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Washington Post partners with US university to offer journalism scholarship to programmers

February 1st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Training
Image by espensorvik on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by espensorvik on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The Washington Post and Northwestern University have teamed up to offer a scholarship opportunity to programmers at the university’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

The programme will allow programmers to earn a master’s degree in journalism before a paid internship at the newspaper.

Although the Knight Foundation has been supporting the programme since 2008, helping nine people to earn the degree and apply their knowledge in relevant jobs, the Washington Post is the first news industry partner to join the programme.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor for strategic projects at the Washington Post said in a release that programmers have the type of skill set and knowledge that can help to build “new tools and features that can benefit both readers and reporters”.

There is more information on the release.

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Guardian’s Facebook app delivering 1m extra hits a day

The Guardian’s Facebook app is generating almost a million extra page impressions per day, according to figures released by the news outlet and by Facebook.

Two months on from its launch at Facebook’s f8 conference in London the app has been installed by over four million users.

The news outlet also believes that the app is engaging a younger audience, as over half (56.7 per cent) of the app’s users are 24 and under and 16.7 per cent are 17 and under.

Andrew Miller, chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, said in a statement:

As well as increasing traffic, the app is making our journalism visible to new audiences. Over half of the app’s users are 24 and under – traditionally a very hard-to-reach demographic for news organisations

The Independent, the other UK-based news outlet to launch a Facebook app following f8 on 22 September, is reporting that it has more than one million monthly active users connecting their Facebook accounts.

The integration has bumped up older articles that have gone viral through social distribution, according to the Facebook post detailing the statistics.

The news organisation found that many of the “most shared” and “most viewed” stories on the site have been from the late 1990s, “a result of the increased social virality”.

The Guardian and Independent both took a different approach when building their Facebook apps. The Guardian focused on the reading experience within Facebook, the shared reading experience for the Independent takes place on the news site.

Yahoo! News, which like the Independent integrated the app into its site, has reported that 10 million people are using the app, with Yahoo! News experiencing a 600 per cent increase in traffic coming from Facebook as a result.

People who connect to Facebook on Yahoo! read more articles than the average user, the Facebook post states.

Like the Guardian, the Washington Post built a social reader app for Facebook as a companion for its website with the social sharing taking place within Facebook. It has drawn more than 3.5 million monthly active users so far. The Facebook post states that the social reader is growing, especially among international audiences and younger readers, with 83 per cent of readers under 35 years old.

According to Facebook, the statistics released last night show that the apps do five things:

1. Show recommendations to increase engagement. Keep people engaged by prominently showing friends’ recent activity on your main pages and pages with high exit rates. When no social content is available, surface personalised recommendations based on users’ interests on Facebook and clearly explain why you’re showing each recommendation.

2. Create compelling objects. Maximise the click through rates of your stories by specifying Open Graph tags for all your articles and including compelling images, titles and descriptions. Avoid misleading images or titles to prevent your app from being marked as spam, which will negatively impact your app’s distribution in news feed.

3. Leverage your existing user base. If you have an existing site, be sure to make connecting a prominent option for existing users. And if people are already sharing your content on Facebook, consider sending referral traffic from Facebook into a flow that makes it easy for people to have a social experience on your site.

4. Make the benefits of sharing clear. Open Graph apps are designed for people that want to share. In your app, you should clearly explain how your app works and the benefits of adding your app to their timeline. Choose an approach that makes the most sense for your users, whether that’s an informative dialog, in-line marketing messaging, house ad inventory, and/or a learn more page.

5.  Keep users in control. As we’ve previously highlighted, people are more active when they are in control. In addition to the privacy controls on Facebook, we encourage you to build controls into your app that fit how people use your app.

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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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Personalised news service Trove launched by Washington Post

Washington Post today launched its personalised news service Trove in public beta. According to a press release the site uses Facebook Connect to pull in user interests “as outlined by his or her Facebook profile to help jump start personalization”.

In the coming months, readers can expect to see more social media features and site capabilities with Facebook Connect.

An editorial team will also work to select Editors’ Picks and create subject-based channels that feature recommended sources. Users can also create their own channels based on personal interests that may not already exist on Trove.

Trove, which has been in private beta since February, is currently available on the desktop, Android and Blackberry, and the Post says it will be coming to iPhone and iPad “soon”.

The site enlisted the help of Next Media animators to help explain how Trove works:

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The Atlantic: The hackers who keep the Washington Post running

The Atlantic has a feature explaining how, and why, developers create a variety of news apps at Washington Post. The article includes details of this tool that was designed to allow WashingtonPost.com visitors to read tweets written in Russian following an explosion at Moscow airport in January, plus several other examples of creating apps for planned events and for breaking news.

With dozens of stories appearing in the Washington Post every day and only so many web developers, there’s only so many ideas the team can deploy. Deciding which ideas are acted upon comes down to what [senior web developer Dan] Drinkard described as ‘level of effort versus perceived value and impact’. His job is to balance long term projects that center around a news event they know is coming – a major debate or election, for instance – with these short one-offs. ‘It’s sort of split three ways,’ he explained. ‘There’s the big stuff, initiatives that you know you’re going to spend the next six months working on. There’s the little stuff that you spend one or two months on, or even a matter of weeks, and there’s the little stuff that comes up every day so you can help unstick something.’

Some of these projects include an interactive map allowing readers to follow the movement of Middle East protests, a Google Maps tool to allow Marine Corps Marathon attendees to geo-tag their photos, and QR codes in the print edition of the paper that aim to drive readers to further coverage online.

[Deputy editor Cory] Haik said that not every interactive item the Post launches has news value – some, like the Charlie Sheen quote randomizer, are mainly for fun. When the Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a shooting of the next Transformers installment, it invited readers to submit their own Photoshop version of the image. While I’m sure a serious foreign policy enthusiast would enjoy a Twitter aggregation of a Pakistani governor’s tweets, sometimes you have to feed your Reddit readers with some sad Keanu Reeves.

The Atlantic’s full post is at this link.

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10,000 Words: The new Washington Post site design

10,000 words takes a look at the new Washington Post site design. Changes include an “enhanced” commenting system allowing editors to prominently feature certain comments.

According to 10,000 Words, the new system “marks one of the most forward-thinking aspects of the redesign”.

The new design is much more modern and clean than the old homepage that looked like something out of the late ’90s. According to a press release from The Post, the new design is “intended to further reader engagement and discussion around Post journalism and showcase more multimedia content”.

Full article on 10,000 Words at this link

See the Post’s own innovations blog for more on its redesign.

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Washington Post: Al Jazeera saw the Arab revolutions coming, why didn’t the West?

February 28th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Politics

The Washington Post has an article by the director general of the Al Jazeera network, Wadah Khanfar, who says the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa were no surprise for Al Jazeera due to the network’s focus on grass roots journalism.

These unfolding transformations have been less of a surprise for us at al-Jazeera. Since our launch nearly 15 years ago, we have chosen to keep close to the Arab street, gauging its pulse and reflecting its aspirations. It was clear to us that a revolution was in the making, and it was happening far from the gaze of a tame and superficial establishment media that allied itself with the powerful center – on the assumption that the center is always safer and more important. Many media outlets in the region failed to recognize what was happening among the Arab grass roots. Keen to conduct interviews with high-level officials and ever willing to cover repetitious news conferences, they remained oblivious to what was happening on the ground.

Full post on the WashingtonPost.com at this link.

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Washington Post launches iPad app

November 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Newspapers

The Washington Post announced the launch of its new iPad app last night, which is now available from the iTunes App Store.

In a press release, the Post said the app will combine “trusted reporting and analysis with innovative social media and sharing capabilities and award-winning multimedia”.

Users who subscribe to the app will receive free access until mid-February next year, when print newspaper subscribers will be charged 99 cents a month and non-subscribers $3.99 a month.

Features on the app include a ‘Live Topics’ component which brings together news, commentary, aggregated social media comments, multimedia and photos on the top stories of the day.

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E&P: Washington Post survey suggests hyperlocal moves are afoot

A survey being circulated by the Washington Post – which includes questions such as “Please rate your level of interest in accessing a community-news oriented website from your mobile device” – seems to indicate that the paper has hyperlocal on the brain, reports Editor & Publisher:

Judging from the questions, these new hyperlocal sites would:

*Feature voices from the community;

*Include reporting from Washington Post reporters;

*Go hard on mobile;

*Offer all kinds of functionality enabling people to network with each other, post all kinds of photos, and so on.

Full story at this link…

The New York Times has several ventures into hyperlocal/community news under its belt, having worked with local NYU students on creating hyperlocal blogs for the Brooklyn and New Jersey last year and launched a new blog for the East Village is September.

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Washington Post buys #election hashtag for midterms

The Washington Post sponsored the Twitter hashtag #election as part of its coverage of the US midterm elections this week.

Explains Poynter:

The Post’s sponsorship of the term #Election means that it will appear at the top of the list of Trending Topics on Tuesday. When users click on that topic, one of the Post’s tweets will appear above other tweets with the #Election hashtag – giving the Post prime real estate to promote its coverage and updates.

There were rumours flying around as to how much the Post had spent on the ‘promoted tweet’ service from Twitter, but a spokeswoman for the title said it would not comment on the cost.

Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s director of media partnerships, told Poynter that this was the first time a news organisation had used Twitter in this way.

Using new Twitter, the Post also hosted a live video stream, which it called an Election Day Twittercast, on the @washingtonpost handle.

“The Post will solicit questions from Twitter users as it simultaneously airs on the platform. The Post is among the first news organisations to be able to embed live and taped video on the new Twitter platform,” a release from the Post says.

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