Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Creative Technology, Devices and Apps, Publishing and Future of Journalism.

 

Rich Cason shared an article on a new gadget, “Oculus isn’t making any money on its VR headset.”

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Tim Doyle shared an article regarding news on mobile, “Partnering and innovating on mobile.”

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Stephen P. Yang shared an article on future apps Apple might invent, “Apple patents a weightlifting tracking sensor with possible iWatch integration.”

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Kevin Cook shared an article on the future of journalism, “The homepage is dead! Long live the homepage!”

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Douglas Robb shared an article on sleeping patterns in a marriage; “Couples sleep in sync when wife is satisfied with their marriage.”

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Newsana Community Member Profile- Rick Mason

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Rick Mason is one of Newsana’s oldest and most valued members, along with one of the helpful hands that helped build Newsana! Mason is a web developer who has worked on all kinds of projects for multiple companies. He enjoys journalism and has spent seven years working at a weekly newspaper. In addition, Mason has been running a local group titled CreateInTO (formerly FlashinTO) that meets monthly to talk about creative applications of technology as well as working with FITC, an event company that runs design and technology events around the world. The past couple of years, Mason has been working at Relish Interactive where he built out the back-end technology that keeps Newsana running. When he’s not working, you can find Mason on his bicycle commuting or trail riding. He also loves spending time with his daughters who he quotes, “have completely changed my view of the world.”

 

1. What makes a great social media site?

The best social media sites are those backed by simple applications that make it easy to post content. They also usually feature powerful API’s that let other sites and applications connect to them. Twitter’s success was built on the backs of the hundreds of developers that early on saw the potential and built all kinds of apps using Twitter’s API. Instagram built the app first and only more recently have started to expand their viewing options. Of course there’s also a sort of secret sauce that often involves not just well designed software but also a healthy dose of luck in the form of hitting the right market at the right time. There are dozens of really great social media projects that have come and gone because they never quite clicked with users or simply got lost in the sea of competitors.

 

2. Where do you go for great content online? Why there?

I’m one of those people who has faithfully stuck with RSS feeds as my major content sources. Though I like the immediacy of Twitter I find it too time consuming for content discovery. I was an avid Google Reader user and have since switched to Feedly. I can very rapidly skim through hundreds of RSS feed headlines and pull out the best stuff. I’ve tried all sorts of different tools and strategies but a powerful RSS reader is still my tool of choice. And though RSS has faded into the background in recent years, it’s still rare to find a site that doesn’t have RSS feeds for content.

That said, some of the feeds I pull in are from other aggregators. Hacker News is my top source for professional and geeky news – it’s particularly good for surfacing obscure things you won’t find elsewhere. The Verge and Mashable are probably my next top two sources.

 

3. What’s your favorite type of content (infographics, interviews, thought pieces, studies, etc) and why?

Can’t say I have a favorite. I’m just as happy getting lost in a rabbit hole of YouTube watching or Buzzfeed trash as I am reading long form content from The Atlantic, New York Times, etc. I do read a lot of studies though – I’m really interesting in anything to do with the human mind and behavior. I’m constantly citing the latest studies at home, driving my partner a bit crazy in the process – especially if they are studies about parenting.

 

4. Which of your Newsana pitches are you most proud of?

That’s a challenge! I almost crashed my browser trying to go all the way back to the beginning. I think overall though the pitches I’m most proud of are the ones that I pitch under Gender & Feminism + Parenting. Having two young daughters at home these hit a deeply personal spot for me. Pitches like this one, http://newsana.com/parenting/story/talks-mckenna-pope-want-to-be-an-activist-start-with-your-toys

Girls like McKenna Pope give me hope for the future, hope that we’ll eventually end up in a world where regardless of gender, everyone is treated equally.

Talking about long form stories, this one from The Atlantic about how ridiculously over-protective we’ve become of our children is a personal favorite. http://newsana.com/parenting/story/features-archive-2014-03-hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone-358631

 

5. What’s the best part of Newsana?

Aside from the fact that I helped build and shape it right from day one? :) I do find that the community of users has really created a space that does what Newsana set out to do: surface the best content for everyone to read. It’s served as a valuable platform for showing me things that I might not otherwise read. I also really love that after awhile it becomes clear that certain members are like-minded individuals and I know right away that I’ll want to read whatever they thought was important enough to pitch. It’s filtering based on my own perceived connection to another individual. This is something that’s hard to mimic with an algorithm.

Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Creative Technology, Social Media and Environmental Protection.

 

Kevin Cook shared an article on Microfarming, “Facetime with your plants? Welcome to the future of Microfarming.”

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Tim Doyle shared an article on Puppet journalism, “Ever heard if ‘Puppet Journalism?’ Here’s an innovative approach to citizen journalism.”

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Jennifer Dawson shared an article regarding Amazon, “Hachette/Amazon Business Interruption.”

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Derek Markham shared an article on the Environment, “After a wildfire, bees are nature’s first responders. Let’s help them do their job!”

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Douglas Robb shared an article regarding a new study; “It’s three times cheaper to give housing to the homeless than keep them on the streets.”

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Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Environmental Protection, International Politics, Climate Change and Scientific Discoveries.

 

Douglas Robb shared an article on the scientific discovery of perfume, “Perfume doesn’t just make women smell great… it makes them look more attractive to others.”

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Alistair Leyland shared an article regarding climate change in Antarctica, “Antarctica is probably going to melt faster and more violently than we think.”

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Kokulan Mahendiran shared an article on International Politics, “Michael Moore makes a big mistake about Canada.”

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Tim Doyle shared an article on blogging, “A platform and blogging tool, Medium Charms Writers.”

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Lorne Warwick shared an article on an iconic iguana, “Iconic Jamaican iguana under threat from $1.5bn Chinese port project.”

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NewsanaPlus is hiring an editorial intern

NewsanaPlus (a new sister site to Newsana) has an internship position open; we’re looking for folks that are hungry to learn about the digital news business. The successful candidate will be expected to work full time until the end of the summer. A stipend will be provided.

NewsanaPlus is a news platform—we make it easy for wonks and big thinkers to create, curate and sell their very own digital newsmagazines. Curators combine their own analysis with links to top stories, providing their subscribers with insights you can’t find anywhere else.

You:
• Ravenously hungry to succeed
• Passionate about news and ideas
• Highly organized
• First-rate online communication skill and etiquette
• Social media savvy
• Excellent writing and grammar skills
• Dedication to solving problems and seeing things through to completion
• Good judgment

Extra points for…
• Journalism or copywriting experience, especially if in a newsroom or marketing environment
• Customer support/social media or community management experience in an online environment
• Previous experience in a startup or small company
• Coding abilities

Us:
• Passionate about news and ideas
• A hectic start-up where everyone wears many hats (and loves it!)
• Collaborative and fun
• A collegial environment, with minimal supervision
• Open to your ideas – you’ll have an amazing opportunity to experiment and build up your portfolio
• Believe that everything can and must be measured

Daily Responsibilities include:
• Learning as much as possible from this internship
• Liaising with NewsanaPlus curators
• Compiling Newsanaplus newsmagazines
• Checking newsmagazines for errors before publication
• Implementing improvements to NewsanaPlus newsmagazine formats

Internship Length and Location:
This is a three month internship is based in Toronto, ON. A small stipend will be provided. There possibility for renewal and/or part-time work based on performance.

Start date:
ASAP.

Application Deadline:
Rolling deadline. The sooner you submit your application the better.

Apply to:
Please send 1) a cover letter, 2) CV and 3) your LinkedIn profile URL in a brief email describing why you’d make a first-rate intern to Ben Peterson.

 

Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Climate Change and International Politics.

 

Tim Doyle shared an article discussing news articles, “Building permission structures for short content (Vox edition).”

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Kokulan Mahendiran shared an article regarding the Thai military, “Thai military seizes power in coup.”

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Douglas Robb shared an article discussing meat products, “Barclays fined $44-million over gold price fix.”

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Michael Welyki shared an article regarding GDP, “Hookers and Blow: how changing the definition of GDP officially jumped the shark.”

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Derek Markham shared an article discussing climate change, “Climate change will force us to abandon coastal cities. We’d better start preparing right now.”

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Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing International Politics, Corporate Responsibility, Environmental Protection and Publishing.

 

Lorne Warwick shared an article on climate change, “Map: Countries’ actions and commitments on climate change.”

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Kevin Cook shared an article discussing the funding of coal, “Stanford becomes first major university to stop funding coal.”

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Rick Mason shared an article on startups, “Canadian startups want to exit but show a starting lack of acquisition preparedness.”

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Tim Doyle shared an article discussing the observations in cultural shifts in the New York Times newsroom, “Culture change is hard: what Nikki Usher learned in five months embedded in The New York Times newsroom.”

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Kokulan Mahendiran shared an article on politics in Germany, “How very understanding.”

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Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Personal Development and Creative Technology.

 

Tim Doyle shared an article discussing pageviews, “Measuring the news: what are the alternatives to pageviews?”

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Martin Pelletier shared an article discussing efficiency, “How to Increase Productivity.”

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Douglas Robb shared an article discussing censorship, “Russia Bans Cursing in Movies, Books, Music and Media.”

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Michael Welyki shared an article discussing Ukrainian politics, “The Cossacks Are Coming.”

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Robb Henshaw shared an article discussing an IT service management software- ServiceNow, “The Tech Visionary Has a New Plan To Help You Do Your Job.”

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Why we launched NewsanaPlus and how it might be the next big thing in news

Last May The Onion published a piece particularly drenched in insight, Social Media Rock Star Makes $28,000 Per Year. It’s funny ‘cause it’s true—there are literally millions of people killing it on social media that don’t have a dime to show for it. Most of the folks raking it in from all the back-and-forth on Twitter, Facebook and the like are a tiny group of Silicon Valley elites who work and invest in these multi-billion dollar enterprises. What if, we thought, we could turn this financial dictatorship on its head and put some cash into the pockets of the people creating the actual value.

 

We launched Newsana in April of 2013 with high hopes and lofty ambitions. We wanted to build the world’s first online community that could scale and maintain a high quality of participation simultaneously. We wanted to gather a big group of subject-specific experts who would collectively find the most important news stories of the day.  By about November we realized this probably wasn’t going to happen the way we had hoped. While there is (and will remain) value in Newsana, it hasn’t evolved we had hoped. The burden we put on potential members, namely a lengthy application process, scared off a lot of potential members at the start. When we opened it up, the quality of content began to drop. I truly believe that it is possible to scale a high-quality community based around news, but we slowly realized we hadn’t yet found the golden goose.

 

At the same time, the revenue model we used to raise our first round of financing started to look, well, absurd. Huge changes in the digital advertising market (some of which happened before we launched, some after) meant we had to kiss that idea goodbye. Digital ad prices are in free fall and will continue to be. It’s a simple supply and demand problem—every day, tens of thousands of new sites go online, while the number of advertisers grows only slightly. You can still create a viable business around online ads, but you have to be producing the type of content that drives massive traffic. Top ten Justin Bieber moments work, higher quality analysis doesn’t, nor will it ever again.

 

So, alas, what were we to do? The core mission of Newsana has always been to provide readers with quality content, easing their information overload. But clearly the crowdsourcing model we developed has its flaws, as did our revenue mode. How could we kill both birds with one stone, I thought?

 

In the background of our everyday work, a number of other major structural changes were reshaping online journalism. The most important of these trends, as I seem them, are as follows:

1)      Readers are slowly and reluctantly coming around to paying for high quality digital content;

2)      The power of traditional brands is fast being eclipsed by the brand power of their superstar contributors, many of whom are leaving to create their own sites.

 

This last point here is particularly interesting. What if you didn’t need to be Nate Silver or Glenn Greenwald to have your own site? What if we could allow the best Newsana curators—and other social media superstars—to create and profit from their own little kingdom?

 

This way, our curators would be incentivized to keep the quality consistently high (unlike on Newsana currently) and, more importantly, they would finally start making some money from their huge online followings.

 

So, I locked myself in a basement for a few months, accompanied by only a few nibbles of food and a team of first-rate interns. How could we turn this premise into something viable? NewsanaPlus is the result.

 

NewsanaPlus is FAR from a finished product. It was built by stringing together a number of off-the-shelf solutions and required little-to-no actual coding by us. It is, in common start-up lingo, an MVP. Our goal with it is to prove two points:

A)     Social media superstars want to personally profit by creating their own curated newsmagazines, and;

B)      Most of our newsmagazines will get enough paid subscribers to make it worth our curators’ time and effort to create the newsmagazines in the first place.

 

If we can prove both are true, we’re in business. I firmly believe we have the beginnings of a truly disruptive business model. Take the middle-man out. Put the curator (or, in traditional news parlance, the editor) front and center. Make them the star and the main marketing force. Be 100% transparent and share revenue with those creating the real value. Scale up from there.

 

We’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a news curator and/or a subscriber to NewsanaPlus. What unifies both ends is the love of knowledge. You have to really, really, really care about a subject to spend time and money on it.  It might not seem like a necessity to most, but for those of us that that ‘get’ it, it’s all that matters.  It is because, in our hearts, we are news nerds. We are wonks.

 

Inspired by the #WeTheNorth campaign of the Toronto Raptors (yes I admit it), we wrote this up to summarize everything that NewsanaPlus means to us.

 

We are the wonks. We are the people that care.  Some say we are nerds, outsiders. Let them say whatever they want. We are proud. Proud to have a higher calling. We study, we think, we plan. Ultimately, we know. We know, deep inside, every detail. We shape the future. And now we have a home. #WeTheWonks.
Are you a wonk? If so, welcome to our little family.

 

Ben Peterson

CEO

Newsana and NewsanaPlus

 

P.S. Hit me up with any followups at ben (at) newsana.com.

Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing Finance & Economics and Human Rights.

Derek Markham shared an article on how we feed our growing planet, “The Future of Food.”

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Douglas Robb shared an article on Sarah Palin’s controversial statement, “Sarah Palin says ‘waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.’ Too tough?”

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Michael Welyki shared an article on gold prices, “Bank of Nova Scotia to get visit from British watchdog as scrutiny of London Gold Fixing grows.”

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Daniel Koren shared an article on the Ukrainian mayor, “Assassination Attempt Injures Jewish Eastern Ukrainian Mayor.”

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Kokulan Mahendiran shared an article on individuals who encourage rape, “Matt Gurney: Olivia Chow meets with, is endorsed by, ranting homophobe who encourages rape.”

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