April 16, 2014 in its infancy

By ChinLin Pan

Vox Media, an online publisher for the sports blogs SB Nation, technology news site The Verge, and video gaming site Polygon, launched its news site on April 6. Jim Bankoff, CEO and chairman of Vox Media, spoke at the 15th International Symposium on Online Journalism on April 4 about the media company’s goals with and about the evolution of online media.

Behind the conception of are Ezra Klein, former Washington Post blogger and columnist, and executive editors Melissa Bell and Matt Yglesias. is not just another source of information to the public. According to USA Today, Klein and Vox Media released details on their plans for last month, “promising readers news stories packaged with contextual information and graphics” so readers can better digest news.

April 9, 2014

Mobile media- the death of print? Alaska may give us hope.

By: Miku Khezri

On April 7th, Alaska Dispatch, an award-winning online news source announced that it would be buying Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s longtime print publication. The Anchorage Daily News was sold for $34 million.

Alaska Dispatch was founded in 2008 by journalist, Tony Hopfinger. Former chief financial officer of U.S. News and World Report Alice Rogoff became a majority owner in 2009 and the online news source experienced huge growth. The news site was founded just 6 years ago, displaying quite a gap in age in comparison to the Anchorage Daily News that was founded 68 years ago.
Anchorage Daily News was founded in 1946 by Norman C. Brown, however, there was an ownership change when The McClatchy Company took ownership in 1979. Since then, this print source has been the most widely read newspaper in Alaska to date.

But in a world of ever-evolving and ever-emerging mobile technology, what interest will this merger provide for Alaska Dispatch?

“Alaska is one of those unusual places where community-based newspapers in print are still a business model that readers and advertisers care about” said Rogoff-- a statement that must be foreign to the millennial generation.

Rogoff’s main incentive in combining forces came with the desire to expand coverage and audience in Alaska.

So did the Anchorage Daily News see this coming? Was it a plan brewing secretly under the public’s noses?

It turns out that McClatchy President and CEO, Pat Talamantes, did not foresee the recent merger either.

“We weren’t looking to sell the Daily News, but after Alaska Dispatch Publishing approached us, we saw advantages to local ownership in this case and the opportunities for consolidation that would strengthen both news organizations.” 

The survival of the Anchorage Daily News throughout the years, in itself is impressive, in an age where the industry of print is slowly dying. But it seems that the survival of the Daily News is no coincidence. The publication received two Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service in 1976 and 1989.

“We look forward to working with the talented team at the Daily News to build its future.” said Rogoff in moving forward.

Although both Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News are both hopeful about the merger, it is still something that will take time getting used to for McClatchy company chairman, Kevin McClatchy.

“This is a bittersweet moment for all of us at McClatchy. We are extremely proud of the Daily News and its employees, their exceptional service to Alaska’s diverse communities and all of their contributions to McClatchy over the years. However, this sale not only makes sense from a local ownership perspective, but it allows McClatchy to focus more resources on accelerating our digital transformation to better serve our communities.

However, there are individuals that are not so optimistic, such as writer of the New York Times, Leslie Kaufman, who described this as “one more wave of investments by millionaires into the faltering newspaper business,” referring to recent take overs such as Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos purchasing The Washington Post and the owner of Boston Red Sox, John Henry, purchasing The Boston Globe.

The transaction of the two companies’ merger is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of 2014. Although Anchorage Daily News has proven resistance through the mobile movement so far, only time will tell it if will continue to do so. However, this gives an inkling of hope to those at home still clutching their newspapers.

Former Flipboard designer launches new writing platform

By Alyssa Brant

Craig Mod, former Flipboard designer, and Co-Founder Chris Palmieri, opened their website, Hi, to the public at the end of March. Mod believes that there is still a need for truly networked storytelling, and Hi is a platform that will provide just that.

The name Hi comes from an online Japanese publication that the creators drew inspiration from called Hitotoki. The word is a noun and is comprised of two components: hito (“one”) and toki (“time”), and is often translated as “moment” in English. In common usage, it describes any brief, singular stretch of time, and that is what the founders wanted to encapsulate.

Hi claims to be the “simplest way to capture, write, and publish” stories as they unfold. By using a smartphone, a writer creates a “sketch,” which is a photograph or snippet of text as a moment is happening. The writer can then return to these “sketches” and expand on them, whether it happens to be a 500 or 5,000 word story. The editing interface is optimized for long-form writing, and the writer never has to worry about losing their work because Hi will auto-save drafts until the story is ready to be published. Readers can also subscribe to anyone who posts and automatically receive updates when a new story is uploaded.

Will sports owners soon own the news?

By Jared Wynne

Journalism is in a state of flux. Traditional businesses models in the industry have proven inadequate as the Internet age has fully commenced, and owners of some of the nation's largest newspapers are looking to hand off the baton. Could it now be that the group most likely to take the reigns is defined in their place in the world of sports?

Newspapers and sports are by no means foreign to one another. Reporting on sports has long been a staple of newspapers in America. Many readers would be quick to discard the paper shell that ensconced the sports section, eager to indulge their very specific interest in the news of day.

Questions have been raised in the past about the close relationship between newspapers and the sports world. Such questions speak to a larger issue, one that goes well beyond sports. How can a journalistic entity fairly and effectively cover another entity occupying a position on the same payroll? Does this represent a fundamental conflict of interest?

April 4, 2014

Facebook acquires Whatsapp with hopes to eventually expand the Internet and communication

By Alyssa Brant

During his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 24, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced Facebook’s acquirement of the popular messaging app, Whatsapp.

Whatsapp Messenger is a mobile messaging app created in 2009 that allows you to send messages without having to pay for Short Message Service, or SMS. This has become very useful for keeping in contact with people internationally because it eliminates the expensive rates SMS by utilizing the Internet. Features include basic messaging, group messaging, sending photos and videos and sharing a user’s location.

This purchase was not cheap. After a combination of cash and stock value, Facebook spent a total of $19 billion to acquire this fast growing start up. After buying Instagram two years ago for only $1 billion, and according to the Neiman Foundation at Harvard, many are skeptical about the incentive Facebook had in investing such a large sum of money for such a young app.

Whatsapp does not sell advertising and only charges their users $1 a year. As a result, there is no evident revenue prospect. So what is Facebook interested in?

Whatsapp has a global base of 450 million monthly users, and is adding more than 1 million users each month, according to USA Today’s report on the story. Consequently, skeptics mentioned by the Neiman article, like Buzzfeed’s John Herrman, said it has to do with the basic fear of competition. Om Malik of Gigaom said Facebook is buying a new type of user behavior. Felix Salmon from Reuters said that the reason to buy Whatsapp is purely for its popularity.

But, Zuckerberg sees a larger picture that he explained in Barcelona. He said that both companies have a “shared goal to help connect everyone in the world,” and this will further their initiative to expand the realm of the Internet.

Along with six other founding partners, Facebook is apart of a project, called, to bring the Internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it. USA Today noted that Zuckerberg said Facebook commissioned a report that was able to measure the economic and social value of this connectivity. These were some of the key findings:
  • Extending Internet access would create more than 140 million jobs and lift 160 million people out of poverty. 
  • By giving people access to health care information, child mortality rates could drop by 7 percent and save the lives of 2.5 million people. 
  • Around 640 million children would gain access to cost-effective learning tools and resources.
Information provided by USA Today 

Because the areas in which want to expand have various Internet speeds, Facebook and fellow member Ericsson created the Innovation Lab. This lab will allow developers to test their products in a real world environment that simulates areas where the Internet speed is fairly slow.

Facebook’s development has the potential to change the lives of many people. But what does this mean for the industry of journalism? According to an article posted by The Atlantic, Facebook has way surpassed Google in traffic stats, validating Buzzfeed’s long-term prediction. Search engine optimized (SEO) stories are not a thing anymore because it makes no commercial sense. Social networks are the new search engines for news not only because of the traffic, but also because of the profitability of the attention that sells advertisements.

With the future possibility of a greater number of people using the Internet, journalists will have access to an audience that was previously unreachable. This presents a great opportunity for the industry to expand and redevelop itself. However, these uncharted territories can also potentially create more stress on top of the current responsibility resting on the shoulders of journalists today.