Archive for the ‘internet’ category

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.

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.”

Pixazza rebrands as Luminate, looking to make images more interactive

July 27th, 2011

The company formerly known as Pixazza has rebranded as Luminate and they’re launching a new platform today that changes what you think of when you hear the word “images.” Instead of being static photos, Luminate turns images into mini applications.

“Images are the center of the Web,” Bob Lisbonne, the company’s CEO, told USA Today. “But until now, they didn’t do anything. “We want to put little apps at the bottom of the image, so that there’s interactivity, there’s information, there’s functionality…behind every image you see online.”

So how does it work? When a user mouses over an image, they’re given a number of ways they can interact with it, such as shopping, sharing, commenting and navigating. For example, using the image above, when a user clicks on the Luminate icon in the corner of an image he or she is given options to see more details about the dress in the image, including links on where to buy it:

You can also share directly with friends via social networks; find out stats about athletes within photos; there are links to related info online; users can tag images based on geography and more.

The ability to layer product data onto images is not new, but Luminate promises a streamlined, simple process with a very reach feature set.

The company has racked up 4,000 publishers who now use the technology, including US Weekly, Hearst Digital Media and Access Hollywood. In addition, Luminate delivers ads seen by more than 150 million unique users per month — triple the numbers the company saw at the start of 2011. The new platform is expected to deliver even larger audiences across categories such as commerce, information, social, organization, advertising, navigation, public service and presentation.

Luminate has raised nearly $20 million in funding and competitors include Stipple, Image Space Media, GumGum and others.

Google News adds badges to identify content you engage with most

July 15th, 2011

I typically associate badges with anything that is gamified, Foursquare being the best and most famous example of using badges to reward someone unlocks an achievement.

But as of yesterday in the U.S., Google has added badges to its Google News service. The badges are designed to help you keep track of what type of content you engage with most, and what you most often click-through to read.

Take politics for example: If you continue to visit Google News and consume politics content, you’ll earn a badge related to that. The more content you read related to that topic, the higher level badge you’ll receive. Badges start at a bronze level and then move up to silver, gold, platinum and ultimate. Google says it has more than 500 badges available for almost any interest. Here is a sample:

Google News badges

As you earn more badges, they begin to show up on your Google News page and you can then use those badges to create sections related to specific content.

Badges are private by default, but you can share them with friends and use the +1 features. To get started with badges, Google says you need to visit Google News from a signed-in account with web history enabled and then visit this page on the Help Center for instructions. Google says this is just the first step of what is possible with badges.

I applaud the effort to be different, and think it could definitely help people create sections that curate content based on their interest. Readers may unconsciously know they have an addiction to Harry Potter stories, but once the badge pops up it may be a more direct confirmation. The ability to create sections on the fly based on interest, is also great.

That said, I don’t think this is a huge step forward, either. People will always drill-down into a site to find content they want or they will use a search function to get it. While the badges are good reminders and direct links to find content we want and like, I don’t think they’re much different than simply bookmarking a section you’re interested in.

Also, in its current form I’m not sure badges are the most appropriate tool to promote this activity; badges typically are rewarded to people for reaching achievements, and I don’t see this as achieving anything. It may promote increased activity among some users, but for those who truly compete to earn badges, I think this initiative fails to address the real underlying reason people compete to unlock badges. I will be watching closely to see how this changes over time. It’s a good start, for sure.

What do you think about the new Google News badges?