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Posts Tagged ‘Mathew Ingram’

Since I’ve made a big deal lately about why editors and newsrooms need to use Twitter, maybe this is a good time to criticize Twitter. It might bolster my position that I don’t see Twitter use as a “rule for entry” for any journalism priesthood.

Twitter can be annoying as hell. But so is dealing with sources trying to spin you. Good journalists deal with the necessary annoyances. My frustration with Twitter today deals with embed codes, and if you share my complaint, I will offer a partial solution (if you scroll down or stick with me).

As important as I think Twitter is to journalism today, I am repeatedly disappointed with its service to users and the quality of its products. My most-read post ever criticized Twitter’s ceiling of 2,000 accounts you can follow, unless almost as many accounts follow you. Every month thousands of Twitter users find that post by Googling in search of a solution for this frustrating limit (the post got 119 hits yesterday). But Twitter refuses to change the limit or provide an easy way for people who hit the limit to prove their legitimacy and keep following more accounts. Other posts expressing disappointment in other aspects of Twitter and the company’s performance are listed at the end of this post.

Today’s complaint is about features of Twitter embeds that don’t work. When I attended Twitter’s reception/spiel at their San Francisco headquarters during the 2012 Online News Association, Twitter had recently changed rules for use of its API and was encouraging embedding when using tweets in all digital media. Twitter’s Erica Anderson put it this way:

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baquet twitterDean Baquet isn’t active on Twitter, but he’s great clickbait. And he’s getting a lot of attention on Twitter today. I hope he’s lurking, as one of his staff assures me:


Last Thursday I blogged that editors who want to lead innovation undercut their efforts if they aren’t active on Twitter. I mentioned Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and used the screenshot above (now getting its third run here). So, as I normally do when I criticize someone, I invited response from Baquet. I tweeted at him (not likely to get a response, given the topic of the blog).
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I also emailed him using the clunky contact form at the Times site. I have no faith in such forms (or in the likelihood that people will respond), so I also asked a friend who works at the times for his email address and emailed him directly. Late yesterday, Baquet responded to my email. This won’t be one of my blogs full of lessons, but here’s one: Email people politely and they often respond. In a later email after I posted his response, Baquet said he responded because “you were fair and persistent.” That combination always serves a journalist well.

Mathew Ingram, who blogged about Baquet, the Times and Twitter before I did, noted that he didn’t get a response: (more…)

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Belated thoughts on the big developments at the New York Times recently:

I have started twice in the past week to blog about developments at the New York Times. First, I was going to blog about the initial report of the Times Innovation Team, which raised lots of issues for all newsrooms trying to transform digitally. Digital transformation has been the focus of my work at Digital First Media, and I was going to draw some lessons from the Times recommendations for Project Unbolt.

Then I was going to blog about the firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times. I will post some observations about Abramson later in this piece, but I doubt I can add much insight beyond what’s already been written.

Mostly, I want to call my DFM colleagues’ attention (and the attention of everyone trying to change the culture of entrenched print newsrooms) to the full report of the innovation team (leaked to Buzzfeed and both more blunt and more detailed than the summary report). You should read the full report (you can ignore the sanitized version). Then you should read Josh Benton’s piece on Nieman Lab. (more…)

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Verification HandbookI’m pleased to be involved in the Verification Handbook, a new project to help journalists and aid providers sort fact from fake.

The handbook is a project of the European Journalism Centre and is edited by Craig Silverman, with whom I’ve collaborated before in accuracy workshops.

I wrote Chapter 2, “Verification Fundamentals: Rules to Live By.” Other chapter authors, in addition to Craig, are Rina Tsubaki of EJC, Claire Wardle and Malachy Browne of Storyful, Trushar Barot of BBC News, Mathew Ingram of GigaOm, Patrick Meier of the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Sarah Knight of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (more…)

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John Paton has explained why 22 Digital First Media sites continue to experiment with paywalls despite “abysmal” results initially. We also are experimenting with Google surveys as a revenue source. The surveys are bringing in more revenue than the paywall, but both are harming traffic, John says.

Last year I said I was tired of the whole paywall argument and would stop commenting on it unless Digital First made a significant move regarding paywalls. I don’t have anything more to say on this beyond what John said and what Mathew Ingram says about John’s post.

 

 

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Update: Ryan Chittum has responded to this piece in detail. He’s wrong on lots of points, but I am tired of the argument and think this piece holds up well.

An editor shared some paywall results with me yesterday. I don’t use unnamed sources lightly, but I understand why this editor can’t use his or her name or organization. It’s someone I’ve known and respected for a few years. Here’s what this editor of a small regional daily newspaper said:

We have had a digital subscription plan in place for a few months. We don’t even have 300 subscribers yet. It’s a failure. Even at the corporate level we’ve stopped hearing about paywalls. They know they aren’t working either.

I will be clear about one thing: This is not a Digital First Media editor and I will not disclose here the results of any of the MediaNews paywalls that launched shortly before Digital First took over operation of MediaNews last year. I don’t have those results and wouldn’t be the right person to disclose them.

The editor who emailed me is not the only person outside Digital First I’ve heard from who’s worried about weak results of a paywall, just the most specific and the one who contacted me this week. I’m not about to say that the current wave of paywalls will all be failures, based on this one email from an editor who won’t be named and less-specific comments from some other people.

I am willing to say that anyone who thinks the matter of whether paywalls will help news organizations find a prosperous future is settled is completely lacking in credibility. Specifically, the paywall cheerleading by Ryan Chittum and Dean Starkman of CJR is mystifyingly lacking of thoughtful analysis and skepticism. (more…)

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I call your attention to seven recent pieces about the business of news. I don’t feel strongly enough (or have enough new to say) about any of them to comment at length, but I’ll comment briefly.

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review continues to pretend that paywalls are a panacea for the news business, saying that the Washington Post needs one immediately. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and paywalls are a good idea. At best, they’re only part of a solution. If they were the path to posterity, the news organizations with paywalls wouldn’t be struggling the way they are. Even if a paywall works, we need a lot more than paywalls, and the single-minded focus on paywalls is slowing the development of other solutions.

Mathew Ingram’s response to Starkman is, not surprisingly, much more insightful: “This focus on a paywall as a magic solution misses the point about the larger risks facing both the Post and the industry as a whole.” (more…)

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