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Tool of the week for journalists: Timeline

March 29th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Tool of the Week

Tool of the week: Timeline

What is it? A wizard to enable you to create and embed a timeline of curated content.

How is it of use to journalists? News sites often use a timeline for digital storytelling. This is a tool just released to enable you to do just that.

There are several examples, such as a Timeline of the Republican run-up.

Mashable compares Timeline to Storify, a tool that enables you to curate web content by dragging and dropping tweets and other media to create a story.

Mashable’s report states:

Timeline, created by Zach Wise, a multimedia journalist and journalism professor, was developed in partnership with the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, where Wise teaches. The interactive tool allows users to generate timelines on the web by curating content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

“The tools that already exist on the web are almost all either hard on the eyes or hard to use,” said Wise. “Timeline is an open-source, JavaScript and HTML/HTML 5 based tool that creates elegant timelines.”

Timeline does not offer the simplicity of Storify and although aimed at non-techies, it will require you to add some code to the head of your site and will take a quite a bit longer to create than a Storify.

One way you can create the timeline is by using a Google Doc. Timeline provides a template and you can simply add your links to the media.

For example, the below screenshot shows how we used the Google Doc template to create a timeline of some of the key phone-hacking moments, adding a Flickr photo, tweets and YouTube footage.

 

 

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Is CNN about to buy Mashable?

March 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business

Reuters is reporting that CNN is expected to buy social media and technology site Mashable for more than $200 million (£128 million).

Felix Salmon, a Reuters blogger reporting from the annual South by Southwest technology conference held in Austin, Texas, says in a video posted last night (Sunday) that the broadcaster is expected to make an announcement tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 March).

In the video Salmon states:

Mashable is this huge website, it’s got the same kind of consumer focus that CNN does, it’s not aimed for the tech insiders, it’s aimed at the masses.

Mashable was set up in Scotland by Pete Cashmore who was then 19. It now has bases in New York and San Francisco and has more than 20 million monthly readers, according to the Reuters video.

However, paidContent suggests that a deal is far from being announced and suggests the story based on Salmon’s single, unnamed source is merely rumour.

Staci D. Kramer writes:

A source familiar with the situation describes the report of a deal as a rumour and tells paidContent no announcement is scheduled.

Well-known acquisitions of online-only news sites include AOL buying TechCrunch, and its Huffington Post purchase last year on which is spent £195 million.

CNN responded to a request by Journalism.co.uk for comments saying:

We do not engage in speculation about our business and we aren’t commenting on these reports.

Salmon’s video is below:

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Mashable: Five tools to better time your tweets

If you are trying to work out the best time to tweet about a news story and get maximum attention, it is worth making a note of the free applications listed in this Mashable post on five tools to help you work out the best time to send out tweets.

The post has been written by Leo Widrich, the co-founder of Buffer, an application which enables you to schedule tweets.

The five tools are:

1. WhenToTweet

2. TweetStats

3. Tweriod

4. TweetReports

5. TweetWhen

Add your Twitter handle to the various websites and the five tools will provide an interesting insight and help in your planning of social media optimisation (SMO) – (although we are not convinced 8am GMT on a Saturday is really the best time for @journalismnews to tweet).

 

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Mashable: Why CNN has acquired iPad magazine Zite

August 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile

Mashable has Q&A with CNN’s general manager of digital, KC Estenson, and CEO of Zite Mark Johnson explaining why the broadcaster has acquired the personalised iPad magazine.

Zite, like Flipboard, is an iPad app that allows users to aggregate news articles from feeds including Twitter and Google Reader to create a fully personalised magazine of the content of interest.

CNN announced on it’s blog yesterday that Zite will remain fully independent, a fact Estenson confirms in Mashable’s interview saying Zite will be free to pursue partnerships with other news organisations.

The interview starts by asking “why Zite?”.

Estenson: We saw in Zite a best-in-class product. It’s deeply loved by the people who have it, and we thought it would be a nice addition to our digital portfolio. Secondly, there’s great technology behind it. We’re seeing a lot of interest in this space now, but these guys have been working on this for six years.

Johnson: The iPad is really well suited to reading. I think what’s interesting about Zite is that it brings you really interesting information you might not have otherwise read. It’s not just repackaging information.

We’re seeing Flipboard move into TV and film, while Pulse is getting into bookmarklets and extensions. Where is Zite going next?

Johnson: We still see a huge market in giving you the information most relevant to you. We’re focusing on content right now, news-type content. We really want to focus on giving people a great personalised iPad magazine.

The interview goes on to ask:

Can we expect CNN’s content to feature more prominently on Zite in the future?

Johnson: Absolutely not. Our personalisation algorithms look for most interesting content on the web, whether that comes from CNN or elsewhere. Our algorithms are completely agnostic.

The full Q&A is at this link

 

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Essential reading on how Google+ is shaping up

Much has been written about Google+over the past few days as it continues to grow at a record-breaking pace. Here are a few links from around the web on how Google+ is shaping up, plus this post on tips, tricks and tools for journalists using the social network.

What shape is Google+ taking?

The Guardian is reporting Google+ is approaching 20m users just three weeks since it launched as a rival to Facebook.

But “Google’s social juggernaut is beginning to show signs that it’s losing steam”, according to this post on Mashable.

In the Guardian article Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, said his calculations suggest Google+ is gathering 750,000 new users per day.

Allen explains his methods: “I don’t have access to log files or to a massive consumer panel. I’m simply measuring how many Google+ users there are of various randomly selected surnames every day. Last week I increased the sample of surnames that I query from 100 to 1,000.

Over a four-day period, the 100-surname sample showed a Google+ growth rate of 28.4 per cent. The 1,000 surname sample showed a growth rate of 28.5 per cent. [That's] statistically insignificant.

Mashable has a post looking at the key findings of a report by Experian Hitwise, which includes that 57 per cent of Google+ users are male.

Google+ is dominated by young adults. Its biggest age group for the four weeks ending July 14 was the 25-34 age bracket, which accounted for 38.37 per cent of all visits. The week before, the entire 18-34 age bracket made up just 38.11 per cent of total visitors.

Read Write Web has been taking a look whether Google+ is causing Twitter and Facebook useage to decline and, though the research methods are not scientific, the hunch is that Plus is having an impact on the use of its rivals.

That is a view seemingly shared by LinkedIn CEO Weiner. He thinks Google+ has changed the social landscape but there’s not much room left, according to a post on the New York Times.

Looking at the broad social landscape, Weiner said LinkedIn was for professionals, Facebook for family and friends, and Twitter for broadcasting short thoughts and information.

He noted that these three networks coexisting made for an “understandable landscape”, but when Google+ gets added to the mix, people have less time and will have to start making choices about where to spend that time.

“All of a sudden, you say ‘where am I going to spend that next minute or hour of my discretionary time?’ and at some point, you don’t have any more time to make choices,” Weiner said.

[He added] Google+ could follow Twitter in attracting celebrities and other well-known figures to help it become a more competitive service.

Some celebrities have already joined, and a couple are among the most followed people on Google+.

The Telegraph has been looking at who has the most followers. Many are Google bosses, plus there is blogger Robert Scoble and actress Felicia Day.

Over on the Next Web there are some thoughts on what Google+ means for your social media policy. The post states G+ is a gamechanger.

It’s all about the circles. Google+ actively encourages you to have ‘work’ and ‘friends’ as your circles. It’s a mindset shift. If you think about the user experience, Facebook is about sharing with friends and family. LinkedIn is about professional connections. Twitter allows you to choose for yourself what it’s about (see Getting past the Oprah Barrier for more about this). The Google+ user experience is all about the networks.

The Google+ experience is all about creating sub-networks of your life (circles) and populating those appropriately.

This means that users will gravitate towards having complicated, overlapping circles and the Google+ stream is a mix of personal and professional connections. This also means that the Google+ share box becomes a place where it is much easier to inadvertently share inappropriate content than perhaps the LinkedIn share box. From a policy perspective, that’s a whole lot of scary.

If you are a journalist and not yet on Google+ and would like an invite, fill in this form and I will attempt to invite you.

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How not to get your phone hacked

July 14th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Mobile

In the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal some major news organisations have sent out emails to journalists and other members of staff advising them to protect their phone against hacking.

As this blog post by mobile phone security expert David Rogers points out, hacking is a misnomer. What went on at News of the World was “illicit access to voicemail messages”.

Rogers’ post points out various methods that could have been used to do this. Here are ways to keep your voicemail secure. Okay, so it is unlikely that journalists will be voicemail-hacking in the future but conmen and women may now have ideas.

How hacking took place:

1. By using default PINs

Mobile phone voicemail boxes are set up so they do not require a PIN or use one of several default codes which can be worked out by a two minute internet search.

Solution: You’ll need to set up a PIN by following the advice from your phone company. There are step-by-step instructions on how to do this for Vodafone, O2, Orange, and T Mobile. A quick search will help you if you are with an alternative carrier.

You can also set up or change your voicemail password on your handset. (On an iPhone this is found in settings / phone / change voicemail password.)

2. By using default PINs and remote access

Rogers explains in his post:

Operators often provide an external number through which you can call to access your voicemail remotely.

This was one of the mechanisms allegedly used by the News of the World ‘phone hackers’ to get access to people’s voicemails without their knowledge.

Solution: Find out the remote access number for your voicemail from your phone provider and set up a PIN using the links above.

3. By calling your own phone

When you want to access your voicemail remotely you can do so by calling your own phone number and interrupting the voicemail message by pressing *.

Rogers points out:

Claims about the voicemail hacking scandal say that one journalist would call up a celebrity to engage the phone while another would then go into the voicemail using this method.

Solution: Set up a PIN using the links above.

There is more advice and a more detailed explanation on how voicemail hacking took place at this link.

This Mashable post on how to protect your phone is also worth reading, particularly if you are an Android user.

Image by John Karakatsanis on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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How newspapers can use Facebook more effectively

The New York Times, which is conducting an experiment and no longer sends automated tweets, has admitted it has not yet “cracked the code” of using Facebook, according to Liz Heron, social media editor of the newspaper, speaking at the BBC Social Media Summit.

Our journalists have not figured out how to interact with it just yet. We’re working to bring Facebook journalism onto the main page.

The NY Times has started experimenting with “gamification”.

Facebook will give you a lot of info, so we were able to show what kind of person was going in for the Kings Speech, for example, so got some interesting visualisations. In a way we therefore used a form of gamification to engage users. We want to do more to build platforms around our journalism in this way and allow our content to not only get distributed further but get some interesting information back on our key readers from it.

So what else can the newspaper – and all brands – learn from Facebook success stories?

Mashable has published an article on “eight brands that have found success on Facebook and what we can learn”. Here are its eight lessons.

1. Ask your staff, customers, vendors, and partners — who already know you and like you — to “Like” your Facebook page first.

2. Ask a lot of questions. You’ll get valuable feedback, plus you’ll be more likely to appear in your fans’ newsfeeds.

Here’s another article from 10,000 Words to tell you how to use Facebook’s new questions feature to do just that.

3. Share lots of photos, and ask your fans to share photos. Facebook’s Photos remain the most viral feature of its platform.

4. Find the resources to respond to your fans questions and inquiries.

5. If you have a physical location, use Place Pages and Deals to drive traffic through your doors.

6. Know your audience well, and when you make a mistake, quickly own up, do right by your audience and fix the problem.

7. Integrate Facebook outside of your Fan Page, on your website, in as many places as you can. Create more compelling opportunities for people to buy your product based on their friends’ Likes.

8. Find synergy with other organizations and entities, and then work together to promote each other’s Facebook pages so that everyone benefits.

Mashable’s full post with examples is at this link.

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Mashable: Social media is reinvigorating the market for quality journalism

Mashable says Twitter and Facebook are promoting quality journalism.

A recent survey of tweets with links to stories in the iPad-only newspaper the Daily demonstrated people are more likely to tweet hard news than softer stories, the article says.

The incentive to share quality content is simple: a person may be more likely to read gossip, but they may share a news piece to shape their followers’ perception of them.

They may even view it as a public service. I tend to believe it’s usually the former rather than the more altruistic latter.

As a result, news organizations producing quality journalism are being rewarded with accelerated growth in social referral traffic — in some cases, growing at a much faster pace than search referrals.

More notably, social media is enabling the citizenry to be active participants in producing journalism by giving them platforms to publish to the social audience.

This has made journalism more efficient and, in many ways, enhanced the quality of storytelling.

The post goes on to demonstrate how social media could provide a more engaged reader.

In a recent analysis of Mashable’s social and traffic data, I found that Facebook and Twitter visitors spent 29 per cent more time on Mashable.com and viewed 20 per cent more pages than visitors arriving via search engines. This may suggest a more engaged or exploratory reader, at least in terms of how much time they spend reading the content.

The article also predicts how Google’s +1, which adds a social recommendation layer to Google searches, and how +1 could influence the stories people share by ‘likes’ and tweets.

Though +1 isn’t a social network, it is certainly a big step toward building one. But perhaps most important is its implications for quality. The number of +1s on a story link affects its placement in search results.

Mashable’s full post is at this link

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Mashable: How paywalls are changing social media strategies

Mashable has taken a look at three paywalled sites: the Dallas Morning News, the Economist and the Honolulu Civil Beat.

It has talked to community editors on the titles about how they promote stories via social media without incurring the wrath of angry readers who follow links to then find they are blocked by a paywall.

Dallas Morning News

Travis Hudson, a Dallas Morning News web editor, manages the site’s Twitter account and Facebook fan page, where he shares both free and premium content.

Like any good social media strategist, transparency is key for Hudson.

He designates whether a link is behind the paywall when posting it on Facebook or Twitter.

The Economist

Social media helps the site reach subscribers, regular readers and new readers by the means most convenient to them, while providing an opportunity to spark discussions around the Economist’s coverage areas.

“Readers who are empowered to participate are likely to spend more time with the site, return more often and become more active advocates of our work,” [Mark Johnson, The Economist's community editor] says.

With the metered model, Johnson and other web producers can share any articles on social networks without experiencing the backlash of readers’ inability to access the site. Perhaps more importantly, they’re able to bring in more traffic.

“Referrals to the site from social networks, and the pageviews generated by such referrals, have grown almost every month since our social strategy began,” Johnson says. “Nor is this growth slowing. If anything, it’s speeding up.”

Honolulu Civil Beat

Online-only local news site the Honolulu Civil Beat is coming up on the one-year anniversary of its launch.

Though content is and always has been free through email, the site initially gave only partial access to visitors who came through social networks.

Beginning January 2011, however, all visitors can read all articles until they visit regularly enough to be asked to become a member.

“We figured, if they’re reading us that much they would be happy to become a member, and we’d be happy to have them,” says Dan Zelikman, the Civil Beat‘s marketing and community host.

There is no specific threshold number. Rather, the site runs a custom program that asks a reader to subscribe based on how often and how much he or she reads.

“Basically, if you read a couple of times a week, it will take a while before we ask you to register,” Zelikman says.

Reading access aside, the Civil Beat’s subscription model fosters community by only allowing members to comment on articles. In addition, subscribers experience the site without advertising, a perk that’s particularly popular with the community.

Mashable’s full article is at this link.

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Mashable: What impact has the NY Times paywall had on traffic?

Mashable has been attempting to discover the impact of the New York Times metered-paywall on web traffic.

It is early days as the wall only went up on 28 March but the analysis suggests a reduction of between five and 10 per cent in traffic and a fall in pageviews by up to 30 per cent.

It is perhaps not surprising that pageviews have taken a greater hit as the metered-paywall model allows readers to access up to 20 articles a month free, so users may be deterred from clicking as many pages .

So here’s the big question: Is NYT’s paywall a success or a failure? When it comes to this big-picture question, we still don’t have enough information to make a conclusion. The paywall simply hasn’t been around long enough and we don’t have the financial data to see whether the paywall has made up for the loss in advertising revenue.

Mashable’s full article is at this link.

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