Are E-Newspapers Worth It?
The Online Journalism Reviews Staci Kramer tried out NewsStand’s
electronic editions of The New York Times and The Globe and Mail and
decided they’re worth it only as "a once-in-a-while substitute or add-on."
But she made
some interesting observations: "The difference between visiting
Web site and seeing the
virtual print was like getting an e-mail bulletin that war has been
declared and seeing it in 72-point type. The visual clues a newspaper
sends were missing from the Web site. You could read the same words in
both places but the impact differed dramatically. One distributed
information on a flat plane; the other triggered emotion and provided a
sharper sense of sharing the experience."
Chip Scanlan’s look at the pros and cons of The Times’ service.
Do androids dream of First Amendment rights? The first Net-controlled
robot reporter from MIT may be headed for Afghanistan, reports Salon.
nonmilitary, nonhuman roving war correspondent, dubbed the Afghan
Explorer, completed several tests on the streets of Somerville, Mass.
recently. The idea is the robot can be sent into places unsafe for
reporters — such as Afghanistan or hostage situations — where otherwise
journalists are forced to rely on "officials" for information. "I really
like the idea of a robo-reporter," says Natalie Jeremijenko, an
engineering professor at Yale, and a New York techno-artist. "It comes
down to a question of who gets to generate the facts."
Independent Mideast Coverage
Have you seen Debkafile,
an independent online publication in Israel run by two former
Israel-based correspondents for The Economist? The site,
which covers Central Asia and the Middle East.,
has drawn fans and critics who
lionize it "for its aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach
to news gathering" and condemn it "for what some say is more often than
not conspiracy-minded and inaccurate reporting," Gary Baum writes in the
Online Journalism Review.
Takes Web Copyright Case
Supreme Court has agreed to take a digital copyright case, Eldred v.
Ashcroft, to determine when hundreds of thousands of books, songs and
movies will be freely available on the Internet or in digital libraries.
Attorney Lawrence Lessig says the 20-year extension approved by Congress
in 1998 — extending copyright to 70 after the death of the inventor —
is ill-timed and unconstitutional. "Just as the time that the Internet is
enabling a much broader range of individuals to draw upon and develop this
creative work without restraint, extensions of copyright law are closing
off this medium to a broad swath of common culture," he wrote. Law
professor Mark Lemley told the Court that old books, movies and sound
recordings are being lost before they can be archived. If the law "still
stands, we must continue to wait, perhaps eternally, while works disappear
and opportunities vanish."
agree with the Olympic judges’ scoring?
NBCOlympics.com’s "You be the Judge" feature enables viewers to judge
the ice dancing competition themselves online and compare their ratings
with other viewers and the judges. The site is also packed with a plethora
of informative interactives, such as one that explains
the basics of jumps, spins and other elements of figure skating through
animation and another in which some of this year’s skaters explain how
the controversial quadruple jump.
Reading Slate on the John
Slate’s Michael Kinsley, who just retired as editor in chief, predicts
that real convergence will happen within five years, with tools like the
Tablet PC, and "the
delivery mechanism and the content will become entirely different issues."
In a Q&A with CNET,
he says, "Five years from now, you won’t think of an online magazine vs.
an offline magazine. Starting in the fall there are going to be the Tablet
PCs, which will answer the key question of, How can I read this in the
john? That’s the biggest complaint I’ve gotten over the years, is that I
love Slate, but I don’t like reading in front of a computer screen."
While the world reacts to President Bush’s global warming plan, check out
Rising: Bearing Witness to Climate Change," an online
photo-documentary chronicling an expedition by environmental photographer
Gary Braasch and journalist Bill Dietrich. The team traveled deep into the
beautiful Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica "to discover what
ecologists and scientists are learning about plants and animals and
potential changes related to global warming." A
just-completed 10-day Webcast includes photos, videos, and e-mail
exchanges with the team, though it takes a while to click through to
everything. Interesting, the project was also designed as a teaching tool: teacher Holly Dietrich filed lessons and
reports from the field; and the project was also offered as a Distance
Learning Course for teachers with continuing education credits.
Free Convergence Seminar
The University of Florida in Gainesville is hosting a free
convergence seminar on Feb. 22. No registration required. More details
a column by Olympic ice skating commentator
alleging a French judge was pressured into voting for the Russians over
the Canadians in the pairs figure skating competition, USAToday.com pulled
the key sections out of
the story because it created "a firestorm."
Bob Dubill, executive editor of USA TODAY,
wouldn’t discuss the editing decision.
Write Good and Short
Roy Peter Clark has revised his excellent
"Writing Good Stories in 800 Words or Less," from 3,000 to 264 words.
lessons here for all writers, especially those writing online.
Has the blogging phenomenon
gotten out of control? The Weekly Standard appears to think so. It strikes
a parody, BlogBlog.com,
that pokes fun at the likes of Mickey
Kaus and Andrew Sullivan.
lost all touch with reality and live to comment on the comments that other
bloggers have made in reference to my notes about their comments,"
concludes the piece. "Is there anybody out there?"
See more journalists’ Web logs here.
When Michael Kinsley started Slate six years ago, he
felt that "most of what’s on the Web now is crap." But Kinsley became very
much a Web editor,
writes Howard Kurtz. "One of Kinsley’s innovations was to run regular
digests of other media outlets, such as newspapers, magazines, arts
reviews and one-person Web logs. He has created a sub-genre of diaries and
e-mail debates involving prominent writers." Deputy Editor Jack Shafer
told Kurtz, "He brought a kind of editorial shine and journalistic
sharpness to the Web in its infancy."
AssignmentEditor.com is offering free access to its site
for the Olympics: EMAIL: email@example.com PASSWORD:
(Thanks to LostRemote’s Cory Bergman for the tip.)
Scripts for the Web
Lost Remote’s Cory Bergman offers a handy "10-Minute
Checklist" for converting TV scripts to the Web: combine copy; remove
extraneous remarks; fix capitalization; add quotes; form complete
sentences; remove references to video; beef up the story; bring it all
together; and add interactivity.
Writers, PR Folks
A number of sites, such as
PR Newswire, help reporters and public relations people connect by
offering online press release databases. A new site,
is now offering another way of connecting the two, by
keeping track of what publications are planning and selling the online
database to public relations professionals.
The big winners at the
EPpy Awards were The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal‘s
CJOnline.com and USAToday.com, which each picked up two awards. Morris
Communications Corp. of Augusta, Ga., won the most of any chain, with six
EPpy Awards, and the Tribune Co. went home with four awards. The winners
of the best overall newspaper online service categories, by circulation,
Los Angeles Times‘
latimes.com; PittsburghLIVE.com, Tribune-Review of Greensburg, Pa.;
CJOnline.com, The Topeka Capital-Journal; and Online Athens,
Athen (Ga.) Banner-Herald.
Check out the complete list of winners.
The Big Picture
National Public Radio broke a big development in the case international
story this week about U.S. conduct in a raid on an Afghan village. Read
CNet’s report on the new
wave of multimedia reporting and
Tompkins e-mail Q&A with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
Google Groups is a
great way to find sources — more on that here. One caveat: sometimes
spammers mine newsgroups for e-mail addresses, so you might want to
consider creating a free Yahoo or Hotmail account before posting.
Betting on Online
Online news leaders were optimistic about the
Editor & Publisher’s 13th Interactive Newspapers Conference and Trade Show.
"The question of profitability is still premature," said Steve Rossi,
president of Knight Ridder’s newspaper division. "We simply have to be
more aggressive about trying new models," Rossi told E&P. He said
newspapers should to experiment more and take chances. "We need to think
of ourselves as media people, not newspaper people," said Rossi, who
helped start Knight Ridder’s online efforts in Philadelphia.
Camera Person of the Year
WashingtonPost.com’s Travis Fox won the
White House Press Photographer’s Camera Person of the Year award, beating
out a field of television journalists. This shows yet again that online journalists
can produce top quality video journalism and should be taken seriously as
photojournalists and videojournalists.
Check out his winning
"Pentagon Attacked" entry (produced with
John Poole and Craig Cola) along with some
of the other winners.
Net News Blues
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer interviewed four new media leaders about the
future of the online news business. Here’s a good way of approaching
it: "I think the future of the Internet and the fate of all of the
publications that we represent and write about can be found by walking
through the nearest school. If you walk through any college campus in your
area and you walk through the dormitories and look in the cracks of the
doors, all you see are blinking screens," said Hoag Levins, the former
executive editor of APBnews.com, is now editor of AdAge.com. "Out on the
campus, all you see are people doing two-way paging and communication. In
the elementary and the high schools, the same way. These kids, in the
schools of America, after a multi-year wild wire-up of our school systems,
are going to change us at a faster rate than we all realize, because
they’re going to want what they want, and these kids want digital."
Weekly World Web Strategy
Here’s a new strategy for converting online users to print
subscribers. The Weekly World
News skipped publishing online this week and instead posted this note:
"We would like you to buy the paper at least one stinking week out of the
year. That’s right, buy it. Go to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and plunk down a
couple of lousy bucks for a copy." Who knows, maybe it’ll work.
Will automated writing programs like
Columbia Newsblaster ever replace
human journalists? No,
John Pavlik. But tools like NewsBlaster, which uses natural language
processing techniques to summarize top headlines, can help journalists and
news consumers manage in an age of information overload. "Everyday
thousands of news reports on hundreds of events and topics are published
and it is impossible for any person to keep up with it all," Pavlik says.
"Newsblaster might help."
Newspapers and the Web War
Harvard Business School professor Clark Gilbert says
newspapers have failed to take advantage of the Web, after studying the
issue. "We found that despite recognizing the problem, most companies
aggressively "crammed" the new business into the old business model and
sales processes. For example, most newspapers tried to force their online
sites to make money by selling the same types of advertising to their
traditional print advertisers." On the other hand, The New York Times,
Knight Ridder, and The Washington Post have been very successful, he says.
No One Wants to Pay
While some sites are turning to pay-for-access models in a
desperate attempt to get revenue, it doesn’t appear to be working.
Borrell & Associates Inc. found that none of the newspapers charging
for online access has gotten more than 2.6 percent of its
print-circulation base to sign up for the paid services. On the bright
side, all of the newspapers with paid models — only about 15 of the 1,482
daily newspapers in the United States — report modest increases in print
circulation, though it’s impossible to know what impact closing off free
online access had on those increases. Meanwhile,
other sites are pushing for registration.
Preview Redesigned SiliconValley.com
Publishing previews of redesigns is now become
commonplace. Following the footsteps of other news sites — WSJ.com most
SiliconValley.com is offering this sneak peak at its upcoming redesign
and soliciting feedback.
Great Work: Is the Medium the Message?
Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood
has been producing wonderful literary journalism about New York City for
the past year and a half — highly recommended. The site is noteworthy not
just for its great writing, but for the navigation: a satellite map of New
York City, with articles linked to the neighborhood where they take place.
And now Thomas Beller has published 60 of the pieces in an anthology,
"Before and After: Stories From New York."
The New York
Times’ Matthew Mirapaul has written a fascinating piece
exploring how the experience of reading the material online compares to a
book. Beller believes that "the medium isn’t the message. The words are."
But Scott Rettberg, founder of the Electronic Literature Organization,
said the linear progression of a printed collection reflects the editor’s
judgment. Online, however, "Readers expect they will be able to make
navigational decisions and form their own compositions from the available
material. The music of print is more classical than the improvisational
jazz of electronic writing."
The Blame Game
Slate’s "Enron Blame Game"
has been winning praise for the simple, clever way it depicts the complex
relationships between all the parties involved in the Enron debacle. Click
on one of the players and up pops an explanation of who they blame for the
The Online News
Association released the complete results of its digital journalism
credibility study. They echo the earlier
tidbits released: The good news is Internet users believe online news is
about as credible as news from more traditional sources (13 percent cite
the Net as their most trusted source for news). The bad news is
journalists themselves have less respect for their online counterparts.
Other findings include: Younger people are more likely to say online news
is credible; and Americans are using online news in addition to
traditional mediums rather than instead of.
Read the study
here. Study co-director Howard Finberg
elaborates on the
findings on Poynter.org and co-director Martha Stone suggests
transparency are key to building trust. Discuss the ONA’s findings on
ONLINE-CREDIBILITY discussion list.