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#jpod: Lessons from the NY Times and Guardian in managing reader comments

December 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism, Podcast

The New York Times last week introduced a new category of “trusted commenter”, which it describes as an “invitation-only programme designed for our most valued commenters”.

In this podcast Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Sasha Koren, deputy editor of interactive news technologies for social media and community at the New York Times; Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement for Guardian News and Media; and Tamara Littleton, CEO of eModeration, a social media management agency that handles outsourced commenting.

The #jpod looks at how the New York Times pre-moderates the majority of comments and how the Guardian post-moderates most of its comments. The podcast also has tips for community managers in encouraging debate, diffusing heated arguments and rewarding readers.

You can also read advice from Tamara Littleton in this guide on how to manage reader comments as a journalist.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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‘We wanted to make ourselves more Facebookey’, says Guardian

September 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging, Traffic

The Guardian and Independent are two of the first news sites to build a new breed of Facebook apps, which were unveiled at the f8 conference yesterday (Thursday, 22 September).

Here is director of Facebook’s platform partnerships Christian Hernandez explaining how the apps and the new ‘recommend bar’ work.

Facebook’s Christian Hernandez on the launch of the Guardian and Independent Facebook apps by journalismnews

News sites will be watching to see whether the new apps result in a jump in Facebook referrals to the Guardian and the Independent.

Outlets will also be keen to discover whether Facebook users prefer the Independent and Yahoo News approach of the social engagement happening on the news sites, or whether the Guardian, the Washington Post and the Daily have the winning formula, with the experience happening within Facebook.

The Guardian’s theory is that Facebook users like the experience of being on Facebook so rather than direct readers away, they want them to explore the Guardian within the platform.

Head of digital engagement at the Guardian Meg Pickard told Journalism.co.uk:

We wanted to make ourselves more Facebookey. We also know that if people come to the Guardian via Facebook they often bounce back to Facebook see what else a friends are recommending.

She said despite the Guardian’s being an app within Facebook it is incorrect to think most users will access it as they would a smartphone app.

The starting point is your friend’s timeline, not the app.

The single opt-in to the app – where users agree to share everything they are reading – is an interesting development and both the Independent and Guardian have been quick to assure users they have full control.

Pickard said:

You might be happy for friends to see that you’ve read an article on tarte citron but less comfortable with a public note to say you have read an article called “my husband is a cross-dresser”, so you can quickly click the cross to hide that from your friends.

She explained conversations between the Guardian and Facebook took place throughout the summer with the news organisation’s in-house developers building the app, making the most of the open technologies.

We’ve got our open API, Facebook has this open graph.

The Independent has taken a different approach – its app encourages Facebook user engagement on its site rather than within a user’s personal profile on the social network.

Here’s head of audience and content development at the Independent Jack Riley explaining more on the soon-to-be-released app:

Jack Riley from the Independent discusses the newspaper’s new Facebook app by journalismnews

 

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#bbcsms: Use data to inform newsroom decisions, says panel

May 20th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Online Journalism

“Numbers are everything to our business” – this was the message from Washington Post‘s Raju Narisetti, speaking today at the BBC’s social media summit.

Narisetti outlined the “simple mission” for news organisations to have more people to engage with more of its content, and this is achieved through data – both numbers and importantly, context.

We’ve moved from our anecdotal newsroom to a newsroom where there’s a lot more data, a lot more measurement. Initial measurement was page views, but we very quicky realised we need to move to a world of context.

Data is not just about measuring eyeballs – it is a valuable resource in making decisions. You’re able to show with some data things we can stop doing, Narisetti said, without making an impact on the readership. This he said makes an “accountable newsroom” and creates an environment which is a lot more encouraging for digital journalists where they know the impact of their work.

Also speaking on the panel, which covered the cultural challenges for newsrooms trying to encourage the effective use of social media, was the Guardian‘s Meg Pickard.

She revealed that research by the Guardian has shown that when a journalist gets involved in the conversation online it halves the moderation need and the tone of the conversation “goes up”. This is a key example of such data being used to support proposals and ideas.

As for the culture of the newsroom the Guardian wants to focus on people and skills, she said, to “create a fertile medium” across the organisation and then trusting staff to “act as the intelligent adults that they are” and apply their best knowledge and judgement to the situation.

But, she added, there’s no point in forcing anyone to be active on Twitter from the get-go.

We should not be forcing someone to Tweet, it will be obvious, they will be grumpy and won’t know what they’re doing. So I don’t think on your first day when you’re handed an email address they should be told that you’re free to say anything you like about our brand to the world.

Within the first few months I would try and encourage them to do so, but by demonstrating opportunities to build the community and relationship with audience.

Journalism.co.uk’s own digital journalism event news:rewired – noise to signal, which takes place on Friday next week at Thomson Reuters, will dedicate an entire session to the issue of audience data in informing editorial and business decisions for news organisations. You can find out more and buy tickets at this link.

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Developing interaction guidelines for journalists at the Guardian

October 25th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

As reported by Journalism.co.uk last Tuesday, the Guardian has introduced a new set of blogging and commenting guidelines for its journalists.

The eight guidelines offer advice on “best practice” for Guardian journalists and writers when blogging for the site or responding to comments on Guardian.co.uk.

It’s something the site has been considering for a while – but we asked the Guardian’s head of digital engagement Meg Pickard to explain how the new guidelines were developed:

For a couple of years now we’ve had a dedicated intranet site (“Really Social Media”) providing training, resources, case studies, best practices and guidelines for digital engagement (covering social media, blogging, commenting and so on), to be used by staff in conjunction with established company policies about internet use. As this is an evolving field, we regularly update the guidelines to reflect best current knowledge and to help staff navigate the changing landscape of sites/services, skills and situations.

During the summer, the editorial management team worked on the current refresh, which includes interaction guidelines, as well as legal notes and editorial best practice. When publishing the updated guidelines internally at the Guardian, we thought it would be interesting and appropriate to be transparent with readers about the advice we’re giving to staff members, so we published them on guardian.co.uk as well, as part of our extensive and recently relaunched info section.

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Trust 2.0 – reports of MJ’s death are not greatly exaggerated

It was fascinating to watch the Michael Jackson rumours hit Twitter late last night (BST) and the mixed reaction to the initial TMZ.com report. An AOL/Telepictures Productions entertainment news site and renowned for having its finger on the pulse, but not quite big or well-known enough to risk the re-tweet or the MSM endorsement? Should we trust it, should we not? The links and telling tweets are reproduced here:

TMZ.com breaks news of the death first:

“We’ve just learned Michael Jackson has died. He was 50.”

mj2

Many journalists were playing it safe, even with their own personal tweets. Even the ‘semi-journalists’:

Then… a few comments about the weird news culture we live in. Compare the way you heard about Princess Diana to this, for example. This from Meg Pickard, the Guardian’s head of social media development:

But were people being unduly cautious? Ashley Norris – of Shiny Media fame – offered this:

The Sun (by an unnamed ‘online reporter but it has now been updated and by-lined) and the Metro (by a by-lined reporter but the link is now dead) – and others too no doubt – tentatively go with ‘reportedly dead.’ And actually attributed TMZ. Then, phew, a mainstream media source finally gives us likely sources to cling onto. The LA Times.

latimes

Around 23.35 BST (22.35 GMT):The BBC goes for it on TV. In its special breaking television news report on BBC1 after BBC Question Time, and before This Week, they say that Jackson is reported to be dead: citing the LA Times as the main source, then TMZ.com, and then add that the Associated Press is also reporting the death.

Now everyone’s sure that he is dead. The Guardian gets this wonderfully comprehensive tribute article up very quickly (23.26 BST).

TMZ were the winners of the night with publicity all round. Check out the quote from Alan Citron, founding manager for TMZ but who now works for Buzz Media in an email to Beet TV last night:

“TMZ has drifted into a lot of juvenile satire lately, but Harvey’s [Levin, managing editor of TMZ] still the best when it comes to serious celebrity news reporting. It’s highly likely that TMZ will own this story.”

This lovely tweet from @PJButta says it all:

More views on TMZ and trust on Twitter.

As for the print? According to Paul McNally,

One more link-to-print here: the Guardian’s newspaper front page slideshow (presumably a later edition for the Sun).

What have we left out? Leave links and comments below, if you’ve got anything to add.

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Guardian relaunches blogs and commenting features

August 20th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

The Guardian is moving its blogs onto its new platform, bringing them in line with the rest of the recently redesigned site.

The move will be completed in two stages starting with 14 titles, including its Lost in Showbiz and news blogs, an announcement on the Inside Guardian blog said. The remaining sites will move over next month.

Once switched the blogs will boast new colours and design features (see the right-hand screenshot below), including improved navigation and links to the rest of Guardian.co.uk.

Keywords linking blog posts to related content across the site will be added – a feature previously unavailable on the blogs platform.

Blogs will also be relocated to their sections – e.g. the politics blog in the politics channel – rather than housed in a separate blogs section.

The new blogs will also share features introduced across the rest of the redesigned site, including the option to share posts by Digg, del.icio.us etc, and a widget showing the most-linked to Guardian content.

Blog posts will now also be included in the site’s search.

Changes to the commenting function on the site’s blogs have also been made – the biggest change being the introduction of user profiles.

“For a long time, we and many other sites operated a content-driven model which meant that user comments were only associated with – and displayed alongside – a particular content item. The creation of user profiles reveals our growing community-driven approach, recognising that just as every guardian.co.uk author gets a contributor page in which their contributions are archived so that their participation can be explored across topics and over time, so should our users,” said Meg Pickard, head of communities and user experience for Guardian.co.uk, in a blog post

Additional features will be added to user profiles over time, added Pickard, and experiments with the layout of comments beneath blog posts are ongoing.

Basic formatting, such as creating block quotes and links, is also now possible on blog post comments.

The new features have previously been trialled on the site’s Comment Is Free platform and use social media firm Pluck’s commenting technology.

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Guardian seeks professional content tagger

October 8th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

The Guardian is advertising for a keyword manager to look after the labelling of its online content and ‘ensure that it is consistent with the needs of the reader and the editorial values of the Guardian and Observer’.

As we reported from last week’s AOP conference, Meg Pickard, head of communities at Guardian Unlimited, stressed the growing importance of keywords and said that the Guardian wanted to extend its use of keywords to provide more opportunities for user curation on the site.

According to the listing, which Martin Stabe kindly pointed out, the ideal candidate will be a journalist with a particular interest in archiving and a keen editorial sense, who can work across a variety of media.

Better still – encourage journalists/editors to incorporate this keywording practice into their daily routine?

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