporters, citizen journalists, bloggers and average news consumers into the editorial process to help shape the coverage being produced by Digital Journal. Participants were invited to provide input on the type of content of interest to them.

Participants interacted with Digital Journal editors and management to express their thoughts on stories and topics they believe were under-reported; emerging trends and topics that needed more media attention; and geographies and local stories that were being missed by the press. Readers chatted live and responded to polls and questions, and that feedback was used to assign stories to thousands of contributors via Digital Journal’s content assignment technology.

“We learned a lot about what people look for in a news site, and we were surprised by some of the feedback we got,” said Digital Journal CEO, Chris Hogg. “One of the most interesting things we noticed was that local content matters to people, but those people are also likely to read local content from other regions if the right context is provided. Several people told us they will read foreign news coverage if it’s presented to them through a single content source, and they really enjoy reading about news from other cities.”

Several key themes surfaced in the Global Editorial Meetings, including:

  • Local content is widely sought-out by news consumers, but the majority are also interested in local stories from other geographies when context is provided.
  • Readers are increasingly turning to social media sites to discover new information, following content feeds from media organizations on Twitter and Facebook because they are often curated and timelier than a website.
  • Readers view their social media friends as content sources, often citing their social circles as sources of information.
  • When a major or developing story breaks, a large percentage of online news consumers turn to their social media circles to validate information and to get updates rather than turning to a specific news site. Readers will often follow a story as it breaks on Twitter and Facebook, and then look for validated information from news sources after.
  • Several readers want to see more investigative journalism and original work in the mainstream press and less content from wire services.
  • A large percentage of readers enjoy reading opinion pieces, even if it’s an opinion contrary to their own sentiments.
  • Most readers want to see more editorial coverage from regions such as South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Several readers said they hope to learn more about these regions beyond the typical headlines that come from these areas.
  • When it comes to content verticals, several readers said they want more business, science, and environmental news, regardless of the geography from which a story originates.
  • Readers want to see more photography with news stories, citing preferences for photo essays and on-the-ground reports filled with high-quality visuals.

In addition to these overall themes, participants also noted that while a lot of the news they read informs them about what’s happening around them, deeper context is often missing in news articles in the mainstream press. That is especially true when it comes to discussions on the debt crisis and global financial markets, readers said. In addition, readers said geographies such as Africa and the Middle East are often in the news because of conflict occurring in those regions, but they believe media outlets need to do a better job of explaining the various sides of a story, such as who is involved, historical context and why the story should matter to them.

“Digital Journal is well-known for giving a voice to anyone who wants to take part in the news-gathering process,” said Hogg. “Learning from our readers, as well as people who are just discovering us as a news source, helps us improve our news offering and I would encourage every newsroom to start experimenting by bringing their readers behind the curtain to involve them in the everyday process of reporting news.”

Full transcripts from Digital Journal’s Global Editorial Meetings are available on request.

About Digital Journal:

Digital Journal is a global digital media network with 32,000 professional and citizen journalists, bloggers, photographers and freelancers in 200 countries around the world. Regarded as a pioneer and leader in crowd-sourcing and user-generated content, Digital Journal is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Digital Journal also consults news organizations on how to empower their audience to acquire content, drive revenue and increase engagement from digital media properties. For more information, visit digitaljournal.com.

Digital Journal commended for opening newsroom story meetings to the public

August 16th, 2011

My company, Digital Journal, issued the following press release this morning:

Digital Journal, a global digital media network with contributors in 200 countries, reported a strong response to its series of Global Editorial Meetings, ushering in a new precedent for how newsrooms interact with their audience and how editorial content is produced.

Online story meetings were open to the public, taking place throughout July. The live-chat discussions invited reporters, citizen journalists, bloggers and average news consumers into the editorial process to help shape the coverage produced by Digital Journal. Participants were invited to provide input on the type of content of interest to them.

“In an age where people go online to find content appealing to their tastes, it’s important for news organizations to adapt and ensure their editorial process aligns with reader interests,” said Digital Journal CEO, Chris Hogg. “By opening up our story meetings to the public, we provided a platform for people everywhere to tell us what they care about. We received a lot of great feedback that will allow us to target geographies and stories we know people care about.”

During the Global Editorial Meetings, participants interacted with Digital Journal editors to express their thoughts on stories and topics they believe were under-reported in the media; emerging trends and topics that needed more media attention; and geographies and local stories missed by the press. Readers chatted live and responded to polls and questions, and that feedback was used to assign stories to thousands of contributors via Digital Journal’s content assignment technology.

Several participants said they enjoy reading and contributing to Digital Journal because of the variety of content.

“I like Digital Journal because it gives me a mix of everything,” said Denise, a reader based in the UK. “I enjoy visiting a news site that offers me news I want to read from my location but also something else.”

Kim was also fond of Digital Journal’s diverse editorial mix. “I like a variety of hard-hitting news and politics as well as the odd news and light-hearted stuff, the same mix as Digital Journal provides,” she said.

Participants were very happy to have the opportunity to participate in a discussion about what is newsworthy and what stories they felt were not being covered by international press. Participants were also happy to have an opportunity to speak directly with Digital Journal staff members.

Pulling back the curtain and offering the public a chance to take part in the news-gathering process has earned Digital Journal kudos and praise from people all over the world.

“Thank you [Digital Journal] for great moderation, openness, and opportunity for feedback,” said Sam Halaby.

“Thanks for asking us what we think,” wrote Darren W. “Don’t see that often in the media.”

Full transcripts from Digital Journal’s Global Editorial Meetings are available on request.

Digital Journal will also be publishing an editorial summary to provide media organizations with an overview of the type of content average readers enjoy consuming, as well as input on how to improve online news coverage. The summary can be found here.

About Digital Journal:

Digital Journal is a global digital media network with 32,000 professional and citizen journalists, bloggers, photographers and freelancers in 200 countries around the world. Regarded as a pioneer and leader in crowd-sourcing and user-generated content, Digital Journal is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Digital Journal also consults news organizations on how to empower their audience to acquire content, drive revenue and increase engagement from digital media properties. For more information, visit digitaljournal.com.

Google buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion

August 15th, 2011

Google has announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in cash. The deal gives Google a stronger foothold in the mobile industry, putting it directly in the handset business, and positions Google to better compete with companies like Apple.

Google CEO Larry Page, made the announcement on the company’s blog, saying the deal will “supercharge Android.”

“Since its launch in November 2007, Android has not only dramatically increased consumer choice but also improved the entire mobile experience for users,” Page wrote. “Given Android’s phenomenal success, we are always looking for new ways to supercharge the Android ecosystem. That is why I am so excited today to announce that we have agreed to acquire Motorola.”

Google’s cash offer is $40 per share which is a 63 percent premium on Motorola‘s closing price Friday, and the deal is expected to close by the end of 2011 or in early 2012.

Google says it has activated more than 150 million Android devices, adding 550,000 new devices each day. The company boasts a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers in 123 countries.

“Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today,” Page said. “In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices. It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far. We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth.”

Page says the acquisition will not change Google’s promise to keep Android as an open platform, saying Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open.

“This transaction offers significant value for Motorola Mobility’s stockholders and provides compelling new opportunities for our employees, customers, and partners around the world,” Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said in a press release. “We have shared a productive partnership with Google to advance the Android platform, and now through this combination we will be able to do even more to innovate and deliver outstanding mobility solutions across our mobile devices and home businesses.”

While Motorola will run as a separate business, this deal marks the first time Google has had a hand directly in the mobile handset business.

“Motorola’s total commitment to Android in mobile devices is one of many reasons that there is a natural fit between our two companies,” Page said. “Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere.”

When the acquisition announcement was first made, questions arose around how HTC, LG, Samsung, Acer, Sony Ericsson and Lenovo would respond to the announcement.

Google says says the reaction has been positive, quoting positive responses from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG execs.

In the acquisition announcement, Page also took a shot at Microsoft and Apple, saying the companies are “banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to ‘protect competition and innovation in the open source software community’ and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction,” Page said. “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

According to Motorola, the company has 14,600 patents, with 6,700 patent applications pending worldwide.

Google says the Motorola acquisition will enhance competition, offer greater innovation and choice and a better user experience.

UK government mulls idea of banning suspected rioters from social media

August 11th, 2011

Critics and hacker groups are lashing out at the UK government and at BlackBerry maker RIM after British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the UK could block social media services and get user data from mobile phones to shut down further riots.

The UK government is debating whether it should shut down social media websites in order to stop further riots from taking place.

In his opening statement during a Commons debate on Thursday, Cameron told parliament the government is looking at banning individuals from using sites like Twitter and Facebook if they are believed to be plotting criminal activity.

“The prime minister did not go into specifics about how such a block could work, what evidence would be needed to trigger it, and whether it would apply only to individuals or could see networks shut down entirely — instead saying only that the government was looking at the issue,” Metro reports.

Cameron recalled MPs from summer recess to address the increasing violence and riots happening throughout London.

According to the Guardian, Cameron also said the government will hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry, to discuss “their responsibilities” in this area.

As the BBC reports, under UK law, police are legally allowed to request data from someone’s mobile phone if the information relates to criminal activity.

“Everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media,” Cameron told Parliament. “The free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill.

“So we are working with the police, intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

Cameron has also told broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky News they should turn-in unused footage to help police. That request has been met with opposition from broadcasters who say handing over unused footage would damage their editorial independence.

While the UK government continues to put the blame on social media websites for playing a role in the riots, Metro reports evidence has yet to show Facebook or Twitter played a significant role.

That said, technology has played a part; the uprising in the UK has been dubbed the “BlackBerry riots” by media because several reports indicate people are using the BlackBerry’s instant messaging features to plan and organize riots and looting.

Earlier this week Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, went as far as asking RIM to shut down its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service on Twitter. “Immediate action needed,” he Tweeted. “[Londoners] cannot have another evening like last night tonight. BBM clearly helping rioters outfox police. Suspend it.”

RIM raised eyebrows when it confirmed via Twitter it was indeed helping police. “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” the Tweet reads. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”

RIM’s move to help police has caused outrage among hackers and a BlackBerry blog was hacked in response.

The hack was sent as a warning by a group calling itself “Team Poison.” As Computer Weekly reports Team Poison has threatened to publish personal data of RIM employees if the company cooperates with police by handing over user data.

“Team Poison said it did not condone innocent people or small businesses being attacked in the riots, but said it supported attacks on police and government,” Computer Weekly reports. “The hacker group said it was opposed to Blackberry giving user information to police because it could lead to the wrong people being targeted.”

Meanwhile, Cameron says the government continues to use social media and technology to its advantage, publishing photos of people accused of looting online. “No phoney human rights concerns about publishing photographs will get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice,” Cameron said.

Jim Killock, executive director of online advocacy organisation Open Rights Grouptold the Guardian Cameron’s requests attack free speech.

“Events like the recent riots are frequently used to attack civil liberties,” he said. “Policing should be targeted at actual offenders, with the proper protection of the courts. How do people ‘know’ when someone is planning to riot? Who makes that judgment? The only realistic answer is the courts must judge. If court procedures are not used, then we will quickly see abuses by private companies and police. Companies like RIM must insist on court processes. Citizens also have the right to secure communications. Business, politics and free speech relies on security and privacy.”