Toronto-based The Globe and Mail trialled popular messaging app WhatsApp to keep readers informed during the recently completed Canadian election campaign that saw Justin Trudeau sweep into office.
The idea behind the trial was simple: “What is the one thing you need to know today to help you make an informed vote on October 19?”
Readers opting in to the experiment received text messages with information about candidates, along with graphics of latest polling numbers.
Overall, the trial was well received, with around 1700 initial sign-ups, and many readers giving positive feedback – but it was not without its challenges.
The account used to broadcast the messages was tied to one phone number, and the phone had to be passed back and forth between social media editors.
“WhatsApp presents exciting opportunities for journalists,” Melissa Whetstone, a senior social media and community editor for The Globe and Mail, said on the Medium website.
“Imagine as a reporter, you could join an established chat group and exchange information and photos for a story you are working on?” she said.
“And if WhatsApp is willing to work with news organisations to smooth out the kinks, we would happily test the waters again.”
Project to examine digital transition
Three news organisations in the US have signed up to a project funded by The Knight Foundation on how to best deal with digital transition.
The project is run by Temple University’s School of Media and Communication department. Its aim is to put mobile and digital at the forefront of newsroom operations.
Through team-based lessons, Temple University will help newsrooms gain a better understanding of the skills and knowledge required to address a digital and mobile world, according to a report on the NiemanLab website.
At the completion of the project, a report will be produced, along with a set of online tools and templates for newsrooms, to assist them in the transition.
On board for the project are The Dallas Morning News, the Philadelphia Media Network, and the Miami Herald.
In essence, their newsrooms will become a learning platform for the industry.
“By bringing newsroom leaders together to tackle these issues, we hope the lessons learned will inspire more newsrooms to adopt mobile and digital-first best practices,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.
Johnston Press continues closing newspapers
Another newspaper has been shut down by multimedia company Johnston Press, Press Gazette reports.
The paper most recently affected is the St Helens Reporter, a free weekly newspaper in Merseyside. It has now become digital-only.
At the beginning of this month, Johnston Press announced the closure of 11 newspapers, with a further seven titles closed without announcement.
Since 2012, the company has closed around 25 newspapers.