New Higher Education Website from My Company

The latest website (and responsive mobile site) created with the Buzzr Higher Education Edition CMS went live today — the very attractive for Palo Alto University.

Palo Alto University Website

The site was built in collaboration with mStoner, the design and strategy lead. mStoner also built the companion site,, for the university’s counseling and psychotherapy center.

More details to follow on the feature set and the inside story of this fantastic new website.

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Wikipedia Entry on Social Journalism

Just contributed the post below, explaining social journalism, to Wikipedia. Let’s see if it survives their ruthless editing and deletion process.  As one of my suggestions for social journalism is the deletion of weak content, it would be suitably ironic if this fate befalls the entry.

Social Journalism

Social Journalism is a media model consisting of a hybrid of professional journalism, contributor and reader content.[1] It is similar to open publishing platforms, like Twitter and, except that some or most content is also created and/or screened by professional journalists. Examples include, Medium, BuzzFeed and Gawker. The model, which in some instances has generated monthly audiences in the tens of millions, has been discussed as one way for professional journalism to thrive.[2]

Writing in Re/Code, Jonathan Glick, CEO of Sulia, said the model of publishers as platforms (which he calls a “platisher”) is “on the rise.” Glick cites as examples Medium (from Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone), Vox Media, Sulia, Skift, First Look Media (backed by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar) and BuzzFeed.[3]

In an interview in the New York Times, the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, said the Guardian was in the process of converting into a platform as well as a publisher. “For years, news organizations had a quasi monopoly on information simply because we had the means of distribution. I think if as a journalist you are not intensely curious about what has been created by people who are not journalists, then you’re missing out on a lot,” he said.[4]

On April 1, 2014, in a column in GigOm entitled “Social journalism and open platforms are the new normal — now we have to make them work” Mathew Ingram asked “How can media entities take advantage of this phenomenon without losing their way in the process?” and proceeded to review suggested rules for social journalism proposed by former president Ed Sussman, an early adopter of the model.[5] Ingram summarized Sussman’s suggestions, including clear labeling types of contributors (e.g. staff, guest contributor, reader contribution); establishing guidelines, such as conflict of interest rules, that posters must consent to before posting; providing wiki-like tools for social improvements to content; elevating the best content with curators and algorithms; deleting weak or problematic content via curators or algorithms.[6]

Social journalism has been attacked by media critic Michael Wolff in U.S.A. today as the “Forbes vanity model letting ‘contributors’ write whatever they want under your brand (‘as I wrote in Forbes …’) and not having to pay them anything — ultimately, of course, devaluing your authority.” [7]

In a March 20, 2014 Op Ed for the New York Observer, former president Ed Sussman argued that social journalism does not devalue the authority of brands and that the success of in attracting a wide audience with its 1,000+ bloggers proved that the model could be successful for traditional media companies.[8] Following revelations that some contributors used their columns to allegedly participate in a “pump and dump” scheme to promote, then sell stocks, Sussman followed up with “The New Rules of Social Journalism: A Proposal” in Pando Daily, on March 29, 2014. Sussman proposed various rules for elevating the quality and ethics of social journalism content.[9]

An early, or perhaps the first “social journalism” platform] at a major media company was, in 2008.[10] After the platform launched, in its first six months, signed up 2,000 bloggers and 50,000 members.[11] “Fast Company is the first, but certainly not last, mainstream publication to integrate the majority of their site as a social community,” wrote media analyst Jeremiah Owyang in 2008, then a senior social computing analyst for Forrester Research.[12] After Ed Sussman left the website, the Fast Company print magazine editors reverted it to a standard journalism website.[13]


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Social journalism and open platforms are the new normal — now we have to make them work

Ed Sussman:

Matthew Ingram of Giga Om picks up on my piece in Pando on social journalism.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

What happens when everyone has the ability to publish? One thing that happens is the traditional media industry loses much of its power, over both the content that people read and the advertising that helps support it — but the other thing that happens is a profusion of content of all kinds, from “citizen journalists” to brands and advocacy groups and everything in between. How can media entities take advantage of this phenomenon without losing their way in the process?

In a nutshell, that’s the dilemma that Ed Sussman tackles in a recent post on Pando. Sussman, CEO of a site called Buzzr, is a former president at FastCompany magazine who helped turn that company’s website into an early hybrid of publisher and platform — or what Jonathan Glick of Sulia has referred to as a “platisher” (a horrible-sounding term that I sincerely hope will never catch on).

As Sussman…

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New column on Pando: “New Rules of Social Journalism.”

The New Rules of Social Journalism: A Proposal
by Ed Sussman

Follow up to the Observer piece called “Why Michael Wolff Is Wrong: Social Journalism Doesn’t Devalue Brands.”

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Marc Andreessen re-tweeted me…

Marc Andreessen re-tweeted my piece about social journalism in the NY Observer;  Tim O’Reilly and Nick Bilton favorites.  The Op Ed describes old media vs. new media perspective on social content.

I have to admit, I like rejoining the media-world conversation. Hard-core technology talk is not as much fun.



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Nick Bilton Favorite of Ed Sussman Op Ed tweet

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March 21, 2014 · 11:00 pm

My Op Ed in New York Observer

Called “Why Michael Wolff Is Wrong” it addresses social journalism, the Forbes contributor model and the march of new media into hybrid journalism/contributor platforms as most of legacy media stands by.

Running in third slide rotation on top of homepage. Cool.

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Quora Q&A: Any stories about working at the NY Times?

One  funny story from my brief time as a clerk for the NY Times in their Washington bureau. This was a long time ago and I believe the clerk program has since been reformed, but back then, there was something of a hazing aspect to the job.

You worked for 18 months or so doing menial work, then you were rewarded with a tryout as a reporter on one of the desks, usually Metro. You were warned ahead of time – very few tryouts result in job offers, though you made connections that could bring you back to the paper eventually.

I had already written dozens of stories for the Wall Street Journal, as a summer intern, and been the editor in chief of my college paper. But there I was sorting mail (usually two Santa-Clause stuffed burlap sacks per day), going on cookie runs for the editors, and taking phone messages.

The minute it hit 5 p.m. I was free and could start reporting — but the policy was, no bylines for clerks, though you were paid extra for each story. And, occasionally you’d be asked to pitch in on reporting for a breaking story during the day (again, no credit was ever given, no matter how much you contributed.)

Of course I loved reporting and I hated sorting mail, so I took every opportunity I could to game the system. If a call I took came in with a good tip, I took it and wrote the story (perhaps not mentioning the tip to an editor until the story was ready.)  If I needed to do interviews during the day, I snuck them in when I should have been sorting mail or answering the phone.

One day, in the midst of this schizophrenic work existence, a grizzled (cliched but true here) veteran editor on the desk approached me (I doubt he knew my name) with a request. “Kid, burn this.” Then he handed me a piece of paper. A handwritten letter, in fact.

I had no idea what he meant. But I was accustomed to being asked to do incredibly menial jobs. Destroying a document was in general keeping with my responsibilities. If the office had a shredder, I didn’t know about it. So I asked. “Is it OK if I just rip it up?”

He waved me off like I was a pain in the ass. I retreated to the clerk station and proceeded to rip it into pieces and throw it out. I’m sure my mind was on reporting some story or another. I’m sure I didn’t consider how strange a request it was.

A few minutes later, the old editor sees me and asks, “where is it?”

“In the garbage,” I answer.

He runs to the trash and sees my brilliant work. An old fashioned cursing fit ensued. I don’t remember the exact words. I don’t remember if actual obscenity was used or just old-timey variations of idiot and numbskull. I’ve blocked it out. He was not kind.

I do remember the explanation. Before modern copiers, machines like spirit duplicators and mimeographs and hectographs were used for small print jobs. One or the other of these apparently became extremely hot in the process of making a copy (or maybe there was acid involved – I don’t know) and thus was invented the short-handed jargon for producing a copy – ‘burn this’ or ‘burn it.’

As I had not worked in newsrooms in the 1940s, I had no idea.

I did soon find out what I had ripped up. A double sided, handwritten letter (subject not disclosed) to the late Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, publisher and owner of the Times.

The editor finally returned to his desk and spent the next hour or so painstakingly taping the letter back together so he could rewrite a fresh one. I retreated to  my bags of mail, out of sight.

Later that afternoon, I saw the editor making his way through the newsroom, pausing for a couple of minutes at each reporter’s desk. A few words were exchanged, the old editor pointed at me, and heaps of laughter ensued.

I asked one of the reporters what was said and the story was the same, except for one detail. In his (repeated) retellings, he said “Burn me a copy.” Apparently, I was not idiot enough with the actual quote. (And he’s since died, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

This was the most humiliating experience ever of my very new professional life (many more followed in the years to come.)

Later, a reporter consoled me that it was better to be known for something, than nothing at all. Apparently he had soaked himself in ink his first day as a clerk and had gained an early reputation that way.

It would be a nice coda, I suppose, if I’d spent my career at the Times. But I didn’t much like the prospect of 18 more months of silly tasks when I had perfectly good opportunities in journalism. And several of the Times reporters strongly encouraged me to quit the program – it was a waste of time, they said.

I believe, actually, the clerk program is no more, swept away like a heap of shredded paper.

Ed Sussman is the CEO of See more of his Quora posts at:


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