Journalism agenda: Next stage at the journalist attention battle: wrists…

Editor’s note: On Monday, Apple is expected to formally launch the Apple Watch, which will go on sale next month. As the company shows off what developers have built for its smartwatch, perhaps we’ll see something we didn’t when it was first announced last fall — some indication of how news might fit on the new device.

Jack Riley, head of audience development at The Huffington Post UK, spent the past month here as a Visiting Nieman Fellow, studying that very question: How should news organizations think about the Apple Watch, Android Wear, and the new class of wearables some predict we’ll all have on our wrists soon? What are the opportunities, the risks, and the challenges?

Analyst Ben Thompson has a good piece up providing the service he often does: examining a portion of the media landscape the way a Valley-tinged capitalist might, without any of the romance people brought up in the media business might bring. If you’ve ever wondered why so many people are fascinated by BuzzFeed — specifically in how it takes the broader lessons of Internet success and tries to apply them to the creation of news — this piece is a good starting point.


The traditional goal of news is to say what just happened. That’s sort of what “news” means. But there are many more types of nonfiction information services, and many possibilities that few have yet explored.

I want to take two steps back from journalism, to see where it fits in the broader information landscape and try to imagine new things. First is the shift from content to product. A news source is more than the stories it produces; it’s also the process of deciding what to cover, the delivery system, and the user experience. Second, we need to include algorithms. Every time programmers write code to handle information, they are making editorial choices.

Have you bought a lonely single copy of a newspaper lately, from a newsstand or a newspaper box? Probably not. Neither are many other people.

Single-copy newspaper sales — which not that long ago made up as much as 15 to 25 percent of sales — are obsolescent, dropping in double digits per year and, for many papers, 25 to 50 percent or more in just the past three years. Single copy is just one corner of a disappearing world, and it’s one we’ve paid little attention to. In its decline, though, we can see the print-to-digital transformation from another angle.

When a tiny post appeared on Gigaom Monday night, noting that the company had ceased operations and was now controlled by its creditors, every push notification I allow on my phone started buzzing, flashing, and beeping. Tweets, texts, and emails flooded in from everyone I was connected to from my years on staff there.


If you’re looking for the latest information on local weather, crime, or education, the place you turn for news likely depends on the options around you. In a targeted look at how residents read and react to local news, a new study from the Pew Research Center finds that almost 9 in 10 people follow local news closely, and that many still rely on TV and their daily newspaper.

The trick to turning readers into a group of frothing hoarders: Tell them they can dive into The New Yorker’s archive and leave with as many stories as their arms can bear. Instead of parents stampeding the aisles of their local Walmart for this season’s Elmo, you get people crawling over one another to snatch up a Junot Diaz, an Alice Munro, or that David Grann they’ve been eyeing for a while.

HARTFORD — On Feb. 4, the New Canaan Advertiser, a community paper in Connecticut, broke a big story about one of the town’s most famous residents: Brian Williams had recounted the false story of his helicopter being shot at in Iraq during a speech he gave at a 2005 Veteran’s Day ceremony in New Canaan.

Two days later, Joshua Fisher, the editor who wrote the initial story, brought up the story about Williams again. This time, however, he was discussing it on air — on HAN Radio, the online-only radio station run by Advertiser owner Hersam Acorn Newspapers, which was broadcasting live from the annual Hartford Boat Show that day.


The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space

The Controller of the BBC’s archive strategy maintains the institution’s fundamental role within the media ecology and argues that the Licence Fee should safeguard a new democratic digital public space.

This is an edited version of a speech given at Royal Holloway University London (RHUL) on 10 February.


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