The Magazine, the all-digital biweekly pub, is on the lookout for new writers. The mag is 100 percent freelance written and it’s perfect for longform fans, since the average article is anywhere from 1500 to 2000 words — sometimes longer.
And what kind of content is the pub looking for? As executive editor Glenn Fleishman says: “Without being horribly pretentious, we’re trying to skirt somewhere between Wired and The New Yorker in terms of subject matter.” The pub doesn’t discriminate based on experience, either:
Like most pubs, The Magazine has a stable of regular freelancers that editors have established relationships with, but it’s also always seeking strong queries from newbies. “We’re very welcoming,” explained managing editor Brittany Shoot. “We’ve published a number of people [who we find] it’s the first time they’ve been paid to write… and some of those have been some of the most interesting things we’ve published because the voice is different and fresh.”
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Reporters Without Borders is deeply saddened by radio journalist Joash Dignos' targeted killing on 29 November in Valencia City, on the southern island of Mindanao, and urges the Philippine authorities to take preventive security measures whenever a journalist is threatened.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dignos, whose murder has again highlighted the dangers to which journalists are exposed in the Philippines,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Coming six days after the anniversary of the 2009 massacre of 32 journalists in nearby Maguindanao, now commemorated as International Day to End Impunity, the murder shows that the Philippine authorities still have a great deal to do to fulfil their duty to protect journalists and combat the continuing impunity.
“We hail the creation of a special task group to catch the perpetrators and instigators of this murder, but the authorities must act preemptively to end violence against journalists. Dignos had been threatened for some time and should have had protection. A special task group could have been created after the first threats. Execution-style killings of journalists should not be regarded as inevitable.”
Dignos was murdered while with friends in a restaurant on the evening of 29 November. When he went to the toilet, four unidentified individuals gunned him down and then left on motorcycles. At least 28 gunshot wounds were found on his body.
The host of a show called Bombardier on dxGT Radio Abante, 48-year-old Dignos tackled substantive issues, did not hesitate to criticize the authorities, including Valencia's mayor, and had received death threats.
Last June, a grenade was thrown at the radio station while his programme was being broadcast. It had been pre-recorded for safety reasons and, as result, a security guard was the only person injured.
The manner of his murder was similar to that of fellow radio journalist Jesus Tabanao, who was shot five times by a man on a motorcycle in Kamputhaw, Cebu City, on 14 September. One of the shots hit him in the heart, killing him on the spot.
A former presenter on Bombo Radyo Cebu, Tabanao was a commentator for a programme on DyRC Radyo Calungsod that combats drug abuse and had worked for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency since 2008.
He was killed while on his way to pick up his wife, who had been with friends celebrating the award of the “Miss Press Freedom” prize to the journalist Jessa Marie Agua as part of Cebu City's media freedom week.
The police said they thought Tabanao was killed in connection with his work and took his mobile phones in an attempt to establish whether he had recently received threats.
The Philippines is ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Credit photo : The PCIJ Blog
The Guardian is experimenting in the craft newspaper business and getting some help from robots.
That may sound odd, given that the company prints a daily paper read throughout Britain. A paper staffed by humans. But the company is tinkering with something smaller and more algorithm-driven.
The Guardian has partnered with The Newspaper Club, a company that produces small-run DIY newspapers, to print The Long Good Read, a weekly print product that collects a handful of The Guardian’s best longform stories from the previous seven days. The Newspaper Club runs off a limited number of copies, which are then distributed at another Guardian experiment: a coffee shop in East London. That’s where, on Monday mornings, you’ll find a 24-page tabloid with a simple layout available for free.
On the surface, The Long Good Read has the appeal of being a kind of analog Instapaper for all things Guardian. But the interesting thing is how paper is produced: robots. Okay, algorithms if you want to be technical — algorithms and programs that both select the paper’s stories and lay them out on the page.
Jemima Kiss, head of technology for The Guardian, said The Long Good Read is another attempt at finding ways to give stories new life beyond the day they’re published: “It’s just a way of reusing that content in a more imaginative way and not getting too hung up on the fact it’s a newspaper.”
The Long Good Read began life several years ago as a digital-only experiment from former Guardian developer Dan Catt. The idea was to harvest the paper’s feature pieces and longer stories into a stream of articles best meant for RSS or a read-it-later queue. These were the stories that lent themselves to dedicated reading time, that quiet moment after work or a lazy Saturday morning. That, Kiss said, also fits the description of print: “It’s part of a noble heritage: people wanting something to read when they’re drinking their coffee or tea.”
Catt built an algorithm that scans The Guardian’s API, stripping away blog posts, multimedia, and other pieces in favor of articles over a certain length. Here’s a good explanation:
We plundered those tools for data and wrote our own little “robot” (a bunch of algorithms) to surface what we hoped would be good, interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes long articles. Just before I throw together a new issue of this paper I can head off to our dashboard that presents me with about 30 “top” articles, about 1% of all articles originally published by the Guardian.
The robot does the legwork, leaving an editor to pick and choose what stories work for the edition before handing the process off to a different robot. In this case, it’s The Newspaper Club’s ARTHR tool, a layout program that lets people feed in content from different sources, either links or individual text and images. Tom Taylor, head of engineering for The Newspaper Club, said they use a semi-automated version of ARTHR for The Long Good Read, which allows an editor to enter story links and lets the program develop the layout on its own.
It’s a human-robot workflow that makes putting together a customized newspaper a quick process. The Long Good Read is sent to the printer on Friday and delivered fresh on Monday, Taylor said. “It becomes possible to make a paper in an hour that you can put in a coffee shop and have 500 copies,” Taylor said.
The Newspaper Club started four years ago as a kind of bespoke printing business. It’s a story about technology — the ARHTR tool, which simplifies the layout process for people who may not be familiar with Adobe InDesign — but also about the printing itself. The Newspaper Club specializes in smaller runs of newspapers (as few as one to five copies) using digital printing and traditional printing. The key, Taylor says, is bundling together groups of orders to help keep the costs low and allow people to print as few editions as they want. In the beginning, the minimum amount of newspapers they could run was 1,000 copies, but thanks to changes in printing tech and growth in business, that number has slowly slid to 300, to 50, and now as low as a single paper.
“It’s like the miniaturization of the engine, taking it down from a factory-sized thing to inside a car, to a motorbike. It changes what’s possible to do with an engine,” Taylor told me.
The Newspaper Club is part boutique, part newspaper collaborative, doing work for individuals (newspaper-themed weddings, perhaps?), photographers, or the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Some U.S. newspaper owners have tried to increase their commercial printing business, increasingly by printing their competitor’s papers. But Newspaper Club thinks smaller, and more personal, than the weekly coupon circular and hardware catalog.
“We’re straddling two worlds: the nostalgia for print and those beautiful machines, the rudiments of it all and the slightly more weird media future that is going on,” Taylor said. “It’s not as simple as ‘The Internet will replace print.’ The future is way more complicated than that.”
While technology has upended the traditional newspaper model, Taylor said it’s changed the economics in the favor of letting print lovers experiment with the medium. Things like The Newspaper Club aren’t meant to replace the traditional daily, but instead to see how the form can be customized and personalized, Taylor said. The appetite for reading longer, more in-depth articles exists, as well as the desire to get away from the screens we surround ourselves with, Taylor said. “I have no particular nostalgia for print. But I see it being very useful for certain things,” he said. “It does things you can’t do with a tablet or a screen.”
At the moment, The Guardian is planning a limited run of The Long Good Read before figuring out whether to continue the project; there’s no contract term between the two companies. Kiss said the paper fit in well with The Guardian’s other experiment, the coffee shop, which was also meant to be a different (real-life) venue for news and conversations. It all fits into The Guardian’s larger mission of open journalism and engaging with the public. “It’s not a new revenue stream — it’s much more experimental than that,” said Kiss. “It’s to see what happens. I think media organizations need to be more lightfooted in what they experiment with.”
For a company that has pushed itself to expand digitally around the globe, a move into print could seem like a backwards move. But print, like other technologies, has its own assortment of benefits and drawbacks, Kiss said. What The Long Good Read does is take some of the features of customization and story curation — attributes we would think of as webby — and push them into print. What’s important is giving people as many options for reading as possible, she said: “It’s not the medium that’s in trouble; it’s the business model.”
Photos from The Newspaper Club used under a Creative Commons license.
Editor’s Note: Jeff Israely, a former Time magazine foreign correspondent in Europe, has launched a news startup called Worldcrunch. For the past three years, he’s been describing and commenting on the process here at Nieman Lab. Read his past installments here.
I’d been holding off on writing about the redesign of our website until it was all finished. Of course, the first and last lesson of the process is that your redesign won’t ever be done. It’s not just the always-in-beta credo; it’s also the less glamorous bugs and surprise hiccups across infinite browsers, devices, screen sizes — and coming down to the wire, that great idea you must finally put aside. The little compromises destined to be pushed live — but then again…
By now, though, we’re done waiting for it to be done. Call it Worldcrunch 1.9874, damn proud to show it off, with ice creams all around, to our extra-talented crew from Zagreb: designer Dario Krznar, our CTO Ivan Majstorovic, and Garrett Goodman, our now-London-based dude-of-all-trades who coordinated the project.
How could we have waited so long? is the overriding sensation we have, which is also a reminder of all the reasons not to redesign your site. For two years, we were quite satisfied with our face unto the world. The design was clean and smart and adapted to both the quality and quantity of the journalism we were producing. It’s not that we didn’t notice all the new bells, whistles, and more fundamental innovations sprouting around us. But for a lean news startup, a website redesign usually seems like a luxury you can’t afford.
In fact, as with other things, the decision snuck up on us. There had been no ongoing debate between my business partner Irene and me, nor any real pressing demand from readers or investors. The priority over the previous year on the design and development front had been to build for mobile (web and apps), which for us was a major accomplishment in itself.
Indeed, in retrospect, if we had been both wiser and richer, we would have followed Dario’s advice and redesigned the whole damn thing together back then. (More on that below.) But the path is the path, and hindsight is 20/20 on the Internet too.
This latest twist in the path started with me waking up one morning and mumbling in my head: A map, A MAP! I’d been thinking for a while that we needed to do a better job showing how far and wide all of our coverage reached, and let our readers explore in a more fun and interactive way. Creating a map entry-point to our stories, in itself, was going to be a big addition. We talked to Dario, who explained how it could be integrated with our existing site, but also noted (again) that it would be a good opportunity for a full overhaul. Irene and I sat on it for a few days, discussed what it could allow us to do on the editorial and business fronts, weighed the cost and the time required. Then, on a subsequent call with Dario to discuss the map, Irene — who ultimately has the last word on anything that involves writing a check — said the words: “We need a new design.” That was that.
You don’t redesign just for the sake of redesigning. You’re not a car owner tired of your old model and itching for a trade-in. You’re more a taxi driver deciding if it’s time to buy a new cab. Can an upgrade to a minivan help you cash in on airport fares? Do rising fuel prices mean it’s time to ditch the gas guzzler? It is, in other words, a business decision. From the editorial side, we were doing more content in different ways that our old site could no longer adequately accommodate. On the marketing side, we were moving into the paid/premium space and needed to show partners, customers, distributors, and paying customers that we have a big league product.
So with the question of if answered, it was time for the what. One of my favorite expressions to throw around when I’m pretending to be tech savvy is UX: user experience. I learned it fairly early (for me) and understood it rather well (for me). But I still wince a bit when a truly tech savvy person tells me “I use your site.” To an old-school editor, probably to an art director too, it sounds a bit off. The editor imagines that people are reading? Sure — well, sometimes, at least. The art director wonders what people are seeing in the product? But people do plenty of other things on your site: Browse. Click. Scroll. Leave. (Forget.) Rediscover. Re-enter. Browse again. Click. Glance. Look closer. Read. Keep reading. Share. Follow. Leave. Come back. Sign up. Explore. Click. Read. Pay. Share. Stay awhile. Yes, please use us, and use us well!
To try to make that happen, the possibilities were endless and targets were moving. Still, some basic goals seemed pretty clear: We had to think at least as hard about the article page as the homepage; our design had to be responsive to properly shine on all those devices and screen sizes; the site needed an overall new look and feel that felt fresh but not too far from the identity we had worked hard to establish.
I won’t go into detail about the choices we made, but the homepage layout is built around cards. We also wanted to be able to group stories together in dossiers or instant special reports, and have the article page extend below with infinite scroll of additional story cards.
The maps that got all of this started would be a signpost and a central part of the personality and branding of our site, but we’d allow readers to ignore them if they’re not interested. This was perhaps the most ambitious part of the design, and we’re still working to refine and expand what we can do with it. The responsive design extended to the browser for tablets, but we decided against adapting it for phones and apps, as our HTML5 mobile app was barely a year old. This was one of the compromises that we felt we had to make.
In the post-Snow Fall world, the temptation can be to design something that blows people’s minds. The risk, particularly for a small company like ours, is that it can swallow you whole. You start to produce the content to serve the container. Ideally, instead, the design should work in symbiosis with the journalism: Your site must be one you can feed every day with the stories that you’re meant to cover, while still having the elasticity to allow you (and push you!) to do new things and grow.
There’s no doubt that thinking about web design forces you to think harder about web journalism. I saw this BuzzFeed piece a couple of weeks ago, which was another example of how the ABC’s of good journalism and storytelling can find brand new life online. No GIFs, no lists, no kittens, nothing like the investment required for Snow Fall: Instead, it’s a direct but different way to cover a war with great reporting, finely crafted words, and powerful photography.
Still, at the same time I could also see the struggle with this new form, integrating the visual and text into a seamless scrolling narrative. There was the overriding goal of telling the story, but also the need to describe details in the photos that were distinct from the narrative. How does the main text cohabitate with the captions? One set of passages was slightly larger than the other, but sometimes it wasn’t clear what was what. It’s a design challenge. (Could a hover for the captions work? Or a different shade of text?) But there are also potential editorial solutions. (Weave the details from the photos into the main narrative?) Or a bit of both.
We began our redesign with another one of those web startup calls to arms: to make our new website future-proof. That’s a false concept. Finding design solutions that are replicable for different kinds of content means a better experience for the user, and less work for all down the line. But constant tweaks and occasional overhauls are inevitable, as the interaction between web publisher and web user — like the news itself — continues to change every day. Journalists, in other words, must make thinking about UX part of their daily M.O.
Photo by Robyn Lee used under a Creative Commons license.
The New Haven Independent, which launched eight years ago amid the first wave of online-only community news sites, may soon expand into radio.
The nonprofit Independent is one of three groups asking the FCC for a low-power FM (LPFM) license in New Haven, Conn. If successful, editor and founder Paul Bass says that “New Haven Independent Radio” could make its debut at 103.5 FM in about a year.
“It would be a fun thing if we get it. I’m told it’s very hard,” Bass says. “We’re by no means talking as if we’re going to get this license. We thought it would be worth a shot.” He envisions a mix of news from the Independent and La Voz Hispana de Connecticut, the Independent’s content partner (and landlord), as well as music, public affairs, and shows produced by local nonprofit organizations. The station would be on the air at least 16 hours a day.
The three New Haven applications are part of the FCC’s great LPFM land rush. Legislation signed by President Barack Obama in 2011 eased restrictions on low-power stations, and the FCC is expected to approve about 1,000 applications sometime in 2014. More than 2,800 applications were received by the deadline last month, according to the website Radio World. (Thanks to Aaron Read of Rhode Island Public Radio for tipping me off about the Independent’s application.)
According to the Prometheus Radio Project, a longtime advocate of expanded community radio, “the over 800 low-power stations currently on the air are run by nonprofits, colleges, churches and emergency responders.” For years, the radio industry and (believe it or not) NPR fought the expansion of LPFM, arguing that new stations would interfere with established broadcast frequencies — a concern that advocates say is unwarranted.
Like all LPFM stations, New Haven Independent Radio’s broadcast footprint wouldn’t extend much beyond the city limits, although it would stream online as well — which could be significant, Bass says, given predictions that most cars will have streaming Internet radio within a few years.Inspired by Haverhill
Bass says he got the idea from WHAV Radio in Haverhill, Mass., a nonprofit online community station (it also has a weak AM signal) whose volunteer general manager, Tim Coco, is seeking to expand with an LPFM license of his own. (I wrote about Coco’s radio ambitions last summer.) Coco, who runs an advertising agency and is a local politico of some note, is also among a group of residents working to launch a cooperatively owned community news site to be called Haverhill Matters, under the auspices of the Banyan Project.
“I’m happy I provided some inspiration,” Coco told me by email. “I believe the more local voices, the better for the community.”
Although Bass, if he is successful, may be the first hyperlocal news-site operator to start an independent radio station, the connection between the two media is a natural one. For instance, Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, a for-profit site that covers Genesee County in western New York, has partnered since 2009 with WBTA, an AM station with a strong community presence. An even more ambitious project is under way in the heart of the country, as the St. Louis Beacon news site is merging with St. Louis Public Radio.
Donna Halper, a longtime radio consultant and historian who is an associate professor of communication at Lesley University, says a multiplatform presence of the sort Bass envisions is crucial at a time when the audience has become fragmented.
“These days, it’s a multimedia world, and even a low-power FM station can get people talking” about your work, she says. “In this kind of environment, the more platforms you are on, the more you have top-of-the-mind awareness.”
On the other hand, industry observer Scott Fybush, who writes about radio for his own eponymous website, warns that Bass may not quite realize what he is getting into.
“Twenty-four hours a day of radio is an unforgiving taskmaster,” Fybush said in an email. “There are lots of applicants in this LPFM window who have what appear to be noble ideas, but keeping a station going with engaging programming day in and day out isn’t easy to do.”Three-way contest
But that’s getting ahead of things, because first Bass has to win the three-way contest for the New Haven license. And that is by no means assured. (Bass’s application was filed by the Online Journalism Project, the nonprofit entity that acts as the Independent’s publisher of record.)
According to documents on file with the FCC, the other two applicants are a Spanish-language organization and a Christian broadcaster called Alma Radio. Even though LPFM is intended to encourage localism, Alma proposes to broadcast nationally syndicated religious programs, including “Focus on the Family,” hosted by the controversial evangelical leader James Dobson. Alma Radio’s oversight board, according to a “Purposes and Objectives” document it included with its application, is “composed of members who believe and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Although Bass says his ideas for the station are still evolving, he included a detailed proposal with his FCC application, with such diverse offerings as a morning news program; a daily “La Voz Latino Community Hour”; a collaboration with The Inner-City News, a local African-American publication; community theater; and a two-hour evening program to be called “Joe Ugly Presents Local Hip Hop.” (Joe Ugly is the nom de rap of a New Haven music impresario who runs an Internet radio station called Ugly Radio.)
One of the New Haven Independent’s funders has already put up $3,000, which paid for legal and engineering services. If Bass wins the license, he estimates it would cost $30,000 to build the station and $60,000 to $70,000 to pay a full-time employee to run it — a substantial amount over the approximately $500,000 a year the Independent now receives in donations, foundation grants, and corporate sponsorships.
The opportunity is clear enough. Done right, it would enable Bass to bring New Haven Independent journalism, with its hyperlocal emphasis on neighborhoods, schools, and city politics, to a new audience — and to entice that audience, in turn, into sampling the Independent.
The danger, of course, is that the radio project would drain resources and attention away from the Independent itself, diluting its mission with a gamble on a new platform that may or may not succeed. Bass’s answer to that challenge is simple and direct: “We have to make sure it doesn’t.”
Dan Kennedy is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a panelist on Beat the Press, a weekly media program on WGBH-TV Boston. His blog, Media Nation, is online at dankennedy.net. His most recent book, The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), tracks the rise of online community news projects, including the New Haven Independent and The Batavian.
Photo by pyrosapian used under a Creative Commons license.
Here, from 58 years ago this week, is the police report on Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who refused to move to the back of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest helped spark the U.S. civil rights movement and began the end of apartheid in the American south. Thanks to historian Michael Beschloss for circulating this.
And here's one more record -- a photograph -- from that extraordinary time: three years later, also in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King getting arrested for "loitering."
At our news:rewired conference in September we ran an entire session dedicated to LinkedIn, and focused on how journalists can use the platform to engage with the online community. A write-up of some of the tips shared during the workshop can be found on the event website.
And last week, the blog for the International Journalists’ Network published further advice on “how journalists can conduct more effective searches” using the platform. The collection of pointers came out of a Q&A with Yumi Wilson, corporate communications manager at LinkedIn.Similar Posts:
- #Tip of the day for journalists: making more of LinkedIn
- #Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – using LinkedIn as a journalist
- Will your next journalism job application be via LinkedIn’s new button?
- BBC introduces registration scheme for blog comments
- #Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – making the most of LinkedIn groups
Reactie op Bob Woodward hoort eerder in gevangenis dan Bradley Manning door Open brief van Carl Bernstein aan Alan Rusbridger: over journalistiek | George Knight
Coming up Friday, Dec. 6, several heavy hitters in the world of longform digital publishing will make appearances at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism to discuss the future of longer narratives online. Interested journalists can also watch a livestream of the event.
David Remnick of The New Yorker is on the bill at Friday’s one-day conference “The Future of Digital Longform” in Manhattan, as well as professionals from nonprofit investigative journalism effort ProPublica, science journalism venture Matter, the crowdfunded Narratively, Longform and The Atavist.
The event was planned for a couple reasons: 1) We’re smack dab in the middle of a really interesting movement in digital storytelling. Some call it a renaissance, even, and it’s clear that a new phenomenon has surfaced; as the Tow Center notes, narratives are being weaved together through multimedia, moving comics and powerful data instead of being one-dimensional. And, 2) Tow Center fellow Anna Hiatt, also of The Big Roundtable, which I’ve written about for the blog), is finished with her research about digital longform journalism, which is part of an ongoing look at the definitions and challenges of longer online news.
Over the course of the day, several important questions like “Just because we can design another “Snow Fall,” should we?” and, considering the fairly recent influx of startups for digital storytelling, the toughest question — “How do we pay writers?” — will be posed and pondered.
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