Nicolas Magand on the internet

Comments about tech, media, nature, &c.

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: journalism

An attempt at defining content

On the Financial Times, Lou Stoppard searches for a meaning of the word content and talks with a number of content professionals, including one of them, Raven Smith:

Content is the stuff that fills the feeds we’ve created. It’s meant to make us feel content. The idea of contentedness is now in question. The key is arresting people, keeping them watching, and ensuring they take something away from the watch (the takeaway could be anything from ‘the world is going to be OK’ to ‘I want that dress’). Tone and aesthetics vary greatly, but the ‘arrest, engage, activate’ process is the same.

A fascinating read. I have never quite liked that word myself, especially in French — contenu — which sounds off. The word content is so vague — from a single tweet to a whole TV show — and yet so useful for those numerous times when you cannot really say anything else without over-simplifying it, or for those times when you really cannot list all the different formats featured in one project.

The vagueness of the word is what makes it so appealing, and so empty at the same time. Sounds a lot like the nature of the content itself we generally consume in our feeds.

What happens to web traffic patterns when Facebook goes down

Chartbeat's Josh Schwartz, on the Nieman Journalism Lab, sharing what the web analytics company found when Facebook went down for 45 minutes in August 2018:

What did people do? According to our data, they went directly to publishers’ mobile apps and sites (as well as to search engines) to get their information fix.

Publishers must be happy about this : it means most users did not — after all — forget about them. It simply means they prefer to wait for their Facebook feeds to show them some news rather than visiting websites individually.

The users' blind trust or naïveté in the news feed is what has been problematic in the last couple of years: How accountable must algorithms be when it comes to news and informing the public, especially when we know that is how most people get their news?

This is a whole other debate, but then :

Google Chrome Suggestions, a personalized news feed built into Chrome’s mobile browser, is up 20×.

Facebook is the biggest fish in this pond and it — understandably — gets most of the attention but Google is right there, and this Chrome "personalized news feed" should also be questioned, along with YouTube, Google search results, and Google News.

Another interesting part:

Mobile traffic has seen double-digit growth and surpassed desktop, which saw double-digit declines.

Smartphones have definitely replaced PCs as the main — and sometimes only — computing device.

Reporters covering environmental issues are becoming more and more vulnerable

Eric Freedman, on the Nieman Journalism Lab, on the growing pressure surrounding environmental journalists:

Covering the environment is one of the most hazardous beats in journalism. According to one estimate, 40 reporters around the world died between 2005 and September 2016 because of their environmental reporting — more than were killed covering the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Environmental controversies often involve influential business and economic interests, political battles, criminal activities, anti-government insurgents or corruption. […] In both wealthy and developing countries, journalists covering these issues find themselves in the cross-hairs. Most survive, but many undergo severe trauma, with profound effects on their careers.

Sadly, not a surprise.

One of the best Instagram accounts

Stefania Rousselle, a French-American journalist, came up with a brilliant idea: on an Instagram account, AMOUR, she collects stories from regular people, asking only one question : What is Love ?

Some of these stories will bring you to tears, some of them will make you smile and brighten your day. One of my favourites so far, from a man named Lucien, 81:

There are moments where I really get depressed, when I am really low. Oh la la, you can’t even imagine. I miss her. She was a good cook because she was from the Landes, where there are a lot of good cooks.

In the winter, we would watch television, then sit near the fire and fall asleep in our respective chairs. We were happy. I always hoped it would last forever. It didn’t.

Please forgive me if I cry.

Do yourself a favour and click on the follow button, you will not regret it.

On the lack of diversity in newsrooms

Must-read from Jelani Cobb, on The Guardian:

The article represented not simply a case of a journalist missing a story. The story, to me, spoke to the problem of what happens when the demographics of the Times – and American newspapers in general – look nothing like the demographics of the communities they cover. The people who are most likely to appear in these kinds of stories are the least likely to have a say in how those stories are told.

The lack of diversity – all kinds of diversity – is not only a problem for newsrooms, it is a threat to good journalism.

On that topic, I remember a very interesting piece from Owen Jones, also published on The Guardian a few years ago:

More than half of the top 100 media professionals attended a fee-paying school, even though just 7% of Britons overall did; and 43% of newspaper columnists were educated in the private sector. This is not just an unjust waste of talent, leaving aspiring journalists from more humble backgrounds unable to pursue their dream. It helps to ensure that the media reflects the opinions, prejudices and priorities of a gilded elite.

I'm afraid this is not a UK-only issue.