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The Journalism Biz


Brazilian community blog up for international award

April 30, 2012

The men and women behind the Brazilian community blog Catraca Livre.

By Cláudia Silva
The Brazilian blog Catraca Livre, which means “Open Turnstile,” is among the finalists
for the best blog in Portuguese presented by The BOBs—Deutsche Welle Blog Awards

Launched by Gilberto Dimenstein, a well-known journalist in Brazil, Catraca Livre is a project of community journalism, which informs people about free services and cultural/entertainment events in São Paulo, the seventh most populous city in the world.

Although Catraca Livre has a special focus on culture, the blog also addresses other free services and bargains, ranging from education to entrepreneurship. The special structure of this project is based on the community. 

Criticizing the president on social media sites does not end well

By Anna Fata
The most clichéd advice out there seems to be “Watch what you post on the Internet," yet time and time again people suffer harsh consequences for offensive online posts.

On April 25, the U.S. Marines discharged Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, on “other-than-honorable” terms for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook.

Other-than-honorable discharges occur for Marines who commit serious offenses such as adultery or drug use. Stein was discharged for saying “Screw Obama” and that he would not follow the president’s orders. He also started a Facebook page called the “Armed Forces Tea Party” which criticizes the president.

Stein describes himself as “a freedom loving Conservative, hell bent on defending the Constitution and preserving America's greatness.”

Better visuals may help newspapers thrive

April 23, 2012

By Grace Sherry
We have all heard of the economic deterioration of the newspaper industry in the United States. Fewer people are subscribing to have newspapers delivered, fewer people are buying newspapers, and news content on the Internet is usually free, drastically reducing revenue for the newspaper owners. 

In 2012, a study showed that for every dollar earned digitally, newspaper companies generally lost seven dollars in traditional advertising. Not only are newspapers losing revenue from a loss of paying subscribers, but also from advertisements. From 2005 to 2009, ad revenue dropped more than 44 percent.

With these dire numbers, it seems inevitable that all newspapers in print will be so in debt that they will have to fold. Aren’t there any newspapers that aren’t failing and having to lay off employees? Turns out, surprise, surprise, there are! Take, for example, The Dubois County Herald. It has a circulation of only 11,300 — 92 percent of adults in Dubois County read it. Since the economic downturn it has had no layoffs and has actually given raises to staff every year. 

Can smartwatches benefit the journalism industry?

By Barbara Audet
This latest buzz-worthy product is the smartwatch and several companies are betting that it will have the potential to impact in the digital market and perhaps the journalism industry.  

On April 18, USA Today Personal Tech columnist Edward Baig offered a critical review of Sony Mobile’s newly launched SmartWatch, retailing for $149.99. The device is meant to work in concert with wireless Bluetooth technology, allowing its wearer to access their Android smartphone from their wrist.

Baig stated that the Sony product “was often an exercise in frustration,” adding that the SmartWatch has potential but its current version is “flawed.”

New Facebook analytics info helps advertisers target specific consumers

By Elizabeth Blancas
Sometimes we see advertisements and it’s creepy to find that they depict our online behavior fairly accurately. Now, Facebook is making it even easier for companies to track our every online move. 

Facebook will make a user’s post-click engagement data available on a column/pie chart via a new feature called “Ads Manager,” according to Mashable. Marketers will now see who shares the company’s content, comments, photo tags, the virtual money spent on their app, any offers redeemed and apps used. This is much more data than the likes, check-ins, and apps installed that was previously available to marketers. 

Even though some of this information is already available on a company’s Insights data, which displays information of “people talking about this” or showing users comments, the improved analytics will give marketers a clearer picture of a user’s ad-based driven action, says ClickZ.

Is it time for business journalism to have its own Pulitzer category?

April 17, 2012

By Kacey Cherry
It may seem like business journalism took a hit on April 16 when the Pulitzer Prize winners for 2012 were announced. Coming from a high of four Pulitzer winners last year, only one made the cut this time around.  

The New York Times journalist David Kocieniewski won in the explanatory reporting category for his piece on the nation’s wealthiest citizens finding loopholes to avoid taxes. His was the sole business news story to win even though there were three other finalists.

What happened? 

Well, honestly nothing. There is no business journalism category in the Pulitzer Prizes and 2011 was simply the exception, not the rule. Last year marked the most impressive display for business journalism with a remarkable five additional finalists that year. According to Business Journalism, there has only been one business journalism Pulitzer winner each year. 

Facebook buys much-needed foothold in the mobile environment with $1 billion purchase of Instagram

April 16, 2012

By Sarah Lindig



It's hard to imagine anyone intimidating the social networking giant Facebook, let alone an 18-month old startup led by a staff of 13. So why is Mark Zuckerberg dishing out $1 billion, Facebook's most expensive purchase to date, to buy the photo-sharing mobile application Instagram?

A few months ago, an article on GigaOM pointed to mobile space as an issue for Facebook. As a free service Facebook relies on revenue from advertisers. Hindered by the limited real estate on phone and tablet screens, it would be nearly impossible to incorporate the standard ads from the desktop site into the layout of the mobile application without compromising aesthetics and ease of use. 

Currently, there aren't any ads present on the site's mobile applications. Pressured by the upwards swing in mobile usage and its IPO, rumored to be launching next month, Facebook has had to find a different way to capture the value of its mobile user base.

Facebook's purchase of Instagram places importance on users' love of photos

By Jordan Bagel
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced April 9 that Facebook will acquire Instagram, a mobile photo-sharing app, for roughly $1 billion in cash and stock.

Instagram, a service founded by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom that has only been around for less than two years, will join its 13-member employee staff with the Facebook team. The San Francisco-based startup makes a photo-sharing app for the iPhone, and most recently the Android, and currently possesses approximately 30 million registered users, according to Business Insider.

"With the deal, Instagram will gain massive design and engineering resources by joining forces with Facebook, a big change after running as a famously lean company with just a handful of employees," TechCrunch reported. However, the deal still enables Instagram to run as an independent service rather than fully integrating into Facebook.

Google News' getting caught by April Fools' prank highlights the risk of relying on algorthims

By Yimou Lee
For those who oppose replacing news editors with Internet algorithms, they now have one more reason to claim that it’s not a good idea. Google News was fooled by an April Fools’ Day prank, relaying the “news” on its top breaking headlines that Republican Mitt Romney had dropped out of the presidential campaign to lend his support to Rick Santorum.

Apparently, the algorithmic aggregator confused the fictional story “Romney Drops Out of Race, Endorses Santorum” from business magazine Forbes for a serious one. Once Forbes spotted the spoof, they quickly pulled it down, with the news story dropped from Google News’ page-view-driving top spot.

But blog Gawker caught a screen shot of the  headline and wrote: “Nowhere did it say this was a prank: although it should be obvious to most, we live in a country where actual people believe Onion headlines.”

Nonprofit group hopes to marry start-ups with young graduates

April 9, 2012

By Allicia Garza
Picture this: You own a start-up business. You want your business to succeed, and you know you need fresh-thinking, hard-working employees but you can't pay a competitive salary. Now imagine if you could get America's top college graduates to commit to growing your business for a mere $35,000 a year. Sounds pretty appealing, right?

That's the thought behind Venture For America (VFA), a nonprofit company that seeks to revive entrepreneurship by placing top college graduates in start-up companies for two years. Modeled after Teach For America, VFA's mission is to improve the start-up culture in America by allowing fledgling companies the opportunity to employ top graduates, as well as training and teaching people how to think like an entrepreneur by immersing them in the start-up culture. 

Launched in September 2011, VFA currently focuses on improving start-ups in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Detroit, Providence and Cincinnati — areas the founders felt were in need. Additionally, companies that want to partner with VFA must focus on a high-potential or high-growth area. Those areas include renewable energy, biotech innovation, information technology, Internet applications, or educational technology. Ultimatelly, VFA is focused on job creation.

More traditional news outlets need to embrace 'serendipity,' a.k.a. Journalism 2.5

By James Whitely
The media environment of today is a violent inversion of the old world order, born of a kulturkampf between stalwarts of the Fourth Estate and node-mentality futurists. The traditionalists haven't lost, they just wear a different color of coat now. 

As we've moved from the strictures of the old guard to an open panoply of choice, however, news consumers have become inundated by the amount of information being thrust at them. Recommender systems like Google News and Trove seek to relieve this burden via filters. To alleviate concerns of overspecialization at the expense of civic-mindedness, these systems inject into the personalized news flow what researchers and media wonks call “serendipity”.

Serendipitous features generally manifest as “Top Stories”, “Editor's Picks” and similar categories intended to expose the reader to both common experiences and dissenting opinion, thereby preserving a function of the Fourth Estate that Cass Sunstein has called the role of “general-interest intermediary."

TaskRabbit's errand service takes off in Austin

April 5, 2012

By Amy Arnold
TaskRabbit is a new online and mobile marketplace that allows people to outsource their errands for a price.

The San Francisco-based website and mobile app is helping people get things done, whether it's hiring someone to pick up groceries or bring an umbrella when it starts to rain.

A common complaint among working individuals is not having enough hours in the day to complete tasks. TaskRabbit attempts to fill this niche by connecting individuals who need errands run to people who need a job or just some extra cash.

The company started as the brainchild of a married couple from Boston, who founded RUNmyErrand.com in 2008. Since then, it's grown and evolved to become TaskRabbit.


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