Do you remember when August was the silly season? Well, it hasn't been this year, has it? At the beginning of the week, we had some of the biggest news — if not THE biggest news — of the year: the terrifying new report from the IPCC on the climate crisis. Wolfgang Blau has done some fascinating work on what we, as journalists and other communicators, should be doing about it.
This is a topic I'm very passionate about — and impacted by right now, as our holiday next week has been cancelled due to unseasonable flooding. Expect me to return to the subject. (And let me know what you think we should be doing.)
In the meantime, here's a selection of useful reading and watching for you, broken down into categories. I'm intending to do one of these a week during August — as my instinct is that people would prefer less email this month, rather than more. Do let me know if I'm off base with that…
- 📜 How far do people scroll — and how long do they read when they do? This is useful research, suggesting that calls to action and other points of engagement might be best placed at the end of articles. Also: there appears to be a written journalism version of the “three second rule” from social video: you only have a few seconds to sell your story to the reader, and encourage them to scroll.
- 📉 The COVID traffic bump is going into reverse. We knew this was likely — we'll now see which publications have been working hardest to retain those extra readers.
- 💃🏻 Given the importance of short, looping videos on TikTok and Instagram, some of these short videos from Apple are useful skills boosts:
- 🦠 The YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot — YouTubers as a generic category get blamed for a lot of misinformation. This is a nice corrective to that narrative.
- 🤥 And yet, another vaccine misinformation video is going viral. Pun intended. Love puns. Hate misinformation.
- 🧑🏻🔬 People who trust science are more likely to fall for misinformation presented in sciencey terms… Pseudoscience can be powerful.
- 🤑 The NYT is making a bunch of its newsletters subscriber-only. It's far from the first to do this: in the UK, The Times and The FT already do. But it's interesting to note that newsletters have evolved beyond a website marketing tool into valuable products in their own right.
- 🤔 Substack has acquired Letter, a “platform for written debate”. The platform had no existing business model, the announcement has no suggestion of integration, so this looks very much like an “acquihire” of the founders.
- 🛠 A useful round-up of newsletter tools from Jeremy Caplan. Sent via Substack…
- 👩🏽💻 Five things we can learn from the Funke Mediengruppe newsletter transformation — nothing revelatory, but some good general advice here.
- 📈 Some ranking weirdness associated with an algorithm update. Basically, don't panic if you're seeing a traffic drop — it should be temporary.
- 🧑🏾🔧 One for the more techie folks: Using Google Lighthouse to improve your technical SEO.
- 🔗 This is a useful guide to different internal linking strategies. The best internal linking strategy is putting good reader-focused links in stories as you publish them. But this is a useful way of focusing your efforts if you haven't done that.
- 💰 Medium is now giving commission for referring members to the platform. You get a cut of their account fees for the life of the account.
- 🤬 Instagram has added some new anti-abuse features.
- 🕵🏻♀️ Twitter takes some rather belated steps on misinformation. It looks like the curation team are going to take a bigger role in working with partners to highlight reliable reporting.
- 🧑🏽🏫 Twitter also has a new look, built around its own typeface and increased accessibility:
Worth checking out: Inkcap Journal
Inkcap Journal, a newsletter by journalist Sophie Yeo on nature and conservation in the UK, is launching its membership offering. Sophie's hoping to start commissioning other journalists when the income reaches a sustainable level:
Thought-provoking tweet from friend-of-the-blog Joanna Geary:
Finally: The reminder we all need
I don't know about you, but I have a pretty cyclical relationship with imposter syndrome. I go through bad spells and good spells. (I'm going through a bad spell right now.) This is a useful reminder…
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