Buzzfeed is restructuring by splitting into entertainment and news divisions. CEO Jonah Peretti makes an interesting point:
Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department.’ Instead of organizing around a format or technology, we will organize our work to take full advantage of many formats and technologies.”
Video has become so prevalent in both news and entertainment, and developed so many different forms, that a single video department makes little sense any more. The language and techniques used to produce reporting dn explainer videos are very different from short comedy, or cooking clips.
In fact, it makes as little sense as having a “writing department”.
[via Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair]
If you’re into mobile journalism – and you probably should be – this kickstarter is worth backing:
To be clear, it’s already at three times over its target – and will probably hit four times before its done. But its a chance to get your hands on useful device pretty early.
I’ve been using the original Glif for a couple of years ago, and it is a super simple way of getting a phone onto a tripod, hugely boosting the quality of the video you can shoot. The new version is both easier to use – and more versatile. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Back the new Glif on Kickstarter – but you’ve only got four days to do so…
Interesting history of the email curation platform Revue from its founder Martijn de Kuijper:
Back then I saw the value of the newsletter and I still do. It’s such an intimate way to communicate with people, and so effective at the same time. Hence, I envisioned Revue as more of a network, a place for people to share meaningful content and let their voices be heard rather than just another newsletter service. To this day nothing has changed.
I was using Revue to curate a weekly “links list” for a while – and then I got overwhelmed with work and life. But it was a really pleasure to do. Revue made it easy to save and annotate interesting articles to go into the post.
Now I’m on holiday, I’m planning to get it going again – starting tomorrow morning.
You can sign up here – I promise to respect your time.
Elizabeth Spiers on good branded content:
You have written about Casper and their publication Van Winkle’s as an example of great branded content. What did they get right?
It wasn’t meant to directly sell mattresses, but to establish authority in the area of sleep. If that’s what you want to do, you have to produce content that feels academically credible, that people actually want to read.
One of the writers we hired was predominantly a science writer with a feel for pop culture. If they get cited on science sites, that’s a win, [and] if readers are sharing content because it’s interesting, then that’s great as well.
Spiers has actually moved out of publishing into the VR world – but is producing a VR-centric magazine to help sell the new agency.
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 nice thing about doing a week-long training course is that you get a little time to explore.
The sad thing is that my youngest daughter is crawling around looking for me back at home every morning…
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.
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.
How to use Google Trends data in journalism
An excellent piece by Simon Rogers explaining how Google Trends data is collected, and the context for understanding it. In short – it’s relative rather than absolute data, and you’re looking for spikes and changes for useful information.
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.
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.