AJR News Wrap: Meet QuakeBot and Newsbeat
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March 21, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Links to selected media news from the past week.

NO ANALYTICS FOR YOU: Top editors at The Verge said they declined to share detailed site metrics with their reporters, as published in AJR.org’s series of articles this week on the influence of analytics on how news is produced.  “We’re smarter and more authoritative and better, and I don’t think you can measure that in terms of pageviews,” said managing editor Nilay Patel. Another story in the series documented the declining influence of the pageview. Raju Narisetti, senior vice president, strategy, for News Corp, offered his take on Poynter here on how news organizations should integrate analytics into their decision making: “To continue to ignore the reality of being able to see often in real-time and measure and course-correct based on digital engagement data and metrics, is a self-inflicted wound that will see our audiences migrate in big numbers to those upstarts that seem to do this as part of their DNA.”

MEET QUAKEBOT, A SPEEDY ROBOT: The Los Angeles Times published the first account of the earthquake that hit California this week, thanks to a robot reporter named Quakebot. Slate reports that the bot is programmed to grab data from the U.S. Geological Survey about large quakes and slap it into a news article template. Humans then review and publish.

THE TRIBUNE HAS ROBOTS NEWSIES, TOO: The Tribune Company released a mobile app called Newsbeat which AdAge describes as a robot designed to read the news (with help from voice-over artists.) The Trib sees it as a replacement for radio news.

AP IS HIRING REPORTERS: The Associated Press is hiring up to 30 reporters as it seeks to strengthen its coverage of statehouses, NetNewsCheck reports. AP President Gary Pruitt announced the hiring at the Newspaper Association of America’s conference in Denver.

INSIDE BUSINESS INSIDER: Michael Wolff, writing in USA Today, says Business Insider recently raised another $12 million and had 25.4 million visitors in January, but found no buyers when it offered itself for sale. “The meaning and value of large digital audiences is unclear,” he concludes. The Business Insider offers a response.

WASHPOST GIVES FREE DIGITAL ACCESS TO OTHER PAPERS: The Washington Post is partnering with half a dozen local newspapers to give their readers full, free access to the Post’s digital news products, which normally cost $99 a year. Bloomberg News reports that the Post is seeking to grow its shrinking circulation and is not charging the local newspapers for the deal.

DATA GRAMMAR POLICE CONSULT TWITTER: Editors at the new FiveThirtyEight erupt into a friendly argument over whether to say “data is” or “data are” and turn to Twitter to see what their followers think. The data is in from Twitter, where people overwhelmingly favored “is.” In case you’re wondering if it matters, USA Today notes data-driven journalism is on the rise.

BITCOIN REBUTTAL: Dorian Nakamoto has retained a lawyer and issued a statement disputing a story by Newsweek saying he was the creator of the digital currency Bitcoin, according to the Los Angeles Times.

TOP WORDS IN VIRAL HEADLINES: Posting in The Next Web, Kevan Lee analyzes more than 3,000 headlines from two dozen popular sites to find patterns of key words used. Ranking high on the list were question words like “what” and “how.”

PEOPLE STILL READ SERIOUS NEWS: At least that’s the finding of a new study from the Media Insight Project, which reported that 9 out of 10 people “enjoy keeping up with the news,” according to the Associated Press. So what does that mean? The Washington Post has a hilarious table that breaks down what people say and what they really mean when they are talking about their news consumption.

WHY COPY EDITORS WERE SHOCKED THIS WEEK:  The AP said it is now acceptable to say “over” in reference to greater numerical value, as well as the previously acceptable “more than.” Copy editors audibly gasped at this change, reports The Atlantic.

This post includes contributions from Leslie Walker and Lisa Rossi.

CORRECTION: The last news item has been updated to correct a typo (not instead of now.)  AP declared both “over” and “more than” to be acceptable now in reference to greater numerical value.


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