Non-stop news takes its toll

PR executives tell The Guardian
that "The era of ‘no
comment’ is well and truly dead" because corporate spokespeople
must meet the demands of the non-stop, 24-hour news cycle while while struggling to stay ?on message.? Oh,
but if only that were true!

Convergence Case Studies

Poynter’s Al Tomkins is doing a

series of five "convergence" case studies
. Find out why the South
Florida Sun-Sentinel
in Fort Lauderdale, which partners with radio as well as TV,
doesn’t hesitate to break news in any medium, and how The
Washington Post has built one of the most extensive media
convergence networks in the world. to Return?
CNET’s Skinny DuBaud
that the former award-winning crime news site, which
folded after it ran out of dough, will be returning under its
new owners. CEO Yovette Munford told DuBaud that the site will
be doing a "soft launch" in May and offering a daily crime news
column, a crime humor column and a wanted column about missing
people and wanted criminals. Later on, the site plans to publish
more ambitious audio and video features, she told DuBaud.

Scripps Howard
Kills Reagan

surfers discovered
a 12-page obituary the Scripps Howard
News Service wrote for former president Ronald Reagan marked
"embargoed until Reagan’s death." After the site got cited on a
number of Weblogs, including

, Scripps Howard removed it, though
you can still see part of it in
the WayBack Machine
This should serve as a good
reminder that anything published online can be found, even if
it’s not linked to. Password protect pages you don’t want others
to see, or even better, don’t put them online!

Making the Web Work
The Savannah Morning News’ Dan Suwyn has noticed that his

have formed new habits since the Web has come along. "A sizable
number of our readers have decided the Internet is the most
efficient way to read local and world news Monday through
Friday, but they continue to spend significant time with the
printed weekend papers,"
he says.
In light of this, he says, Web sites should be event-driven,
while the print paper should offer

"explanation on deadline."

Newspaper Sites Are Top Local News

Newspaper Web sites were rated the number one source of
local news and information online, beating out other local media
sites and national brands such as Yahoo!,

according to a new report from the Newspaper Association of
. The study also found that he longer someone has
been an online user, the more likely he is to turn to online
newspapers for news and information. "Rather than becoming the
replacement for its print version, as so many predicted it would
be, the Internet has afforded newspapers a unique opportunity to
leverage the news and information ? and the interested audience
? into a new medium," said NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm.

Random Password Generators
Online editors beware: hackers are devising ways
to bypass site registration. Someone created

a page
that automatically fills in the registration fields for the New
York Times’ site with random letters and numbers

Happy Birthday, Salon Premium
In its first year offering subscriptions for premium content, has attracted 36,000 paying subscribers
. Still, that’s far
from the hundreds of thousands of readers who used to read Salon
regularly. The little free content that remains doesn’t compare to the
quality and depth of what Salon once offered — and it’s a shame. Salon
has lost much of the influence and reach it worked so hard to build. But
at least it has survived.

Weblogging as Journalism

Are Weblogs journalism? The debate rages on.
Even newspapers are "blogrolling" now. And New York Times Digital’s CEO
has a $2,000 bet on whether Web logs will soon trump newspaper sites in
importance. These
stories and more in’s Weblog Blog

I On the News
Check out the work of the
Independent Media Center
(IMC), a global volunteer online newsroom. Since its birth in
1999 in Seattle during the World Trade Organization protests, it
has grown to 77 IMCs on six continents, including 34 cities in
the United States. "What is radically different from almost any
kind of communications medium in history is that no single
person is in charge and all important decisions are made by

writes The Washington Post’s
David Montgomery
. "No one tells anyone
else what to do. No one rejects copy. Upload your report on
anything at all, and it goes directly to the Web…Anyone can
participate. It is a literal embodiment of a fashionable slogan
among certain activists: Don’t hate the media, become the

Computer-Assisted Influence?

The conservative Heritage Foundation is offering reporters free
computer-assisted reporting training in how to analyze data for
stories, but some, such as CAR guru and IRE Director Brant
Houston, are concerned that they could be using the classes to
push ideology. "Many of our members have a concern when a
clearly ideological foundation is doing the training,"

Houston told The Washington Post
. "…Every database in a
way is like a person: It has a different viewpoint and a
different angle."

Afghan News Bulletin
Afghan journalists, working with
support from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
and Media Action International (MAI), have launched
Afghan Recovery Report
, a free service aimed at providing
local and international media outlets with "objective and
reliable news from local sources." The report will appear in
English, Dari and Pashto, both online and via e-mail, and
articles will be freely syndicated in local language print

The Future of Online

Larry Pryor looks at the evolution of online journalism
from videotext services to the Web, and predicts a rosy future
"characterized by more-sophisticated owners and better-trained
staffs, end-users dependent on traditional news organizations
for the daily global report, proliferating mobile platforms and
new software that enables powerful forms of publishing, such as
wireless push and immersive technologies." OJR also interviewed
a panel
of industry experts on where the future of news is headed

Readers Worship Church-State
As the Web has grown as a news source
many journalists have been concerned that financial pressures
would force news organizations to strip away the traditional
church-state separation between editorial and advertising
content — though the more cynical have wondered whether readers
really care about such divisions. Now we know they do care. 
Fifty-nine percent of users say that it is very important that
advertising be clearly labeled and distinguished from news and

according to a new  study by Consumer
WebWatch, a new division of the Consumer Union focusing on
online credibility.
WebWatch’s new site, just unveiled, also features a great list
of quotes from online content industry leaders on

what makes Web sites trustworthy?

Beliefnet Needs Miracle
, a two-year-old religion and spirituality news
site often praised for the quality of its editorial content, has

filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
"The irony is … the importance of religion on
the Internet has continued to grow," said veteran journalist
Steve Waldman,’s CEO. "There is a tremendous
appetite for independent information and ideas about religion
and spirituality, and a multi-faith approach." The site has been
an Online Journalism Awards finalist twice, for its

coverage of Sen. Joseph Lieberman being named Al Gore’s vice
presidential candidate
and for

package about the wars fought by Americans and the lives lost

(including a feature that enabled readers to create their own
online tributes to dead soldiers).

Rise of Digital News Networks
edia companies like Belo, Tribune and
Knight Ridder are flocking to Web publishing systems that tie
sites closer together, lower production costs, smooth the way
for network advertising buys and enable editorial staffs to
share content much more easily than before,
Lasica reports in the Online Journalism Review
. "A user
will see similarities in the core navigation and the
presentation of headline blocks and a mostly standardized look
to the tile and banner ads," says Jay Small, who oversees news
and operations for eight Belo sites in the eastern United
States. "But within the framework, individual sites are able to
customize the elements to permit a distinctive look and design."
Says Lasica, "In my book, that’s convergence done right." But
uniform publishing systems have their downsides, too — as the
item below notes.

‘Stuck With Knight Ridder Digital’
Knight Ridder Digital continues to get
criticized for its redesign of its network of news sites — from
readers and from the sites themselves. More than 200 readers
have complained about the redesign of the Fort Wayne Journal

says news technologies manager Tom Pellegrene Jr. in a highly
unusual message to readers posted on the cover of the site
"What you may not know is that we don’t like it, either," he
writes. "The new site loads more slowly on your computer than
the old one did. It’s harder to find what you want….
currently, we’re stuck with Knight Ridder Digital, and it’s
stuck with us." Knight Ridder has promised improvements, he
says, but "in the long run, we hope to persuade Knight Ridder
Digital to let us have our old Web site back – the one with the
design you and we liked." Managers of other Knight Ridder
Digital sites have reportedly complained off the record. 
previous criticism of the network’s redesign in the Online
Journalism Review.

Online Journalism Chat Channels

a Brazilian site about online journalism, recently created two IRC chat
channels for discussions about online journalism. The first channel, #jol,
is for discussions in Portuguese and can be accessed via the BRASnet
server. The second one, #journalism, is for discussions in English and can
be accessed by the DALnet server.

Interacting With Readers

News sites are still publishing by old-media
rules, in a one-way manner, expecting visitors to read, listen
or view — but not do. "Here’s what should be commonplace when
Internet users visit news sites: content that they interact
with, in the same way that you interact with a computer game;
content that wouldn’t be possible in any other medium,"

says Steve Outing in his E&P column
. "For example, a story
on a proposed property tax increase can have an interactive
application (created using something like Flash) with which a
site visitor can type in his home’s worth and see how it would
affect his property tax bill specifically."

Subscriptions Don’t Hurt Traffic

Here’s an interesting bit of
contrarian news that gives hope to all those banking on
subscriptions as a way to make their news sites profitable:
Unlike most sites that lose traffic after initiating
subscriptions, The Tulsa World and the Albuquerque Journal are
now reaching more of their audience,

according to The Media Audit
. The Journal site attracted
13.6 percent of the adults in its market "during the past 30
days" in October/November 2000 and 15 percent during the same
time in 2001, after initiating subscriptions. The Tulsa World
site attracted 16.8 percent of adults to its site in the 2000
survey and 18.2 percent in 2001. One caveat: most of the users
are print subscribers who don’t have to pay for access, just
register. has more than 27,000 online members,
including 24,500 print subscribers who registered for online
access. has just 728 online-only subscribers, but
7,604 print subscribers have registered for site access. "The
research makes it pretty clear that the switch to paid access
can be made – at least in some markets — without damaging the
long term prospects of the site," says Bob Jordan, co-chairman
of the research firm that produces The Media Audit in 85 metro

Wireless Users Willing to Pay
In another promising sign for the future of news subscription
services, wireless users say they they would pay for premium
services such as classified advertising alerts, according to
nationwide study conducted for the Newspaper Association of
. Most said, however, that they don’t don’t want to
pay extra for basic information.

More Newsroom Training Needed

A new national survey

has found that American
journalists say lack of training is their No. 1 source of
job dissatisfaction, ahead of pay and benefits. Among the
findings: just 46 percent of news executives surveyed say
they’ve provided training in computer-assisted reporting.
News executives, for their part, admited in the survey they
should provide more training, but say time and tight budgets
prevent them from doing so.

TV Station Tackles On-Demand Web

The local ABC affiliate in St. Paul,
Minn., has begun offering
5Cast, a news
video-on-demand service allows Web site users to select video
segments from archived TV newscasts in any order they choose,
giving them, in a way, the keys to the editor’s desk. You may
recall the start-up, Zatso, that had a similar idea but since
went out of business;
still offers a national version of the custom

A Convergence Success Story
The relationship between the Dallas
Morning News, WFAA, Texas Cable News (TXCN, Belo’s statewide,
24-hour cable news channel) and their respective Web sites has
become a model of convergence,

reports Mediaweek
. For example, writers and editors for the
Morning News and WFAA recently produced an in-depth
investigative report on drug-running into and out of Mexico by
teenagers, a story that was picked up by ABC News. They set the
standard for integrating newspapers, TV stations and cable news
regionally," says Lee Westerfield, a media analyst with UBS
Warburg, who covers Belo. "Dallas itself is the standard for
newspaper-TV convergence in the United States."

The Web Strips Penthouse Readers
Bob Guccione, the publisher of
Penthouse, says the run of Penthouse magazine is at an end, in
part because the Web is stealing print readers.

There is "no future for adult business in mass market
magazines," he said. "The future has definitely migrated to
electronic media."

Teaching Convergence
Starting this fall, USC’s Annenberg School
for Communication will train all journalism students for
convergence — teaching them to write for newspapers, produce
broadcasts for TV and radio, and produce multimedia stories for
the Web. The University of Kansas and the Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism are others that offer
cross-platform training, but hopefully more will start focusing
on convergence. Morris Communications, which runs The
Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas among other sites, trains
new staff members in a corporate "boot camp" that teaches them
how to work in a multi-platform environment, because journalism
schools aren’t producing enough graduates with the skills it

Tip: Breaking News Legal Documents’s legal
documents section
is a great resource, and
the site has added
an e-mail alert

that sends out links whenever the site adds important legal documents for
breaking news stories.

Clergy Abuse Tracker has started
a Weblog of

articles and resources
about sexual abuse by clergy
. Roy
Peter Clark also offers

eight tips
for covering clergy abuse

Interactive News, on the Go
News organizations that believe they
only need to worry about the Web when planning their digital
futures had better think again. Interactive television is
finally arriving,

as The New York Times reports
, with profound implications.
And the coming mobile revolution will require newsrooms to
rethink their new media strategies.
Lasica looks at some of the new technologies coming soon
from e-tablets to digital paper.

April Fool’s in the News

Be careful
not to be too trustworthy of anything you read online
. Of
course, a sense of humor is a great way to give your site
personality and help it stand out from the pack. This page, on
technology behind Google’s great results
, is a great
example, as is
this Flash feature by on the Great Dismal Swamp
creature. even did

a live chat about cat racing
. Need a few more laughs?

Check out’s wrap-up of April Fool’s in the News

— including several cases where the joke was on the

The Web in Flash
This is no joke —
is pushing for entire Web pages to be created in Flash

Community Weblogging
More newspapers are starting to incorporate Weblogs into their
sites, and the Observer-Reporter is taking a new approach.
Columnist Jessica Smith has invited the newspaper’s readers to
suggest links for "Off
the Record," a general interest Weblog
. "Blogs usually are
praised because they remove the traditional media intermediary,"
Smith says. "We’re retaining the mediator (me) because I have
nightmares of snickering adolescents posting links to their
favorite porn sites or self-appointed political analysts using
our blog as a platform for extended tirades. I promise to
exercise a light editorial hand."

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