Camayak Blog

Camayak is a content production tool for newsrooms.
Empower editors. Improve communication. Create better content.

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  1. Journalism-Driven Data – How it Works

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    This is a plot about four newsrooms using the Camayak platform. We plot various indicators of staff behavior over time.

    The time dimension is represented in the music as time. The music is composed of verses, each verse corresponding to a season. Each season is broken into four equal parts (approximately 23 days each), and each verse is correspondingly broken into four “phrases”.

    We distinguish between the summer season and all other seasons in these ways.

    * Chord progression (i v i III versus I V vi IV)

    * Presence of drums (off during the summer)

    The commenting on assignments and pitches in newsrooms and assignment of tasks to writers affects the main rhythms and the use of drums.

    The rhythm for the melody is based on averaged data across all the newsrooms and dates for the particular season. There are two underlying tracks, and the data affect how fast the rhythm; one of them gets faster when more comments are made in the newsrooms, and the other gets faster when more assignments are created. Similarly, the bass drum turns on when there are lots of comments, and the hi-hat turns on when there are lots of assignments.

    The rhythm is also based on the number of pitches submitted; measures get more notes added at the end of the measure when more pitches are submitted. (If a lot of pitches are submitted, notes eventually get added to the beginning of each measure too.)

    Pitches of all notes are based on the data for the particular newsroom during the particular 23-day section of the particular season; pitches are higher when more assignments were created.

    The time dimension also is represented in the video, as the x-axis. The season’s name is shown in text, and the background color changes to grey in the Summer.

    The y-axis in the video is the activity generated per day. Activity per day is plotted incrementally—in 23-day sections and one organization at a time. The name of the present organization is written towards the bottom-left of the screen, and the curve for that organization is shown in front of all of the other curves.

    At the right end of the curves are plotted an alternating circle and triangle. Their size is proportional to the number of pitches submitted (circle) and users registered (triangle) for the particular date.

    Activity is low during the summers and very low at the beginning and ends of the song. Low activity during the summers occurs because three of the newsrooms are student newsrooms, which have much less activity when school is out. Low activity at the beginning occurs because the newsrooms had not yet begun using Camayak, and low activity occurs at the end because we are using data that were exported a couple months ago.

    There is a weekly trend of high activity on weekdays and low activity during the week.

    Credit: Thomas Levine

    Further reading: gastronomical data

  2. Introducing: Automatic Notifications

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    We’ve all been there. You’re waiting for your editor to send your work back to you so you can make some changes. You’re expecting an email to let you know you can start working on it. The email never arrives.

    The next morning, you find out that your editor sent you your assignment, but you weren’t logged into Camayak (and either didn’t have desktop notifications activated, or were away from your computer) and so you missed it.

    From today, anyone who’s been assigned to a step in your assignment’s workflow will receive an email 15 seconds after the assignment is sent to them (unless you choose to send it to someone else in that time), letting them know that it’s ready for them to work on. By picking someone for an empty step, you’ll make sure they get that email, too.

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    For those of you using comments to tag people with emails that prompt them to log in, you can still do so if you’re a writer trying to notify an editor at an empty step. As an editor, you’re able to assign another editor to that empty step to ensure they receive the automatic notification.

  3. Getty Images Partners With Camayak

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    Today we’re announcing a new partnership with Getty Images, the world’s leader in visual communications, which gives Camayak users direct access to over 50 million images for non-commercial use in any of their assignments.

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    Using the embed tool, anyone working on an assignment in Camayak can now draw on Getty Images’ latest news, sports, celebrity, music and fashion coverage; immense digital photo archive; and rich conceptual images to illustrate their assignments.

    Whether you’re covering a news event or looking for creative images to illustrate the gist of a story, inserting high quality media into your editorial workflow has never been easier.

  4. 5 of The Best Editorial Management Tools

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    If you’re reading this there’s a decent chance that you Googled ‘editorial management tools’ and are deciding which content management system to try with your team. Every day we speak to people who are also looking for ways to organize editorial calendars, plan their content strategy or make their editing process more efficient. Most of them want to save time, improve communication and produce more content, but last week someone asked us this: “do people who use your system say that it helps them produce better content?“.

    A qualification like ‘better’ assumes criteria that are going to be slightly different for everyone who produces original content. Then you have to pick who to listen to: the audience, who vote with their pageviews and engagement metrics, or perhaps the authors, by monitoring their sense of growth and satisfaction every time their byline appears?

    Let’s say that when a commercially-driven editor or publisher is looking for signs that their content quality is improving, they include these key indicators:

    • fewer mistakes (typos, quote accuracy, etc.)
    • content that gets shared more
    • better adoption of editorial style guides (e.g. using media, AP style, etc.)
    • characterful headlines and story angles that grow the brand

    The goal of the best editorial management systems should be to address all or most of these general needs. But beyond feature-based benefits like being able to track writers’ activity, prompt them with advice, incentivize good performance and keep everyone on schedule, there are habits that most ambitious newsrooms need to succeed. Streamlining your editorial process to save time and scale content production is a sensible objective, but what can you do to ensure that you’re not outsourcing your editorial management and abdicating responsibility for your core competencies and competitive advantage over other publishers?

    Here are some key criteria for successful newsrooms that we’ve observed over four years of working with editorial teams of all shapes and sizes.

    Consistent use of high quality photos that are thought-provoking and can operate in isolation or together with a headline, without requiring the rest of the story. We know that striking photographs and other media (e.g. videos) capture a wider audience than text on its own. Traditionally, these items would come together in the form of a ‘package’ that would be fed into a ‘package’ for print, web or app publishing. A key aspect of all these assets now being hosted on different platforms (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, Vine) and assembled instead of all natively living in one place is that each atomic piece of content can be shared on its own. This means two things: content assets you produce yourselves should be relevant to audiences in isolation (i.e. alienated from its original package) and whenever you upload your original work to a third party service, always make sure it includes your brand and/or indication of copyright.

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    A man sits with two female statues at a shopping district in Dongguan, China. Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    Senior editorial staff cast a wide net for new recruits and carefully select their key editors. Freelancer networks like Scripted, Ebyline and Contently offer freelance writers and editors the chance to work for multiple publications with ease. We typically see publishers and agencies hire a core team (usually no more than 20% of their editorial staff) and supplement it with access to networks of contributors to make sure that they can cover niche interests quickly and scale up their volume of production at short notice. Looking at Camayak’s own network of freelancers, we see ‘power users’ make up around 5-10% of the total number, which isn’t an unreasonable ratio of managing editor-to-freelancers for running a newsroom, provided the one or more chief content strategists you hire are top notch.

    Contributors always speak to other people (e.g. interviews), to enrich their story or argument. This is a basic principle in journalism and one of several that brands and agencies depend upon when hiring contributors out of news media to work on corporate, sponsored or public relations content.

    Avoiding ‘filler’ content (aka: ‘less can be more’). Whether its page inches, daily post quotas or other volume targets, scaling an editorial operation can often introduce threats to the quality of the product itself. Audiences are open to forming very close bonds with content providers, so every time they’re faced with material that feels token, half-baked or simply not interesting enough, they can feel that their loyalty to your brand may be misguided. If you’re looking for tips on going digital first or are considering downsizing your print edition to give it more impact, don’t forget what your unique objective is in serving your audience and prioritize what they’re going to find interesting about the story you’re working on.

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    And finally. We asked a senior editor at a national UK newspaper what they felt the best editorial management tool they used was. “We have a collection of powerful tools and without them we frankly wouldn’t be able to put out the amount of work we’re doing” she answered, “but if you’re talking about ‘tools’ in the abstract sense, the most critical skill we’re having to emphasize is what a good story actually is. There’s a sense that plenty of writers don’t actually understand what makes a good story.”

    Update: for more tips on managing an editorial team, follow us on Twitter or schedule a free consultation with one of our product designers.

  5. How to Combine an Editorial Calendar With Managing Writers Efficiently

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    Have you ever wanted to see a nicely packaged summary of everything your newsroom did today? As an alternative to staring at activity feeds all day long, what if you could have a synopsis of the things that matter emailed to you at the end of each day?

    For managing editors looking to get caught-up on the birds-eye view of their staff’s efforts, Camayak is the #1 place to go because it automatically combines assignments with collaboration updates and editorial calendars. That’s great if you’re a full-time editor who can respond to real-time prompts, but what if you’re part-time and have a million and one other things to do?

    The staff at the Kansas State Collegian asked us to send a daily email to their contributors that contained all the available assignments they could claim, to keep them engaged without overwhelming their inboxes with updates. This is the beginning of a daily newsroom pulse that we’ll be adding to over the coming weeks, with other key signs of activity and engagement.

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  6. TownNews.com teams with Camayak

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    Publisher software company TownNews.com and Camayak now offer one another’s customers an integrated workflow and website combination. Serving more than 130 college media programs between them, the services will work together using Camayak’s content API, which allows newsrooms to publish content to multiple platforms directly.

    The collaboration with TownNews.com’s BLOX CMS product is one of several partnerships Camayak has launched with content management system providers. “Third-party integration is always tricky, but with Camayak’s impressive college media track record we felt this would be a beneficial asset to our company and customers,” said Paul Wilson, regional sales manager and head of TownNews.com’s college program.

  7. Training New Staff Just Got Easier

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    Anyone you invite to your newsroom will now be welcomed with their own Camayak tutorials when they log in. If you joined your newsroom after August 27th, you’ll also see these tutorials and can always access them again by going to your introduction link in Camayak.

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  8. Schedule & Publish to All Your Platforms in One Swoop

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    We’ve all been there. It’s almost midnight and you’re still only halfway through copy-and-pasting all your new content from one platform to another. If only you could schedule and publish everything for multiple places in one, easy go. With Camayak, now you can.

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    Since we launched our content API and allowed developers to build their own integrations with Camayak, we’ve had a great response. But newsrooms wanted to approve their assignments for more than one destination at a time. For instance: how about publishing a story instantly to your WordPress website and Tumblr blog, but also selecting it forMonday’s print edition, so your layout team can grab it from the print calendar?

    Now you can select more than one platform for each assignment and schedule precisely when it should be published on each one. We’re working on integrations with more platforms and would love to hear if you have specific ones you’d like us to consider. Are you using tools that publish to multiple social media accounts at the same time? If so, which ones?

  9. What’s The Best Twitter App For Journalists & Editors?

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    It’s easy to create a Twitter widget that lets you embed feeds on your website. But what about picking specific Twitter accounts and filtering their tweets by a #hashtag, so you have more editorial control over the topics and contributors that you’re broadcasting?

    Lately, we’ve been using BeatStrap a lot to stream tweets from news sources on specific topics and share those beats with publishers that may want to embed them on their sites, too.

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    The basic BeatStrap account is free and lets anyone share your beats with their readers. We helped build BeatStrap and would love to you hear about how you’re using it.