Ben Smith, Buzzfeed's editor in chief:

Indeed, the strongest new news outlets and the most nimble elements of the old ones have also co-opted and professionalized the tools and ethos of bloggers — fast, direct publishing; an informal voice; a commitment to transparency. We’ve pulled in some of the adaptable stars of that era. And we believe those people, tools, and values can serve our unchanging commitments to immediate, well-told, fearless, compelling, and independent journalism.

Nice piece, which really clarifies that the blogosphere (and how long is it since I last wrote that word*?) of the mid-2000s is long dead, but blogging itself has inserted itself deeply into the DNA of today's innovative web publishing.

*A quarter of a decade, as it turns out.

The Post-Blogging age

Blogging from Tom Foolery

Chris Cillizza, commenting on the reaction to Andrew Sullivan's departure from blogging:

But, again, a blog isn't any one thing. For me, the idea of a blog — or blogging — that works is reported analysis told through a variety of textual and visual mediums. You could call them — as newspapers tend to do — "analysis" pieces and run them as articles. You could call them — as the graphics world does — data visualizations and run them as infographics. The bigger point is: It's journalism, on the Web. It doesn't matter what word you ascribe to it.

His is a pretty smart take on the idea that blogging has evolved towards ubiquity, rather than died away. One could argue, and I'm tempted to do so, that we are in the post-blog age, but not in the sense of blogging having finished, but in the sense that it not longer makes sense to think of it as a separate category.

Blogging is just part of the language of publishing on the web.

sully-cartoon-2.png

Disconcerting news this evening. Andrew Sullivan is quitting blogging:

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

Sullivan has blogged at an almost frenzied level for a decade and a half. I suspect that he's not capable of blogging at a more relaxed pace, even with a team around him. If it's all or nothing, it sounds like it needs to be nothing - and that's good for him and his family, even if it's a loss for us.

Sullivan was blogging years before I started, and has been a profound influence on me from very early on. I always kinda assumed that he'd be there long after I hung up the keyboard - but that doesn't seem to be the case now. A world without Sullivan blogging seems like an odd one.

I hope The Dish will outlive his blogging life. His recent holidays have proved that his team are capable of keeping it going while he was away. I suspect that there's a viable business there even without Sullivan at the helm, leading from the front. But we'll see if that's something he wants.

So, thanks for the last 15 years, Andrew, and the best of luck with all the rest of the things you want to do.

Death of blogging?

The one thing that this isn't is any sign of the "death of blogging". You only have to glance a Tumblr and the growth in fashion blogging and the explosion of Medium and all the rest of it to see that, as Kevin Marks wrote in 2008, blogging is like air.

Or, to put it another way, blogging won. Everything from your Facebook newsfeed to a Pinterest board has something of the characteristics of the medium. Blogging is so deeply entwined with the web itself that we don't even really need the word any more.

Group messages in Twitter

A big – but expected – announcement from Twitter today. Group messaging is here:

30 seconds of Twitter video

Possibly more interesting from a journalistic point of view is the fact that they're adding video natively into Twitter apps:

Our unique mobile video camera and inline editing experience lets you capture and share videos up to 30 seconds in an instant. Twitter for iPhone users will be able to upload videos from the camera roll as well (a feature that will be available on our Android app soon). Here’s more information on the new mobile video camera.

These features are being rolled out to users over the next few days. Video should get a lot of traction fast - as photos did when they were added. Group messaging? There's a lot of competition out there. Let's see if Twitter can make its offering compelling, without having to make it a separate app.

You have an in-built fatal flaw:

News organizations, especially ones with just one medium-sized digital property (this applies to many independent daily newspapers, for example), have a terrible time retaining technical talent. These organizations generally don’t employ more than a few such professionals, making the risk of attrition very high— and attrition is almost always cultural. Using a common framework like WordPress at least gives the next programmer a head start on understanding what his predecessor did.

Here's another side to the same equation: if you can retain your talent, the chances are you've got mediocre programmers working on your CMS, given how in-demand developers are right now.

This is why pretty much every journalist I know, bar those working at Buzzfeed and Mail Online hate their CMSes with a passion.

[via Matt]

Evergreen Housing

Vox remains one of the most interesting experiments in digital journalism , because it's so very aggressive in stepping away from the "flow" of traditional print news, and into creating "stock" evergreen content for the site.

Their latest experiment saw them spend a week revamping old copy to bring it right up to date. The results are fascinating:

What was interesting — though not completely unexpected — was that no one even seemed to notice that we were flooding the site with previously published content. A lot of the articles were enthusiastically shared by people who had shared them the first time around, too. No one seemed gripped by a sense of deja vu, or, if they were, they didn't mention it.

Yglesias is right in that it shouldn't be unexpected - "archive" content often surfaces in sites' most-read lists. What remains surprising is how little the wider journalism world has got to grips with this idea.

Yglesias again:

Every single day, genuinely important, wonderfully interesting things happen in the world, and it's, of course, a core mission of journalists to tell people about them. But lots of important things aren't new at all, they're just longstanding patterns, structures, or systems. Even more commonly, some new development causes an issue to get attention or seem more relevant, but once you do start paying attention you see that you're just looking at one aspect of a longstanding issue — one you've written about extensively before.

These are genuinely new thought patterns for journalists used to the daily/weekly/monthly grind of disposable paper objects - but they're crucial to making the digital transition.

Dominant Mail

Startling figures:

ABC figures for December 2014 show the Daily Mail site reached 199.4 million visitors during the month – up 1.4 per cent on its previous monthly record of 196.7 million visitors in November.

It remains well above all the other UK newspapers - but it's also the one whose web identity is very, very different from its print identity. This is not a coincidence.

The content we talk about least right now is content that gets a lot of reads, but no social media shares, Likes or retweets. Too many systems are set up to monitor these external marks of quality - from Facebook's newsfeed algorithm, to Google's search algorithm.

How do we identify and surface this sort of work, when people, for whatever reason, don't want to share it or link to it, but do want to read it?

One of my sorta-but-not-really New Year's Resolutions is to read books a little more. Not paper books necessarily, but book-length pieces of work. And I was doing just that on my Kindle Fire tablet a few days ago, when a notice popped up offering me a new font. Well, as a very low-key typographic geek, how could I resist?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bookerly, Amazon's new Kindle font:

Choosing Bookerly

And here's a sample of it in use:

Bookerly sample

It's very nice, isn't it? Like a lot of people, I'd assumed that Amazon had little regard for typography since the Kindle Voyage (a lovely device, which I will get around to reviewing at some point) shipped without any new typefaces to match its lovely new, Retina-style screen.

As Jason Snell put it, in his Voyage review:

Unfortunately, Amazon has invested all of this effort in improved reading technology only to find itself completely at sea when it comes to typography. The Voyage still only offers six typefaces--many of them poor choices for this context--and still force-justifies every line (with no hyphenation!), creating variable-length gaps between words just so the right margin is straight rather than ragged. A device that's dedicated to words on a page, one with a screen this beautiful, deserves better type options.

This is a nice indication that perhaps the Kindle team do care, after all.

Rather bafflingly, though, right now this only seems available on the Fire tablets, and not on the Kindle readers, the devices that would benefit the most, surely? It's had the effect of making me slightly disappointed every time I switch back to reading on my Voyage, which is surely not the intended effect.

Charlie Hebdo - LePen

There's been a growing consensus online that Charlie Hebdo is a "racist" magazine. In fact, I've ended up in a couple of online skirmishes with people because of their insistence that use of #jesuischarlie was tantamount to identifying positively with racists. I had issues with that view - because, as The Guardian put rather succinctly - you don't have to celebrate what someone says to stand up for their right to say it.

The problem with many of those arguments, and they have been legion in the last few days, is that they were based on cherry-picking a tiny handful of cartoons from the thousands published every year in the publication, with no exploration of the cultural tradition of satire in France, nor the prevailing politics of the magazine itself.

This, I think, has been the best counter to that line of thought I've seen, written by a (self-proclaimed) militant left-wing Frenchman:

It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece). Finally, Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organized religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! They ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. They took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza. Even if their sense of humour was apparently inacceptable to English minds, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. It is only by reading or seeing it out of context that some cartoons appear as racist or islamophobic.

On Charlie Hebdo: a letter to my English friends