Death of Tech News?

Today weighs in
on the death of Tech magazines and
newspaper technology sections. Among the latest newspapers to
nix their special sections are The Dallas Morning News,
the Houston Chronicle, The Orange County Register
and The Toronto Star. "The reversal is just
another sign that the technology industry is no longer the
agenda-setting attention-grabber that it was in recent
years," Michelle Kessler writes.

Biggest Sites Get Bigger
The appetite for online news
continues to grow, but folks are gravitating to a few favorite
news sites — mostly the biggest ones. Two articles in The New
York Times explore the trends. Amy
Harmon writes
that Web users’ habits have shifted so that
browsing is less a serendipitous experience and more about
searching for specific information. And Felicity
Barringer writes
that the largest news sites are getting
the bulk of the growth, at the expense of the smaller sites. "As
the online news audience grows, a bigger share of the market
is going to news Web sites that were already at the top of the
pile," she writes — sites such as,, and These trends aren’t
surprising, really — they’ve long been predicted — but they
do mark a significant shift in usage that’s only bound to

Online Newswriting Seminar
The Sept. 15
deadline is nearing for the Poynter Institute’s Writing
Online News seminar
, taught by Chip Scanlan, Columbia
University Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan and CyberJournalist
Publisher Jonathan Dube. "In this seminar, you’ll
discover the new writing forms made possible by the World Wide
Web; investigate what works in online writing and why; and
develop your own distinctive style and approach to writing
online news." 

News Site Investigated for
India’s Home Interior
Ministry is going to investigate news Web site for
its use of prostitutes in its remarkable "Operation West
End" series. The
exposed corruption in the
country’s political and military establishment by capturing,
on video defense officials accepting bribes for arms contracts.
are trying to muddy the main findings of our expose,"
Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal told Reuters
. It’s
too early to tell whether crossed the line in its
reporting, or whether the government is simply clamping down
on the news organization because of what it uncovered. The
former would be a disappointing to what was otherwise great
online investigative work; the latter would be a terrible
strike against freedom of the press in India.

Interactive CNN TV?
You’ve probably seen and read about
CNN’s new infographic-heavy Headline News by now. While
everyone’s chuckling about how how busy, distracting and
cheesy the screen looks, AOL Time Warner may be having the
last laugh. Turns out the new format is an early, trial design
prototype for interactive news programming — "one of
several high-level initiatives under way within AOL Time
Warner to merge its traditional media businesses with the
Web," reports

Pitfalls of Automation
Automation can certainly save time, but you’ve got to be
careful not to relinquish editorial control to computers.
Slate’s Scott Shuger caught a slip-up that
serves as a good warning: "Just how computerized are
newspapers these days? The links provided at the bottom of the
WP online version of its piece about Princess Di’s
son Prince William include references to several Post
stories about Virginia’s Prince William County." Oops.

Smart News Network

Seven African countries and Malaysia are
planning an Internet-based news service called the Smart
News Network
(SNN) to provide an alternative to Western
media reports of their countries, which they believe are often
biased or inaccurate. What a great idea.

Barbie: Action News

Barbie Action News ReporterFor nearly a year now Dr.
Ink has been humoring, inspiring and puzzling readers of with his online media column. The breezy writing
style, combined with persistent interaction with readers, is a
great example of writing on the Web that works. Now he’s gone
multimedia with a
wonderful piece on "Barbie: Action News Reporter.
Once you’re done cackling, you’ll realize Dr. Ink has done it
again, melding text, visuals, audio and interactivity seamlessly
together in a Web piece that not only entertains, but makes an
insightful point. We hereby declare Dr. Ink a model
CyberJournalist and suggest he upgrade his name to Dr. Byte.

E-Media Tidbits
is now publishing E-Media Tidbits, a group Weblog
containing news and analysis from 13 online content experts. The Weblog, which is
edited by Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing, is
updated several times a day, so check back often. (A permanent
link has been added to the navigation bar on the left.)

The Problem With Salon
Ken Layne examines
four years of Salon-friendly coverage
and rules that the "quality" site has few qualities.
"The site routinely praised for its ‘great writing’ has
very little writing you could even call ‘good.’" Ouch. A
bit overly harsh — but the point about the gushing
Salon-friendly coverage is a good one. Not to mention the site
is not nearly as good as it once was.

Rather Slights Web’s boss doesn’t mind that Dan Rather slighted the
site when he told viewers to read a newspaper — rather than
the network’s Web site — to get more information about stem
cells. He does say, though, "that’s
exactly the kind of content we do

Australia’s Matt Drudge

Ken Layne
looks at Crikey
publisher Stephen Mayne, who he describes as "the Matt
Drudge of Australia." Among the "scoops" Mayne
is known for is exposing that Col Allan, who went from editor
of Syndey’s Daily Telegraph to the New York Post, often
urinated in the sink of his Telegraph office.

Use Your Subhead
In Web writing, we serve our readers poorly if we don’t give
them some way to grasp the whole document while making it easy
to find and understand particular sections, says Crawford
Killian in his Content
. Killian offers five ways to write subheads to
accomplish this: the question; the unusual statement; the
quotation; the direct address; the allusion; and the rebuttal.

Integrated Print-Web

When it first went online, The Chronicle of Higher Education
treated its Web site as an independent entity. But it has
since come around, writes
Ethan Casey on Content Exchange
. Now it’s adopted a
smarter and successful publishing strategy that integrates
print, e-mail and the Web.

First Digital Newspaper
"The Australian" newspaper has launched a digital
version and claims to be the
first major newspaper that can be delivered to customers over
the Internet in identical form to the printed version

Readers can use NewsStand Reader software to view and print
exact color facsimiles of the print publication. The software
will soon be used by the International Herald Tribune and New
York Times for forthcoming digital editions. The introduction
of this model raises the question of what impact this will
have on the usage of traditional print and Web publications.


Now that the dot-com industry and the advertising
that went with it have taken a downturn,

are reassessing, and in some cases eliminating, their
technology sections
Doing so is short-sighted. Once the technology sector rebounds
— which it’s bound to do — they’ll regret it. On the bright
side, technology news has become so mainstream that many news
organizations now incorporate it regularly into their primary

Flash Backlash
Flash animation has become extremely common on Web sites, but often with little regard to usability. Macromedia has published a
handy white paper on Flash usability

on its own Web site. Also worth reading is Net
design guru Jakob Nielsen’s report on Flash usability
, which said the
tool degrades Web sites and is "99% bad."

Author, Author
Could journalists be replaced one
day by software that writes news stories? Two North Carolina
scientists have created artificial intelligence software
called "Author" that they say can write fairy tales
or newspaper stories, according
to The Guardian
. Similar software has been created in the
past, but "Author" is the first one that can write
more than just a few paragraphs. No need to worry about your
job yet, though: Author still lacks one skill — the ability
to tell fact from fiction. E-mail
Update will send out tips, news and updates about features on the site
about once a month. To join the new e-mail list, send an
e-mail to
or enter your e-mail address here: 

Net Journalism Will Mature

In an
article for
on why Internet stocks went south,
Richard Stengel says he believes online journalism has not
been stellar so far, but will improve as the Web matures.
"Form follows function, and eventually, Internet
journalism will shape itself to the nature of the
Internet," says the Time columnist. "Someday, every
online journalist will use the syntax of html and flash right
alongside the traditional constructs of language." Let’s
hope the day never comes where html syntax is as important as
grammar for online journalists. But his overall point is right

Personalized News and the
Daily Me

J.D. Lasica takes a look at "The
second coming of personalized news
," focusing on new,
interesting initiatives by, The New York
Times on the Web, and CBS Sportsline. He also
offers a look at the different kinds of personalization, and
background on the history of such efforts in the online news
business in "The
Promise of the Daily Me

CyberJournalist SuperSearch
Check out what may be the
single most-useful page on the Internet for reporters: the Reporter’s SuperSearch
. From this
page, journalists can search just about any site they may need
in their reporting. Check it out, bookmark it and make it your
start page!

Increasing Interaction
With Readers
A new study entitled, "Journalism
Interactive: New
Attitudes, Tools and Techniques Change Journalism’s Landscape
finds some promising news: nine out of 10 editors believe that
the future of the newspaper industry depends on more
interactivity with readers, and technology is helping to
increase newspapers’ interactions with readers. The study
includes several questions looking at how common and effective
the use of the Net is in reporting and interacting with the
community: by publishing e-mail addresses, using the Internet
to gather information for stories, and creating online

According to The Times…
The New York Times on the Web has begun a Weblog of links to
some of the weeks top stories in The Times called "According to The Times…"
What’s particularly interesting is that the site is basically
using the Weblog to repitch stories to readers, except with a
completely different angle. Rather than the usual straight
news headline — or even a headline that summarizes the story
— the Weblog highlights a catchy detail or fact from the
original story that was otherwise buried. For example, an
article titled, "Pop-Up Web Ads Pose a Measurement Puzzle"
is linked from the Weblog with line, "Pop-unders ads were
originally developed by the online pornography industry";
and an article originally titled "Pulitzer Prize Winner
Also a Profitable Bookseller" is pitched in the Weblog as
"Best-selling author Larry McMurtry’s favorite meal comes
from the Dairy Queen in Archer City, Tex." 

Game Theory for Journalists

What if journalists used the engaging narrative techniques of
computer games to tell news stories? The Institute for New
Media Studies at the University of Minnesota will look at the
potential at a workshop called "Game Theory for
Journalists" at the University of Minnesota on Sept.
13-15. E-mail director Nora Paul
for more info.

Online Science Journalism

The 2001 AAAS Online Science Journalism
Award, sponsored by the Whitaker Foundation, offers $2,500 for
excellence in coverage of the sciences, engineering, and
mathematics. The
deadline for entering the 2001 competition is August 1

Digital Edge Award Winners
The Washington Post took home four
awards at the 2001
Digital Edge Awards
, presented by the Newspaper
Association of America?s New Media Federation. Rob Curley of
Morris Digital Works received the New Media Pioneer award.
Read some of the great work for
yourself  — and look for winning ideas you can
incorporate into your site.

Who, What, Where, Why and

Wired News raises some interesting questions in an
article about how journalism schools are struggling with how
to teach online journalism
. Eric Meyer, a professor at the
University of Illinois School of Journalism, says,
"Schools should not teach presentation, they should teach
journalism." Poynter’s George Rorick counters, "The
presentation delivers the message." The article,
unfortunately, doesn’t go deep enough into the issue. Rorick
has a point — you can’t just teach students writing and
reporting and expect them to be prepared for the new media
world. At the same time, though, students must be
taught the essential journalism skills. Since time is limited,
focus on these skills (writing, reporting, ethics, etc). And
rather than try to teach them all the technical tools — which
will soon be out of date anyway — teach them enough so they
can understand new media concepts and know
how to think differently

Online News Survey
The Online
News Association, with the assistance of a grant from the
Knight Foundation, is studying digital journalism credibility.
The ONA is looking for online journalists to take a
confidential online survey
. Results of the survey will be
discussed at ONA’s annual conference on Oct. 26-27 in
Berkeley, Ca.

Graham Remembered
Katharine Graham has put together an exhaustive
Web special
on Katherine Graham
that’s worth checking out if you’re interesting in the
legendary publisher, or simply to see
what strong, comprehensive coverage of a news event should
look like on the Web.

The Future of Online News
Roy Greenslade of The Guardian examines the
purpose of newspaper Web sites
. He says they should
enhance the print product; attract people to the newsprint
version; and serve the reader by providing extra, more current

Digital Delivery Dailies
There’s growing talk about producing digital
replicas of newspapers
. The International Herald Tribune
just launched such an edition and The New York Times is among
the papers planning to do so soon. Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.,
publisher of The New York Times, says, "It may be the
missing link of newspaper circulation" — but it’s hard
to see how. It’s hard to imagine many people will want to
shuffle through an entire newspaper that’s in a digital format
but designed in its print layout. It reeks of old media
thinking. Seems like there’s room for a niche market at best.

Coming of

Dave Kansas, the former editor of, reflects
on five years in the dot-com journalism business
in The
New York Times. On a positive note, he says the "Internet
has become a trusted medium for the delivery of news."
But he warns, "By requiring a writer to show his or her
hand earlier and earlier, the Internet has helped expose the
raw nature of the news-gathering process. And often, that
early hand is imperfect."

Alternative Journalism, a public interest online magazine and
syndication service, has carved out a broad forum for
independent journalists covering national issues in the U.S., Michelle
Goodman writes in Content Spotlight
. She says the
site’s archive
includes "more than 7,000 stories from
200-plus sources, including Salon, the Village Voice, and The

Wired Before the Web
Newsbytes’ Wendy Woods shares "Online
Lessons ‘From Before the Dinosaurs’
" in an interview
with Ethan Casey. There actually aren’t many lessons in
the piece, but it is interesting to see how she built an
online news service before there was a Web.

Succeeding on the Web
Dan Froomkin, editor of, writes "Why
The Web Can Work So Well for Journalists
He says "that traditional journalistic principles and
competencies are invaluable on the Net, and that traditional
journalism can flourish in a world of immediacy,
interactivity, and endless news hole." His advice to
online journalists: cleave to core newspaper values; be
trustworthy; provide depth and context; exercise careful and
responsible news judgment; don’t let trends sway your good
sense; don’t let advertisers affect your coverage; don’t
pander; and evolve and change. Goes International has been visited by readers in more than 200
countries! To help meet the international demand, now you can read in French, German, Italian,
Portuguese or Spanish in addition to English. Just select the language you want and
click on the translate button (permanently located the left column): 


European Online Journalism
Awards Presented

NetMedia 2001 European Online Journalism Awards
Journalists from BBC News Online and
Guardian Unlimited dominated this year’s European Online
Journalism awards, winning eight of the 21 prizes offered. Check
out the winners

ITV Content E-mergency

Columbia University will be hosting a
conference July 17 that examines new forms of content for
interactive TV platforms
, including how interactivity can
enhance news and sports, in-depth storytelling, documentary
programs and fictional narrative. "It also addresses the
emergency faced by media organizations that must create new,
interactive programming despite a scarcity of precedents and
unclear consumer desires."

Bully Pulpits

The New York Times looks at the
rise of "me-zines"
and how writers are using
them as bully pulpits. Mickey Kaus claims me-zines can easily
turn a profit, pointing to his site’s ",
dead," Mr. Kaus said. "Feed, on ice. Inside, sold.
Salon, dying. Kausfiles, profitable." But
points out that Kaus must not think very highly of himself, as
he hasn’t factored the value of his time. 


Check out the new design of — a big improvement.
But making the site easier to read and navigate might not be
the only reasons for it.
that it’s the first step in a plan to charge for

Shape New Net Journalism

The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation is
launching a High School Journalism Project, and as part of it
will be publishing an Internet journalism guide. The RTNDA
wants to "draw on the expertise of professional
journalists with useful Web sites, training exercises, and
real-life story examples." Submit
your ideas and URLs

Net’s Winners and

In this "All Things Considered" report
Cultural Correspondent Rick Karr picks who he thinks will be
the winners and losers as the Internet media landscape
consolidates. Winners include AOL, Yahoo, Slashdot, while the
losers include Inside, Suck and Salon.

Content is King

As administrator of the Online Journalism Awards, Columbia
University professor Sreenath
Sreenivasan has learned some valuable lessons about what makes the
best online journalism. Among them: Size matters; "bells
and whistles" don’t. Check out
his full list of nine lessons
— a good primer before
entering this year’s contest. (Reminder: Deadline is July

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