In a cautionary tale for journalists in the Internet age, Carl
M. Cannon warns in the American Journalism
Review about the dangers of using the Web and electronic
databases for gathering information. It’s far too easy, he
says, for false "facts" to make their way into the
Check out some
of the foolish mistakes the media have made and find out how
to avoid them.
Worth a Shot
Newspapers often run photos of crime suspects police are
hunting in an effort to help the search, but The Seattle Times
has taken it one step further and posted a
gallery of 24 photos of people suspected in a recent Mardi
Porn in the Salon
Salon has launched a
new $30-a-year premium service that includes "galleries
of erotic art and photography," which sounds an awful
lot like a euphemism for porn. Adult entertainment has long
been one of the most successful content businesses on the Web,
so with the site’s shaky finances it’s not that surprising.
Still, it’s a shame the site has to prostitute itself by
selling sex to stay afloat. Let’s hope Salon
keeps this tasteful and resists the temptation to turn to the
online equivalent of Page 3 Girls.
SPJ and Maggie Award Winners
The Society of Professional Journalist’s 2001
Sigma Delta Chi Awards for online journalism went to ABCNEWS.com,
Camas Magazine and The Morning Call — read the winning work.
The Western Publications Association Maggie Awards went to PC
World, Red Herring and CNET — check it out.
The Missed-Opportunity Blues
Boy have I got the blues! Rick Bragg wrote a rip-roarin’, spine-tinglin’,
damn fine piece about how "The
Blues Is Dying in the Place It Was Born." Along with the story
The New York Times ran three great photos by Fred R. Conrad of blues
legends strumming their guitars and hollering away. Bragg’s prose was so
sharp and the pictures so compelling that you could practically hear the
music — practically. Imagine how wonderful it would have been if you
could click on those photos and really hear those fellas jammin’.
Not to mention it might have helped keep the blues from dying.
Free Web Dissident
A Paris-based press freedom group, Reporters Sans
Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders), has
asked China to release a software engineer who built a Web site
containing essays promoting democracy and political reform. For those who
don’t know, China routinely blocks sites containing information it
disagrees with politically — including most Western media sites.
Digital Edge Award
to send in your entries for the 2001 Digital Edge Awards,
sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America New Media
Federation. Deadline is April 27. Read
the past winners and then enter.
Local Web News Study
are local television and radio stations doing online and which
editorial and business strategies are proving effective? A new
study, by the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation,
examined nine local broadcast news Web operations to answer
those questions. "Local
Web News: Case Study of Nine Local Broadcast Internet News
Operations" is now available online — check out, in
particular, the list of eight
recommendations in the executive
of the Week
The Radio and Television News
Directors Association has chosen CyberJournalist.net as its Site
of the Week. Thanks!
Great Work: A Hole in One
The Augusta Chronicle and CNN/Sports
Illustrated partnered to produce masterful
coverage of this year’s Master’s tournament. The package
had everything a golf fan could want, including a Flash! tour
of how pros play the course and wireless updates from the
tournament. Compare their coverage with that of the leading
online sports site, ESPN.com,
and you’ll see how the right partnership can make a big
How Media Use the Wired
Interesting results are in from what
claims to be "the nation?s most comprehensive survey of
the media?s online habits," the Seventh
Annual Middleberg/Ross Survey of Media in the Wired World.
Among the findings: reporters spend an average of 15 hours
a week reading and responding to e-mail; 81 percent of print
journalists who responded are searching online daily, yet
rarely use topic-specific search engines and lack knowledge
about specialized Web sites; 71 percent of respondents say
they lack training in computer-assisted reporting; 44 percent
say they would not consider using Web chat or newsgroup
postings as primary or secondary sources; and, perhaps of most
concern because it’s probably the hardest to change, only 32
percent say their organizations are preparing for higher Web
Compared to print, online writing
needs to be "punchier and sharper; the vocabulary has to
be simpler; and keep in mind that your audience is
unpredictable. . ." says Columbia professor Sree
Sreenivasan in an
online chat. "We have to constantly beware of using
words and phrases that don’t make sense to a wider
audience." Plus, he says, online writing should be
"much closer to broadcast than newspaper style. Too
often, print folks . . . try to show off our vocab lists
instead of trying to keep it simple." But online writing
could be better. In part because of cutbacks in staffing to
save money, he says he sees "far less editing and
attention to detail in many Web journalistic
Do news sites understand the value of community? "We
suck," says Steve Yelvington, former executive editor of
Cox Interactive Media. "Community programming at news
sites is in terrible shape. We’ve got to do better."
Check out his
recent talk on the subject, which includes links to sites
that are doing a good job of fostering community. As these
examples illustrate, most sites could be, and should be, doing
R – E – S – P – E – C – T, Just a Little Bit
think that by now newspaper editors would have some respect
for the fine work being done online — some of it by their own
publications — but apparently not. "While many of our
Internet competitors abjure fact for gossip, we must
relentlessly pursue accuracy,” Richard Oppel, president of
the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said
at the group’s annual conference. "While they
scandalize, we must insist upon fairness. While they exploit
and spread hate, we must serve the public." He obviously
hasn’t seen any of this work.
Is it acceptable to steal the
original work of others, whether music or writing? Andrew
Stroehlein, Editor-in-Chief of InternetContent.net, not only
says he only doesn’t think it’s wrong — he welcomes it, as
long as the thieves aren’t trying to make money from it. He
even invited others to take his work in a piece titled, "Steal
This Piece." CyberJournalist.net resisted the
temptation, though. It might be OK to send such a story to a
friend via e-mail, but publishing it on the Web — even on a
not-for-profit site such as this — just didn’t seem right.
Great online investigative journalism
the fine work by the online
winners of the 2000 Investigative Reporters and Editors
Award. It’s surprising that none of the winners were
major online news organizations — but a good sign that
quality investigative work is being done online by a wide
variety of sites.
Limits of Technology
New technologies may help reporters win their battles with the
clock, but Poynter’s
Chip Scanlan says we all will be losers if they use their
new tools to avoid the messy and sometimes painful aspects of
Site Exposes Scandal
Kudos to the year-old Tehelka.com
for exposing corruption in India’s political and military
establishment by capturing on video defense officials
accepting bribes for arms contracts —
great example of online investigative journalism. Do
you know of other examples? Send
Is the News Better Naked?
The stripping anchors on NakedNews.com have got a lot of headlines, but
Terry Anzur’s take on the sexy newscast for the Online
Journalism Review is by far the most clever. Anzur
compared the quality of the nude news on the Web site to that of local TV
stations and found the
naked truth. Have you watched the NakedNews? What
did you think?
Wrong for Journalists to Use Napster?
Must we use the song-swapping service to write about it?
Auto writers test drive cars, but crime reporters don’t steal. The San
Fransico Chronicle’s Dan Fost did
an interesting piece and then a
follow-up exploring this dilemma. What
do you think? Vote in our live survey. And then send
in your thoughts.
Sites Weathering Dot-Com Bust
Three of the most successful sites on the Web, The New York Times, The
Wall Street Journal and ABCNews.com tell
NPR’s All Things Considered (RealAudio) that news on the Web has worked in some
ways — providing a wider readership and attracting younger users.
But at best, the sites are in a holding pattern. What
do you think?
New Sites Covered the Seattle Quake
Most sites updated fairly quickly and began seeking reader
experiences, but some were a little too slow. Read
how they did, plus get tips from one Seattle site manger on what to do
differently next time. Do you have "ready-to-go breaking news pages for
most of the biblical plagues"?
York Times looks back at its first five years on the Web. Includes
landmark stories from CyberTimes, an interesting slide show of how the
NYTimes.com’s look has changed through the years, and a
discussion with Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital, and
Bernard Gwertzman, editor of NYTimes.com, about the state of
journalism and what to expect in years to come.
Most news sites lack character and need to liven things up with more
interactivity and personality, says E&P columnist Steve
Outing. How true! Outing tells What’s
Wrong With Today’s News Web Sites, based on what he’s noticed while
judging the annual EPpy Awards.