Social media design: Making your cafe suitable for Instagram popularity

This article by Casey Newton on The Verge offers all of you design people a new twist.  It chronicles the ways that some new restaurants are designing their interiors and exteriors to become ‘Instagrammable.’

How better to draw customers than to go viral, right?

The Verge, by the way, is an online media site with big goals:

The Verge is an ambitious multimedia effort founded in 2011 to examine how technology will change life in the future for a massive mainstream audience.

Our original editorial insight was that technology had migrated from the far fringes of the culture to the absolute center as mobile technology created a new generation of digital consumers. Now, we live in a dazzling world of screens that has ushered in revolutions in media, transportation, and science. The future is arriving faster than ever.

Keep your eye on sites like these.


Some familiar magazines may be sold as Time Inc. balances priorities

Now that you’re weighing careers in the media industry, you should be paying attention to the owners and actors as the digital revolution continues.  To put it simply, it’s important to know who owns what — and where media companies are going.

As this piece in AdWeek reports, parent company Time Inc. is leaning toward selling a few well-known magazines as publishers shift their thinking — and investing — toward video production.  Why?  Well, partly because they expecting to find more growth in digital brands’re realizing that consumers will endure ads on video clips more than they’ll seek out ads on printed pages.

That said, we should note that Time owns a bunch of magazines and isn’t offering to sell some other favorites like People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Travel + Leisure.

Time Inc., of course, is always changing to adjust to markets.  It acquired both Southern Living and Sunset magazines about a decade ago.  Sunset is the West Coast version of this sort of lifestyle mag.  Developed by family-run Lane Publishing, it was a must-have on many living-room tables as I was growing up in California.  At issue: Will this genre last with its regional travel, food and home how-to-do-it articles?

You can follow industry news by bookmarking and reading sources like Adweek and Advertising Age, which cover media organizations as well as business that advertise with them.   And, of course, you can find many more sites.

Writing the summary lead for folks in a hurry

A big challenge in writing for the media is learning to craft fast summaries. As we said in class, most readers are in a hurry when they glance at our pages and sites, or when they click on a broadcast to listen.

Our job: Boil down the information. Give our audience what they want and need.

Some digital sites specialize in this.  One of those is called Ozy, and its mission is to help occasional readers get up to speed quickly. This is how its editors describe their goal.

Here is an example in its coverage of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s testimony on his exchanges with Russian officials.  How does a writer summarize an 11-page document and a few hours of testimony?  The Ozy treatment avoids ‘mumbling’ by beginning with this:

He’s got “nothing to hide.” So says senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, insisting he never worked with Russia to aid his father-in-law’s election.

Podcasting: A new form to study and learn

Artwork by Zak Bickel / Katie Martin / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

We often imagine that writing occurs where we read words, such as in ink on paper or pixels on screens.  Let’s consider now a relatively new form, the podcast, in which we don’t read the words — we hear them.

But many of those words are written long before we hear them.

Media analysts claim that podcasts are likely to become a standard form in a digital world.  In a society rich with headsets and earbuds, we like to listen as well as tune out the noise we don’t need.  Podcasts fill the needs.  They give us chances to seek out special information and interesting voices.  They also give advertisers another means of aiming their messages at precisely the groups they seek.

Can you write for a podcast?  You can weigh your prospects by answering a few questions: What does it take? How are podcasts structured?  What sorts of research and interviewing go into their creation?  And ask this: How does the requirement to write for the ear influence the way we compose sets of words and sentences?

You can check out this compilation of The Best Podcasts of 2016 as offered by writers for The Atlantic, a monthly magazine and an everyday website that appeals to young and educated folks.  Pick a favorite and test yourself:  What will it take to be part of a team creating compelling podcasts.