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The death of Osama bin Laden: New York Times interactive gauges public opinion

I really like this interactive feature from the excellent New York Times graphics team on readers’ reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden.

As a way of organising responses to a crowdsourcing exercise it isn’t anything new, it takes off from mapping responses geographically. But it is simple and effective, mixing text responses with a broad visual understanding of where the readership’s sentiments fall.

Interesting to see how many people sit right on the fence in the significance stakes.

The image below is a completely non-interactive screengrab of the feature, but follow this link for the full experience.

The NYT team has also put together some impressive graphics showing the layout of the compound, geography of the area and timeline of events.

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Project Cascade: The New York Times’ new visualisation tool for Twitter tracking

In case you missed this over the weekend, the New York Times has been quietly working away for a while on a nifty visualisation tool that will allow it to track the way links to its content move through Twitter.

A product of the Times’ Research and Development lab, which is housed somewhere up near the clouds in the NYT’s 33-floor building, Project Cascade promises to take social analytics on in leaps and bounds and tell the NYT a great deal about how, where and when its content is being shared.

The NYT – no stranger to the art of graphics and visualisation – writes on the project’s website that it “allows for precise analysis of the structures which underly sharing activity on the web”.

This first-of-its-kind tool links browsing behavior on a site to sharing activity to construct a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space.

While initially applied to New York Times stories and information, the tool and its underlying logic may be applied to any publisher or brand interested in understanding how its messages are shared.

Nieman Journalism Lab has a detailed write up on the tool at this link which is well worth a look.

You can learn more about data visualisation, social media analytics for publishers and more at Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming news:rewired conference. See the full agenda for the day on our dedicated event site.

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The New York Times paywall: what do people think?

So what have people been saying about the New York Times paywall (or fence, ramp, meter, porous paywall, nagwall or even ‘metered-access digital subscription system’, if you prefer)?

It was announced yesterday that the paywall is going up on March 28. A metered system will allow readers to access 20 articles a month for free and it will be free for those who land on a page via a link from Twitter, Facebook, a search engine or blog.

So, how much money will it make? paidContent has done the maths and reckons around 500,000 people will sign up, generating $100 million.

And what is everyone saying about it?

Online Journalism Blog is encouraged that the NYT model will work, as it recognises the importance of distribution (via Twitter and Facebook) and balancing quantity with quality for advertisers.

Newsonomics thinks the timing is good, coinciding with the launch of the iPad 2 in America.

The Nieman Journalism Lab says the NYT faces seven tests if it is to succeed.

The Online Journalism Review is encouraged by the business model but thinks customers will go elsewhere for news.

10,000 Words looks at paywall models and compares NYTs strategy with the Wall Street Journal and Newsday.

Poynter takes a look at tweets on the subject (including some quite funny ones like “If the NYT paywall gets torn down, Reagan will probably get credit”).

The Cutline looks at what readers of the NYT think of it (not much, judging by many of the comments).

One of the most interesting points is made by TechCrunch, which says the pricing structure is unfair and “discriminates by device” (The NYT’s charging $15 a month for web access, $20 to add smartphones or a an iPad, and $35 for all).

In other words, if you are shelling out $20 a month for the iPad subscription, and you want to also be able to read it on your iPhone, you basically have to pay the full smartphone subscription price, or an additional $15 a month. That seems like a rip-off. A digital subscription should be a digital subscription, and it shouldn’t matter what kind of computer you use to read the paper on. But okay, the iPad and other tablets are different, I might pay a little more for the tablet apps. But once I step up to pay the New York Times $20 a month for its iPad app, that should include access via the iPhone app as well.

Scripting also makes an excellent point about “frequent linkers”, who will have to pay to deliver readers to the NYT.

They did something smart in not charging readers who get to a Times story through a link from a blog post or tweet. But – since I am a frequent linker, I wonder why I should pay to read their site, when I’m delivering flow to them. How does that equation balance by me paying them? Maybe they should pay me? Seriously.

Elsewhere on paidContent, Bill Grueskin, former managing editor of the subscription-based Wall Street Journal Online, predicts the NYT can expect a big number of early subscribers.

He is also one of many to point out that there are ways over the wall.

According to sources close to the situation, the 20-story limit can be breached if you access the site from multiple devices, and/or if you delete your cookies. In other words, suppose you hit the wall on your PC. Then move to your laptop, where you’ll get another 20 stories. Delete your cookies on any computer, and the clock goes back to zero.

Roy Greenslade has also been reading about how to jump over the wall: by finding a story, pasting the headline into a search engine and accessing the linked story for free.

Perhaps the most revolutionary way to sneak around the wall is this idea is reported in the the Atlantic.

So, cheapskates, meet @freenyt, a three-hour old Twitter feed that intends to tweet all the Times stories.

That works as articles linked via twitter are free. But the article does point out:

Maybe we can even think of the Times paywall as akin to old-school shareware that didn’t force you to upgrade but just hit you with a nag screen (a nagwall?).

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Techdirt: New York Times lawyers shut down former staffer’s Tumblr

Techdirt has laid into the New York Times for sending its laywers to shut down a Tumblr blog belonging to former staffer Jonathan Paul. Paul was using the account to repost some of the NYT’s “beautiful and unexpected imagery”, with links.

Paul notes that the blog actually had a decent following within the NYT, and his former colleagues had encouraged the project and helped promote it as well, fully realizing that it was helping their own work get more attention and driving more traffic to the NYT. And then the lawyers stepped in.

Full post on Techdirt at this link

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Fleet Street Blues: Should editors have bylines?

Fleet Street Blues has noted that the re-designed New York Times Magazine, first published yesterday, includes editors’ bylines. Will the idea, already used by Reuters and Bloomberg in the form of an end credit on wire stories, catch on? Fleet Street Blues thinks not.

We like the idea in principle – given that editors have at least as much say as a reporter in the top line of an article, and indeed whether it appears at all, why not put their name against it as well?

But somehow, it’s not an innovation we can see catching on. Given the current trend for ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ bylines, or the fine work of Oliver Clive and Austin Peters over at the Telegraph, accountability may not be Fleet Street’s strong suit.

Full post on Fleet Street Blues at this link

 

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NYT: Fact-checking in the online age

August 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Great first-person piece from the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan on the process of fact-checking at newspapers past and present:

In short, fact-checking has assumed radically new forms in the past 15 years. Only fact-checkers from legacy media probably miss the quaint old procedures. But if the web has changed what qualifies as fact-checking, has it also changed what qualifies as a fact? I suspect that facts on the web are now more rhetorical devices than identifiable objects. But I can’t verify that.

Full article on the New York Times at this link…

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New York Times launches behind-the-scenes video feature

The New York Times has launched a new daily video feature on NYTimes.com.

TimesCast, which is available on the newspaper’s homepage between 1:00pm and 2:00pm EST Monday to Friday, falls somewhere between an ordinary television news broadcast and a short behind-the-scenes documentary. Viewers see segments of the daily page one meeting, followed by various reporters and editors in conversation about stories they are working on.

Previous days’ episodes will be available via the Times’ online video section.

Follow this link to see the first TimesCast episode in full.

“This is another example of our continuing emphasis on video, which represents one of the largest growth areas in digital media,” said Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group and general manager, NYTimes.com.

Last December the Times launched TimesSkimmer, a new format for organising online content that allows users greater control over layout.

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AFP: Online pay model will be ‘critical second revenue stream’ says Sulzberger

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger says that charging for the paper’s online content will provide a “critical second revenue stream”.

Speaking at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Media Summit, Sulzberger also reassured readers that the print edition of the paper will continue for many years to come:

It’s a critical part of today, it will be a critical part I think for many years to come (…) The iPad is also going to be a critical part just the way the Kindle’s a critical part.

At the end of the day we can’t define ourselves by our method of distribution (…) What we care about at the end of day is our journalism, our quality journalism.

Full story at this link…

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US Digest: NYT launches hyperlocal; HuffPost chases students; Shatner plays Twitterer, and more

February 23rd, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Journalism Daily, Online Journalism

Starting this week, the editor’s blog will feature an afternoon roundup of all things media from over the pond. From the hugely important to the very inconsequential, check in for a choice of America’s journalistic goings on.


NYT explore new avenues with another hyperlocal blog

Starting off small today, with news that the New York Times is launching another hyperlocal blog. this time in conjunction with students from New York University (NYU).

The new blog, which will report on New York’s East Village, will come under the Times’ URL but be developed and launched by students from the NYU Studio 20 Journalism Masters programme.

Two NY hyperlocals were launched by the paper last year under a channel called ‘The Local’. One covers Clinton Hill and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, the other Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange in New Jersey. Those blogs featured student contributions from the start, but were helmed by Times staff (although the former was recently turned over to students from CUNY). The new East Village blog is edited by a Times staffer but will be largely overseen, from inception to launch, by NYU students.

Jessica Roy, blogger at NYULocal and member of the East Village project said:

While the site will function in a similar way to the hyperlocal sites the Times already has running in Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill and Maplewood, this will be the first time journalism students will be heavily involved in the site’s content and design process before the launch.

It will be interesting to see how this ties in with the reported NYT plans to hide their blogs away behind a paywall. Can the Freakonomics blog, Paul Krugman, and other NYT blog big-hitters tempt readers to pay? Can a bunch of students from NYU?

Arianna Huffington admits spending “a lot of time” on college campuses

The NYT are not the only ones hanging around campuses and jumping in bed with students, “I’ve spent a lot of time on campuses lately” admits Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.

But Arianna is not, apparently, just trying to recapture a youth she threw away on “promise, passion, intellectual curiosity, and vitality”. She is referring to the launch of HuffPost College, a new section of the Huffington Post devoted to the promising, passionate, intellectually curious, and vital students out there, and presumably to the billions of normal students too.

Edited by Jose Antonio Vargas, our Tech and Innovations editor, with the help of Leah Finnegan, a recent graduate of the University of Texas and the former editor of the Daily Texan, HuffPost College is designed to be a virtual hub for college life, bringing you original and cross-posted material from a growing list of college newspapers.

“Announcing HuffPost College: No SAT scores or admission essays needed” reads Arianna’s headline.

Just an internet connection then, which everyone in America must have by now, right? Hmmm…. Published yesterday, the results of an FCC study into internet use in America show that a third of the population don’t have broadband internet access – some 93 million –  and the majority of those don’t have any access whatsoever.

Here is John Horrigan, who oversaw the survey for the FCC, making the findings sound impressively grotesque:

Overall internet penetration has been steady in the mid-70 to upper 70 per cent range over the last five years. Now we’re at a point where, if you want broadband adoption to go up by any significant measure, you really have to start to eat into the segment of non-internet-users.

Fortunately for Arianna Huffington, those remaining blissfully un-penetrated (albeit in danger of being eaten into by hungry internet providers) are “disproportionately older and more likely to live in rural areas”, and not the vigourous youth, who are probably desperate to spend their time out of college at home reading about college.

Shatner to play Twitterer

One elderly American well in tune with all things online is Justin Halpern’s dad. Even if he doesn’t quite get why. Justin Halpern’s dad is the man behind Justin Halpern’s Twitter account, “Shit My Dad Says.” Although this is slightly old story already, news that William Shatner will be playing an curmudgeonly, 74 year-old man whose live-in 29 year-old son tweets “shit that he says” is too ridiculous to pass up. If CBS are in luck, the account’s 1,187,371 followers, and many more, will tune in to hear William Shatner say this:

A parent’s only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed.

And many, many other 140-character pearls of wisdom far too rude for the very mild-mannered Journalism.co.uk. I for one prefer Justin Halpern’s dad’s personal choice of James Earl Jones, and applaud his straight talking response to suggestions that colour is an issue.

He wanted James Earl Jones to play him. I was like, ‘But you’re white.’ He was like, ‘Well, we don’t have to be! Who gives a [censored]? You asked me who I thought, and that’s who I think.’

Who could possibly resist the powerful combination of Halpern Snr’s coarse tweets and Darth Vader’s husky voice?

Largest YouTube content provider reaches 1 billion views

One million followers is an impressive landmark in the Twitterverse, it puts you up there in the Twittersphere with such luminaries as Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher. It’s about 28,000 times as many as I have. Demand Media went a thousand times better than that though in YouTube terms yesterday, with its billionth view.

According to its site, the company, which has about 500 staff and is based in Santa Monica, provides “social media solutions that consumers really want”. Demand is the largest content supplier to YouTube, owning around 170,000 videos available on the site.

Co-founder of Demand Shawn Colo discusses the YouTube platform and the company’s media strategy, courtesy of Beet.TV.

Rampant cutbacks trumped by loaded shotgun

Finally, from Editor & Publisher, the happy news that redundancy is no longer the most frightening thing in the newsroom.

Employees at the Grand Forks Herald, Chicago, were more than a little surprised to find a loaded shotgun in a closet at the paper’s head offices.

“No notes, no threats, no nothing – just a loaded shotgun in a case in a closet in a common area, five rounds in it,” Grand Forks Police Lt. Grant Schiller said.

For those staffers who may not have already jumped to this conclusion, Herald editor Mike Jacobs made it clear that: “Carrying a loaded gun into the building is a dismissible offense.”

Newspaper journalists, in an age when your profession is almost a dismissable offence in itself, please, leave your loaded shotguns at home.

Image of East Village by Joe Madonna

Image of weapons ban sign by Dan4th

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NY Gov. Spitzer prostitution ring story crashes NYT website

A huge traffic surge in response to a story broken by the NYTimes.com alleging New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was a client of a high-end prostitution ring, caused the newspaper website to crash yesterday.

According to Huffingtonpost.com, the website went offline for a period yesterday afternoon as readers raced to read allegations about the governor.

NYT spokesperson Diane McNulty told Huff Post that between 2-4 pm (Eastern US time) traffic was 60 per cent higher than at the same time last Monday. NYT mobile almost doubled its traffic for the same period.

Considering the amount of traffic that would have been generated by last week’s primaries for the Democratic candidate, yesterday must have been a pretty heavy day.

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