This week the news apps team launched a fun little user-generated content project: a map with reader reviews of the best, worst, most kid-friendly state parks, and the best places to camp. We put out a reader callout using a Google form to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Washington state parks and received more than 300 responses. We didn’t previously have a plan for what we’d do with those responses, but thanks to all the answers being in Google Spreadsheets and tabletop.js, we were easily (ok, not that easy, but still) able to plot the points on a map. Read More
I’ve learned a lot since I started as the news applications editor in November. And I’m still learning every day. But I know that it’s hard, and that people at places smaller than The Seattle Times have to fight even harder cultural battles. So over at 10,000 Words, I’ve written about the 15 things I’ve learned about changing newsroom culture. I hope that it helps someone, somewhere out there who’s trying to do this from scratch. In summary (yes, many of these lessons are cliches or stolen from others):
- Show don’t tell
- Start with the low-hanging fruit
- Find your allies early
- Fight against the assembly-line style of project management
- Done is better than perfect
- Rock the boat without tipping it over
- Ask forgiveness, not permission — but carefully!
- Choose your battles
- Seek first to understand, then be understood
- Develop a common language
- Resist the urge to be the cool kids in the corner
- Remember that experiments are serious business
- Measure your success
- Keep your users at the heart of everything you do
- Remember that you’re not alone
Rewind to my middle school and high school years. We had Xanga and Myspace and LiveJournal and Photobucket and DeviantArt. Most sites didn’t take privacy seriously yet, and options for making a page private were sparse. Digital cameras were just starting to become affordable. The adults weren’t on social media yet — hell, even most of our friends weren’t, aside from us early-adopters — and we had no wise people telling us, “Hey! Be careful! Everything you put on the web will be there forever! It could ruin your career!” Read More
I know the idea of doing “Top 10″ posts feels a little cliche and cheap, with front pages of Cosmo magazine first coming to mind. But let’s face it — people read lists. It gives them something easy to consume at a glance. It gives them a point of reference for navigating a story: I know when I’m half way done, or I know I can easily skip through a section if I’m not interested.
So this is why we’ve launched the first phase of a bigger project around lists at The Seattle Times. Our lists can be seen as highly curated collections from our experts, on topics ranging from how to winterize your home, to best outdoors adventures, to eating healthy, to takeaways after a Seahawks game. We write a ton of lists for the paper and in our blogs, but they’re not easy to read. Read More
I’m happy to announce the launch of the latest project from the Seattle Times news applications team: a guide to all Washington state lawmakers, including sponsored bill information, campaign contributions, bios, contact information and committees.
The guide is an evolution of our first-ever news app, The Seattle Times election guide that we launched in August. It uses information collected through reporting, from the Washington state legislature and Follow the Money.
Of course, it’s responsively designed, so it works fluidly across all devices. The front page lists key lawmakers and education leaders as a jumping in point for readers. Optionally they can enter a home address to see a list of lawmakers who represent them. Read More
Washington state lawmakers have a big problem: The next two-year state budget faces a shortfall of up to $1.3 billion. And on top of that, the state Supreme Court has said Washington isn’t meeting its obligation to fully fund basic education. Meeting that mandate could cost an additional $500 million to $1.7 billion over the next two years, depending on whom you ask.
To help readers understand this problem and explore real options on the table for finding funding, The Seattle Times news applications team launched an interactive this week that lets our readers try their hand at balancing the state budget and increasing education funding at the same time.
I’m honored and thrilled to announce that today is my first day in a new role at The Seattle Times: the company’s first news applications editor!
It’s no secret that this is the direction I was headed. Though I’ve been working for about a year and a half at The Times as a homepage producer, my free time and energy has been spent working on special, app-like projects. In the spring, we started a beta tools and apps team, then this summer we really kicked it into high gear with Kevin Schaul working as a news apps developer — proving that we need people to work on this stuff full time if we want to create quality products.
Now I get to spend every day doing what I love and what I hope will move the company in the right direction. As news apps editor, I’ll mostly be serving roles of a project manager and creative lead. I’ll be working directly with (and learning from) designers, data enterprise editor Cheryl Phillips, news artists, engineers and the rest of the newsroom to build some awesome stuff. And keep your eyes peeled — we’ll hopefully be hiring throughout the next year to expand the team.
Here’s the announcement sent out by Eric Ulken:
Colleagues: You’ve seen her fingerprints on The Today File, our acclaimed Election Guide, our word cloud app, the local Olympian medal tracker and many other digital projects. And if you’ve been fortunate enough to work with Lauren Rabaino, you know that she has vision and creativity that match a can-do spirit and the practical ability to build cool stuff.
I’m pleased to announce that, starting today, Lauren will be focusing her talents full-time on creating compelling digital news experiences as The Seattle Times’ first news applications* editor.
In this capacity, she’ll work within the newsroom and with counterparts in design and IT to help conceive and build tools for presenting news and information in innovative ways that our increasingly sophisticated digital users are coming to expect — all with an eye toward growing audience and engagement.
Our audience isn’t standing still, so neither can we — and I’m confident Lauren won’t let us.
Please join me in congratulating her on her new role.
*What’s a news application? News applications are digital tools and platforms built for the purpose of presenting news and information or building engagement and conversation around the news. Together with the core content management system, they form framework within which information is delivered across our digital channels.
If you have any words of wisdom for me, I’d love to hear. Charting new territory!
Thanks to everyone who helped me get here. xoxo
Newspapers have one brand that really matters: The centuries’-old name at the top of the masthead. Anything that falls beneath that logo is held to a high standard of credibility. Secondarily, the byline attached to each published piece can hold its own allegiances — and those bylines are also important. But I’d love to see a world where we stop with the over-branding, where we stop launching “blogs” with catchy titles and columns with fun labels.
For example, at The Seattle Times (yes, I get to pick on the Times because I work there), we have multiple labels and taglines for various bloggers and personalities: The Seattle Sketcher, The Today File, Politics Northwest, Happy Hour, Northwest Wanderings, Weekend Plus, Lit Life, ArtsPage, All You Can Eat, The Hot Stone League, The Brewery, Tails of Seattle, Nicole & Co, Names in Bold, ReelTime Fishing NW, Weather Beat, Sound Economy, Sunday Buzz, Microsoft Pri0, Take 2, Popcorn & Prejudice, Field Notes, Ed Cetera, Matson on Music. These are just a sampling of the various “brands” and voices under our media company’s umbrella.
Some of these labels are based on various CMSes that power the content.Various blogs have titles and taglines, and that’s useful for us internally when we’re trying to communicate and divide ownership. It also stems from print where various pages of the newspaper have different titles at the top so you can easily spot what you’re looking for as you flip through the pages. Read More
How can we empower our readers to easily navigate through elections coverage and make informed decisions? It’s a question we ask every year around this time as we sift through our months of articles around people and issues leading up to November. We publish a wealth of journalism, but have no easy way of tying it all together in an easily-digestible format. It’s a problem that we’ve never come close to solving. Until now. Read More
My latest infographic for the Center for Investigative Reporting / California Watch helps visualize how California’s prison realignment program has fared so far.
The 2011 Public Safety Realignment Act redirects low-level offenders from state lockups to county jails, while providing local governments with millions of dollars and broad discretion over how to spend the money to handle the felons. Read More
- Day and time athletes compete (both local and London time)
- Channel where you can watch the competition
- Bio information about each athlete
- Local connection for each athlete
- Result of competition (icon changes to reflect medal earned) with link to coverage