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Wall Street Journal uses Foursquare list feature for hurricane evacuation centres

August 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Mobile

As Hurricane Irene lashed the east coast of the US at the weekend, the Wall Street Journal used Foursquare’s recently-launched tip lists feature to provide details of the locations of New York City evacuation centres.

The tip lists were launched on 15 August and were used by the WSJ for a breaking news story less than a fortnight later.

Users of Foursquare, the mobile phone app and social network which has 10 million members worldwide, can check-in and share their location with their friends and contacts by using the WSJ’s NYC Hurricane Evacuation Centers Foursquare list.

A total of 130 people follow the evacuation centres on Foursquare, a low number when compared to other networks (the New York Times @NYTLive Twitter account accrued 22,000 followers in three days when reporting on the hurricane), but the WSJ’s innovative use of lists is another example how news publishers can interact with readers.

Eric Friedman, director of business development at Foursquare, told Journalism.co.uk how the WSJ list works:

This is a page that the Wall Street Journal can administer and actually people can follow the list, which is a great way for them to interact with their current fan base on Foursquare and also as resource for anyone else for a quick way to develop something that was extemely helful in a potentially very damaging storm.

Friedman went on to explain another way in which the WSJ has used the platform.

It’s a way for them to build a following on a new network, which is Foursquare, and for them to get really timely and relevant information attached to a place.

In the past they’ve use [their Foursquare page] to attach breaking news to a place, when something is going on in Times Square, for example. They’ve also used it in a way which is very interesting, for past historial events to let someone know “hey, I’m at the Brooklyn Bridge”, here’s what happened at this time on this date many, many years ago. So it’s a way of bringing the old Journal information to the forefront as well as a way bringing new information to someone in a breaking way.

Mashable has more information on user-generated tip lists allowing users to create crowdsourced lists.

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‘Like’ and ‘tweet’ buttons – what news sites need to know about dropped cookies

What is not to like about the buttons that drive traffic to your site from Facebook and Twitter? Quite a lot if you consider a study commissioned by the Wall Street Journal published in May.

‘Like’ and ‘tweet’ widgets, which appear on one third of the world’s 1,000 most-visited websites, enable Facebook and Twitter to track and follow the sites a user visits by dropping cookies – small text files placed on a user’s computer.

New EU cookie law, which came into force in the UK on 26 May, requires websites to confirm they accept cookies before they can be dropped. So what is the legal position of websites that use ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons, how should they act responsibly and can anything be done to stop this happening?

How Facebook and Twitter ‘follow’ your readers

The WSJ article explains how the ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons on your site track readers:

For this to work, a person only needs to have logged into Facebook or Twitter once in the past month. The sites will continue to collect browsing data, even if the person closes their browser or turns off their computers, until that person explicitly logs out of their Facebook or Twitter accounts, the study found.

Kennish’s study examined more than 200,000 web pages on the top 1,000 sites. He found Facebook obtained browsing data from 331 sites, and Google obtained data from 250 sites, some of it from its Buzz widget. Twitter got browsing information from about 200 sites.

This all may sound a little ‘big brother’ to some Facebook and Twitter users but cookies are dropped by almost every website you visit and collect all sorts of data. One of the major uses of cookies by news sites is to gather audience data and display targeted advertising. They can also be dropped by any third-party with links on your site, such as Facebook and Twitter buttons.

So what can news sites do to prevent their readers being tracked by Facebook and Twitter?

Nothing, according to Julian Evans, an information security expert with his own blog on online security, who said all ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons, even if they are made by third-parties, drop cookies.

The legal position of ‘tweet’, ‘like’ and cookies

However, websites are not liable for cookies dropped by third-parties, such as Facebook’s ‘like’, Twitter’s ‘tweet’ or other buttons and links on your site, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office, an independent public body which polices the new EU cookie law and can fine websites up to £500,000 for non-compliance.

Katherine Vander from the ICO told Journalism.co.uk that websites must, during the next few months, concentrate on getting their houses in order to make sure they comply with the new EU directive that came into force in the UK on 26 May which states users have to confirm they accept cookies before a website can drop them. Before that date internet users merely had to opt out of receiving cookies if they did not want their data collected.

What should sites do to act responsibly?

Although there is no legal requirement for news sites to get readers to opt in to agree to allowing Facebook and Twitter to drop cookies and track their reading habits, the ICO is encouraging news sites to act responsibly and inform readers what is going on.

“If you’re encouraging people to come to your site to use those facilities and you’re making a deliberate link there – which obviously [sites which have 'tweet' and 'like' buttons] are – you may well feel some sense of responsibility in terms of, at the very least, providing people with information about what might result in that happening,” Vander told Journalism.co.uk. She also asked news sites to keep up-to-date with Facebook and Twitter’s privacy policies.

She suggests sites which want to be really responsible should “put a note next to the link” to tell readers this button drops cookies.

That may not sound like an attractive solution to many as it may scare or confuse readers, many of whom think a cookie is just something to dunk in a cup of tea.

“Consumers don’t understand what cookies are. People don’t want to know what [a cookie] does, they just want to know it’s safe and their privacy is safe online,” security expert Julian Evans said.

He also pointed out that news sites should remember users willingly share their own information through login authentication sites like Facebook and Twitter.

What users can do to prevent cookies

  1. Log out of social networks when you are not using them. Use a separate browser to log on to Facebook and Twitter;
  2. Amend your browser’s privacy settings (preferences > privacy);
  3. Clear out your cookies;
  4. Clear out your ‘evercookies’, a persistent JavaScript API, which you can learn how to get rid of here;
  5. Use a service like Disconnect;
  6. Security expert Julian Evans, who runs ID-Theft Protect, recommends Firefox users install No Script, a script blocker that shows where your data is going.
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Five stories to inspire you to try Storify – which anyone can now join

Anyone can now join multimedia storytelling platform Storify.

The site, which allows users to drag and drop elements such as tweets, audioboo recordings, photographs from Flickr and YouTube videos to tell a dynamic story, which can then be embedded on a news website or blog, was previously in private beta and an invitation was required. As of this week Storify is now in public beta.

Since its launch in September, private beta users have created more than 21,000 stories, according to this post.

Storify stories have been viewed more than 13 million times, 4.2 million views were in March. The stories generated have been embedded on more than 5,000 sites, including news sites from the New York Times, to the Guardian and BBC.

Here are five stories to inspire you to have a go:

1. The Stream, the daily television show powered by social media and citizen journalism on Al Jazeera English, has created this Storify story on Blogging from “Between the Bars”.

[View the story Blogging from "Between the Bars" on Storify]

2. The Wall Street Journal embedded this Storify story which asks where should New York place QR codes?
[View the story QR codes in New York City on Storify]

3. Storify received record views after March’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
[View the story Latest on Japan earthquake and tsunami on Storify]

4. BBC London curated the London marathon with Storify.
[View the story Your Story of Marathon 2011 on Storify]

5. And whether you love of hate the hype, the Royal Wedding will no doubt inspire more Storify stories, such as this one from ABC News.
[View the story UK gears up for royal wedding on Storify]

Do you have any useful tips for people using Storify? Please share them with Journalism.co.uk readers.

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Wall Street Journal: New York Times to start charging for online in January

May 14th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

According to the Wall Street Journal, its local rival the New York Times will begin charging for online content in January 2011. The announcement was made by Bill Keller, executive editor of the newspaper, at a dinner for the Foreign Press Association last night.

Wall Street Journal

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Radio 4: Peter Day on business media’s struggle for survival

May 10th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Last week’s Radio 4 In Business programme looked at business newspapers and how some of the world’s best known-brands are struggling to compete with online rivals and in the face of the economic downturn.

Well worth a listen at this link, it includes interview with representatives from the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Business Week.

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WSJ confirms paid-for access to news on mobile

September 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Online Journalism

News Corp’s Dow Jones has confirmed speculation from earlier this week and announced that the Wall Street Journal will now charge for full access to its content via Blackberry, iPhone and iPod touch devices.

According to a press release, the WSJ applications will remain free to download for each device and continue to offer a mixture of free and subscription content.

The new access model will be introduced from October 24 and hopes to expand the paying audience for Dow Jones’ content by highlighting the specialist, time-sensitive nature of its news.

“Our new mobile subscription model will enable us to continue to invest in the world’s most essential news content and deliver it to our subscribers wherever and whenever they want it,” said Gordon McLeod, president of the Wall Street Journal digital network, in the release.

“This transition also reinforces the value of our content on mobile, just as we’ve done online for more than a decade.”

Full access to the site from these applications will cost $2 per week for a mobile-only subscription. A subscription to mobile and the WSJ in print or online will cost $1 a week.

Print and online subscribers will have free access to content via the smartphone apps.

Full access to the site’s mobile site will only be granted to WSJ.com subscribers, the release added.

Today UK website the Spectator announced it would introduced a range of subscription packages for its website with immediate effect.

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paidContent: WSJ ready to start charging for mobile apps

September 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Multimedia

The Wall Street Journal is ready to start charging for mobile access on the Blackberry and iPhone and the video site Hulu can be expected to introduce some kind of payment model, News Corp CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch told delegates at the the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XVIII Conference.

Full story at this link…

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WSJ: Interactive graphic tracks fate of US newspapers

September 8th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

WSJ interactive newspaper circulations mapThe Wall Street Journal has created an interactive map of the US to track events and readership figures for the US’ top 50 newspapers (by circulation).

The map shows staff reductions, sales of titles and moves to online-only editions and covers the period from 2006 onwards.

Full feature at this link…

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WSJ: Vibe magazine resurrected with web focus

August 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

Hip-hop magazine Vibe, which folded six weeks ago, has been given a new lease of life as a web-based magazine, according to the Wall Street Journal (registration required).

Vibe.com will be launched in the coming weeks and a print edition of the mag will be published on a quarterly basis.

Full post at this link…

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Jon Bernstein: What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

July 8th, 2009 | 16 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

In what may feel like a twist of logic too far, there are a growing number of non-media companies who are adopting the Fourth Estate’s digital business model.

That’s the ad-funded, free-to-the-consumer model.

You know the one.

It’s at the root of the crisis afflicting the newspaper industry around the world, an industry which is trying desperately to make money online. Or at least not haemorrhage it.

To believe the unholy trinity that is News International, Daily Mail and General Trust, and the Guardian Media Group, the media model is unworkable, unsustainable and it’s got to go.

The three are not sure if it should be replaced by paywalls, micropayments, subscriptions or something else entirely.

But what they are agreed on is that it cannot be business as usual. Because that business is going under.

So why do we find the likes of Facebook, Digg and the mighty Google – and perhaps soon Amazon- adopting the ad-funded model to support services and software.

Take Gmail. It’s not a media entity, it’s email, but it is ad-supported.

One answer is that that advertising is the last, desperate (and largely) failing attempt to generate some money, given nobody wants to pay for their products. In short: free reigns.

On that latter point, Wired’s editor-in-chief Chris Anderson is likely to agree.

His new book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price’ – appropriately available to read and listen to online without charge – celebrates ‘freeconomics’, but has a much more positive take on its effect on the business world.

The reason, he says, people are convinced that ad-funded won’t work is because they are applying the conventional rules.

Offline – in newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV and radio – advertising is predicated on scarcity not abundance. Ad sales people trade on ‘space’ and the less there is the higher the yield.

So when there is infinite space online, their greatest selling tool disappears.

Right? Wrong.

Anderson argues that there is another kind of advertising which is epitomised by Google’s text ads:

“Google doesn’t sell space. It sells users’ intentions – what they’ve declared to be interested in, in the form of a search query.

“And that’s a scarce resource. The number of people typing in ‘Berkeley dry cleaner’ on any given day is finite.”

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt – admittedly a man with a vested interest – estimates that the potential market for online advertising is $800bn.

“That’s twice the total advertising market, online and off, today,” notes Anderson.

So why is his tone at such odds with that of the media he is writing about?

Perhaps it has something to do with the production-cycle of book publishing. This book was in train before he had even finished writing the much-admired The Long Tail.

Clearly much of his thinking predates the collapse of Lehman Brothers which sealed our current economic fate.

His penultimate chapter, presumably added very late in the day and titled ‘Coda: Free in a Time of Economic Crisis’, is an acknowlegement of that, although not a denunciation of his core argument.

Just maybe, it’s the down-in-the-mouth media owners who are out of time, not Anderson.

Maybe this rush to find other ways to monetise will be a passing phase and when the economy picks up so too will online advertising revenues.

After all, what’s the alternative?

Pay walls may work for niche information but not for mainstream news and exclusives. That’s something that even the Wall Street Journal, poster child of the paid model, accepts.

Interviewed earlier this year its executive editor Alan Murray said:

“Look, if it’s a big news story, if we report a takeover and – we could hold that behind the pay wall. But if we do, BusinessWeek or someone else will simply write a story saying ‘The Wall Street Journal is reporting x’ and they’ll get all the traffic. Why would we do that?

“So if it’s that kind of a big, broad-interest news story, we’ll put it outside the pay wall and go ahead and take the traffic ourselves, thank you very much.”

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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