Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Wilson’

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.

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.


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