Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The New New News

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  • Russell Brown,

    An interesting Q&A with Buzzfeed's VP Jonathan Perelman, who'll be talking some more about Buzzfeed's plans at a conference next week:

    Everything we have created we have done through the eyes of ‘will this be shared across the social web, and who will share it? Will it share better on Twitter, or Facebook or just the kind of content that somebody would email to somebody else?’

    And so, we’ve never made content specifically for a platform, we make it for people, but with an understanding of why people will share it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    In The Guardian, Emily Bell makes the point that this new vanguard is still mostly white dudes (albeit, in Silver's case, out-gay geeky white dudes), but rather spoils it with this line:

    It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened.

    Ahem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Unlike Huffington, presumably Buzzfeed is paying its writers. So there's that.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Unlike Huffington, presumably Buzzfeed is paying its writers. So there’s that.

    Yes, and paying them for actual skills and experience, rather than just their reckons.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Here's another piece on the Nate-Silver-hiring-lots-of-white-dudes issue.

    No, Nate, brogrammers may not be macho, but that’s not all there is to it: How French High Theory and Dr. Seuss can help explain Silicon Valley’s Gender Blindspots

    ... by Zeynep Tufekci, writing in the Technology and Society column for medium.com. About whom and which I knew nothing until someone referred me to the post, and I thought some of the analysis in there was useful.

    ...diversity in newsroom or in the development team is not just a feel-good, but a functional need as well. Fiascos such as Google Buzz in which they did not realize the extend of the backlash they’d endure by making people’s email contacts visible to each other, or Grantland’s infamous story in which they could not figure out what was offensive about hounding and outing a trans individual (they didn’t have a single one to look over the story) are some recent exampes in which diversity among decision makers would have really helped bring much-needed different viewpoints to the table.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1446 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Public Address, ironically, is more like the newspapers than those blogs. When we could afford to buy the Nielsen surveys, Public Address consistently topped rankings for time spent on site and on each page, and, mostly notably, engagement as measured by active contributions to the site. It's a precious thing.

    And it's the engagement that matters. There are scaling issues, comment threads at the guardian are just too busy to work for me, I just vote on comments. But here works.

    Also I find it interesting that you make PA work where sites like Larvatus Prodeo fell apart, mostly over the difficulty of finding the time/money to keep the site running.

    Also, to my amusement I got abused not so long ago for commenting that the ads on a site were not annoying enough to have made it into the ad-blocking tools. The site owner was distressed to hear that for some reason. I can't imagine you ever complaining about it :)

    Read a podcast on tipping the other day (yes, I spent 5 minutes reading the transcript of a 30 minute podcast, I know it's weird but I value my time more than I love the melifluous sound of an american accent). Anyway, one of the podcastrati had an idiosyncratic approach. With one service he used frequently he didn't tip, he just sent a decent sum of money to the organiser once, to be distributed to the employees.

    I appear to have a similar deal with Elefant Trax, having just bought my second "whatever you released in the last 12 months" dump. Yay! I wonder if Flying Nun would do that. Hmm. More seriously, I think I might make a list this year of the sites I particularly value and see if I can donate, say, $50 to each of them.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1223 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Deborah,

    I do actually think it's unfair to compare Silver's venture with Silicon valley broculture though. If you look at the list of hires he shared earlier in the month, the one-third of the editorial team who are women includes some star journalists in very senior roles (including lead blog writer Mona Chalabi, pinched from The Guardian, and NPR's Lisa Chow, who is features editor). It's way better than typical geek culture, straight out of the box.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Indeed. But "clubhouse chemistry", and of the nineteen editorial staff hired so far, only six are women (per the update on the FiveThirtyEight site, which I looked up just now). So yes, better than geek culture in general, but hardly diversity central either. Emily Bell has a point, and I don't think it should be dismissed because of one bad line.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1446 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Take Vox though --- it's a collection of Washington insiders who have been bouncing around various places looking for a home for the past 10 years, and now they don't need institutional backing. I don't think it's a surprise that these people turn out to be kind of a clique.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Deborah,

    So yes, better than geek culture in general, but hardly diversity central either. Emily Bell has a point, and I don’t think it should be dismissed because of one bad line

    The wider point is an important one, but it seems an odd thing to pin on Silver. It would be interesting to compare his start-up senior editorial gender balance with other media organisations. It seems about the same as the Huffington Post’s, ironically – and the jobs at fivethirtyeight are much more interesting and substantial.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Nik Dirga,

    The dismaying thing (to me anyway) is seeing how avidly "mainstream" sites jump all over the Buzzfeed model of "hey, isn't this thing cool?" rather than actually trying to advance the dialogue or educate readers about something more interesting than the fact Lady Gaga got vomited on. There's a place for all of that, but too often we're seeing all newspaper sites fall on the Buzzfeed model of journalism.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I read somewhere that "top X" lists are more enticing when it's an odd number of items. A top 10 sounds too neat, like surely there's been at least one good one left off. If it's, say, a top 11, then it seems like it's a definitive best-of list.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • The Ruminator,

    Good lord. This post caused me to go look at the stable of writers who write for us and that's a very pasty palette staring back.

    Must try harder.

    Also, never let having nothing to say get in the way of saying it loudly and obnoxiously. If you're not adding to the noise then you're just listening*

    *I don't really think that, apologies if we come across that way.

    Since Apr 2013 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to The Ruminator,

    *I don’t really think that, apologies if we come across that way.

    And you know I wasn't talking about you.

    I'm more worried about you guys eating my lunch ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    There is an old saying “follow the money” and in many ways data based journalism offers a point of focus. I like the idea that there is greater analysis of the data in the way that stories are picked and presented on the new 538 site.

    We live in an age where information can be overwhelming and so having some form of data rubric will hopefully produce better quality analysis of the stories out there. A kind of evidence based journalism if it pans out.

    They aim to cover “five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports.”

    And there is a manifesto of sorts called What the Fox Knows

    The only one I’m not interested in is sports and I skipped that on the earlier versions of the site and in the book but 4 out of 5 sounds interesting.

    Anyway the manifesto is well worth reading and I will be following the site to see where it goes on some of these topic areas.

    As Nate says

    "The point is that data journalism isn’t just about using numbers as opposed to words. To be clear, our approach at FiveThirtyEight will be quantitative — there will be plenty of numbers at this site. But using numbers is neither necessary nor sufficient to produce good works of journalism."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 367 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Moz,

    podcastrati

    = high users?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Deborah,

    I am not quite sure what medium.com's model is - "prestigious blog platform"? - or how they get revenue, but they do have some excellent writers.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to linger,

    podcastrati= high users?

    Very Impotent People

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    Nah, top 7. That’s roughly the size of the human memory queue, plus or minus 2. The average random list length that people can recall on one hearing, and say back. You can make it 11, but most people are only going to remember 7.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Content rules! But try convincing ad agencies of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Was this the list length article

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mark Graham,

    Content rules! But try convincing ad agencies of that.

    Oh, quite. The whole thing's a bit depressing.

    One particularly vexing thing at the moment is that some of them think "native content" is some sort of magic incantation that will make rank, unconvincing advertorial something other than what it is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    As difficult as it can be to make a point without first referring to French High Theory and claiming the endorsement of Dr Seuss, I'm not sure you can fairly ask someone's week-old startup to solve the problems of the world as you see them.

    Ezra Klein and Nate Silver are doing something new. The opportunity is open to anyone willing to take the risk.

    political pundit Ezra Klein (with Vox)

    I'm looking forward to seeing what Ezra comes up with. His Wonkblog was a real step forward.

    Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    And I just read this post and all the comment in a FB referrer window. And I _never_ do that!

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to linger,

    podcastrati
    = high users?

    or return alto delete
    or is it delete return alto

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7902 posts Report Reply

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