Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Another Hiatus

I'm not going to posting for a while -- to stay up to date on developments in online media, I suggest checking out some of the related sites listed in the right hand column. Have a great summer!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

firstamendmentcenter.org: NCAA clarifies position on blogging

From the First Amendment Center:

"The NCAA eased its restrictions on blogging and said live updates from its events are permitted as long as they are limited to scores and time remaining."

Comment: They still don't get it. Sigh.

Sacramento Bee: Eureka! Letters praising Bush are like gold nuggets

From the Sacramento Bee:

"'We'd love to put pro-Bush letters in,' said [Bill Moore, the paper's letters editor]. 'If a letter like that comes in, it goes to the top of the list. I make a big deal about it."

Comment: Aren't they supposed to be 'objective'? If so, why should they care what the balance is between pro- and anti-Bush letters?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer: Journalism's future is in global dialogue

From Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down:

"...without any doubt, the future of daily journalism is digital, not because it is the latest thing, but because it is, quite simply, a far better medium than paper and ink."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

International Center for Media and the Public Agenda: Openness & Accountability: A Study of Transparency in Global Media Outlets

From the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA):

"According to this new ICMPA study most news outlets are unwilling to let the public see how their editorial process works. Fewer than half of the websites publicly corrected mistakes in their stories and only a handful shared with readers the journalistic and ethical standards that theoretically guide their newsrooms."

New York Times: Blogger’s Ejection May Mean Suit for N.C.A.A.

From the New York Times:

"The eviction of a newspaper reporter from a baseball press box for blogging about a game while it was in progress has stirred a debate about First Amendment rights, intellectual property rights and contract law. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which on Sunday ejected Brian Bennett of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., during the Louisville-Oklahoma State game at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, contends it is merely enforcing long-established principles as they apply to a new technology."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Editor & Publisher: 'NYT' Hires Popular TV Blogger As Media Reporter

From Editor & Publisher:

"The New York Times has covered him in its news pages but now it has hired recent college graduate Brian Stelter of TvNewser fame as its newest reporter, according to a memo from business editor Larry Ingrassia posted on Romenesko at www.poynter.org."

Monday, June 11, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Journalism isn't dying, it's reviving

From Dan Gillmor on SFgate.com:

"Journalism's old guard is in a panic. With the latest bad news -- massive editorial staff reductions coming at the San Francisco Chronicle and believable rumors of similar cuts at an already shrunken San Jose Mercury News, among other things -- it's no wonder that people who care about the traditional journalism business are frightened.

"But if the issue is the future of journalism -- as opposed to corporate business models -- there's at least as much reason for optimism as paranoia. The same technologies that are disrupting the news industry are offering unprecedented opportunities for creating a more diverse, and ultimately more vibrant, journalistic ecosystem."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Publishing 2.0: New York Times Live Blogging And The Transformation Of Journalism

From Publishing 2.0:

"I just went to the New York Times homepage and saw that political reporter Katharine Seelye is “live-blogging” the democrat’s New Hampshire Debate. Newspapers and other mainstream media have had blogs for quite a while, but this strikes me as the moment when blogs officially went mainstream and when journalism crossed a tipping point of evolving into the digital age."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

American Journalism Review: Rolling the Dice

From the American Journalism Review:

"A few of the estimated 500 or so 'local-local' news sites claim to show a profit, but the overwhelming majority lose money, according to the first comprehensive survey of the field. The survey, conducted by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism (affiliated with the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, as is AJR), documents a journalism movement that is simultaneously thriving and highly tenuous. While independent sites such as WestportNow.com (Connecticut), iBrattleboro.com (Vermont) and VillageSoup.com (Maine) have sparked useful civic debates and prodded established media outlets to compete more vigorously, the field as a whole is so far financially marginal. As the report puts it, 'their business models remain deeply uncertain.'"

firstamendmentcenter.org: Internet expanding scope, meaning of ‘free press’

From the First Amendment Center:

"There’s no specific definition of “press” in the 45 words of the First Amendment. So who might be bound by responsibilities that go along with the role of a free press? Are bloggers and other Web users part of a broadly defined “press” even though they certainly could not have been envisioned by the Colonial-era Founders who wrote the First Amendment? And what of those who aren’t defined by traditional measures of circulation and ratings, but who may well have global audiences?"


"...surely the First Amendment’s provision for a free press counsels practitioners and product to be more than a transcription service."

Comment: The article's author, Gene Policinski, who is the executive director of the First Amendment Center, is referring in the second part of the quote above to the Pasadena Now editor's plan to have journalists in India report on local council meetings. I think he needs to reread the First Amendment. The idea of 'counseling' journalists to do something specific is more akin to censorship, in my opinion, than to press freedom.

On another page from the First Amendment Center's website, I found this quote: "'If the First Amendment protects speech advocating violence, then it must also protect speech that does not advocate violence but still makes it more likely,' the 9th Circuit court said." How can we protect free speech that is (at best) distasteful, but not protect a free press if we don't like how the press is being used?

In fact, as far as I understand it, the First Amendment doesn't protect journalists, but a right to a free press. I can't see how we can dictate that journalists do any reporting, let alone the kind of reporting we consider good journalism. If we don't like it, we don't have to read it -- in fact, we now have a truly free (as in beer) press to which we can publish our own quality journalism. If Policinski doesn't like how Pasadena Now is covering council meetings, maybe he should head out to California and do it himself -- or hire another journalist to do it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

stinkyjournalism.org: HOG WASHED!

From stinkyjournalism.org:

"The Associated Press News Wire, followed by FOX News, reported that a 'monster pig' had been shot by an eleven-year-old boy in rural Alabama. A dramatic photo (see Figure 2) accompanied the story. It showed the young hunter, Jamison Stone, a hardy 5 feet 5 inches, leaning on the back of the stupendous and dead 1,051 pound, 9 foot 4 inch, feral pig. This striking photo, which ran on the front page of the Saturday May 26th, New York Post, created an international news stir. One problem. Evidence collected by Stinky Journalism indicates that the photos, which ran on televisions and newspapers throughout the world, are not the straightforward snapshots they seem--but fakes."

Editor & Publisher: Company Will Track and 'Fingerprint' AP Content on the Web

From editor & Publisher:

"The Associated Press is moving to protect its content by partnering with the technology company Attributor, which will track AP material across the Internet. The arrangement will allow Attributor to 'fingerprint' AP copy down to a level where it can be identified anywhere on the Web."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

firstamendmentcenter.org: Hawaii court considers whether Web site reporter is a journalist

From firstamendmentcenter.org:

"A lawyer trying to get an Internet writer to testify and turn over notes for a court case says Web bloggers shouldn't have the same rights as mainstream reporters."

washingtonpost.com: Interviews, Going the Way of the Linotype?

From Howard Kurtz:

"The humble interview, the linchpin of journalism for centuries, is under assault... in the digital age, some executives and commentators are saying they will respond only by e-mail, which allows them to post the entire exchange if they feel they have been misrepresented, truncated or otherwise disrespected. And some go further, saying, You want to know what I think? Read my blog."

The Chronicle of Higher Education: MIT Scores a $5-Million Grant for a Digital News Project

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

"The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today the first winners of an unusual contest to foster blogs and other digital efforts that seek to bring together residents of a city or town in ways that local newspapers historically have done."

Friday, May 18, 2007

BBC News: Global net censorship 'growing'

From BBC News:

"The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering."


"In five years we have gone from a couple of states doing state-mandated net filtering to 25," said John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School."

Wall Street Journal: Why China Relaxed Blogger Crackdown

From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Chinese government, which spent months mulling over ways to crack down on bloggers, is retreating from its campaign, a development that illustrates the difficulty China faces as it tries to control technology."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

WebProNews: NBC Denies YouTube Debate Requests

From WebProNews:

"The alliance calling for open licensing of debate footage, which includes conservative blogger/columnist Michelle Malkin and the Huffington Post, have been putting pressure on both the Democratic National Committee (who will sanction 6 debates) and the Republican National Committee to join them."

Comment: Any time you have Michelle Malkin and the Huffington Post on the same side of an issue, it's worth taking notice. I agree with Markos Moulitsas, who was quoted in the article as saying, "The trappngs of our democracy, which includes the debates, belong to the people, not to powerful media interests." So do the airwaves, last time I checked. NBC should give in on this one ASAP.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BuzzMachine: Smartest media quote of the year

From Jeff Jarvis:

“'We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.' Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said that in today’s Wall Street Journal explaining CBS’ smarter-than-most strategy for a distributed media economy. This is the way all media executives should be thinking: Go to the people, don’t make the people come to you. That’s expensive for you and inconvenient for them and it’s just not going to happen — or, it’s no way to build a media business model anymore."

Comment: Jarvis is right, but unfortunately many old media people still think like this.

Editor & Publisher: Pasadena Local News Site Postpones Coverage by Reporters in India

From Editor & Publisher:

"A local news Web site's editor who hired two reporters in India to cover suburban Pasadena said he's been so overwhelmed by handling reaction to his plan that he had to postpone publication of their first stories."

Comment: The outsourcing of journalism begins. If you're a journalist and want to know what this is like, talk to a computer programmer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

BBC: Row over Scientology video

From the BBC:

"Scientology has fought many battles to keep its secrets off the web, now they are using it to attack my investigation into them. Scientology has prepared an attack video, and they have shown the Scientology v [BBC reporter John] Sweeney shouting match to anyone who would watch it."

Link to short preview of Sweeney's documentary, Scientology & Me

Link to Sweeney freaking out at a scientologist

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wired.com: Assignment Zero First Take: Wiki Innovators Rethink Openness

From Wired.com:

"The first piece of citizen journalism created by Assignment Zero, a 'pro-am' collaboration between Wired and NewAssignment.net, explores crowdsourcing. The project still has a month to go, but here's a preview."

BBC: Social lending gains net interest

From the BBC:

"Microfinance... is not new, but the web's ability to allow anyone to become a banker to the world's poor certainly is."

CNN: No restrictions on presidential debate footage

From CNN:

"The presidential debates are an integral part of our system of government, in which the American people have the opportunity to make informed choices about who will serve them. Therefore, CNN debate coverage will be made available without restrictions at the conclusion of each live debate."

Comment: Cool move. I'd like some more detail on what they mean by "without restrictions," but if I take it literally, it means there might be some interesting mashups coming out of this.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

techPresident: The Battle to Control Obama's Myspace

From Micah Sifry on techPresident:

"By the time of Obama's official campaign announcement in late January, Anthony's Obama profile--which had the valuable url of myspace.com/barackobama--already had more than 30,000 friends, well more than the other contenders. Over the following weeks, it continued to grow at a rapid pace, generating lots of headlines about Obama winning the "MySpace primary." Yesterday, the profile had just over 160,000 friends. Today, that url has only about 12,000. And it's under new ownership. Joe Anthony, one of the super volunteers of the Connected Age, has lost control of the page he started to the professionals on Obama's staff."

NewsLab: You Witness News

From NewsLab:

"In the past few months, CNN, MSNBC and Reuters have launched online ventures encouraging users to share their stories, photos and video, which the companies say could be used on television as well as the Web. CNN's "I-Report," MSNBC's "FirstPerson" and Reuters' partnership with Yahoo! on "You Witness News" differ somewhat, but they have one thing in common: They don't pay contributors a dime."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Slashdot: Digg.com Attempts To Suppress HD-DVD Revolt

From Slashdot:

"An astonishing number of stories related to HD-DVD encryption keys have gone missing in action from digg.com, in many cases along with the account of the diggers who submitted them. Diggers are in open revolt against the moderators and are retaliating in clever and inventive ways. At one point, the entire front page comprised only stories that in one way or another were related to the hex number."

Comment: This story is pretty technical, but the main point is that sites built around community can't $#*&!@ with their community members -- the community will always win.

Washington Post: China's Muckrakers for Hire Deliver Exposes With Impact

From the Washington Post:

"What happened... in Qinglong was typical of a new kind of journalism that is emerging in response to the Chinese Communist Party's suffocating censorship of newspapers, radio and television. With no more investment than a computer and a taste for taking risks, several dozen Web-based investigative journalists have set up sites and started advertising their willingness -- for a price -- to look into scandals that traditional reporters cannot touch."

Comment: One of the reporters in the story runs a website that translates as 'China's Famous Reporter Online Investigations.' I love translation almost as much as I love the web -- it's so useful, yet so imprecise.

First Amendment Center: Google nudges state governments to open public-records databases

From the First Amendment Center:

"By providing free consulting and some software, Google Inc. is helping state governments make reams of public records that are now unavailable or hard to find online easily accessible to Web surfers."

Newspaper Association of America: Online Newspaper Audience Sets Records in First Quarter

From the Newspaper Association of America:

"More than 59 million people (37.6 percent of all active Internet users) visited newspaper Web sites on average during the first quarter of 2007, a record number that represents a 5.3 percent increase over the same period a year ago, according to custom analysis provided by Nielsen//NetRatings for the Newspaper Association of America. In addition, newspaper Web site visitors generated nearly three billion page views per month throughout the quarter, compared to just under 2.7 billion during the same period last year. The first quarter figures are the highest for any quarter since NAA began tracking these numbers in 2004."

Monday, April 30, 2007

washingtonpost.com: Sexual Threats Stifle Some Female Bloggers

From washingtonpost.com:

"As women gain visibility in the blogosphere, they are targets of sexual harassment and threats. Men are harassed too, and lack of civility is an abiding problem on the Web. But women, who make up about half the online community, are singled out in more starkly sexually threatening terms -- a trend that was first evident in chat rooms in the early 1990s and is now moving to the blogosphere, experts and bloggers said."

Comment: I was skeptical of this as a trend when I heard about the Kathy Sierra case, but this seems to be a more widespread problem than I thought.

New York Times: As Blogs Proliferate, a Gadfly With Accreditation at the U.N.

From The New York Times:

"[Matthew] Lee, a well-known gadfly who often presses banks to revise their policies on mortgage loans to the poor, is the only blogger at the United Nations with media credentials, entitling him to free office space and access to briefings and press conferences. There had been a second accredited blogger, Pincas Jawetz, a 73-year-old retired energy policy consultant, but he was ejected last month on the grounds that he had distracted too many briefings with off-topic questions."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Online Journalism Review: Newspapers and blogs: Closer than we think?

From Online Journalism Review:

"Much of the current debate in journalism that centers around how sourcing is used in blogs concerns the issues of verification of information not reported in the mainstream press. But for now, this doesn't appear to be their raison d'etre. The function of blogs may be an equally important one, however, offering a more nuanced, synthesized perspective not found anywhere else on the Web."

Pew Internet & American Life Project: Wikipedia users

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project:

"More than a third of American adult internet users (36%) consult the citizen-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, according to a new nationwide survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And on a typical day in the winter of 2007, 8% of online Americans consulted Wikipedia."

Associated Press: Newspapers debate online reader comments

From the Associated Press via Yahoo! News:

"Faced with declining circulation, many U.S. newspapers are trying to engage readers by allowing them to respond to news stories online. But the anonymity of the Internet lets readers post obscenities and racist hate speech that would never be allowed in the printed paper."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New York Times: USA Today to Use Items From Start-Up News Site

From The New York Times:

"USA Today said Friday that it would begin using articles produced by the start-up, The Politico, a mostly online news operation staffed by journalists who have worked for news outlets like Time, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reuters: Google tops new list of world's most valuable brands

From Reuters:

"Google Inc. has knocked Microsoft Corp. from its perch as the world's top-ranked brand, according to findings released on Monday. The rankings, compiled by market research firm Millward Brown, also put Google ahead of well-established brands like General Electric Co., No. 2; Coca-Cola Co., No. 4; Wal-Mart Stores, No. 7; and IBM, No. 9."

Monday, April 23, 2007

New York Times: The Latest on Virginia Tech, From Wikipedia

From The New York Times

"From the contributions of 2,074 editors, at last count, [Wikipedia] created a polished, detailed article on the massacre, with more than 140 separate footnotes, as well as sidebars that profiled the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, and gave a timeline of the attacks... According to the foundation that runs the various Wikipedias around the world, there were more than 750,000 visits to the main article on the shootings in its first two days, an average of four visits a second. Even The Roanoke Times, which is published near Blacksburg, Va., where the university is located, noted on Thursday that Wikipedia 'has emerged as the clearinghouse for detailed information on the event.'"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Free Press : Big Media Fears Your Video Upload

From WebProNews via the Free Press:

"Consulting firm Accenture asked executives in those fields about the biggest threats to their businesses. More than half of them, 57 percent by Accenture’s count, feel The Fear coming from user-generated content."

Chicago Tribune: Tribune rolling out 'hyperlocal' Web site

From the Chicago Tribune:

"Taking a tentative step into a brave new world of community-generated journalism, the Chicago Tribune will launch a Web site Thursday designed to allow readers in the far western and southern suburbs to post their own stories, write blogs and otherwise become what the newspaper company is calling 'citizen contributors.' Triblocal.com will have a staff of four journalists charged with drumming up stories in an initial target area of nine towns. But the site, which will be largely unedited and self-policing, is designed to let citizens and organizations publish their own stories and post everything from high school team photos to favorite restaurant menus."

Friday, April 20, 2007

PC World: MySpace Launches Beta of News Aggregation Site

From PC World:

"MySpace.com has launched a beta of a news site it hopes will bring more advertising revenue to the popular social networking site."


"MySpace's news aggregator, called Newroo, searches for stories on the Web using an algorithm that posts content based on a number of factors, including relevance for MySpace users and the number of readers a news site has."

Comment: I really like the idea of combining Google News-style aggregation with Digg-stle users voting. However, things seem to be starting off slowly -- as of this post, the highest number of votes for stories in the top news story was seven, for 'Dean and DNCC visit Denver to plan out Convention.'

Also, while the top news stories included a link to the NY Times' piece about the Gonzalez hearings, other 'top stories' included one called 'Are You Abstract / Spirtual Or More Scientifically Minded?' and another entitled 'Streets of Rage 2 leads next Sega VC releases.' I have a very broad definition of news, and even I am having a hard time classifying the last two stories as 'Top Stories' in any sense of the word.

Then again, MySpace News just launched, and I'm glad to see MySpace adding a feature that may draw younger users to read more news.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MTV News: Virtual Memorial, MySpace Pages Help VT Mourners Cope Online

From MTV News:

"The events of Monday morning are beyond comprehension, but it's commendable to watch the MySpace Generation pour its heart and soul into trying to do just that."

Comment: The story contains a impressive list of links to blogs, MySpace and Facebook pages, collections of pictures, and RSS feeds about the tragedy. My heart goes out to everyone at Virginia Tech and their families and friends, but I have a special admiration for those who can bring themselves to share information, documentation, thoughts, and feelings with the world. I'm just glad the Internet gives them a way to do so, and to hear from the rest of the world who is thinking about them.

I also have to make special mention of Prof. Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who saved many of his students by barricading the door to his classroom before being shot by Cho Seung-Hui.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NowPublic: Crowd Powered Media

From NowPublic:

"NowPublic is a participatory news network which mobilizes an army of reporters to cover the events that define our world. In twelve short months, the company has become one of the fastest growing news organizations with thousands of reporters in over 140 countries. During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic had more reporters in the affected area than most news organizations have on their entire staff."

Comment: Another interesting experiment in crowdsourced journalism - it has obviously been around for a while, but somehow I hadn't come across it yet. The noise to signal ratio is still relatively high, but it seems to be getting more traction than some other projects.

Philadelphia Daily News: Cell phones: Turning witnesses into reporters

From the Phildelphia Daily News:

"...by midafternoon, CNN anchors were routinely referring to [Jamal] Albarghouti as 'our I-reporter,' a designation a CNN spokeswoman later likened to 'citizen journalism.' In other words, Albarghouti volunteered."

"[Albarghouti's cell-phone video] was racking up impressive stats, having been viewed more than 900,000 times on CNN.com by 3:14 p.m. - numbers that were updated by CNN anchors through the afternoon in a marriage of news and marketing."

Monday, April 16, 2007

New York Times: Best-Informed Also View Fake News, Study Says

From The New York Times:

"... the survey respondents who seemed to know the most about what’s going on — who were able to identify major public figures, for example — were likely to be viewers of fake news programs like Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”; those who knew the least watched network morning news programs, Fox News or local television news."

Comment: I'm such a fan of the shows I just can't help pointing out surveys like this one.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

BBC News: Bloggers' search for anonymity

From BBC News:

"The internet has given the individual unprecedented power to reach out to millions but some governments are cautious, even hostile, to giving their citizens free access to ideas they deem too democratic and dangerous. Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia: they are all popular with holiday makers but they also censor and even lock up journalists and bloggers. This is why the media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, has published The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents."

Comment: As much as I complain about the state of free speech in America, we should always remember that many people in the world risk their life to post to their blogs. It's a sobering, yet inspiring, thought.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Online Media Daily: USAToday.com Registrations Up 380% Since Makeover

From Online Media Daily: "USA Today's community-centric makeover last month appears to be paying off in dividends. Indeed, the site has seen a dramatic 380% increase in registrations since the re-launch, while its unique visitor rates have grown 21% from February, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Targeting today's interaction-hungry readers, the Gannett-owned paper last month relaunched its Web site in the guise of a social network laden with video, blogs, dynamic content-sharing and recommendation tools."

Online Media Daily: Why NBC News Still Hasn't Found the Right Producer...

From Online Media Daily:

"NBC Nightly News anchor and otherwise swell guy Brian Williams spoke to some NYU journalism students recently, offering advice, and at times, rants against various online tragedies such as un-J-schooled bloggers: 'You're going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe... all of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I'm up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn't left the efficiency apartment in two years.'"

Comment: Awwww, Brian, how sad for you. But if you're such a great journalist, then why do you even have to worry about 'Vinny'? How can he possibly beat you at your own game?

I'd also like to know if online journalism guru and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen (no relation) was at the session, and if he challenged Williams' slurs against bloggers. He hasn't posted anything about it on his blog yet...

Update: NYU's journalism student blog We Want Media reported on the speech, but the post reports on the speech without commentary -- not even a single reaction quote from a student or professor.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MediaShift: Ball State Visit::Journalism Education Stuck in Same Oldthink Mode as Big Media

From Mark Glaser:

"The blog, in academia, is looked at by faculty as something to disdain, a lazy way out of doing real journalism; and by students, it is looked at as a leisure time activity, pointless and fun."

Comment: Glaser makes a number of important points in his (in my experience) highly accurate post, but those of you who know my job situation will understand why I chose this particular quote to cite.

Online Media Daily: New Study Points To Web Prominence For 2008 Election

From Online Media Daily:

"Mounting evidence points to the Web as a critical communications and educational tool for the 2008 Presidential election. Indeed, voters are relying on the Web more than any medium to research candidates and their positions, according to a new study from online ad network Burst Media."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Baltimore Sun: Newspapers need to 'do it different' on getting paid

From the Baltimore Sun's Jay Hancock:

"The problem isn't the journalism; soaring Web readership proves that. The problem is getting paid for it in the Internet Age."

Comment: A much more reasonable perspective on the topic than other recent commentary.

Update: The AP wasn't too thrilled by Hancock's column. Among other points of dispute, the AP says that "a very small fraction of this content -- less than 4 percent -- is contributed from AP-member newspapers. The overwhelming majority of content sold to commercial, nonmember Web sites is original content produced by AP staff." Considering the ratio of AP to locally-produced content in most newspapers these days, I tend to believe them on this.

Reflections of a Newsosaur: Why NYT may have to go private

From Alan Mutter:

"To comfortably maintain control of the New York Times Co., the Ochs-Sulzberger family may have no alternative but to follow the Tribune Co. in a highly leveraged transaction to remove their company from public ownership."

Comment: I believe that, to survive, the newspaper industry needs to get as far away from Wall Street as possible. That's not to say that there aren't other, gloomier, valid points of view.

In any case, Mutter, who knows what he's talking about, explains in exquisite detail what this would mean for the Grey Lady.

USA Today: The 2008 candidates are running 'e-lection' campaigns

From USA Today:

"Politicians have leveraged tech innovations since the 19th century, when locomotives and the telegraph helped them reach remote places. But an explosion of new and inexpensive technologies since the 2004 elections is transforming campaigns into tech-driven ventures, shifting the balance of power — with surprising and unsettling results."

The Nation: The Politics of Pundit Prestige...

From Eric Alterman:

"To put it bluntly, most MSM pundits are lazy, ill informed and in thrall to the specious arguments of the powerful people they are supposed to critique. The punditocracy may not like the blogosphere's diagnosis, but there is really only one way to get it off its collective back: Work harder, do a better job. It's really that simple."

Comment: To quote from Dan Gillmor's wonderful book We the Media, which I use in my Online Newswriting class, blogger Ken Layne "captured one of the online world’s essen­tial characteristics in a classic posting in 2001. “We can Fact Check your ass,” Layne said."

Los Angeles Times: Papers, Web firms need 'a new deal,' Zell says

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Sam Zell, who agreed to a takeover this week of Tribune Co., came to the heart of Silicon Valley on Thursday evening and said there needed to be "a new deal and new formulas" between newspapers and Internet companies.

Journalists produce the news that search engines such as Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. seamlessly and freely make available to anyone with a computer, Zell said during a presentation on corporate governance at Stanford University. "If all the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content for nothing, what would Google do, and how profitable would Google be?" the Chicago real estate maverick mused.

His answer: Not very."

Comment: I guess Zell, who admits in the article that he's "been in the news business for less than a week, so he wasn't a genius at it yet," has been reading David Lazarus' columns.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Editor & Publisher: What Newspapers Need to Do -- To Survive

From Editor & Publisher:

"If we are going to continue to write about the demise of our own industry, let's at least get it right: Reduced circulation is not causing the revenue slide; the revenue slide is causing even lower circulation."


"We have to break the cycle. We cannot continue to cut at the core of our business simply to feed an irrational need for high margins. We must grow revenue, and we won't do that by slashing expenses."

Comment: This is one of the cogent articles I've read on this subject. Unfortunately, as long as Wall Street is in control, not only high, but growing margins will trump all other concerns in the short term.

Los Angeles Times: Aiming for a kinder, smarter online encyclopedia

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Try as they might, Citizendium's founders are finding it's pretty tough to do a better job than Wikipedia.

They've been working for nearly six months on the Herculean task of agreeing on how to organize all of the information in the world. So far, editors have approved only nine of the roughly 1,000 articles that volunteers have written. Visitors can see all of the entries, but the approved ones are distinguished by a green checkmark. The nonprofit Citizendium has found writers for only six of about 40 topics its editors have identified as most important.

"You simply can't legislate or give orders to people," said Larry Sanger of Columbus, Ohio, who founded Citizendium. "It's a volunteer project, and people will end up doing more work for the project if they feel free to go where their hearts take them."

Comment: There's a saying that goes, "faster, cheaper, better -- pick two." Wikipedia is definitely faster and cheaper. Given this news, when it comes to encyclopedias, it sounds like Wikipedia is also better, at least compared to Citizendium.

Friday, April 06, 2007

CJR Daily: Wolf Goes Free, But Debate He Inspired Continues

From CJR Daily:

"[Josh] Wolf, 24, was released from federal prison yesterday after spending seven and a half months behind bars for refusing to turn over to a grand jury the outtakes of a video he shot of a July 2005 protest in San Francisco in which a police officer suffered a fractured skull.

In return for posting the uncut video on his Web site, giving prosecutors a copy and denying under oath that he knew anything about violent incidents at the protest, Wolf was given his freedom and prosecutors agreed not to summon him before the grand jury or ask him to identify any of the protesters shown on his video."

Comment: In the end, Wolf gave in, but how can you blame him?

Broadcasting & Cable: Study Says Copyrighted Material Not Dominant on YouTube

From Broadcasting & Cable:

"The amount of copyrighted material on YouTube and other video sharing sites may be less than previously thought. A report from online video tracker Vidmeter found that of the top 6,725 videos between December 9, 2006 and March 22, 2007 only 621, or 9.23%, were removed because they were found to infringe upon their owners copyright."

Comment: My last post mentioned that content is king. But that doesn't mean that professionals are the only ones who can create quality content. People who believe that bloggers and content aggregators like YouTube are thieves who steal from the professional content creators are going to have to get it into their heads that there isn't that great a divide between them and really talented amateurs. These amateurs (and aspiring professionals) are posting a lot of their own content online. The content that gets the most traffic is the content that people want to see, regardless of who created it.

Editor & Publisher: McClatchy/Yahoo Foreign News Deal Opens Doors to Other Possibilities

From the AP via Editor & Publisher:

"Many newspaper publishers still consider major Internet companies to be a threat, but a deal announced last week to bring foreign news and commentary to Yahoo Inc. from correspondents at McClatchy Co. newspapers could open the way to even more cooperation between print and online media."


"Mike Simonton, newspaper analyst at the credit ratings service Fitch Ratings Inc., said newspapers are transforming themselves from being primarily distributors of information to producers of news that can then be distributed by other means."

Comment: Newspapers are starting to get it -- the distribution method doesn't matter -- content is king.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Washington Post: News Aggregation Site Employs Human Eyes

From washingtonpost.com:

"Topix LLC is soliciting editors to oversee the forums covering every U.S. town and city. One or more volunteers from each of 32,500 localities will be in charge of marking the best messages and news items and perhaps writing their own articles on community happenings."

Comment: Journalism students who want clips should jump on this with both feet.

PrezVid.com: ParkRidge47 on video…again

From Jeff Jarvis' new PrezVid site, chronicling "The YouTube Campaign 2008":

"ParkRidge47, aka Phillip de Vellis, the guy who made that Hillary attack ad, is interviewed on video by YouTube’s editor of nesws and politics, Steve Grove. Good idea for making news on YouTube (and an interesting format: the asynchronous webcam interview)."

Comment: Is YouTube the future of campaigning? I don't know, but it certainly is the hot topic of the moment. Another cool site is techpresident.com, whose tagline is: "How the candidates are using the web, and how the web is using them." Great idea - I wish I had thought of it.

Seattle Times: Could Times-Hearst battle end with P-I strictly online?

From the Seattle Times:

"Visualize a Seattle Post-Intelligencer that exists only online. A paperless newspaper. The first American daily to make a leap that many observers predict the entire industry probably will make someday."

Comment: The move is being driven by a legal dispute, but the fact that it's even being considered is another step toward the inevitable future.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Berkeley Woman's Iraq Quest

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Jane Stillwater is a 64-year-old Berkeley woman who left for Kuwait on Wednesday, hoping to embed with the U.S. military there and in Iraq as a blogger. And if she is refused? She's got a sleeping bag and plans to sleep on the beach in Kuwait until her return flight in three weeks."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Editor & Publisher: Surprise: Study Finds Online Users Finish More Stories Than Print Readers

From Editor & Publisher:

"In a surprise finding, online readers finish news stories more often than those who read in print, according to the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack study released Wednesday at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference here. When readers chose to read an online story, they usually read an average of 77% of the story, compared to 62% in broadsheets and 57% in tabloids."

Comment: I'm certainly surprised, but not displeased...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Los Angeles Times: Blogs can top the presses

From the Los Angeles Times:

"It's 20 or so blocks up town to the heart of the media establishment, the Midtown towers that house the big newspaper, magazine and book publishers. And yet it was here in a neighborhood of bodegas and floral wholesalers that, over the last two months, one of the biggest news stories in the country — the Bush administration's firing of a group of U.S. attorneys — was pieced together by the reporters of the blog Talking Points Memo."

"The bloggers used the usual tools of good journalists everywhere — determination, insight, ingenuity — plus a powerful new force that was not available to reporters until blogging came along: the ability to communicate almost instantaneously with readers via the Internet and to deputize those readers as editorial researchers, in effect multiplying the reporting power by an order of magnitude."

Comment: It's so nice to see the MSM giving the blogosphere credit for doing quality journalism. This story could help the media turn the corner from the bloggers vs. journalists mindset to a collaborative environment where we actually end up with better journalism.

Huffington Post: New HuffPost Project: The Wisdom of the Crowd Hits the '08 Campaign Trail

From Arianna Huffington:

"For the last couple of months we have been talking with New York University journalism professor (and HuffPost blogger) Jay Rosen about teaming up with his experimental site, NewAssignment.net, to add a new dimension to the coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. We are now ready to invite your participation. We are recruiting large groups of citizen journalists from around the country to cover the major presidential candidates."

Comment: This is getting traction pretty quickly -- I really hope it works. I think this concept of professional journalists and amateurs collaborating has a lot of potential.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BBC News: Blog death threats spark debate

From BBC News:

"Prominent blogger Kathy Sierra has called on the blogosphere to combat the culture of abuse online. It follows a series of death threats which have forced her to cancel a public appearance and suspend her blog."

Comment: I obviously feel very badly for Ms. Sierra, and wish she had not been subjected to these threats. But I'm hesitant to accept the explanation that she is being attacked because she is a woman. I have worked in technology industry for 10 years and have frequently found myself as a lone female in a room full of men at conferences, meetings, etc. I have never run into the type of systematic "culture of attacking women" that Robert Scoble mentions in the BBC piece.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the plural of anecdote is not data - my experience doesn't mean there is no bias against women; but the attack on Ms. Sierra doesn't mean there is bias against women either.

Update: A lot of people have been calling for a blogger's code of ethics as a result of this incident. I meant to point out that CyberJournalist.net proposed a code of ethics (Link to page in Google cache) in 2003. It doesn't specifically address harassment of other bloggers, but I'd rather see the blogosphere expand on existing efforts than start over. If not CyberJournalist's code, then let's modify the widely accepted SPJ Code of Ethics.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Salon: Israel goes on the virtual offensive

From Salon:

"Israel's official MySpace page was launched in January under the direction of officials from the Foreign Ministry."

San Francisco Chronicle: So who will get the story?

From the San Francisco Chronicle's David Lazarus:

"...the simple fact is that newspapers do the digging that most bloggers do not. The blogosphere -- a silly term coined by bloggers to legitimize their posturing -- is comprised by and large of people whose work consists of commenting on the work of others."

Comment: This column is Lazarus' response to the blogosphere's response to his earlier column in which he argued that, "It's time for newspapers to stop giving away the store." I had some critical things to say about the original column, and Lazarus saw fit to quote from my post in his latest column, in which he said he was surprised by bloggers' "sense of entitlement... when it came to benefiting from other people's work." (Note that he didn't seem to have any qualms about benefiting from my work.)

But let's look at this situation more rationally. The most important thing about this back and forth is just that -- Lazarus and the bloggers are having a conversation. Columnists can no longer lecture their readers without expecting a public (and published) response.

I wish Lazarus and others who share his mindset would see the journalist/blogger relationship as a way to increase his readers' engagement with the news, instead of fearing its effect on the newspaper industry. Whether he likes it or not, embracing this new paradigm is more likely to save newspapers than railing about bloggers' "sense of entitlement." Rather than writing another column, I'd suggest that Lazarus write to his editors, suggesting that the Chronicle should remove his column from the website. That way, he won't have to worry about leeches benefiting from his work -- or reading it, for that matter.

PBS MediaShift: Doomsayers Debunked--Serious Journalism Won't Die as Newsprint Fades

From Mark Glaser:

"Rather than looking at ways of trying to squeeze out more money by charging for content online or creating a consortium, journalists should start opening themselves up to new ways of newsgathering, hybrid pro-am efforts, and get readers involved. If they don’t, they have only themselves to blame for readers going elsewhere."

Comment: It's nice to see I'm not the only one who had some issues with David Lazarus' column.

Balkinization: Can Bush Assert Executive Privilege in the U.S. Attorney Controversy?

From Jack Balkin:

"Of course, that is one reason why Congress should push hard for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate criminal wrongdoing instead of relying solely on Congressional oversight hearings. It is important to recognize that even if the President otherwise had authority to fire the US Attorneys does not mean that the firings could not violate criminal laws like conspiracy or obstruction of justice if there was evidence that the firings were designed to forestall or to interfere with prosecutions."

Comment: This story is not about journalism in the Internet era per se, but it's relevant nonetheless. This is the first place I have seen a clear explanation about whether Bush can assert executive privilege in Gonzalezgate (that's not to say this information hasn't been published in an MSM article, but I haven't seen it, and I've been looking.)

That I had to learn this information from a blog is somewhat interesting, but it becomes much more interesting when you consider the blogger's identity. Balkin is currently Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment and the directory of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. He's one of those people reporters would be likely to call to get the answer to the question posed in the headline. Isn't it better to get the explanation directly from the expert? What service does a reporter provide if he/she just passes along a quote from Balkin in a news story?

I'm not saying reporters can't provide an important service; I'm saying that they often fill their articles with quotes from experts like Balkin. Under those circumstances, I'd rather get the explanation from the source himself.

Update: My bad -- evidently I missed this NY Times piece from March 19.

Washington Post: Bloggers Storm the Senatorial Gates

From the Washington Post's Capitol Briefing blog:

"In the latest sign of the growing strength of the liberal 'net roots' community, Senate Democrats have invited a trio of prominent bloggers into one of their formal, inside-the-Capitol luncheons for the first time. On Thursday, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, David Waldman, a contributing editor at Daily Kos, and Duncan Black of Eschaton are slated to brief the Senate Democratic Policy Committee luncheon."

Red Herring: CBS, Fox Seek Citizen Reporters

From Red Herring:

"CBS News and Fox News on Monday signed up Neighborhood America to create social-networking technology that will help them attract user-generated news reports from citizen journalists around the United States. The privately held Naples, Florida-based company has been working with TV broadcasters such as ABC News, CNN, the Weather Channel, and Scripps’ HGTV to solicit user feedback and offer community features."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Huffington Post: Phil de Vellis, aka ParkRidge47: I Made the "Vote Different" Ad

From The Huffington Post:

"Hi. I'm Phil. I did it. And I'm proud of it. I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it--by people of all political persuasions--will follow."

Comment: I never expected his identity to come out so quickly. I'm a little disappointed to find out how closely tied his is to politics, but I have to give him props -- I wish I had thought of it.

Associated Press: "Clinton 1984" YouTube ad puts spotlight on guerrilla politics

From the AP via the Seattle Times:

"[Sen. Barack] Obama, appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night, said his campaign knew nothing about the origins of the anti-Clinton ad. 'Frankly, given what it looks like, we don't have the technical capacity to create something like this," he said. "It's pretty extraordinary.'"

Comment: Wow. As the supposed representative for the new generation and the hippest candidate on the campaign trail, I'm shocked that Obama would think it a good idea to admit that his campaign doesn't have the 'technical capacity' to make something like the Clinton/1984 mashup video.

The New York Sun: New Technique Lets Bloggers Tackle Late-Night News Dumps

From The New York Sun:

"On Monday night, the Justice Department delivered to Congress more than 3,000 pages of e-mails, memos, and other records about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The handover came so late that many news organizations had to scramble to try to skim a few headlines from the files before latenight deadlines."

"Despite the late hour, readers of a liberal Web site, tpmmuckraker.com, tackled the task with gusto. They quickly began grabbing 50-page chunks of the scanned documents from a House of Representatives Internet server, analyzing them and excerpting them. The first post about the Department of Justice records hit the left-leaning news and commentary site at 1:04 a.m. Within half an hour, there were 50 summaries posted by readers gleaning the documents. By 4:30 a.m., more than 220 postings were up detailing various aspects of the files."

Comment: TPMMuckraker.com's founder Joshua Micah Marshall has been credited with keeping the Gonzalez 8 story alive. Chalk up another journalistic win for the blogosphere.

Media is a Plural: Twenty Questions with Conde Nast Chief Tom Wallace

From Media is a Plural:

Interviewer: "What are your top three challenges at Conde Nast?

Wallace: "Well, first of all, taking these big and beautiful magazines into the Internet era…(pauses, smiles) can that be all three?"

On The Media: Good Day, Sunshine

From On The Media:

"If you’re wondering what your Congressperson has been up to lately, you can spend hours poring over hard-to-find government databases. Or you can visit a brand new website, where it’s all in one place. Sunlight Foundation technology advisor Micah Sifry unveils OpenCongress.org."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ABC News: Anti-Clinton '1984' Ad Spoof Climbs YouTube's Most Viewed

From ABC News:

"A remake of the seminal '1984' Apple ad spot for Macintosh featuring New York's junior senator as Big Brother has been making rounds on the Internet for the last two weeks. This time YouTube is the venue of choice and the ad spoof is well on its way to a million views."

Monday, March 19, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Who is the person behind the Clinton attack ad?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"First it was talk radio, and then it was cable news – and now it's the blogs that are setting the agenda for the mainstream media," says [Tobe Berkowitz, interim professor of communications at Boston University – and a former advertising industry veteran]. "You can take something that you could never break into the news cycle with, and all of a sudden it's kaboom."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

CJR Daily: How TalkingPointsMemo Beat the Big Boys on the U.S. Attorney Story

From CJR Daily:

"It's almost too perfect. A mainstream reporter mocks a story a blogger has been working to break, asserting that 'it all makes perfect conspiratorial sense!', and that the blogger is 'seeing broad partisan conspiracies where none likely exist,' only to backtrack a few weeks later when the story explodes across the front pages of the major dailies."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

soundseeker: NYSoundmap

From soundseeker:

"The NYSoundmap is a map created by citizens that privileges the ear over the eye. The project reaches across the city's geographic, economic, educational, cultural and racial divides. It is at once a historical record and a subjective representation of the city. It is what each user wishes it to be and it is ever growing, ever changing and totally interactive."

Comment: This is a great example of content that could only be created on the web. And it's pretty cool...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Pay-to-play is one way to help save newspapers

From San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus:

"It's time for newspapers to stop giving away the store. We as an industry need to start charging for -- or at the very least controlling -- use of our products online... My thinking is that this is approaching a life-or-death struggle for newspapers, and an antitrust exemption may be the only way that the industry can smoothly make the transition to a digital future."

"Barring that, I agree with [University of Minnesota media ethics professor Jane] Kirtley at the University of Minnesota. If newspapers aren't going to collectively reach into the pockets of online readers, they should at least focus their attention on other Internet players that are profiting from newspapers' content... Bloggers and Web sites are entitled to what is called fair use of copyrighted material... But I frequently see blogs that include entire stories or columns (my own included). Obviously a newspaper can't go after all such violators. But the big ones need to play by the rules."

Comment: Sorry for the chopped up excerpt, but I didn't want to run afoul of fair use rules. Simply put, Lazarus' proposal is what's colloquially known as closing the barn door after the cow has left. I agree that the only way newspapers could start charging for content now is if they collude in violation of anti-trust law. Here's my thing with that idea -- every industry since the buggy whip manufacturers (and there are probably earlier examples) has tried to prevent new technology from ruining their business model. But sometimes progress requires that old technology make way for the new.

I'm not suggesting that journalists are obsolete, or that they've been replaced by bloggers. But I don't think that fighting to protect their traditional business model is going to save newspapers. The industry has to fundamentally rethink the process of producing and disseminating news in the Internet era. I know that's easier said than done, but it's better to start working on it now instead of spending years fighting a futile battle.

As for Kirtley's idea, I do agree that blogs shouldn't be allowed to republish entire stories. But I don't think most A-list bloggers are doing that. If the newspaper industry can find one, then they should file a Viacom-Google style lawsuit so we can get that out of the way. The bottom line is that it's not going to make a difference how those lawsuits turn out. Shutting down Napster didn't stop people from sharing music. Shutting down YouTube is not going to stop people from posting TV shows online. And shutting down 100 A-list blogs is not going to save the newspaper industry.

AssignmentZero: Pro-Am Journalism Takes off With Launch of Assignment Zero

From AssignmentZero's launch press release:

"Wired News (www.wired.com) and NewAssignment.net today announce the launch of Assignment Zero (www.assignmentzero.com), an attempt to bring together professional writers and editors with citizen journalists to collaborate on reporting and writing about the rise of crowdsourcing on the Web. Inspired by the open source movement, the goal of Assignment Zero is to develop a working model of an open newsroom."

Comment: NewAssignment.net and AssignmentZero are the brainchildren of Jay Rosen (no relation), a professor at my alma mater. I'm very interested in this idea of 'hybrid' journalism, where a professional journalist works with a pool of amateurs. I can't say I'm overly impressed by the current assignments, but I can understand that they want to start with some softball pieces before trying to tackle anything juicier.

Reuters: Stop surfing, make friends, students told

From Reuters:

"One of India's top engineering schools has restricted Internet access in its hostels, saying addiction to surfing, gaming and blogging was affecting students' performance, making them reclusive and even suicidal. Authorities at the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai said students had stopped socializing and many were late for morning classes or slept through them."

Comment: Ok - I don't believe the Internet makes people antisocial, but I know there is some research that indicates otherwise. I don't think I've ever seen research indicating it makes people suicidal. In any case, the school should have stopped at that when justifying cutting off Internet access. If they believe that the Internet is what's making students late for morning classes -- regardless of what the students themselves say -- then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Los Angeles Times: Blogging for dollars raises questions of online ethics

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Thousands of bloggers are writing sponsored posts touting such diverse topics as diamonds, digital cameras and drug clinics. The bloggers are spurred by new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc. that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters. Some of their fellow bloggers are critical, saying the industry is polluting the blog world and misleading consumers by blurring the line between advertising and unbiased opinion."

Comment: This is an unhelpful trend for those of us trying to make the case for the credibility of online media, but it is also inevitable -- if there's money lying around, someone will stoop to pick it up.

On a related note, I am amused by the reporter's use of the paradoxical phrase "unbiased opinion."

CJR Daily: Who's A Journalist? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

From CJR Daily:

"Apparently, we haven't heard the last of the tired debate, 'Are bloggers journalists?' It seems that every few months, in casting about for something to write, media critics get themselves all in a twist over this question when in fact it just might be the single most overblown issue in contemporary journalism."

Comment: It seems to me that every few months, in casting about for something to write, media critics whine about how bored they are by what I consider to be the ongoing, valid, and vibrant debate about who qualifies as a journalist in the new media world. This question is far from answered, as the writer illustrates in his piece.

Reuters: Viacom in $1 bln copyright suit vs Google, YouTube

From Reuters via Yahoo News:

"Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said on Tuesday that it was suing Google Inc. and its Internet video-sharing site YouTube for more than $1 billion over unauthorized use of its programming online."

Comment: I think this is actually a good thing - big companies need to duke it out in court because that's the only way our outdated intellectual property laws are going to be updated to apply to the 21st century.

ZDNet: Adobe to take Photoshop online

From ZDNet:

"Hoping to get a jump on Google and other competitors, Adobe Systems plans to release a hosted version of its popular Photoshop image-editing application within six months, the company's chief executive said Tuesday."

Comment: This is a great idea, but the devil is in the details. We'll have to see how they implement it and what it costs...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

firstamendmentcenter.org: Judge dismisses libel claim against conservative blogger

From the First Amendment Center:

"A district judge has dismissed a libel lawsuit against a conservative blogger, saying the man's political Web site had the same legal protections as newspapers and traditional broadcasters against lawsuits by public figures."

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Guardian: Students marked on writing in Wikipedia

From The Guardian:

"Wikipedia - banned by some academics as a source for student essays - has been made compulsory reading (and writing) for a new course at the University of East Anglia. Students are assessed on editing and writing articles on Middle East politics for the online encyclopaedia, which is open to contributions from anyone. Nicola Pratt, a lecturer in international relations, said she used to be "one of the disgruntled crown of academics who berate students for using Wikipedia in their essays" but is now convinced it can be a great opportunity for students to see at first hand how knowledge is produced."

Comment: I try not to make a point of tooting my own horn, but I've given my online journalism students the option to earn up to 10 points of extra credit toward their final grade by finding and fixing factual errors on Wikipedia - one point per error. I'd love to know how Dr. Pratt got a story written about this...

Enough whining though - I think it's a great idea, particularly given the sometimes irrational enmity most professors feel toward Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Journalism.org: Net Gain for the News Business?

From the Project for Excellence in Journalism:

"A new Pew survey may offer some good news to a journalism industry eagerly seeking new and younger customers. People in the rapidly growing ranks of wireless Internet users are more likely to retrieve news online than those who access the web in other ways."

Comment: The disappointing thing about this study is that it lumps wireless laptop users in with people who access the Internet via cell phone, PDF, or Blackberry. Talk about mixing apples and oranges.

Gelf Magazine: What the Press Loses in Translation

From Gelf Magazine:

"Foreign correspondents often rely on local amateurs—or their own language skills—to interpret the statements of their sources for readers. Confusion sometimes ensues."

Comment: As someone who has translated a (yet unpublished) novel and written about the theoretical debates among translators (PDF), I'm very concerned if this story is true -- we could be basing many of our opinions about what world leaders say and what the rest of the world thinks about us on poor translations. It would be interesting to put together a repository of translated quotes and have them verified by multiple experts in translation. The only group I know of that focuses on this is MEMRI.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Essjay, the Ersatz Academic

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

"Like most of the controversies that swirl around Wikipedia, the incident has wider ramifications than a simple personal dispute. Mr. Wales is right that Essjay's autobiographical fabrications don't change the quality of his contributions to the site. And it would seem like an overreach for a site that thrives on anonymous editing to ban someone for misrepresenting his or her identity. But the incident is clearly damaging to Wikipedia's credibility -- especially with professors who will now note that one of the site's most visible academics has turned out to be a fraud."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wired News: I Bought Votes on Digg

From Wired News:

"I can tell you exactly how a pointless blog full of poorly written, incoherent commentary made it to the front page on Digg. I paid people to do it. What's more, my bought votes lured honest Diggers to vote for it too. All told, I wound up with a 'popular' story that earned 124 diggs -- more than half of them unpaid. I also had 29 (unpaid) comments, 12 of which were positive."

Comment: This is the dark side of the wisdom of crowds and the challenge caused by anonymity.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MediaWeek: MSNBC.com Launches FirstPerson

From MediaWeek:

"MSNBC.com has launched FirstPerson, a new outlet for users to post news-related photos, videos and even stories on the site."

Comment: The story also mentions the launch of a similar project from CNN called Exchange.

MediaWeek: Publishers at MPA: Web Sites of Future Will Reflect Users

From MediaWeek:

"User-driven content and video will take on a greater role at magazines’ Web sites as they seek to make the most of the Internet’s unique properties. That was the message publishing execs sent from the Magazine Publishers of America’s annual digital conference, titled Connecting with the Consumer, taking place in New York Feb. 27."

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Lawmakers Seek to Strengthen Fair Use

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

"A bill that would make it easier for scholars to use copyrighted works without running afoul of copyright law was introduced today by Rep. Rick Boucher, Democrat of Virginia, and Rep. John Doolittle, Republican of California. Representative Boucher has long been a friend of academic librarians and technology companies for advocating that copyright law gives content owners too much control over the works they own to the detriment of innovation and research."

Comment: A bipartisan bill to protect fair use? What a concept! I don't see why it should be restricted to scholars, though.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Washington Post: A Brave New Wikiworld

From Cass R. Sunstein:

"In the past year, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that 'anyone can edit,' has been cited four times as often as the Encyclopedia Britannica in judicial opinions, and the number is rapidly growing."

Comment: Even I'm surprised by this number. But this is a perfect case to prove Wikipedia's reliability -- any lawyer worth his salt would assail Wikipedia on cross examination, and would introduce conflicting evidence if the material quoted was incorrect or even questionably sourced. So if lawyers are using it without losing cases, doesn't that say something about its quality? Feel free to disagree, but please back up your opinions with examples.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Valleywag: How the Internet's top bloggers achieved blog nirvana

From Valleywag:

"I'm proud to present a heatmap locating popular blogs (and a few major web sites) among the four spheres of audience reaction: Affirmation, indignation, titillation, and stimulation."

Comment: Very concise presentation of the blogosphere, even if you don't agree with the exact placement of the blogs...

Friday, February 23, 2007

BuzzMachine: New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.

From Jeff Jarvis:

"This changes the dynamic of editorial decisions. Instead of saying, “we should have that” (and replicating what is already out there) you say, “what do we do best?” That is, “what is our unique value?” It means that when you sit down to see a story that others have worked on, you should ask, “can we do it better?” If not, then link. And devote your time to what you can do better."

Comment: Amen. There's only one problem with this theory as far as I can see -- it only works on the web. You can't link to someone else's story in print or on TV. As far as I can tell, Jarvis' parallel suggestion for 'old' media is to use AP stories instead of devoting reporters' time to covering every story under the sun.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CNET News: Estonia to hold first national Internet election

From CNET News:

"The Baltic state of Estonia plans to become the world's first country to allow voting in a national parliamentary election via the Internet next month... E-voting will be introduced for a parliamentary election on March 4, for the first time after it was used in more limited local elections in 2005. It is a fresh sign of Estonia's strong embrace of technology since it quit the Soviet Union in 1991."

Comment: Just in case you thought the US had a lock on innovative use of the Internet...

BBC News: Egypt blogger jailed for 'insult'

From BBC News:

"An Egyptian court has sentenced an internet blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president. Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt."

Comment: This is why it is so important to protect free speech despite the War on Terror. Is it worth winning the war if we end up like Egypt (or even close)? If you don't think it's possible, consider the case of Josh Wolf. Granted, there's a difference between being jailed for refusing to hand over video tapes to a grand jury and being jailed for 'insulting Islam and the president,' but the connection between the two cases still makes me feel uncomfortably like the US is sliding down a slippery slope...

San Francisco Chronicle: Blogger jailed for defying grand jury sets record / He's U.S. journalist imprisoned longest in contempt of court

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Josh Wolf, a blogger who refused to give a videotape of a San Francisco anarchist protest to a federal grand jury, achieves an unwanted distinction today, when he becomes the longest-imprisoned journalist for contempt of court in U.S. history."

Comment: This happened on Feb. 6 -- I really thought I posted something on it but I guess it slipped through...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BuzzMachine: YouTube is good for TV

From Jeff Jarvis:

"The days of doing business by telling customers what they cannot do are nearing an end. If your customers want to watch your shows, listen to your songs, read your news, or play your games, can you still get away with telling them they cannot unless they come to you and use your devices, pay your fees, and follow your rules? That could work in a scarcity economy in which you owned all the stuff and the means to get it. But no more. Business isn’t about control any more."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Zogby Poll: Most Say Bloggers, Citizen Reporters to Play Vital Role in Journalism's Future

From pollster Zogby International:

"A majority of Americans (55%) in an online survey said bloggers are important to the future of American journalism and 74% said citizen journalism will play a vital role, a new WE Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows. Most respondents (53%) also said the rise of free Internet-based media pose the greatest opportunity to the future of professional journalism and three in four (76%) said the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism."

Comment: I'm surprised - I didn't think blogs and citizen journalism had become this mainstream. I'm not disappointed, mind you...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Washington Post: Judge: MySpace Guiltless In Child Assault

From the Washington Post's Post I.T. blog:

"Yesterday, a Texas judge tossed out a lawsuit against MySpace, the world's biggest social-networking site brought by the family of a 13-year-old girl assaulted by a man who found her through her MySpace page... In the end, according to the judge, 'If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace.'"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Tonight at 11, news by neighbors / Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"... the next step in Channel 50's evolution will be a nationally watched experiment in local television coverage. Over the next few months, the station's management plans to ask people in the community -- its independent filmmakers, its college students and professors, its civic leaders and others -- to provide programming for the station."

Comment: I'm skeptical, but this will be a very interesting real-world experiment in citizen journalism.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Poynter Online: Which J-Schools Are Really Keeping Pace with Online Media?

From Amy Gahran:

"I'm glad that many J-schools are starting to offer resources for interactive design and Web site development. However, the truth is that those topics represent what was coolest and most powerful about online media several years ago. Online media has expanded in far more compelling and engaging directions since then."

Comment: This is certainly true for Rowan -- this is our third year for basic web production and writing for the web, but we haven't even begun to address some of the newest trends. The most interesting thing to me is how skeptical some of my students have been about things like citizen journalism, and how unfamiliar they are with things like podcasting. I'm still trying to figure out whether they came into the program with this bias or if they have learned to accept the conventional wisdom on which most of the department's other classes are based. In any case, it's very hard to keep up, especially in an academic setting where adding a new course to the curriculum takes at least a year.

Washington Post: Where'd We Leave That Darn Fact?

From the washingtonpost.com:

"Paying attention, says Ullman -- echoing Dr. Johnson -- is the best method of remembering. Frequency helps. For example, if you hear a word often enough, you learn it. And if a piece of information fits neatly into your worldview, he says, it's easier to recall. If a memory 'has significance to us,' says Otto H. MacLin, a psychology professor at the University of Northern Iowa, who studies memory and the law, 'we tend to remember it better.'"

Comment: This is one of the many reasons I don't believe in objectivity -- I defy any journalist to show me complete documentation to back up any story -- some of what they write (or write down) is based on memory, and what we remember is based, at least in part, on our worldview. Journalists may be better at avoiding these pitfalls than others, but they are still human beings, and therefore subject to the same frailties as the rest of us.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Washington Post: Google Still Searching For Recognition in D.C.

From washingtonpost.com:

"Google has transformed the Internet. But the executives who have made billions from Internet searching -- and who get mobbed by geeks in the San Francisco Bay area and praised by analysts on Wall Street -- barely stir the kind excitement in Washington generated by, say, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her outfit at the State of the Union address."

Comment: This is why it's so important that government stay out of Internet regulation -- they have no idea what the Internet is about.

Slate: The Edwards campaign has blogger trouble. It won't be the last.

From John Dickerson:

"The major candidates are trying to do two conflicting things: channel the authenticity of the blogosphere while simultaneously maintaining the rigid image and message control that is crucial to any presidential campaign. It's a ready-made car wreck because bloggers are tough to domesticate. "

Washington Post: Taking the Bait On a Phish Scam

From washingtonpost.com:

"Brinton fell victim to a sophisticated phishing scam, which, in recent months, targeted thousands of job seekers on such popular Web sites as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Phishers send out seemingly legitimate e-mail in an attempt to get people to reply with personal information then used in a variety of scams."

Comment: Wow - I'm pretty skeptical, but I don't think I would have suspected this type of scam. This just shows the difficulty of evaluating credibility and trust online.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Associated Press: Cronkite: Quest for Media Profits Hurts

From the AP via Yahoo! News:

"Pressures by media companies to generate ever-greater profits are threatening the very freedom the nation was built upon, former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite warned Thursday."

Comment: You'll notice he doesn't blame blogs, or the Internet, or younger readers indifferent attitude toward world events.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Free Press : Bloggers Upstage the Mainstream Press Yet Again

From the Free Press:

Summary: Time D.C. Bureau Chief Jay Carney posted to Time's
blog shortly after the State of the Union address. Bloggers quickly identified several mistakes in Carney's post.

"[The incident] inaugurated a rough week for those who still wish to uphold a model of cultural authority in which the fact that someone is a professional with a famous name — credentialed by other professionals with famous names — can serve as a reasonable proxy for trustworthiness. It marked one more step in the arrival of our new, more uncomfortable media world — one in which, to judge a piece of writing, we must gauge not the status of the writer, but his or her words themselves, unattached to the author’s worldly rank."

Editor and Publisher: Sulzberger Says He Doesn't Care If 'NYT' Eventually Ends Print Publication?

From Editor and Publisher:

"New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is apparently so focused on the paper's future Internet success that he wouldn't care if the paper stopped publishing in print in several years -- at least according to an interview with an Israeli newspaper."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Editor and Publisher: Where News Consumption Is Heading

From Steve Outing:

"I'm not so pessimistic as to believe that their generation will eschew news. I simply recognize that to them the printed newspaper is about as useful and convenient as a rotary-dial phone is in the era of the smart cell phone."

Comment: To newspaper people (yes that's a technical term), a statement like this is akin to crying, "The sky is falling!" And it is, because they can't embrace change and accept that journalism can be done in many different ways by many different people. Maybe some of the news media conglomerate CEO's should listen to Craig Newmark more. When asked what he thinks newspapers should do, he answered:

"Start viewing themselves more as a community service and forget about 20-percent profit margins. And start speaking truth to power."

Isn't that what journalists believe in? So what's standing in their way? Money, plain and simple.

BBC News: Hackers attack heart of the net

From BBC News:

"There is no evidence so far of damage, which experts are saying is testament to the robust nature of the internet."

Comment: As many people have said before, the Internet routes around all obstacles. This was a pretty bad attack, but I didn't notice anything unusual -- did you?

Inside Higher Ed: A Lesson in Viral Video

From Inside Higher Ed:

"Last Wednesday, Michael Wesch was one of thousands of Internet users to add material to the video-sharing site YouTube. He posted a five-minute clip, set to techno music, that helps explain Web 2.0 — the so-called second wave of Web-based services that enables people to network and aggregate information online... The video page had been viewed 19,000 times by early Monday, 30,000 times by the afternoon and 91,000 times by early Tuesday."

Comment: Watch the clip. It moves pretty fast, but does explain a lot about where we are today on the web clearly and concisely. Most important, it doesn't overhype Web 2.0, but it does show why it's different.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Wall Street Journal Online: In Search of Serendipity

From the Wall Street Journal Online:

"Let's break down how serendipity works in a print newspaper. In print, it's a byproduct of page layout, of scanning past ads for watches and jewelry for articles you might not expect. And our own rituals may actually limit serendipity: If there are sections of the paper you throw away or get to only if you have time, you're not going to find any hidden gems inside. Where print serendipity is derived from top-down decisions, electronic serendipity is bottom-up. It comes not from editors but from readers, who "vote" by reading stories, emailing them and blogging about them."

Christian Science Monitor: Bloggers can make money, but most keep day jobs

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"With the cost of publishing online close to zero, even small ad money can buoy creative output. "The definition of 'big enough' has changed. In the old days, [an endeavor] ... had to get an audience of billions to pay for that scarce airtime," says Jeff Jarvis, a new-media expert who makes about $1,000 a month from blogging. "Now, the definition of big enough can be that it covered my costs, [or] it bought me a camera." He notes with amusement that his son now makes more money from AdSense than from his allowance."

Friday, February 02, 2007

My Way News: YouTube to Share Revenue With Users

From My Way News:

"Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, said Saturday that his wildly successful site will start sharing revenue with its millions of users."

Comment: I wonder how much would a person have to get paid per click to make this a viable way to work as a freelance broadcast journalist?

New York Times: Readers Call Newspapers. These Are Their Stories.

From The New York Times:

"To respond to the challenge posed by digital media, newspaper executives are being told to listen to their readers. The San Francisco Chronicle is doing just that: It is posting some of the voice mail messages left for reporters and editors as audio files on its Web site, SFGate.com."

American Journalism Review: Is Keith Olbermann the Future of Journalism?

From the American Journalism Review:

"...in trying to reckon whether Olbermann is, indeed, the future of television news, there is another question being asked about the basic tenets of news itself, what it is and what it isn't, that has some important stakeholders in the business worried. What if the reach extended beyond cable and beyond television? What if, as the subhead to a story in November by Kansas City Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart asked, Olbermann's 'Countdown' is journalism's saving grace?"

Comment: A very long but very interesting article on the news program I watch most often (as long as we're not counting The Daily Show or Colbert.)

National Journal: The Trashing Of The Blogosphere

From the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll:

"You know the mainstream media are out to get blogs when you see a headline that says 'Blogs Make Spreading Untruths Easier' over a story that mentions blogs only in passing."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Chronicle: How Do You Cite Wikipedia on a History Paper? At Middlebury College, You Don't. A Professor Explains Why

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

"The problem with Wikipedia, in many scholars' eyes, is its open editing system. The site permits unregistered, anonymous users to edit content alongside more respected contributors. While several studies and informal surveys have found that Wikipedia is nearly as accurate as many hard-bound encyclopedias, professors often say the Web site's freewheeling nature makes it too easy for errors to be introduced."

Comment: I completely disagree with this policy (unlike many of my colleagues at Rowan). I want to teach my students to be skeptical of all sources of information. Singling out one source because of gut feelings against a new type of content creation despite studies showing that the content is at least as good as the Encyclopedia Britannica implies to students that other sources of information are completely reliable. Students need to learn how to judge the quality of information, not be told not to use a source "because I said so."

BBC News: Tagging 'takes off for web users'

From the BBC:

"As more and more people put their own content online, they are also being invited to tag it with descriptive keywords to help organise their data. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the trend in tagging is growing among US web users. It found that over a quarter of online Americans - 28% - had tagged content such as a photo, news story or blog."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Yale Herald: Yale professor and Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson spills some trade secrets

From The Yale Herald:

Abramson: "Some worry that the dominance of the Internet has disrupted the business model of newspapers, but I see it presenting us with a great challenge. That challenge is to publish the best newspaper in the world—which still makes a nice amount of money and has a very avid readership—but also to develop what I think is the best news site on the web, and to be terrific at both. The Internet has made us more creative and more competitive in many ways."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Scotsman: Anarchy in cyberspace

From The Scotsman:

"FRENCH elections are typically volatile affairs. But when Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front party (FN) set up a virtual campaign headquarters on Second Life, the internet site where over 2.9 million registered users live a double life, it caused a cyber-riot. The arrival of the xenophobic party in the "geographical" area of Second Life known as Porcupine sparked protests by outraged virtual characters known as avatars. They protested, waving placards and banners decorated with an unflattering portrait of Mr Le Pen sporting a Hitler moustache."

Comment: Snow Crash, here we come!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Inside Higher Ed: A Stand Against Wikipedia

From Inside Higher Ed:

"While plenty of professors have complained about the lack of accuracy or completeness of entries, and some have discouraged or tried to bar students from using it, the history department at Middlebury College is trying to take a stronger, collective stand. It voted this month to bar students from citing the Web site as a source in papers or other academic work. All faculty members will be telling students about the policy and explaining why material on Wikipedia — while convenient — may not be trustworthy."

Comment: I completely disagree with Middlebury's approach. At least the reporter for this piece, Scott Jaschik, included perspectives that make more sense. Roy Rozenzweig from George Mason University found that Wikipedia is "as accurate or more accurate than more traditional encyclopedias." And Steven Bell from Temple University made the best argument -- students should be taught how to evaluate the quality of information, regardless of the source.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Editor and Publisher: 'LAT' Editor: Web Will Be 'Primary Vehicle' for News Delivery

From Editor and Publisher:

"Speaking to hundreds of Los Angeles Times journalists in the newspaper's Harry Chandler auditorium this morning, editor James O'Shea outlined a bold plan to increase traffic and revenue from LATimes.com in the face of an increasingly difficult economic climate for newspaper publishers, and urged journalists to think of the Web site as the newspaper's primary vehicle for news."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Reuters: Web newspaper blog traffic triples in Dec-study

From Reuters:

"The number of people reading Internet blogs on the top 10 U.S. newspaper sites more than tripled in December from a year ago and accounted for a larger percentage of overall traffic to those sites, according to data released on Wednesday. Unique visitors to blog sites affiliated with the largest Internet newspapers rose to 3.8 million in December 2006 from 1.2 million viewers a year earlier, tracking firm Nielsen//NetRatings said."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WSJ.com: Google This: U.K. Papers Vie to Buy Search Terms

From WSJ.com:

"Newspapers are buying search words on Google Inc. so that links to their Web sites pop up first when people type in a search... Many papers are also tailoring their Web sites to attract Google's news site, which has links to thousands of news articles."

Innovation in College Media: Interview with Howard Owens

From an interview with Howard Owens:

"Students and faculty should just assume their future is online, and design curriculum and publication efforts accordingly … be even more dismissive of print than mainstream pubs are right now."

Poynter Online: SacBee begins distributing web traffic reports

From a memo written by Sacramento Bee executive editor Rick Rodridguez to Sacramento Bee staffers and published by Jim Romenesko:

"Starting today, we are sending out daily reports on stories that are generating the most traffic on our websites, sacbee and sacticket. We are doing this to give you an idea of the types of stories that attract online readers most. We will not allow web traffic statistics to dictate story play in the newspaper."

Comment: Sure... because newspapers never cater to readers to influence circulation numbers.