Sweet, simple feedback box on bsa.govt

I like the little instant feedback box on the Broadcasting Standards Authority site, I think because it’s so quick to use and requires zero clicks.

It asks: “Did you find what you need?” and gives you a No button and a Yes button.

Did you find what you need? Yes or No

Click on Yes, and it expands out to show a “Thank You” message.

Thank you

Click on No, and it expands out to show a text box and asks: “If you had trouble finding what you need, please tell us about it.”

Just type in what’s bothering you, hit “Send Feedback” and you’re done.

If you had trouble

If you want to hear back from the site, however, you’ll need to click through to the Feedback Form.




Rental house prices & Antarctica mission: visual stories online

I’m enjoying the work coming out of the NZ Herald’s data ‘department’ (not sure it’s big enough to warrant that description but I like the sound of it). This week Harkanwal Singh, the Data Editor, has published an interactive map of New Zealand showing changes in rental prices for houses since 2001, and 2006.

It’s fascinating moving round the map and seeing the changes, suburb by suburb. More fascinating is where high-rent areas sit cheek-by-jowl with low-rent areas.

The graphic is nicely set up: just move around the map like you would on Google Maps and hover over a suburb to see a summary of median rents and the number of houses that are rented. Harkanwal’s written a useful set of guide notes to go with it.

The Nz Herald’s rental map shows changes in the median rental prices of houses since 2001, and 2006. You can explore the map city by city, region by region, and suburb by suburb.


[stextbox id=”contentbox”]Can’t remember what a ‘median’ number is? Mathsisfun.com has a simple explanation with examples.

Mathsisfun Median Explanation: Place a list of numbers in value order and find the middle number. For example, take 12, 3 and 5. Put them in order, 3, 5, 12. The middle number is 5, so the median is 5.[/stextbox]


Stuff, meanwhile, has published a pretty, interactive feature about the trip a team of scientists are taking to Antarctica to investigate the feeding habits of blue and humpback whales, and to look at icefish and grenadiers, which are prey of toothfish. The graphic’s broken into sections: The Vessel, The Journey, Whale Size, Whale Numbers.

Included is a particularly sobering graph showing a steep decline in blue whale numbers in the Antarctic region from an estimated 250,000 in the early 1900s to near extinction in 1960 and a small recovery since they became protected in 1966. Sigh.

The interactive makes the material very accessible and I imagine will be well-visited by schoolchildren this year.

Stuff’s interactive Going South graphic shows whale sizes and numbers, along with information about the scientists on their way to Antarctica to study whale feeding habits.

The New Zealand-Antarctic Ecosystem Voyage is an interesting one, not least because the team are going to ‘listen’ for whales using sonobuoys:

Sonobuoys deployed from the ship will provide bearings towards the source of the low frequency whale songs even when the singing whales are hundreds of kilometres away.

“Crossed bearings from multiple sonobuoys will accurately pinpoint the location of the whales,” said Science Leader with the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Mike Double.

They’re also going to moor an echosounder under water in Terra Nova Bay and leave it there over winter “to see what happens”. The larvae and eggs of Antarctic Silverfish, which are prey for seabirds, fish, whales and seals, are found in the bay but the scientists want to know more about the adults.

“When the ice clears in spring, you find lots of eggs and larvae of silverfish but you don’t see the adults. We don’t know if the adults move in during winter and lay their eggs there, or if the eggs drift in from somewhere else,” said Voyage Leader and NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Richard O’Driscoll.

Here is Dr O’Driscoll talking about the trip, which has taken more than 12 months to prepare and is a collaboration between NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), Antarctica New Zealand and the Australian Antarctic Division.

Looking forward to the updates.

See also:



Ken Doctor looks at the future of mobile news service Circa

The newsonomics of Circa’s uncertain future (and new competition from AJ+)

Interesting read from Ken Doctor on the pros and cons of mobile news service Circa’s features and future prospects. Circa is looking for funding to expand.

Circa Revenue Options

Doctor points to three concerns mentioned by publishers:

First, they wonder if the Circa treatment of news is really the nirvana of mobile news, the best way to present what’s happening.

Second, they wonder how difficult it would be for them to accomplish Circa’s tricks on their own.

Third, there’s the question of scale. Can Circa, which processes a few dozens of stories a day (producing about 40, updating about 120), meet the demands of companies that publish thousands in a given week, and own contextual archives well into the six digits?

I found the discussion of Circa’s Follow feature interesting. Particularly this bit:

“If you ‘follow a story,’ there’s an 80 percent chance you’ll come back in the next seven days.” That number — on a large-scale news site — could make a defining difference.

Doctor suggests the best way to understand Circa is to try it (and I agree): iTunes | Android |

The rest of Doctor’s piece is here.

BuzzFeed, Vice, and Vox Media are huge(1)


We need more knowledgeable, reflective tech journalism in New Zealand


Too often an exclusive is nothing more

Tech journalist Bill Bennett wrote recently about how few tech journalists there are working in New Zealand and how even those few don’t write exclusively about New Zealand or for local publications. Like the rest of us, they go where the money is.

You can count the number of full-time technology journalists writing for New Zealand audiences on your fingers. Experienced local journalists are as likely to turn up on overseas publications as on local titles.

It means we no longer tell the best stories about local technology companies. We don’t report the ways New Zealanders deal with technology. A lot gets missed.

Bill scrolls through the main tech publications and tech sections of mainstream media and notes how many people are working at each publication and the pressures they are under – in a nutshell: not many people, they mostly wear two or three hats, the commercial realities are hard, writers are under pressure to produce a lot of content every day and “there’s not much time for reflection”.

This… explains why the IDG sites [Computerworld, for example] are full of overseas filler material. It keeps the pipeline full at no extra cost to the publisher. The stories seem to be picked at random. No thought is given to whether a story serves readers.

Amen to that. I’ve recently unsubscribed to some of these publications for that very reason (along with the fact that there’s a lot of repetition of stories across IDG titles).

Bill’s piece is well worth a read and it chimes with feedback I’ve been hearing for the past few years from developers and tech entrepreneurs in New Zealand. The following sentiments are typical:

You can send a press release in and they just run the whole thing, word for word. It’s bizarre.

Someone needs to do some decent reporting around cloud apps. I get a couple of sentences in to stories and think ‘that’s a press release’ and give up. That’s not what I want to read.

Some of the things they run are just wrong. I don’t mean a bit off, I mean just completely wrong. I know, because I was there.

I don’t mean to bag on tech journalists here, they get some good work done under difficult conditions and many of us remain regular readers of their stories.

But I think Bill makes a very good point when he says that the absence of a thriving tech media is not just bad for readers, it’s bad for the tech industry:

Leaders of New Zealand tech companies need to be aware of what is going on in their industry, not what someone’s promotional output says. They need intelligence, not propaganda…

Because overseas news feeds dominate the agenda in New Zealand, people buying here are more likely to hear about an overseas supplier than a local one. Investors will put their money overseas, skilled workers will look for jobs overseas. This is already causing problems.

The lack of balanced, impartial and thoughtful New Zealand technology journalism creates the impression there’s not much going on here.

But there’s a lot going on here:

I haven’t researched the market and don’t know the size of the opportunity but I hope it’s sufficient to prompt someone to take a tilt at generating fresh, well-rounded tech journalism and making it pay.

Bill hints at having an idea about exactly that in his post. So if you have any thoughts, fire them his way.


Award for OIA site, Reprioritized news, journos basically like the job, NZME delays float (2014)

Site that helps with OIA requests among 2014 NZ Open Source Awards winners
National Business Review

The Open Source Software Project award was won by fyi.org.nz, an open source tool for submitting and sharing requests under the Official Information Act. The site has already processed 1500 requests, and now serves over 5000 unique visitors a month, contributing to transparency and accountability of our government. Other finalists in this category were Koha and Loomio.

Reprioritized news service prepares to launch with focus on global big-issue stories with suggestions for how readers can help

Reprioritized is a curated list of articles presenting useful and actionable information focusing on the following fundamental issues facing humanity:

  • challenges to our environment (particularly climate change)
  • childhood development and education
  • eliminating poverty

Reprioritized aims to break out of western mainstream media’s information bubble by drawing from sources in non-English speaking countries as much as possible.

Magazine readership and circ: weeklies continue to burn, but some good news in other categories
Damien Venuto | StopPress

In continuing an ongoing trend, the latest figures from Nielsen again hit the weekly publications the hardest, with each of the publications surveyed suffering significant year-on-year dips in readership.

Survey of New Zealand journalists: They enjoy the job, despite everything
Dr Grant Hannis, Dr James Hollings, Dr Karl Pajo, A/Prof Geoff Lealand

This article reports the results of a survey of New Zealand full-time journalists. The workforce is relatively young, primarily of European ethnicity, and receives average pay. Although the workforce is predominately female, men outnumber women in senior management. New media is increasing in importance, but conventional media still employs three-quarters of journalists. Although respondents believed ethics was an important element of the job, they acknowledged there were times when controversial methods were justified… Most respondents said they became journalists because they enjoyed writing, meeting people and making a difference.

Fairfax NZ has no paywall plans for news
stuff.co.nz | Tom Pullar-Streckar

Fairfax Media has no plans to put general news on Stuff behind a paywall but may charge for some specialist content, New Zealand chief executive Simon Tong says… While Fairfax needed people to “pay for content that they value”, paywalls typically required people pay before they had seen what was on offer, and there were many other sources of content people could go to, he said.

Fairfax sold an app that provided access to articles from Cuisine and could put business news behind a paywall, he said. “In business, if we have a really strong proposition there might be something there, but we have got to be cognisant that the majority of people will say ‘I can get my daily news anywhere I like’,” he said.

“Our general approach [will be] to invite people in and let them have a look around and they can make their own decisions as to what they want to pay for.

“I think personally there is a risk in saying to people ‘there is a toll to come in the door’.”

NZ Music SalesInfographic: Kiwi musicians now make more revenue from digital than physical sales

According to data released by Recorded Music NZ, Kiwi musicians made more money from digital album sales than physical records for the first time in 2013, and, if numbers are anything to go by, this trend is set to continue over the next few years.

Between 2012 and 2013 the proportion of revenue contributed by streaming tripled from three to nine percent, and Damian Vaughn, the chief executive of Recorded Music NZ, says this upward trajectory isn’t slowing.

“I looked at the figures this morning, and we’re probably tracking around 20 to 25 percent this year, which just shows the astronomical growth of streaming services in this country and how important it is for our industry,” he says.

APN delays NZ float
stuff.co.nz | Tom Pullar-Streckar

APN News & Media has indicated it will not float its New Zealand media business this year but has denied it has shelved the possible float entirely.

The Australian publisher issued a stockmarket statement this afternoon addressing what it said was “incorrect media speculation” that the partial float of its New Zealand business, NZME, had been cancelled.

APN stands by NZ newspaper titles despite cutting their value by $54m
Radio NZ

APN News and Media is backing its New Zealand newspaper titles, despite cutting their value by a further $54 million.

The company has revealed the drop as its tests the market for floating its re-branded New Zealand arm, NZME, which includes the New Zealand Herald and a network of commercial radio stations.

Kudos to nzherald for embedding source documents in stories (2014)

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to notice nzherald.co.nz increasingly embedding source documents within stories.

Perhaps this good practice has just finally made it into everyday workflows or perhaps the impetus is coming from the Herald’s newish data editor Harkanwal Singh, who is a highly motivated champion of data journalism and digital users. Either way, well done and thank you.

There was an example this morning in the Bennett rolls out ‘investment approach’ story, which references an issues paper put out by the Productivity Commission asking for public input on how to improve public sector services.

The Herald used DocumentCloud to embed the Productivity Commission issues paper in the story so you could check details or read it through right there and then. It looks like this in the story:


Points also awarded for providing a link to the Productivity Commission website, which is where the public can make submissions on the issues paper. It’s nice to see news orgs finally linking out to other sites in service of their readers.

I’m withholding bonus points, however, since the story didn’t link to the relevant page on the Productivity Commission website. It would have been great too if it had mentioned the deadline for public submissions and linked to the page where you can subscribe to updates. You know, in a ‘news you can use’ kind of way.

Issues Paper | Press Release | How to Make a Submission | Subscribe to Updates on Process

18 November 2014:  Due date for submissions on Issues paper |  Add to iCal
March 2015:  Draft report released for submissions
30 June 2015:  Final report due to Government

Another recent example of embedding source documents was in the Kiwis want more action on child poverty but not higher taxes story by Simon Collins. The MMResearch Report referred to was embedded. Extra points for describing in the story how the research was conducted and its margin of error.

There have been many more examples lately, and increasingly in business stories too. Long may it continue.


Responsive or native app? A few tips on how to decide (2013)

This list of 10 questions to ask when choosing between responsive design and native app looks sensible.

Here are two questions from the list, posted by Mark Rickmeier on Table XI (they do tech services):

7) Will you have difficulty getting App Store approval?

Apple asks developers to follow stringent guidelines when submitting to the App Store, and the approval process can take anywhere from a week to several months. There are certain areas that are regulated more strictly than others, such as in-app purchases and in-app subscriptions.

Moreover, other kinds of features easily achieved through HTML5 are banned in native iOS applications. For example, Apple regulations forbid iOS applications that take donations, a fairly commonplace transaction in responsive web designs. This is a serious drawback for nonprofits looking to reach potential customers and donors through mobile apps.

Advantage: Responsive

5) Are you trying to monetize content and encourage purchasing?If you have a product that offers potential for ongoing micro-purchases, then a native application is the way to go. A shopping cart on your website can facilitate this, but the in-app purchasing system is so simple and tied into all the rest of a user’s purchases on the platform that it is second to none.

Advantage: Native

You can read the rest of Mark’s post here.



Ken Doctor on the New York Times’s ‘Paywalls 2.0’ (2013)

nytimes.com thumbnail

Ken Doctor talks to the NY Times about its plans for Paywalls 2.0: the new paid products it has in the pipeline.

I asked Paul Smurl, who led the development of the paid digital business as general manager of core digital products, why the new paid products won’t be introduced until the middle of 2014 when it was clear the all-you-can-eat subscription model had begun to plateau by the middle of 2013. (For that 727,000 total at the end of September, the Times showed just a four-percent increase since the end of June.) Smurl answered in three words: It is complicated. The Times has both a big news business to protect and lots of data to test.

In fact, it’s been busy preparing for Paywalls 2.0 for a while now. Smurl says the company has tested “a hundred different products and price points.” Qualitative studies, quantitative studies — and, of course, financial modeling. That modeling is aimed at one goal: maximize Times EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. In other words, don’t just increase revenues: Increase profits. That makes fundamental sense for a company that eked out a $12.9 million net operating gain in the last quarter. In part, that means creating products that generate lots of new customers but don’t significantly cannibalize that new hard-earned customer base.

So what’s come out of that process? Three new niche products, to start (Food & Dining, Need to Know, Opinion).

Much more worth reading in Ken Doctor’s The newsonomics of The New York Times’ Paywalls 2.0.


Top-watched online videos are comedy, educational, and how-tos (2013)

One in four US adult internet users has uploaded a video online, according to the Online Video 2013 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. One in five has posted a video that they created themselves.

The top-watched categories are Comedy, Educational and How-to videos, followed by Music.

Forty one per cent of mobile users shoot video on their phone, 40 per cent watch videos on their phone, and 21 per cent use their phone to post videos online.

Over the past four years, the percent of American adult internet users who upload or post videos online has doubled from 14% in 2009 to 31% today. That includes 18% of adult internet users who post videos they have created or recorded themselves—many of whom hope their creations go viral. The share of online adults who watch or download videos has also grown from 69% of internet users in 2009 to 78% today, and mobile phones have become a key part of the video viewing and creating experience.

[youtube http://youtu.be/mGgBY3yBpYY]


Find out more about the survey and download the full report on the Pew site.