Sunday, February 28, 2016

New mobile platforms aid users, penalize publishers

News publishers are again the pawns in a chess game among the big technology platforms, mainly Google, Facebook, and Apple.

And while publishers are losing control of their future, users are gaining a better experience with pages that load faster on mobile devices.

This is the scenario that is emerging with the expanded rollout of Facebook's Instant Articles, Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages, and Apple's iOS9 and News products.

I have spent a weekend reading over expert commentaries on the business and technical aspects of the latest innovations in Internet technology. What all three of these innovations have in common is that they are aimed at serving mobile users better and that they claim to help publishers gain revenue, audience, and data about users. Many of the commentators are worried that publishers are losing out to the platforms.

Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of the Verge, was warning back in November that the battle among Google, Facebook, and Apple to corral mobile users and advertisers would cause the most damage to independent digital publishers on the open Web.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Latin America spawns scores of innovative news sites

Latin America has spawned a rich breed of online news publishers who are challenging mainstream journalism. These digital natives have achieved significant influence by innovating with digital tools.

They often aim to provide an alternative to the traditional voice of mainstream media, which are usually linked to political and business interests that have long predominated in these countries.

"Digital-ness" of highly influential websites. 
These are among the findings of a new study of 67 native-born digital news publications by Ramon Salaverria of the University of Navarra (Spain) and Summer Harlow of Florida State University. The study, published in the journal Digital Journalism, is an ambitious effort to measure the innovation, influence, and goals of these 67 digital natives -- "Regenerating Journalism: Exploring the 'alternativeness' and 'digital-ness' of Online-Native Media in Latin America".

And while the scholars have not set out to create  a viral listicle a la Buzzfeed, they have created two tables in their article with fascinating detail, one of which I have condensed (at left).

The rankings of "digital-ness" are based on measurement of each site's use of multimedia, interactive elements, and degree of audience participation. All 10 listed here were rated as "highly influential" by the researchers, based on measuring their per-capita Facebook and Twitter following and their global ranking in the Alexa audience measurement service.

Versión en español

Thursday, February 11, 2016

From Poynter, 25 ideas for nonprofit newsrooms

Note: This blog post from Poynter Institute is used with permission. I think it is a particularly well stated summary of key points digital news entrepreneurs need to keep in mind. A Spanish version was translated by Ética Segura of the New Journalism Foundation of Iberoamerica. - James

Diversify revenue streams. Train from within. Make the most of metrics. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective.

A small group from Poynter visited a dozen nonprofit and for-profit news organizations in 2015 to gather information to share at this week's Nonprofit News Exchange. Here are 25 ideas, observed at many of the places we visited, that anyone can apply to his or her own newsroom.

1. Know your mission. As you build your team, look for staffers that buy into your mission and keep communicating the big point of your venture clearly. This is an advantage startups have over legacy outlets attempting transformation and struggling to bring staffers along.

2. Start with a fresh idea. A good editorial concept, fresh and serving an unmet audience need, is critical. This will need refining as you go along, but what you are doing needs to stand on its own or no amount of tweaking will save it.

3. Train from within. Data journalism specialists are critical to generating high-impact investigative stories but might be hard to find or pay for. Look for opportunities to train your own employees and allow them to expand their own expertise and skill sets on the job.