Business to business journalists use blogs as sources – report says

The Arketi Group, an Atlanta-based public relations and integrated marketing consultancy, issued a report looking at how business to business journalists use blogs. Here is one finding:
Arketi graph

The graph to the left shows that 84 percent of business to business journalists reported they would use a blog as a primary or secondary source.

This report kills me. Here’s why:

Blogs are defined by their medium, bloggers are not

Could you imagine a report asking whether or not a business to business journalist quoted a “speech” or an “interview” or a “written report” as a primary or secondary source? No, that’s nonsensical. All of the above, including blogs, are simply different media, across which sources of varying levels of reputability convey information – which brings me to my second point…

Blogs are not uniform sources of information

Do I get story ideas and learn about journalism trends from Jarvis and Romenesko? Sure. Do I get them from the latest blog indexed by Technorati? No. Just like I give more credence to something I read in the Journal as compared with the National Enquirer.

New York Times startup LifeWire provides syndicated lifestyle content

I recently saw a job posting on for a full-time editor to commission and copy edit articles for LifeWire, an online content startup from the New York Times Co. that creates “on-demand lifestyle content” for top Web publishers.


A quick Google News search shows that, although their own page isn’t live yet, LifeWire has ran stories in CNN’s living, and travel sections for the past month or so.

I looked for some more information on LifeWire, but hadn’t read much about it. Any leads?

And P.S., doesn’t the site look awfully “Drupally”?

The future of journalistic objectivity

Chicago Tribune logoTimothy McNulty at the Chicago Tribune wrote a great article yesterday on journalistic objectivity.

Objectivity is an oft-debated topic amongst journalists. To what extent is it possible? Where are the lines drawn? Has it diminished in the age of cable TV’s talking heads and the numerous opining bloggers? Or, as McNulty says, does objectivity get reduced to neutrality? “On the one hand this” and “on the other hand this,” without any attempt to truly seek the truth?

One thing that interests me is the potential of objectivity on a macro level – especially given the democratizing potential and decentralized nature of the Web.

Continue reading “The future of journalistic objectivity”

Northwestern’s News at Seven has avatars report the news

Update: Chicago Public Radio piece on “News at Seven.”

Northwestern University’s Infolab, which is part of the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, runs an interesting project called “News at Seven.”

In the “News at Seven” broadcast, avatars, not people, report the news. (It’s already gotten considerable press, but will launch a new beta version tomorrow, Monday, October 29th.)

Here’s a preview. (And more old newscasts can be found here or you can read the project blog).

Given my disdain for the broadcast medium, you can imagine the implications I draw from a nifty computer program that can generate video of avatars spitting out news stories. (Note to my broadcast buddies, I didn’t say I disdained the people or the reporting, just the medium).

That said, the avatars, in their present inception, do seem a poor substitute for real people.

Broadcasters, do you feel your job security is threatened?

Christian Century opens up site to independent bloggers

A big move for an old magazine
An editor over at U.S. Catholic, where I worked this past summer, informed me that the Christian Century, a Christian magazine with more than one hundred years of history opened up its site to independent bloggers. (Founded in 1884, it was renamed the Christian Century in anticipation of the 20th century!)

Christian Century logoFirst off, I wanted to point it out and give kudos to the staff over at Christian Century for making the move.

Secondly, apparently the way it all started was one writer, Real Live Preacher, taking it upon himself to come up with the idea and recruit all bloggers to make it happen. This fact illustrates an important facet of opening up your site, or your platform as a more traditional or mainstream news and information site. The mantra, “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t work.

There needs to be someone, whether it is a writer on staff or a community outreach coordinator or advocate, reaching out to bloggers to convince them to contribute. They can write anywhere. You have to convince them it is better to do so on your site.

Or you may have to do more…
This past spring I worked with a dozen other graduate students in the spring on the Medill Media Management project. In the course of our research into hyperlocal community news sites, we spoke with some editors at the Rocky Mountain News. When they launched YourHub, a community news site reliant heavily on user generated content, they stressed the importance of soliciting content from the community. Actively. One editor told us that if you have to go door to door and explain to people what a blog is and how it works, then that’s what it takes.

Now not all of us have the resources of the Rocky Mountain News, but to be in conversation with the community (or audience, or readership, or viewership, or whatever), you need to truly be in conversation with the community.

Medill School of Journalism trains journo-bloggers

I’ve read a couple of articles recently describing blogs as the next prime internet real estate that main stream media companies are gobbling up.

Media companies, in other words, are buying up audiences. This is one way they can compete in the new Web 2.0 arena.

Black Medill LogoHere at Medill, Rich Gordon, who directs New Media studies, has revamped the New Media Storytelling class. Whas was once a crash course in HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and even a bit of Flash, now involves identifying an audience, setting up a WordPress blog, installing Google analytics and posting daily. They are embracing, it seems, the importance for young journalists to build their own audiences and establish their own brands.

Does anyone else know of other J-schools embarking down the same road?

Here’s a link to the class blog and below are a few of my favorites from the course, which (in full disclosure) I am not enrolled. It appears the class site, as well as the individual student’s blogs, are just getting underway. But definitely interesting.

The Sidewalk – a blog on urban development by Ki Mae Huessner.

Sprockets & Cogs – a “tech-ish” blog by Amy Lee.

My Fare Chicago – a food blog by Kelsey Blackwell (which I’ve always thought was a great idea. You’ve got three posts idea easy, and that’s before snacking!)

Newspaper Association of American report on video in the newsroom

So I’m conducting research for the NAA on the present usage of videos on American newspaper’s Web sites.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for stories, posts, studies and reports on the phenomenon.

One personal anecdote/prediction before I embark:

Born and raised a lover of print, I’ve always held a particularly disdain for the “cold” medium of broadcast. I want to be in control of my media consumption, not a passive recipient of it. In thinking of newspapers creating video for the Web, I lament that newspapers haven’t gotten there sooner. It’s the one online arena where they’ve got nothing to lose!

Big Broadcast and Television are beginning to figure out online video. As newspapers migrate more into that space as well, I just hope they didn’t miss the opportunity to beat broadcast to the punch.

Newspaper companies create content, not newspapers

Here’s another tidbit I took away from an interesting conversation at the Inland Press Association: to survive (and thrive) in a new media landscape, newspapers must undergo a shift in thinking. They must conceive of themselves as creators of content, not producers of newspapers.

During our question and answer session, I repeatedly emphasized the importance for newspapers to use the Web as a platform rather than a medium; a place upon which to empower communities with tools to build, share and interact with the news.

In thinking of the Web as a platform, however, newspapers must first realize that their job is not to produce a physical product, but to create content.

The connection between those two points is so important because it affects newspapers in a very fundamental way, right down to the content management system they use to produce their end product.

The gentleman who brought this to my attention pointed out that many newspapers are (tragically) focusing on how to most quickly and efficiently repurpose their individual newspaper articles for the Web site. They’ve got it backwards. They ought to be focusing on the news first, then the newspaper.

Just a thought…

Inland Press Association annual meeting in Chicago – recap

As I posted earlier, I spoke today at the Inland Press Association annual meeting in Chicago on the expectations of young journalists, along with David Nelson, Kelly Mahoney and Jon Rubin. I’ll post more later, but for those young journalists, here’s a list of the pressing concerns on the minds of your future employers (necessarily paraphrased):

If you were editor-in-chief of newspaper with 50,000 circulation and 50 reporters, and you had one year to turn the paper around in a new media landscape, how would you do so from an organizational standpoint? Would you train your reporters? Would you hire new ones?

What is your dream job?

Do you believe that younger readers react differently to advertising as compared with an older generation?

In term of getting to know your audience, how would you go about that if you were writing for a small newspaper in a rural, homogenous, geographically dispersed community?

From small, community newspapers that struggle with high turnover, what characteristics would influence us to stick with smaller papers rather than move on?

What role should journalists play in the shaping of the end product?

Are wire services impractical investments for newspapers?

Here’s a headline from an article from the International Herlad Tribune that appeared in the Boston Globe today:

“Merkel aloof as public questions troop presence in Afghanistan” (I think it was originally “Merkel aloof as public wavers on Afghanistan” when I saw it in print, but they must have tweaked it for the Web.)

I majored in German in college, so when I saw the headline while reading the Globe this morning, I recognized the German chancellor’s name and dove right in. Then I asked myself, “Is Angela Merkel a household name to the average reader of the Boston Globe?” (Note: I’m not asking if her name “should be,” I’m simply asking if she is). I plan on polling a few of the people I’m staying with out here in Boston, a group of students getting their master’s of education at Boston College, and see what they say. But I think not.

And that brings me to the question.

Are wire services simply impractical for the paper version of the newspaper?

The article in question was wire copy from the International Herald Tribune. It’s a good piece of news, and actually quite interesting if you follow German politics and foreign policy. But I don’t think it serves the average citizen of Boston much, if at all. For one thing, it’s word for word the same article the IHT ran. Now, I’m not saying that is remarkable. Far from it, it has become standard for a paper to plug its pages with wire copy to fill its paper, without having the time or resources to position it locally by making an extra phone call.

And I’m not saying the news is unimportant. If anything, I think it is incumbent on the United States and its citizens to analyze the foreign policy of our European neighbors.

But – and here’s the thing – is it relevant to the reader?

I’d say no.

From the reader’s point of view, no where in the article am I told why this is important to me. The story hasn’t even been localized to the United States, let alone the Boston area. For those who herald the future of newspapers as excelling at local coverage, this ain’t it.

Anyone else have a different take on this? Anyone from the Globe want to weigh in on the editorial decision to run it without additional reporting? Or are the foreign policy issues of Germany that important to the Boston area?