Aug 9, 2008 in Featured, Misc. | comments(4)
I’ve been reading the classic science fiction novel Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, to my youngest daughter. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi books and I’m enjoying re-reading it. Here’s a quick synopsis from Wikipedia:
“Ender’s Game (1985) is one of the best-known novels by Orson Scott Card. It is set in Earth’s future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the ‘buggers,’ an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated third invasion, the world’s most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into a training center known as the Battle School at a very young age.”
While Ender is the main subject of the book, his brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine, also play a role back on Earth. (All are child geniuses.) A sub-plot has Peter and Valentine pretending to be adults on “the nets” and posing as intellectuals capable of influencing masses of people. In Card’s world (the year is 2135), the great debates of the day take place on the nets.
While there’s plenty of time for Internet discussions to turn around, I suppose, I can’t help but think that Card wasn’t terribly prescient with this prediction. In Ender’s Game, “the nets” are democratic and participative — anyone can join them, as long as they have the intellect to keep up — but there’s no problem with too much noise, trolls, spammers, and plain old stupidity.
Maybe Card was looking well beyond 2008 with his prediction of worldwide networked discussions being meaningful and orderly. Perhaps by 2135 we’ll have really good spam filters. But from the vantage point of 2008, it’s hard to imagine the author’s optimism about online digital discourse playing out.
Mar 18, 2008 in Featured, Video | comments(3)
For most mainstream news publishers, as they produce video, the inclination is to host that content on their own websites. Makes sense, right? You own the videos, they should be where you have complete control over them. Right?
Actually, not necessarily. These days it makes the most sense to post video on Youtube, which has become the de facto standard for web video. Continued
Mar 17, 2008 in Featured, Staffing | comments(0)
The Project for Excellence in Journalism came out with its new annual report, “The State of the News Media 2008,” this week. It paints a bleak picture of the newspaper industry, especially — though bleaker for large metro dailies than small papers. It’s a must-read for anyone in the news business (and not just newspaper folks).
The report contained a rather blunt tip: “As one prominent Midwestern editor told PEJ bluntly: ‘For the price of two senior people, who weren’t willing to learn new skills, I can hire three or maybe four young people who can do more new technology where I really need them.’” Continued
Mar 14, 2008 in Community, Featured, Social media | comments(1)
Just a short tip today. … Allow your readers to post comments on your content. (And yes, I mean all of it.) That’s hardly a new idea. Many news websites allow users to post comments on their content. Surprisingly, some still do not. (Which is pretty sad; allowing user comments is the base level for online media interactivity. There’s just no reason not to allow it.)
A recent article by Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal confirmed the wisdom of allowing user comments. In the Letter to Readers, he wrote:
“In the six months since The Miami Herald began publishing comments at the end of online stories, the response has been like nothing we’ve seen before. Hundreds of thousands of readers are posting comments or following along with them each month.”
Mar 13, 2008 in Featured, Marketing | comments(1)
While the advice on this website most often is restricted to online tips, here’s one to help the print edition of your newspaper. You’ll accomplish it with an online program.
Here’s what you do: Set up an affiliate program that other website owners and bloggers can sign up for, where they market your print subscriptions on their sites in exchange for a decent commission when a sale is made. They’ll post ready-made banner ads on their sites, and you’ll gain some new print subscribers.
Now affiliate programs have been around for a long time, but you don’t often see them offered by newspaper websites. I’m not sure why that is, but they’re useful tools for bringing in new print subscribers at low cost. Continued
Mar 12, 2008 in Blogs, Featured | comments(1)
Here’s an excellent new blog aggregator: Alltop.com. That’s the site’s main entry point, and here’s one of its aggregator sites: Journalism.Alltop.com.
The concept is a simple one that we’ve seen before, though I think this is a nicely done implementation that’s worth a look. Alltop’s sites simply list the top 5 entries of a bunch of blogs on a particular topic. Mouse over a headline to see a short excerpt. And of course click through to the original blog entry.
Where this is worth a daily tip is the recommendation for news sites to develop something similar for their markets. Continued
Mar 11, 2008 in Blogs, Community, Featured, Social media | comments(0)
When some news people think about “citizen journalism,” the inclination is to think of encouraging (and perhaps teaching) non-journalists to act like journalists. For example, my hometown paper features something called MyTown, which announces:
“Post news, events and photos. Blog, create your own groups, set up RSS feeds, and build your own communities and web spaces. It’s up to you to provide the nitty-gritty details that make your community special. No news is too small — from Little League to college scholarships, professional accolades to pie-baking contests, volunteer opportunities to neighborhood watch programs.”
Mar 10, 2008 in Blogs, Featured, Social media, Traffic boosters | comments(0)
Today’s tip was spotted in a recent article by Robert Niles of Online Journalism Review, “Keeping Your Job in Journalism.” While the article is aimed at instructing journalists on how to keep their jobs in an era of downsizing and transition-of-the-business-model chaos, one recommendation helps not only the individual journalist, but his or her news company.
Niles urges reporters to promote their content to people most likely to value it. As an example, a beat reporter covering higher education might keep a mailing list of bloggers covering the topic, and e-mail them alerts about new articles he’s published. Continued
Mar 7, 2008 in Featured, Traffic boosters | comments(1)
In yesterday’s tip I mentioned Herb Caen, the popular columnist who was such a huge part, for so many years, in making the San Francisco Chronicle the top newspaper in town. After Caen died in 1997, the Chronicle was less interesting a paper to many readers in the Bay Area. The paper has had some good columnists since, but none that matched Caen’s celebrity.
Thought Caen won a Pulitzer Prize for his column, it wasn’t exactly “serious journalism.” You read Caen’s daily column for entertaining tidbits about life in “Baghdad By the Bay.” What he wrote about came from letters (yes, the paper kind) and phone calls to him, and from his encounters with San Franciscans and friends on the streets and at parties. No one has quite matched him yet, but I think with the Internet there’s hope that more Herb Caens are on the way. Continued
Mar 6, 2008 in Blogs, Featured, Social media | comments(1)
Be sure to check out a Boston blog aggregator site called Universal Hub. It’s a great example of what all local news organizations should be doing (IMHO).
Universal Hub is an independent website run by Adam Gaffin, who trolls all the blogs having to do with Boston and picks out the best items each day to highlight. (Here’s a story about Gaffin and his increasingly popular site: “Master of Hub Hits.”)
The significant thing here is that Gaffin doesn’t just pull in RSS feeds of blogs; he’s using his personal judgment and considerable effort to find the most interesting stuff out there, then he writes a short item about the blog item, with a link to the original. Continued