Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Om Malik on the rise of the free contributor churnalism factories:

In an era of Medium, LinkedIn and Quora, I wonder if we need media companies to bastardize their brands, especially as it becomes increasingly obvious that all traffic doesn’t translate into dollars. Traffic-driven monetization can’t be amiable strategy for anyone. So instead of opening their platform to all comers, the media brands should be thinking about how to enhance the value and quality of their offerings.

It’s not that you can’t make money from being a high-volume, low cost site – it’s that there isn’t room for an infinite number of them. And the ones that already exist are very good.

The inexorable rise of newsletters – and the newsletter editor:

Publishers are rediscovering that email newsletters are a reliable way to reach readers — and serve a critically important direct connection to audiences that serves as a counterweight to the mercurial algorithms of Facebook. The popularity of email digests is giving rise to a new specialty at publishers: the newsletter editor.

This is smart. Quartz undoubtedly led the way here, but a well-written, editorially-driven newsletter (as opposed to those horrified automated newsletters people used to push out) is gold. For the reader, it’s a well-curated package of information that arrives at a time that suits them, and which can be finished, leaving them feeling informed. And for the publishers, it’s a direct relationship with the reader – and we need more of those.

Unlike articles that people encounter in their social feeds, publishers say newsletters have permission to be written in a more conversational and personal style because the reader has already opted in to them.

Exactly.

Publishers won’t – and can’t – learn anything from Pokémon Go says Chris Sutcliffe:

Even thoughtful, forward-thinking pieces about lessons from Pokémon Go like this one from Poynter’s Melody Kramer are written with the assumption publishers have a product which audiences are not only willing to pay for, but offer access to their data and time for. Without an IP like Pokémon attached, I seriously doubt any similar endeavour from publishers will find success of anywhere near that magnitude.

“What X can learn from Y” hot takes are becoming the web equivalent of a cockroach infestation.

The sheer power of Facebook’s news feed is not a matter of debate – especially for publishers. But Om Malik makes a different challenge in this thoughtful piece for the New Yorker:

However, every time Facebook’s news feed, introduced almost a decade ago, is manhandled, I am left wondering whether it has to change the feed with brute force because its algorithms are just too dumb to improve the service in a way that suits both Facebook—by making money and monopolizing our attention—and its 1.6 billion users.

Facebook Newsfeed

In short: every time Facebook has to manually intervene in the workings of the newsfeed like this – it’s an indication of a failure of the algorithm.

What are the realistic abilities and limits of Facebook’s news feed? The more the company tweaks the feed in a crude and blunt manner, the more one has to wonder if Facebook’s alogrithms are not only rudimentary and basic but also possibly the company’s Achilles’ heel.

It’s entirely wrong, and it’s the road back to the cave. The way we got out of the caves and into modern civilisation is through the process of understanding and thinking. Those things were not done by gut instinct. Being an expert does not mean that you are someone with a vested interest in something; it means you spend your life studying something. You’re not necessarily right – but you’re more likely to be right than someone who’s not spent their life studying it.

Professor Brian Cox, quoted in *The Guardian*

Buzzfeed has a social media verification team:

BuzzFeed Canada editor and First Draft Coalition member Craig Silverman will be leading the charge from Toronto, “bringing his deep expertise at debunking hoaxes to our reporting arsenal,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s head of international growth, “and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide.”

That’s a set of skills that every newsroom should have – but which large newsrooms should also support with a dedicated team. The big challenge, of course, is getting the debunking and correction of false material on social media out to the audience as quickly as possible:

Sensational or salacious lies have always been more interesting than the stone dry truth, but two recent studies put the reality of online rumours into stark relief. Researchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Indiana found it takes more than 12 hours for a false claim to be debunked online, on average, giving it an almost insurmountable headstart.

If the Buzzfeed team can tighten that up, that would be a useful public service.