Twitter launches analytics

Twitter Analytics will be fun and useful, but why no ability to sort by best/worst performers? How can we tell what does/doesn’t work if we can’t see what does/doesn’t work? Intro here. Analytics themselves here (you need to activate before you’ll start seeing...

Vox to open their CMS up to everyone?

Oh yes please! I’m a massive CMS geek, yet in well over a decade and a half of online publishing, I still haven’t found one I truly adore. Mid-period Wordpress came close, but now it’s too complex and chunky. Buzzfeed’s seems decent, from what I’ve seen. The one they have at ITV News looks great, from the screenshots. But I hear truly great things about the Vox Chorus CMS....

A golden age for journalism

Lots to agree with here: “by some measures, journalism has never been healthier. And there’s every reason to believe that it is actually getting stronger because of the web, not weaker — regardless of what’s happening to print” Are jobs being lost? Yep. Are publications shutting down? Yep. But are readers getting more of what they want? Yep. My only worry with this optimistic take on the current situation is that, despite years of worrying about it, and over a decade of confident assertions that hyperlocal “citizen journalism” will fill the void left as uneconomic newspapers shut down, there is still a major risk that many communities will be left without a reliable source of local news coverage. I’m based in London, so there are any number of hyperlocal Twitter accounts and small blogs covering the area, but none of these are comprehensive, even combined, and few have the skills or abilities to dig deeper into what’s going on in the local council. Local newspapers were never especially economically worthwhile, but they did (well, sometimes) provide a valuable public service in holding local government to account – something they were only really able to do because of the level of access they were afforded by their permanent, professional position. On a local level, as local papers shut, the most common publication to fill the void isn’t a blogger, it’s an official local government publication – we’re replacing public service for...

This is the most important thing about clickbait you’ll read today*

* assuming you don’t read anything else about clickbait today This article focuses on content produced by content marketers, but applies just as much to regular publishers who are constantly trying to ride the latest wave of social media fads to suck in a few unsuspecting punters with low-rent, instantly-forgettable clickbait. Short, cheap, trend-driven / fast-turnaround content may well help you hit short-term engagement metrics, but will long-term kill audience retention: “The internet is ballooning with fluff, and bad content marketing is to blame. In our obsession with ‘engaging’ our ‘audience’ in ‘real-time’ with ‘targeted content’ that goes ‘viral,’ we are driving people insane… When a publishing agenda is too ambitious, people can’t afford to shoot anything down… They’re under too much pressure to fill… slots” I particularly like the concept of “click-flu” – the sense of annoyance and disappointment you get (both with the content and, more importantly, with yourself) when you click on a clickbaity link, and the page you end up on fails to deliver on its hyperbolic promise. The resentment builds and builds – and over time, leads to hatred of the people who lured you in time and again. If you make a big promise, as so many of these “This is the most important thing you will see today” clickbaity headlines do, you’d damned well better live up to...

Who’s the competition in the future of news?

People are starting to fully wake up to this now – in the mobile-first age, competitors are no longer just other publishers, it’s *everything*, so we all need to start thinking bigger. Good piece as ever from Mathew Ingram on Gigaom: “very few news apps take advantage of the qualities of a smartphone — things like GPS geo-targeting, which could use the location of a reader to augment the information they are getting, the way the Breaking News app does. Or the brain inside the phone itself, which could compute how long it took a reader to get through a story, how many times they returned to it, what other news they’ve been consuming, and so on:” A number of sites and apps have started to do *some* of this, but very few have managed to pull it all together. Give it a couple of years, and we may finally have a *properly* disruptive news delivery system that combines the best of everything. Combined with increasingly intelligent algorithms and reams of data on individual user preferences, this could get rid of the need for editor selecting stories altogether. But despite ongoing experiments in code-written stories, to do this really well will still take humans producing the copy and vetting the info. The journalist isn’t obsolete...

The future of the newspaper

Worth a read: “the future of the daily newspaper is one of the few certainties in the current landscape: Most of them are going away, in this decade”

Algorithms and the news agenda

Well worth a read on the Feguson riots, and how different social media sites (notably Twitter vs Facebook) served up news about them: “Now, we expect documentation, live-feeds, streaming video, real time Tweets… [Ferguson] unfolded in real time on my social media feed which was pretty soon taken over by the topic… And then I switched to non net-neutral Internet to see what was up. I mostly have a similar a composition of friends on Facebook as I do on Twitter. Nada, zip, nada. This morning, though, my Facebook feed is also very heavily dominated by discussion of Ferguson. Many of those posts seem to have been written last night, but I didn’t see them then. Overnight, “edgerank” –or whatever Facebook’s filtering algorithm is called now?—?seems to have bubbled them up, probably as people engaged them more. But I wonder: what if Ferguson had started to bubble, but there was no Twitter to catch on nationally? Would it ever make it through the algorithmic filtering on Facebook? Maybe, but with no transparency to the decisions, I cannot be sure. Would Ferguson be buried in algorithmic censorship? Would we even have a chance to see her? This isn’t about Facebook per se—maybe it will do a good job, maybe not—but the fact that algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the Internet. Net neutrality (or lack thereof) will be yet another layer determining this. This will come on top of existing inequalities in attention, coverage and control.” It’s a continual worry – how to ensure we see what’s important? Though, of course, the concept is nothing new...