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Nieman Journalism Lab: Barriers to entry can improve quality and quantity of reader comments, says Gawker

In 2009, blog network Gawker Media introduced a new, stricter commenting system in an attempt to free the site from certain readers who were dominating comment threads. Nieman Journalism Lab has the full rundown of how the system now works, which includes trusted commenters having greater access to discussions and most recent comments placed at the top rather than bottom of threads to steer discussion.

“We’ll be able to encourage the kind of discussion that *we* want – not one that is dominated merely by the most prolific of our commenters. It’s our party; we get to decide who comes,” wrote founder Nick Denton at the time.

A graph on the blog of Gawker Media chief technology officer Tom Plunkett shows an initial dip in comment volume when the changes were first made, followed by a steep incline:

Though there were some calls to do so, purging commenter accounts is not a solution for the out-of-control commenter community. Nor is a large moderation staff. We believe pruning, and a commenting platform as we have implemented, will lead to increased participation, while at the same time encouraging quality. This data, and the subjective opinion of many, seem to back this assertion.

Full Nieman Journalism Lab report at this link…

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Nieman Journalism Lab: Gawker’s new traffic metric measures ‘reader affection’

While others pour over pageviews and underscore uniques, Gawker Media has been quietly working on a new metric, one designed to measure so-called “reader affection”. This new metric is called “branded traffic” and is, according to Nieman Journalism Lab, “both more nebulous and more significant” than traditional forms of measurement.

The idea is to measure the number of visitors that arrive at the site via a direct search for its name or variations on its branding, or by typing in the site URL directly, and distinguish them from more incidental traffic.

The metric comes from a simple compound: direct type-in visits plus branded search queries in Google Analytics. In other words, Gawker Media is bifurcating its visitors in its evaluation of them, splitting them into two groups: the occasional audience, you might call it, and the core audience.

The original Gawker release highlights the value the site places on turning the internet passerby into an affectionate reader:

While distributing content across the web is essential for attracting the interest of internet passersby, courting these wanderers, massaging them into occasional visitors, and finally gaining their affection as daily readers is far more important. This core audience – borne of a compounding of word of mouth, search referrals, article recommendations, and successive enjoyed visits that result in regular readership – drives our rich site cultures and premium advertising products.

Full post at this link…

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Media Beat: Former Gawker managing editor talks niches and revenue streams

Dramatically named blogger and journalism entrepreneur Lockhart Steele has guested on mediabistro’s Media Beat video series in the last two days, with the last episode appearing later this afternoon. Steele began blogging around the beginning of the decade while working in magazines. He was recruited by Nick Denton as Gawker began to pick up traffic and later became managing editor of the site, seeing it expand from just a handful of editorial staff to around 150.

In the second installment of the Media Beat series, below, Steele discusses getting traffic through Twitter and Facebook, diversifying revenue streams online, and “looking for niches where we can be a little bit weird”.

Follow this link for the first installment, in which Steele discusses starting out in blogging and breaking away from Gawker to establish his own blogging network.

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Vanityfair.com: Business Insider’s Henry Blodget vs Reuters’ Felix Salmon

Via Vanity Fair (and others) we learn of a tweet fight between former technology analyst and CEO of the Business Insider site, Henry Blodget, and Reuters’ financial journalist and blogger Felix Salmon.

It all started when Salmon poked fun – via Twitter – at Blodget’s business model and the way Business Insider had illustrated a banking story with a picture of two women kissing.

This kicked off a long dispute between the two over media strategy; not a simple old vs new spat, but an untangling of ethical issues for online publishers.

Never to miss a traffic opportunity, Blodget has posted the entire conversation on Business Insider here, in the form of a slideshow.

Blodget, fond of tweet by tweet mini-essays, also responded with a posting on business models.

Salmon then responded here, in length, on the Reuters blog.

Blogger and journalist Mathew Ingram has a thoughtful post on the whole episode at this link. An extract:

So what are smart online media outlets doing? Two things: One is focusing on building businesses such as conferences and events, as well as subscription-based, proprietary content (something Business Insider is also experimenting with). The other – and this is what I think Salmon was driving at – is thinking about traffic and pageviews in a different way. Not all pageviews are the same, and as a result not all CPMs are the same. Does forcing readers to click through multiple pages to view a slideshow add any real value? No. This is the digital equivalent of newspapers throwing extra copies into a ravine (or dumping them at a taxi stand) to boost circulation.

And elswhere on Twitter: Gawker’s founder Nick Denton backs Blodget, while writer Andrew Keen calls for the Business Insider CEO to return to Wall Street.

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Nieman Journalism Lab: Gawker stirs up online commenting with new #tips tags

Gawker is encourage commenters and readers of its site to share news, links and tips using a new tagging system.

Using a text form on the site, tagging a message with #tips for example will send it to a ‘tips’ page, where all similarly tagged submissions will be pulled together to create a stream.

Individual hashtags for different sections of the site have been introduced as part of the new Gawker Open Forums, reports Nieman Journalism Lab.

“[A]s the front pages of our sites become ever more professional, it’s even more important to allow anarchy to bubble up from below. The goal is to blur the line between our editors and commenter-contributors,” publisher Nick Denton told Nieman.

Starred contributors – e.g. those members of Gawker’s commenting community that have been given a star rating by the site’s editors – will have their tagged submissions immediately fed to the aggregated pages. Other tagged contributions will need to be flagged up by these starred users.

Full story at this link…

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Washington Post: ‘Whiny WashPost Reporter Makes His Point: Respect the Genuine Article’

August 3rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Well, that’s Ian Shapira’s suggested headline for a follow-up story on Gawker, after the site picked up on and heavily excerpted his story on ‘branding consultant’ Anne Loehr.

Gawker included a link to his original article – but only at the very bottom of the post.

Shapira’s initial happiness at having his story featured on Gawker turned to disillusion as he questioned the benefits of traffic driven by Gawker to his original piece, he writes in a follow-up piece.

Gawker may make money from advertising around its aggregation of original reporting from other sources, which have invested time and money into the report, but does a spike in traffic help the Washington Post’s bottom line, he asks.

“After talking with Denton [Nick Denton, Gawker founder], Nolan [Hamilton Nolan, the Gawker author] and others for this article, I still want a fluid blogosphere, but one where aggregators – newspapers included – are more transparent about whom they’re heavily excerpting. They should mention the original source immediately. And if bloggers want to excerpt at length, a fee would be the nice, ethical gesture,” he writes.

Full article at this link…

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Journalism Daily: BBC video plans, Trinity Midlands strike and perfecting the press release

July 28th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism Daily

Journalism.co.uk is going to trial a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features

Ed’s Picks

Tip of the Day

#FollowJourn

On the Editors’ Blog

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Nick Denton: Gawker revenues up 45 per cent in first half of 2009

The plunge has already been pretty terrifying for a range of companies from Yahoo and IAC to the newspapers,” writes Gawker founder Nick Denton, referring to his previous prediction that media companies should prepare for a 40 per cent downturn in advertising revenue over the economic cycle.

“But I was wrong in one respect: a few premium internet brands, Gawker’s among them, have withstood the advertising apocalypse.”

Full post at this link…

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Why Nick Denton wouldn’t set up shop in UK

From Politico: a report on a panel at the Institute’s Ideas Festival in Colarado, asking ‘What’s the News Worth to You?’

For us Brits, this is the interesting part:

“During the panel’s Q&A, Gawker Media’s Nick Denton sarcastically thanked the American newspaper industry for being so unaggressive, making it possible for ‘thugs’ like him to succeed.

“Conversely, Denton said he’d never set up shop in England. ‘Every single day, those editors get up and try to kill each other,’ said Denton. Not so in the U.S.”

(Hat-tip: Martin Stabe)

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Defamer.gawker.com: Defamer ‘folds into’ Gawker

Gawker’s Nick Denton explains the changes here, or you can read a post from Seth at Defamer at this link…

In a nutshell, Defamer is being merged into Gawker.com, and its current writers are to move onto pastures new.


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