Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese news organization, is using NewsPix.

Newsrooms using NewsPix to engage readers visually

Asahi Shimbun starts using photo engagement tool

By Matt Carroll <@MattatMIT> and Catherine D’Ignazio <@kanarinka>

NewsPix, an open-source photo engagement tool created at the MIT Media Lab and the Emerson College Engagement Lab, can now be used by newsroom developers interested in creating a deeper visual bond with their readers.

The most recent NewsPix user is Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese newspaper with a print circulation of nearly 7 million, among the largest in the world. Asahi just started using NewsPix to promote its coverage of the national high school baseball tournament, a major event in the country. You can download their browser extension here.

“We feel that NewsPix will help us engage more with our readers,” said Hiromi Onishi, the executive director of Digital Business with Asahi, noting that the news site’s version uses pictures from the popular national high school baseball tournament, played in Koshien Stadium, the home field of a professional team.

Onishi feels using NewsPix with this event will work well because the games transcend sports. “Mom wants to see her kid play at the well-known stadiums. Young kids want to see their school team win and see their school flag raised above the stands. Office workers want to see their hometown team playing,” she said.

“The visuals of NewsPix will be a powerful tool in attracting those people,” said Onishi.

Two other news sites are using NewsPix code — the Keene (N.H.) Sentinel, which is our beta partner, and NewsDeck, which adapted the basic code to create a slightly different model. We welcome other news organizations to get in touch. (Email matt54 at mit.edu.)

There are two paths to using NewsPix: you take our code or you host your NewsPix installation on our servers. The code is free and open to any developer who wants to use it for their newsroom. If you use the code, please let us know, so we can cheer you on and hear what your users say about it.

The code is here and you’ll need a developer, server space and the help of your marketing department to help get it up and running. If you want to host a NewsPix installation on our servers, you can be part of our beta program and we’ll help you get up and running. You’ll still need some server space and the help of your marketing department to get the word out to your audience. And — coming soon — we are currently working on a NewsPix mobile app.

NewsPix is a great tool for newsrooms, which can leverage great photos into connecting with their readers. NewsPix was a winner in the Newspaper Association of America’s Advanced Accelerator Pitch program. More details on NewsPix are here.

NewsPix was developed by us — Catherine D’Ignazio, a Principal Investigator at the Emerson College Engagement Lab and former MIT Media Lab graduate student, and Matt Carroll, who runs the Future of News initiative at the MIT Media Lab.

We developed it primarily as a tool for newsrooms. But we have had interest from people who have a strong visual interest — artists and museums, for instance. So if you are an artist with a developer bent (or a developer with an artistic flair), feel free to hack around with the code. (Again, just let us know if you use it; we’re very interested in seeing how it is adapted.)

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