NPR One…Probably Not the New Netflix

Maybe I’m bias because I’m not a big radio person, but to be fair, I don’t know many individuals in my generation who would choose to sit and listen to a podcast rather than stream their favorite Friends episode off of Netflix from their laptop. It feels a little reminiscent of 1938’s War of the Worlds hysteria, you know that image of the family gathering around the radio and listening to Annie type of thing.

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Photo courtesy of mortaljourney.com

To be fair NPR One’s android application progresses itself enough that you see it is trying its best to steer itself away from that late 30’s feel. The application is pretty neat, and I’ll give it a pat on the back for it’s attention to skips and tags. It began to customize as I interacted more with each story that came up, and soon I was receiving a lot of content under the category that I (surprisingly) found myself interested in, “Tech.”

My List of Stories:

1. Yspilanti Begans Plans for an International Elementary School

2. Special Needs Programs in Ann Arbor Receive Assistance

3. Bipartisan Panel Issues Urgent Call to Overhaul U.S. Prison System

4. Modern Rent Parties Highlight the Need for Affordable Housing

5. Zika Virus Will Spread Through The Americas, WHO Says

6. How Do You Measure Passion? Figuring the Value of Social Media Friends

7. I Asked a Computer to be My Life Coach

5. Wikipedia at 15: The Struggle to Attract Non-Techy Geeks

8. Is Netflix Chill? Kenyan Authorities Threaten to Ban the Streaming Site

9. Depression Screening Recommended for Pregnant Women 

10. Sexual Assaults on the Rise on U-M Campus

11. Harlem Globetrotters Take the Court at Eastern Michigan

The stories in bold are the ones I found and tagged interesting. Interestingly enough, as soon as I started tagging “interesting” on posts, I noticed there were more posts that were catered to my likes (as you can see in the several posts in a row that are bolded.) However, I didn’t really notice the app steering away from stories I skipped. Anything that had to do with politics I skipped (my father would not be proud) and most of the local content I skipped as well. Both the political and local content was re-appearing on the application, perhaps a bit fewer and farther between, but I felt like it could have left a bit more of this type of content I was disregarding out of my playlist.

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Gif courtesy of giphy.com

In terms of the local content, truth be told, I don’t really care much about what’s happening in Ann Arbor or Yspilanti. Although Michigan resides in those communities, that’s not my community-Michigan is. I tagged a story about sexual assault on U-M’s campus as interesting because it is local content that’s relevant to me. One fault of the application is that it assumes local content is relevant to everyone (which usually it would be), but perhaps, if the application is hoping to tackle the 18-24 age range (Netflix users and college students), it should utilize its ability to pinpoint an exact location. If it takes into account users that are on college campuses and caters local content to what’s occurring on that campus, rather than within the city the campus resides, I think that could be beneficial. Personally, more U-M specific content would have been of much more interest to me.

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Gif courtesy of giphy.com

Because of it’s pretty effective customization and attempt to deliver relevant, local content, but falling slightly short, I give the application an A-. It’s a neat idea, I love the fact that it listens and accounts for the things I like, but it could use some improvement in recognizing what users don’t like and potentially better targeting individuals based on their hyper-specific location.

Blog 2: Ed Tech in Print vs. Online

Because The New York Times failed to differ the online article in any way beyond changing the headline and adding in one extra component (a non-interactive chart), it hurts me to say, but it is necessary that I give the NYT a C- in not quite reaching (or passing) its aims set out in the Innovation Report. Here’s the disappointing thing and a brief overview as to why it deserves a C-, except for the difference in headline and an additional chart that noted various educational start-ups and their investments, nothing differed between the online and print version of this article. For starters, both used that same image of the man writing on the board and the publication date (January 18, 2015) is the same in the print article as it is online.

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Photo of online version of NYT article courtesy of nytimes.com

 

The print version’s headline reads “Ed Tech Funding Favors Career Skills Training”and the online version’s headline reads “Education Technology Graduates from the Classroom to the Boardroom.” While the online title seems to be a bit more clever than the straight forward print version, beyond the slight variation in the title of each, the overall content of the pieces are identical. It’s literally just a word for word copying of the print version of this article, posted online and using the exact same, solo photo. The fact that NYT didn’t use the affordances online provides, in order to further engage with the reader beyond what print allows, isn’t great. The report laid out various ways the online facet of the publication could use the web to their advantage, but unfortunately I did not see the NYT exploit any of these tactics to further enhance the online reader experience.

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Photo of educational start-ups that received the most funding courtesy of nytimes.com

^^^The only redeeming thing about the difference in the online article is the addition of the graph, which shows educational startups that received the most funding. Beyond this online addition, the print version was the exact same, and the online report wasn’t exploiting the affordances the internet allows, but rather adding an extra component (this chart) into the article that could have just as easily been in print, had there been room for it.

The  Innovation Report notes the success of several case studies where stories were packaged as collections and successful because of it, such as the collection of Notable Deaths of 2014 and

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Collection packaging ex. photo courtesy of nytimes.com

a collection of wedding memories on Valentine’s Day. (Seen to the right>>)

It would have been notable to see the publication employing some of these strategies in their online content. Although a collection packaging may not be suitable in this piece in particular, when I was browsing through the Technology section of NYT to get to the article, I didn’t see any pieces packaged as collections within the section or throughout my, albeit brief, scrolling over the rest of the website’s sections. As noted in the report, NYT is aiming to further promote their stories, not only through social media, but through the digital version of the story itself. Looking here at what the report envisions for exploiting the affordances that online publishing can give, it notes that simply designed

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Tools to drive traffic and how it might look in an article. Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

pages do little to keep visitors on the site. To drive more traffic to other parts of the site, NYT was aiming to implement promotional tactics such as Q&A and forms where readers can sign up to find articles of similar topics. The online version of the educational technology start-up article didn’t employ either of these proposed promotional tactics.

Although, seeing as they were talking about education, targeting new and future employees and harnessing their skills through start-up technologies, things like Q&A and links to social sites would have fit perfectly with the trends of this exact demographic.

In the end, NYT’s failure to implement the Innovation Report’s proposed promotional strategies, packaging techniques and visuals that would further enhance the reader’s experience online, earns them a C- for a lack of commitment to the report. Had they attempted to at least employ one of these tactics, they may have earned at least a passing grade, but their failure to accomplish many of the things they set out to do in the report, and their failure to mimic the templates they note worked for other online sources and stories, ultimately leads to their almost passing, but ultimately failing letter grade.

 

Introductory Post

Hi! I’m Rebecca Soverinsky, and I’m a junior studying Communications and minoring in Writing at the University of Michigan. My major and my minor are far from random, as I’ve been a lover of media far before I entered the University.  Growing up, I was obsessed with the Today Show, which was where I got a lot of my news. I wasn’t obsessed with the Today Show because of the stories that were told, but rather I thought Meredith Vieira was the most amazing person to ever grace my television screen, and that’s why I watched. As noted in Post Industrial Journalism, “People follow people, and therefore just by ‘being human’ journalists create a more powerful role for themselves…” I was a perfect example of the trend in news consumers today. The Today Show had my viewership because I was connecting with a human journalist, and I was more interested in how Meredith Vieira humanized the stories she reported rather than the content of the stories themselves, which is the basis of the industry.

Since arriving at Michigan, I have less time for TV, but more time for the internet, which is why I get most of my news from BuzzFeed. The way I consume news now differs from my religious viewing of the Today Show growing up, but brings up another interesting trend touched upon in the reading, that being news content has become reusable (in new news stories or by other organizations). BuzzFeed is a perfect example of an outlet that takes stories that were already told and presents them with a twist. They might not be “breaking” the news, but they are taking stories that were already told and presenting them in a refreshing way. My dad watches Fox 2 News in the morning, and my mom checks Yahoo! News every afternoon, so while neither of them receive their news from the more quirky sites, such as BuzzFeed, they are both consuming news through the television and the internet, which is a way that is progressive beyond the traditional print format.

On the BuzzFeed note, this semester I’ll be exploring student-run startup businesses and products. BuzzFeed is a startup, and I also write for Spoon at the University of Michigan, which is a startup website founded by two students from Northwestern. The idea of startups both fascinates and excites me, and I truly believe we’ll see an explosion of them in the upcoming years. I’m excited to explore how Michigan students have contributed to this growing world.

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Gif courtesy of giphy.com