over(heard) & under(stated)

Maya Baratz pulls stuff out of the internet's parentheses.

Today, I’m excited to unveil a project I’ve been working on over the last few months: WSJ Social, a standalone news publication on Facebook.

Having recently moved from startup hub San Francisco — where I mused about the future of newspapers in the app economy — to media hub NYC, where I now run new products for The Wall Street Journal, I’m excited to approach Facebook as a news consumption platform. 

Reaching users where they are

With over 700M+ users, Facebook has evolved into a news distribution platform. That’s not surprising, considering that people spend nearly 10x more time on social networks (and blogs) than on “current events and global news.” Increasingly, people get their news off of social networks, and Facebook, with its seasoned app platform, is a ready canvas for crafting compelling news consumption experiences. 

Where every user is an editor

One key driver of news distribution in social networks like Facebook is the network effect of users essentially acting as curators to spread the news themselves. It’s a natural evolution of consuming news online. This is how social networks have made it easier for people to get the most relevant news from other people, including their own friends and family.

Like to share.

In WSJ Social, every user is an editor. Simply “like” any WSJ story in the app, and it’ll appear in your personal editor page. Anyone in the app, including your Facebook friends, can add you as one of their editors. And you can select whom you’d like to add as yours.

For a quick snapshot of the latest, most shared stories in the app among your selected editors, visit the “latest news” area (which you can get to by clicking on the main WSJ Social logo, among other places in the app).

There’s more.

One of my favorite features of the app is its competitive element. In the app, every editor will be ranked by number of readers (i.e., by other users who have added them).

The top three editors app-wide will be highlighted for all app users right in the editor bar – the left-hand navigational bar that is persistent throughout the app. Also, all editors in the app will be listed by rank on the app’s leaderboard, which is also where you can search for any app user by name, check to see who your readers and editors are, and add or remove anyone from being one of your editors.

Over time, we will reward the app’s top editors in ways we find meaningful. (Hint: ever wonder how you can get an iconic WSJ stipple portrait like this one?)

Aaaaand for a limited time, all content in the app – including premium content – is free, courtesy of our launch sponsor, Dell. 

We’re in beta!

WSJ Social is still very much in beta, and we will be making frequent, iterative changes to the app over time. So play around! We’d love to hear your feedback and wish lists. We’re probably already working on some stuff you’d like to see.

But I can go on and on about it. Best way to experience the app is to, well, head on over there. Yes, like right now.

* It goes without saying that it took a village — nay, crack team — to release this app, and I want to thank the diligent team of designers, engineers and IA folks that turned this idea from concept to reality. If you squint hard enough, you can spot that team in the visuals I included. Go. Team. Malkovich!*

Posted at 9:34am.

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