TL;DR: a selection of articles for the Guardian Media & Tech network

Thirteen articles from the last couple of years, starting with the most recent:

Facebook’s dominance in journalism could be bad news for us all
Could it be that the short-term high from socially distributed content – greater reach – inevitably gives way to symptoms of dependency: loss of control and financial damage?

From digital to print: the publishers bucking the online-only trend
The march of technological progress moves in just one direction. From analogue to digital. From standalone to connected. From print to online. That, at least, is the conventional view. The reality is far messier. And far more interesting.

How can publishers inspire trust in an era of distributed media?
Where once publishers used social media as a promotional tool to pull users back to their own websites, now social networks and messaging apps have morphed into content hosts – think Facebook Instant Articles, Snapchat Discover, Apple News, LinkedIn Pulse, Google AMP and, even, Twitter Moments.

What is Twitter’s real reach?
Regardless of the stalling active users and top line numbers, perhaps Twitter still matters. Perhaps it still has influence, albeit indirectly.

Cosmo and Lad Bible reach new audiences through social
Nobody owns the audience, Facebook will change the rules of publisher engagement to suit its needs and the benefits of using social platforms controlled by others outweigh the disadvantages.

Current affairs magazines are defying the death of print
As it is with long-form broadcast so it is with current affairs magazines at their best. By taking a longer view and by devoting more time and space to key events, current affairs magazines can help readers marshal their thoughts (shape them, even) and separate the signal from the noise.

From Bloomberg to Quartz: five attempts to tackle our attention deficit
In a world of finite time and apparent infinite choice, how are publishers encouraging readers to stick around? And how, especially, are they persuading them to stay for the longish reads? One answer is to provide visual or text-based cues to indicate how much time readers will need to invest in a particular article. Here are five innovative approaches.

 TLDR: so just how short should your online article be?
In a world of 140 character tweets and five to six inch mobile phone screens, long is bad. Right? Well, maybe.

News UK, the Guardian and Outbrain on the labelling of sponsored content
If the problem is transparency and trust, is the solution better labelling? That was one of the questions a panel on native advertising wrestled with at the Changing Media Summit last week.

BuzzFeed to NME: a publisher’s masterclass in producing online video
Too many videos play as if they have been produced for company bosses. Brevity, focus and the ability to teach viewers something new are key ingredients

What kind of blogger are you?
From the polemicist to the magpie, here are four blogging archetypes worth exploring.

i100 and Quartz prove homepages are increasingly irrelevant
Homepages are a product of journalists who came from print and thought in print terms.

From Google to Buzzfeed: seven moments that shaped digital media
Seven milestones have marked radical change in the digital media in the 20 years since newspapers began publishing online.

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Some thoughts on #DigitalJournalism

Several weeks ago Nasser Sahool, agency leader at DAC Group in Toronto, invited me to take part in his podcast series on digital strategy.

The conversation that followed made me think again about the changing role of digital journalism over nearly two decades. Here are a selection of those thoughts – a few fully formed, most partially constructed…

On the skills journalists need in the digital age
“Some of the advice never really changes. Read widely, read well, read good journalism whether it’s the New Yorker or the Financial Times or it’s a brilliantly crafted tabloid newspaper. Learn to deliver lean and concise and effective copy… Then combine this old stuff with a bunch of new skills. So, for example, as as digital journalist you’d need to learn how to open a spreadsheet and understand the data that you are seeing … Then familiarise yourself with the newish tools of the trade – do you know how to put audio together? Do you know how to use video? Do you understand how to use social networks?”

On data journalism
“Data gets to the heart of a truth and if journalism is about getting to the truth data journalism is really important.”

On the new tools of the trade
“I’m not sure all journalists realise how easy [the tools] are to use. I run workshops on social media and what I spend a lot of time doing is getting people over that hump of fear, fear of the technology – ‘I can’t possibly use Twitter because I don’t understand how to use it.’ Well, it doesn’t take very long learn how to use it. And once you understand how to use it – once you understand the lingua franca, the code of Twitter, Facebook or any of these other tools – then you are into the world of communications. It’s then about how you apply the technology not the technology itself.”

On the impact of smartphones
“The medium impacts consumption habits. We see that most obviously with the growth of the internet-enabled smartphone … which has made the internet day and the internet week longer in terms of consumption … If lots of people are consuming our content at 7.30 in the evening via a smartphone what does it say about us as a publisher in terms of what we deliver, when we deliver it, how we resource our staff, how we push this stuff out on to our website but equally through social media.”

On the dangers of infinite online space
“Just because you’ve got infinite space doesn’t mean that your reader has got infinite time. In fact they’ve got less time than they ever had because they are reading more words from more sources than ever before. So some of those old world skills of being concise – writing short and sharp and to the point – absolutely apply still.”

Read more: Episode 18: The Role Of The Digital Strategist In Journalism – A Conversation With Jon Bernstein

7 lessons in mobile publishing

Following the Press Gazette’s excellent News on the Move conference last month, I’ve written a piece for the Guardian Media Network pulling out the key lessons shared on the day.

In short, what does the move to mobile mean for publishers of all stripes? These seven things at least:

1. Plan for the extended internet day – and week

2. Think format

3. Remember, the web still rules

4. Use apps to upsell

5. Don’t forget the role of social media

6. Viral hits don’t happen without mobile

7. It’s the content, stupid

I expand on each over at ‘From BBC to BuzzFeed: lessons in mobile publishing‘.

Successful Mobile and Tablet Editorial Strategies for Print News Publishers: The Video

I took part in the Press Gazette’s third News on the Move conference yesterday, chairing one of the three debates on the impact of mobile and tablet on publishing and journalism. As before, it was a really stimulating event with lots of smart ideas, thoughts and people — in the audience as well as on the panels.

You can watch the whole thing here.

The debate I chaired – Successful Mobile and Tablet Editorial Strategies for Print News Publishers – starts at around 25′ 12”. The panel featured:

– Alan Hunter, Head of Digital, The Times & Sunday Times

– Subhajit Banerjee, Mobile Editor, Guardian News & Media

– Martin Ashplant, Digital and Social Media Director, City A.M (and former head of digital at Metro.co.uk)

 

Taxi! Another example of mobile disruption

Excellent piece in today’s Financial Times (£) by John Gapper on how mobile technologies are disrupting the  taxi cab business (bookings, pre-pick up notifications, likely routes, fare information etc).

Gapper notes how an advance in underlying technology invariably presages the next round of innovation and, yes, disruption. He writes:

It is often possible to imagine what technology might achieve years ahead of it happening in practice. Think of services in the dot com boom that only worked properly when broadband came. A similar turning point has finally arrived through a combination of smartphone apps, digital mapping and location tracking.

In Britain broadband went mainstream in mid-2005, four months after YouTube launched. By mainstream I mean that was the point that more homes had broadband internet access than dial-up. Now feels like a similarly key moment for mobile — a coming together, as Gapper points out, of a series of connected technologies.

You can read the whole piece here (£).

Fine without Vine? Think again

For my piece this week over at the Press Gazette, I’ve made the case for using Twitter’s Vine, the app that let’s you film and upload six-second video clips that play on a loop.

Why would you want to do that? Good question:

Just like Twitter, attempts to sell the benefits are not easy. And just like Twitter, when you see some examples you start to get it. Again the creativity comes from working within limits.

There are three examples over on the Press Gazette worth watching and for journalism here are some suggested uses to start with:

Print publications should be using it too – to promote cover art or front page leads; to take readers inside the newsroom, to a press conference or on assignment; to get a word from the editor or the writer of the cover story.

You can read Like Twitter before, Vine is worth your attention here.

Apple’s iPhone and the production, distribution and consumption of news

Earlier this week, I was asked the following five questions by a student researching the impact of smart devices, particularly the iPhone, on news.

1. Why did people start reading news on mobile devices? And when?

2. How has the technology since the first iPhone changed the way we consume news on devices?

3. Why do you think Murdoch’s tablet-only newspaper ‘Daily’ failed?

4. How has the newswriting changed since the first iPhone? (i.e. shorter, punchier, use of images, headlines etc.)

5. We are available, and everything is available to us, at all times. Has this changed how many times people read news each day to keep updated?

They are interesting questions and I offered him my initial thoughts which I published on my Press Gazette blog.