We're happy to relay the news that INN Member Eye on Ohio won First Place Magazine Website in the Press Club of Cleveland's annual All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards. We thank the Club and the judges for their consideration and congratulate Eye on Ohio for their success.
Eye on Ohio is built using INN Labs' Largo WordPress theme, which is the fruit of many years' work by contributors at INN, at NPR, and from the greater WordPress community. Eye on Ohio executive director listed Labs' lead developer, Ben Keith, as the second contact on the awards for his contributions as an INN Labs employee in Ohio.
INN Labs is happy to announce our newest plugin, the Republication Tracker Tool.
The Republication Tracker Tool allows publishers to share their stories by other websites and then track engagement of those shared stories with Google Analytics. The technology behind this tracking is similar to ProPublica’s PixelPing.
Why Might You Want to Use This Plugin?
Grow your audience and pageviews: Other publishers and readers acquire and re-distribute your content with a Creative-Commons license.
Better republishing reporting: View what publishers that are republishing your content and analyze engagement.
Foster collaborations: Gather supporting data to build relationships with other publishers who may be republishing your content.
How Publishers Republish Your Content
A simple “Republish This Story” button is added to your posts through a WordPress widget. This enables your stories to be republished by other sites who may want to use it and then to track engagement of those republished stories via Google Analytics
Track Republished Posts in WordPress
Once one of your stories has been republished, you will easily be able to see how many times it has been republished, how many republished views it has, who has republished it, and the URL of where it was republished, all from the WordPress edit screen for that story.
The initial release of this plugin was made possible by valuable INN member testing and feedback. If your organization uses the plugin, please let us know and continue sending us suggestions for improvement. Thank you!
INN Labs is pleased to announce an important update to the Link Roundups plugin!
If you run a daily or weekly newsletter collecting headlines from around the state, region, or within a particular industry, the Link Roundups plugin will make it easier to build and feed your aggregation posts into MailChimp.
The Link Roundups plugin helps editors aggregate links from around the web and save them in WordPress as “Saved Links”. You can publish these curated links in a Link Roundup (more below), display Saved Links and Link Roundups in widgets and posts in your WordPress site, or push Link Roundups directly to subscribers via MailChimp. It's designed to replace scattered link-gathering workflows that may span email, Slack, Google Docs and spreadsheets and streamlines collaborations between different staffers.
Why might you want to use this plugin? Here are a few reasons:
It creates a single destination for collecting links and metadata
On sites that publish infrequently, it provides recently published (curated) content for your readers
Weekly roundup newsletters or posts are a great way to recap your own site's coverage and build and diversify your audience, which can increase donations
The central function of the Link Roundups plugin is the Saved Link. It's a way of storing links in your WordPress database, alongside metadata such as the link's title, source site, and your description of the link's contents.
Once you've accumulated a few Saved Links, you can display them on your site using the Saved Links Widget or start to create Link Roundups (see next).
Saved Links Widget
Common uses of this widget include "coverage from around the state" or "recommended reads" or "from our partners" links.
It's a good way to point your to expert coverage from newsrooms you partner with. With the ability to sort Saved Links by tag, you can easily filter a widget to only show a selection of all the links saved on your site. Here's how Energy News Network uses the widget:
Link Roundups are one of the best ways to present Saved Links to your readers. Collect links with Saved Links, then create a Link Roundup post with the week's curated links. The person who assembles the Link Roundup doesn't have to deal with messy cut-and-paste formatting or composing blurbs — when your users create Saved Links, they're already adding headlines, blurbs, and sources.
Add some opening and closing text, and you're most of the way to having composed a morning or weekly news roundup.
Link Roundups are a custom post type with all the Classic Editor tools and an easy interface for creating lists of Saved Links. As a separate post type, they can be integrated into your site's standard lists of posts or kept separate in their own taxonomies. You don't have to integrate the roundups with your standard posts flow; it's why we provide a Link Roundups widget to fulfill your widget area needs.
From the Link Roundup editor, you can choose a mailing list, and create MailChimp campaign drafts, send test emails, and send drafted campaigns directly. If you'd rather open a draft campaign in MailChimp to finalize the copy, there's a handy link to your draft campaign.
If you already have the Link Roundups plugin installed, keep an eye out for an update notice in your WordPress dashboard. If you'd like to install it, download it from the WordPress.org plugin repository or through your site dashboard's plugin page.
This update was funded in part by Energy News Network and Fresh Energy, with additional funding thanks to the generous support of the Democracy Fund, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Fund, Open Society Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg editor present a perfect opportunity to incorporate new best practices from the WordPress industry in our work. With a more streamlined end-user experience, individual organizations will be empowered to truly make their Largo sites their own. But we're also invested in making the developer experience easier.
The new post editor included in WordPress 5.0 called "Gutenberg" provides a more-visual interface that is "block-based." Everything now becomes a block, including "Custom HTML" blocks and shortcodes. Your old content will remain unchanged, but newly-written posts have many new options for customization to drive engagement and increase readers' time on your site.
The INN Labs team is issuing a major, Gutenberg-friendly update to the Pym.js Embeds WordPress plugin, formerly known as the Pym Shortcode plugin, which improves presentations of data journalism.
The Pym.js Embeds plugin creates a better experience for the reader with responsive embeds that scale to fit the story, reduces workflows for data journalists, and removes the need for tricky embed workarounds.
The Montana Free Press is a digital investigative news outlet covering government, social justice, environmental issues and other beats in the Big Sky State.
Investigative journalist John S. Adams founded the Montana Free Press in 2015 and joined INN shortly thereafter. MTFP has been publishing stories on its own site and with partner organizations in Montana since its debut; this summer, INN Labs joined up with MTFP to migrate the site to the Largo framework.
Our goals for the project were to:
give MTFP a streamlined, modern look and feel
improve the usability of the site for MTFP editors, media partners, and readers
create new and better pathways to raise revenue on the site
engage the public and enhance the stories as valuable public resources
Some of our design inspiration came from INN Members (lookin’ at you, The Marshall Project, Mother Jones, and The Texas Tribune) and some from outside of our industry. We wanted big, bold headlines, a thoughtful type hierarchy, and a clean, modern way to highlight MTFP’s stories — both the latest developments and the long-term investigations.
Here's what John had to say:
“The new MontanaFreePress.org website is a huge upgrade, and major turning point for our growing nonprofit news organization. The INN Labs team took the time to understand exactly what our needs are and helped us design a beautiful and more functional website that improves reader experience and readability and gives us the tools we need to strategically grow our audience.”
Out with the old, in with the new
Since MTFP typically publishes longer, analytical and investigative stories rather than quick-hit spot news, we created a fully custom homepage that emphasized their premium content. This gave us a great opportunity to try a different, clean and modern look for the layout.
Benefits of this custom homepage are big visuals for larger screens and ease of navigation on smaller screens. MTFP editors have room for both curated story choices and the most recently published articles.
A fresh and modern story layout
Article pages continue the sleek, clean design philosophy. We left out intrusive ads and ineffective sidebars in order to prioritize long reads, with easy-to-read text and large, responsively embedded photos and videos. Behind the scenes, our Largo framework adds tools for media organizations that WordPress lacks out of the box, which helps make it easier to keep content organized by author and category.
We didn't do it alone
Continuing with the “fresh new look” theme, MTFP’s designer Clint McFarlin created a new logo package to launch in concert with the new website and provided direction on layouts. We collaborated with Clint to find colors and typefaces that stood out from the crowd and worked well with the new branding, as well as on the overall layout and design of the new site.
Upwards and onwards
We’re excited to have made the Montana Free Press site easier to use while improving the experience for their readers.
Next, we’ll be helping MTFP implement a new donation process as part of NewsMatch.
Looking for a website refresh of your own or have a digital project you’d like to discuss? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via this form.
Let's start with some ancient history. Our flagship WordPress theme, Largo, descends from work that NPR did in the early 2010s under the name The Argo Network. The network's work included best-practices recommendations for working with WordPress in news, published at the Argo Project, and an open-source WordPress theme called Argo, which INN forked in 2012.
Fast-forward a few years. INN was working on a big refresh of WisconsinWatch.org for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and was bringing in new features in Largo to support that refresh. The 0.4 release of Largo included a disclaimer widget that could be used to provide site-wide or per-article disclaimers and disclosures.
Today, we're happy to announce that that functionality is available to all WordPress users, with the launch of the Disclaimers plugin. 🎉
Largo sites running any current version of Largo don't need to install this plugin now, but we will be removing the corresponding disclaimers functionality from Largo in the next release. The migration process will be as painless as we can make it, with all your existing disclaimers carried forward.
We're so excited to welcome Tyler Machado to the INN Labs team as our front-end developer.
Tyler Machado is a web developer based in Boston, MA, and working at the intersection of technology, journalism, and visual storytelling. Tyler previously worked as the editorial developer for Harvard Business Review, where he built interactive graphics and helped start HBR’s chatbot presence on Slack and Facebook Messenger. Before that he worked on web development, social media and email newsletters at the Vermont newsweekly Seven Days. He’s led sessions at SRCCON, Cascade BOS, and Boston University's Storytelling With Data Workshops, and he's won awards from Folio: Magazine and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.
Tyler recently received a certificate in data science from Harvard University. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Saint Michael's College, where he won the John D. Donoghue Award for outstanding service to student publications. He has done volunteer work with the DIY arts website Boston Hassle, as well as the Code For America and Girl Develop It groups in Burlington, VT.
At INN, Tyler will be the front-end lead on our team, working on a mix of INN Labs tools and client projects, and contributing to our mission of building open source software that serves independent and nonprofit publishers.
Tyler starts full time with us on February 5, and we're thrilled to have him on board!