Shadow

FULL MARCH 2002 ARCHIVE

News Smoothies
The results of the

Columbia Newsblaster
automated news writing

software are "often startlingly disjointed,"

The New York Times reports
. "This takes whatever different
voices there might be and blends it into a news smoothie," Tom
Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in
Journalism, said. He characterized Newsblaster as "the essence
of pack journalism perfected in 1’s and 0’s."
(More
on the NewsBlaster from earlier this year
.)

Moving Toward Broadband
More companies are pushing broadband content as
high-speed access becomes increasingly common. Cox Interactive
Media (CIMedia) announced

the launch of broadband content programming for a new Cox High
Speed Internet service
operated by Cox Communications, Inc.,
in 20 U.S. markets, including its

Cleveland.SimplyLocal.com
and
AccessArizona.com
sites.

Best in Business Reporting Awards
CNET News.com won a
"Best in Business" breaking news award from the Society of
American Business Editors and Writers for "Microsoft’s
reprieve
," its coverage of the June 2001 court ruling that
vacated an order that the company be broken up.  "This was a remarkable set of
stories, better in some ways than reports in major newspapers
the next morning," the judges wrote.
Interestingly, online sites were grouped into a "real-time"
category, competing not only with other Web sites but with wire
services. This might be the first awards competition to do so.
(In the other "real-time" category, Spot Enterprise, Dow Jones
Newswires and Bloomberg shared the honors.)

So Long Hotline Scoop
Hotline Scoop, a free political news
Web site from the publishers of Hotline and a must-read for
political junkies, has

ceased publication.
"
Unfortunately, at this time, the economic circumstances
of delivering first-class political information and analysis
through the Internet precludes the continuation of our
experiment. Instead, our seasoned Hotline team has
decided to rededicate our creative energies to our core products
of daily, subscription-based products," the editors say in a
note on the site.

Here’s a
recent edition for those who never saw it
.

Natural Selection Kills Darwin
Mag

In an unusual reversal of roles,
the Web may help a print publication survive. IDG’s

Darwin
technology and business magazine has ceased
publishing in print but will live on online. About 150,000
people subscribed to the two-year-old free magazine, which
relied on advertising revenue. "The Internet version is an
effort to keep the magazine alive until ad revenues pick back
up," Darwin’s editor in chief, Lew McCreary, wrote in the final
print issue. "Today’s environment – like the bubble that
preceded it – is temporary," wrote McCreary. "And when the time
is right, we will have survived to launch again in print."

The Monster That’s Feasting on
Newspapers
Years of fears that Web sites would
eat away at newspaper’s classified ad revenue are coming true.
Monster.com, the largest of the online job sites, pulled in $536 million in revenue
last year.

The New York Times explores the consequeneces of this trend

and

NewsFuture weighs in on what newspapers should do
.

Preview OJR Redesign
The Online Journalism Review is rolling out a new design.
Check it out
and tell the editors what you think
. The site may adopt
reader suggestions.



Pay for Content? Whaddya, Nuts?
The Irish Times announced it will
start charging for breaking news, CNN.com is about to start
charging for streaming video — all while a new study finds that
70 percent of Internet-using adults "can’t understand why anyone
would pay for content." Get the low-down in
CyberJournalist.net’s new Digital Media
Business News Round-Up
.

Innovator Awards
For the first time this year, the
James K. Batten Awards recognized "Web efforts that foreshadow
the future of interactive news" with Innovator Awards. The
winners were GothamGazette.com’s election project,
360degrees.org’s criminal justice reports, and the Everett (WA)
Herald’s clickable map on riverfront development. Read
about the winning projects and view them in the
Great Work Gallery.

Internet Sweeps Month
The Internet will have its first "Sweeps Month"
in May, in an effort launched jointly by the International
Academy of Arts & Sciences and Nielsen/NetRatings. The Sweeps
Month will be used to determine the winners for three new awards
at the 2002 Webby Awards, based on Nielsen/NetRatings’ Internet
audience rankings. The Rising Star award will recognize the site
that has grown the fastest in May 2002, while the Top U.S.
Property and Top Global Property awards will recognized the
sites with the most traffic in the U.S. and globally during May.

E-Mail is a Public Record
Four news organizations have sued Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt for
deleting his e-mail, saying it amounts to illegally destroying
public records. The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly and
television stations KUTV and KTVX say the governor is "depriving
the public of its constitutional right of access to information
concerning the conduct of the public’s business
." The
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says no states
specifically say e-mail is not public record.

Long-Form Journalism Online
Former Slate editor Michael Kinsley recently said
that "publishing long New Yorker/Atlantic-type pieces" may well
be "a type of journalism that is not suitable to the Web."

ABCNews.com Managing Producer Dorian Benkoil disputes that in an
open letter
, arguing "that’s like a filmmaker bemoaning the
ways he has to condense a novel to squeeze it into a feature
film, or a TV journalist complaining that the words of his
evening news broadcast wouldn’t fill the front page of a
broadsheet newspaper. The Web, like TV and film, is a different
medium than print — one that can convey just as much, and
perhaps more. And I would argue that in doing so, Web
journalists must present their pieces differently than when
writing for, say The New York Times Magazine, of which you also
spoke well." He then offers examples of how long form journalism
can be adapted to the Web.

E-mail Prankster at the Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer staffers received an pro-white-rights
e-mail that appeared to be from their editors until Deputy
managing editor Hank Klibanoff sent out a note saying, "someone
is maliciously impersonating the names of some of our staffers
and sending spam e-mail
."
This is a good reminder never to trust anything you get in
e-mail — always verify, because faking e-mails is too easy.


National Magazine Award Online
Finalists
The American Society of Magazine
Editors announced the five Internet magazine site nominees for
this year’s National Magazine Awards.
Beliefnet,
The Chronicle of Higher
Education
,
National Geographic.com
,
RollingStone.com, and
Slate were recognized
for their "use
of Web technology and design to display and build on the core
strengths of a site’s print counterpart, if any, or to create an
entirely original ‘magazine environment’ on the Web." The winner
will be announced May 1.

The Afghan Explorer


USA Today weighs in
on the robot reporter MIT is working on:
"If it works," writes Kevin Maney, "anyone could sit at home in
their jammies eating Cap’n Crunch, and chat with Osama bin Laden
loyalists who are about to get blown up." Hmmm, there’s an
assignment few journalists would turn down!
(More on the
robot reporter
.)

Ideal Web Design

Newspaper page design is the wrong
metaphor for news sites, says Belo Interactive’s Jay Small.
"Text will remain the key component of human-computer
interaction at least as long as displays and input methods are
two-dimensional,"

he writes in the latest issue of NewsFuture
. He offers a few
tips: "good design in any medium is as much about editing as
creation"; "Design sequences, not pages"; and "focus design
experiments on things beyond the Web."

IRE Rejects Online Finalists

The Investigative Reporters and Editors
Awards were announced — but there were no winners in the online
category for the first time it was created.

Four finalists were chosen
, but "
no award was given
because the contest judges did not deem any finalist . . . met
the standard of investigative reporting that would merit an
award," contest coordinator Joel Kaplan told
CyberJournalist.net.

First

SND.ies Winners
The first winner of the Society of News Design’s
new Best of New Media Design Competition is El Mundo of Spain,
in both the breaking and non-breaking news category:
check out the winning
entries
. The awards are given monthly —
here’s
how to enter
.

Great Work:
Ax and Tax

Balancing government budgets is never
easy. The Seattle Times put together a clever way of
demonstrating the tough choices officials have to make:
an
interactive balance the budget exercise
.
Can you
balance Washington state’s $1.6 billion budget gap?

What Readers Want


Ever wonder what would happen if journalists gave
readers the power to select the top stories? The major news
sites have a few pages that give you a glimpse of what
reader-selected covers might look like.
Read all
about them
.

The New Real Cities


Knight-Ridder recently redesigned the 30 or so
newspaper sites in its

Real Cities Online Network
and rolled out a single-platform
publishing system — a move driven in part by economics. But the
Online Journalism Review’s Staci D. Kramer
finds
the new sites lacking
: "In some respects it’s the Internet
equivalent of an amusement park chain. Lots of moving parts.
Plenty of signs. Themes. A sense of familiarity no matter the
location. Waiting for pages to download instead of waiting in
line. Users venturing back for the content despite the
frustrations of the previous visit."

Who Duped Slate?

People may not be who they seem on the
Internet, and Slate learned that the hard way when one reader
posed as the CEO of BMW’s North American operations. Slate
Deputy Editor Jack Shafer tried to track down who "Robert
Klinger" really was —
read what his
Internet sleuthing found
. And in a handy companion
piece, Slate’s Bill Barnes offers
a guide to
identifying spoofed e-mail
.

How the Web is Changing
PhotoJournalism


The award-winning photography
site
The Digital Journalist has published a wonderful package on
how the Web is changing photojournalism. The series includes: "Reinventing
Photojournalism
," by washingtonpost.com’s Tom Kennedy;

An
Interview with Travis Fox,
multimedia photographer for
washingtonpost.com
;
"Made
for the Medium: Photojournalism at MSNBC.com
," by Brian
Storm; "The
Internet and Online Publishing
," by JournalE’s Alan Dorow; "Bridging
Art and Technology at ZoneZero
" by Pedro Meyer;
and

The Digital Journalist: Looking Back and Looking Forward
by
the site’s publisher, Dirck Halstead.

Fox News
Outfoxed


A Web humor writer suddenly
became an entertainment news expert on Fox News
after


the network mistook his satire site for a news one
.
Oops. Not everything on the Web is what it seems.

Online Credibility
On the heels of the release of the

Online News Associations’s digital journalism credibility study
,
the the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) groups says it
will expand its

National Credibility Roundtables Project
in 2002 to include
broadcast and online news organizations. Last year the project
worked with worked with 63 newspapers in 49 states to host local
discussions with readers about the newspapers’ coverage of local
issues. This year 10 television stations and 10 online news
sites will be added to the mix.

FOI Tips


Online
Freedom of Information forms make requests a breeze.

Can the Net Save News?


Newsweek’s
Michael Rodgers

says Internet news sites have "a business model straight out of
Alice in Wonderland: let?s push costs through the ceiling and
drop prices to zero!" But he predicts that will change with
another five years of technologic progress: "Internet news will
begin to be sufficiently compelling and integral to users? lives
that they will be willing to pay something for it?the nature of
that fee yet to be determined." But, he says, "
it?s
up to us journalists to make it clear why we are worth the
money."
The

Online Publishers
Association
is
trying to do just that — see


the group’s first report

(PDF), which found that workplace Net users spend more time
online than watching TV.


Scripps Howard Web Winner

USAToday.com won this year’s Scripps Howard Foundation National
Journalism Award for Web reporting for its coverage of the
evacuation of the World Trade Center. The Judges said, "It was
not just vivid reporting that got the judges? attention. It was
incredibly informative — animated information graphics, slide
shows of outstanding photojournalism, clips of emotionally
moving audio, great video and more."

Read the coverage here
.


No More Free
Ride

Sixty-six percent of online publishers in the United Kingdom
plan to charge for content in the near future, according to



a new study from




Periodical Publishers Association
Interactive.

This includes the Financial Times, the Guardian, Sun,
Telegraph and


The
Times.

In the
United States, meanwhile, CNN.com says it will stop offering
free video on its Web site and instead require users to either
pay  $4.95 a month or $39.95 a year or pay 
$9.95-a-month subscription service from RealNetworks. "In order
for us to continue to offer the quality and quantity of video
that we expect our users will want, we need to be able to
support that as part of our business model," Mitch Gelman,
senior vice president and executive producer at CNN.com, said at
a press conference, according to The Wall Street Journal.
ABCNEWS.com recently stopped offering some of its video on its
Web site and now requires users to sign up for the RealNetworks
RealOne service to access it.




The Brains behind Smartertimes

Since June 2000, Ira Stoll has published daily attacks on The
New York Times on his small Web site,
s
martertimes.com,
in an effort to prove that

"New York’s dominant daily has
grown complacent, slow and inaccurate,"

writes Gary Baum in the Online Journalism Review
.
"Smartertimes’ daily attacks on the Times over the past two
years have proven that a small Web site can take on a venerable
journalism institution."



Picture of the Year Awards


Some of the best, most innovative work online is being done by
visual journalists.

Check out the winners and runners-up
in three multimedia categories of the Pictures of the Year
International competition
.
Fantastic work here.

Reporting
Tips Galore

Tracking
trends across states
;

covering the census
;
the best
translation sites online
; and
the world’s
biggest dictionary
.

Cannibalization? Au contraire!
Think news Web sites cannibalize print readers? Not so, says
Publishing consultants Pressflex. They found that French
newspapers with Web sites are actually doing better
circulation-wise than those without. French regional daily
newspapers with Web sites lost just 0.27 percent of their
circulation between 1999 and 2001, as compared to a .88
circulatin drop for those without sites. "The Web taps potential
readers untouched by traditional print sales channels,"

Pressflex said in a recent report.
"…For most readers, the
online experience is sufficiently different from print reading
that Web browsing is not a ‘replacement’ for reading newsprint
but rather a supplement."


Hot Button Convergence Issues

Here’s an informal list of
questions to ask

when


your online site publishes on a different schedule and with
a different mindset than your traditional news partner, but you’re still
required to touch base with that partner before you
publish. From Projo.com editor Andrea Panciera.

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