The Emerging Media
MicroContentNews’ John Hiller examines how Weblogs and
journalists work together to report, filter and break news and
declares that Bloggers and Journalists are both
parasitic organisms that feed off each other, much like a
biological ecosystem. As biologists can attest, such a symbiotic
relationship can been of great benefit to both parites — and in
this case it has, with Bloggers thriving off Journalists’
content and serving as a check, and Journalists getting fresh
ideas and increased attention from the Bloggers.
Powerful Audio Storytelling
The New York Times continues to do a
great job of using audio commentary from its reporters to create
compelling online packages (read
about its narrated slide shows). To complement
its powerful newspaper story about the last moments in the
World Trade Center before it collapsed, Nytimes.com combined the
reporters’ first-person narration with graphics into
a Flash interactive that, while simple, was powerful. The
package also included intimate, emotional transcripts of the
final e-mails and cell phone conversations of those trapped in
the towers; and forums that have drawn hundreds of comments,
including ones from victims’ families. Writes
one reader: "We must thank the New York Times for
this masterpiece. . . These words are as searing as the
Watch What You Read
The (Newark) Star-Ledger’s Lawrence
Hall recently read
an article on the CyberCast News Service about how
country singer Patsy Cline contributes to depression, suicide
and violent behavior by women — and then used it as the basis
for a column about victimology. Only problem was, he failed to
notice that the cnsnews.com article was labeled "satire." He
knows now. As
Star-Ledger editor Jim Willse said, "The author is a
more conscientious and wiser man as a result of the experience."
Hopefully you will be to. Similar mistakes
have happened before. Here are
to make sure you’re not the next fool.
Libel Knows No Boundaries
Two court cases involving libel and defamation
issues could have profound implications for online news sites. A
Virginia prison warden is suing two Connecticut newspapers for
defamation — but is doing so in Richland, Va. Last year, a
federal district judge ruled the lawsuit could proceed in
Virginia because the newspapers’ Web sites were accessible there
and that was where injury to his reputation would have taken
place. News media lawyers worry that if the decision stands,
online publishers could be sued for defamation in any state or
country that an online article is read,
The New York Times reports. "The danger is that a doctrine
of this sort could cause publications large, small or medium to
decline to put on their Web pages material that might offend a
person in a remote jurisdiction," said Robert M. O’Neil,
director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of
Free Expression, in Charlottesville, Va. Barron’s, in fact, is
being sued in Australia for libeling a Melbourne businessman.
Until these cases are settled, news organizations might be smart
to follow the advice of Austrialian lawyer Matthew Collins: "If
you want to publish on the Internet material targeted to the
reputation of a foreigner, you’d better have regard for the
standards of law where the foreigner resides."
Great Sites for Students, Educators
Have questions about school press censorship or
student journalism ethics codes? Need journalism lesson plans?
Here are some of the best journalism sites designed for
students, college students and
This ability to showcase a nearly unlimited amount of
breaking-news photos "is perhaps the perfect example of the
advantage of online news," Kourosh Karimkhany, senior producer
of Yahoo News The photos on Yahoo News are
among the site’s most popular features.
China Lifts Block on Some Western News Sites
China has reportedly stopped blocking access to the Web sites of
at least three Western news organizations, including The
Washington Post, Reuters and The Associated Press. It’s a
promising sign, but other foreign media sites, including CNN and
Taiwanese newspapers, remain blocked. The sites are blocked with
software installed where the Internet enters China via undersea
Information Age was dealt a stunning blow Monday, when a factual
error was discovered on the Internet."
development game designed by KQED, San Francisco’s public
television station, complements a Bay Area gentrification
program and gives users five different decisions to make about
how to develop their city. At the end of the game, it explains
the impact of each choice and it scores players on how well
planned their cities are.
The Pew Center for Civic Journalism discusses how online sites
are using games and reports that
Waterfront Renaissance project, Smashing Ideas Inc., is
designing another city planning gaming that will soon debut on
the Myrtle Beach Sun News’ site. "[Games] are a great way
to get information to people in a way that helps them understand
the impact of their choices," Smashing Ideas’ founder Glenn
Institute for New Media Studies’ director
Nora Paul and doctoral candidate Christina Fiebich have created
a framework for digital storytelling analysis, benchmarking,
testing and dialogue in the "5
Elements of Digital Storytelling." The elements, which
Leah Gentry discusses in NewsFuture, include relationship,
action, context, media and communication. The "Elements" might
sound a bit academic for those working in newsrooms, but
sometimes it’s useful to step back from the daily grind and
analyze what we do — and this provides one framework for doing
Creating animated editorial cartoons is
such an obvious way for news sites to take advantage of the Web
that it’s almost surprising more sites aren’t doing so. The
genre is slowing maturing and catching on, though. Here are some
of the best worth learning from — or just checking out for the
fun of it:
legendary Pat Oliphant. OJR’s J.D. Lasica takes a look at
the others out there. Animated editorial cartoons are a
great way to give newspaper readers or TV viewers a reason to
log on. Hopefully more sites will join the pack.
Liberals in the Blogosphere
Eric Alterman is
joining the so-called "blogosphere" (though he hates the name)
with "Altercation" at MSNBC.com.
The American Prospect wonders, "Could the notion of a
"conservative" blogosophere be on the verge of becoming passe?"
New Looks for Fox News, AJR
FoxNews.org has released
dramatic redesign of its site, switching from the
hard-to-read white text on black background to the more
conventional black text on white background.
The American Journalism Review,
meanwhile, has finally launched the new version of its site,
after being offline for months. It looks very sharp, a big
improvement. And the archives are still there!
Rob Siegel told Northwestern University students
that the online humor publication is successful because "we
don’t really draw a line. We try to be as offensive as possible.
… There’s no subject we really shy away from." Siegel said
that while he and his staff have no formal training in
journalism, "I am in fact a real journalist. We are a real
newspaper. We have deadlines, story meetings, … rigorous fact
checking. What the hell is so funny?"
More Deep-Linking Foolishness
Now Rodale Press has joined Belo in the witch-hunt for
deep-linkers. The publisher of Runner’s World
LetsRun.com to quit linking to
a printer-friendly version of a story on RunnersWorld.com.
response, Weldon Johnson points out that RunnersWorld.com
also uses deep links — including to Johnson’s site.
This comes on the heels of Belo’s
deep-linking hypocrisy. Dallas Observer columnist Eric
writes that Belo basically admitted that forbidding
deep-linking "isn’t a company policy; they just hate (BarkingDogs.com’s)
Avi Adelman and they want to target his Web site. I see
no other way to read the company’s ‘defense’ of its actions.
Good sweet heavens, how silly, small and vindictive is Belo?"
American Publication to Debut Online
Native American students across the
country are about to launch
new online newspaper for Native Americans called Reznet. The
project, based at the University of Montana, is supported by a
$250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,
and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
will put the site online. The goal is also to help attract more
Native Americans to journalism. "Storytelling is in the blood
for us — it’s something Grandpa did," says Amanda jo Wauneka, a
young Navajo woman. "We’ve always been told that words have
Baggage Screening: Can You Spot the
MSNBC.com recently built
this clever game designed to show people how difficult
airport baggage screening is. Users view real baggage x-rays and
must determine whether they contain explosives, knives or guns.
Then their performance is graded.
Watch Where You
Readers who clicked on a link mentioned in a recent story in The
Boston Globe about compact discs
"found a banner advertisement featuring a bare-breasted and
supine young woman.
”all Web sites must be checked for content before the addresses
are published in the paper.”
Are Blogs the Future of
Business 2.0 Editor Josh Quittner says Blogs are the future of
journalism, because they can "hold every single fact up to
the light and make sure that it all works.
writing. To join in, go to
http://lingua.utdallas.edu:7000. Log in as guest and
type @go trAcELO at the bottom of your screen.
Updating Stories Online
Online news site routinely update
stories as they evolve, but each one does so in its own way,
some time-stamping them, others choosing not to for fear of
making news appear out-of-date.
Slashdot.org has an interesting discussion of this subject,
which shows, among other things, that most news consumers are
unaware of how write-throughs and other standard journalism
The Bakersfield Californian
won the the 2002 Newspaper Marketing Contest for its use of
multimedia storytelling, interactivity and being "crisper,
cleaner and easier on the eyes."
Randy Craig, a judge, says online newspapers are flawed and
"they are resistant to change and annoyingly enchanted with
traditional media presentation. But they are trying. They are
doing good things. They are doing it in the face of incredible
Times’ photographer Carolyn Cole
has been reporting from inside Bethlehem’s Church of the
Nativity and LATimes.com has been posting audio interviews with
her describing the scene.
Listen to the compelling dispatches.
Cutting the Print Cord
Is the medium the message? How does
changing mediums change the message? Financial pressures have
forces a number of print magazines to migrate online.
Online Journalism Review looks at what has happened to three of
these publications: Darwin, LiP, and Gadfly. "There
is not as much pressure now, but at the same time not as much
permanence," says Gadfly Editor in Chief Jayson Whitehead. Also,
Readers Prefer Print
Americans still prefer print to online magazines,
to a new survey by InsightExpress. The survey found that
only 32 percent of individuals read magazines online, with
readers citing inconvenience (54 percent); dislike of
online banner ads, pop-ups, and general distractions (47
percent); prices of online magazines (43 percent); and eye
strain (23 percent) as the main reasons for not reading online
magazines. Of those people who regularly read online magazines,
only 22 percent actually prefer reading magazines online – while
73 percent said they would not give up their paper magazine for
an online alternative – even for half the price. Nearly 80
percent expect online magazines to be free. "And any hopes of
growing revenue with online magazines seem to be misguided as
most readers expect online content to be free," said Lee Smith,
COO of InsightExpress.
A Blander Web
Corporation-wide content publishing
systems threaten to ruin online news design. "As more of the
industry moves to sophisticated online publishing systems, more
attention should be paid to design flexibility,"
reports Steve Outing in E&P. "These publishing systems and
network-wide efficiencies should not be allowed to wag the dog."
Reviews of the Real Cities network redesign and
why some member sites are
Fat-Guy Wins Award
Steven Shaw, publisher of Fat-Guy.com,
won a 2002 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Internet
Writing for "A
Week in the Gramercy Tavern Kitchen." It’s the first time an
independent culinary site like this one has received a Beard
Award, which recognize excellence in food and beverage
While the Belo media
corporation attacks BarkingDogs.com for "deep-linking" to
stories on the Dallas Morning News’ Web site, the site of
another of Belo’s newspapers, The Providence Journal, regularly
does such deep-linking in two Weblogs Projo.com recently
Homepage News (both of which are worth checking out).
Deep Throat to be Named Online
Former White House Counsel John Dean
plans to reveal who he suspects Deep Throat is online on
Salon.com on June 17. Why does Dean want to unveil the identity
of the secret source who helped expose the Watergate break-in
online? Because by publishing an e-book,
he says, "I can work on it up to the last minute." There’s
also less lag time between finishing the manuscript and
publication for information to leak out. Look for more
investigative authors to use the Web to break news.
Old and New Journalism Together
when did the next journalism become us versus them?"
writes Dan Gillmor in his e-Journal. He points out that news
organizations and Weblogs each have their advantages. "There are
emphatically a number of things big organizations do better than
Weblogs, and will always do better. One is solid investigative
journalism, the kind that takes deep pockets and lots of time.
Collectively, bloggers can ferret out untruths and come up with
a zillion facts. They don’t do as well at serious investigations
or putting it all together." (Also
see the Weblog Blog).
Going Back in Net Time
The Wayback Machine makes it easy to look up past
versions of just about any site going back to 1996
— a great tool not only for digging up links that have gone
bad, but for verifying information. But remember: this also
means that nothing is ever really erased online. Even if you
delete something on your site, it’s likely to still live in
cyberspace somewhere. (Bonus tip: Google will delete pages from
its cache if you call the company and ask.)
Award-Winning Online Journalism
Geographic Magazine Online has won this year’s National Magazine
Award for Web sites. The Society of
Professional Journalists just announced the recipients of the
2001 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism, and
the online journalism award winners include: CNET News.com,
SeattleTimes.com, Tampa Bay Online, ABCNews.com, MSN Money, HoustonChronicle.com and the Center for
Public Integrity. For the first time, the SPJ issued separate
awards for Independent and Affiliated sites, copying the Online
Journalism Awards’ system. Read the winning
entries in the Great Work Gallery.
News Without the Paper
The New York Times Company is headed toward convergence, moving
into cable TV to complement its Web site, newspaper and wire
service. "Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word —
paper. They’ve got to be defined by the first — news,"
York Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. tells the
Online Journalism Review. ""All of us have to become
agnostic as to the method of distribution. We’ve got to be as
powerful online, as powerful in TV and broadcasting, as we are
powerful in newsprint." He’s right: this is the future of news.
Correcting the Times
Once upon a time Web
journalism was considered less reliable than print journalism.
Oh, how things have changed. After the recent
Israel Solidarity Rally in
Washington, the venerable New York Times found itself being
corrected by MSNBC.com. Called on
a front-page caption saying "Over
100,000 rally for Israel at the Capitol,"
The New York Times
told MSNBC.com’s Jerry Tully that it does not stand by the
100,000 number. Toby Usnik, the Times? director of public
relations, said ?it was a failure of coordination on one of
our desks.? Another site, SmarterTimes.com,
regularly critiques and criticizes The New York Times.
The issue of whether it’s OK to deep link
directly to a news story on a site — as opposed to the cover —
has resurfaced, even though a judge ruled it legal in the
Ticketmaster vs. Tickets.com case two years ago. The Danish
Newspaper Publishers’ Association recently asked a Danish court
to ban Newsbooster from deep linking to Danish newspaper
stories. And now
Wired News reports that the Belo media
corporation, owner of The Dallas Morning News, has asked
political news site BarkingDogs.org to remove all "deep links"
to the DallasNews.com site and only link to the cover. News
sites should welcome such links — they help spread the news,
which is our business, and they are free promotion. Belo argues
that deep linking "can result in a viewer not understanding that
the content is on our client’s site" and "allows the viewer to
avoid the advertising, etc., on the homepage." Well, if that’s
what Belo is concerned about, then maybe a redesign is in order.
New York Times Infects Subscribers
The New York Times accidentally sent the Klez
worm to 250 subscribers of the TimesDigest e-mail service. The
tainted message was automatically dispatched by the worm from
one of the company’s computers that had been infected with Klez,
spokeswoman said. This isn’t the first time a news
organization has mistakenly sent a virus to e-mail subscribers
— the San Jose Mercury
News did so earlier this year. But hopefully it will be the
last. Online editors ought to know by now that it’s essential to
install virus protection software and keep it up-to-date with
the latest bugs.
E Ink’s vice president for research and development Michael
McCreary says his company’s electronic ink allows for a reading
experience virtually indistinguishable from conventional ink and
could be newspapers’ "Holy Grail." The pages, which he predicts
will soon be only as thick as a few pieces of paper, will be
updated wirelessly, likely via radio waves, so they need never
be discarded. "I could imagine a newspaper where you have a
front page much as what you have today in The Wall Street
Journal, with thumbnails about what’s inside the newspaper,"
he tells The Journal in a Q&A. "You see one of those, and
instead of turning the page, you click on that, and a whole
story comes up. Into the future, you could imagine multimedia,
and video images within the text. You could imagine having it be
interactive, where the newspaper is customized for each reader
depending on the preferences." And, he said, the front page
could be instantly updated as news breaks. Holy grail indeed!
But this is one Holy Grail that’s very likely to be found. Stay
And the Nominees Are…
International Academy of Digital Arts and
Sciences has announced the nominees for the
Sixth Annual Webby Awards.
The journalism sites nominated include:
BeliefNet (which recently filed for
Time Out New York;
Arts & Letters Daily;
The Smoking Gun;
ESPN.com; and E! Online.