Browsing articles tagged with " news"

Why good news is shared more than bad news

Mar 27, 2013   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  8 Comments

by David Silverberg

Which will go viral – a news article on an intriguing Mars discovery or one on a divorce between two actors? Some might think celebrity news will be shared by readers more often than the space report, but it’s the opposite, says author Jonah Berger.

When we care, we share. That’s how Berger summarizes his analysis of news articles and their shareabability in his new book Contagious: Why Thinks Catch On. The social psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania provides conclusive evidence that positive awe-inspiring news is more likely to be shared than negative news, no matter the category.

A story with emotion will compel a reader to share it with friends, Berger says in an interview. “And my research found the main driver to emotional sharing is arousal. It gets our heart beating quicker. It makes us excited…and want to tell our friends about how we’re feeling.”

For example, emotional stories can be about newcomers falling in love in NYC, Berger says, or they can focus on a new discovery in the Milky Way. How are they linked? Arousal. Awe. Both make us stroke our chin and think “Oh, never thought of that before.”

On the other hand, a story about a celebrity doing something outrageous or an obit of a popular writer might not evoke that same emotion. Sure, we might feel some sadness reading that obit, but it won’t be a strong emotion if we don’t feel close to that individual.

To come to this conclusion, Berger and his colleague Katherine Milkman analyzed the “most e-mailed” list on the New York Times website for six months, controlling for factors like how much display an article received in different parts of the homepage.

One of their first ah-ha moments came when they noticed articles and columns in the Science section were much more likely to make the list than non-science articles. Science reports made readers wonder about the mysterious…and mystery gets us talking and sharing.

“The sequester news might be important but it doesn’t arouse us,” Berger explains. “But UFO news isn’t affecting our lives but it can be quite remarkable and get people sharing it.”

In his book, Berger cites the Susan Boyle example. When the Britain’s Got Talent underdog took the stage and began singing her breath-taking song, “it was not only moving, it’s awe-inspiring. And that emotion drove people to pass it on.” We love the unexpected, and we think others should be in the same state of awe as we are.

But not just any strong emotion boosts sharing. Happiness or contentment didn’t encourage others to share articles, Berger found. A positive review of a Broadway play may evoke happiness in the reader, but it wasn’t interesting enough to be shared. Feeling relaxed or content may make us smile, but it doesn’t speed up our heart rate. It doesn’t evoke strong emotions.

Anger, though, can be a strong motivation to share a news article. Anger is high-arousal and gets us sharing our feelings with friends and family. Ever had a terrible experience with your cellphone provider? Didn’t you want to share your experience with others? When we get angry, we are aroused; when we’re aroused, we want the world to hear us through our online megaphone.

Berger found adding more arousal to a story can have a major impact on people’s willingness to share it. When his team changed details of a story to evoke more anger, that fury lead to more sharing. “Adding these emotions boosted transmission by boosting the amount of arousal the story…evoked,” he writes in Contagious.

Predicting buzz has scientific roots. This New York Times article looked at a particular brain region associated with social cognition — thoughts about other people.

“If those regions lighted up when something was heard, people were more likely to talk about the idea enthusiastically, and the idea would keep spreading,” the article found.

“You’d expect people to be most enthusiastic and opinionated and successful in spreading ideas that they themselves are excited about,” says Dr. Emily Falk, who led research on this topic. “But our research suggests that’s not the whole story. Thinking about what appeals to others may be even more important.”

This article was originally published in Digital Journal [Link]

Why the reddit IamA Q&A posts can be the future of interviews

May 28, 2012   //   by admin   //   Blog, Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

The Q&A interview has been done. You’ve seen it countless times in newspapers and magazines, with the usual back and forth from a journalist looking for that great pull-quote from an interviewee trying to come up with something pithy. Often, the Q&A focuses on celebs, innovators, well-known names.

But something interesting is happening on reddit, the popular online community billing itself “the front page of the Internet.” This website of sub-communities offers a page called IamA, featuring people available to be questioned by anyone joining the sub-reddit. Essentially, this idea is upturning the Q&A norm and letting the readers participate directly by asking questions and getting direct answers.

The community might feature a celeb such as Jack Black or Joss Whedon once in a blue moon, but what I find most appealing by IamAs are the average regular folk who open themselves up to questioning. I really enjoyed learning about my favourite TV show, The Daily Show, thanks to an intern who revealed behind-the-scenes tidbits about Jon Stewart and the writing crew. There’s the fellow who lost his dad to a stroke and is walking across the U.S. to honour his memory. Or the 24-year-old living with albinism. Or the retired drug dealer. Or the Iraqi who lives through horrific war. And this is just the past four days.

What is compelling about these interviews is the unfiltered truth. No editor is hand-selecting what questions are answered. It’s up to the interview subject, who truly says Ask me Anything! (thus, AMA). The editorial gatekeeper is bypassed to bring readers an honesty you won’t find anywhere else.

Could this be the future of the Q&A? Will this upend how journalists approach interviews? It very well could be, if progressive publishers take note. Some outlets try to bring in guests to take liveblogged questions, but it feels so quick and curated, as if publishers are worried a question might upset their precious guest. That’s an old-school way of thinking. reddit lets the reader ask any question without any censorship (barring vulgar and abusive language of course); that kind of respect for the reader goes a long way. I’ve seen IamA threads with more than 2000 comments, and the interviewee has done his best to reply to most of them.

I can picture how this type of Q&A can be used in the mainstream media: the Globe & Mail, say, can invite someone of interest, like an open-heart surgeon, to answer any of the questions submitted within a 12-hour period, structured not too differently than a reddit IamA. The doc takes a few hours to answer the questions he can, offering as little or as much insight as he wants into his career. Readers can be notified with their question was answered, either via email or (dare we say it) SMS. This can all take place on Facebook too. Then, after the Q&A session, the Globe editor can compile the best answers into a succinct article summing up the doctor’s statements. The Q&A remains active on the website so anyone can see the answers the editor couldn’t include in the article.

Is this crazy talk? Too ambitious? I don’t think so. If news publishers want to embrace digital media as they say they do, they need to look at successful communities such as reddit to see what works. Otherwise, they’ll just be doing the same boring thing we know and don’t love.

Digital Journal publishes March ‘Power User’ list in ongoing crowdsourcing project

Apr 3, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

Digital Journal today published a list of the 20 most active contributors on its network in March. The Top 20 list is published each month to report how Digital Journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists interact in an online media network.

“Gamification is going to be a pillar in the future for media organizations,” said Digital Journal CEO, Chris Hogg. “Having and using data in conjunction with a media offering positions a company like Digital Journal to be able to do things that have never before been possible. We can measure, track and report very granular data that has never before been accessible, and we are proud to be able to use that data to show off some of most talented media people in the world.”

Digital Journal publishes a Top 20 list in recognition of top performers from the company’s massive gamification project that tracks and reports activity of contributors across the Digital Journal network. Recording actions such as quantity of articles published, frequency of visit and how engaged members are, Digital Journal rewards points and badges to individual contributors based on the amount of their activity. The members who stay the most active in the month are then rewarded with a “Power Users” badge.

In addition to creating incentive for contributors to participate in the social news network, Digital Journal aims to showcase talent and create a level of transparency that gives an open look at how people interact with a news organization and how user-generated content is valuable in the wider news ecosystem.

“Digital Journal is seeing continued growth from contributors making their mark in social news media,” said David Silverberg, Managing Editor of Digital Journal. “Our focus on gamification has produced another excellent crop of informative journalism gaining attention with readers and publishers across the world.”

In no particular order, Digital Journal’s March 2012 Power Users include:

Digital Journal compiles data on a monthly basis and resets the points at the beginning of each month when a new competition begins. More info on Digital Journal’s gamification project can be found here.

Gamification of Media: Digital Journal releases February ‘Power User’ list

Mar 8, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

Digital Journal today published a list of the 20 most active contributors on its network in February. The Top 20 list is published each month to report how Digital Journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists interact in an online media network.

“We would like to extend a huge congrats to those who made the top 20 list in February,” said David Silverberg, Managing Editor of Digital Journal. “With a large contributor base spread out globally, Digital Journal is proud to recognize the leading 20 contributors who showed they are masters of this new media domain.”

Digital Journal publishes a Top 20 list in recognition of top performers from the company’s massive gamification project that tracks and reports activity of contributors across the Digital Journal network. Recording actions such as quantity of articles published, frequency of visit and how engaged members are, Digital Journal rewards points and badges to individual contributors based on the amount of their activity. The members who stay the most active in the month are then rewarded with a “Power Users” badge.

In addition to creating incentive for contributors to participate in the social news network, Digital Journal aims to showcase talent and create a level of transparency that gives an open look at how people interact with a news organization and how user-generated content is valuable in the wider news ecosystem.

In no particular order, Digital Journal’s February 2012 Power Users include:

Digital Journal compiles data on a monthly basis and resets the points at the beginning of each month when a new competition begins. More info on Digital Journal’s gamification project can be found here.

On mobile devices, most people get news from social media, not apps

Jan 10, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

A new survey found most smartphone users tend to get their news fix from social media surfing rather than from dedicated news apps, according to Flurry Analytics.

U.S. mobile or tablet application users spend around 30 percent of their time social networking, while most play games (at 49 percent). News apps capture only 6 percent of total time on mobile apps, the data says.

The press release adds, “Further considering that Flurry does not track Facebook usage, the Social Networking category is actually larger.”

A Poynter article reminds us why people clamor to news apps in the first place: They are catered to the most-loyal fraction of a news outlet’s established audience, and may also get them to pay for content.

“The app fulfills those readers so dedicated to your brand that they want on-demand access to a comprehensive bundle of your content. These people who value your content most also are most likely to pay for it, and the app stores make those payments and subscriptions easier,” the author says.

The report also looked at time consumption. “The growth in time spent in mobile applications is slowing – from above 23% between December 2010 and June 2011 this year to a little over 15% from June 2011 to December 2011,” Flurry states.

Flurry accounted for its data by tracking anonymous sessions across more than 140,000 applications.

News applications are still popular with some smartphone lovers. A Nielsen study found 33 percent of consumers downloaded news apps during the past month. The study also found 51 percent of consumers “are more tolerant of in-app advertising if it means they can access content for free.”

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