Browsing articles from "April, 2012"

Denver Post to lay off two-thirds of its copy editors and ask reporters to edit articles

Apr 26, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

One of Colorado’s most popular papers is in such dire financial straits it is reportedly firing two-thirds of its copy-editing staff and asking reporters to help out with everyday editing.

A Denver blog posted the memo from Denver Post editor Greg Moore, who noted how print revenue loss are so steep, they have to make drastic cutbacks. “We have focused our attention on consolidating steps in the editing process so that traditional copy editing is done at the content-generating level. That is going to result in a reduction in the ranks of copy editors,” the memo states.

Essentially, this means the Post’s reporters will also have to do double-duty as copy editors. Those tasks may include writing headlines, editing copy, finding pull-quotes, double-checking sources and more.

Moore goes on to add: “We understand that a major move like this is not done without anxiety and pain. But the way we have been doing things must change, and we have to find creative ways to streamline our production process for both print and online.”

Besides being creative with its editorial operations, the Post is also trying to find revenue elsewhere, beyond print. The paper will begin marketing space in its building that will be vacated next year after administrative offices for the Colorado Supreme Court and justice administration relocate. Earlier this year, the Post made buyout deals with more than 19 staffers, including well-known columnists.

Why Craigslist should resist a design makeover

Apr 23, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

by David Silverberg

If you’ve been using Craigslist for the past few years, you’ve noticed it hasn’t changed. One iota. The same design from 2005 continues unabated on the site in 2012, and the functionality has only been tweaked in a few minor ways to combat spam and include fees. But there’s been a rumour floating around about the online classifieds giant seeking a makeover, based on a job listing from the company looking for someone to “improve the user experience — faster, friendlier and easier” and “develop new products and features that will have CL users swooning.”

I can see Craigslist getting a little bit polished, perhaps nipping and tucking in areas required some functionality boost, but a full makeover would be a bad idea. Craigslist’s popularity has relied on its simplistic design, something we’ve seen in hugely popular sites such as reddit. Go simple or go home, seems to be Craigslist’s motto. The site doesn’t draw our eyes in with arresting design, but that’s not the point of Craigslist: it’s a very function-heavy service, since people visit the site to check out classifieds or post their own.

I’ve been on both ends, and I’ve found the experience to be intuitive: you know where to go and what to click right away. You can find apartment rentals easily, and then can quickly post your own listing without much hassle.

It’s naive to think an online trailblazer like Craigslist won’t be hiring engineers to clean up the UI, but I caution Craig Newmark and co. in going too far. Craigslist fans opt for the service because of its ease of use and uncluttered design; it reminds us of a quieter time when websites weren’t trying to bombard with .jpeg banners and front-page video tutorials. Let the site speak for itself.

We’ll be keeping Future of Media fans posted on any changes to Craigslist, but let’s hope we don’t have to report too much, since this site is fine just the way it is.

Facebook floats on stock market May 17, will be valued at $100 billion

Apr 19, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by JohnThomas Didymus (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is expected to go public on May 17. The online giant is expected to be valued at $100 billion. Analysts say that Facebook’s is the most anticipated stock offering from Silicon Valley since Google in 2004.

The May 17 date, according to TechCrunch, is subject to SEC approval of relevant paperwork, including those relating to recently purchasedInstagram.TechCruch reports Facebook is expected to raise $10 billion from its initial public offering of shares, though it may be a smaller sum. But the IPO will also depend on approval by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Examiner reports that Facebook valuation reflects current levels of trading in the secondary market and also matches a report on how Facebook won over Instagram.

The flotation will make Facebook among the largest public companies in the world with companies like McDonald’s, and Visa.According to a sources, “Investors want as high a price as possible so that the secondary market won’t look like a problem.” 

TechCrunch reports that “with 2.51 billion fully-diluted shares outstanding, the valuation desired would price the company at around $40 a share.”

According to Daily Mail, the world’s largest social network had very humble beginnings. It began as a dorm room project for a Harvard dropout, Mark Zuckerberg, but has since grown and reached the top in less than a decade.

According to Facebook’s preliminary filing, the company’s net income rose 65 percent to $1 billion in 2011, with a revenue of $3.7 billion.

Valued at $100 billion, double the value of Hewlett-Packard, Facebook’s IPO will be bigger than that of any dot-com company expecting to go public, Daily Mail reports.

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

BuzzFeed builds business on predicting what content will go viral

Apr 12, 2012   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

Machines can learn what memes will go viral, but only humans can aggregate the content effectively to create a truly social Web experience, according to Jonah Peretti, the co-founder of BuzzFeed, a meme-focused aggregator site.

You might have seen BuzzFeed posts without realizing where they came from: 25 Awkward Cat Sleeping Positions48 Pictures that Perfectly Capture the 90sThe 40 Best Protest Signs of 2011. These and other similar eye-catching headlines make up the posts found on BuzzFeed, a popular New York-based site featuring news and pics and videos getting love across the world.

Sounds like any other not-so-serious content site, right? Wrong. BuzzFeed’s proprietary content management system is designed and constantly updated to encourage sharing on social networks. Beyond adding the routine Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons to encourage reader engagement, BuzzFeed figures out what makes certain content worth sharing. It’s part of a strategy giving BuzzFeed more than 14 million pageviews every month.

So why share those pics of cats sleeping and not a Lohan celebrity mugshot?

“We have a team working to understand why we share things,” says Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder, in an interview. People post content that says something about themselves, and it’s part of their identity, Peretti notes. Understanding those motives helps shape the content appearing on BuzzFeed, he adds.

He’s got a point. Would you rather be known as someone who shares a fun post called 33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You (650,000 views) or a salacious Happy Easter From Kate Upton (55,00 views)? Both are light-hearted, but the animals post says something different about your personality than the celeb-focused vids. We all like sharing things on Facebook that will generate discussion, or perhaps just a few Likes. BuzzFeed figures you’re more prone to share sassy animal pics than what a celebrity will tell you about Easter.

Peretti, 38, says, “It’s clear that looking at pics of cute animals can create an emotional experience you share with other people. You can all go ‘awwww’ together.”

It comes down to the back-end tech first, Peretti says. Analytic tools find out what content is being shared where, traffic sources, the ratio of different types of traffic, and more. This data can be predictive of what will be popular in the future, he says.

Beyond the stats, such as the usual suspects (pageviews, shares), BuzzFeed also displays newfangled terms such as “viral lift.” The 1990s post, for instance, has a viral lift of 22x, meaning for every one person who was sent that content, 22 others also shared it in some form. The figure is a dizzying multiple outlining how viral a story can truly get online.

“Our competitive advantage is having the system continually learn and grow,” Peretti notes. But BuzzFeed also integrates human curation into the mix, letting their editors sort through the top posts and place them on the coveted front page. It could be the latest Hollywood news or a Tumblr blog gone viral or President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are.

As long as BuzzFeed thinks people will care about it, the post will find a home on the site.

The BuzzFeed staffers need to showcase what they believe to be the most compelling. Peretti says his team has “high emotional intelligence” to figure out the stories they believe will be shared on Facebook, Twitter and much more.

Playing with HuffPo

Peretti cut his start-up teeth at The Huffington Post where he and his team grappled with how to find the most compelling content people were looking for on search engines. “We experimented a lot at Huffington Post,” Peretti recalls, “and we’d think how search engines work to find content that would resonate with readers.”

In 2006, while still at the Huffington Post, Peretti founded BuzzFeed with a batch of seed funding and a vision to shake up social news. As Business Week writes, “Peretti’s decision to start BuzzFeed grew out of a series of conversations he’d had with Duncan Watts, the principal research scientist at Yahoo, about the nature of influence and diffusion.”

“Because of the complexity and randomness of networks and their importance in driving the spread of ideas, there’s a lot of unpredictability, both in terms of what succeeds and what helps it succeed,” Watts, who serves as BuzzFeed’s science adviser, told BusinessWeek. “He was interested in to what extent he could engineer things to go viral.”

It’s an experiment influencing BuzzFeed’s future. Peretti is keen on blending old-school journalism with new-school social media tools, and the site recently added related verticals such as Politics and Tech and bolstered them with well-known journalists. It’s not just about finding funny dog pics; BuzzFeed wants to scoop the mainstream media on the day’s hottest stories. No wonder BuzzFeed poached Politico’s Ben Smith to become the site’s editor-in-chief.

Peretti believes in three pillars of the Web: community, algorithms, and editors. He’s confident BuzzFeed is combing all those ingredients to create a stew of content his team can predict will go viral before it ever does. In a media-fragmented field where more people turn to social networks for shareable content, BuzzFeed is positioned to be a major player.

“We have a tech edge, and we know how social can disrupt a lot of industries,” Peretti says. “And we’ve proven we can build a definitive publishing site available across all platforms.”

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

New York City to test ‘smart screens’ inside 250 old phone booths

Apr 11, 2012   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  No Comments

by Andrew Moran (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

Welcome to the future where cities no longer have payphones inside of phone booths, but instead “smart screens.” New York City is set to unveil 250 old phone booths with free touch-screen technology that contains an Internet connection.

Payphones are in the news again. Digital Journal reported last month that Bell Canada may raise the cost of a phone call to $1. Meanwhile, a New York Post exclusive is reporting that New York City is about to present its pilot program that replaces payphones with smart screens similar to the iPad.

The city is replacing its old payphones in New York with free smart screen technology. At first, it is testing the initiative at 250 old phone booths next month, but, if successful, it will eventually replace all of its 12,800 outdoor payphones. The franchise contracts expire in two years.

This initiative will feature an iPad-esque screen that will display local neighborhood information, such as nearby restaurants, stores, safety alerts, traffic updates and information about landmarks. It will also have 311 online to make complaints or ask for city information. All of this will also come in different languages.In the future, smart screens will be equipped with the necessary equipment to make Skype calls, serve as Wi-Fi hotspots and log onto email accounts.

Franchises in charge of the smart screens will be maintaining them and keeping it sanitary. Unfortunately for those who want to use the tablet-like technology for an extended amount of time, the search capabilities will be monitored and controlled.

“The goal is to pilot it and see what the response is,” said Nicholas Sbordone, a spokesperson for the city’s department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. “It will help inform the city’s ongoing reassessment, with public input, of what we want or what we think the future of public pay phones will entail.”

Taxpayers will not pay a dime for the smart screens and eventually the city will receive 36 percent of all advertising revenue generated. New York will not receive revenue during the pilot program, though.

Although it is unknown how much revenue the city will receive annually, New York only takes in $18 million per year with payphones.

This is the first step in New York’s technological revolution. A city spokesperson told the news outlet that it is working towards replacing its aging payphone system underground, such as subway stations, with computer kiosks. The 22-inch touch screens will feature cameras, electrical outlets and Internet access.

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]