Friday, January 28, 2005

NYT link generator

Keyword: . "Need to link to a New York Times article from your weblog? Enter your link here, and we'll give you the weblog-safe link"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Knowing who lobbies who, and who funds research

Keyword: Online Journalism. The Education Guardian reports on the SpinWatch website, what looks like an excellent resource for journalists. Written by researchers, journalists, and, now, anyone who wants to post, it aims to expose "hitherto unknown - or undeclared - links between organisations." There is some editorial control: the founder, David Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Strathclyde, says "All articles must have their sources checked and verified by the vetting committee before they are allowed to appear on the site."

Another quote from Miller make a compelling case for journalists using the site:
"You [The Guardian] ran a story about a report from the International Policy Network claiming that climate change was nowhere near as bad as had been previously thought," he says. "What you didn't say is that the IPN is a small company ... that has received a $50,000 (£27,000) donation from Exxon, the US oil giant. If your readers had been made aware of this, they might have read the article somewhat differently."

On a related subject, check out this book about how science, the media and public opinion is manipulated by industry. The page is on the PRWatch website, an organisation dedicated to monitoring the PR industry, and a site well worth exploring.

Another two papers hoaxed by fake website

Keyword: Online Journalism. Cautionary - but quite amusing - tale of how two rappers from Scunthorpe duped the Sun and into running a piece saying they'd been signed to Eminem's record label. All they had to do was create a fake website.

Blogs about design

Keyword: Design. The New York Times reports on how a wave of design-oriented blogs are influencing the design world - and gives a good selection of examples.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blogs used in teaching

Keyword: Blogs. Academics increasingly using blogs for teaching, says the BBC. Tell us something we don't know.

Iranian news site kicked off server

Keyword: Online Journalism. The BBC reports accusations from Iran that the US government ordered an American internet service provider to stop hosting the website of an official Iranian news agency, The Iranian Student News Agency (the site's in non-roman characters, presumably Arabic, so will take some time to display on Western browsers).

Google to move into internet telephony? (and TV search) (and browsers)

Keyword: Technology. Rumours abound that Google are planning to launch a VoIP (Internet telephony) service. Here's the post that led me to those rumours, with some interesting comments.

On a related subject, the company has also confirmed that it is introducing a TV search facility that allows user to search the text of the show. There are plans to eventually include internet-based video in the search too.

Is that all? No. Here CNET report on Google hiring the lead programmer of Firefox, fueling speculation that the company intend to launch a web browser.

Expect to hear future rumours such as 'CNET hire cleaner - address already registered'...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Improving your searching - and using good reference sites

Two great articles from Chris Sherman - the first is a good overview of reference websites, the second his New Year's search resolutions, including stopping using the Google toolbar (and instead using Firefox's excellent search plugins) and seeking multiple 'opinions' (search results). With the latter point he points out two great sites: Thumbshots's ranking tool allows you to compare sites' ranking across search engines (more about this here), and Jux2 runs a search simultaneously on three engines, showing common results.

PS: For a good overview of more specialised search engines, see this page.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Losing trust in journalism

Special report in today's Media Guardian about what non-journalists think about journalism, the upshot being pretty negative. Responses include an op-piece from John Lloyd - sample quote:
"The charges ... include a belief that standards of veracity and even simple comprehension are lacking; that factual reporting has given way to tendentiousness within reportage itself; that the demands of complex issues are deliberately ignored, far beyond the demands of constricted space or time; that stories of crisis, failure, scandal and personal hatred are the norm; that official or corporate narratives better packaged and more insistently pressed than ever now slip unexamined into news reporting. Because of these practices, trust can no longer be placed in reporting; and as a result of that, both the institutions of democracy and the observation of human rights can suffer."

Open source web design

Given the amount of design theft that goes on in web design, it's good to see this site providing a number of open source design templates for people to use for their webpages - and there's general web design info here too.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Text messages aid disaster recovery

Fascinating article. Here's a sample quote:
"Sanjaya Senanayake works for Sri Lankan television. The blogging world, though, might know him better by his online name, Morquendi.

"He was one of the first on the scene after the tsunami destroyed much of the Sri Lankan coast. Cell phone signals were weak. Land lines were unreliable.

"So Mr Senanayake started sending out text messages. The messages were not just the latest news they were also an on-the-ground assessment of "who needs what and where".

"Blogging friends in India took Mr Senanayake's text messages and posted them on a weblog called Dogs without Borders."

Open-sourcing the news

CNET article on Wikinews (see earlier post)

UK press: "Views v news to set agenda "

"The issue of journalistic accountability will dominate the newspaper industry after a year of format and ownership changes, the editor of the Guardian said yesterday.

"Alan Rusbridger said the Independent's conversion to a "viewspaper" posed pivotal questions about the future of newspaper journalism. "If you have got news organisations saying 'we are putting news behind views', this is a fundamental statement about what newspapers are for and what journalism is for ... It is radically new, it is not what serious broadsheet journalism was about.""

The Times aims for broadsheet approach with online changes

As reported (subscribers only) in the New Media Age (16 Dec 04):
"An overhaul of Times Online will see it adopt a range of traditionally broadsheet qualities over the next few months, including a content-heavy front page to engage readers.

"Other changes to the site ... will include a revamped business section and a boost in comment, analysis and original features.

"Peter Bale, online editorial director of the papers, said the move would take place gradually to deepen user experiences, increase dwell time on the site and boost story consumption.

"... The changes are intended to help maintain the recent growth of Times Online, which was visited by a total of 3.9m unique users in November, representing an increase of 100% on the same period the previous year. Data from Hitbox shows that page impressions rose by 60% year on year to 34m, which according to Bale puts the site ahead of and in terms of market share.

"Times Online also saw its global reach increase last month after removing subscription fees around its coverage of the US election. Parent company Times Newspapers plans to capitalise on this next year with a focus on geographically targeted ads and global branding campaigns."

"No true exclusives any more"

Writing Magazine's January print edition includes an interesting comment in Stephen Waddington's Technology Focus section:

"Google is now under fire for allegedly snuffing out the glorious exclusive for the world's press. Some in media circles fear that Google's reach and immediacy mean that there are no true exclusives any more, as when news breaks no readers have time to consider who got it first before a raft of other reports produce their own stories."

Sadly he gives no sources as to who exactly is criticising Google, so we'll just have to do our own research.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

How to draw something you've never seen

Very interesting article from on how newspapers around the world covered Saddam's capture with accompanying graphics of the 'spiderhole' in which he was captured. The thing is: "not a single one of all the graphics published the first day is correct." Despite subsequent information helping artists to improve the representations, the article also points out that "online content hasn’t changed ... You can check out their content, flash-graphics and animations. They haven't been updated and therefore keep sending the wrong message."


Nice piece from the BBC about how the growing trend of people being sacked for their blogs has spurned a new word to describe the phenomenon: being 'dooced'. defines"dooced" as "losing your job for something you wrote in your online blog, journal, website, etc." So how much do I get for that in Scrabble?

UPDATE (12 Jan 05): Waterstones employee joins the list of sacked bloggers, thanks to this blog. Note to Waterstones: you've probably increased traffic to his site a hundredfold.

UPDATE 2 (14 Feb 05): This article from CNET gives more examples, on the back of a Google employee losing his job following conflict over his blog postings.

UPDATE 3 (21 Feb 05): Now there's a bill of rights for bloggers, asserting their right not to get sacked (sorry, dooced). I was amused by the phrase 'blogophobic', though.

Flattering bloggers will get you...

Having already won 'word of the year', bloggers continue to receive superlatives as ABC News names them People of the Year (ooh, there's a video there too), and the BBC give a general overview of the medium's development in the past year. Now while this backslapping is all very positive for the medium, can we move on now?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

How to make friends and influence people (or just find good links)

Thanks again to Simon Waldman for pointing me in the direction of two great sites for storing and exchanging useful links: and Furl. The former describes itself as a "social bookmarks manager". Er, yes, of course we know what you mean by that. Thankfully, Waldman's explanation is a little clearer, highlighting the way that you "can RSS everything: the most popular, a specific tag, or another person’s bookmarks." In the latter case, you can find other people who are linking to similar things, and so begin creating useful contacts.

The site introduces me to a lovely neologism: 'folksonomy', a paper on which is ironically the most popular link. You can also read more about 'social software' here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

More about the tsunami disaster

Boing Boing has this posting about amateur video footage of the disaster to add to my previously posted link about blogging coverage. Also very much worth looking at is Simon Waldman's list of Tsunami coverage links - and the more critical posting on blogsperiment. Frequently cited is Wikipedia's entry on the disaster (look at the discussion tab), but dig deeper and their page on multimedia is especially impressive, with a good critical overview of multimedia reporting, as well as some collaborative fact checking (such as highlighting fake pictures).

Looks like bloggers are slowly getting credit for their coverage of events, as reported in The Times of India (thanks to for that one), whose list of blogs includes,, and

The Indo-Asian News Service reports 'Web users lend virtual hand to tsunami victims'. It's also interesting to see that Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are now saying on their site that they've received sufficient funds for South Asia and asking that potential donors instead contribute to their general Emergency Relief Fund.

2004 Online Media Industry Year-in-Review

New image library

Looking for an image that no one else will think of using? Perhaps Indian newspaper The Hindu's new image library might be one option...

Reviews aggregator

Save yourself time on researching media: MetaFilter brings Metacritic Books to my attention. "Metacritic has been covering reviews for movies, music, and games for years, but now has started aggregating books reviews, with about 150 books so far."

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Another good blog

Another good blog that Findory threw up for me today is rexblog: "the weblog of Rex Hammock and typically is about magazines, the magazine industry and custom publishing. Often, however, links to totally random stuff."

In particular, this posting about blog coverage of the Tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia has some very interesting links.