Full February 2003 archive

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Iraq Conflict Tips & Resources
As America gears up for a possible war with Iraq, now
is a good time to start familiarizing yourself with the best Iraq-related
resources online.’s guide gives you a good start
. [2/28]

OPA Identifies Web Dayparts

A new
report from the Online Publishers Association
concludes that weekdays from 8
a.m. to 5 p.m. represent the largest "daypart" (an advertising term meaning
blocks of time with homogeneous audiences) on the Internet in terms of total
audience and total usage minutes. The study, which used data from Nielsen//NetRatings,
identified five distinct "dayparts" on the Web: early morning (Mon.-Fri., 6-8
a.m.), daytime (Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), evening (Mon.-Fri., 5-11 p.m.), late
night (Mon.-Fri., 11 p.m.-6 a.m.) and weekends (Sat.-Sun., all day). [2/27]

ESPN Motion Arrives
ESPN has unveiled a new site featuring video front-and-center
using the much-hyped ESPN Motion, which has been available to subscribers of the
site’s premium service. It delivers just as promised, integrating into the site
highlight clips and interviews at extremely high quality (better than streaming
video), with no buffering. It’s able to do this by saving new clips on users’
computers throughout the day, so that video is already downloaded when you click
to watch. As soon as new video is ready to view, a clickable ESPN Motion icon
will appear in your system tray. Here are answers to
frequently asked questions about
ESPN Motion
. ESPN has even posted
message board
for reader feedback on the new feature. Judging by the
comments, users so far have a mixed reaction. But it’s a landmark step for Web
journalism, integrating video into a mainstream news site like never before.
(Also worth noting is the enhanced BottomLine software, which adds a bar to the
bottom of your screen with live scores and breaking news,  and by clicking
on any score or news item, you are taken to the corresponding page on
for more information). [2/26]

Blog Conference in Vienna
The Center for New Media at Danube University is organizing what may be the
first conference on Weblogging, to be held in Vienna in May. "The first day of
the conference will be focused on experiences with Weblog applications and the
everyday use of blogs in the private environment and the corporate sector,"
according to
. "The second day deals with technical aspects of blogging
and finishes off with a blog installer party." The deadline for registration is
Feb. 28. [2/26]

Laptop News Gathering System

ABC News and the BBC have licensed On2 Technologies’ media-compression
technology so journalists covering Iraq can easily send back broadcast-quality
video back home via the Internet or satellite phones. The Laptop News Gathering
(LNG) system compresses video files at high bit rates to achieve
broadcast-quality playback. The system, which On2 developed in tandem with
software companies TVZ and Fourth Broadcast Network, helps "TV correspondents to
report live from a location using only a small camera, a laptop and a satellite
phone," Richard Rees, 4BN’s technical director,
tells CNet. [2/25]

CNN and Cox Newspapers Partner on Iraq
The Iraq war is sure to deliver many interesting examples of media convergence,
and one of the first ones is a highly unusual deal between CNN and Cox
Newspapers. After hearing that the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its
owner, Cox, would not use all 8 of the military embedding slots given to it for
reporters in Iraq, CNN approached it and agreed to take the five extra slots for
CNN reporters — under the condition that the CNN reporters file reports for Cox
newspapers. "All of the people we will use to fill those slots will have print
backgrounds," CNN spokesman Matthew Furman told

Editor & Publisher
. "All of our reporters already file for so this
will not be that different." In other words, the cross-training CNN reporters
have already received in filing for the Web site is now serving yet another
useful purpose for the company and the reporters, who otherwise wouldn’t have
been able to go abroad. [2/25]

Great Work: on The Station Fire

The Providence Journal’s Web site has done such a good job covering the fatal
fire at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island that it’s hard to know what to
single out. In addition to continually updating the site with staff-written
stories on the latest developments from the moment the news first broke early
Friday morning, the site has published a slew of impressive online-only
features, including:

A first-person account
from a survivor searching for his mystery savior;

an online memorial
for readers to post condolences for the fire victims;
five flash slide shows and video from a partner TV site; useful information such
as victim and memorial details; and
much, much more. As a
public service, the site has not only been running
a Web log of online reaction
to the fire
by staff blogger Sheila Lennon, but has taken the admirable step
of moving the Web log outside the site’s registration firewall. [2/24]

Tip: Disaster Links
The shuttle crash and the recent snow storm were good reminders of how handy the
Web can be when reporting on emergency situations.  On such fast-moving
stories, useful information can be found on scores of sites — and
here’s a good start
at how to find the best ones quickly
. [2/24]

Welcome to the New BBC News Online
BBC News Online
has unveiled a redesigned site, widening pages by 30 percent, improving download
speeds and changing from a primarily vertical, scrolling site. The site makes
good use of the extra space, using it to get more top news stories higher on the
page and yet at the same time creating a more open feel. As a result, the home
page is a bit busier, but the stories are easier to read. Here’s what the site
said in its announcement
and more details on the
site’s FAQ page
.  [2/21]

Great Work: Michael Jackson Unmasked
Here’s a perfect use of animation online: Dateline NBC
combined a series of photographs of Michael Jackson’s face through the years and
morphed them together to visually
show the effect of all of his plastic surgerie
s — in a way more powerful
than any quote or video clip could. [2/20]

Tip: Getting Online in Snow Storms
Now that folks in the the North East are digging out
of the snow storm, thought some of you might be interested in two services to
help journalists with such emergencies –
GoToMyPC and the
Emergency Email Network
. Even if you aren’t dealing with a snow storm, you
might find those services useful for other kinds of emergencies. [2/20]

Online Registration Turns Profits
Newspapers are increasinly requiring online users to register before accessing
their sites — and it’s proving profitable. The Dallas Morning News generated
more than $1 million with targeted e-mail products based on registration data,
Eric Christensen, vice president and general manager of Belo Interactive, told
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And Digby Solomon at the Chicago Tribune said
the paper expects to generate $250,000 in additional revenue this year because
of registration. Cox Enterprises and Morris Communications both plan to add
registration on their sites this year. [2/20]

Tip: E-Mail Interviews
Lately, a number of Internet hoaxes have caught
journalists off-guard, including a case last week in which one journalist relied
on an e-mail interview and was embarrassingly duped.
Here’s a look at how
to use e-mail or instant messengers in your reporting, while avoiding
humiliating corrections
. Plus, check out’s updated list of Cyber Slip-Up
s. [2/19] Stormin’ Through
As snow blanketed the East Coast, storm coverage
blanketed East Coast news sites. One site that stood out was The Providence
Journal’s,, which packed in comprehensive reporting with
information on local closings,
parking bans, travel schedules and how to cope with the snow
. The site was
also wonderfully interactive with its community, publishing

a bulletin board
for folks to share their snow storm stories; a spot

Storm Blog reporting notes from around the state
; and
a slide show of reader
. The last two features mentioned highlight two promising approaches
to covering breaking news online that are being used increasingly — spot
Weblogs, such as Florida Today’s
Columbia landing
and Spaceflight Now’s
Mission Status
; and reader slide shows, such as

from the shuttle crash, these from
BBC Online
and these
from The Charlotte Observer. [2/18]

Reader Photos from War Protests
Millions of people marched worldwide this weekend in
protest against a possible war against Iraq — and hundreds sent in photos to
the BBC, which just last week started soliciting reader photos for its Web site.
Here are the
slide shows BBC Online published with those photos
. [2/17]

Google Buys Blogger
The news that Google has bought Pyra, the company
whose Blogger software helped fuel the Weblog movement, was fittingly broken

in San Jose Mecury News columnist Dan Gilmor’s eJournal Weblog
. The deal is
further proof that blogging has hit the big-time; the way it was broken
demonstrates the impact Weblogs are having on journalism. [2/17]

Salon: The End is Near
Salon says it might not survive past February if it cannot raise more money.
Things are so bad that the company lost $1.2 million during the final three
months of 2002 and couldn’t pay its rent in December. In a last-ditch effort,
the company
started requiring users to click through multiple screens of ads or pay for its
content last month
. As of Dec. 31, Salon’s site had 47,300 subscribers.

Preserving Digital Archives
Congress has approved $100 million for the Library of Congress to collect and
preserve digital information such as images, CD’s, Web pages and electronic
journals. This will hopefully be a key step in preventing a crucial element in
our history from continuing to disappear.  According to data from the
Library of Congress,

The Washington Post reports
, the average Web page has a lifespan of just a
couple of months. Of all the Web content made in 1998, nearly half had
disappeared by 1999. The best collection right now of Internet history can be
found at the Internet Archive.  [2/17]

Money & the Web: Profit vs. Innovation & News
How can we balance commercial demands vs. the need for inventiveness in defining
journalism on the Web? How can journalism in this medium move forward in
defining itself as it’s hit not only by sweeping technological change, but also
crushing financial needs? How do financial pressures affect journalism on the
Web? The Online News Association will be hosting a panel discussion on Feb. 18
at Baruch College in Manhattan. You can find more information about this and
other ONA programs on this page at

Great Work: St. Valentine Remembered
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s
a look at St. Valentine
from the BBC Online — published in 1999. The story includes video and audio —
which seems like nothing special now but was still a rarity four years ago.

You Won’t Read This In Print
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists annual awards
competition is looking for a few good columnists in
the Online Columns
. You have until March 15 to apply. In an article on Poynter Online,
Steve Outing points out that "a weblog really is just another form of column
writing" and thus newspaper bloggers are eligible to enter the contest.
He surveys
some of the more interesting newspaper columns online. Plus Dave Lieber has
written a
companion article
  on weblogs-as-columns. And, as Outing points out,
you can find a comprehensive list

right here on

Great Work: Reader Slide Shows
The BBC is about to start soliciting reader photos for
publication online
, but The Charlotte Observer’s Web site,,
has already been doing this, publishing reader-generated slide shows during big
local weather stories. "One of our traditions is getting readers
involved in telling the story of major weather events," the site wrote during an
unusual January snow storm. "Since schools are closed today, and many of you
won’t be going anywhere, get out your digital cameras and send us snow photos:
your backyard, your stuck car, your dog, your kids, etc." The site then
published two slide shows using the best ones (here
). The photos are by no means professional quality — but they offer a
fresh, unique perspective on the storms’ impact. And they have the homey-feeling
of a family photo album, except that in this case the family is one of Observer
readers. [2/12]

Great Work: Witness to History
Belo has been collecting images and personal accounts of the shuttle crash from
readers and viewers into

a searchable database
. The database is searchable by keyword or city. A
great way to use the Web to tap the community and advance the story. [2/11]

News From the Readers’ Perspective
Recognizing the value of tapping the news consumer
community, BBC News has launched a new feature that will showcase reader
photography. "BBC News Online wants to report the world from your perspective,"
the site says in a note to readers. "And the digital revolution will help us to
do that….So if you think you have a picture worth looking at, if you found
yourself in the right place at the right time, send it to BBC News Online." The
site’s picture editor will choose the best each week and publish them
on this page
every Friday. This could provide a great and popular feature for readers — not
to mention setting up a handy way to get exclusive photos when major news
breaks. [2/11]

Tip: Story Ideas Galore
Good story ideas are the currency of journalism. Wouldn’t it be nice if we
journalists could get one e-mail a week listing dozens of story ideas related to
our beats, complete with sources? And maybe special ones when major news breaks,
such as the shuttle crash?
Well, such a treat
. [2/10]

‘Computerworld’ Duped by Hoax Web Site
Last week the
Web site of
magazine published a story claiming a radical Islamic group
was behind the recent Slammer worm attack that clogged the Internet. The next
day the story was embarrassingly retracted after it was learned that one
journalist had deceived another. Dan Verton had based his article on an e-mail
interview with a person he identified as "Abu Mujahid," a member of
Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahadeen. But Mujahid was really Brian McWilliams,
43, a free-lance journalist in Durham, N.H., who has written for and
Wired News. McWilliams said he had duped Verton because he wanted to teach
reporters "to be more skeptical of people who claim they’re involved in

In a follow-up story, Verton wrote
, "I feel like I’ve been had, and that’s
never an easy thing to swallow. So, I’m left here scratching fleas as the price
you sometimes pay for sleeping with dogs." The fiasco is a good reminder of the
risks involved in relying on e-mail interviews and the importance of verifying
sources. [2/10]

Columbia’s Last Flight Online
Last weekend’s shuttle disaster unfolded as much
online as it did on radio or television. A group of space enthusiasts learned of
the trouble in real time by listening to mission control via NASA TV’s Webcast.
They and other trackers shared their thoughts online in many forums, including a
discussion board for shuttle buffs on the Free Republic Web site. The New York
Times has culled some of the more interesting comments into
compelling narrative
; you can read the full discussion on
Free Republic.

Multimedia Breaking News: Powell at the U.N.
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations this week
was tailor-made for online news sites, packed with juicy sound-bites, satellite
images, recordings of secret conversations and video clips. How did they handle
it? USA Today produced the smoothest package,
slick Flash presentation
built on deadline that included photos, graphics,
text, audio and video. merged the images and audio into
the complete transcript, in
the order they were presented, and also built
a slide
that included audio and video. posted

Powell’s slide show presentation
, and supplemented it with

audio and video
. posted a

slide show
, plus

audio and video
. CNN offered a simple

slide show
, plus video for subscribers. [2/7]’s WHNPA Video Honors
In competition with national TV networks, local affiliates and independent
photojournalists, claimed an astounding 27 individual awards
in 15 categories at the White House News Photographers Association’s 2003
television photography and editing competitions.’s
videojournalists Travis Fox, John Poole, Ben de la Cruz and Chet Rhodes were
awarded individual honors in multiple categories. And Fox was named WHNPA’s
"Editor of the Year" for the second consecutive year. "Not long ago the Web
wasn’t even a factor in video journalism — now is winning
more awards than the major television outlets," said Christopher M. Schroeder,
CEO and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. "Their incredible
success in the television category over the last three years has made a powerful
statement about the growing role of multimedia on the Internet." Indeed! Winning
videos included this fantastic package,

Rebuilding a Fortress, Rebuilding a Life
. Here’s a list of

all of’s winning entries
the complete list of winners.
Go here to
Watch all 17 of’s award-winning videos from 2001
. [2/6]

CNN Rebrands as
The CNN online network rebranded,
the online version of AOL Time Warner’s Sports Illustrated magazine, as
on Thursday. " The change to is our way of making clear to our longtime
friends and to our new visitors that we are Sports Illustrated’s home on the
Web, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Managing Editor Steve Robinson said.
The site, with roughly 3 million unique users a month, trails well behind
category leader in traffic, which regularly surpasses 7 million. [2/6]

Shuttle Coverage Notes from the Field
Two interesting new pieces on looking at online coverage of the
shuttle crash: John Kelly, Kelly Young, and Mark DeCotis
with Poynter about the Landing Journal
, the Florida Today Weblog highlighted
Saturday in’s online coverage analysis
. In a piece by Robin Sloan,
Mark Stencel, co-managing editor for online news at the Washington Post,

convergence in action.

Romenesko’s MediaNews Renamed Romenesko

Romenesko’s MediaNews has
been renamed Romenesko due to the threat of a lawsuit.
MediaNews Group CEO Dean
Singleton’s lawyers told Poynter: "The Jim Romenesko column entitled ‘MediaNews’
has just come to our client’s attention." (On what planet has this media company
been living?) The attorneys asked Poynter to "immediately cease from any further
use of ‘MediaNews’ as a trademark." Poynter President Jim Naughton says the
Weblog will be renamed Romenesko to recognize "Romenesko?s singular contribution
to journalists and the ways in which his name has become its own brand."
Read the
back-and-forth legal letters here
. [2/5]

Another Hoax Story
Microsoft and CNN said they were
hit by a hoax after a faked Web page circulated online that reported the
software giant had agreed to buy Vivendi Universal’s  video game
operations. The hoax Web site live on an Internet server at Purdue University in
Indiana and the student who put up the site was caught and referred to the
university’s dean of students for possible disciplinary action, a spokeswoman
said. Microsoft issued

a press release
denying the deal. [2/5]

Interactive Storytelling: The Columbia Crash

Most news sites responded well with slide shows and the gathering of current and
background stories on the shuttle crash, but several stood out.

In a special report for
, Nora Paul, the Director of the
Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota, examines which
sites created content that helped the public better understand the events in
ways that just couldn’t be done in print or on air. [2/4]

Shuttle Debris Video Online
In addition to Florida Today,
which published a

close-up video of the Columbia launch
, The Washington Post also posted
video online with a different view of the debris hitting the left wing
. The
site smartly enlarged, slowed and looped the video to make the debris easier to
see. also posted

multimedia reports
online from Web staffers in the region. "We had a Web
team in Louisiana working on another story and they quickly moved to Texas and
filed audio and video reports," Senior Video Editor Chet Rhodes tells "We also used one of our Post-Newsweek stations (KPRC) to
send back video over the past 3 days." [2/4]

More Online Coverage Screenshots

gallery and analysis of news sites’ coverage of the shuttle crash
left you
wanting more, Poynter collected
a gallery of
142 screenshots of online news sites
. [2/3]

Old, Misleading Shuttle Stories Remain Online
Two days after the shuttle crashed, old
versions of wire stories published just beforehand remained on various news Web
sites, with leads like, "Space shuttle Columbia streaked toward a Florida
touchdown Saturday to end a successful 16-day scientific research mission that
included the first Israeli astronaut." Sites should strive to remove these, but
pages published in cyberspace always have the potential to live on forever. This
is a great example of why it’s important for reporters to couch stories with
phrases like "expected to" even when something seems certain to happen. And it’s
also a good argument for sites to time stamp all published articles. [2/3]

Blogging the Shuttle Crash
According to
Daypop, the 40 most popular links with
bloggers on Monday were all shuttle-related. Blogger Jim Flowers has created "Shuttle
," Weblog tracking how the blog community is reacting to the shuttle
crash. [2/3]

Fake Page Generator Shuts Down
A Web site that published fake
news stories that appeared to be from CNN has been taken offline after the
network threaten legal action for copyright and trademark infringement,
Wired News
. The Fake CNN News Generator
created pages with CNN’s logos, live links and banner ads, and the stories’ URLs
appeared to originate from the CNN Web site, though they including an ‘@’
symbol, a common spoofing trick (See
a screenshot
). The site sparked a lot of controversy after some of the faked
news stories were picked up by media outlets and reported as real. Mentions of
phony stories about the death of musician Dave Matthews and the Olsen twins
attending various local universities, for example, appeared in a number of local
newspapers, as well as regional radio and TV news reports. Meanwhile, a similar
site, FakedNews, which generates stories
appearing to come from CNN, CNet and MTV, continues operating. [2/3]

Shuttle Coverage Mixed, But Strong Overall
The Online Journalism Review’s
Staci Kramer says
online coverage of the shuttle crash was mixed, but strong overall. "Mainstream
coverage varied greatly despite the number of sites sharing elements via AP,
other wire/syndication services or their own chains," she wrote. Preparation
made a big difference. "Those sites that pay attention to space in between
disasters had a much better head start and a chance to achieve actual depth…
Any site — no matter the size — that doesn’t have a contingency plan for major
breaking news should set one up as soon as possible." [2/3]

Online Space Shuttle Crash Coverage
SPECIAL FEATURE: Online news sites reacted
rapidly and robustly to the space shuttle Columbia’s crash on Feb. 1. Nearly
every major site blew out the top of their site, devoting the top screen — or
more — to the story. Several chose layouts they rarely use, to create
additional dramatic impact. has put together a gallery of cover snapshots from a
sampling of sites and analyzed the effectiveness of their approach
. [2/1]

Great Work: Shuttle Crash News Weblogs
As news on the shuttle’s crash came out, Florida Today
posted continual updates to its "Columbia
landing journal
," a Weblog of the failed landing and the aftermath. This was
a particularly effective format for breaking news such as this: as tidbits were
released, staffers John Kelly, Chris Kridler and Kelly Young added the latest
details, getting the news out fast and giving readers an easy way to see the
latest news without having to comb through long articles and figure out what’s
been added since they last read it. This nicely complemented
the site’s comprehensive
, including its
close-up video of the Columbia launch
, showing debris possibly hitting the
wing. Spaceflight Now’s site also ran Weblog-like updates as news broke, in a
feature called "Mission
Status Center
." A great way to cover breaking news online. [2/1]

Tips: Covering the Shuttle Crash offers a series of tips on covering the
space shuttle Columbia crash:
disaster resources

5 tips for
connecting with your communities
Use the web for unusual angles,
Notes for TV newsrooms
. The South Asian Journalists Association offers
these tips. And the
Journalist’s Toolbox has related links

on the

Public Safety


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