Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Online news, 10 years later

[Keyword: ]. From http://www.investors.com/breakingnews.asp?journalid=26650404&brk=1

"Online news, 10 years later

"The facts of business life have blunted some of the promise of the Internet when it comes to publishing news online.

"Writing in the Online Journalism Review, Nora Paul recalls that the first "New News" seminar held at the Poynter Institute, a journalism education group, was filled with ideas. One was that the "unlimited news hole" of the Internet would allow reporters to make available all the information they'd gathered but couldn't get into the newspaper or on the air. That hasn't happened. "It's a very rare happening," said Dennis Buster, news editor of StarTribune.com in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

"The Web has also become an alert service. Paul quoted Rusty Coats of Minnesota Opinion Research Inc. as saying, "Don't market your site by saying we'll give you more. People don't have enough time now. They don't want more. They want efficiency." See 'New News' retrospective."

On the earthquake coverage

[Keyword: ]. Brief but interesting reflection by Simon Waldman on how "citizen journalism is brilliant for colour - but terrible for context":
"A BBC staffer on holiday in Pi-Pi describing what happened. Basically, there was a load of panic and shouting, followed by everyone running up onto higher ground. From there, everyone got onto their mobiles, to call people back home (the UK, Australia, US, etc) where people were watching satellite news channels, and finding out that the chances of a tsunami were very slight - and it would soon be safe for them to go back to their huts."

Bank holiday round-up

[Keyword: ]. Four consecutive days away from the computer and my RSS Reader is overflowing with news items. Here's my round-up of the best:

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

State of the News Media: Online media at crossroads

Keyword: . From the OPA:
"The mega-report "The State of the News Media 2005" offers up many positive points about the business of online media: more people going online for news and blogs, rising ad revenues, and increased customization and personalization of news. But on the flip side, the old-line news organizations that are funding the top sites are bleeding readers and viewers. "While business might appear prosperous, beneath the success lies a perplexing reality," wrote Merrill Brown in a guest essay for the report. "Many of the news organizations that make most Web site journalism possible...are in some combination of strategic, journalistic and financial peril." Still, the rise of nascent citizen journalism efforts and blogs give hope that a new media ecosystem can thrive online. The Boston Globe's Mark Jurkowitz found that online media was still developing its voice, while Poynter's Rick Edmonds noted that most Americans graze over multiple news sources rather than locking out certain media.

» Report: Non-traditional media gain ground, consumers (USA Today)
» State of the Media 2005: New Roles for New (Poynter)
» Study: Online media is still developing voice (Boston Globe)
» On Fox News, No Shortage of Opinion, Study Finds (Washington Post)
» A Year to Remember in Internet News (Merrill Brown guest essay)
» The State of the News Media 2005 (Project for Excellence in Journalism report)

Award-winning OJ

Keyword: . The San Bernardino Sun has won an award for its online coverage of "land use and influence peddling" This included "flash-animated maps, first-person audio, photo galleries and a chat with the county's fire marshal". The address: lang.sbsun.com/projects/fireflood.

Simon Waldman on the Guardian's adoption of RSS

Keyword: . Worth reading for anyone with an interest in RSS or the future of online publishing.

More on the email newsletter

Keyword: . I'm a great fan of the email newsletter (see my previous posting on this topic), so it's good to see the OJR reporting that the form is seeing a resurgence, with quotes such as this:
"“E-mail is still the ‘killer ap’ for the Internet,” as far as Michael Odza, the Web publisher of Santa Fe's New Mexican, is concerned. The New Mexican, which has a circulation of 25,000, has 48,000 registered users for its Web site, and 11,000 of them have opted to receive an e-mailed version of the daily front page.

"That’s not a number that could reel in many ad dollars. “Local advertisers in our market have been reluctant to experiment” with e-mail ads anyway, said Odza in an e-mail interview. But the daily e-mail has helped draw traffic to the paper’s lively Web site, where the number of comments posted by readers has jumped from 50 to 200 a day in the last year."

- and this from Michael Zimbalist, president of the Online Publishers Association. :

"spam ... has cooled users’ interest in getting a lot of e-mail and has created a certain amount of resistance on the part of publishers and advertisers to go wild with it.”
- or, from Rob Runett, director of electronic media communications for the Newspaper Association of America:
“Newspapers’ e-mail messages are considered the gems among the muck of all the unsolicited inbox clutter that everyone’s receiving, because people are opting in, they’re requesting messages. E-mail messages sent by the newspaper’s online operation have become tremendous advertising and marketing tools.”
But it remains to be seen what impact RSS will have on the medium, with one newspaper's email newsletters "being outpaced both by RSS downloads and RSS click-throughs.”

Being a professional blogger

Keyword: . There's an interesting posting at ProBlogger about being a professional blogger, namely the hard word that it requires. Key quote:
"Yes you CAN make a lot of money from Blogging - read the stories that are going around on blogs of people making decent money from blogging - but also read about the hard work and time that it’s taken them and remember that for every success story you read there are plenty of others around who have tried and failed to make more than a few dollars from their blogs."
The site itself is worth exploring for some great tips about blog promotion. For my own part, as regards professionalism, I prefer to keep my blog ad-free and focus on the independence that a blog provides.

Blog backlash gaining pace

Keyword: . My previous posting about a possible moral panic around blogs seems to have been a good hunch, as more anti-blog news stories start to pour in, including:
One to watch.

Cuts to hit online journalists at BBC

Keyword: . So reports journalistic.co.uk with the admission that "The BBC is a bit vague as to how many “online” roles will be cut." (numbers given are news jobs in general)

British Press Awards in trouble

Keyword: . ...To say the least. Read more about Geldof's rant that sparked it here, and some fallout here.

The Blog of Death

Nuff said. Thanks to this article for introducing me to it.

Free media storage - or free video and audio

Keyword: . Online media site Ourmedia has launched to embarrassing success. They "provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software", but perhaps more importantly, "A condition of posting material is that contributors must share their work. Reworking or remixing content is permitted including the use of 'snippets' of copyrighted work, although 'infringement and illegal misappropriation' are not be allowed." The site even has RSS feeds updating on new content. [source: journalism.co.uk]

It looks like a particularly useful site on two fronts: firstly, as a place for bloggers and webspace-starved web designers to host - and showcase - images, audio and video; and secondly, as a place to find copyright-free materials.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Does the moral panic on blogs start here?

Keyword: . Michigan Police seem to be considering schoolkids blogging as something to keep an eye on, with the implication that brats who digitally slag off their peers and teachers should be put inside.

Even Google uses images without permission

Keyword: . Given all the publicity attracted by copyright breaches regarding music and film online, it's funny that images never get the same attention. Using images on the web without copyright clearance is so widespread as to be almost normal practice - but it's still illegal, and you can still get sued.

So it's interesting to see that Google News is being sued by Agence France Presse for displaying its images (and, for that matter, headlines) without permission. Of course Google use the images and headlines so that browsers can click through to the AFP site, so it's not as if they're claiming them as their own, but it's very much a case worth watching.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Interview with Peter Bale, online editorial director of Times Online

Keyword: . Journalism.co.uk continues its excellent series of interviews with top figures in British online journalism, and this one is better than most. Bale has some interesting thoughts on the place of blogs within traditional journalism brands - key quote:
"We have to embrace blogging methods but they must always be done to the same standards as anything else under our brands. I am not sure that surrendering the brand values to become an online Hyde Park Corner is the way to go."
- and also brings my attention to one news site I'd never seen, the visually stunning Flash-based Marumushi Newsmap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Study: Online media is still developing voice

Keyword: . An online media study is published and, surprise surprise, it concludes that blogs have been quite important. More interesting, and buried low down, is this finding: "35 percent of online journalists said they were pressured to do a story relating to an advertiser, owner, or sponsor, compared to only 15 percent of the national journalists".

Worthy of further research?

More blog awards

Keyword: . Yet another blog awards, but this one's got some history - so it's well worth looking at the winners from previous years. The 2005 winners have just been announced (a bit early that, isn't it?) but you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them. If only the designers of this webpage were award-winning...

Monday, March 14, 2005

The future of print journalism...

Keyword: . ...is there one? TheStar.com debates the issue with a useful link to a discussion on the subject at mediamatters.org. The link isn't direct - so here it is: note: this is a webcast - you can also download the mp3.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Who can you trust?

Keyword: . WorkingForChange reports on SourceWatch (previously Disinfopedia) another website that monitors the influence of organisations on the news - and interviews John Stauber from the centre behind it.

(I've previously commented on similar sites here)

Adding forums to my blog

Keyword: . Thanks to About.com for a useful brief piece on adding a forum to your blog. Really, it's just 'how to create a forum' using QuickTopic, but still very useful.

I'm currently trying it out - you can see a cute little link below to the first attempt at a forum (the code is generated by QuickTopic but use the simple, javascript-free version as Blogger doesn't like it).

Feel free to contribute and/or subscribe - and expect a few more of these to come...
Discuss: What makes a good blog posting?

Blogger given White House press pass

Indian Online Journalism launches blog

Keyword: . It's located at www.indianonlinejournalism.org if you want to take a look. I should declare my interest here: I have written for the newsletter.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Google personalizes news site

Keyword: . This is really quite lovely, and quite simple. You can now click on 'customise this page' on Google News and set up your own news sections, in their own order, including customisable news 'sections' (I created one for the phrase 'online journalism' for example). ZDNet reports on the development, while Google's own pages explain in more detail...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Online journalism ethics

Keyword: . Useful page at the USC Online Journalism Review about ethics for online journalists. It's also a wiki, so you can contribute your own ideas on the subject. And you can also post questions - this includes an interesting one on using other people's images in your blogs.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Blog takes you inside Observer

Keyword: . So reports Journalism.co.uk: the blog is here, and I can see it doing a nice job of keeping people informed of new articles in their particular areas, more than the claim about increasing editorial transparency. Still, a nice window into national media.

Protecting your sources? It may no longer be up to you

Keyword: . Online business journalists should keep an eye on this case (also reported on CNET and Journalism.co.uk, but particularly well at the San Francisco Chronicle and analysed by the Media Guardian and ITworld.com) involving Apple taking a number of websites to court in order to find out who supplied them with trade information. Why is it important?
"Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing several of the Apple-themed Web sites, say allowing Apple to force the sites to divulge their sources, or forcing the sites' e-mail providers to give up records of their e-mails, would be deeply destructive to journalists' ability to cover business.

""Apple is saying that trade secrets are an exception to reporters' privileges," said EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl. "If trade secrets are an exception, then a business writer should be concerned every time he or she gets a tip in their e-mail box."" [source]

There's a wider issue here, of course, about divulging your sources. In an electronic world, it may no longer be up to the journalist to protect their sources - a complainant can go straight to their email provider, and chances are they may not be as concerned about the ethics of protecting sources.

UPDATE (March 9 05): Interesting viewpoint on the World Copywriting Blog that argues the reasons for protection of sources don't apply here. I take his point, but the wider ramifications for those who have much stronger reasons are still there.

Axcess News also debates the central issue of whether bloggers - and web publishers - are journalists.

UPDATE (March 15 05): Apple wins, and the BBC reports.

Friday, March 04, 2005

'Cameraphones as Personal Storytelling Media'

Keyword: . Particularly well informed piece by Howard Rheingold about how the cameraphone may develop as a social medium. Here's a lengthy quote:
"Cameraphones enable an expanded field for chronicling and displaying self and viewpoint to others in a new kind of everyday visual storytelling," wrote [Keio University researcher Daisuke] Okabe, in a paper delivered at a conference in Korea at the end of 2004. Okabe's findings make a case that cameraphones represent a new opportunity to tell the story of our lives to ourselves as well as to others, and to share a sense of continuous, multisensory, social presence with people who are geographically distant. Tokyo youth have added a visual element to the flow of phone calls and text-messages among small groups of intimates that Okabe and colleagues have come to call "distributed co-presence."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Impacts of the Internet on Newspapers in Europe

Keyword: . The International Journal for Communication Studies has just published a special issue (Volume 67, Number 1) on the Impacts of the Internet on Newspapers in Europe (Contents and abstracts at http://gaz.sagepub.com/content/vol67/issue1)

Papers include:
  • Impacts of the Internet on Newspapers in Europe;
  • Online Competition and Performance of News and Information Markets in the Netherlands;
  • Mediatization of the Net and Internetization of the Mass Media;
  • Delivering Ireland: Journalism’s Search for a Role Online;
  • The Lack of Interactivity and Hypertextuality in Online Media; and
  • An Immature Medium: Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Newspapers on September 11
The last article is available free until 31st March 2005.

The coming crackdown on blogging

Keyword: . Interesting developments in the US regarding 'illegally' linking to politicians' websites, in the context of American campaigning laws.

UPDATE: Mar 9 05: Rexblog helpfully reports the fact that the claims are exaggerated, with a link to another article on CNET saying just that.

A quick way to test accessibility

Keyword: . I'm hugely grateful to Niel Eyde for his post highlighting two great tools for testing the accessibility of your website - one for Internet Explorer and one for Firefox. On first use it seems a very quick way to see what needs improving about your website to make it more accessible - including spotting images missing alt tags, missing coding, and colour blindness. With these to hand there really is no excuse.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Digital Storytelling

Keyword: . Thanks to Simone Dixon for pointing out this great webpage about Digital Storytelling. The main body provides a framework for analysing interactive journalism - but there's also dozens of great examples and resources - with a forum for discussion which also contains some useful links. For those with an academic bent the research page looks invaluable.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Devaluation of Information

Keyword: . Well-informed musings on the changing economic value of information in an online world - aptly sites on citizen journalist site OhMyNews. Some very interesting examples of different tactics that publishers have employed to make money from their content, and one quote in particular that sticks out: "If, for example, the penultimate value is influence, it would be wise to make the content free and permanent."