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In November, U.S. media publishers accounted for 1.4 billion total social actions (likes, comments, shares, retweets, dislikes), with 687 million from Instagram, 632 million actions from Facebook, 51 million from Twitter, and 13 million from YouTube (excluding views).

The media publishing industry represents 20 percent of all actions taken on content published by U.S. brands in November. Total actions for the media publishing industry declined 3 percent compared to Oct. 2015, due to a 10 percent decrease in social content.

The botification of news

Bots have been around a long time on the web. Without them, Google wouldn’t function — its automated web spider bots are what enables it to constantly index and rank websites. The CAPTCHA forms you often have to fill in for online services are there to make sure you’re not a bot.

The year of the loyal reader

By this time next year, readers are going to be so much happier.

Regular readers have endured some neglect as publishers have doggedly pursued scale and per-page monetization over the past several years. This year, the tide will turn decidedly in the other direction as publishers shift focus to understanding, nurturing, and growing their loyal core audience. By this time next year, the media companies poised to thrive in the digital landscape will have faster, cleaner user experiences that better prioritize the needs of their readers, especially their frequent visitors.

Mobile journalism goes virtual

Mobile journalism goes virtual in 2016. It will be immersive, engaging and empathetic.

allissa-richardsonFor the past two years, we’ve watched mobile devices allow people from marginalized communities bear witness to police brutality. From the fatal chokehold of New York’s Eric Garner in July 2014, to the fatal shooting of South Carolina’s Walter Scott in April 2015, ordinary people wielding cellphone cameras have captured the final moments of citizens who died at the hands of law enforcement officers. We have watched as passionate protestors who were moved by these videos took to the streets.

The year we deal with the comments

Ask most editors and writers which sites they’re active commenters on, and I’d be surprised to hear about any others besides the ones they work for. Looking at any comment section of any site, this isn’t a surprise. Anyone who makes and shares anything on the Internet has likely heard the common advice “Never look at the comments.” This rings especially true for creatives and writers who are women, people of color, or belong to any minority group, who experience a disproportionate amount of online harassment and death threats and are, at times, the center of targeted stalking for speaking and writing freely.

Static is the new interactive

Creating succinct, engaging interactive graphics is a complex task on its own. Creating interactive graphics that work on mobile devices, with their ballooning variety of screen sizes and touch gestures, is a task that can make even the most dedicated developer break down and cry. (I maintained seven results apps for six markets during the 2014 election, AMA.) This task has gotten so complicated that a session at SRCCON 2015 developed a repo of resources for producing mobile-aware interactives. And, as an industry, our interactives are getting fancier (think VR or scroll-based line charts).

Adele and the death of clickbait

Journalism is dying. It’s dead. Call the cryptkeeper because it’s buried six feet under.

Distributed content needs local news

2016 is shaping up as the year when the “distributed content” wave overcomes traditional web platforms. It seems like the right time to ask: What will be the impact of distributed content on the digital distribution of local journalism?

#womeninjournalism

If recent years are anything to go by, the state of women in the media is grossly disappointing, characterized by a slew of demoralizing sexist episodes (The Onion calling a 9-year-old actress the c-word in 2013; the unceremonious 2014firing of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson; British paper The Sun’s bare-breasted Page 3 disappearing only to reappear in 2015 — to name but a few).

Love thy reader, securely

Thanks to the Internet, we’re reaching new audiences all over the world, including some places where we’re not exactly welcome.

The mobile money challenge

In 2016, every news organization will want to be mobile-first. But no one knows how to make the business of mobile news work. This makes the mobile money challenge one of the most pressing concerns for news and journalism.

Big data triggers predictive journalism

Biz Stone, the cofounder of Twitter, once regaled a panel audience with a story of how he read a tweet about an earthquake around 60 miles south of him — and then felt it seconds later. This simple story conveys the power of collective information and how it can give us insight into something before we realize we even need it.

The year we start to talk about “the business side”

Year-end packages like this are places for optimism, but I’m going to make a sad and gloomy prediction. In 2016, despite all of the exciting, important virtual reality projects and wearable tech experiments on the horizon, American newsrooms will continue to lose hundreds — if not thousands — of jobs.

The five Es of journalism in 2016

Get ready for a dose or two of E in journalism. The coming year will be marked by five trends that are becoming increasingly prevalent in shaping the contours of news and the media: Journalism that is experimental, experiential, explanatory, emotional, and economical.

When recommendations become news

2015 led me deeper into the mix of prototyping for newsrooms — organizing twoHacking Journalism conferences and focusing Embedly towards a publisher’s bottom line. Amidst discussions around ideas and strategy, most initiatives must still clearly address pageviews and recirculation.

A new dawn in social newsgathering

When social media users and mobile devices already outnumber the global population, there will almost always be someone with a smartphone at a news event before a journalist even hears of it. But — the Internet being the Internet, and people being people — the huge amount of false information shared online represents a unique problem to news organizations.

Media companies lose even more control

What’s happened to media companies in the last decade or so — and what continues to happen to them even now — is a little like a more boring, digital version of the Book of Job. He’s the biblical character who got hit with a plague of boils and lost all his family and possessions, just because God wanted to test the depth of his faith.

Platforms face editorial responsibility

Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Snapchat Live & Discover, Twitter Moments…2015 was a fun year for news organizations trying out new formats and a terrifying year for those trying to maintain their status as a destination for news. As mobile users continue to spend the majority of their time on a core set of apps, platforms like Facebook or Snapchat started to take advantage, rolling out these custom in-app experiences.

Podcasts own radio

Podcasts won’t kill radio in 2016, but the two will absorb each other and become some new kind of hybrid. My favorite podcasts are so much better than what’s available to me on FM radio, but I need local news and traffic, and there are a couple of CBC shows I don’t want to lose touch with. I want all of that together, plus a stream of music programmed to my taste through a smart system that knows what I’ve heard and what I haven’t, regardless of which device I heard it on. This has already begun and will progress swiftly in 2016. First solution with a user interface simplified to ON/OFF wins.

Brand relevance and revenue in the age of Snapchat

In 2015, we saw the rise of publishers’ content being consumed on platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, Apple News, Apple TV…and the list goes on. We also saw many publishers reach a confident stride on these platforms,building teams charged with churning out original content in new, native formats, such as vertical video for Snapchat Discover or tiltable images for Facebook Instant Articles.

The year news slows down

In a year that saw Snapchat launch Discover, Twitter launch Periscope, and Apple launch Apple News, it might seem odd to suggest that next year news will slow down. Yet there has been a growing narrative of information overload as the number of sources for news have expanded exponentially.

Distributed platforms will be your new homepage

One of the most disconcerting things about walking into a modern newsroom is seeing so many giant homepages on display. If we hung products up based on audience size and opportunity, the homepage would drop immensely in priority. My prediction for 2016 is that distributed platforms and native environments will be more valuable than the traditional homepage.

Podcasting fights the hype

If there’s anybody in this predictions series who should be unambiguously bullish on podcasting’s prospects in 2016, it should be me: some dude who works for a podcasting company by day and writes a newsletter about podcastsat night. But my optimism, if you can call it that, is less bullish than it is guarded, skeptical, focused.

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Here are the New York Times’ 50 most interesting stories, measured by the total combined time readers have spent looking at them. I haven’t read most of these, so I’m going to bookmark this page.

A nice piece of targeted empirical research with implications for news website UI and UX design, the study showed how site traffic could increase massively based on the aesthetic/functional qualities of the site — 90 percent in some cases. The study compared a contemporary “cleaner, photo-heavy scheme” versus a “more classic print-style layout.” The researchers also found that contemporary design could increase audience recall of the news content: “Layout matters, and it is consequential in terms of pageviews and what people recall from the news…Broadly, these results support news organizations experimenting with changes to their homepage, and considering a move from a more classic to a more contemporary design.” For more, see the Lab’s more detailed review.

The growing number of smartphones and social media accounts means eyewitnesses to a news event can share images with the world in an instant, images that too often show the grisly side of current events.

New research published yesterday by Eyewitness Media Hub (EMHub) lends some scientific weight to the anecdotal evidence shared in many newsrooms around the world: the amount of graphic images seen in newsrooms is rising and with it the issue of vicarious trauma among journalists.

“In the past, a professional cameraperson would get to the scene maybe ten minutes after the incident,” said EMHub co-founder Sam Dubberley, revealing the report yesterday at the BBC’s London offices, “but now we’re seeing ten different angles exactly as it happens.”

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