#RIPTwitter no more?

This was how Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey reacted to #RIPTwitter.  The twitterverse was in uproar over reports that Twitter is planning to tweak its algorithm to make it more like Facebook, rather than in reverse chronological order as they are now.

At the Sydney Morning Herald,  Sarah Frier wrote, “The problem with the crowd: They seem to agree Twitter is flawed, but they don’t have a solution, and they don’t like change.”  So now Jack Dorsey is promising change without change, which pretty tough to finesse.

Other news:  the New York Times had better than expected results with 1.1 million digital subscribers, though print is continuing to decline.  They’ve announced another big newsroom strategy review, trying to figure out the way forward.  As Dean Baquet wrote in his memo to staff, 

“Experimenting with new forms of journalism and presentation has sparked tremendous creativity in the newsroom,” he wrote. “But in trying to balance the new and the old, reporters and editors are sometimes left exhausted and confused. Simply put, we keep turning things on — greater visual journalism, live news blogs, faster enterprise, podcasting, racing against an ever-growing list of new competitors on an expanding list of stories – without ever turning things off.”

There’s an interesting piece in Poynter about how the New York Times is resurfacing unused images in its archives to tell new stories.  It’s the perfect example of how evergreen content can be brought back to life again, and is being used at the Unpublished Black History project this month.  The picture below is one example, from the Newark riots, which cost 23 lives in 1967.


Neal Boenzi/New York Times


1)How Americans Get TV News At Home (Pew)                                                                                                                                2) In the Digital Era, What Does Watching TV Even Mean? (WSJ)

ASSIGNMENT:  Audio pieces should be posted to your blogs by Tuesday night at 9pm.

(Soundcloud c439mich@gmail.com, password: disruption)

TL; DR: The Iowa Caucuses on Social Media

The Iowa caucuses are all over, and the social media winner of the night was Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who was “mentioned over 77,000 times on Twitter during the caucus, while Clinton was mentioned 52,000 times”, according to social media sentiment analytics firm Brandwatch.   Sanders also beat Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to get more new Facebook followers: 15,695 to 10,704.  What correlation is there, if any, between social conversation trends and who wins an election?  This was a question that MSNBC asked, and then answered.  Not at a lot, was its conclusion.  Mashable, however, said that Twitter nailed it.  So the jury’s still out, apparently, on whether social media performance translates into real electoral gains.

The most entertaining social media star was #stickerkid, also dubbed the “new left shark”, who upstaged Hillary Clinton with his own special brand of publicity.

We saw journalists periscoping and filing quick live hits optimised for Facebook straight from the caucus locations.  Here’s  one from Lawson Elementary School by Zoe Daniel from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


Live video chat here at 2pm AEDT from Iowa. Hit subscribe for notifications.

Posted by Zoe Daniel on Monday, 1 February 2016

Ben Terris of the Washington Post filed a lovely twitter story about a tiny Democratic caucus in someone’s living  attended by 52 people.

And one last unforgettable moment – filmed by BBC’s Newsnight – was when Republican hopeful Ted Cruz tried to hug a little girl, and she really, really didn’t like it.  The problem for him?  It was his own daughter.

For Monday’s class, please read the findings from The Revenue Picture for American Journalism and How it’s Changing (Pew).

Assignment: radio piece of between 2 and 2’30 for Feb 9th.    Here’s a cheatsheet with some of the most basic commands/moves from today’s workshop.  Rubric is here.


Doom, gloom and podcasting

images (72)

The End of Twitter is the title of a piece in the New Yorker last week, which writes

that a series of mediocre product changes at Twitter (such as the much-hyped but ultimately confusing Moments feature), a stagnant user base, and a massive executive brain drain have called into question whether Twitter can survive as a business.

It says Twitter is facing an existential crisis because its service is so confused and undifferentiated,

What should worry Twitter is irrelevance, and there is growing data to suggest that that is where the company is headed. If Twitter’s real-time feed is its most powerful asset (and it is), it’s not difficult to see a future in which Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or even a newcomer likePeach (yes, I am citing Peach) focus enough on real-time news that they obviate the need for Twitter’s narrow, noisy, and oft-changing ideas about social interaction.

One major problem, as in this listicle, is Twitter’s role as “Troll Central”, while Facebook looks like it’s about to muscle in on Twitter’s core strength: real-time sharing.  Meanwhile, gloom about the future of newspapers, with estimates that 1000 newsroom jobs are being lost every month in the US.   A former student, Paige Pfleger, wrote for NPR

Digital-only outlets are also pursuing local news. Last year, Pew counted nearly 500 digital news startups that launched within the past decade, many of which are local outlets. But these aren’t exempt from the difficult news climates that have killed local papers.

On the upside, 2015 was the year that we started to take podcasting seriously.   And noone so much so as WNYC, which spanned the divide between the public radio world and the podcasters.   And for an aural representation of built-in obsolescence, please spend time at the Museum of Endangered Sounds.  It’s just a click away.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 14.58.44

WEDNESDAY’S CLASS IS IN THE Faculty Observatory, 2F, Hatcher Library.  For reference, our NPR One document is here.  

READING:  1) Why Audio Never Goes Viral (Digg)                                                                                                                               2) What can make Audio Go Viral (Nieman)                                                                                              

ASSIGNMENT:  Radio project:  a recorded interview or a simple radio piece, of between 2’00 and 2’30.  The theme should be related to technology and digital disruption in your beat.  Rubric is here (for Feb 9)

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’s early interest tell us about Peach’s 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)

Pulitzer Centre Guests


vietnam_002 PROJECTPAGE

Above are two images from projects by two Michigan alums, Jens Erik Gould and David Rochkind for the Pulitzer Centre.   They will talk to our class on Tuesday about these projects – respectively on TB funding in Vietnam and HIV in Honduras.  You may also want to look at Jens’ Bravery Tapes on the Huffington Post, which combines journalism, music and film.

For Thursday, reading as follows:

And you should have spoken to me, or emailed me, with your plans for a final project by April 1st.  I was gratified to see a piece in the New York Times today on the Players’ Tribune, three months after COMM 439 student Zack Karmin did his final project on it.  Finally, just for your reading, a piece by Scott Simon about tweeting his mother’s death.   The last line: “Social media has become the first line of our utterly human response.”

Emojis in the New York Times :-0

So, the New York Times had a headline that used an emoji!  Twitter was ALL CAPS with excitement.

But not so fast!  The web version didn’t quite look the same.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 21.06.00


Emoji are apparently fine for twitter, maybe not yet on the web.   In other journalism news, the BBC issued a big report on the Future of News.  And going back to the past, an extraordinary example of burying the story:  The Telegraph disclosed the existence of the Nazi gas chambers three whole years before Auschwitz was liberated…. but they “chose to report the ‘greatest massacre in the world’s history’ on page five of a six-page newspaper.’  The report ended up costing the life of the source, Szmul Zygielbojm, who committed suicide in despair at the indifference of the Allied governments.  His last letter is here.



Am I over-tweeting?


From Todaymade.com/Julie Neidlinger


Am I over-tweeting?  Some tips on how to know are here.  (Tip: if you are live-tweeting your own twitter feed, then yes.) And for Twitter fans, today it added some new features, so you can group message and edit, shoot and post videos.  Or, according to Gizmodo, watch commercials: “This move is probably motivated, in part, by other platforms like Facebook and Instagram steadily adding video support in their timeline, and also to (obviously) gives companies the opportunity to flood the internet with their carefully crafted 30-second ads. So adding video for Twitter is a win-win, for all us—maybe not so much.”  Neil Patrick Harris was one of the first to make use of this, with his scoop here.


From Todaymade.com/Julie Neidlinger


Blogs of the week: Hub Humphrey for his behind-the-scenes live-tweeting of a gymnastics meet, complete with video. And do check out Ana Hauser live-tweeting her Tinder date.

Reading: 1) Texas Tribune

2) Shale Life (think about the differences with Snowfall)

3) The Texas Tribune is 5 Years old and Sustainable. Now What? (Nieman)

4) The Least Interesting Man in the World (Austin Magazine)

Look back at The Changing Revenue in American Journalism

ASSIGNMENT: 1) Prepare two questions for Evan Smith. Try to reference specific pieces of news reporting the Texas Tribune has done, or its business model

2) Download the NPR one app, and play for a bit with tagging, sharing and skipping stories so that your stream becomes personalised. Listen for half an hour, and write a radio review. I want to know how you rate the listening experience, including the type of stories offered, the efficacy of customization and whether it was an experience you would repeat.  (for Jan 29th, 9am)

Embedding Tweets

If you’re having trouble embedding tweets in WordPress, try the following.

1) Click on the time element of your tweet (ie 2m)  The tweet will appear by itself on screen.
2) Copy the URL.  Click in wordpress on ‘add media’ then  ‘insert from URL’  and paste the tweet’s URL in there.
3) The tweet should then be embedded in wordpress.
Also please note the following event on journalism and the art of storytelling this Tuesday at 330pm.10427350_10153019108621153_6988719854070985820_n

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?

New York Times Failure…. In One Chart


From gigaom https://gigaom.com/2015/01/19/how-much-work-the-nyt-has-to-do-on-social-sharing-in-one-chart/

From gigaom

Interesting chart from Gigaom showing that the average Buzzfeed piece is shared almost 8000 times, compared to the New York Times, which garners ten times fewer shares.    The piece points out that it’s more instructive to look at the median; the figure for the NYT is just 11 shares.   Check out the second chart too, showing that 14% of Buzzfeed articles go viral (ie more than 10,000 shares.)


Shout-out for Blog of the Week to Maddie Kimble.

READING for Jan 22

The Revenue Picture for American Journalism and How it’s Changing (Pew)

The End of the Printed Newspaper (Clay Shirky)

False Idol (CJR)

ASSIGNMENT: Live-tweet an event, whether it be a speech, a sports match, a TV show or a demonstration.   Make sure you tweet at least 10 times. Then post the series of tweets to your wordpress site.  USE the #c439 hashtag!

Separately post the most retweeted or favourited tweet (for Jan 27 8am)