Favourites List : Media innovation

When was the last time you picked up a newspaper? Actually, strike that. That’s so 2009 isn’t it? Apart from bankers (with the FT) and hipsters (with the Observer on Sundays) no one even reads newspapers any more. When was the last time you went to the homepage of a news site?

The homepage is dying… and that’s one of the many interesting findings of the New York Times Innovation report which was leaked last week.

If people aren’t buying newspapers, or visiting the homepage, then how can media houses get people to discover and engage with their content? Traditionally journalists have left the “dirty” work of engaging with readers and driving consumption to the business side of things (along with advertising and sponsorships) which is walled off from editorial.

One of the key takeaways from the report is that this approach is no longer sustainable. While editorial can (and probably should) still be fairly insulated from advertising, writers need to be involved (even before the piece is published) with how their content will be packaged, delivered and publicised.

The Times has been doing interesting things on content packaging recently: last year’s story on refugees attempting to get to Christmas Island was a beautiful piece of long-form immersive multimedia (and much better, in my opinion, than their previous attempt at “snowfalling” which seemed to put form over content).

But to really change the perception among old-school ink-fingered journalists that the Times is a digital-first publication will still need a lot of work. On that note, even if you don’t read the entire Times report (which is 97 pages long after all), the summary by Nieman Lab should be thought provoking for anyone working in the media industry.

Other bits & bobs

#Voxsplaining is now a thing. Here’s a particularly banal example which strikes me as a fairly obvious attempt to get onto a news story without having much to say. Even though I don’t know much about Nigeria, I found the “patient schoolteacher” tone of the explainer grating.

I don’t own a car. I’m a city girl. I haven’t driven in years. I don’t expect these three facts to change any time soon. But, if I did own a car, I think I’d love a Tesla.

Marc Andreessen talks about net neutrality, the damage done (to US tech companies) by the Snowden revelations and bitcoin in a wide-ranging interview. It’s worth reading in full, but his views on net neutrality are interesting–he calls it a lose-lose. Instead, he prefers increasing competition:

So, you can imagine a world in which there are five competitors to every home for broadband: telcos, cable, Google Fiber, mobile carriers and unlicensed spectrum. In that world, net neutrality is a much less central issue, because if you’ve got competition, if one of your providers started to screw with you, you’d just switch to another one of your providers.

It’s a nice idea in theory, but we’ll need to make getting new providers or switching providers far more seamless than it is today.

If, like me, you’ve stared at the rack devoted to women’s magazines in newspaper shops and been annoyed by the sheer profusion of celebrity gossip, fashion mags and cooking tutorials (because that’s all that we do, right?) you might enjoy Libertine. I first came across the magazine on Anjali’s blog and loved the idea. If you’d like to support their campaign, contribute here.

The trailer for Boyhood (by Richard Linklater) looks adorable!

An NGO paired with an ad agency to create a desk cum backpack for school kids in India, which looks brilliant.

Famous landmarks, zoomed out : some of these look even more impressive in their surroundings, while others become mundane – shows you the importance of framing a picture.

And finally, Nutella turns 50!

Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.

– George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone


The Favourites List is a somewhat irregular (usually weekly) roundup of things I’ve enjoyed reading. Expect some fiction, long-form writing, travel, food, technology. I usually link to free content, but occasionally to items behind a paywall (because I think paying for quality content is awesome!).

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