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#Podcast: Building a better comment experience on news sites

August 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism, Podcast

Just this week the New York Times experimented with a new way to add value to the way comments feature on article pages, with specially selected ‘Reader Perspectives’ brought higher up in the article.

This is part of the Times’s efforts to continue to improve the comment experience for all, and one result is to encourage a greater quality of conversation.

In this week’s podcast we find out more about key strategies taken by a variety of news outlets including tips for growing discussion in the first place, how to encourage a high-quality conversation and a look at the impact of new digital reporting styles on how the comment thread could evolve in the future.

We hear from:

  • Laura Oliver, community manager, the Guardian
  • Marc Lavallee, deputy editor, interactive news, the New York Times
  • Bassey Etim, community manager, the New York Times
  • David Higgerson, digital publishing director, Trinity Mirror, regionals
  • Tom Miller, product strategist, Hearst Magazines UK
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#Podcast – Snow Fall and beyond: A look at long-form online storytelling



Following last month’s the Pulitzer prize for New York Times sports reporter John Branch, the author of Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, and this week’s Webby Awards which also recognised examples of beautiful long-form storytelling online, this week’s podcast looks at some of the exciting ways newspapers and others are telling in-depth stories on digital platforms.

The podcast addresses some of the issues which arise when bringing together long-form narrative with powerful visuals and interactivity, including the sorts of stories which best suit this approach, the benefits for audiences, journalists and news outlets, and the need for experimentation, even if on a smaller scale.

We speak to:

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

We will have more on next week from the podcast interviewees on this subject.

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#Podcast – Then and now: Two years of the New York Times paywall

March 28th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Paid-for content, Podcast

Just two days ago in the UK the Telegraph launched a metered paywall, which would require subscription once users exceed a 10 article allowance, following the introduction of the model for international-only traffic last year.

The Telegraph’s model was described as having a “New York Times-style ‘meter’”, and was launched in the same week as the New York Times’s paywall reaches two years in operation – two years today, in fact.

So in this week’s podcast we speak to general manager for core digital products at the New York Times Paul Smurl about how the environment in 2011 at launch differs to that today, when it comes to launching an online payment model. We also discuss the impact of the metered model on the rest of the industry with Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute and Tim Cain, head of research and insight at the Association of Online Publishers.


  • Paul Smurl, general manager for core digital products, New York Times
  • Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute, at the University of Oxford
  • Tim Cain, head of research and insight, Association of Online Publishers

For more on the first two years of the New York Times paywall see this feature, based on our interview with Paul Smurl.

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

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Beet.TV: The New York Times, real-time advertising and Twitter trending data

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick
Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Beet.TV has an interesting video with Michael Zimbalist, vice president for research & development, and operations at the New York Times, in which he discusses a new advertising tool called Spark which utilises the Times’s data on stories trending on social media.

According to Beet.TV the tool “serves display advertising into stories as they are trending on Twitter, matched with the demographics of the users who ‘touch’ the story on the social network”.

In the video Zimbalist adds that the Times has been “tracking mentions of Times content in Twitter for a really long time”.

As a result the news outlet has “been able to look at different types of content and different people who spread the content and begin to model out which content will start trending”.

See a video of the discussion below:

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#Podcast – A look at the new Windows 8 apps from the New York Times, Financial Times and other outlets

October 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Podcast

Image by Kiwi Flickr on Flickr. Creative commons licence. Some rights reserved.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system launched last night and today the Windows Store opened for business.

This podcast looks at three different news publishers that have today launched apps in the Windows Store.

Sarah Marshall, technology editor, speaks to:

  • Alexandra Hardiman, director, mobile products, New York Times
  • Chris Smith, product manager, Financial Times
  • Chris Took, sales director, PageSuite, the company behind the app technology for the Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, OK! Magazine, Star Magazine and New! Magazine

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

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#wef12: 5 steps from New York Times Company on building digital subs model

September 3rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The latest results reported by the New York Times Company showed a total of more than 500,ooo paid digital subscribers. This was an increase on the 454,000 paying subscribers recorded a year after launched its online subscriptions model, which refers to subscribers across the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

And this is not including the 700,ooo print subscribers who also gain digital access to the company’s content, according to New York Times Company vice chairman Michael Golden.

In fact a report published last month, as covered by AllThingsD, predicted that the New York Times “will have more digital subscribers than print subs within a couple of years”.

So when Golden took to the stage at the World Editors Forum today for a session on ‘how some newspaper companies are succeeding’, his presentation was unsurprisingly focused on digital subscriptions.

We were laughed at we were scorned … after the launch here’s what we’re seeing now, people are saying it’s a great success

He said the introduction of digital subs at the New York Times has boosted staff morale: it has “changed the way people walk around the building”, he said.

So for others keen to also build a digital subscription model he offered these five steps:

  • Be very clear on what you’re doing

Golden said the company spent much time studying this, and what their overall goals were, such as”to develop a significant revenue source because our business model demanded it”.

The aim was also to build a “one-to-one digital relationship with consumers and protect digital advertising”.

  • Align the entire organisation around it

It “cannot be an editorial project alone”, he said.

  • Remember readers know what they want

Audiences are indicating every day what they do or do not want to read, and on what platform they like to consume it.

He added that the launch itself is “incredibly important” within this: it will either “create momentum or lack momentum” he said.

  • Think and act like a digital company
  • And finally, continue

He spoke about the ways publishers can work to continue to increase subscriptions, such as the Times’s ‘Most Engaged User’ initiative which rewarded the most engaged subscribers.

Its move from a “gateway” of 20 articles a month to 10 articles a month also helped it see “another boost in subscriptions”, he added.

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New York Times readers become beta testers

June 1st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

The New York Times has released a new set of browser extensions that will allow eager readers to try out experimental features on the website.

The project, dubbed Test Drive, is from the newspaper’s experimental arm beta620. Some of the features of Test Drive include NYT Accessible, which optimises the site for readers with visual impairments and TimesInstant, similar to Google Instant search, that produces results as you type.

The features have been available for a while but on a separate site, the new browser extensions, available for Firefox and Chrome, allow the projects to be viewed in context on their main website.

Marc Frons, the New York Times’ chief information officer, told Nieman Journalism Lab:

We love beta620 — it’s been a great experience and a great way to get our innovations in front of the public before they’re fully baked.

Recognising that people who install browser extensions are not your average sample, he adds:

It’s not like a traditional A/B test where you’re actually just throwing something else up on unsuspecting readers and measuring your clicks.

I think the quantitative data will be less important here than the qualitative, where people’s comments and our own understanding of how we’re using these tools and experience will be more important than measuring clickthroughs or that sort of thing.

Full story at Nieman Journalism Lab.

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New York Times gets new-look Facebook page with timeline of 160-year history

February 29th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

The New York Times is among several US media outlets to adopt a new-style Facebook page.

The page makes the most of the timeline feature, adding photos and anecdotes from the Grey Lady’s 160-year history, inviting readers in to the newsroom.

Announcing the timeline on its Facebook page, the New York Times says:

We’re pleased to introduce our timeline, which highlights select moments from our 160+ year history. Come into the newsroom on the night of the 1928 presidential election. See our reporters at work during the 1977 blackout. You’ll even find a guest appearance by Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s. We plan to update our timeline frequently with key milestones from 1851 through the present. Take a look and let us know what you think.

The new-style pages were announced by Facebook today, already adopted by US TV show Today and People, and were among a number of features released at the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) in New York City.

Facebook describes the layout, which “includes a cover photo, larger story sizes, better tools to manage a page and more”, as designed to “help business and organisations better share their story and connect with people”.

Update:  There are a couple of handy posts on how to create a great news-style Facebook page and timeline for your news organisation. Here is some advice from Lost Remote and here are a few tips from Zombie Journalism.

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#Tip of the day from – experiment with ‘hashtag science’

When Liz Heron, social media editor of the New York Times, told the news:rewired conference for journalists about the seven ways the New York Times is using social media for ‘deeper’ engagement, she mentioned the term “hashtag science”.

The New York Times has been running an iEconomy series, an example where the news organisation has chosen “a series name based on what we thought would make the best hashtag – something that cleverly and clearly identifies the topic at hand, feels universal and inviting, fits neatly into a sentence, and above all, is short.”

Heron explained how “hashtag science” can “help reach new audiences”.

Other news sites could benefit from starting with a suitable, short hashtag when dreaming up a name for a series of features.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.




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New York Times takes two wins at George Polk Awards

February 20th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Journalism

The George Polk Awards, run by Long Island University, announced the winners of its 63rd event today.

According to a release the New York Times won two of the 15 categories. The first, for military reporting, was awarded to CJ Chivers, and the second was the foreign reporting prize which went to Jeffrey Gettleman and Tyler Hicks for their “numerous exclusives and heart-wrenching photos of ethnic conflict, pillage, famine and piracy”.

It was also announced that Anthony Shadid, the New York Times foreign correspondent who died from an apparent asthma attack in Syria last week, will receive a posthumous award “for extraordinary valor for his work in the Middle East”.

Other winners include the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the New Yorker and the Boston Globe.

“There was a strong field of contenders this year, especially in investigative work,” said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. “It was a big year for news with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and reporters from many news organizations went behind the headlines to search for underlying causes and trends.”

The full list of winners can be found here.

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