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Sourcefabric promises a free, multi-platform solution for news outlets

Sourcefabric, a non-profit, has announced it is working on a new platform: Superdesk, an open source newsroom tool designed by journalists that covers the entire journalistic process from source to signal.

When it is released in summer 2012 Superdesk promises to be a tool newsrooms can use to pull in news feeds from social media and APIs, and then output the signal to a range of different platforms, such as television, radio, mobile, tablets and online.

As free software it can be used by organisations of all sizes, from hyperlocal or global, and by print or online. As with Sourcefabric’s other two open source platforms, Superdesk will be accessible through any web browser after being installed on one Linux server.

Although not yet publicly available Superdesk is already being used by new Swiss online-print hybrid paper TagesWoche, launched last month in Basel, 14 months after the city’s liberal Basler Zeitung was sold to investors. By using the platform the news organisation is helping Sourcefabric shape its development.

An announcement from Sourcefabric states:

Superdesk is a newsroom tool made by journalists, for journalists, which will offer new ways to source, manage, verify, process and present the facts behind a story.

Whether you source your news from Reuters or random RSS, stringers or Storyful, citizens or Open Calais tags, Superdesk streamlines your workflow.

It centralises and standardises your content allowing you to move it around the newsroom to other journalists, editors or translators for further editing or sign off. Superdesk will then deliver the finished article to any platform or device – web, mobile, print, radio, television. All will be at your disposal.

Adam Thomas from Sourcefabric told Journalism.co.uk that the software has been developed by journalists who understand exactly how newsrooms work.

We have this ethos of creating once and publishing everywhere to really create efficiency within the newsroom.

Sourcefabric has two existing platforms: Newscoop, a CMS, and Airtime, for radio stations.

Newscoop

Newscoop is a content management system, a demo of which provides a taster. As with Superdesk and Airtime, Newscoop needs to be installed on a Linux server and can then be accessed using any web browser from a device running any OS.

Asked how it differs from WordPress Thomas said:

WordPress is great for blogs and Newscoop is great for newsrooms. It’s built by journalists for journalists and has lots of tools that journalists really like, like workflow hierarchies. It’s multilingual, you can upload to SoundCloud, it’s very friendly to audio and works very nicely with images.

Being multilingual is key for the software, Thomas explained.

We work in a lot of post-conflict areas, a lot of transitional democracies, where a multitude of languages are often spoken, so it is multilingual both in the back end, for the journalists, and also for the front end, so readers can get the news in different languages.

Airtime

Airtime is Sourcefabric’s open source radio automation package. Thomas explained how it works:

It allows radio stations, for free, to download software and set up a professional radio station and manage a media archive, build shows and then output via webstream, by FM or digital.

One of the radio stations using Airtime is West African Democracy Radio, a radio network operating out of Senegal but covering the whole of the West African region.

They use Airtime alongside Newscoop. They get the journalists to write the articles on Newscoop, they take these and prepare them as scripts, give them to the radio shows who then broadcast via Airtime.

Airtime records automatically to SoundCloud so then these shows are recorded to SoundCloud, uploaded to the web, and then shared by Facebook and Twitter.

Sourcefabric launched in its current form, as a non-profit organisation, in April 2010 but the seeds of the organisation and platforms date back as far as 1999, when a team first started creating digital newsrooms.

The current incarnation of the organisation has bases in Europe and North and South America: in Prague, Berlin, Toronto, Warsaw, Guatemala, Serbia and Minsk.

Thomas said:

The software is actually only seven months old. We’ve re-factored and made new versions, we’ve renamed them so these are new products. We have really tailored then for the web and for modern journalism.

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Hyperlocals can now create noticeboards using the Guardian’s n0tice

Online noticeboard n0tice has today opened to all community groups and hyperlocal sites after testing the technology with a limited number of users.

Groups can now create their own customised page, choosing a domain and can start to moderate activity. The platform is still being developed but there are plans to later introduce revenue-sharing between n0tice, owned by the Guardian Media Group, and page owners, such as hyperlocal news sites and bloggers.

notice is like a cross between a village noticeboard, Gumtree and Foursquare in that it is a space for users to post small ads, local news and announcements and that information can be pushed to location-enabled mobile phones and devices. There is more on how and why n0tice was created at this link and how it will make money by charging users for promoted, location-based small ads.

Following a recent invitation roll-out, hyperlocals, bloggers and community groups can now create their n0tice page, measure performance and activity with social analytics tools, and “moderate community activity in order to encourage the kind of behaviour they want to see on their noticeboard”, Sarah Hartley, one of the team behind n0tice told Journalism.co.uk.

She added:

This service is designed to serve community groups of all shapes and sizes, active local champions and community leaders, local publishers and bloggers, interest groups and hobbyists, and anyone who wants to manage a community noticeboard. We are focused on serving UK-based community groups, but it works anywhere in the world.

The service is still in development, and we have a lot we plan to add in the near future.

For example, we will develop revenue sharing opportunities via the classified advertising platform so that noticeboard owners can earn money. We will also develop a private, restricted access community noticeboard service which will be offered for a fee.

We don’t have a date when these services will be launched, but we release new capabilities on a regular basis.  You can follow @n0tice to stay in touch with the team.

Access to n0tice.com is open, but community participation is currently by invitation only. There are details on the technologies used to create n0tice here.

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How a hyperlocal is calling on the community for crowdfunding with Pitch-in!

November 2nd, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Online Journalism

The Port Talbot Magnet, a hyperlocal launched by a group of journalists six months ago, has been asking the community to fund stories in an bid to make the site sustainable.

One of those behind the hyperlocal, Rachel Howells, told Journalism.co.uk:

Last month we launched Pitch-In! which was our call to the community, to let them know that we are here and that we want to collaborate with them and we want them to be a part of the news service.

Pitch-in! follows crowdfunding initiatives such as Spot.us, based in the US, in asking readers and interested parties to donate money.

The Port Talbot Magnet is asking the community to meet targets to “sponsor our football results service”, “help us buy public liability insurance”, “sponsor a court reporter for a day” or contribute to the development fund or offer general support.

Howells, one of the directors of the Port Talbot Magnet, explained:

These are just a taste of what we would like to achieve. We have a long list of goals, including reporting council meetings and news, police and emergency services news, increasing our coverage of business news, sport, arts, music, entertainment, charity groups and campaigns – things we don’t have the resources for at the moment. And we are looking for local people to tell us what they would like us to cover, as well as giving journalists the opportunity to pitch in with ideas for investigations or news that they think should be covered.

A month on from launching Pitch-in! as a “call to community” and Howells said it has had “some success”, appearing to have generated around £40 in donations.

It’s a little more than we would have had if we hadn’t asked.

The Port Talbot Magnet is the result of cutbacks in South Wales and the closure of the Trinity Mirror-published Port Talbot Guardian, which shut in 2009.

A group of journalists, the majority of whom were members of the Swansea branch of the National Union of Journalists, started discussing how to “do something proactive to keep ourselves in journalism”.

Howells herself is former editor of Big Issue Cymru, who was made redundant when her job moved to Glasgow.

We could see there were changes in the industry that were particularly affecting Wales and that were affecting journalism generally.

As they were setting themselves up as a cooperative the group toyed with various ideas, settling for a news site for Port Talbot to fill the “natural vacuum” left by the closure of the local paper.

When the Port Talbot Guardian closed we just thought; here is a group of people who need local news, we are a group of journalists who want to provide it, surely there must be a way of filling the gap and creating some employment for ourselves as well.

The journalists’ joint effort developed into a local news site for the town of 35,000. Eight professional journalists are on the board of the Port Talbot Magnet, plus there are 20 “interested parties”, including academics and PRs.

The site launched in April 2011, in the same month as the Passion, a three-day play starring Michael Sheen, was performed in the local area and the hyperlocal became a community partner for the National Theatre Wales. Howells said this provided traffic and a “great test and great showcase” for the site.

Attempts to get public funding had proved unsuccessful, prompting the group to last month turn to community funding and also set up a membership scheme.

We can’t run it just as volunteers for ever, we want it to grow and develop, but we recognise that we can’t do it by ourselves.

Howells is hoping the community will answer the call, to subsidise the money generated through advertising.

Along with her role as journalist and director of the news site, Howells is also studying a funded PhD at Cardiff University, looking at what happens to a town that loses its local paper, the implications for democracy, and looking at possible sustainable business models. For obvious reasons her research is focused on Port Talbot.

Asked about her findings so far she explained it was too early to provide results from her research.

What I can tell you is that there were all these awful predictions that the number of local newspaper titles would drop significantly and that up until 2015 we were going to lose a percentage of them. This hasn’t happened at all and the number of closures has been minimal.

But underneath the surface though, when you look at the number of staff that have gone, if you look at how newspapers have merged with each other, the pagination of newspapers, there is an encroaching poverty in the newsgathering, particularly in this area.

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New Guardian community platform n0tice invites more users

October 26th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Hyperlocal


n0tice, the Guardian’s latest community project, has today opened to more users.

The platform is an online version of a village noticeboard, allowing people to post and find community news and classified ads. It is location-based, enabling searches and delivering news related to any location worldwide.

Guardian News & Media plans to make money out of the site, which was inspired by a hack day, by charging for featured ads and selling the white-labelled technology to companies wanting to use n0tice for commercial purposes.

The platform has a read API, a self-serve white label version and feed importing meaning that it can be adapted for hyperlocals and “could potentially work just as well for hyperlocal community bloggers in northern England as it could for cricket fans in India or birdwatching groups in Oregon”, Sarah Hartley, community strategist at GMG and one of a team of three working on the project told Journalism.co.uk.

Matt McAlister, director of digital strategy at the Guardian, has announced the latest developments in a blog post:

The release today is a big one for us. We’ve added the ability to create your own n0ticeboard.

He goes on to say:

If we can make citizen journalism possible in more contexts for more communities then I think we will have done a good thing. If we can also make citizen journalism a financially sustainable activity then we will have done a great thing.

As we go along we are increasingly unsure of what happens next. Participants are starting to determine what we do more and more. So, if you want this platform to do something, please get in early and share your thoughts with us.

The platform is in still private beta so invite-only, but Journalism.co.uk has 10 invites. You can try to claim a n0tice invite by clicking here.

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How to get involved with the Guardian’s latest venture into hyperlocal

October 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Citizen journalism, Hyperlocal

Six months ago the Guardian Media Group called time on its regional news pilot Guardian Local, but it is continuing to experiment in the local market, its latest venture being n0tice, a location-based online notice board to share and read news and notices.

The hyperlocal website and mobile site is currently in private beta, with a team of three at GMG along with an army of contributors helping to shape the online version of the village notice board. Others who want to get involved will soon be able join.

n0tice was born out of a Guardian hack day and has SoLoMo, a trend towards social, local and mobile, at its heart, but as it does not currently have Guardian branding it feels more like an independent start-up than a child of the news outlet.

The platform is a space for people to buy and sell, like the classifieds section of a local newspaper, and can be used for general notices, local news and liveblogs or updates posted by citizen reporters as community news breaks.

It is like a reverse Foursquare, where rather than checking in to a business or venue, you allow your computer or mobile to grab your location information and the site finds the community groups, items for sale and news near you.

How is it going to make money?

Listing on n0tice is free but users get the option to pay for a featured post. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but the figure currently being worked with is a charge of £1 for each mile radius from the seller’s location per day.

The site, which can be used worldwide and white labelled, will be given free to hyperlocals and sold to commercial ventures, such as anyone who wants to use the technology to set up a location-based site, according to community strategist at GMG Sarah Hartley, who was head of online editorial at the Manchester Evening News and later launch editor of the now defunct Guardian local experiment.

And of course, being a Guardian platform, it has an open API.

Along with Hartley, who this week spoke about n0tice at the Brighton Future of News Group, two others are working on the development of the platform: Matt McAlister, who is director of digital Strategy (who in May announced n0tice with this thorough explainer) and developer Daniel Levitt (whose blog is here).

One of the areas the team is looking into is how to best reward users who contribute, with a current system in place of an ‘Editor’ badge which goes to the first user in an area.

The next round of users will be invited into the platform soon soon, with a planned release of the site next year. You can sign up to be one of those by entering your email address here, you can follow @n0tice on Twitter and get involved by joining this Flickr group and “celebrate noticeboards” by contributing photographs.

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Opinion: Birmingham students outshine Mail and Post in riot coverage

The Manchester Evening News has proved that long-established newspapers can shine online, following Roy Greenslade’s criticisms of some London local newspaper publishers for what he considered weak web riot coverage, with their focus instead being on print editions.

The MEN had around 25,000 people viewing its liveblog at any one time between 8pm and 11pm last night (9 August), one of the paper’s digital editors, Lee Swettenham, told Journalism.co.uk.

We didn’t want to fan any flames so held off from liveblogging until something concrete happened.

The liveblog was started shortly after 6pm, once it was clear riots were taking place in Manchester and Salford.

We had half a dozen reporters out tweeting and taking pictures from the whole area.

We received thousands of comments on the liveblog, including lots of very positive feedback. We were providing information such as travel news.

MEN used liveblogging platform Cover it Live which “worked perfectly” despite heavy traffic.

It shows that if you do it properly online the audience and interest is there.

We shone compared with a lot of the national media. It just shows how valuable we still are.

But where the MEN excelled, readers of the Birmingham Post could be forgiven for failing to realise rioting had taken place in the city.

Just two of the five top stories on the home page carousel are about the riots, the others include a cinema reopening as an independent, a story how a Hong Kong “newspaper shakeup gives Birmingham City investment hope” and a top story about Dragon’s Den. Sister title the Birmingham Mail had more riot coverage on its home page but its site design means it failed to shine (see pictures below which illustrate this).

UPDATE: Responding in the comments section below, David Higgerson, who is head of multimedia at Trinity Mirror, explains the stats prove readers have been going to the Mail and Post for news of the riots and more.

Both sites have seen unprecedented levels of traffic over the past three days, and have devoted many, many man hours to covering the story in a responsible way. The riots coverage is prominent on the home page, but our traffic analysis also demonstrates that people are interested in more than just the riots – hence the promotion of other content on the site. In the case of the Birmingham Post, it is a relied upon source of business information for the city and people expect to be able to find that too. The Birmingham City Football Club story you reference is a very important story, and has been very well read.

Like the MEN, and the Liverpool Echo, the Birmingham Mail and Post sites have run a live blog, and will continue to have reporters working in difficult circumstances to ensure we bring our readers the best possible coverage.

Your analysis of the Post and Mail v the Redbrick coverage seems to centre on not liking our front page design. That’s purely a matter of taste. If you apply the logical web publishing question of ‘Can people find the content they are looking for?’ to our home page, then there’s no doubt those looking for riot coverage will find it, as will those people looking for the content they also expect – other news, business news, sport and so on.

Wolverhampton’s Express and Star, which is behind a part-paywall does well, making its riot coverage available to non-subscribers.

Compare the home page of the Trinity Mirror-owned Birmingham Post (which does have riot video content further down its front page) and sister title the Mail with that of Redbrick, the University of Birmingham’s student newspaper.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that Redbrick has seen 93,000 visits and 148,000 page views since 7 August. And because it is summer, and most students are out of the city, it has been co-ordinated from afar. The editor, Glen Moutrie, an economics student, is in Singapore, and just two student reporters are on the ground getting stories.

Moutrie told Journalism.co.uk how he has been coordinating coverage “quite easily”:

We are doing a lot of it through Twitter, keeping a check on hashtags and following things up.

I’ve also been chatting on Facebook and have managed to do things such as organise a statement from the MP.

Meanwhile The West Londoner, a blog that is the work of another student covering the riots, has seen a million views in one day.

So if a group of unpaid students can get to the heart of the story when the editor is the other side of the world, newspapers which have suffered the closure of their town centre offices in favour of out-of town news hubs should be able to cope.

That is exactly what happened at the Hackney Gazette, which moved from its Cambridge Heath Road office, a short walk from the location of looting on Monday night, to Ilford, Essex, which is nine miles away.

But far from being removed from the story, the Archant-owned weekly has one reporter who works from their Hackney home.

Emma Bartholomew was able to get on her bike and go in search of the story. She described the scene she was reporting on as “a little intimidating”, as she witnessed bricks were being thrown by rioters.

It seems location is less important as long as some reporters are able to go out, tweet, upload videos and get the story. The problem, as Greenslade said, is not to do with the journalists who have shown themselves to be perfectly capable, but with their print-minded publishers.

The problem could not be clearer. Local newspapers remain wedded to print. They are just not set up to report online, even if their journalists have engaged with new media tools.

So long-established local newspapers must focus on their online content, on site design, allowing a story to have sufficient impact if they are not to be outshone by students working without a budget and with an editor posting from the other side of the world.

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‘It’s gone viral': How a student’s riot liveblog brought a million views in a day

When the riots broke out in London and beyond last weekend, the press worked hard to keep up with the latest accounts and rumours circulating. And it was not just the national press and local papers bidding to bring audiences the latest from the heart of the action, the riots also proved an extraordinary experience for student journalists keen to flex their online reporting muscles.

On the fourth night of riots in the city and beyond, Journalism.co.uk caught up with MA journalism student at Brunel University Gaz Corfield, editor of hyperlocal site the West Londoner. Corfield and his team of contributors produced a live-blog of the events on the WordPress blog which, according to Corfield, enjoyed a tremendous 1 million views in just 24 hours (see graph below).


Below Corfield explains how the team approached coverage of the events, why he thinks the live blogging formula worked so well, and how him and his team of contributors helped verify and check reports.

Why a live-blog?

From the feedback we’ve had it seems that speed and accuracy of coverage is what makes the liveblog format popular. Full length news stories are great for catching up on events when you’re having a leisurely read about them the day afterwards. However, when the situation is fluid and still developing, readers want immediate updates. It takes time even to write up a NIB and you may not have enough information to pad out a story. Devoting a separate page on your website to four and a half lines with a break in the middle isn’t very informative. Some of our readers were interested in the earlier reports and with the liveblog format those are easily accessible just by scrolling down the page.

What challenges did you face while covering the riots, both in terms of safety and technological?

Our people on the ground have mainly been friends and volunteers who got in touch and offered their services. The vast majority of what we’re doing is curating reports from Twitter but having our own people on location has helped. One of our contributors, Sarah Henry, was in Hackey on Tuesday and was briefly caught up the violence there but got away unscathed – she tells me that the BBC reporter next to her was hit by a bottle.

Twitter, Twitpic and Yfrog have all been essential to our services and I really cannot recommend TweetDeck enough; the ability to set up live-updating searches was a true godsend. The biggest challenge, though, has been keeping the updates going out onto the site. You can have all the people and apps in the world bringing you information but at the end of the day, someone’s got to type them up!

What made your coverage stand out from others?

Speed, accuracy and collation of information from the ground, sifting between rumours and facts. Debunking false rumours, where we felt confident enough to do so, also built up our readers’ trust quickly. We weren’t afraid to categorise our reports – if we had sketchy information about something, we’d tell our readers “this report is unconfirmed” and work as quickly as we could to either confirm or deny it.
We also made a conscious choice not to label the people we were reporting on, even though our sources mentioned vigilantes, ethnic groups and political groups. Given the already heightened situation I felt it would be irresponsible to put out sensitive information we couldn’t directly check ourselves, so we stuck to just reporting movements of people. I think our readers appreciated that; our coverage was seen as being purely factual without any speculation, and therefore more valuable than other sources. I refused to report rumours about intended targets, which I think reassured a lot of people.

Rapid and relevant updates are what seems to be driving the traffic – at the end of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning the traffic was dropping off as there simply wasn’t anything new to report on. We also had the huge advantage of being the first liveblog to have up-to-the-minute reports. At the beginning of the riots there were repeated rumours that there was a news blackout, and many people were expressing frustration at their usual go-to news outlets being behind the curve.

How were you verifying breaking news/images/video etc?

We put a lot of trust in images. Provided they were tweeted alongside a location-specific hashtag we took them seriously – although this did go slightly awry when someone produced fake pictures of the London Eye on fire! Videos more or less spoke for themselves – either you can recognise local landmarks, or you can’t. Google Street View was useful for verifying images and videos in less frantic moments.
Sorting through tweets was harder – although we had our trusted sources out on the ground at the beginning, as the night progressed we had to read through public Tweets and decide what was real and what was just rumour. If we had a lot of similar (but not identical) reports of activity in a given area, we tended to treat that as reliable. However, that did get confusing towards the small hours of Wednesday morning because our own information was immediately being picked up and distributed by Twitter users in the areas we were trying to learn more about. Our biggest challenge was filtering out retweets because they clogged our information flow.

How did you use social media to further your reporting?

We used Twitter and Facebook. One person dedicated to running each, plus myself on the liveblog. It did get quite tricky deconflicting information going out from both sources. When I first built the site I set our Facebook page’s updates to autopost on Twitter, which later made us wonder where some of our own tweets were coming from! Close co-ordination kept the feeds unique and interesting, though.
We established a conversation with our readers on Facebook, using our page there to respond to queries about riots in peoples’ local areas. Our Twitter feed was pushing out shortened versions of the liveblog updates, with regular links to the liveblog page. In quieter periods we also published our Twitter username and asked for tip-offs to be directed at that, which worked well. Surprisingly, we also received a large volume of tip-offs through the email contact form on our website; you don’t really think of email as being a form of social media but clearly it has its place.

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View TV Group plans to bring local TV to 660 UK towns

July 22nd, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Multimedia

A company specialising in video on demand and TV production has set up a platform that allow towns to buy a licence and broadcast content online.

View TV Group is currently working with 78 towns and aims for a total of 660 to sign up to use its “View TV Local”, a BBC iPlayer-style site compatible with iPhone and iPad.

The proposition is that each town will provide half its content and View TV Group will supply the rest, with the same programming, such as motoring reviews and national programmes, being rolled out to all areas.

The company plans to “up sell” the local content created to the TV stations which are planned as part of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s planned local TV network.

Earlier this week, Hunt backtracked on plans to create a centralised service and instead confirmed he favours individual TV stations.

Chairman and founder of View TV Group Jamie Branson told Journalism.co.uk the company’s proposals offered something different.

“Think of View TV Local as more like a hyperlocal and Hunt’s plans as regional TV,” he explained.

View TV Group is now selling licences for towns with costs starting at around £10,000, which pays for the technology, support and unlimited video upload.

After paying for a licence the local TV channels can bring in revenue by selling local advertising, a cut of which goes to the View TV Group. The company believes it has devised a revenue model that will work and “where the only risk is the initial licence fee”, Branson explained.

Branson did not want to reveal company names but said his firm is in talks with a newspaper group, plus several magazines and online publishers interested in local TV and video content.

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Hunt favours individual stations for local television plan

July 20th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Hyperlocal, Local media

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has backtracked on his plans to introduce a local TV network.

Hunt originally wanted a single network channel – based around a ‘national spine’ – before changing to a more locally run approach.

After a consultation, the culture secretary changed the proposals, and has now settled on a final published framework.

Hunt‘s original plans would have seen a centralised national channel with syndicated programming, which would act as the hub which local channels could feed.

Instead, the final plan favours a network of individual TV stations.

Hunt said he planned to provide bidders with a digital terrestrial TV spectrum, managed by a new licensed multiplex company.

The next task for Hunt is to, in his words, “secure prominence” for the network on Freeview and other electronic programme guides.

In a written ministerial statement, Hunt said: “The proposals include three statutory instruments: the first, to reserve sufficient local, low-cost spectrum for carrying the local TV services; the second to create a proportionate and targeted licensing regime for the spectrum and local TV service operators; and the third, to secure appropriate prominence for the licensed local services in television electronic programme guides.”

“Local TV will provide news and other content for local audiences helping to hold local institutions to account and providing proper local perspectives. This framework offers the right incentives to the market to develop innovative business models; provides greater certainty and reduced risk for investors; and encourages new market opportunities and growth,” he added.

“It is expected the first local television licences will be awarded by Ofcom from summer 2012.”

The infrastructure costs will be met from £25 million allocated as part of the BBC licence fee settlement.

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#su2011: Forget hyperlocal, the future’s ‘hyperpersonal’

June 28th, 2011 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Events, Hyperlocal

A new era of online publishing where readers are served ‘hyperpersonal’ news directly linked to their interests is taking shape, according to a consultant for world publishing body WAN-IFRA.

Stephan Minard told the organisation’s summer university in Paris, that personalisation would be the key element that will make modern news websites successful in the coming years.

Publishers needed to learn more about their readers, build up data on them and then serve an experience that is unique to them. Algorithms, not editors, were the new gatekeepers, he said.

Minard said news organisations could learn a lot from the world of marketing and e-commerce: “Personalisation is not science-fiction. It’s everywhere on the web – Google, Facebook, Amazon.”

Combining subscriber data, behavioural research and other data on a reader’s interests and habits, sites should be able to build a reliable picture of a user and serve content that is personalised to them.

Minard gave the example of the Washington Post, which launched personalised social news site Trove in April, which relies on a user’s Facebook interests to define their profile.

However, he issued a warning about offering content that was too personalised. There was a risk of isolating users in a “web of one” by only serving them material about a very tightly defined subject and cutting them off from the wider world.

Related content:

#su2011: iPad creates new demand for evening news

#su11: Swedish newspaper has massive hit with online open newsroom

City University research shows rapid grown of personalised news services

#mobilemedia11: Over 55s with iPads are sweet spot for the Telegraph

 

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