Tag Archives: Innovations in Journalism

Innovations in Journalism: Moblog – instant publishing on-the-fly

In our Innovations in Journalism series, Journalism.co.uk asks website and technology developers to pitch their projects to us. This time it’s Moblog and its mobile toolkit for blog publishing.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
moblog:tech Ltd operates a community website, Moblog and a technology licensing firm.

Our team has been offering mobile blogging services since 2003, both to consumers wishing to blog from their phones; and to brands and businesses, who want to use mobile blogging as part of their marketing and promotional mix.

The service is a web and mobile service, so anything you post online is immediately accessible on your mobile as well.

Moblog as a platform is capable of instant publishing of content from in the field via voice (voice is converted to text and posted along with the original audio), MMS, SMS, email and via the web and mobile browser. This makes the service a perfect place to publish multimedia when it is time sensitive. This can happen direct to the picture desk behind a firewall or via RSS, it can be public and collaborative by allowing the public to post to your stream.

It is an exceedingly flexible system designed to bring web and mobile experiences together so that it no longer matters where you are publishing, reading or accessing the service.

The platform can be a complete install, such as Channel 4’s Big Art Mob (this is a build using our Participation Toolkit that we did for Channel 4); or can exist within Moblog itself as part of the network of moblogs. It can also be a standalone site in it’s own right such as the ‘Promotional Moblog’ for Dispatches.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Journalists are facing perhaps the greatest upset to the model and means of reporting that has occurred since the advent of the printed page. New audiences and new ways of reporting the news are fast becoming the norm.

Blogging is a big part of this transformation. With mobile camera phones and mobile web becoming the norm, the ability to generate images and video from mobile devices, along with audio and text, and share in a well structured manner to web and mobile sites whilst in the field is another tool now available – not only to journalists, but also to the public.

We have seen some game-changing shifts happen in how content is created, shared and disseminated, and the role of the public in adding to newsgathering and creation.

A critical example of this was the first image that emerged from within the tube tragedy on 7/7/2005, captured by Adam Stacey, which was first published on Moblog. This image became one of the seminal images associated with the event. More than this, it helped to define the emerging trend of so called ‘Citizen Journalism’.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

The platform is feature rich and it’s difficult to describe the possibilities (visit this link for a listing of Moblog’s features).

It’s worth mentioning that all posts can be geolocated on an integrated map on each moblog and that all moblogs are highly customisable, as reflected in the Dispatches program example above.

The platform is constantly evolving and we have a development pipeline that includes an API and other features that will be useful to individuals and clients.

4) Why are you doing this?

We started the site for fun back in 2003, with a shared passion for all things mobile, and for bridging web and mobile. We remain focused on enabling individuals, groups and clients to engage audiences on web and mobile with instantaneous, wonderful and useful content generated from their mobile phones.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It’s free to use non-commercially at Moblog, and we operate a ‘freemium model’ so that people can subscribe at Moblog for more features. Commercially, our licenses are yearly and range from £3,000 for mobile blogging solutions such as our Promotional Moblog.

6) How will you make it pay?
Our client base at this time comes predominantly from the entertainment and third sector. We intend to expand our client base for the Participation Toolkit and Promotional Moblogs. Licensing fees from these mobile blogging platforms, coupled with advertising and subscriber revenues, is how we generate revenue.

Innovations in Journalism: vtap – driving the ‘video-anywhere revolution’

In our Innovations in Journalism series, Journalism.co.uk asks website and technology developers to pitch their projects to us. This time it’s Veveo with vtap, its personalised video service for mobiles.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
We’re Veveo – founded in 2004 by a team of executives with a history in multimedia, networking and mobile technologies.

Veveo’s mission is to be a driving force behind the ‘video-anywhere revolution’. The company’s flagship product, vtap is the first significant proof of concept. It offers consumers an easy way to browse, discover, keep and share videos from any source on any imaginable topic on the mobile device(s) of their choosing.

vtap indexes videos from all over the internet, including user-generated content (YouTube, DailyMotion) and professional sources (BBC, CNN), as well as blogs and corporate websites.

Basically, anywhere that video appears on the internet vtap indexes it and it is searchable for users.

To set up a personalised feed, users have to register (which is a simple process requiring only an email address and password).

They then enter search terms, which will bring up results or topics. These ‘topics’ can then be added to a feed, which allows users to log in and view relevant content at any time. This can also be viewed on their mobile phone.

By each video there is a ‘share’ button which enables users to send the video to another user, they just need to know the other person’s user name.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
vtap is a great way to keep up-to-date with news and current events in an easy-to-view format. Because content is pushed to you on any device, you can keep up-to-date wherever you are.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
vtap is under constant development by our research and development team in Bangalore so there will be additional features in the near future.

We’re also working with mobile operators, mobile manufacturers, TV providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and content creators to deploy vtap solutions.

4) Why are you doing this?
Veveo believes that video content is the easiest way to get the content you want on a mobile, whether that’s news or entertainment.

To do this Veveo believes that users should be able to easily search videos from all over the web, and save and share what they find to create a personal TV channel.

This level of personalised service enables consumers to access the most relevant video content wherever they are, on any device.

5) What does it cost to use it?
vtap is a free service.

6) How will you make it pay?
vtap will be funded by an advertising model, details of which are yet to be announced.

Innovations in Journalism – Newsvetter – taking the pain out of press releases

Screenshot of Newsvetter logo

In our Innovations in Journalism series we give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are developing.

Today’s candidate is Newsvetter – a site that wants to build better connections between journalists and PRs, starting with more targeted press releases.

Founder Andrew Fowler tells us more:

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m a former PR practitioner who worked in the profession for about eight years. I cut my teeth at a big PR agency and then after a couple of years started consulting for smaller companies and organizations as a solo practitioner.

I have spent the bulk of my career pitching ‘news’ to journalists – a core PR function that now more than ever is being equated with spam.

Why is this happening? Quality has given way to quantity. With the aid of press release distribution services and social networks, journalists are receiving record numbers of poor quality and irrelevant material from PR people.

In November 2007, I launched the online news vetting and delivery service Newsvetter. Based in Portland, Oregon USA, Newsvetter is designed to discourage mass pitching and help journalists extract higher quality information from companies and PR agencies.

Instead of sending press releases and cut-and-paste pitches, PR people go through a vetting Q&A process on the site made up of key questions commonly asked by journalists. Follow this link for an example of a completed Q&A.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
The vetting process provides answers to key questions which then allows journalists to quickly evaluate a story idea’s potential and verify its accuracy. Journalists can also register, create a public profile on the site which allows them to provide details about their beat, publication, current interests, recent stories, and when and how they like to get contacted. Journalists can share their profile URL with the PR people they work with. To see an example profile of a journalist on Newsvetter use this link.

After viewing a journalist’s profile, PR people email them news ideas, but only after they complete the vetting process.

To encourage quality, journalists can rate and comment on the work submitted by PR people. Comments and ratings become part of a PR person’s public record on Newsvetter (one that can be viewed by journalists, peers, employer, client etc.). One goal of mine is to create a system similar to eBay’s “feedback score” for sellers which will reward those who submit quality story ideas.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
The site is currently in beta. Under development are some changes to the user interface, which will make the site easier to understand and use, as well as some features that will make the service more attractive for PR people.

4) Why are you doing this?
I’m hearing loud and clear from journalists that the quality of news pitches to them is substandard (and largely irrelevant). Rather than talk (more) about it, I’ve created a working tool that addresses this issue head on.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Newsvetter will always be a free service for journalists. It is also currently free to PR people. In the coming months, Newsvetter will offer a set of premium features, which companies and PR agencies can pay to access.

6) How will you make it pay?
The pay-off is that journalists associate Newsvetter with quality and will thoughtfully review PR submissions that come through the site (rather than simply delete them ). PR people will see Newsvetter as a service that can help build relationships with journalists and increase quality coverage for their company or client.

Innovations in Journalism – socially referred and aggregated news from Yahoo! Buzz

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on.

You’ll know and use Digg and the geeks will be into Reddit – loving it now its gone open source – but there is another one worth looking at, and it’s a biggie. Welcome to IIJ, Yahoo! Buzz.

1. Who are you and what’s it all about
My name is Tapan Bhat and I am senior VP of Yahoo! Front Doors and Network Services.

Yahoo! Buzz beta is an extension to Yahoo.com that unites people with the most remarkable content from websites across the internet and brings the most “buzz-worthy” stories to the Yahoo! homepage.

It determines the most popular, must-read stories and videos from large news sources as well as niche blogs around the web, with an approach that combines user votes with search popularity to determine a story’s Buzz ranking.

2. Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Yahoo! Buzz can be useful to journalists on multiple levels. It can provide increased exposure for your great content. The most popular stories also may be selected by our editorial team and featured on Yahoo.com.

In addition, Yahoo! Buzz offers valuable insight for anyone interested in what is buzzing about and looking for timely story ideas or resources.

3. Is this it or is there more to come?

After only three month in beta, Yahoo! Buzz receives around 8 million unique monthly visitors worldwide according to comScore.

We’ll continue to listen to the feedback from publishers and our users to make sure the site continues to find the most relevant and interesting content online.

Since launching with around 100 large and small publishers, we have gradually been adding new publishers to the beta program and now have around 300 publishers participating.

In the coming months, we’ll continue adding more participants and once Yahoo! Buzz is generally available any publisher will be able to participate.

Looking ahead, Yahoo! Buzz will form the basis for an open ecosystem of publishers, advertisers and consumers.  We’ll develop this ecosystem by building out unique new syndication and monetisation tools that help publishers share relevant content, connect to more advertisers and reach a broader audience. Over time, we expect this to extend into a powerful content exchange that connects owners of content with distributors of traffic.

4. Why are you doing this?
While the homepage has always featured engaging stories and content, our editors could only scratch the surface before. With Buzz we can add more depth to the front page by bubbling up the best content from around the web, as indicated by users.

In addition, it creates a comprehensive, categorised database of content from across the web that can eventually make the Yahoo! network better.

5. What does it cost to use it?

Yahoo! Buzz is entirely free to use.

6. How will you make it pay?
As mentioned earlier, our primary goal is to further Yahoo!’s leadership position as the best starting point on the web and offering more relevant content brings people coming back to Yahoo! again and again.

During the beta process for Yahoo! Buzz, we will also be finalising our monetisation approach, including ways in which we may give prominent promotion to content from Yahoo! partners when appropriate.

Innovations in Journalism – Zemanta will find the online context of your article

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. In the spotlight this week is Slovenian start-up Zemanta.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
We are a young start-up from Slovenia, building a global tool to help online authors with their writing process.

Our product recognises what they are writing about through semantical analysis and as they are writing starts to suggest related pictures, links and articles they can include in their post to make it richer and more appealing.

It currently works for all major blogging platforms, but we envision providers of content management systems and publishers using our service as well.

Click here to see how Zemanta works with WordPress.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
To publish content online today means: after you write your story, you still need to add links and images, and tag it properly.

Your readers expect rich content, next generation semantic web applications require it, and we want to make it simple and fun to produce this high quality web content.

Our service utilises the power of advanced machine-learning and natural language processing algorithms, so that you don’t have to do repetitive tasks and can just be creative.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
We will be adding a lot of new releases, such as personalization of suggestions, linking to own old posts and tools for additional media formats. [Since this interview Zemanta has added a reblogging function allowing bloggers to quote from others’ sites with correct attribution]

4) Why are you doing this?
We want to solve the problem authors are facing trying to create interesting online content that their readers will appreciate. It is becoming increasingly hard to produce rich, web articles as the amount of content available is rising.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It’s free for non-commercial use and for a reasonable amount of requests per day. We will keep it free for bloggers.

6) How will you make it pay?
We will be suggesting affiliate links and earning commission on them. We will also offer our extended API for commercial applications.

Innovations in Journalism – PRs, sources – time to Help A Reporter Out

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Showing us its wares today is the aptly named HelpAReporter.com – set-up by Peter Shankman.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
HelpAReporter was designed simply to help journalists find the sources they need without a lot of hassle. I started the site for two simple reasons:

a) I think that other services are more about making money and less about actually getting reporters what they need. “I need someone who understands 18th century art” turns into 600 emails that say “I once saw a piece of 18th century art as I WAS WRITING MY BOOK ON HOW TO SELL THINGS ON THE INTERNET DO YOU WANT A COPY TO REVIEW?!”

b) I think that in the end, reporters don’t WANT to hate publicists, and publicists don’t WANT to come across as idiots. I’d like to help prove that.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Journalists start every single day behind the eight-ball. They need sources. Sadly, most publicists send emails that do nothing more than waste their time. I’m trying to change that – journalists simply submit their queries at www.helpareporter.com/press, and it goes out to my list – now over 10,000 sources big. They can put in their email or go anonymously if they choose.

I make all my sources promise to stay on topic, and not waste a journalist’s time. So far, they’re all agreeing! That rocks.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
I never say never – I didn’t expect this to be any bigger than the original Facebook group I started. Now, 10k members and growing? Who knows how big it’ll go?

4) Why are you doing this?
Here’s why… The site takes probably 15 minutes a day to administer. I simply take the emails, put them into a text document, at a few times a day, send them out through the email distribution list.

Too many people (in this industry and well as in the world) simply live on a ‘ME, ME, ME’ mentality. Why not do something good for others? I’ve been very fortunate – The companies I’ve started have all done very well. Why shouldn’t I give something back to account for all that luck? The fact that more people don’t think like that kinda saddens me – but on the plus side, it means that I can shine without doing that much extra. So it’s a nice balance.

5) What does it cost to use it?
The site is 100% free for both journalists and sources.

6) How will you make it pay?
Right now, I don’t need to. Perhaps I will one day? A text ad? Who knows. Right now, if people really like it, I invite them to donate to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in California. Perhaps one day I’ll sell it, or start some small advertising on it. For now, it’s totally not necessary.

Innovations in Journalism – one-click image uploading from Skitch.com

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Today’s candidate is Skitch.com – an easy way to upload your images.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m Mark Pearson and I work for plasq – a company of about 10 people spread around the globe.

We work to make fun, intuitive and expressive software, and are best known for “Comic Life”, an application which makes it easy to turn your digital photos into photo comics.

We’ve now developed Skitch and Skitch.com:


2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Skitch makes the screen grabbing process enjoyable and very fast.

Journalists involved in the tech industry often need to take many screenshots. Skitch supports many common formats including TIFF, which publishers often need for magazines. If the journalist produces content for online use, jpg and png are available too.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
We are just getting started! We recently released two new features to allow you to email images to Skitch.com as well as send images hosted on Skitch.com to twitter.

Combine these two features and you can send images from your camera phone to Skitch.com then automatically have them appear on twitter.

4) Why are you doing this?
To improve and speed up sharing images with others.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Currently while in beta, it is free.

6) How will you make it pay?
We haven’t announced our pricing yet.

News prediction game Hubdub launches widgets

Hubdub – the gaming website where you bet Hubdub dollars on the outcome of news events – has developed two widgets, according to the site’s official blog.

The market widget features a graph, which shows how different outcomes have been backed by users over time and what their changing probability is.

The prediction widget on the other hand lets users record their own predictions – and how much they bet – ‘for posterity’. To get this widget, users will be given a link as they post a question.

Earlier this year Journalism.co.uk interviewed Hubdub founder Nigel Eccles, who spoke of a revenue strategy that will involve partnerships with media organisations and publishers. Offering widgets is a great way to start this sharing of content and – with added trackbacks – of driving traffic back to the Hubdub site.

Innovations in Journalism – share your links. Wait, isn’t that Del.icio.us? No, it’s more social – it’s Mento

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week’s ticket comes via Mento – sharing links, real social like.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hi, I’m Gregor Hochmut. Mento is a platform for sharing links with the people around you. They could be co-workers, family, thought leaders you look up to – or simply friends who send you a humorous video every now and then.

Del.ici.ous and other bookmarking platforms have mostly focused on “saving” links for private use.

Mento, however, wants to focus on the communication and conversation that takes place – beyond the limited usefulness of email and instant messaging – when you share a link.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?

In its current version, Mento is most useful as a collaboration tool for journalists. A group of could join together and put links about a shared topic in a common channel. Links in the channel would be visible to the team.

They could comment on each other and have a permanent, searchable archive for their links.

In addition, Mento is a simple communication tool for sending recommendations to people, its careful not to overwhelm with email so you get just one a day with all the links – or you can subscribe by RSS.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
Journalists and publishers will be interested in the next expansion of the service. We intend to offer an easy publishing tool where you can create a branded, editorial link channel and publish it.

Imagine an RSS feed of relevant links that your editorial staff gathers on a daily, weekly or monthly basis – but the feed would be a public website (fully co-branded) that’s designed for regular web users who can easily subscribe to your link selection by email and other convenient means.

4) Why are you doing this?
There is more and more noise in our information environment every day and it’s getting harder and harder to filter the meaningful signals.

We’re on a mission to make your daily information streams more manageable and more meaningful.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Mento is free and always will be for the end-user.

6) How will you make it pay?

Along the lines of the branded editorial channels mentioned above, we will consider the economics of offering a professional link publishing service – but we have not finalized the business model for it so far.

In the meantime, we have had surprisingly good results with Google’s contextual AdSense program on the current Mento site since the advertisements are targeted based on the links that the user sends and receives.