3 lessons learned from CUNY’s Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism program

On Sunday I was welcomed back to Auckland by angry grey skies, a howling wind, and “winter” temperatures that would have seemed positively tropical just three months ago. It’s great to be home. No more living out of a suitcase, cooking in a kitchen the size of a closet, or enduring the twice-daily ritual of forcing myself into uncomfortable proximity with total strangers on the subway. My neighbourhood here is impossibly tranquil, save for my dog’s occasional protestations at innocent passers-by. I miss New York terribly though. Its intensity and hustle are hugely motivating. It wills you to keep moving, keep achieving, keep discovering. I’m afraid of losing that momentum, but the change of pace offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on what I learned there. If you have an idea, build it. Two months ago (although it seems like yesterday) I wrote about the process of launching Kitchen Chapters. It had felt like a never-ending battle to get all the different elements in line before putting it out to the world, but forcing myself to do so before it was perfect turned out to be the best thing for it. Once the site was live, the deadlines for story production fell into place and I began to streamline my workflow. I even managed to find time to send out a weekly newsletter, which was well received and did wonders for directing people to the site. Having a living product gave me so much more confidence in my idea. I was showing the site to as many people as I could, getting valuable feedback and a self-populating stream of...

How news organizations are playing the social media game

There’s been more hand-wringing than usual in the media industry this week, after confirmation that Facebook is close to forming deals with mega-publishers such as Buzzfeed and The New York Times to host their content within the social media platform. It was wishful thinking to hope that Mat Yurow, Associate Director of Audience Development at the NY Times, would shed some light on his company’s top-secret talks when he appeared on the panel at last night’s Daily News Innovation Lab. Little is known publicly about the mechanics of these deals: how advertising revenue and data will be shared, whether smaller publishers will be strong-armed into the same models or simply left out in the cold, what impact it will have on publishers’ brand identity, and what the whole experience will be like for the user. All we really know is that rather than directing users to the publishers’ own websites, as is the current practice, the news will be brought to them in Facebook. It will necessitate a fundamental shift in strategy for most publishers, although for many that shift began last year when Facebook prioritized the display of videos hosted directly on its platform. It’s the latest step in Facebook’s seeming attempt to become the Walmart of the internet: a place where you can catch up with friends, record personal milestones, shop, do your banking, and stay across the day’s news. At the Innovation Lab, Yurow, along with Mashable Founder and CEO Pete Cashmore, Yahoo! Head of Audience Development Alex Leo, and The Intercept’s Digital Engagement Editor Rubina Madan Fillion, shared a number of useful insights into how...