Last week the website of Yamauchi №10 Family Office made the rounds. It’s a great website — isometric scrolling! Voxel animations! Music!

It’s hard to find websites like this. Arguably, for good reason. Most of the time you just want to find information, complete a transaction, fill out a form. Having your bank website flash lights and play a siren at you every time you schedule a bill payment would get old fast. Quirky features slow everything down, and they’re not great for mobile users, security or accessibility.

And yet, as fun one-off projects, weird, creative websites are some of…


When I started writing this, Gamestop stock was at $347 a share. It’s now at $103, still way up from $21 a month ago. If you’ve missed this story about how Redditors pumped a video game retailer up to a $24 billion market cap during a global pandemic, here’s a recap.

Judging by the flood of explainer pieces, many people are confused about how a seemingly random stock could explode like Gamestop has over the past week. This is understandable. From a financial markets perspective, in which stocks are supposed to reflect a company’s perceived value based on past performance…


The New York Times is running a test that stops incognito browsers from skirting its paywall, making news a little harder to steal.

Metered paywalls are a balancing act for newsrooms. They try to thread the needle between finding an audience dedicated enough to trip them, but not dedicated enough to find their way around. They have to be open enough to bring in readers, but closed enough to generate profits.

The point of equilibrium for each newsroom depends on how it sees reader intent. Soft paywalls assume readers won’t look elsewhere after hitting their limit. …


Image from Howard Lake

Last week, my first journal article was published in Media and Communication. I worked with Nick Diakopoulos to research A/B headline testing in newsrooms. Headline tests allow publications to show different parts of the audience different headlines and measure how many people click on each option. Newsrooms use those tests to determine which headline audiences will prefer. I’ve summarized key findings from the paper below, and you can read the whole thing here.

1. Headline tests change headline writing.

Traditionally, journalists relied on their editorial judgment to craft compelling headlines. With A/B testing, the audience now has a way to give its direct feedback on what…


Journalism’s near-term future can go in two directions: Either bleeding-edge AI tools will take care of the mundane parts of reporting and writing, allowing journalists to dig deeper and produce better stories, or that same tech will accelerate the pace of publishing to complete inundation. We’re probably headed for the latter.

The AI tools deployed in modern newsrooms can write on their own. The Associated Press generates stories about corporate earnings and Minor League Baseball automatically. The Washington Post’s Heliograf writes all sorts of stories and accompanying tweets. Forbes is entering the future with a tool called Bertie.

All this…


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When the media industry stumbles, journalism itself often gets the blame: We’re losing money because people won’t pay for news, because banner ads don’t work, because people would rather watch videos on Facebook than read investigative reporting. These are all ways to externalize fault. They pin media’s financial woes on uncontrollable outside forces, with the subtext that the businesses themselves are operating smoothly.

But that’s often not the case. Many times, the companies producing journalism are shooting themselves in the foot, killing their financial potential with management and culture problems. …


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Firefox is trying to add more context to the web with a browser extension called Advance. From The Verge:

There are two parts to Advance: a “Read Next” section, which recommends related articles based on your current tab, and a broader “For You” section, which uses your recent history to populate its recommendations.

For any page on the web, Advance suggests stories on the same topic. This is a great way to keep things together thematically, a need that isn’t being met right now. Much of the news we consume spreads through Facebook and Twitter, where feeds are presented without…


Earlier this week, Google announced a pilot program to make data more discoverable in search. Billed as a way to increase the exposure of data journalism, the feature allows tables to appear directly in search results:

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By structuring their data in a more machine-friendly way, publishers get to play a part in making search results more useful. However, Google may benefit from this change at the expense of the news organizations it’s partnering with.

Google wants to answer questions itself, rather than sending you someplace else. It’s been doing this with “featured snippets,” cards that appear at the top of…


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The Guardian was in trouble last year, with losses predicted to top $100 million. Now, it’s corrected course: The paper hopes to break even by 2019, according to a new piece from Digiday. Here’s how they did it.

Focus on readers

The publisher no longer gets a majority of its revenue from advertising. It now has 800,000 readers paying it directly, either through memberships, subscriptions or one-off contributions. That revenue came from a decision to shift focus away from scale to cultivating relationships with readers. …


-You can now share Snapchat Stories via link, opening a window into the app’s walled, ephemeral garden. The shared Stories will still disappear after some amount of time — from 24 hours to 30 days. This change creates an on-ramp for new users to learn what the notoriously confusing app is all about, an important step as revenue continues to disappoint.

-BuzzFeed found the news survey Facebook is using to rate the trustworthiness of publishers and decide who gets precedence in the News Feed. It only has two questions: “Do you recognize the following websites?” …

Nick Hagar

PhD student @ Northwestern University. I worked in digital media, now I study it.

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