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January 18 2011

15:30

Alan Taylor brings his “Big Picture” prowess to The Atlantic

Starting in February, The Atlantic will have a new section on its website: In Focus, a photography blog featuring “photo essays on the major news and trends of the day.”

Editing the site will be Alan Taylor, who’s moving to the magazine from the Boston Globe, where, for the past two-and-a-half years, he edited Boston.com’s celebrated photo-essay feature, The Big Picture. The Globe is maintaining The Big Picture as a blog and an iPad/iPhone app — and retaining the name, too — but Taylor’s departure is still a big loss. He’d built up The Big Picture into both a web property with 8 million pageviews a month and an app that, with its lush images, is often cited as one of the most logical-for-tablets apps out there. The move is a big gain for The Atlantic, though, which is becoming known for its inspired hiring choices.

I spoke with Taylor to find out more about what In Focus will look like.

“I have a lot of plans, some small, some big,” he told me. One of the broadest goals will be expanding the format — “not necessarily many more pictures, or pictures that are much more gigantic” (though, hey, a Bigger Picture could be awesome and fitting for the times), “but just kind of going to the next level with it.”

One of the most notable things that next level may include is more user involvement. At the Globe, Taylor got to do some experiments with user-generated content, he notes, “and that worked really, really well. And I’d like to not only do similar things to that, but even more so.” In Focus might also involve more interaction with photographers and agencies — and, in general, “things that take time to get out and do and integrate and build.”

And that time will be key. At the Globe, Taylor’s job has been to be both a web developer and The Big Picture’s editor. “Part of the agreement to let me run the Big Picture was that I kept doing the other web development that needed to be done,” he noted in a blog post. “I agreed to that arrangement, and tried my best to make it work, but in the end, it was often unworkable — one or the other job would suffer when there were crunch times.”

Now, come February, the single photography feature will be Taylor’s, er, focus. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done professionally,” he says. “And it’s become clear to me that it’s something I want to do for years to come.”

January 05 2011

17:33

Are People of Color Missing in New Media? A #MediaDiversity Chat

How many times have you been to a technology or media conference and noticed the dominance of white male speakers at the podium or the room? That's what Arizona State University professor and media veteran Retha Hill saw when she attended the recent NewsFoo conference in Phoenix and the ONA conference in Washington, DC.

She wrote about the diversity problem at new media conferences, as well as some possible solutions, in a post on Idea Lab last week. Quickly, the response on social media and in the comments showed that it was a hot topic, and something that resonated with a lot of people in the industry.

So the next day, I organized a Twitter chat at the #mediadiversity hashtag, and invited Retha Hill, Doug Mitchell of New U (and former NPR), and Rafat Ali (founder of PaidContent) to participate. I threw out some questions and thought it was an excellent chat. Not only did we talk about the problems in the industry, but we talked about solutions and what we could do to make conferences -- and newsrooms -- more diverse.

Below is an edited version of the tweets from that conversation last week on Twitter, as culled via KeepStream. You can see a longer version of the chat here.

Plus, Robert Hernandez had a very personal take on this in OJR, and here's his conclusion:

If we don't invest in recruiting and training members of diverse groups to help us do and advanced journalism ... we are royally screwed.

My New Year's resolution is to harness my access and network to improve diversity across the board for web journalism. But I need your help. I need your ideas.

More importantly, in your newsrooms, your communities (and those you are not a part of) need your help. Reach out, connect, participate, preach and downright fight to ensure your news org's journalism reflects the diverse community it covers. Help it stay relevant.

It's hard to argue with his resolution.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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