Tag Archives: Buzzfeed

What Has Become of Business Journalism?

The New Yorker published my essay about the financial crisis and business journalism; I review a new book that talks about these issues.

“The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark” doesn’t attempt to enshrine old-media institutions. Instead, it defines accountability reporting and what’s needed to foster it, no matter the medium: resources, to fund extensive research; expert knowledge, to decipher sub-cultures; and resilient editors willing to withstand intimidation from the government and from powerful companies. Starkman’s strength is his insistence that we judge journalism from within its own tradition rather than jamming it through the logic of market efficiency or “disruptive” information technology and accepting what comes out.

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The Power Of Black Twitter

When Juror B37 of the George Zimmerman trial gestured toward a book deal chronicling her and her husband’s life during jury service, a vocal segment of Twitter users erupted in protest. (Their argument being the writer would essentially profit from grave injustice and loss of life.) The publisher, feeling the pressure, nixed the book deal. Shani O. Hilton of BuzzFeed writes about the powerful influence of what she calls “Black Twitter,” –the thousands of highly active black twitter users who like to talk about race and current events and, as this episode indicates, are at the cutting edge of Web culture.

Last night Black Twitter killed a George Zimmerman trial juror’s book deal. But that’s not a surprise: The hive has become a swarm. It’s diffuse, powerful, and all around you.

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Native ads and content marketing are here to stay

At PandoDaily Shane Snow discusses the rise of native advertisement and the explosion in content marketing.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a similar trend happening in a well-known and well-tested marketing channel, now dressed up in new clothes and offering new opportunities. Folks call it native advertising or content marketing. The advertising trade press can’t get enough of it. All the old-school SEO companies are desperately trying to cash in on the wave, and virtually every media company with a digital presence is exploring (or actively running) sponsored content programs. Shoot, Marissa Mayer just paid a billion dollars for a company in which native ads are the main revenue opportunity.

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Instant Messaging Rules The Internet

“If you strip away the flashy interfaces, expensive ad campaigns, and layers of hype, you’ll notice that for the past 15 years, the dominant unit of social technology has remained virtually unchanged: Today, as was the case in the ’90s, instant messaging is still king,” writes Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed.

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Twitter’s New Platform

Last year I posted about Twitter’s development from a sparse messaging service to a mixed media circus. John Herrman of BuzzFeed picks up on the company’s evolution (tweet attachments, video, product links) and notes the great shift Twitter has taken:

“The tweet, in other words, is Twitter’s new platform. The old platform was about getting people to use Twitter. The new one is about making money from them.”

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Google Search or a Pinterest One?

Ashley McCollum of BuzzFeed makes a clever observation. When a user searches for a word on Google and then types in that same query on Pinterest, the difference in results reveals the limitations of Google’s internal logic.

Searching “stripes” on Pinterest, for example, brings up striped clothing, fabric, and art design:

“Stripes” on Google spits this out:

McCollum goes on to list 9 more comparisons and the contrast is demonstrated in each instance. Where Pinterest recalls fashion, art, and conceptual abstraction, Google retrieves products, names and hyper-literalness. (When she types in “California” we get pins of beaches and forests and skimpy clothes; Google instead delivers maps and pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.)

From Google’s perspective, this is a rather silly and unfair analysis. The search colossus stores and catalogs the entire Internet, whereas Pinterest caters to sartorialists, designers, and artists. That Google’s searches are too obvious or mechanical or archetypal, as compared to Pinterest, is not so much criticism as it is a difference in intended user experience.

Even so, I find McCollum’s argument compelling. She grasps towards the point that certain kinds of computer driven algorithms are severely limited. And that a more curatorial approach to search has obvious advantages.

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The Disruptive Potential Of Native Ads

Felix Salmon of Reuters discusses a magazine article on the new industry of native advertising. On websites, traditional marketing takes place through banner ads: annoying blocks of text that flash or blink, peddling some terrible product. We view them as intrusive. And we have learned to ignore them.

On sites like BuzzFeed however, native or sponsored ads are used. This is where ads are created to resemble real news articles or fun lists. The sponsored ads mirror the content of the websites that they are placed on.

(Ethical dilemmas have been raised about this kind of marketing, though. For example, while BuzzFeed clearly marks their sponsored ads as such, letting the reader know that this is, in fact, an add, more strictly journalistic or “serious” content sites risk confusing their readers. This is exactly what happened to The Atlantic when they ran a native ad for the Church of Scientology that read like a news article.)

Salmon argues that native ads on the Web are just like good TV commercials (the kind we hunger for during the Super Bowl.) They tell a story, and we want to share them. They work for the networks who air them, the brands who sell them, and the audience who views them.

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