Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category


Has Snapchat truly discovered Discover?

Snapchat hopes to boost traffic for publishers on its Discover feature.(Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

Snapchat hopes to boost traffic for publishers on its Discover feature.(Photo: AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr under CC)

Since its launch last January, Snapchat has been trying to make its Discover feature work when it comes to social journalism. It attracted the likes of many various publishers, from ESPN and CNN to Comedy Central.

Yet, traffic to those stories had been difficult to achieve, as users of the Los Angeles based social network had to seek out these channels through search, located in another screen. In addition, a selection of clips were only made available on the Stories page.

Now, Snapchat now wants to change that. According to a report from Recode, the company is looking to allow its users to subscribe directly to the content that is being made available, instead of going through the separate search methods. The ability to subscribe to that content would guarantee its appearance on the Stories page, the report adds.

While it is unclear how it would work (the Recode report suggests either deep links by the publishers themselves or push notifications by the social network to suggest new content is available), this is good news for publishers, and indeed Snapchat, as it tries to make a significant foray into the always evolving and competitive world of social media journalism.

Discover has over twenty publishers, and Snapchat has over 100 million active users.

The ultimate question for the platform is if chief executive Evan Spiegel and his colleagues will follow through with it, as suggestions have been made the change could happen as soon as May. If Snapchat is to market itself as viable for journalism on social, especially for younger audiences, it is essential that this move is done as soon as possible.

Once that move is done, there is potential for credibility to be gained amid competition from Facebook and Twitter. If not, it may prove fatal and may see a decline in users for Snapchat, as well as publishers severing their ties in the hopes to find better ways to engage new audiences.

For now, the next move goes to Snapchat, in the hopes that it will truly discover not just the purpose of Discover, but the reason why it entered the world of social media in the first place.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

New year, new feeds?

Facebook is testing multiple news feeds instead of a singular one, which may affect audience interaction with news organizations. (Photo: Pixabay)

Facebook is testing multiple news feeds instead of a singular one, which may affect audience interaction with news organizations. (Photo: Pixabay)

As we begin a brand new year, we may find something new when we log in to use Facebook, which may affect the appearance of content from news organizations.

The social network is testing multiple news feeds by topic, instead of the normal news feed. According to a report from Mashable, the feeds are only available through the social network’s mobile app. Indeed, while you are able to access your news feed like normal, there are other feeds, like Style, Headlines or Travel, that would also be available.

So whether you wanted to talk about the election, share a story on the issues with the Boston Globe and their distributor, or get thoughts from fans of the popular drama Downton Abbey on its premiere, it can appear not just in one feed, but in other feeds should the user decide that would be best.

Speaking to the tech publication The Verge, a spokesperson for Facebook said the introduction of these feeds were based on the users’ want to see items on specialty topics. It is unclear if there is to be a permanent roll out to all of Facebook’s platforms.

Should that be the case however, do not be surprised to see not just changes in how news content is curated on Facebook, but if one wants to see the content at all, and if it could signal changes to the algorithm when it comes to telling stories on the platform.

A new year may bring a new Facebook for journalists. All we can do for now is wait to see what form it takes.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

What Project Lightning means for journalism

Twitter today unveiled the item that has been known for months simply as Project Lightning.

Moments was introduced on desktop, Android and iPhone versions in the US. These include pieces from news organizations including BuzzFeed and the Washington Post.

For example, BuzzFeed today did a Moment about McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast Menu, while the Post did a Moment on the migrant crisis across Europe. These posts are available to be embedded into any piece.

Twitter also said it plans to publicly debut Moments during the baseball Wild Card game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.

Moments is one of the items that journalists and news organizations have been anticipating since rumors surfaced on it earlier this year. In a telephone interview, Jennifer Wilson, the social media editor of the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada, said Moments plays well on what Twitter excels at — visual features.

“Visual items will usually outperform text,” Wilson said, adding that there are examples of that being taken to create a collection. The ability to embed posts is an added bonus when looking for video, Wilson adds, as it saves the issue of sourcing.

Moments also has the opportunity to solve the issue that new CEO Jack Dorsey and executives have been trying to resolve — the issue of lack of user growth. In a telephone interview,  Aly Keves, the real-time social editor at the Daily Dot web site in New York, says its good that Twitter is utilizing resources for this and is a step forward for re-engagement.

“This will be a great way for people to rediscover Twitter,” Keves said. “It will help users figure out who to follow and what accounts they should be looking at. It can bridge the gap. The new Moments feature will allow the Twitter community to be more engaged with media communities and vice versa.”

Keves adds that Moments can help paint a bigger picture on why an event is trending, providing a better sense of what is going on real-time. For news organizations, Keves says this is exciting for them because they’ll be able to see not just their own content, but what is trending and how competitors are approaching the subject, which could help shape coverage.

“I can get a better sense of what is happening, why its happening, and what the audience is,” Keves said. “It will help me figure out where our audience is, what they’re talking about or anxious about, and what’s happening out there.”

While its only available in full form in the US, moment URLs are accessible globally, and Twitter says that it is looking to get the full feature rolled out to other countries in the weeks and months ahead.

Ultimately, Wilson says, Moments is another unique way to tell stories and another opportunity to engage and retain audiences. She adds that a next step for Twitter could be a way to engage with live broadcasts, something that can help media organizations.

“Everyone is looking for new tools to tell better stories,” Wilson said. “Its neat and exciting.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

New questions for a new Twitter product

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

A report emerged today that Twitter is to expand its 140 character limit, by way of a new product. According to a report from the tech news site Recode, the product would allow long form content to be published to the social network.

Twitter hasn’t unveiled any plans officially, but multiple sources with the social network told Recode that the product has the support of interim CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey and his team have been trying to fix user growth issues that were at the helm of its recent quarterly earnings. Twitter celebrates its tenth birthday next year, so if the network confirms that this product is going ahead, it may pay off in the long run for its investors and users.

For the media industry however, the news of this product presents a two-fold scenario – first, it is likely to set to compete with Facebook which has more characters to work with as well as the ability to publish long form content through Instant Articles. This may put more users off Facebook and may send more to content journalists and news organizations are promoting on Twitter.

The second is the issue of audience engagement and journalism on Twitter. With this product becoming available, there will likely be opportunities to do more when it comes to breaking news in addition to other pieces. Journalists can experiment more with Twitter and help create elements of a story that can be fresh and inviting, that allow their coverage of a particular beat or event to be distinct.

This news also comes ahead of the launch of Project Lightning, currently likely to be at the end of the year, so this may lead to new ways into how news organizations can retain and attract users of the social network.

Although very little is known about the product, it is likely to warrant a significant evaluation of a newsroom’s social strategy, and may put Twitter above other social networks. If this does indeed go ahead, it will signal not just a win for Twitter on its user growth problems, but for news organizations too, not just for content, but for engaging new audiences.

For now, however, we must wait, and see what’s in store. Perhaps, the new year may present new ideas for newsrooms, and another unique chapter in Twitter’s relationship with the journalism community.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

How Twitter is keeping tabs on the news

Twitter's news tab, unveiled last week, as seen on iOS. (Photo by the author.)

Twitter’s news tab, unveiled last week, as seen on its iOS platform. (Photo by the author.)

Last week, Twitter made available to some users in the United States a new feature called the News Tab.

This tab, available on the social network’s iOS and Android platforms, allows the user access to top headlines from varied sources. When a user taps an article to see more, they will see a headline, a brief paragraph and a link to that article. Below the article are top tweets from other sources.

According to a report from the L.A. Times, the feature is available in Japan, and it has been suggested that this could be a precursor to Project Lightning, a program for news and event curating that was announced in June, according to a report from Fortune. Indeed, beyond this, it has led to new engagement via the social network, which has shown benefits for audiences and Twitter itself.

“It’s a smart move for Twitter,” said Jennifer Wilson, the social media editor for the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada, in a telephone interview. “They are upping the potential for sharing.”

Wilson added that this allows Twitter to give context on information whilst staying true to messages in 140 characters.

“The news tab is interesting because instead of checking your morning newsletters, you have a one stop shop for news,” Wilson said. “It’s a different way to engage people on the network. They’re doing a lot of experiments and this is just another one where you see people logging in and coming back.”

The news of the introduction of the news tab comes amid continued concerns of user growth, announced in second quarter results July 28. The tab is not available internationally, but Wilson says should Twitter decide to make it available in Canada, there will be questions news organizations have to answer, from how to get tweets out there, to ensuring audiences are served not just within the tab but also in their news feeds. These questions are also likely of other organizations including in the US.

On the issue of growth, Wilson said this was a direct response to what Facebook was doing in terms of its Instant Articles program, and for Twitter’s part, there was no restrictions placed by the algorithm.

“They’re highlighting that news is an important part of the service they provide to users,” Wilson said. “It’s another way to make sure users are getting the most up to date information.”

It is unclear however as to the news tab’s prospects in the United States, or indeed internationally. Reached by email, Rachel Milner, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said this was an experiment and declined to share any further plans.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

Why Twitter’s concerns are journalists’ concerns

As investors wonder what's next for Twitter, journalists are also wondering the same thing. (Image: Flickr user Anthony Quintano under CC)

As investors wonder what’s next for Twitter, journalists are also wondering the same thing. (Image: Flickr user Anthony Quintano under CC)

Twitter earlier Tuesday released its second quarter earnings. While analyst expectations for revenue were beaten, the issue that interim chief executive Jack Dorsey faces continues to be that of user growth.

The number of active users went up to 304 million compared to 302 million last quarter, but including access to the social network via messenger services like SMS, the number was 316 million, compared to 308 million last quarter, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Journalists represent a large number of the active monthly users on Twitter, and as speculation continues on whether Dorsey can ensure investors that it is on the right track, Dorsey must also convince, albeit indirectly, journalists whether Twitter is still a worthwhile platform for a social strategy.

At the core of Twitter remains the live wire element of news and information, no matter the subject, be it world affairs, sports, or that new collaboration between British electronic duo Disclosure and Grammy award winning singer Sam Smith. Many users flock to it to keep up with the events of the day, and as journalists, it has changed how we think about engaging with our audiences, and also the idea of storytelling and communication in the digital age.

Twitter has become the heart of a newsroom’s social strategy, giving organizations large and small the opportunity to develop new ways to tell stories through app integration and the 140 character bite size snapshots of the world. As the days and months proceed, Jack Dorsey must try to keep the users of Twitter happy, and that includes journalists.

One small change may make a huge difference in how Twitter can be used. It can be positive, or it can be negative. Twitter has changed journalism for the better, and helped it advance in the social age. The ball is now in Dorsey’s court to ensure that will continue.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and media correspondent for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

 

Is Snapchat discovering a journalistic comeback?

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

The last couple of weeks have seen changes to Snapchat’s Discover feature, the platform established in January by the Los Angeles based social network that has seen content from providers including CNN, ESPN and the Comedy Central network.

Two weeks ago, a new iOS update was made available, putting the feature front and center before stories and updates from other users. The update came amid concerns of decline in engagement through Discover, according to a report from Mashable.

Earlier Monday, it was announced that the iHeartRadio streaming service and BuzzFeed would start publishing on Snapchat, according to a report from the tech news site Recode, which added that Vox.com would also begin publishing on the platform later in the summer.

These moves from Snapchat comes as it continues to make a name for itself in the world of social media journalism through Discover, as the concerns of engagement decline continue to make themselves known. But in order for Snapchat to reverse the decline concerns, there must be an appeal to engage with that content. Is the engagement responsibility down to the publisher, or is it down to Snapchat?

Snapchat is still seen as an underdog as far as social media platforms, but brands and publishers are ready and willing to engage with as many different audiences as possible. The addition of brands like BuzzFeed to Discover signal that publishers want to engage with Snapchat’s audience. Indeed, for Snapchat, this signals that it wants to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the interaction of social media and journalism.

Yet, more must be done by the social network to convince younger audiences that Discover is worth their time, in an age where the media environment for them consists of a multi-screened, multi-platform experience. On the other side, the Discover feature should be able to signal that Snapchat is ready to be a part of the ever expanding world of social media journalism, something that will please its early investors, as well as become credible competition to Facebook and Twitter.

Even as new publishers join the list of making their content available on Discover, Snapchat is still trying to figure out the role Discover should have. It will take some time to come to a conclusion, and to convince publishers that engaging through this platform was the right move.

Until then, Discover has taken on a new form – a way to figure out the answer to what all the buzz is about when it comes to Snapchat, something that remains, for the most part, mostly unanswered.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and media correspondent for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Data, Data Everywhere

My eyes and thumbs comb through medium after medium, prowling the Internet for the next sensational story, the latest updates from my friends, and the most cutting-edge scientific research.

TwitterTumblrFacebookPinterestInstagramSnapchatGoogle … Repeat.

It’s hard to imagine living in such an age where we don’t know about the forthcoming announcement of (yet another) Republican presidential nominee, or the release of Apple’s latest music makeover.  Even the things we don’t really want to know, we know –– just who was Hillary Clinton emailing during her Secretary of State term?  What Harry Potter house were all 486 of your friends on Facebook sorted into, according to BuzzFeed’s evaluation of your taste in Getty Images?

In an information age as overwhelming as our own, the amount of data at our fingertips can seem just as mind-numbing.  What do we do with all of this information, present-day journalists ask themselves?  How can we tell these stories, with so much info on, often, so little a scope?

‘Data journalism’ seems to be the term savvy storytellers are throwing around these days to combat our fear of information overload.  Their jobs are to mine the spreadsheets of the latest census in search of interesting data sets, or track down the frequency of drivers running a red light in Los Angeles, California –– and make it into something an audience wants to look at.

Digesting data, and how to showcase that data for consumers, is a booming business right now.  Even the New York Times published a letter on their Upshot blog this week, called “Death to ‘Data Journalism.’”

Why death to data journalism, you ask?

Because ‘data journalism’ is, really, a false reality.  A new-fangled term coined for another face of modern storytelling.

Just because journalists are administering newly compiled and accessible data to a public hungry for news doesn’t mean the objective changes.  The game is still the same: create engaging, intellectually stimulating content for readers and viewers everywhere.

The interviewees in this short video on data journalism have it right: data journalism will soon (and hopefully) become just plain, old journalism again, once readers have gotten accustomed to writers with this much access to information.

We will soon come to expect that our country’s journalists have the tenacity to sort through piles of records requests, along with getting that saucy quote from the mayor and the damning image of his ex-wife.  It’s all part of the package, and that makes the stakes that much higher.

It’s an exciting new age of journalism.  Higher expectations, but a higher reward from the public you serve.

So don’t be confused by terms like ‘data journalism,’ ‘print journalism,’ even ‘photojournalism.’  Because in the end, it’s all part of the story.

Bethany N. Bella is studying Journalism, Environmental Studies and Sustainability Policy at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Dick Costolo and Twitter’s future for journalists

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo resigned Thursday as pressure to increase user growth continued. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo resigned Thursday as pressure to increase user growth continued. (Photo: Flickr user Joi under CC)

Yesterday, it was announced that Dick Costolo would step down as chief executive of Twitter, and be replaced on July 1st by Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of the site and himself a former chief executive. The move comes amid increasing pressure on the social network to grow the number of active users (according to a report from The New York Times, the social network currently has 302 million users.)

Twitter, in its form of live streaming the events of the world, has become an essential tool for journalists, and the resignation of Costolo may indicate changes as to what Twitter will become moving forward. Indeed, with the questions surrounding user growth, what may happen as Dorsey takes over and as new features are discussed and implemented may have a significant effect on the relationship with Twitter and news organizations.

While it is difficult to predict what is ahead, this is an important time for journalists to pay attention to Twitter’s outlook, particularly as it comes towards their own social strategy.

As Dorsey and his colleagues consider the moves however, there is one thing they should bear in mind, the simpler the social network, the better. If you try to make things complex, users will be hesitant to try it, or indeed recommend it to their friends or colleagues.

The same rule goes for journalists, who recently were considered to be the most active, verified community on the social network. If Dorsey allows Twitter to remain simple, and integrate in features that would not have a significant impact on the interface that many users see, it can help journalists do better work on the platform. That might include an editing tool, which Sara Catania of NBC 4 Southern California told me when I wrote about it last year, was something long overdue for Twitter.

The question of user growth will be one that will continue to be one that presents itself as Dorsey takes over as chief executive. But as he decides to figure out Twitter’s next chapter as a social network, he must consider his users, especially the many journalists that use the social network, for one move may change everything, either for better or for worse.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Can Apple take a bite out of Facebook?

Apple CEO Tim Cook, as seen in 2009, is leading competition against Facebook for new content consumption. (Photo: igrec/Flickr under CC)

Apple CEO Tim Cook, as seen in 2009, is leading competition against Facebook for new content consumption. (Photo: igrec/Flickr under CC)

At its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today, Apple unveiled a new app for content from various publishers and news organizations. The app, which is to launch with iOS 9 when it launches later in the year, is to replace its newsstand app, which, according to a report from Mashable, did not fare well with users.

Yet, the most significant takeaway from the app was the method publishers have for content, as it is similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative, introduced last month. Publishers are able to advertise on the app and keep the profits from the ads, while posting new content on Apple’s server. Initial organizations taking part include ESPN, The Guardian and The New York Times, and, according to a report from The Guardian, can be tailored to your location.

While it is still early days for both Apple’s news app, and indeed Facebook’s Instant Articles, as a report from Business Insider noted by the Nieman Lab indicates, as new tests begin on the initiative, one thing is clear. The competition is on for content and to host it in many new ways as possible. This has stretched beyond social media, and has become a new way to compete for content, giving new initiative for publishers.

Whether Apple can take a bite out of Facebook’s content plans remains to be seen, but today’s announcement makes one thing clear. Apple is ready to take on the social network, and it’s not going down without a fight.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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