Early morning reading…


The Evolution of Blogging

Over at GigaOm, Om Malik argues for an evolution of blogging toward real-time, social publishing. Basically, context matters now more than ever after the rise of real-time mass messaging services such as Twitter, Facebook’s News Feed, Friendfeed, and the like. This explosion of short snippets of information and data points makes context paramount.

The Pushbutton Web: Realtime Becomes Real

Anil Dash describes a new set of technologies he dubs the “Pushbutton Web,” which he says will push online publishing ever further into realtime communication. He writes for a technical audience, but it’s certainly apropos in the wake of Facebook’s purchase of Friendfeed. I say that because I’ve had quite a few friends ask me in the last few days why Facebook buying friendfeed matters (many of whom had never heard of friendfeed before the news hit). My answer is that the Web values immediacy. Facebook, which has always been more ‘turn-based,’ can better compete with Twitter with friendfeed’s technology (not to mention their development team, which includes a bunch of ex-Googlers).


John Borthwick, CEO of a company called betaworks, describes the emerging Web as a stream, and offers some great analogies to the uninitiated for understanding what’s happening online.

Young Journalist on the Job Hunt

I recently got a question from a young writer type asking how to get into the publishing industry right now. Below was my advice. I had meant to post this months ago, but got sidetracked…

Bad News…

Layoff Sign

As for getting into the industry in general (in this economic climate), I’m not sure I have any good advice. Here’s my bad news first: Everywhere you turn it seems that more and more publications are laying folks off, cutting back circulation or stuck in a hiring freeze. It’s a bad job market, and from what I hear from friends, colleagues present and past, etc., it’s not a good time to be looking. You mentioned Southern Living, for example? While there, I was told the best thing about working there was the job security because they never let anyone go. Then this…

Silver lining…

But here’s my good news. You’re young, so you don’t need to be paid as much as someone who has been there forever and a day. You’re young, so you’re more tech-savvy (I used to cringe when people said that because I thought it reflected an ageist attitude, but now that I’ve worked for a while, I’ve basically accepted it as true). And you’re young, so you’re flexible and can take on long work hours, have more time learn a lot of different skills since you don’t have kids, etc.

My take…

So here’s my advice in general: I’d look at getting involved in writing as much as possible. I’d look into a company such as b5 media (a network of bloggers). They don’t pay much, but the experience you would gain by a) writing on a daily (if not hourly) basis would be invaluable and (b) learning the vaguely defined skill of “building an online audience” is extremely valued these days. If you can head into a job interview at a more traditional media company such as the ones you described and tell them how you launched a blog with b5 media and grew it from nothing to 10,000 visits a month – well, that’s going to mean a lot to them. Also check into mediabistro & Poynter – they have good job postings.

Finally, my last bit would be to look online (as in, look at new/online media companies) in general and avoid print. Print companies aren’t hiring right now and, to be honest, I don’t think they are all that exciting to work for (that’s my “new media” bias though). At Southern Living, I was given a lot of encouragement to try different things on their Web site, because I didn’t work on the print side of things, and it was awesome! I launched a podcast, a blog, picked up some (rudimentary) Flash experience and learned a bit about Omniture’s Web Analytics software. It was a true jack-of-all trades experience, but I couldn’t have gotten it fetching coffee for the food editors like some of the other interns who worked on the print side of things.

Anything you would add, subtract, disagree with?

Time-Delayed Olympics, Local Online Advertising & Icky Flash Microsite of the Day

ESPN wants rights for 2014, 2016 Olympics, would kill tape delay

PaidContent outlines ESPN’s plan to show the Olympics sans delay. I agree with ESPN. I found the tape-delay jarring.

As a disclaimer, I haven’t watched television with any sort of consistency since I was in middle school. So I’ve become accustomed to enjoying access to information as it becomes available, and I found NBC’s tape delay a bit of a surprise.

Give Newspapers a chance

A cool article on the opportunity that (still) exists for newspapers to cash in on local advertising.

Icky Flash Microsite

No, this probably won’t be a recurring feature.

No, I’m not sorry I’m sending you here.

Basically, journos get a lot of flack for losing touch with their audience, yet here’s an example of a marketer doing just that. Who wants to sit through this thing?

No-news conventions, the disappearing newsroom and AP the dinosaur

Google sponsors Blogger Tent at Democratic and Republic National Conventions

For $100 you can have access to an exclusive tent for bloggers at the Democratic and Republican national conventions – complete with Googleplex-style goodies and granola. For all the hoopla about Google as a media company, how new media alters the journalistic landscape, etc., I kept wondering the same question: what news comes out of a convention anyway? After the running mate is announced, it’s a lot of rah-rah and pats on the back, right? (The above link to the WSJ article buries this point at the bottom.)

Emmis cuts 4.6 percent of workforce

I love print. Always have. It’s how I learned how to read. But I have to ask. Is this a healthy “leaning” of artificially large newsroom staffs? Before I draw harsh criticism from print-age journos, I’m speaking purely of the business model. Will newspapers hit an equilibrium where they narrow in scope and turn a profit? Furthermore, from Gannett…

Gannett blogger laments thinning newsroom staffs

Former Gannett editor Jim Hopkins provides a former where anonymous Gannett employees, past and present, can keep up to date on the latest dismal news from the colossal newspaper chain.

Tribune layoffs hit minorities disproportionately harder

According to a report by Richard Prince at his Journal-isms blog, the most recent round of cutoffs at the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Co.’s flagship brand, were disproportionately minority reporters. Ray Quintanilla told Prince that of the more than 80 people let go, after you factor in 30 voluntary exit, the list is heavily minority, and “looks bad.” To play my own devil’s advocate, this, if true, is anything but healthy for journalism.

And finally, a bit of good news…Idaho Falls drops AP contract in 2010

This I applaud for its boldness. Publisher of the Idaho Falls Post Register Roger Plothow stated in a letter:

I’ll put my cards on the table — I’m not sure how we’re going to pull this off. While the AP’s value to us has been severely diminished over the years, it still does provide a handful of services that we haven’t been able to find elsewhere — yet. I’m betting, however, that it’s only a matter of time. More likely, we’ll use that time to become essentially 100 percent local, which is probably where we’re headed eventually anyway.

Bravo. That’ll be one to keep tabs on.

Newspapers are “just another player”

WAN logoThe World Association of Newspapers (WAN) published a list of 66 trends which, according to newspaper executives across the globe, are affecting them and their business models. The whole list is worth downloading, but one I found particularly interesting was the following:

Newspaper companies are becoming “just another media player”
The newspaper industry can no longer perceive itself as exclusive or unique to other market players.

Wow. Should the newspaper industry ever have perceived itself as unique or exclusive? As a consumer of news, I think that attitude can often lead to a feeling of estrangement from a local news source. Newspapers, as a part of the fourth estate, undoubtedly perform a valuable service to their communities, but they are still part of the community.

New York Times startup LifeWire provides syndicated lifestyle content

I recently saw a job posting on JournalismJobs.com 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”?

Ravelry, the future of online communities, and what it means for journalism

Medill logoAs part of an independent study I’m doing on online communities with another Medill student, I moderated three focus groups yesterday looking at why and how students used social media. Once we got beyond Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, one student brought up an interesting site I’d heard of, but must admit I’ve never checked out: Ravelry – a knit and crochet community.Ravelry logo

The student explained that before she discovered Ravelry, she would spend a lot of time trying to find free patterns online. Now, she can log in to Ravelry and trade patterns within the community easily.

The future of online communities…?

Her insights helped highlight some of different motivations people have for joining and contributing to online communities. People overwhelmingly have the same responses for joining Facebook and MySpace: my friends are there, I want to find old friends or it helps me keep in touch. Topically oriented communities offer something entirely different.

TripConnect logoI’m sure other examples of topically oriented, niche sites abound. The only one I’m personally familiar with is TripConnect, to which I contributed reviews.

Magazines and newspapers

At first glance, it seems that Facebook accomplishes what local newspapers once accomplished, although in a more extensive and personalized way, whereas topically oriented online communities are more analogous to magazines.

What’s your take? Are there any vibrant online communities that particularly impress you? Or any old media companies doing anything particularly interesting in this arena?

This is a thread I’ll hopefully develop more fully in the future.

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”

Dean Lavine addresses Medill graduate students over lunch

Medill logoMedill Dean John Lavine told a group of Medill graduates today, “we are aggressively looking at a set of new clients” for their graduate run Medill News Service.

As we at Medill here have started turning more towards multimedia journalism, the clients who subscribe to our graduate-run wire service haven’t been able to support some of the Flash-based video pieces we’ve produced for our Web site Medill Reports.

The Medill News Service, a wire service run by graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism has provided local coverage on Chicago politics, business, legal affairs, etc. for area publications since 1995. Basically, Medill graduate students report in Chicago, and Chicago-area publications who can’t afford the reporting pay for the stories. (Clients include the Daily Herald, the Daily Southtown, the Northwest Indiana Times, the Chicago Defender, among others.) The Medill News Service also runs a Washington Bureau. Washington clients include the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Greeley Tribune in Colorado.
Continue reading “Dean Lavine addresses Medill graduate students over lunch”

IndyStar blogger fired for racial slur

Check out this post here for a detailed timeline of the debacle.

IndyStar logoBasically, a writer/blogger for the IndyStar.com wrote up some harsh criticism of a “city-county council president” near Indianapolis. What’s really interesting is that the writer/blogger revised his story a number of times. Apparently, he watered it down a little each time, before an editor at the newspaper read the post and took it down. Here’s the formal mea culpa.

stAllio!s wayWhat’s interesting, however, is that in the timeline mentioned above, an Indy blogger (on stAllio!s way) searched through the Google cache to find previous versions of the post, chronicling the “timeline of a slur.”

The whole situation is unfortunate, to say the least. But it brings an interesting point about blogging and the Web. Whereas it’s become popular to think of blogging and the internet as a wild, no-holds-barred, “anything goes” medium.

I’ve just never bought that.

People, and especially journalists, are still accountable for what they say or write, regardless of the medium. The ability to reach a global audience with no barrier to entry changes the way we communicate, sure. But I suspect that norms and mores surrounding that way of communication will evolve. And once that happens, we’ll look back on that perspective of the Web as a safe place for over-the-top commentary and editorial as pretty naive.

Update: It looks like some of the pages are even gone now from Google’s cache. The blogger is now linking to .jpgs he’s made of the original post