FULL AUGUST 2002 ARCHIVE
Great Work Gallery Updated
There’s so much great work out there it’s hard to
keep track of it all, so CyberJournalist.net’s Great Work Gallery highlights
examples of online journalism with the aim of recognizing those who do great
work and helping those who don’t. The Great Work Gallery has gotten so large
that we decided to give it a much-needed overhaul. So now you’ll find the
great work divided into categories: Enterprise, Breaking News, Multimedia,
Interactive storytelling, Sites, Convergence, Community and Commentary. Plus
a complete list of CyberJournalist.net’s Great Works of the Month.
The Making of ajc.com’s Nursing Home Guide
As part of a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution series on nursing
Bottom Line of Caring," the newspaper’s Web site built and
published a wonderful searchable nursing home guide that let
users research specific homes in detail, including checking what
each nursing home in Georgia spends on its patients and how
staffing levels at homes compare.
CyberJournalist.net asked Adrian
Holovaty, ajc.com’s assistant database editor, to describe how and why the
Nursing Home Guide was built.
Here’s a Web site that enables you to
sit in on interviews
conducted by some of the best journalists in America and study their
Having Fun in Online Journalism
If traffic logs are an accurate measure of reader interest, then news
sites should be giving high priority to humor and oddball news,
writes Rusty Coats in NewsFuture. Among the examples he points out:
AZCentral’s the buzz and
There, Sacbee’s deceased
Smile section, and
Fark.com, which links to oddly humorous
stories on other news sites. Know of other good collections?
Send them in.
Great Work: 10 Years After
The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale built
a wonderful interactive package to commemorate the 10th anniversary of
Hurricane Andrew. The package combines narrative, photos, video and
clickable maps and infographics to show the storm’s impact. Particularly
interesting is the "Then and Now" section where you can click on
neighborhoods and see how they’ve changed in the past 10 years by looking at
side-by-side photos of the destruction and the present day. The package even
includes a clickable graphic showing what might happen to Florida’s most
populated areas if a hurricane as powerful as Andrew hit today.
Requiring users to register continues to become more common among news
sites. WashingtonPost.com just began asking readers for information, and now
the The Nando Times began asking users to complete a
registration form Aug. 26. Interactive news
director Tom Rouillard said in a note to readers that registering will
enable readers to "personalize certain aspects of the site, continue to
search our free 30-day archive and receive our information-packed e-mail
newsletters." The announcement makes no mention of whether the site plans to
use the information to better target ads and thus increase value to
advertisers. But to those who hesitate to enter personal information online,
he promises, "you have our word that the information you share with us will
not be sold or given to other companies." It’s a comforting policy and one
all other sites that move toward registration should adopt.
New Convergence Award
The Associated Press Managing Editors has created a new
Convergence Award to honor "effective interplay between a story
in print and the same story online." The award, created in
consultation with online editors meeting with APME the past two
years, will recognize innovative projects where the print and
online components complement and enhance each other. Entry
deadline is Sept. 14 for work published between Sept. 1, 2001,
and Aug. 31, 2002. More details can be found at
Ford and Freedom of Speech Online
F***edCompany.com, a Web site known for publishing rumors
and reports of dot-com layoffs and failures, got shut down by its Internet
Service Provider for nearly two days after Ford Motor threatened to sue
about alleged trademark infringements,
reports. Among Ford’s complaints: That the site’s headline "Ford,
where finding a job is job 1" was "confusingly similar to Ford’s
advertising slogan ‘Ford, where quality is job 1.’"
Ford has previously sued an online auto news site and lost.
The site, which was originally called FordWorldNews.com and then changed
its name to BlueOvalNews.com after Ford pressured it, broke
article critical of Ford in July 1999 that was based on internal
company documents. Ford asked for an injunction to
prevent it from publishing internal papers, but a federal district court
judge ruled in September 1999 that the site was protected by the First
Amendment. After the decision, The Wall Street Journal
reported that "legal scholars say Judge (Nancy) Edmunds’s order should be
considered a precedent that underscores the fact that the First Amendment,
which protects traditional media like print and television, also covers
speech in cyberspace." Noted First
Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said he didn’t know of a previous
ruling that said "In such clear and definitive terms that the same First
Amendment rules apply to Web sites as they do newspapers."
Tip: Terrorism Answers
Since Sept. 11, a thorough knowledge of
terrorism and related issues has become essential for nearly all
journalists. And as journalists prepare coverage for the Sept. 11
anniversary, new questions are sure to arise.
Here are two great
sites to help guide you.
A Golden Opportunity for News Sites
Do readers see big differences between online news sites? Not according to
the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The latest results
showed the top sites within just a few points of each other, while in the
search engine category, Google scored about 30 percent better than
competitors. This lack of differentiation between news sites offers a golden
opportunity, says Larry Freed, CEO of Foresee Results. "The
challenge for these sites is to extend the loyalty and retention they see in
the offline world to their online capabilities ?
in other words, to carry over their personality and reporting style," Freed
says in an analysis of the ACSI. "The Web has had a difficult time bringing that personality to news &
information Web sites, and therefore these sites have had a difficult time in
creating unique differentiators…. The site that can identify what has the
biggest impact on customer satisfaction, make the appropriate improvements
to their site to improve satisfaction, will be rewarded with higher customer
loyalty and retention and this will yield financial success."
Tip: Covering Wildfires
If you don’t know your Haines index from your Rh, check out
Jim Moscou’s Wildfire Primer. Moscou, who recently wrote about
wildfires for The New York Times Magazine, includes everything from a
glossary of wildfire terms to a list of all the equipment you need to
fight — or cover — a wildfire. To get a good overview of all the
wildfire news across the country, check out Firehouse.com’s comprehensive
Wildfire Central. But
for the most up-to-date status and statistics on wildfires, go to the
National Interagency Fire
Center’s National Fire News site. The center also has
more great information here.
Now you’ll know your stuff and you won’t get burned.
Devil in Details
Details magazine and writer Kurt Andersen have been the
victim of an elaborate hoax. The magazine printed an essay with Andersen’s
byline entitled "Dudes Who Dish." Only problem was, he didn’t write it.
After someone posing as Anderson e-mailed the magazine, an assignment was
made, the piece submitted and the copy fact-checked entirely through e-mail.
"This type of thing-unfortunately, given the frequency people use e-mail ?
is scary and can happen to everybody," Details editor in chief Daniel Peres
said. Actually, only to those who aren’t careful and rely too heavily on
e-mail. As The New
York Observer’s Sridhar Pappu points out: "The irony of Details’ plight
is that in the end, his magazine could have avoided a lot of trouble by
using an old, underrated device: the telephone."
CyberJournalist.net Partners With API
CyberJournalist.net has formed a publishing
alliance with The Media Center at the
American Press Institute to jointly encourage better online and
multi-platform convergence journalism. The site will remain much the same,
but you’ll notice a few
changes: a new banner, and a new resources section that now combines the
jobs, books, education and other resources pages. CyberJournalist.net will
become a service of The Media Center, incorporated with its other
information and training services.
Web Pays Well
The average starting salary for 2001 journalism
graduates with bachelor’s degrees dropped to $26,000 from
$27,000 a year earlier, and for graduates with master’s degrees dropped to $30,120 from $31,304,
the University of Georgia’s annual survey. But there was one
exception: those going into online publishing. Fewer graduates
found work in the field, but those who did find jobs got
considerably higher salaries than did 2000 graduates: $33,500,
versus $30,004 a year earlier.
Sept. 11 Archive
George Mason University researchers are creating a wonderful
virtual library of the Sept. 11 attacks, having collected hundreds of e-mail
and chat room messages, photos and online personal diaries from people
nationwide relating to their Sept. 11 experiences.
The September 11th Digital Archive
"will serve as a new platform in which people can make their own history,"
said Jim Sparrow, one of the organizers of the project. This site is
packed with powerful words and images and is a gold mine for story ideas.
News sites might not be able to produce a project this massive, but they
could certainly learn much from the great execution, and even do similar
things on a local level.
Great Work: Elvis Extravaganza
Elvis is everywhere — particularly online. In Memphis, The Commercial
Appeal built a wonderful special site on the King to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of his death, pulling together almost
50 years of coverage — a great use of the newspaper’s archives. In addition
to sections exploring his personal life, his artistic career and his impact
on fans, GoElvis.com includes two photo
gallery timelines, a discussion board and even a PDF version of a special
section the newspaper published in 1977 after Elvis died. But the site had
one other great idea and blew it. It created
an "E-Notes for the
King!" section where readers can leave personal messages about the King
— but charged readers $5.95 to leave them, and then an extra amount to have
them published in the newspaper. Only about a dozen people anted up. For
about $72 dollars was it really worth it for the site? Without the fee,
GoElvis.com could have easily attracted thousands of comments, building a
wonderful virtual scrapbook of memories that could have lived and continued
to grow for years — and, something that, from a business perspective, could
have easily earned more than $72 from advertising.
Students Prefer Print Papers
The demise of print newspapers has been greatly
exaggerated. College campuses are more wired than
most of society, yet students still prefer to read the print editions of
their college papers rather than the online versions. Why is this? The
same reason many adults still prefer reading news on paper: portability.
"It’s easier to take a printed copy to class and read it when there
is a lull," Schellene Clendenin, the summer editor at Oregon State
University’s Daily Barometer,
The New York Times. This continuing print preference is particularly
significant because newspapers are desperately trying to woo younger
readers and many fear the younger, more digitally-savvy generation would
rather read online.
WashingtonPost.com videojournalist Travis Fox spent four months with a
sheet metal worker who is helping rebuild the Pentagon after his son was
killed in the Sept. 11 attack there. The documentary he produced,
"Rebuilding a Fortress, Rebuilding a Life," is first-rate, but what makes
it so noteworthy is that ABC News aired his piece Aug. 16 on "Nightline
UpClose." This is the first time a nationally broadcast television news
program was based entirely on a documentary produced by a news Web site,
Poynter’s Al Tompkins. The video was also presented in five segments
on WashingtonPost.com (which includes additional footage not seen on TV),
where it can still be viewed. Fox, you may recall, has previously been
lauded here for being named the White House News Photographers
Association’s 2002 Camera Person of the Year.
Tip: Say What?
Between war in Afghanistan, the fighting in the Middle East and
the tensions between India and Pakistan, journalists are
increasingly encountering foreign names and terms. For radio and
television reporters, correct pronunciation is essential. And
even for print reporters, it’s important to know how to
pronounce words correctly so you don’t sound like an idiot when
interviewing people. If you’re ever unsure of how to pronounce a
Future of Newspapers is
Despite predictions that new technologies may bring newspapers’
W. Dean Singleton, the chief executive of MediaNews Group Inc.,
says newspapers can have a bright future as
technology-driven information companies. Singleton admitted that
at first the Internet blind-sided newspapers, and says
publishers need to make sure that doesn’t happen to the next
wave of Internet advances. "Peer-to-peer computing, digital
newspaper, new generations of mobile computing, all of these are
part of the next wave. If we don’t put them to work, someone
else will and we’ll be scrambling to catch up again.” But
perhaps the most important thing he said was to remind
newspapers never to forget their primary mission: "to serve
Blogging on Boston.com?
On the heels of Salon’s entry into the blogging business with
Blogs.Salon.com, it looks like
Boston.com may have similar plans.
site is advertising for a "Product Manager to supervise Boston.com’s
new initiative into all aspects of personal publishing (aka weblogging)."
Based on the job description, the site plans to make money off the Weblogs
by "integrating personal-publishing features throughout boston.com’s
content, advertising, etc." and creating a " profitable collection of
Tip: Monitoring the Drought
The U.S. drought has worsened, spreading to nearly half the contiguous
United States. Here’s a great
monitor map from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Tribune Launches Print-Online Job Ads
Chicago’s Tribune Co. introduced
print and online job listings called CareerBuilder FlexAds
at the Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. Later
this year the Tribune’s nine
other newspapers will roll out the new print ads, which include a Web ID
code that, when entered in a Web browser, link to the online job posting,
including a full job description on CareerBuilder. It will be interesting
to see if many people go to the trouble, when simply searching the ads
online could save them time anyway.
‘The Model for
Great Quality Content’
Christopher M. Schroeder, CEO and publisher
of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive,
IWantMedia.com he thinks advertising — not subscriptions — "is
the model for great quality content." Why? In part because Internet
advertising reaches people in a way TV and print ads don’t. "I
truly think that next year the Internet story people will be talking about
is the efficacy of online advertising. There are times of
day when you can
reach people with your ad information on a regular basis, i.e., at the
desktop, which you couldn’t do before. People are on-task when they’re
looking at their screens. They’re not getting up and making a sandwich
when the ads come on."
Merrill Brown Joins Rival
Merrill Brown, who left Microsoft Corp.’s MSNBC.com in June after six
years as editor-in-chief, will become a senior vice president at
Microsoft’s cross-town rival RealNetworks. He’ll oversee RealNetworks’ impressive
consumer subscription businesses, which offers exclusive news, sports,
music and video games to customers paying a monthly fee — including
content from CNN, ABCNEWS and Major League Baseball.
New Blogging Publications
The uses of blogging continue to evolve. Now a group has
organized the writings of about 100 bloggers, whose collective posts on "music, books and
popular culture miscellanea" together form a new publication,
BlogCritics.com. And separately,
Pete Rojas, a free-lance technology journalist, and Nick Denton,
the founder of Moreover, have launched a new commercial
Gizmodo, which focuses on gadgets and not only posts links
and comments on them, but includes "Buy" links for recommended
The BBC and journalists’ unions recently
struck a deal to allow BBC staffers to take training as
videojournalists. Kerry Northrup, executive director of Ifra
Centre for Advanced News Operations,
tells the European Press Network’s EPN World Reporter
that this is a good move, adding that journalists who are unable
or unwilling to adapt to media convergence risk being "phased
out." "A lot of people
who are journalists today simply cannot be journalists
tomorrow," says Northrup, a leading convergence advocate. ". .
.They won’t adapt to thinking in terms of multiple media rather
than being concerned only about their personal area of
specialization. They are media bigots, for want of a better
term, insisting past reason that print is print, broadcast is
broadcast, Web is Web, and never will they mesh. The idea of
blending formats to create a story greater than the sum of its
parts remains foreign to them." Many journalists don’t like the
idea of needing cross-media training, believing that it will
stretch them too thin, but the reality is that those who have
convergence skills will be the ones who get ahead.
Content is Everywhere
Corporate America lost billions on the
Internet, but that doesn’t mean the medium has no value, just
that the moguls remain clueless about where it lies,
writes Salon’s Scott Rosenberg. "How does the tradition of
professionally created journalism and entertainment fit into the
dynamics of a wide-open Web? No one has a definitive answer to
that question, and that includes us here at Salon."
Charles Cooper, meanwhile, writes: "Sure, the era of free
stuff on the Internet was grand fun while it lasted; it also was a
four-alarm disaster–something that many entrepreneurs, silly
enough to have gone along for that ride, can testify to. . . . There’s no way this free content smorgasbord
Explaining the West
The Web site for WDSU,
TheNewOrleansChannel.com, has a nice interactive explaining
the West Nile virus is transmitted. If you want even more information,
check out this wonderful mapping site from National
Atlas that Poynter’s Al Tompkins pointed out. It displays interactive
maps of West Nile cases broken down by animal and state. The CDC also has
HBO teams with Salon
an interesting pairing: HBO’s film unit is teaming up with
Salon.com to develop print and film projects. HBO will
underwrite stories for Salon.com, with the option of adapting
them for movies. Read
Tip: Preparing for Sept. 11
It?s hard to believe it?s been nearly a year since Sept. 11,
but it?s time for news organizations to start preparing coverage for the
anniversary. When doing anniversary stories, it?s useful to take a fresh
look at the original coverage, both as a reference and to help spark new
ideas. Here are some
quick links to Sept. 11-related coverage still available online.
Watch What You Write
In case anyone needs reminding that casually written e-mails can
come back to haunt you: Los Angeles Times community sports
reporter Brian Robin wrote an angry e-mail to Rep. Bill Thomas
(R-Calif.) after reading about him blaming the corporate
scandals on Bill Clinton. Robin, though, made the mistake of
sending his letter from his newspaper’s e-mail system. After
Thomas’ office complained to the newspaper, Robin was fired. "It
was a stupid thing to do,"
37-year-old sportswriter told the LA Weekly. You can read
e-mail he sent here.
‘Washington Star’ To Return Online
The Washington Post Co., which acquired
the 129 years of archives of The Washington Star
after it ceased publication in 1981, has hired Cold North Wind
Inc. to digitize the entire collection. The company will build
an online database of full-page, searchable images of the
Star dating back to 1852, include them on Cold North Wind’s
Paper of Record portal
and possibly even use them on washingtonpost.com and the
company’s other Web sites. Coming after
the announcement that the entire
archives of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have
been archived electronically, this is yet another wonderful
step toward preserving journalism digitally.
Iran’s Reformers Skirt
Press Bans with Web
With dozens of their newspapers banned, Iran’s reformists are
using the Internet in their struggle with the Islamic Republic’s
conservative establishment, launching at least five Iranian news
sites by Khatami supporters in the past two weeks. "Technology
always wins, and therefore the closure of reformist newspapers
is useless when there is the Internet,"
a journalist who works for one of the sites told Reuters.
Increasingly, sites are moving toward
asking users to register in an effort to get information that
makes the sites more attractive to advertisers. The biggest
switch of late was by the Tribune Co. papers, including the Los
Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, which recently began
requiring registration. Now
WashingtonPost.com is starting to
ask users for more information — gender, year of birth and zip
code — but the site will stop short of requiring full
registration with a username and password, for fear of scaring
some readers off. "I think this is a very user-friendly way to
generate some information that’s going to be valuable to us," Christopher Schroeder, CEO of WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive,
told The Wall Street
Journal. At the same time, the site will be able to better
target ads and thus charge more. (The Globe and Mail, another
newspaper publishing an electronic edition, also
weighs in on the subject.)
Bye Bye Banjo
Steve Olafson, the Houston Chronicle reporter
criticized here two weeks ago
for anonymously penning a Weblog that blasted his own newspaper
and offered opinions on news that he covered,
has been fired.
The Art of Plugging the
On-air teases of Web sites can be a great
traffic-driver, but they’re most effective when they promote
specific features available only online.
Cory Bergman wisely points out that generic teases like "For
more information" tend to fall flat. "I’ve found the best teases
come when the on-air and online stories are different pieces of
the same pie, content-wise," said Julie Moos, executive producer
of WRAL.com, an IBS affiliate in Raleigh, NC.
Teenage Abductions Spark Ethics
Fast-paced, 24-hour news cycles make ethics decisions even more
challenging. After the media plastered the names and faces of two abducted
teenage girls all over the TV and the Web, most news organizations then
backtracked and stopped using their names and images after they were revealed to have been raped. The quick flip seemed illogical, says Poynter ethics instructor Kelly McBride, because the girls’ names and
faces had already been seen so extensively. "Technology has taken us to
the point where our goal of minimizing the harm is beyond our control in
cases like this,"
she told The Associated Press. "And it’s going to happen again and
Los Angeles Times and
Reuters also ran reports on the subject.) Since then, both girls have
come forward and spoken publicly, and now the media is publishing their
names and images again.
More than 60 newspapers now offer digital replicas of their
print editions that users can download and read for a fee. The
Washington Post, with its
Edition," now adds its
name to that growing list, which
includes The Globe and Mail, The
International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.
The Times, one of the first to roll out such a service last
fall, now has roughly 3,000 digital delivery subscribers,
who pay $26.80 a month,
The Times reports.
Only a handful of magazines offer digital downloads,
including PC Magazine and The Harvard Business Review,
but others are starting to do so.
MIT’s Technology Review magazine just launched one,
after a month of testing that attracted 3,000 subscribers.
Every Friday, Barbara Walters to the 57,000
people who’ve signed up since January for her weekly e-mail
newsletter letter at ABCNews.com. And rather than just send a
boring e-mail listed the program, the note really reads like a
letter from Barbara, reflecting her personality. "Every week, we
learn a tiny bit about ’20/20′ and a lot about . . . Barbara
writes Paul Farhi in The Washington Post. "Every week, she
shares. It’s safe to say that no TV news star — maybe no one on
TV — shares like Barbara Walters."
Flogged by Bloggers
Weblogs are providing a new check on
the media. "Bloggers are busting chops, big time,"
says The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz. Bloggers now swarm over
its news columns searching for errors and bias. The blogging
says Andrew Sullivan, "undermines media tyrants."
It’s true — never has the average person had so much
opportunity to critique and comment on media reports — and be
Tracking News by Beat
Beat reporters know how hard and how important it is to stay on
top of all the latest news on a particular subject. Here are
sites for doing so, plus
software program that can help track when Web
sites publish new news.
Archiving Journalism Digitally
has scanned and made searchable every issue of The New York Times and The Wall Street
Journal. The company created special software to clean up the scans and to
electronically "read" the older papers to make them searchable.
This was a Herculean task: New York Times back issues from 1851 to 1999 consist of 3.4
million pages, and the The Wall Street Journal from 1889 to 1985
weighs in at 1 million pages! ProQuest is now in the process of
scanning all the archives of The Washington Post and The
Christian Science Monitor. What a great way to use technology to preserve history.
Factiva’s Clare Hart
might not be so wrong: A new study from the Online Publishers
Association says consumers are showing a new willingness to pay
for content online.
The study, though, found that only a handful of businesses
benefit from these purchases — mostly business and financial
news sites. Content sales hit $300 million in the first quarter
of this year ? nearly half the total for all of last year. This
could indicate a shift in the general resistance to paying for
content online, which we’ve helped create by giving so much
available for free. Perhaps now the realization that all their
favorite dot-coms were dying because they couldn’t make money
has inspired users to ante up.