Peachy Keen

Big news: ¬†there’s a new social network that’s blowing up, but everyone is kind of clueless about what it is and does.

Buzzfeed’s explainer is itself somewhat baffled.

Where did this app come from?
I have no freakin’ clue, bro. This thing came out of nowhere and now everyone has it.

In fact Peach was started by Vine Founder Dom Hofman, and one of its capabilities, according to Tech Radar is a host of magic words.

Typing “shout” lets you write in big blown up letters on a colored background with an emoji. “Draw” does what you think it would, “song” lets you share what you’re listening to with others, who can tap on it to listen themselves, and “rate” will let you rate literally anything between one and five stars. ¬†GIF, here, goodmorning, goodnight, battery, dice, safari are also Magic Words, and Peach promises more are on the way.

However, the Next Web warns Peach is already being taken over by people using fake celebrity names. ¬†So is it the next big thing? ¬†It’s big among Tech Twitter – tech journalists, investors and entrepreneurs – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will catch on. ¬†“What does Tech Twitter‚Äôs early interest tell us about Peach‚Äôs future success?” asks Re/Code. “Not much”, it concludes.

READING:  How Americans Get Their News.  (American Press Institute)

ASSIGNMENT:  Write a blogpost of around 400 words introducing yourself, your media consumption habits and the beat that you will blog upon in the next semester.   How do you get your news?  Have your news consumption habits changed since arriving at university?   In describing your news consumption habits, please tie them into the some of the trends described in Post-Industrial Journalism.   How do your news consumption habits differ from those of your parents?   Explain what beat you will be focusing on in your blog over the next semester and why. (Jan 12 8pm)

#applewatch fail?

The first Applewatch reviews are out, and they’re worth reading. ¬†In this video, Farhad Manjoo from the New York Times says the watch is¬†“merging digital technology with our ¬†body in a way we haven’t really seen before”. ¬†His conclusion: “The first Apple Watch may not be for you – but someday soon, it will change your world.”¬†

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But Business Insider has this useful round-up of reviews, which it characterises as ‘quietly brutal’. ¬† One of¬†the most damning verdicts was from Bloomberg Business’s Joshua Topolsky, who rated the watch as a timepiece in the following way, “I‚Äôve found the experience somewhat inferior to that with a conventional wristwatch, due to one small issue. The Apple Watch activates its screen only when it thinks you‚Äôre looking at it.” ¬†Wait, what?

In other news on the perils of using new technology, Madonna was supposed to premiere her new video on Meerkat. ¬† It failed, showing just a 500 error page. ¬†Her fans were not happy. ¬†It’s supposed to happen again today, but maybe don’t hold your breath.¬†

On the intersection between gaming and journalism, the BBC has created a Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route game highlighting the dangers faced by Syrian refugees. ¬† It cost just under 30,000 USD to create inhouse, but has been attacked as transforming human suffering into a ‘children’s game’.




Again, on the intersection between entertainment and journalism, here’s Alli Cope’s post on the Six Strangest Ways that Buzzfeed has Covered Iraq and ISIS.¬†

Assignment: 400 word blogpost on debate motion “Facebook is a Force for Good”. ¬†Pick a side, either for or against the motion, and argue your corner.

The debate format will be as follows:

We will hold a vote on the motion before the debate begins. ¬†The first speaker (the proposer) will speak for 5 mins in favour of the motion, followed by the opposer speaking against the motion.¬† Then the second speaker in each team (proposer’s seconder, opposer’s seconder) will speak for 5 minutes each. ¬† Then we will open the floor to questions from the floor, and each member of the class will ask a question.¬† In that period, the debaters can answer questions directed to them, as well as rebutting the views of the other camp.

At the very end, the third member of each team will have a 5 minute period during which they will sum up why the audience should propose or oppose the motion.  In that time, they can sum up the arguments as well as introducing new ideas, if they should wish to do so.   Then we will hold the final vote.

We are all Buzzfeed Now

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That was Brian Morrisey at Digiday’s¬†conclusion after the twin banal obsessions gripped the internet for a good twenty-four hours. ¬† Everybody was aggregating and reaggregating. ¬† It was – as Neetzan Zimmerman put it – the Viral Singularity.

BuzzFeed’s post was a litmus test for publishers. You didn’t need Chartbeat to know that there was good viral traffic to be had, even if it meant simply ripping off BuzzFeed. But would such a re-aggregated aggregation really fit with a storied brand like, say, Time? Who cares. Time did a copy and paste job. So too did Cosmo. Gawker, a digital publishing brand that’s suddenly feeling very old, cast aside its identity crisis debate over viral popcorn to post a quick rewrite, bank the pageview and not dwell on it. Slate live-blogged the Internet kerfuffle like it was a presidential debate.

But others had a different take: crowdsourcing the news creates a more democratic newsgathering environment, argued the CJR.  While Slate too saw the llama/dress virality as a sign of journalistic strength, not infirmity. 

For decades, back when print and broadcast media monopolized news coverage, ‚Äúnewsworthiness‚ÄĚ was determined in top-down processes, by editors and reporters who were only minimally accountable to the communities they served. Readers could write letters to editors, and could offer story tips, but that was the extent of their involvement in the news process. Journalists produced the news, readers consumed it, and if the reader didn‚Äôt like the news being produced, well, tough luck, because the reader needed the paper more than the paper needed any individual reader.

The disaggregation of news in the Internet age has inverted this relationship, and made news outlets hypersensitive to the interests of their readers. This is a positive development. It’s good that the media covers stories that its constituents are interested in and want to read about. It’s good when news outlets are connected to the communities they serve.

Blogs of the week are Austin Davis on network news, and Maddie Kimble on satirical news shows.

For your mid-term presentations (20 mins per group please), here are some tips for the non-Buzzfeed groups.

Vox got a big interview lately. ¬†Gawker’s founder is going it alone. ¬†The Skimm’s founders have been sharing their secrets. ¬†Vice is going girly… and Mashable is going to India.

March 10th: The Skimm, Buzzfeed, Vox

March 12th: Huffpo, Mashable, Gawker

Assignment 2:  Tell a story relating to your beat through photo gallery, a series of at least five photos which tell a story.   Make sure there’s a person in at least one of your pictures. There needs to be plot development, rather than a number of photos of the same thing from different angles. (for March 17)



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#boredandbrilliant is the latest word in audience engagement. ¬†And it’s pretty compelling. ¬†The New York public radio station, WNYC’s tech show, New Tech City, has launched a weeklong set of challenges to help you detach from technology – in particular “detach from your phone and spend more time thinking creatively.”

Day 1 challenge was to keep your phone in your pocket or bag. ¬†Day 2 is a photo-free day. ¬†Surprisingly hard. ¬†Here’s the argument why you should try it, courtesy of wnyc website.

This week I hope you will spend less time on phones and listening to music, and more time hearing¬†the world around you. ¬†The assignment is an audio project of 2’30 or less. ¬†It can take the form of an interview with one person, a radio story, an audio diary or something more experimental – like a phone-in show – ¬†so long as you stick with the theme. ¬†It should be a piece about digital disruption or technological change, and the effect that is having upon your beat. ¬† You could choose to focus on one person’s story or do something wider. ¬† Please post to your blogs by 12th February using Soundcloud.


If you don’t use social media, you’re dead













Thanks to Gerry Mullaney from the New York Times for coming to talk to the class. ¬† His takeaways: if you don’t do social media, you’re dead. ¬†Also, breathe a sigh of relief: the first two years out of college don’t count in terms of jobs. ¬† Here is the Wall Street Journal piece he spoke about¬†as a successful piece of audience engagement, and here’s the New York Times work that inspired it. ¬† The Upshot blog is here.

Twitter assignments are due on Tuesday at 8am. ¬†Don’t forget the #c439 hashtag. ¬† And please post the tweets into your wordpress site so that they are easy for the class to see. ¬† Also post your most retweeted or favourited tweet of the week.¬†And remember – in today’s fast-moving media age, you are only one bad tweet away from the doormat, no matter how long you have worked at a company. ¬† Point in case: CNN’s Jim Clancy, who left his job after 34 years at the network after a series of controversial twitter messages. ¬†More background on his the people behind the twitter storm¬†here. ¬†But Nieman says, don’t try too hard to please Twitter.


Digital Media Ethics

Should Reddit be Blamed for Spreading a Smear (NYT)

Ten Ways Reporters Can use Twitter Before, After and During a Story (Poynter)

For Thursday Jan 29th, write a blogpost reviewing the NPR One app. ¬†It needs to be downloaded on a mobile device. Then listen to one hour’s worth of material, play with tagging stories or skipping them to customise. ¬†In your blogpost, please note the stories you heard, and the efficacy of customization. ¬†Also the differences between listening to NPR through the app and a local station. ¬†Is this a service you would consider using regularly ? What are its advantages and disadvantages?