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Reading list: algorithms and the evolution of journalism

Well, the time had to come. Five Safari windows, more than twenty tabs per window. Too much to keep. So, after a cull, here’s a collection of links on the evolving processes, business models and players of journalism. Among other things.

Strictly algorithm: how news find people. Stuart Dredge at The Guardian pens a frankly excellent piece on the importance of those unsung tools that automatically find, select, filter and position information for our attention. Be it the Facebook feeds or any other (hardly a service without a recommendation stream nowadays), what we actually see is increasingly determined by those filters between the content flood and our attention. And they’re not neutral. They embody ideas, criteria and prejudices by the developers. They select what is relevant. Understanding those filters is key, in so many ways (from independent thought to complete information).

What you know about the web is wrong. Never a discrete title, at TIME… but this is a nice piece on the evolution of web measurement. From the fixation on clickthroughs to the relationship between reading and sharing, the attention received, and the real effectiveness of «native advertising» (aka paid advertorials), and even the efficacy of ad placement, the author puts numbers behind hypotheses. Some don’t quite stand the test (and some have been dead dogs for years, too). The only problem is that he fails to prove his own theory about the value of attention. It should be obvious, but it isn’t.

Design is so important. As the OPA tells us, L’Espresso redesigned its web late last year and is seeing an increase of 89% in users and 95% in pages served. It’s not just a matter of restyling but of different use of content (like videos), but all the same, it’s the same materials offered in a different, more usable way. So next time someone questions if it’s worth doing, tell them what can be done.

Berkman Center’s «Internet Monitor 2013» report had some interesting highlights. Not least, the role increasingly played by non-journalists in content creation (and news-creation). The Report decided to be contrarian, which was prescient: that is the direction that the debate seems to have taken in 2014. Either emergent or accurate, but not both, and the editor makes the choice.

Local content, national advertising is a problem, one that few have solved. Simply put, local advertising is not easy to manage (read: not cheap to generate). So examples of how it’s being successfully done should be interesting. This one is. Although it lacks detail.

And this one… well, gives a realistic image.

The circulation of digital newspapers is quite the relevant indicator: as soon as it turns from a drift into a tide, paper will be dead. It’s not yet, definitely. Or wasn’t when these data (last of 2013) came in.


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