3 GREAT STORIES: Starring veterans, sad-vertising, and Weezer

Many media outlets seem to be investing in dressing up their online content.

When I check out the links that get most frequently Tweeted or sent my way, I typically see in-depth articles that have been jazzed up for the web. Publishers now use full-screen headline images, embedded links and graphics, and just about every other trick in the book to make web stories feel different.

Here are two examples from this past week … and one article about the band Weezer:

Still paying for the Civil War (5/9/14, Wall Street Journal): Example #1 comes from an unexpected place: the Wall Street Journal.

But look at how a seemingly “old guard” company dolls up this story by Michael M. Phillips. Beyond the full-screen headline, a different photo appears after every few paragraphs. It makes for a unique — and pleasing — presentation.

The article itself is fascinating. Phillips looks into a rarely reported fact: how the U.S. government pays billions annually to military veterans, their spouses, and their children. He focuses on the head-turning story of Irene Triplett. Her father married so late in life to a woman so young that their daughter Irene is today 84 years old—and the last child of any Civil War veteran still on the VA benefits rolls.”

That’s right: Irene’s father fought in the Civil War. Because of that, Irene still receives $73.13 a month.

Phillips puts together a compelling story about how the cost of a given war extends far beyond the war itself. (more…)

10 headlines in 10 months on Vine’s influence on journalism

Journalists may very well remember 2013 as the year Vine entered their lives — and their professions.

The six-second video service was launched by Twitter this past January. In the months that have followed, journalists and storytellers have tried to figure out the most effective ways to use it.

And while many have predicted Vine’s dominance on the journalistic landscape, just as many have doubted its potential as a journalistic tool.

Ten months in, Vine is still a major — and fascinating — work in progress.

Here now, a month-by-month look at how the service has infiltrated our world, gaining supporters, skeptics, and followers along the way:

JANUARY: Six reasons why Vine is a killer news tool (Pando Daily): A mere four days after Vine’s launch, blogger Hamish McKenzie presents a list of reasons why journalists should love it. Among those reasons? “People will actually watch the video.” Media companies, engaged in a constant fight to expand their viewership and readership, no doubt feel the same way and take notice.

FEBRUARY: Using Vine to cover breaking news (Fast Company): This article spotlights Vine’s first big journalistic breakthrough. When a terrorist attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu used the service to upload clips from the aftermath. This happened barely a week after Vine’s launch.

MARCH: How journalists can use Vine (PBS Idea Lab): Here is a great time capsule of where the marriage of Vine and journalism stood, roughly two months into the service’s existence. Idea Lab author Joanna Kao describes its plusses and minuses, offers tools for journalists looking to incorporate it, and acknowledges its steadily rising popularity. That said, she also acknowledges one major limitation: “You thought providing context was hard? Try doing it in 6 seconds or less.”