News.me

News.me for iPhone Now Featured on the App Store!

News.me for iPhone launched yesterday, and we couldn’t be happier with the response so far. We’re particularly pleased to report that, last night, Apple selected News.me as one of its Featured Apps on the iPhone App Store! If you haven’t yet, go download it now!

Here’s what some others are saying, but we’re eager to hear your first impressions. Let us know in the comments!

Hands-on: News.me’s iPhone app filters your friends’ timelines for news — ArsTechnica

News.me for iPhone Makes Friends the Editors of Twitter & Facebook — ReadWriteWeb 

Can News.me become the Instagram for news? — GigaOm

With new iPhone app, News.me moves toward a ‘purpose-built network’ for sharing news — Nieman Lab

News.me’s Is Building A News Social Network Within Its New iPhone App — TechCrunch

News.me Launches iPhone App, Taking On Flipboard and Co. — Talking Points Memo

News.me now delivers important news from your social networks to your iPhone — The Next Web

News.me hits the iPhone as it builds out a social network for news — VentureBeat

News.me Brings News Discovery to the iPhone (And, Yes, It Lets You Browse Articles In the Subway!) — BetaBeat

News.me: Rebuilt From The Ground-Up For The iPhone — Erick Schonfeld

So tell us what you think! What’s missing? What works and what doesn’t? What’s confusing? Let us know in the comments or by email at feedback@news.me!

Jake

Introducing News.me for iPhone!

We’re pleased to introduce News.me for iPhone, now available for free in the App Store!

News.me for iPhone delivers the must-read news from your friends on Twitter and Facebook.


Reading the news has always lent itself to a social experience: from the breakfast table to the water cooler to the classroom. But on the social web we’re no longer just “readers” — we are all publishers, curating and distributing links to our own audience of friends and followers.

Yet when it comes to finding news on Twitter and Facebook, we hear the same complaint over and over again: “there’s too much stuff!” At News.me, we want to help people wade through the chatter to find the news that truly matters.

News.me for iPhone analyzes all the links shared by your friends to find only the most relevant news for you. News.me is smart — it does the hard work of finding the right news so that you don’t have to. Each article is then presented in a beautiful stream that displays the publisher, headline, photo, and most importantly, what your friends are saying about it.

News.me for iPhone lets you build a network with news in mind.

You might be surprised to know that email is still the most popular way to share news. It’s so simple: you send an article to a few friends and as it’s passed around, a great conversation unfolds with each reply.

It’s hard to have a conversation like this in the comments on a website or on a social network with hundreds of people listening in. We designed News.me for a smaller, more focused network, built for the conversation around news.

News.me Reactions: the right type of sharing.

We wanted to find a form of expression that was at once more meaningful than a generic “Like,” but less work than a free-text comment. We also had a peculiar design challenge: how do we build News.me for iPhone as a mobile-friendly, one-handed application?

With News.me Reactions, we’ve done just that. Find an article hilarious or surprising? Tap “Ha!” and share it with your followers on News.me. Stumble across a beautiful picture or inspiring story? Tap “Wow” and your followers on News.me will know about it. When you follow people on News.me, you’ll see their Reactions in your Reactions stream, and the articles they react to in your main News stream.

There’s more…

  • Full support for offline reading (subway commuters rejoice!)
  • Share the articles you love to Facebook, Twitter or with others via email
  • Save any article to your News.me Reading List to read later (we also automatically import your Twitter favorites, and we offer seamless synchronization to Instapaper and News.me for iPad)

How people find, read, and talk about news is changing. At News.me we’re focused on building applications that both take advantage of and accelerate that change. We believe that the future of news includes smart algorithms, smart networks, and smart editors. News.me for iPhone is a big leap forward for us, but we’re just getting started. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook for more announcements in the coming months!

So download News.me for iPhone today and tell us what you think!

This product can only get better if we hear from our users, so please leave any feedback in the comments or send us an email at feedback@news.me!

Jake, Mike, Rob, Justin, Jon, and Josh

Getting the News — Evan Williams

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Chris Dixon, Zach Seward, and Megan Garberhere.)

This week we bring you Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Blogger, and partner at Obvious Corporation. Evan’s accomplishments are so great as to be almost preposterous: not only did he co-found two of the Internet’s top ten websites, but he also invented the term “blogger.” Now that the line between bloggers and journalists is blurring and Twitter is the “people’s newswire,” few other people on the planet can claim to have changed journalism and news consumption as much as Evan. We took a bit of his time to see how he’s getting his information. Unsurprisingly, Twitter plays a big role.

1. Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

I stopped sleeping with my phone beside my bed about six months ago, because I wanted my wife to be the first and last thing I looked at in the day, rather than my iPhone. :)

When I do get around to looking at it, I first check email and then the weather (maybe it’s my farming roots). On the way to work, I’ll check Twitter, which is the thing I check most frequently throughout the day (on both on the phone and desktop).

(In fact, people sometimes comment that I don’t use Twitter much, which couldn’t be further from the truth — I use it constantly. It’s just that it’s much more of a source of information than a broadcast medium for me. That’s true of more people than not, actually.)

2. What publications or news sources do you read and trust? How frequently do you visit them throughout the day?

I visit a lot of publications regularly — both blogs and traditional media — but almost always via pointers, not as a homepage consumption experience. Besides Twitter, I find myself getting news via email more than I would have expected in this day and age. Three emails I read (or at least skim) almost daily include: Summify, POLITICO Playbook (even though I’m not that into politics), and Jason Hirschhorn’s Media Redefined. In the less-frequent (and not quite news) department, Brain Pickings is great.

I’ll occasionally type in the domains of other blogs, but if I find myself doing that, it’s a sign I’m not very focused and should get back to work.

3. What platforms do you read/get content on? Are you into reading content on your iPhone or tablet, or do you still remember how to unfold a newspaper? Do you ever watch television news programs?

iPhone is a biggie, as mentioned above. I don’t touch my iPad much — if so, it’s mostly as an expensive Kindle. I still like the laptop/desktop experience the most. I wish more content was designed for the big screen.

Newspapers and TV…what now?

4. What was the last great article you read? How did you find out about it? Is this your typical pattern?

The last great article I read was How Your Cat is Making You Crazy in The Atlantic. I read the paper version, which is fairly unusual, but I was on a flight, and you need something to read during that time you can’t turn on your devices. Also, I’ve always loved magazines, so I buy them regularly.

I don’t read many long-form articles, though I’m not sure why. I save stuff to Readability but rarely go back to read it. When I want to focus for more than a minute on something, I’ll turn to a book. In general, I find books to be more satisfying than articles. That could be due to a false sense of accomplishment.

5. Is anything missing from your news consumption pattern now or in the tools/sites that you use? Anything you wish you had?

One thing that I find missing is discovery of non-new content. The web is completely oriented around new-thing-on-top. Our brains are also wired to get a rush from novelty. But most “news” we read really doesn’t matter. And a much smaller percentage of the information I actually care about or would find useful was produced in the last few hours than my reading patterns reflect.

Also, most news and content sites are terribly designed. I wish they were better.

Find Evan at his blog and on Twitter.

(Photo courtesy of Evan Williams. All interviews conducted by Sonia Saraiya.)

Getting the News — Chris Dixon

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Zach SewardAnil Dash, and Megan Garberhere.)

This week we spoke to Chris Dixon, co-founder of Hunch. Chris has been in the startup world for ten years, creating companies of his own and investing in others about to get big. Hunch, his most well-known company, was acquired by eBay in 2011. We thought we’d ask Chris what his news routine was — when you’re on the cutting edge of tech, information is vital. Chris is the most unassuming angel investor you might ever meet, and took the trouble to come by the News.me offices to be interviewed in person. Below he shares his tricks of the trade on making Twitter a news tool, converting information to ideas, and keeping up with the Kardashians.

How do you get your news throughout the day?

It used to be the paper — going back to when I’d read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal every day for ten years. But I don’t read in paper anymore. I haven’t for a few years now. I started migrating to RSS, reading blogs, and now I’ve stopped doing that, too.

It’s all Twitter — with the exception of maybe checking the New York Times homepage once a day, to see if some major international thing happened that I somehow missed on Twitter. Twitter is the first thing I check in the morning. It’s become the best place to aggregate news — though it has problems. It works well if you’re checking throughout the day. You have to be on it. But if you’re off for six hours, well, that why I have to go to the Times. You miss the window of something happening. And there’s a lot of noise and redundancy.

I read the news as a citizen, but in the tech world, I also read it professionally. Ten years ago, if you didn’t read the Journal every day, people would say, “Oh, did you see the big article about Apple?” And you’d feel like you didn’t know what was going on, and you’d have to go read the Journal. Now it doesn’t happen like that, because the Journal story will already be on tech blogs. 

The way I see it, If I can spend 20 minutes in the morning and have a 90 percent chance of knowing anything important that someone might mention that day, I’m informed. A person mentioning news that I didn’t know about, that is relevant to me, is a failure in my newsreading methods.

Does that happen?

No. … rarely. If it does, I figure out where they got it. “Where did you hear that from?” “What could I have been doing?” And then I follow that person or that location. 

Who do you follow that you particularly rely on?

I follow all the standard tech blogs. Beyond that, there’s different things I’m looking for. I follow @WSJ, but I only read the headlines, I don’t pay for the service. I don’t really find that useful. But the headlines are useful. There are people who I follow just to read their tweets, there’s people who I use as an RSS feed for their blog posts, and then there are people I follow for their links.

If @Borthwick writes a blog post, I’ll read it — he writes good ones, and frequently I’ll read the whole thing. And Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky), the investor, always links to these really interesting academic finance papers. Actually, with him I use ifttt, “If This Then That.” [Disclosure: Betaworks is an investor in ifttt.] It’s this service you can set up so that if you favorite a Twitter link, it will automatically take the article and puts it in your InstapaperRead it Later, or etc. So I’ll favorite those things and they’ll be on my iPhone the next time I can read the actual article.

Is that how a lot of your news consumption happens? On the iPhone?

Yeah. Twitter too. More than half. If I’m not on my computer, I’m on the iPhone.

What else are you reading on?

iPad, and my Mac.

What about print?

I still occasionally buy the Sunday New York Times. I like the feel, and it’s, I don’t know, retro now. I like print, I just don’t see the point in printing stuff out. I try to avoid printing myself. I don’t have a printer at home.

Is there a difference between how you curate your general Twitter stream and how you curate tech news?

I keep them all in the same feed. I’ve experimented with different lists and things like this for different accounts, but I never find that I keep up with them. It’s funny: I’ve become fairly interested in politics, for example, so I follow someone like @BuzzfeedBen, but then it’s 500 tweets about some inside baseball political stuff. It’s too much. So I unfollow that. That’s actually one of the times I’ll find myself occasionally going to Huffington Post Politics, Buzzfeed, or Slate — something where I’ll sit down and read what happened in the Republican primary. Because I find that the super-heavy Tweeters are too much, and the Times' headlines are just too little.

What are other publications you rely on?

I check the Times once or twice a day. I read a lot of bloggers, does that count? I’m into Apple stuff, so Daring Fireball, MG Siegler writer good stuff, Fred Wilson’s blog for good stuff on venture capital. I find that there’s certain tech blogs, like TechCrunch, where you hear what’s happening, like “so-and-so raised money,” and there’s ones like GigaOm, that have a more interesting, in-depth articles. With TechCrunch I’ll skim the headlines, but with GigaOm I’ll actually go and read the whole thing.

So it’s a curated list, and then you’re curating in your head.

Yeah. You glance through, and you’re saying, “This one’s worth reading.” I find it’s very picture-driven, too. So when people change their avatar, it like completely screws up my patterns. [laughs] Because I’m so used to seeing the blue GigaOm thing, and thinking, “Okay, that’s a 70 percent clickworthiness.”

Do you use Tweetdeck or another client?

I have it on my home computer, but I’m not a power user. I’m already too into this continuous partial attention problem, constantly changing modes, which can be overwhelming — but I find it’s really useful for tracking companies and brand mentions. And I may be unusual in that I barely use Facebook. I use it only because I feel obliged to stay in touch with the masses, but I can’t stand it. I would deactivate it — and I would deactivate LinkedIn, too — were it not for the mere fact that I feel like as an investor, I have to try new products, if someone comes up with a new Facebook product. If it wasn’t for my professional need to do that occasionally, I would deactivate it.

Do you ever get interesting news from Facebook?

Never. I find it’s the opposite of the stereotype. On Facebook it’s all the funny cat things, and on Twitter it’s interesting, serious news. Which I think is somewhat opposite of what people think, at least on the Twitter part. People say, “Well, I don’t want to hear what people had for lunch,” which is not at all my experience of Twitter. You could find somebody who Tweets that stuff, but it’s not the majority of what I see.

What was the last great article you read? And how did you find it?

Actually, for that, I like News.me [the iPad app] quite a bit. My favorite feature is how you can switch between people. At Hunch we call that cross-dressing. I like that in the app I can see the world as Anil Dash sees it. I really enjoy his blog posts — he doesn’t write that often, but when he does they’re really good. He’s more political than me, so I go to him when I want more of a political angle. 

The only iPad magazine I pay for is the New Yorker. It’s actually a really good app. Recently I read really good article, a Malcolm Gladwell article. He’s always good. And this is another ifttt thing — you should really try it — I have a script so that anytime he writes an article, it automatically gets pushed to my Instapaper. 

And that New York Times article on Apple and FoxConn was really good. I thought it was really well-reported, which is unusual. There’s been a lot of really simplistic talk about, for example, suicides at FoxConn, but then when you look at, suicides there are lower than the national average, and so it seemed like very facile analysis. But the New York Times going there and seeing the working conditions — it was well-reported. And yeah, I found that through their Twitter feed. That’s the great thing about Twitter — I probably saw it retweeted like five times, with comments saying, “Great article!” and then I said, “Oh, maybe I should actually read this one.” If it had just been @nytimes, I might not have read it. Because, oh great, another regurgitation of the same facts. But I saw somebody i respected say this is worth reading. And then I did.

What else did I read? I don’t find much of mainstream journalism interesting. I read the Economist, the New Yorker, and the New York Times occasionally. The Journal used to be great. I think the Journal used to be by far the best press. By far. What else? I read a lot of industry stuff. I go to Hacker News and I look at the top links there. I don’t really use reddit or digg. I occasionally type in Google News. And if I do go to the Huffington Post, it’s to stay loosely in touch with what’s up with the Kardashians.

So you’re interested?

Not really, no. [laughing] Just to have some contact with mainstream culture.

How have your tailored your information to help you with the work you’re doing?

I’ve always thought it’s important to be up on these things. Often I’ll have a meeting, and we’ll be chatting, and some event that happened that day will come up. It’s not that I want to show off that I’ve read the news, it’s more that I want to make sure the meetings I have that day are fruitful. And a lot of the time they’re fruitful because you have common touchstones, and those are often the news events of the day.

I also blog a lot, and I think of it this way: I have information that comes in, and then I meet with interesting people. I measure whether or not I’ve had an interesting day or week by my blogging productivity. So it’s a three-stage machine, right. Input raw material and information; meet with interesting people, and then learn and process that information in a post. It’s a metric to see whether or not I’m doing a good job.

I didn’t really think about this until I started blogging five years ago. Then I found that most of the satisfaction of it was in measuring yourself — seeing if you learn — and then looking at the comments. Here’s this wacky idea I’ve formed throughout the week: what do people think?

I measure the quality of my blog by the quality of the comments. I didn’t even look at pageviews for a long time. I try to use the comments as a disciplined metric. I want my writing style to get the most interesting and informed people to discuss it.

The quality of the comments, and not the quantity?

Less so. I mean, zero comments is bad. [laughing] In blogging there’s a sweet spot. If there’s too few readers, and too few comments, there’s no real discussion, and if there’s too much, like TechCrunch, you get trolls and flamewars and whatever. In the middle you can actually get a nice discussion going.

Is there anything missing from the way you consume news? Any tools you wish you had?

There’s a lot of little technical things that need to get fixed. Like the fact that I have to remember, before I get on the subway, to download the Instapaper, the iPad app, whatever — I don’t think this stuff is built for New York, where you’re offline sometimes. And Twitter — I think it’s the best tool so far, but I doesn’t feel like the ultimate way to consume news. For all the reasons described — like you miss six hours of stuff. But it’s definitely better than anything else I know of. RSS started to feel the way that the inbox does now, with that number. It’s like this nagging to-do list, and Google Reader started to feel like that too. Just another thing you need to do. I think that’s the thing that’s nice about Twitter. There’s this general feeling that it’s okay if you miss stuff, because it often does come back if it’s important enough. I mean, think about the SOPA/PIPA debate. You could have been offline for two days and you still would have heard about it. If it’s big enough, it’ll come back. 

It’s an interesting time right now. We mentioned Fred Wilson earlier — he’s the most interesting person writing about venture capital, and it’s this sort of bizarre thing where he’s considered an amateur, while a reporter at the New York Times who’s never done anything related to venture capital is a professional. When of course, in reality, it’s exactly the opposite. I find that more and more of the best content is from people speaking from direct experience. I think there’s probably always a need for professional news, investigative reporting, like the Foxconn story we were talking about earlier. Maybe you could have on-the-ground reports about that, but probably you need paid journalists for that, and there’s a role for that. But the idea that the New York Times needs to tell you about the latest finance and venture capital news is silly. I’m interested in the potential and untapped talent out there, and the changing role of paid journalists. I think the more interesting questions for news are around content than around delivery mechanisms. I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress with delivery mechanisms, but with content we’re going to see some interesting shakeups in the next five years.

(All interviews conducted by Sonia Saraiya.)

Getting the News — Alan Murray

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Zach SewardAnil Dash, and Megan Garberhere.)

This week we talked to Alan Murray, deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, for the Wall Street Journal. He has editorial responsibility for the Journal’s web sites, including WSJ.com and MarketWatch. Alan’s view of news is from the inside out: As he puts it, he’s “surrounded by screens,” completely immersed in the news process at the Journal. Hilarious and insightful, he gave us his take on the future of news, telling a few stories about the development of the WSJ app and what it feels like to be Twitter famous along the way.

Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

I read the Wall Street Journal early in the morning, usually on the iPad, but sometimes on the Kindle Fire, sometimes in print, and sometimes on my iPhone. But I start with the WSJ. When I’m done with the WSJ I check my Twitter feed. I have about 300 people who I follow, and because I know I don’t have time to read all the things I should read, I find that my Twitter feed is a good way to make sure I don’t miss something important. If it’s important enough, I can assume somebody has tweeted about it. And then maybe three days a week, on days when I work out, I check out the New York Times and the Financial Times. In that order. The number one priority is the Journal, and I try to switch platforms so that I’m familiar with how we’re delivering on all of them.

Are there any particular people on Twitter you find very valuable?

Oh, I don’t know. I have a list of 300 of them. You could actually go to Twitter and look up the list. But there’s not any one or two that I would single out — that’s not really the way I use it. There are so many things I should be reading. I wish I read every issue of the New Yorker and The Atlantic. I wish I could get three or four other papers every day, but I can’t. I wish I was watching a lot of stuff on television that I’m not. So I find that the group of people I follow on Twitter are a pretty good way of making sure that if there’s something really interesting out there I find out about it.

So did you develop that list over time? How carefully did you create it?

Not carefully, but over time. There are some people on the list who really irritate the hell out of me, but I haven’t taken the trouble of going in and taking them off the list yet. And when I learn about people who are active Tweeters who learn about stuff I’m interested in, I follow them. And they kind of fall into three categories. There is the Washington/political category. Then there’s the interesting business and financial news, economics bloggers, those sorts of people. And then the third group is media and technology people. Most of the people I follow fall into one of those three groups.

What platforms do you use? Which devices? Do you use iPads in the morning?

I still get the Wall Street Journal delivered on my driveway every morning. I have a 45-minute train ride, which is my key morning-media reading time. I usually read the iPad, but I often have the paper with me, and I look at the paper to see how it’s laid out. Some days, I like this morning, I read the Kindle Fire instead of the iPad, just to keep up with it. There have been other days when because I forgot to charge my iPad or something, I check it on the iPhone, or my android phone.

Is there any experience you prefer?

The iPad. Not to say I prefer Apple to the other companies, but just that I think it’s the best device. And our readers feel the same way. It’s the first digital product we’ve created that readers find more satisfying than the print paper.

That’s very interesting. Did the Wall Street Journal develop that app internally?

We did. In a windowless room, because Apple said it had to be a windowless room, with three devices that were chained to a table. With a small group of people who worked pretty much nonstop for six weeks. 

It had to be a windowless room because it was before the iPad was released publicly?

Yeah. They demanded it be a windowless room. They demanded the iPads be chained to the table. They would only allow a small number of people to enter the room. It all happened in the six weeks between when the first announcement was made and when the iPad launched. It was very interesting. There was no time to plan, or do business models, or anything, which seems to have worked to our advantage.

One other thing that guided that — because many of the people in the room were actually web designers — was that Rupert Murdoch really kept insisting that the product be modeled on the print paper. Which was exactly right. Several times we had to course-correct and say, wait a minute, this isn’t supposed to look like a website, this really needs to look like the paper. It’s a big part of what people like about it. It’s scannable, skimmable, with a discrete set of content.

Do you watch television news?

So, if you could see my office, where Ashley and I are sitting, I have [counting] one, two, three, four, five, screens, I’m sorry, six screens and three devices. I have two screens where I keep an eye on business news. I keep one of them on FOX Business News, and with the other I’ll sometimes watch CNBC and sometimes watch CNN, depending on what’s going on. I have a big screen right in front of me — a Samsung Smart TV — where I get our video, via either Samsung, Apple TV, or Roku, I have them all hooked up to the same TV. We do five hours of live webcasting a day, and if I’m here, I watch those live. And then I have my two computer screens, one that I keep on WSJ.com and one on MarketWatch.com. And then I have a MacBook Pro that I work on. I’m totally surrounded by screens. I keep these two screens on with the sound off just to see what’s on. And I watch our shows, but multitasking. Just don’t tell the hosts.

What was the last great article you read, and how did you find it?

Oh, that’s a trick question. I’ll say something in the Journal, right?

You’re welcome to say something in the Journal.

If it’s a great article that’s in the Journal, I just read it because I read the Journal every day. “Great” might be the wrong word. Reading about Sheryl Sandberg’s new house in Menlo Park, CA this morning was fun. If it’s not in the Journal… well, James Fallows has a new article out on Bill Daley and the White House. And… you know, I forgot a part of my daily routine. I can’t believe you’re asking me all these questions. So if it’s not in the Journal, I read about it in my Twitter feed and go to it from there. But the other things I read in the morning are several emails. One is Mike Allen’s POLITICO email. We have a service called CFO Journal that does a morning email. I read that in the morning, that’s about 700-800 words. Sometimes I read ABC’s The Note.

How do your news consumption habits inform what you’re covering at the WSJ?

I’m not writing much anymore, because I just don’t have time. I do participate in the morning news meeting, and my views are definitely informed by the information I’ve picked up before I get there at 10:30am. We start the morning meeting with a report on what people are reading on our site, what people are searching for on our site, what they’re looking for more broadly on Google, what stories are trending — a general review of what people are reading, both on our site and off our site.

A metrics analysis?

Yes. That’s the first thing we do. We care about our readers.

My next question was going to be, how do social signals play into that? And the answer, it sounds like, is quite a bit.

Yes. One of the other things I do in the morning, in addition to looking at the 300 people I follow on Twitter, I’ll also do a search of “WSJ” — just to see which of our content is being talked about on Twitter.

What do you find out?

You get a very different view of the news, finding out what stories are really being shared, and what stories people find most interesting. We have a really active and rapidly growing Japanese-language site, with an active Twitter following, so in the morning what’s often being shared are Japanese-language stories.

Do you speak Japanese?

I do speak some Japanese. I read some Japanese. I studied it for a while. So I can sometimes make out some sense of what they’re saying. 

Is there anything missing in the way you get your news now? Anything you wish you had?

Oh, that’s interesting. I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know. … No. I’m pretty happy with what I have. If you were to look at my iPad, I’ve downloaded virtually every news aggregator app that exists. I’ll go around and look at them from time to time. But I haven’t found anything else that is so compelling that it’s become a part of my daily routine. The Journal plus Twitter does it for me.

How long have you had your Twitter account for?

About three years? I follow 357 people. And I have 18,000 followers.

How does that feel, being Twitter famous?

Well, it’s pretty small compared to Ashton Kutcher.

(All interviews conducted by Sonia Saraiya.)

Getting the News — Evan McMorris-Santoro

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Zach Seward, Anil Dash, and Megan Garber, here.)

This week, we wanted to give you a slice of life from the campaign trail. Evan McMorris-Santoro is one of Talking Points Memo's lead campaign reporters for Election 2012. Evan has been following the GOP candidates from caucus to primary, trailing them from New Hampshire to South Carolina, through Florida and to Nevada. Primary season for journalists is so hectic, it’s all-consuming — so the time they spend getting the news has to be as efficient as possible. We hounded Evan into giving us a few precious minutes of his time to tell us how he’s staying plugged in during election season.

1. Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

Lately I’ve been on the road a lot, so sites with excellent mobile content have been my go-tos lately. I always check TPM first to see what my colleagues were working on the day before, and then I’m usually reading a campaign 2012 news aggregation email like Politico's Morning Score or PBS' Morning Line. I forget what I read back before I was covering every minuscule detail of the presidential campaign — is there other news besides campaign news?

2. What publications or news sources do you read and trust? How frequently do you visit them throughout the day?

These days, with the Twitterz and all, it’s more about who you trust rather than where you trust. Like everyone else in this business, I’ve always got an eye on the Tweetdeck and I try to click on everything from reporters I think really know what’s up (hint: start with the people at TPM, and then read what they retweet). Twitter’s also very helpful when I’m on the trail; I can quickly follow what other reporters are the same event I’m at are seeing and writing about.

3. What platforms do you read/get content on? Are you into reading content on your iPhone or tablet, or do you still remember how to unfold a newspaper? Do you ever watch television news programs?

I made the switch from iPhone to Android on the first day the first Droid came out and I’ve never looked back. Now I’m on the Droid3, and I’ll get the Droid4 when that (finally!) comes out. So while I’m doing the road warrior thing, that’s my primary source for reading news. And finding directions to local cuisine. And looking at pictures of the cat my fiance sends. And sending pictures of local cuisine to my fiance. Etc…

4. What was the last great article you read? How did you find out about it? Is this your typical pattern?

My colleague Nick Martin did a great series of articles on the “Tarmac Tiff” between President Obama and Jan Brewer ["Brewer Has History of Getting Facts Wrong"] that really blew up the existing narrative around the story and dug into the interesting personalities behind it. I’m lucky because I get to watch those pieces come together, so it’s not hard to find them. But while I’m living the road life, I really rely on sites that push their content at you — tweet it, email it, RSS it — rather than sites I just passively browse. Most of my news consumption these days is flipping through the phone over coffee in the morning and then checking Twitter while standing in the back of some library annex or barbecue restaurant (note to campaigns: book more barbecue restaurants) somewhere. So having stuff pushed is key.

5. Is anything missing from your news consumption pattern now or in the tools/sites that you use? Anything you wish you had?

Advancements in filing technology are what I’m really looking forward to these days. Better systems that allow you to file a blog post on your phone or post a twitpic directly to my editors for blogging would really be gamechangers. I’m not sure why I’m so eager for new ways to feed the insatiable maw that is internet (maybe I should see someone about that) but I’m interested to see how more advanced mobile tools for journalists could change how we do our work.

Getting the News — Patricia Sauthoff

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Zach Seward, Anil Dash, and Megan Garber, here.)

This week we interviewed Patricia Sauthoff, editor of the juggernaut content aggregator Mediagazer. We’ve always admired Mediagazer and its sister sites Techmeme, memeorandum, and WeSmirch for their comprehensive coverage and fantastic, seemingly magical algorithm that surfaces the top stories of the day. We were sort of hoping Patricia would tell us all of Mediagazer’s secrets, but she kept mum — so we settled for how she gets her news, instead.

1. Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

First thing, always, is to log onto Mediagazer to make sure everything is running smoothly and to check headlines from overnight. In the mornings Lyra McKee or David Connell are at the helm so I enjoy the luxury of coffee in bed while I catch up on all the non-media news that happened while I was asleep.

In the mornings I usually stick to RSS feeds for news. I can scan headlines and open tabs as well as search for whatever particular topic strikes my fancy. I’m still using Google Reader, but the redesign hasn’t grown on me. One of these days I’ll find a good replacement.

Around 11 am I fire up Tweetdeck and stick with Twitter for the bulk of the day, though I do jump back to RSS on occasion. The feeds I follow on both of those tools have some overlap but there are some things I’m more likely to read when I see on one or the other. Like The Awl. Nothing they tweet ever makes me want to click a link, but in RSS I find myself reading it all the time.

Because my job is to aggregate already published news I follow more journalists than publications on Twitter. Writers are more likely to tweet their pieces immediately than publications — especially those with auto-tweets — so that’s a good way to stay one step ahead of everything. RSS picks things up slower too, but it’s helpful when there are multiple stories on a topic. I can get a general view of how journalists are responding and scoop up all the takes in one shot.

Mediagazer and Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera, of course, has famously created an awesome algorithm to catch news and it’s fantastic. I try to beat it to the punch as often as I can. I don’t really know how it works, but if I can find news it hasn’t, I feel like I’m doing something right. It’s a bit strange to be the aggregator because I spend all day going through news feeds I’ve aggregated for myself and sharing the best of those. I don’t really get to use any other aggregators, except as a mark of what I’m already doing. The race to beat Romenesko was always pretty fun, but I’m enjoying his turn back toward journalism a lot more. He’s not only got a famously great eye for stories but an investigative streak that likes to fill in the gaps that others are missing.

Around 6 p.m. EST the media pundits tend to slow down, though news still trickles through until pretty late at night. I keep one eye on that beat and turn the rest of my news reading attention to world politics.

2. What publications or news sources do you read and trust? How frequently do you visit them throughout the day?

I almost never go directly to a news source looking for information. I’m more likely to trust a byline based on experience than the publication as a whole.

My daily reading is very diverse. For techy news the WIRED blogs, All Things Digital and PaidContent are good. I usually end up on all three of those at least a couple times a day. Obviously the big ones like the Guardian, New York Times and Reuters are always coming up, no matter what topic I’m reading about. I also really enjoy the AP local coverage, even if it’s a place I’ve never been. I constantly find myself reading some random AP story from Mississippi or wherever and wondering how I got there. Their headlines must be link-baity. I’m also reading a lot of Forbes and Bloomberg these days, which 15-year-old me would not approve of.

I get sucked into both Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education on a pretty regular basis, so I’m oddly up on the current debates in secondary education. Both of those publications find good writers and don’t have the academic voices you’d expect.

My number one most trusted news source is the Twitter feed of Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell. I’d like to hear how he has the time to read all that news and keep up with so many different threads of conversation. What I really like about him is the mini-criticism he gives when he does link to a story, or the way he’ll retweet others as a narrative of whatever he’s currently thinking about.

Beyond the US and UK papers, I follow a lot of English-language papers around the world, too. The National, The Hindu, Dawn, etc. It’s a nice balance and often the difference of perspective is startling.

3. What platforms do you read/get content on? Are you into reading content on your iPhone or tablet, or do you still remember how to unfold a newspaper? Do you ever watch television news programs?

It probably sounds crazy, but I don’t have a smart phone. I do have an iPad and a wireless hotspot though, so I do end up pulling that out and looking at it in what are probably inappropriate situations. I work from home, so I don’t really need a phone at all. The tablet is a bit unwieldy, but it works and is easier to read on.

One of my favorite things on the whole internet is an “Onion News Network” video called “How Will the End of Print Journalism Affect Old Loons who Hoard Newspapers?” Even though my work is online I have loon piles of print all over my house. When I lived in London my mom would save up a month’s worth of New Yorkers and ship them to me. It was awesome.  Even though I could read it online with my subscription, I never did. My husband is a journalist too, so we’re constantly buying magazines and stacking them up all over the house. I find I read a lot more widely when I’ve made the commitment to a print magazine.

The first thing I do when I move somewhere new is to get a library card, I’m too mobile to buy a lot of books these days, and have a nice little collection of cards. Lately I’ve been on a fiction binge thanks to the local library. Of the last five novels I’ve read only one of them has been an e-book. The wait time for library e-books is too long and I like to read the dust jacket of anything I’m going to put that much time into reading.

I haven’t owned a TV since 2006 so I have to really go out of my way to watch it. I don’t really like TV, but I get sucked in easily. I watch FRONTLINE regularly, and 60 Minutes works really well as a podcast. I do go old-school and listen to the radio every day though — streaming, of course. Fresh Air in the afternoons and Le Show on Sunday nights.

4. What was the last great article you read? How did you find out about it? Is this your typical pattern?

I recently reread, for maybe the third time, Lawrence Wright’s “The Apostate” in the New Yorker. That was such a good article. I hold nearly all magazine pieces up to that one for comparison. The last one to stick with me almost as strongly was an Atlantic piece by Caitlin Flanagan called “The Hazards of Duke,” about the complexity of the female sexual landscape. It was a really troubling article that I remember reading about when it came out early last year, but I didn’t read it until Longform put it on it’s list of the year’s best. I wouldn’t call it great, but I also read the GQ T.O. piece ["Love Me, Hate Me, Just Don’t Ignore Me," a profile of Terrell Owens by Nancy Hass] a week or so ago and I don’t follow sports at all, so there was definitely something compelling to that one.

5. Is anything missing from your news consumption pattern now or in the tools/sites that you use? Anything you wish you had?

Whomever decided that computer screens would have a horizontal orientation is evil. Or not a reader. It would be so much easier to read and write if I could swivel my laptop screen vertically. It would seriously change my life. I think that’s one of the main reasons smartphones and tablets are so appealing, you can see so much more of a page if you turn the screen. Of course, if I couldn’t swivel it back to watch the Daily Show in wide-screen, I’d complain about that too.

Other than that, I’m not an innovator. People are coming up with cool tools all the time and I love trying them out. Someone will invent something that will be perfect for me, but I don’t know what that is. Unless it’s a dictation program that can function perfectly while I’m running water. I have genius ideas in the shower or when I’m doing the dishes but by the time I can write them down, they’re not quite right.

Getting the News — Zach Seward

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Anil Dash, Khoi Vinh, and Megan Garber, here.)

This week we reached out to Zach Seward, editor of outreach and social media for the Wall Street Journal. In addition to his writing and editing at the Journal, Zach teaches a class on digital media at NYU. He’s working at the intersection of social media and news every day. Zach warned us that his responses to the questions would be “a little obsessive” — this is one of our longest interviews, featuring Zach’s observations on his own rapacious appetite for news and the digital media landscape. But it’s so good that we wanted to publish all of it. This might be the first and last time we publish the phrase “news blow,” but we could hardly pass up on the opportunity.

1. Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

My alarm clock sounds like one of those bright-red bells that might ring in a firehouse to signal an emergency, aptly setting the tone of my morning, which is a bleary scramble to answer: What did I miss?

Lurching out of bed and casting aside the iPad I fell asleep reading, I grab my phone to see what has piled up in my inboxes — work email first, then personal. I’m lucky to be part of a global news organization, so if something has exploded overnight in Kabul, if Asian markets are tanking, if protestors have been evicted from Zuccotti Park, that news will be waiting for me, often as raw dispatches from our staff overseas. My first notice of last year’s earthquake in Japan, for instance, was an inbox full of increasingly alarming emails.

I suppose this kind of news consumption is driven by an unhealthy fear, as though going to sleep were a risk rather than reward. And there’s often little to distinguish a can’t-miss story from a quarterly earnings report: that red LED blinks at the same pace no matter what news has just arrived. Ping. Ping. Ping.

Still, on a good day, email is my best informant. Friends send over links, sources chime in with tips, and strangers reach out to say something unexpected. My inboxes are messy streams not unlike the Twitter timeline or Facebook newsfeed — except that every message is addressed to me.

I also subscribe to scores of newsletters and other automated emails, most of which I delete without reading, which is a cathartic morning ritual. There are only two such emails that I open without exception:

  • News.me's digest of what my friends are reading and sharing, which is also on the Web. Many services compete in this space, and I’ve tried them all, but News.me is the only one that reliably surfaces links I want to click on. (I’m not just flattering you; it’s true!)
  • Timehop's diary of my Foursquare check-ins and tweets from a year ago. Sure, that's not really news so much as nostalgia, but I see it as an improvement on that old newspaper fixture, “This Day in History.”

Before setting my phone back down on my dresser, I also check topheadlin.es, which is a mobile web app that my colleague Jeremy Singer-Vine built. It scans dozens of news sites for the single most-prominent headline on each and displays them in a clean list. If a big story has broken overnight, I will get a quick view of how everyone is playing it. On a lighter morning, topheadlin.es is an efficient glance at the news judgment of news organizations from Al Jazeera to ESPN.

Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson gave an awesome talk last year on designing news for “media moments.” Waiting in line at the supermarket, commuting to work, and seeking a diversion to avoid an awkward conversation in the elevator are all media moments into which news might fit. And I think right-when-you-wake-up may be the ultimate media moment, combining urgency, routine, and a voracious audience, at least after they’ve had some caffeine.

The Internet made me a morning person, I guess.

Read more

Summify Users: We’re here for you. You’re Safe.

Sign up for the News.me Daily Digest

Yesterday, our friends at Summify announced that they have been acquired by Twitter, that they “will be disabling new account registrations immediately and…removing some features” and that they plan to offer “a more streamlined service as we transition our efforts to working at Twitter.”

First of all, congratulations to both Twitter and Summify. This is great news for both companies.

With yesterday’s news, we saw a massive influx of users with lots of questions about our Daily Digest product. As happy as we are for Summify and Twitter, we couldn’t help but notice how their users felt about the news:

It goes on… We’ve seen this before.

As the internet lets out a collective sigh and throws up its hands in frustration, one might ask: will the cries for help go unanswered?!

Given the level of inbound interest in the Daily Digest, we thought we’d take a moment to share a bit about where we’re heading, and ask for some advice!

News.me is best known for the iPad app that we released last year (we’ve been staying busy since then, stay tuned for more details on that soon).  We also have an email product (with tens of thousands of users) that is similar in functionality to what Summify offered its users. It started as a side project, a companion to our iOS applications, but has grown into a surprisingly massive and engaging product.

We keep an eye on your Twitter stream throughout the day, and the next morning present you with a list of the most important links shared by your friends. To be perfectly transparent, it’s not that hard to do (shhh…). We use a link’s frequency of appearance in your stream as an indicator of importance, and use bitly data (how many people from around the web are clicking on that link) to weight that indicator.

Here’s what Tim O’Reilly received in his inbox this morning. You can also visit his Digest online (along with your own and many other Featured Digests) at: news.me/timoreilly

So where are we going?

  • Adding support for Facebook!
  • Time of Day settings: you decide when the Daily Digest arrives
  • Support for time zones: we hear you, Australia
  • Story count settings: you decide how many stories you want in your Digest

We want your suggestions!

Summify users:

  • What did you like best about the service that you’d love to see us implement?
  • What did you wish you could have but that Summify never built?

So fear not, news junkies! We’ve got some work to do, but we’re here for you, you’re safe.

Sign up for the News.me Daily Digest

Explore some others:

http://www.news.me/nickbilton

http://www.news.me/marshallk

http://www.news.me/johnbattelle

Getting the News — David Shen

(This post is part of News.me’s ongoing series, “Getting the News.” In our efforts to understand everything about social news, we’re reaching out to writers and thinkers we like to ask them how they get their daily news. Read the first post here. See all of the posts, from writers and thinkers like Anil Dash, Khoi Vinh, and Megan Garber, here.)

This week we’re very happy to feature David Shen. Dave is the West Coast Director for Launch Capital, former vice president of user experience and design at Yahoo!, amateur triathlete, and incredibly dedicated advisor to News.me. With a dual background in both programming and design, Dave is bursting with ideas for how to improve the news experience. We find him an invaluable resource, and we thought you might be interested to hear some of his many ideas.

1. Describe how you get news throughout the day. What’s the first thing you check when you wake up?

When I wake up in the morning, I might grab my iPhone next to my bed first and scroll through my email, looking at the various news emails I subscribe to. Then I open up Twitter and scroll through a few screens to see if there is anything interesting. If I get to my Mac, then it’s all about reading news via email, on my Netvibes page, and on twitter.

Netvibes is a web-based RSS reader, the next generation of evolution from My Yahoo! who popularized the user interface for reading content via placing that content into modules on a single page. Netvibes and other RSS readers are aggregated news readers that predate the stream view of content which came with the advent of Twitter. Still, I like the format provided by Netvibes because it allows me to scan a page full of headlines very quickly. Each one of those modules is news grouped by source, so if I want to focus on news by sources I can do that easily here.

Twitter is different; it has no organization, except for sorting in time and is presented serially only. But its user interface is great for real time news. The news is presented one after another as soon as it is placed in the stream.

I also read a lot of paper. I won’t buy newspapers (too big, too thick to carry, my fingers get dirty from holding the newsprint), but I still subscribe to magazines. I still have this conflict between paper and screen for reading. I’ve tried to read WIRED and Popular Science on the iPad but can’t do it for some reason; the paper versions are still superior to me. But I love my Kindle app on iPad and read almost all of my books on it.

There is one use case where I need paper magazines, and that is when I fly. That annoying little bit of time during takeoff and landing when we’re supposed to turn everything off is when I get through a stack of magazines. If only the airlines would allow us to use our e-readers during this time – it could remove my need for paper magazines greatly.

2. What publications or news sources do you read and trust? How frequently do you visit them throughout the day?

I subscribe to emails from the New York Times, Stocktwits, the Washington Post, and John Mauldin's weekly newsletter. I almost never visit the top pages of these sites; the typical home page of a news site is typically an online copy of its offline equivalent. Offline, we seemed to have gotten used to scanning an entire page of newsprint. Online, it is too cluttered for screen use because a computer screen is too constrained for scanning all that content.

Lifestyle and other content come in other emails, like Lomography, Griff Hamlin Blues Guitar Unleashed, Trendwatching.com, and Brain Pickings Weekly, As a central place to collect all sorts of content for later perusal, email works amazingly well for me.

More likely, I will pick up paper versions of: The Economist, Time, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, WIRED, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Triathlete, and Inside Triathlon.

The numerous other sources available online of blogs, brands, and sites are too many to name – I visit these randomly as they are presented to me, mostly through Twitter.

This begs the question: what exactly constitutes news? With the advent of the Internet, blogging and citizen journalism have become mainstream. There is a massive explosion of content but it is chaotic and ungoverned. Does someone’s online diary constitute news? A snippet of a person’s day on Twitter or Facebook feed? An opinion piece on a presidential candidate by an individual? The way it is presented, it seems that everything is now categorized as “news” in everyone’s minds. This is both an amazing happenstance and an opportunity for great danger. More information than ever possible is now available on any topic one can imagine; however, there is an unsolved problem where we instinctively think that whatever is printed is truth. Thus, we can always find content to support our position on an issue, but we have little means to know whether it is true, an opinion, or a blatant falsehood.

3. What platforms do you read/get content on? Are you into reading content on your iPhone or tablet, or do you still remember how to unfold a newspaper? Do you ever watch television news programs?

For me, it is slowly moving towards digital simply because of portability and the ability to do advanced things like reading later or saving snippets.

Bringing up an issue I mentioned earlier, there are still advantages of paper over those of screens. I must admit to liking the feel of paper. I save articles for reading later by ripping pages out and then I scan them in via my Fujitsu ScanSnap (an indispensible office device by the way). But paper isn’t very eco-green, and it takes up so much space and weight.

So far, the Kindle’s black and white e-ink screen is superior to that of the iPad color screen on eye strain and contrast. I’ve dialed down the brightness of my iPad’s screen to help ease the strain. But the iPad is great because I can read in the dark. Still, holding an iPad is pretty tough for a long period of time; it’s just a bit too heavy for that. Sometimes I long for a low-end Kindle but then I would have to lug around yet another device.

But still, the interface for digital versions of magazines isn’t good enough. We need more research into what a digital magazine (or book for that matter) should be. I do not think that having nifty swiping and embedded videos or animation is good enough. A lot of what is there is too distracting or interrupts the flow of original content.

As for TV news, I never watch it except when I’m on the treadmill working out. When I’m focused on running, I can’t really do anything else but watch video on a screen in front of me. The occasions when I can just receive passive feeding of news doesn’t happen very often now. It is much more efficient for me to scan things via text then it is to listen to someone deliver the news.

That’s not to say that certain types of content or stories aren’t better delivered via video. I just don’t have time to sit and watch an hour of news video, especially when I can get the same news in 5-10 minutes of scanning/reading news text.

4. What was the last great article you read? How did you find out about it? Is this your typical pattern?

I read a great post today by Cory Doctorow titled “A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future.” It’s about how science fiction writers are terrible predictors of the future, but are still great at “inspiring, inoculating, reflecting, and exposing.” This one came through a tweet by Brad Feld of Techstars fame. Since I use Twitter as a major driver of news, this came through my typical pattern of news consumption.

Twitter is great for serendipity. But not all news is about serendipity; in my job, for example, I go looking for news about startups and venture capital. In my personal finances, I am interested in the economy and what the experts think about where the world is going. I train for triathlons and am interested in the latest thinking in training and sport.

Filtering in this way is important to wade through the chaos of everyday news; there is so much going on in the world and the internet has only exploded the availability of news. We desperately need products and services that help us figure out what to read when we want to read it and present it in an easily digestible form.

5. Is anything missing from your news consumption pattern now or in the tools/sites that you use? Anything you wish you had?

I posted a rant on my blog about how news hasn’t been innovated much at all, or at least in the deeper, more important, aspects.

Back when I was at Yahoo!, one of the first things we did was to bring news online. I think we launched Yahoo! News back in late 1995 and it was just a page of links, which opened up into text only story pages. This quickly expanded into multiple categories of news, and then into a whole bunch of new data sets like sports scores and stock quotes.

It was pretty innovative back then — but hasn’t changed much since. In fact, all every major news outlet has done is put their content online. Then they added a few other enhancements, like emailing stories, commenting, Facebook likes — is that innovation or just following the crowd?

I have serendipitous and directed news reading habits. I want to remember what I have read and be able to look up something I read, far into the past if need be. I want to clip quotes, share them, and discuss them with friends and strangers. I want to find out about breaking news as fast as it happens. I want to know what is truth and what is not, and what is just an opinion. And I want to be able to find out the latest news about any topic I’m interested in, at any time. I’m convinced the Internet has set the platform for this all to happen; I’m just waiting now for someone to make it real.