Online Journalism Blog

Friday, December 08, 2006

A COINCIDENCE, I'M SURE

Our last class with Mr. Kennedy came and passed on Wednesday with the topic hinging on the hyper-local stories that Gannett's News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla. is now pushing. Naturally, localized journalism is definitely going to be a handy tool if newspapers wanna stay relevant in a digital age. However, it also opens the paper up to putting on a lot of fluff - especially if the managing editor's chewing out the newsroom for not putting something on the web in about three hours. Enter 'The Hunks of North Fort Myers' and other stuff that, for all intents and purposes, should probably stay in the weeklies and the bigger papers' community blotters.

But back to fluff. It's a nice word, isn't it. Fluff. Ha-ha, I'll say it again. Fluff.

Flufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluffflufffluff. Fluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuff!

Annoyed yet? You should be. And so am I (and that's not just because I typed that word in the double-digits). There's always gonna be some sort of 'soft news,' but as citizen journalism and hyper-local coverage become bigger, the newspapers are going to have to put a serious check on things to keep their legitimate reputations intact. If you MUST have fluff, why not set up a website like WickedLocal, but not fully integrated with the paper? Something like what ESPN.com's done with Page 2 for several years now. Good journalism should not have to be outnumbered by pap. Set some standards.

And don't be like Channel 7, who apparently don't mind making full-blown pieces on Christmas 'porn-aments' for the middle of an 11:00 p.m. newscast.

Oh wait...the internet video arm of Norfolk/Hampton Roads, Va.'s The Virginian-Pilot just did a piece on the same ornaments...you know what, frag this. I'll let you decide about fluff. I think I've lost my head here. Excuse me. I have a hankering for a sandwich with peanut butter and some marshmallow goop whose name I can't say for some reason anymore.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A DIGG CLONE OR A NEW BEING?

One of my news feeds brought me upon a journalism site known as Newsvine. Keeping in line with the growing wave of citizen journalism, Newsvine combines reader output with traditional news stories from regular sources such as the Associated Press. And like digg.com, it allows readers to comment on and rank stories to show what this piece calls "community interest and individual preference."

But it appears that site founder Calvin Tang's got an even bigger idea in mind. By analyzing a user's IP address to see what kind of news stories he or she is interested in or has voted on, Tang's focused on turning Newsvine toward the direction of individually customized news, giving specific users articles on those topics and other pieces with similar subjects involved (i.e. a secondary element in the story). The aforementioned piece also contains an interview with Tang that was conducted by the Online Journalism Review's Sandeep Junnarkar that should explain his motives and his opinions better than I can.

I decided to try out this 'daily me' concept for myself. After clicking on an article in Newsvine's sports section that detailed Ferrari's current lead in Formula 1 testing at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, I noted that it had a bit of a social networking look in that the post was done by one 'Chris Forte', who had tags for his articles as well as his 'friends' on Newsvine. Click on one of the tags and you get a whole cadre of articles from the wires and from Newsvine members. The site also contains a merit system of sorts known as Vineacity. Everyone gets a 'vine' and as you do more and more things on the site (comment, vote, contributing links), you get 'stems'. Each stem means something, giving you an incentive - or at least a reputation. Overall, this definitely covers the citizen journalism part of the site and I have to guess that this is what they mean by the 'daily me' concept. Just click on one of the tags and BANG! - instant coverage from experts and amateurs.

It's definitely a very-well done site and has very good intentions. Citizen media is going to play a role in what the future holds for journalism and sites like these will have their say. But with all honesty, I was expecting something else entirely for this 'analyzing behavior' style of news...I mean, don't we already have this at the bottom of articles in Yahoo! News? Or maybe I've missed the point entirely. Either way, I'd definitely recommend for you to partake of the grapes from this Vine and see what you think.

Friday, December 01, 2006

MULTIMEDIA CONTENT EMBRACED BY PULITZER PRIZE

Online content such as databases, interactive graphics and streaming video are now allowed to be submitted in all non-photography award categories in the Pulitzer Prize competitions.

According to this piece on Journalism.co.uk, the online content must remain part of a single presentation. The content also includes blogs, slide shows and video presentations.

Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler feels that in a "rapidly changing media world," it was imperative for the organization to embrace multimedia in news content. He also said that the new rule puts the decision on what to submit in the hands of the newspaper.

"In effect, a newspaper must call out which online element it wants to be considered," Gissler mentioned in the piece. "If an element has multiple parts, such as a graphic with various entry points, the conceptual logic linking the parts must be clear."

The AP wire story details that while online content was allowed in all non-photography categories, they were restricted to written stories or still images. Still, it didn't stop New York Times multimedia reporter Nicholas Kristof from grabbing the commentary prize in 2006 for his columns on the Darfur saga and other topics.



Monday, November 27, 2006

NY TIMES CO. TO WELCH: NO GLOBE FOR YOU!

Not exactly based in online journalism, but it's another chapter in the ongoing saga at the Boston Globe. According to a report, it appears that the New York Times Co. has rejected all potential bidders for the Morrissey Boulevard broadsheet, including the proposal of former General Electric CEO Jack Welch to buy the Globe for $600 million -- half as much as the NYTC paid to get 'The Pulse of Boston' back in 1993.

It appears that, for now, the wave of high-profile newspaper acquisitions by local entities has ebbed. As alluded to in the article, the Philadelphia Enquirer and Daily News got bought from McClatchy's clutches by a local group around the same time that Welch began to show his cards to the Times Co.

I notice that a Globe reporter was shown the letter from NYTC CEO Janet Robinson and I wonder if this will open up a story that will pin down why exactly that the parents decided to keep the Globe around their house. Here's the full report, you can check it out for yourself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The world of journalism has been fragmented and cut into niche pieces for awhile. So with the genesis of Al-Jazeera English and the upcoming launch of the French government-backed France 24, cable TV news is only going with the flow with these new channels. Every place in the world deserves its own voice in my opinion. Through them, we as Americans can kinda pop the bubble that Americans sometimes create around our country and have a better idea of what is truly going on in the world without any chance of alleged 'pro-Western' bias.

However, we can't really be assured of a truly non-biased news channel. There will always be biases of sort - conservative or liberal, Arabic or Israeli, and so on. We can all try to mitigate it as much as we can, but what if AJE and France 'Vinght-Quatre' are foreshadows of a bigger wave? Even if stations like these cut their bias to miniscule levels, it can add up if there's more involved. And that can have adverse side effects, including among other things, omitting information to fit the story or a lack in accuracy in the story.

I think that soon, there will be more cable news channels in other far-flung places, even more so that Al-Jazeera's home base of Doha, Qatar. And as the wave grows, journalists from all over the world will have to stick to their guns even more when it comes to ethics and not letting personal views get in the way for the sake of crowd-pleasing and ratings. They will be tempted to do so as it often meets with major success (see Fox News or, if you choose to believe, Al-Jazeera classic). I just hope AJE and France 24 can stay above the fray and eventually evolve into top-flight news organizations.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Well, how about this. A big newspaper isn't afraid of YouTube after all.

I was mucking around there yesterday and as I watching this clip, I noticed over on the 'Director Videos' section that the Houston Chronicle has set up an account - or if you wanna be technical, the paper's web site.

There's fifteen videos on the account and I have to assume that they're correlating with stories in the print edition. These clips are very diverse - clips of Houston Dynamo fans celebrating their Major League Soccer championship (beating the Revolution to do it), clips en Espanol on how Houston families celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and even a clip that goes with this interactive feature on street dancing. You can also find a local high school football clip with reporter commentary and graphics. It's all top-flight and should serve as a blueprint for how newspapers can embrace and use the online video giant as a tool to reach new online viewers. I'm still stunned at the seamlessness of this. Online multimedia content have evolved into potent pieces in themselves. And via YouTube, clips like the street dance one can become the next generation of 'hooks' for online readers.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ted Landphair of the Voice of America hits it right on the head with his latest piece.

The funny part about this piece, however, is that while it talks about the problems facing traditional print journalism, it ends up delivering another tiny papercut of sorts to the 'regal lion'. The report is available at the top of the page as a downloadable RealPlayer file and MP3 report for the iPod/Zune crowd.

Oops.