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Category Archives: Journalism

buzzfeed

Expected Buzzfeed App Indicates Company’s Aim to Move beyond Kittens & Quizzes

I say Buzzfeed, you say…

Amazing photo montages of baby animals?

Lists providing tips for incorporating sriracha sauce into every meal?

How about up-to-the-minute source for hard news?

Buzzfeed originally built its reputation as the go-to site for all things outrageous and adorable. The site’s popularity is undisputed. In 2013, the company reported that the site had received more than 130 million unique visitors during the month of November. Subject matter runs the gamut – as I’m writing this, Helen Mirren, feminist tattoos and drivers’ licenses from New Zealand are all prominently featured on the site’s homepage – and content is updated frequently throughout the day.

But it seems as if Buzzfeed is looking to grow up a bit, so to speak. Last week, Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith announced that the company is in the beginning stages of building a second app that will focus entirely on serious news. This announcement is the latest in a series of gradual moves by Buzzfeed to incorporate more thoughtful journalism into the site’s offerings while staying true to its lighter roots. Over the past year, Buzzfeed has begun to feature more substantive news stories in addition to long-form human interest pieces.

Buzzfeed will likely face a few hurdles in getting its devotees and new visitors to broaden their perception of what type of content the outlet has to offer. What Buzzfeed does have going for it is a built-in audience of millions, the majority of whom already view its content on their mobile devices. In fact, 78 percent of smartphone owners reported having used their phones to access news at least once in the past week, according to a survey by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Buzzfeed’s investment in developing this app is illustrative of the ever-changing landscape of media consumption today – when we’ve seen the quick rise in prominence of and visits to media outlets such as Slate, Salon and Ezra Klein’s Vox.com. While more traditional news outlets still have loyal subscribers and in many cases remain a highly trusted source of hard news, the Media Insight Project also found the majority of Americans across generations now rely on a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week. Additionally, findings indicated that where people go for news actually depends on what topic they’re looking to learn more about – be it sports, weather, domestic politics or global affairs. And Americans remain avid consumers of news in the digital age. A study that we conducted in partnership with GMI Lightspeed this year found that 60 percent of Americans watch or read 3 to 10 news stories every day. These findings suggest that there is certainly still room for Buzzfeed to carve out a space for itself within the realm of more serious reporting.

There isn’t yet a predicted release date for Buzzfeed’s new app. But while you’re waiting – take a look at this little boy and his French bulldog friend.

Read more from Emily Barge
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Why you should be reading (and writing for) Medium

The history of the internet is as much about the evolution of new platforms for self-expression as it about search or e-commerce. From the earliest WordPress blogs, to Facebook, to Twitter and Tumblr, the internet is constantly changing the way we compose, share and discover new content. Perhaps no site has had more influence on the way we write than Twitter, which taught us that thoughts must be 140 characters or less, turned the @ symbol into a beacon and the hashtag into a trend (and meme.)

As the founder of both Blogger and Twitter, Evan “Ev” Williams is directly responsible for much of this evolution, as this New York Times feature lays out. His latest venture, Medium, a blogging and content sharing platform launched in 2012, is yet another foray into reshaping content creation. At two years old Medium is fast winning fans amongst professional and lay writers alike – not to mention tech industry super stars like Elon Musk. Musk’s decision to use Medium to announce a new Tesla Model S feature even prompted TechCrunch to ask “Is the company blog dead?”

As news outlets debate the merits of contributed content, Medium is decidedly democratic – a place where anyone can share their thoughts, stories or opinions. It’s (as Williams puts it): “a level playing field that encourages ideas that come from anywhere.” And that playing field now gets over 13 MILLION unique visitors a month (according the New York Times).

So, what’s fueling Medium’s growth?

First off, it’s pretty. Check out this very blog post on Medium (how meta). I’m no blogging genius and far from a designer, laying out this post is designed to be incredibly intuitive. Medium’s bold and simple layout means that it does not take a user experience designer to publish a professional story.

It makes sharing easy. Medium combines “algorithmic and editorial curation,” to share posts with other readers based on topic interest and engagement. This means that it’s not just name recognition that gets you eyeballs, but the merit of the content within. Much as a tweet can go viral, so too can a Medium post. While Twitter lets you see what’s trending in real time, Medium offers a list of the recent top 100 posts. June’s top stories reveal the breadth of writing experience on display: an entrepreneur’s tale of her company’s failure ranks just ahead of a freelance New York Times Magazine writer’s examination of Britney Spears as feminist icon.

It’s getting serious.  As more journalists, freelance writers and want-to-be’s flock to Medium, the site is making its own transition towards more traditional media. In June, Medium announced they’d hired Steven Levy, a former senior writer for Wired and chief technology writer and senior editor at Newsweek, as the editor in chief of their new technology site. Naturally, Levy took to Medium to share the news himself:

“One of the things that I love about Medium is its commitment to experimentation, one that I fully embrace. So a precise description of what this new venture is going to eventually become is gleefully elusive. But I can tell you this—it will feature not only my own best writing but the work of contributors who share my belief in deeply reported, colorfully rendered stories in and around the tech explosion. We will also draw on some of the amazing contributions that are already flowing into Medium—not only professional writers but also smart people chiming in spontaneously—and bring in outside voices of authority who will express their concerns, share their thoughts, and generally provoke our readers.”

So, what does this news mean for you? While the exact shape of this new venture should become clearer in the coming months, right now entrepreneurs and thought leaders have a huge opportunity to get in front of Medium’s growing technology audience by publishing their news, ideas and opinions on the platform. What are you waiting for?

Read more from Lee Glandorf
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PR Newswire Takes a Stand Against Bad Content

In our world, content is king. It’s our currency, our bread and butter. That’s why we’re constantly talking about the importance of good content. Perhaps a consequence of extreme availability and numerous channels for sharing, there is so much content out there that it isn’t always quality. In any case, individuals and businesses have endless means of sharing their point of view – tweets and other social posts, blogs, press releases, bylined articles and visual/video assets. It’s inevitable that some content will sneak into your Twitter feed or email and it’ll be a waste of your time to read, view or watch.

InkHouse Principal Beth Monaghan recently shared her opinion on bad content through sharing the news that Gigaom changed its policy on guests posts. She said, “The problem and the opportunity is that there are so many places to offer these great ideas that more people are getting into the game. Content draws eyeballs, which can create leads so we have lots of content in search of stardom through native advertising, guest posts, Op-Eds, Medium, LinkedIn Publishing and more.”

Like Gigaom, PR Newswire is also taking a stand against bad content. Last week, the newswire revealed its updated guidelines for which content will be reviewed prior to distribution. What are they looking for? Insightful analysis, original information, minimal and appropriate link usage and the table stakes (release length and format). And what can you do to make sure you comply with these guidelines? Please note – whether you use PR Newswire or another release distribution service, this advice reigns true for all. Follow these tips to ensure you’re part of the quality content movement.

When putting out a news release, consider what it is you’re really saying – is it newsworthy? Is it timely and/or something that will be beneficial for your customers, partners, employees and target media to take the time to read, react to and possibly share? If you start with that question, the rest will fall into place. A few tips to follow once you’ve deemed your announcement worthy of consumption:

  • Tell a story. Make it easy for all readers to put together what you’re saying – what the news is, why it’s important and what it means. The facts alone do not make a story.
  • Strategically place links in releases, i.e. to company homepages, product pages, recent reports and blog posts. Use SEO keywords to link to relevant content, but refrain from overkill.
  • Say what needs to be said, leave the fluff and jargon at home.
  • Follow AP style. Just please.
  • If you’re having trouble writing something compelling, refer to InkHouse VP John McElhenny’s seven tips for good writing.
  • Incorporate visual assets where you can. Move beyond text. Include infographics, images, charts or videos to support your news.

PR Newswire is standing up to bad content in an effort to uphold its responsibility to the more than 30,000 journalists, 10,000 websites and various newsrooms that it serves as a resource to. We applaud them for this move and will do our part by continuing to develop and support quality content to drive forth the effort against bad content.

Read more from admin
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Should Online and Mobile News be Free?

Survey says: Yes! Earlier this year InkHouse teamed up with GMI Lightspeed to survey of 1,000 Americans ages 18+. We discovered that only 10% of Americans pay for an online subscription.

In fact, Americans still value print subscriptions. Just over half (56%) pay for one. Of those, local newspapers are most popular (68%), with special interest magazines (e.g. cooking, pets, etc.) coming in second (41%), and an almost three-way tie for third between national newspapers, news magazines and women’s/men’s magazines).

We are not willing to transfer that affinity for news to online and mobile just yet. Eighty-six percentof respondents believe that mobile and online news should be free, and only 10% pay for an online subscription. Men are more willing to pay than women: 15% versus 5%. Directionally, this trend seems to have staying power. Of the younger demographics, 90% of those 18 to 24 and 94% of those 25 to 34, expect news to be free.

What does this mean? Newsrooms are still hurting as they transform their business models (read more in The Opportunity for PR in the State of the News Media). PR programs with journalistic content can help fill the gap. Top media properties are accepting contributed content in the form of articles, graphics and video. And many are introducing native advertising into the mix as well (Outbrain and Taboola are growing quickly for good reason).

You can view the full survey results in our ebook, Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News.

 

Read more from Beth Monaghan
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Eleven Associated Press Style Tips for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

With São Paolo, Brazil, in the world spotlight, writers will be kicking around edits to achieve top content.

The Associated Press has published its topical guide for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, compiling essential terms, spelling and usage for the month-long competition. Concluding Sunday, July 13, the international men’s football tournament features 32 teams – all seeking the gold FIFA World Cup Trophy – across 12 venues in 12 cities.

While watching Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo complain on field or USA’s John Brooks net game-winning goals, writers can incorporate AP’s World Cup guidelines:

  • 4-2-3-1 formation: The typical line-up of a modern-day soccer team, with four defenders, two deep midfielders, three attacking midfielders and one forward.
  • backpass: A pass that a player makes back toward his own goal, to the goalkeeper on his team. The goalkeeper is unable to pick up the ball if the pass comes from the player’s foot.
  • football: Preferred term for soccer internationally.
  • hand ball: A foul awarded when a player deliberately touches the ball with his hand or any part of his arm.
  • hospital pass: A pass to a player who will be heavily tackled by an opponent upon receiving it.
  • parking the bus: A phrase used by coaches in the English Premier League – and some elsewhere – to describe how a team packs its defense to protect a lead of a draw. It can often involve using all 10 outfield players as defenders.
  • red card: Issued to a player who commits a serious foul or who has been issued two yellow cards in the same game. The player must leave the field and cannot be replaced.
  • throw-in: When a player restarts play by throwing the ball back onto the pitch from its perimeter. The player must keep both feet on the ground and have both hands behind his head as he throws the ball.
  • wall: A line of defensive players protecting the team’s goalkeeper at a free kick.
  • World Cup: Not World Cup Finals.
  • zonal marking: A system of defending at corners where players from the defensive team mark areas rather than opposition players; an alternative to man-to-man marking.

To score goals in mastering written style, learn when it’s appropriate to use more than or over and study hard-to-remember rules.

Read more from Steve Vittorioso
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On Bad Content & Why GigaOm Changed its Guest Post Policy

A Checklist for Your Contributed Content

GigaOm decided to limit guest posts and I understand why. Late last month, Tom Krazit explained why in his piece, We’re updating our policies toward guest posts on GigaOm. Here’s why. The main reason: bad content.

There is only one thing to say about this from a PR standpoint – garbage in, garbage out. Yes, PR people are likely going to help shape the content. This is not new, or news. While some have decried this ghost-writing trend, the practice has been around as long as thoughtful people have been writing and speaking in public. In fact, we revere the speechwriters who crafted the memorable words we quote from presidents like JFK. We accept that not all influencers are great writers (even Sheryl Sandberg had a co-writer for Lean In – her name is Nell Scovell).

PR people are often the conduit for ideas. We help translate complex concepts into stories that are accessible to a broader audience. And yes, we should do a better job at parsing the good from the bad. I want to side with PR people, because I am one, and a proud one. But I also get it. I don’t own a media property and even I get pitched on guest post topics for the InkHouse blog that have nothing to do with PR or content marketing.

The problem and the opportunity is that there are so many places to offer these great ideas that more people are getting into the game. Content draws eyeballs, which can create leads so we have lots of content in search of stardom through native advertising, guest posts, Op-Eds, Medium, LinkedIn Publishing and more.

This rush of content will eventually ebb, and as we’re seeing with GigaOm, the best will rise to the top. It begs an important question for PR people and our clients: what is good content in the age when everyone is an expert and anyone can publish? This is the issue that compelled GigaOm to change its policy.

Before you pitch a contributed piece, consider these questions:

  • Is your idea original? Is it your idea? You need to be passionate about the idea or else no one else will. Authenticity shines through interpersonal relationships and it’s no different between an author and a reader. The reader absorbs the author’s state of mind.
  • Is the topic relevant to the industry conversation? If yes, why? Is it a unique perspective or is it the same as everyone else’s point of view?
  • Is your topic timely? If it’s related to news, make sure it’s today’s news, not last week’s or last month’s.
  • Is your content promotional? Does it include verbiage about your products and services? Does it include links back to your product pages and sales teams? Does it include your favorite company buzzwords that have lost their meaning through over use (“best-of-breed” and “leading edge” are red flags)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, no respectable media outlet will run the piece.
  • Is it well written? We’re not all natural writers, and many great thinkers need the support of great writers. Enter good PR people!

The same timeless basics of good PR apply to contributed content. Make it thoughtful. Make it relevant. Make it unique. Make it good.

Read more from Beth Monaghan
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Tough Media: Five obstacles to getting coverage (and how to overcome them)

Last weekend, I participated in the Tough Mudder, notoriously known as “the toughest event on the planet.” As I ran up and down the Green Mountains of Vermont, climbing walls, swimming through ice water, and running through high-voltage wires, all while knee-deep in mud, I came to realize that I (perhaps foolishly) enjoy a great challenge – and that doesn’t stop at my extracurricular activities, but spills into my career as a PR professional as well.

While one of the main objectives of a career in PR is to obtain media coverage for clients, that isn’t always an easy task.

Here are five things that will help any PR person overcome the obstacle of getting media coverage:

  1. News hook: According to Beth Monaghan, there are two ways to get media coverage – make your own news or find a way to hook onto current news. If you can tie your story idea to a timely topic already making headlines, it is more likely to catch a reporter’s attention and fit into something they are already working on.
  2. Build relationships: Reporters are more likely to trust resources who have helped them out in the past. With shrinking staffs, they are strapped for time, often writing upwards of five stories a day. They don’t have time to read emails promoting ideas that have nothing to do with their coverage areas. If you are looking to obtain coverage with a specific reporter, it is essential to get to know them. While this used to happen over lunch and coffee, we are now reliant on the seldom phone call and Twitter, which my colleague Samantha McGarry points out is a “huge and untapped asset for building relationships with reporters.” If you are smart, knowledgeable, and helpful the first time you interact with a journalist, it is highly likely they will come back to you again.
  3. Spokesperson: Have a spokesperson that is readily available. That means if the reporter is available in an hour, so is the spokesperson. Reporters are working on very tight deadlines, so you are more likely to get coverage if you are available when they are. Also, make sure the spokesperson is up to speed on all messaging and talking points. Most times, they can end up crafting the story you want to tell during the interview if they are prepared ahead of time. For additional advice on navigating the media interview, check out Beth Monaghan’s tips on how to get quoted as you intend.
  4. Supporting materials: Journalists aren’t going to buy into a story just because you are selling it. Having supporting data and infographics validates the story and helps reporters do their job by providing ready-made visuals. As my colleague Lee Glandorf pointed out in a previous post, an editor will need visual elements when it’s time to publish, so get ahead of them by offering compelling visuals to craft the content around.
  5. Call to action: Make sure you are clear about what you are asking the reporter to do. Do you have a new story idea you’d like them to consider? Would you like to schedule a meeting with one of your executives? Or do you want to provide a new perspective on a story they’ve already written? A pitch with a clear call to action is more likely to achieve the end result you are looking for.

So while (thankfully) pitching the media results in less bruises, in many ways it requires the same skills necessary complete the Tough Mudder course – grit, resilience, and a team stacked with the right tools to get the job done.

Read more from Kristen Raymaakers
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Have You Heard the One about Telling Stories?

Words of wisdom have been shared with students all month, as commencement speakers  joked, advised and were inexplicably mad on campuses across the nation. We had our own special guest at InkHouse yesterday when Ron Miller, TechCrunch’s new enterprise reporter, stopped by our offices to give some insight into what he is looking for in his new role and some best practices to help us PR folks graduate from a pitch to an actual story for our clients.

Ron is certainly a familiar face to anyone who has enterprise clients. He has been a tech writer since 1988 and you may remember him from such publications as EContent, CITEWorld and FierceContentManagement.

It came as no surprise when asked to weigh in on the age-old debate of exclusive vs. embargo that Ron said exclusives are preferred. The conversation regarding this outreach strategy is one we’ve covered in depth here at InkHouse and the battle will continue to wage on as the news cycle speeds up but the appetite for in-depth reporting does not diminish. Ron shared that he does honor embargoes, however, with a pretty solid track record of only breaking an embargo once (and he assured us it was completely by accident).

However, the notions of embargoes and exclusives are inextricably tied to news announcements and that’s not necessarily what will get you time on Ron’s calendar. The story that will get Ron to open your email is just that, a story.

Dig if you will a story Ron recently posted on open APIs fueling the cloud ecosystem. It was the result of (and these are Ron’s words) a “mish mash” of companies, angles, and issues he was able to connect to explain a trend in the enterprise cloud space. It’s not about highlighting one particular technology, but informing his readers of a complex issue that they care about and may be facing in their own jobs. He seeks to uncover a niche that hasn’t been covered before, or put together things that at first glance shouldn’t go together at all but which reveal something interesting and valuable. His approach is simple: write something he would want to read.

As for us folks on the other side of the news cycle (often called “The Dark Side”), it of course remains important to send along relevant news such as funding, M&A, and the like, but we need to help connect these dots into larger stories instead of blips on a company timeline.

We truly appreciated Ron taking the time to stop by our offices yesterday. It was an incredibly valuable conversation as we all try to be assets to our clients and reporters alike, figuring out the non-scientific, and often complicated, art of storytelling.

Read more from Lisa Mokaba
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Fivethirtyeight adds up to engaging data journalism

Last week I looked at Vox and Quartz as examples of new approaches to journalism. At the time I’d considered adding fivethirtyeight to the mix but didn’t have the time or wherewithal. I do today and think it warrants attention. Here’s why:

The rise of data has impacted so many aspects of our digital lives and news is no exception. Nate Silver has been banging the data drum for years and in a series of increasingly interesting ways: from poker to PECOTA to politics. He has traveled from the original 538 blog to the New York Times and now to the current iteration of fivethirtyeight.com. Silver has recognized that, viewed through the right lens, data can reveal all kinds of interesting stories.

While Silver’s past efforts have focused on the fairly narrow areas of inquiry listed above, the staff fivethirtyeight covers a much broader range of topics. Rather than editorializing, they cover these various topics thoroughly and largely dispassionately, allowing the data to tell the story. That the stories are rooted in data doesn’t mean they are dry or humorless. In fact, several recent articles are whimsical (one on how American’s prefer their steak comes to mind, and the reporter’s rather futile effort to equate these preferences with risk-taking behaviors).

Fivethirtyeight is unique among the news sites I’ve been looking at recently. While Vox provides no means of reader engagement (via comments) and Quartz offers strong in-line commenting features, fivethirtyeight goes farther. In the steak story mentioned above, Matt Hickey actually provides a link to the dataset and even invites readers to fool around with it to see what they can find. It’s a pretty cool idea and one that could help people think more critically about the data the media is serving up.

Interestingly, as I sat down to write this post, I searched around the topic of data journalism and found a column critical of the approach in Business Insider. The piece, “Why Normal People Don’t Trust Data Journalism” by Milo Yiannopoulos, made a few interesting – if dubious – points.

The first was simply that this approach to journalism isn’t “resonating with the public.” Why? Because is boring, “written by boring people and covering boring topics,” according to Yiannopoulos. The lack of “novelty, controversy, celebrity and sex” is cited as being a big part of the problem.

I suppose it depends on how you view each of those criteria. Certainly the story that appeared yesterday, “Same Sex Couples Settle Down More Often in States that Welcome Them,” implies sex and the topic is controversial to some. It is true that it is presented in staid and measured terms but that’s okay with me.

Yiannopoulos goes on to say that the subjects covered by data journalism are “wonkish and obscure.” A quick scan of the front page of fivethirtyeight seems to fly in the face of this claim. In addition to the story on same sex couples it includes multiple stories on the NBA, Ukraine and the death penalty. All seem to have at least some potential interest for general news consumers.

Another criticism is that the primary purveyors of data journalism represent one side of the political divide and approach stories with a liberal bent. Not having read enough coverage to be able to say with certainty whether this claim is true or not, all I can suggest is that when facts come into play it’s possible they don’t support conservative positions. If that isn’t true I hope that those on the right will begin providing their own data journalism outlets and also encourage readers to access and interpret the data for themselves.

One final note. For Yiannopoulos’ claim that people aren’t engaged or interested in data journalism, it is interesting to see that his story has received only two comments (both critical) since it was posted on May 16th. The fiverthirtyeight story on steaks – posted later that same day – has received more than 70. That’s scant data to work from but it would seem to support the idea that data journalism can connect with readers.

In time one hopes that as people become more comfortable with data playing a storytelling role fiverthirtyeight and similar outlets will simply be recognized for what they are: good journalism.

Read more from Greg Peverill-Conti
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Vox and Quartz: Two faces of new journalism

For all the handwringing about the state of the news business, there is a ton going on that is really exciting. Yes, it’s taken a while for the industry to get its sea legs (a process that isn’t going to stop any time soon) but there are plenty of interesting things happening. Two outlets that I have been relying on more and more are Quartz and Vox. They take very different approaches to presenting information.

Vox attempts to make complex issues digestible with plenty of charts and graphs and bite-sized data served in the form of “cards” that address specific questions related to a topic. It’s a nice approach. Vox makes it easy to share its stories and cards through the various social channels. What Vox doesn’t allow you to do is ask questions or post questions. The site presents itself as helping readers understand the news, but without the ability for readers to engage that understanding is limited to what the editors believe it should be.

This morning as I read “The Crisis in Nigeria, in 11 Maps and Charts” I had questions. Three of the 11 charts and maps confused me. One illustrates how Boco Haram attacks occur primarily in northeast Nigeria. That map was pretty straightforward. Subsequent charts went on to explain some of the facts behind the story, including the concentration of wealth, vaccination rates and female literacy in the different states.

What struck me was that the factors deemed to be behind the rise of Boco Haram seemed to be worse in the northwest of the country, where there are relatively fewer attacks. Why? The is no exploration beyond the charts and graphs, which, one presumes, are meant to speak for themselves. The information opens itself to dialog but Vox keeps that door closed. It offers an interpretation of the news but doesn’t allow readers to engage. That’s disappointing.

I still value Vox though and think they do a good job of distilling information. I just wish they’d allow readers to get into the mix.

On the other side of the coin is Quartz. Quartz takes a more traditional approach to reporting with text-centric stories by reporters and editors who are writing from areas of interest. This is a good thing. There are news briefs but for the most part these are mid-form stories. Stories frequently reflect the author’s perspective on the news. Comparing Quartz coverage of Boco Haram with that of Vox illustrates this point.

In “What’s really behind Nigeria’ kidnapped girls: a really weak president,” Frankie Edozian takes Goodluck Jonathan and his administration to task. Broken promises, clueless responses, embezzled funds, slow reactions to problems and conspicuous consumption have all created a situation where Africa’s largest economy has increasingly slipped into chaos.

That chaos is fanned and fomented, argues Edozian, by Boco Haram, which is able to take advantage of Jonathan’s weakness to advance their own ends. To the initial list of problems with the Jonathan administration Edozian adds the incredibly inept response to the case of the kidnapped schoolgirls. He makes a compelling case and links out to stories that support his points. It’s a solid and persuasive story.

It’s also a story (as are all on Quartz) that invites reader participation. Quartz allows readers to annotate every paragraph in a story. One can add questions or comments and engage with other readers as well. This isn’t a new idea but Quartz is among the first mainstream news sites to take this approach.

Making it available and having people take advantage of it are two different things and so far I’ve not seen any reader annotations. Just as the news industry is getting used to experimenting with different models and formats, so too are readers. There are interesting things being done in the area of online annotation and with time more people will take advantage of it.

User adoption aside, Quartz is making room for readers to share their perspectives and that is a welcome development. Vox, by contrast, is working hard to distill and interpret and explain events to make the news clearer. Both approaches have their merits. My hope is that the Quartz annotation model will be adopted by more outlets, and that more outlets will also attempt to break down the news into more easily understood formats. Marrying the two approaches would be an exciting step for how people consume and engage with information that matters.

Read more from Greg Peverill-Conti
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Two Shocking Associated Press Stylebook Updates: ‘Over’ and State Names

The Associated Press has shaken the world of journalism by amending two distinct style entries, igniting uproar from writers, reporters and communications professionals.

As the de facto guide to news writing prepares its 2014 update this spring, the stylebook unleashed two controversial edits that brought years of following rules and explanations to a screeching halt. “Over” is now OK to use in place of “more than” in references to quantity, and state names now warrant full spelling in copy.

“We decided on the change because it has become common usage,” said AP Stylebook Editor Darrell Christian in published reports. “We’re not dictating that people use ‘over’ – only that they may use it as well as ‘more than’ to indicate greater numerical value.”

After memorizing 42 state abbreviations and knowing which eight states forgo truncations, writers need not to explain why it’s Mass. in news and MA on envelopes.

“Effective May 1, the AP will spell out state names in the body of stories. You will still use abbreviations in datelines, photo captions, lists, etc.,” the AP said in a wire statement.

The change has been made for consistency in style for domestic and international stories because global articles have long spelled out state names in the copy.

The AP is no stranger to creating drama that extends beyond the stylebook. In 2013, the guide nixed using “illegal immigrant” in copy and merged “underway” as one word. In 2012, editors allowed writers to use “hopefully” as a floating sentence adverb, as in “Hopefully, the Boston Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup.”

If you’re eager to know the next big change in the world of enforcing perfect prose, follow @APStylebook. Whatever that alteration may be, it’ll take some time for copy editors to get over it.

Read more from Steve Vittorioso