Category: Blogging

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Generating Pageviews is Nothing Like Selling Newspapers

Responding to my post “Stop Paying Bloggers and Journalists for Pageviews“, someone asked me: “What’s the difference between pageviews and selling papers?” I answered: “They aren’t anything alike”, which garnered response: “Certainly the journalists who cause people to buy papers are kept around. So isn’t a PV like selling a paper?”

“Nothing like it”, I answered. Of course, the questioner asked “Why?” The answer could be a 20-point list, at the least. But I rat-tat-tatted some explanation, which I recap here. The comparison is the traditional news organization versus the typical blog. I may add to the list over time but start with five items. 

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Say, HTC, Social Matters More Than Gadget Reviews

Some advice for HTC and other mobile device makers: You need to adapt your PR strategy to the modern web. Seeding devices to so-called professional reviewers is a lose-lose strategy. There you should take cues from Motorola, which marketing strategy, while by no means perfect, depends more on the many rather than the few.

Today, as expected, the HTC One M9 launched on Mobile World Congress Day 0. I am struck by two early reviews, which couldn’t be more different in their assessment—and one surely is quite damaging to perceptions about the smartphone: “HTC One M9 hands-on: Improved craftsmanship, camera, and HTC Sense are compelling” by Matthew Miller for ZDNet and “HTC’s One M9 is the world’s most beautiful disappointment” by Vlad Savov for The Verge. Matt had the device for a day and Vlad for a week. Neither narrative is ideal for HTC, although ZDNet’s is closer to identifying benefits that matter, as opposed to The Verge highlighting features that aren’t. 

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Journalists, Don’t Mess with #TheDress

There is something important that every news gatherer should learn from the “Is that dress white and gold or blue and black?” debate. Simply stated: Perception is everything. Truth is an illusion.

Yesterday, two memes raged across the Internet—one because of the llama chase in Arizona, the other about the color of a dress. If I correctly understand the timeline, about which I could be mistaken: User Swiked posted the above cropped picture to Tumblr with question: “Guys please help me—is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the fuck out”. Obviously, those colors are strikingly different. 

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Stop Paying Bloggers and Journalists for Pageviews

Last week, headline “Samsung lied—its smart TV is indeed spying on you and it is doing nothing to stop that“, piqued my interest. In the preceding days, the InterWebs flooded with allegations that the South Korean manufacturer’s televisions listen to their owners. But I cringed reading the story, which appeared on BetaNews, where I also contribute. The reporting doesn’t support the headline, which if editor on duty I would never have permitted.

Editorially, BetaNews and I drift apart. My responsibility for day-to-day management ended in May 2013. I told one of the writer/editors yesterday, in context of discussing the Samsung headline: “No offense, but the story packaging is more like a blog everyday…Real stories have real reporting. Too many of the BN stories rely on someone else’s reporting. That’s primarily my saying feels more like a blog. The Samsung lied story is good example”.

BN editorial structure is more diversified now, with several writers acting as day or night editors. All contributors share in common something I detest: Pay by pageviews. The model is widespread among blogs and news sites, and I oppose it. There is inherent conflict of interest, when the reporter’s livelihood directly ties to clicks. 

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Three Words That Go Oddly Together: ‘BuzzFeed’, ‘News’, ‘Investigation’

Among the many posts in my Google+ feed this AM is link to “Fostering Profits“, which dek begins: “A BuzzFeed News investigation”. My initial reading stopped there. What the frak? For the king of linkbaiting, “news” and “investigation” look wrong.

But as a Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard video interview indicates, and as I explain in my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers, BuzzFeed seeks to be more than the list-linker to the Millennial generation. I am not so much skeptical as critical. The writing needs to be crisper and more inviting than this news story. I suggest editors take cues from Mother JonesVice News or Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi rather than from ProPublica

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Today’s Brutal Bias Assault Against Android Wear is Shameful

Oh my. Canalys reports half-year 2014 Android Wear smartwatch shipments of 720,000 units, and the Apple-loving free press categorizes the number failure. Meanwhile, the analyst firm boasts that “All eyes are now on Apple, which will reveal further details about the Apple Watch prior to its release in April”. Not mine. Are yours?

Over at Wall Street Journal, Rolfe Winkler begins his hatchet piece with: “It’s been a slow start for Google’s smartwatches”. The search and information giant doesn’t sell any of the devices, developing the underlying platform. Nitpicking aside, he ridiculously writes: “Apple sold roughly 114 million iPhones over the same period. That means Apple sold almost as many iPhones each day as makers of Android smartwaches sold over the six months”. Oh yeah? That comparison matters how?

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Where are the Comments?

Websites without comments feel barren, like there are no visitors or no one is home. Reader reaction makes a site feel lively, and it generates energy—desire to participate. More importantly, comments can extend the storytelling. But as you survey my site, most posts stand solitary, creating, perhaps, impression that no one reads them. So why should you?

For numerous reasons—among them my putting priority on social networks during 2011-14—interaction is so seemingly limited. Engagement takes place, but mostly on social networks like Google+ where I have audience and where links to posts from here also appear. Readers engage where they share community, so the majority of interaction is elsewhere. I could flush out more commenting here by using Disqus, which spreads community across many thousands of sites. The choice to stick with WordPress’ system is quite deliberate. 

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credit: Roger H. Goun

Responsible Journalism Cheat Sheet

Several themes consistently recur in my posts about good journalism. They’re spread out over about five years of posting, and it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to read everything to find them. So for your benefit, and even my own, I pull together some quick tips that every news gatherer should strongly consider adopting as part of his or her daily routine.

News reporting isn’t a profession but a lifestyle. Ethics you adopt shape it—and you. 

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Empower Your Readers

Evergreen articles are rarely as good as James Kendrick’s ZDNet analysis “Corporate layoffs: Prepare your BYOD smartphone for the worst“, which reminds what good, longer-form, long-lasting journalism is supposed to be: Informative and useful to readers in the intended audience.

In contrast, the trend among bloggers is to write a question in the headline that someone might ask in search. While the information in the post can be useful, the intended audience is the search engine, not people. Consider this example from Gizmodo today: “Why Do Radio Signals Travel Farther at Night Than in the Day?” The topic marginally fits Gizmodo’s target tech audience, which I presume is likely to know the answer. The story is republished from site Today I Found Out, where there are more reader-useful graphics. James’ story informs and educates, while the Giz post is more like a non-curated Wikipedia entry. 

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Good God, Gawker, You Had Me at ‘Hi, There’

Nick Denton’s little publishing empire often doesn’t get the credit deserved. Among the new media ops, click-whores like Business Insider, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post grab the spotlight. But their granddaddy, Gawker Media, knows better 13 years since its founding—literally three lifetimes as measured in online publishing. Forget dog years. Denton’s shop is ancient, and it thrives by reincarnating in place. The Gawker in 2015 bears little resemblance to the circa 2002—Hell, even 2013. That’s a good thing.

What I always liked about the new media property: Application of newspaper-like editorial ethics for getting scopes, sourcing stories, and producing original content to online news gathering. All the while writing is current and cantankerous, and editors experiment with different design, content production, and stylistic strategies. Stated differently: Gawker is the best of print tabloid journalism applied to online publishing. Bottom-feeding aggregators that imitate the tabloid headline style, and dong so grope pageviews, are piss-poor imitations. 

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Should I Kickstarter?

Warning: One word repeatedly used in this post will offend some people. I’m not one of them, and presumably neither is the main audience for what I propose.

Since August 2014, after acquiring domain, I have pondered but not acted on launching a site that spotlights the worst—and occasionally the best—online news gathering. The question: Is there really a market for such a thing, and one that would assure financial sustainability? You can help me decide whether to proceed, and I anticipate most responses will come via social networks rather than comments on my personal site. 

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I finally say Ello, But Worry It’s Goodbye

I posted to Ello tonight. Finally. I registered three months ago and then did nothing. The text of my first post hints a little bit why not then but more why now. Thomas Hawk convinced me to try, in a ditty he posted yesterday.

Because I’m anal, the text that follows has embedded links, which isn’t their original formatting. Otherwise, the content is as it appears on Ello, which longevity I still have some doubts about. If the site ever goes tits up, the post is preserved here. With that introduction: