The New York Times has launched a Tumblr blog "focussed on key issues leading up to the presidential election in November".
The Agenda is the title's first Tumblr blog that is integrated into the news site. T Magazine, the New York Times's fashion Tumblr blog, and The Lively Morgue, which showcases the newspaper's photographic archive and sells prints, are both standalone Tumblr blogs, containing "Tumblr" in the URL.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk by phone on Friday afternoon, Alexis Mainland, the New York Times's social media editor, explained that one of the differences between The Agenda and the two earlier Tumblr blogs is that the new project is not image-led.
"It's actually not visually driven, it's more driven by ideas and quotes. It's funny to have this conversation right now because just this morning a number of us were going back and forth on email talking about how we can lend a visual sense to a topic that is very meaty and may not lend itself as well as fashion or archival photographs to anything visual."
Half of the 70 million posts created on Tumblr every day are images of some type, according to Mark Coatney, media outreach director from Tumblr, so the New York Times's social media team is thinking about how they can report on politics visually.
Asked about the team's solution, Mainland said: "People who read this will have to stay tuned on this project called The Agenda because as we were just concluding in email, this is sort of a work in progress project.
"It's going to take us all the way through November and I think that over time you'll see us trying to figure out ways to create visuals, whether that's using graphics to explain things like the economy or using photographs to explain issues surrounding foreign policy."
Tumblr is a mix between a blogging platform and social network. Users post photos, videos, audio and text to a web page that has its own URL and can be viewed by non-Tumblr users. Those with Tumblr accounts can follow posts via their dashboard, much in the same way as a Facebook user follows a news feed of posts by friends and pages they have chosen to follow.
And Tumblr members are more engaged, according to Coatney, spending an average of 30 minutes reading posts via the dashboard view, compared with non-Tumblr members, who spend an average of five minutes on a Tumblr web page.
It is these engaged Tumblr members that the New York Times is targeting with its new Tumblr. It is "remixing" content being produced for other areas of the site with the blog's curator "plucking the best elements that reporters are publishing as part of the series on different blogs around the New York Times website".
"It's not like there's anything happening that's really truly original to the Tumblr, it's more like being remixed from stuff that's already been published on our site.
"It is a gathering place for all sorts of things going on on NYTimes.com in disparate places on our site, and it brings them together under one umbrella.," Mainland added.
"So the whole point of having a Tumblr was to really engage a community that, coming up to the elections, seems very focussed on a lot of these issues. We are hoping that people re-blog these posts and add their own interesting commentary to them and we can see how this kind of content is impacting the conversation on Tumblr."
- For more on Tumblr see how 12 news outlets are innovating on Tumbr, how 12 students are Tumbling campaign coverage for the Washington Post and listen to this podcast on Tumblr lessons from the NME and The Times (of London).
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