The morning started with a keynote speech by Hilary Schneider, a Yahoo marketing VP and former high-level executive at Knight Ridder Digital. While her talk was a little too obviously a pitch for newspaper companies to partner with Yahoo, it held my attention and even made me stop and think a few times.
I had never seen Yahoo’s MapMixer before, for example. “Upload an image of your map, use our layering tool to align it with Yahoo! Maps and we’ll do the rest! Your map will have all the features of Yahoo! Maps (zooming, panning). You can also syndicate it on your own site or blog.”
Schneider also showed off Yahoo’s Democratic Candidate Mashup, in which users were invited to create video mashups from segments of the TV debates. The package got 4.4 million pageviews, and visitors spent an average of 7 minutes on the page.
She did urge news organizations to embrace rapid prototyping and “rapid failure,” which far too few editors and managers in this field understand. (I wrote about rapid prototyping here in May.)
News organizations should be working to increase the reach for ALL the content they create, Schneider said. Yeah, no kidding! Her shtick is that by partnering, the organization increases its reach tenfold. You link to them, they link to you, they carry your content, you carry theirs, and everybody wins! Woot!
Here’s the ONA student journalist’s coverage of Schneider’s speech.
The blurred lines make many uneasy. “There’s a lot of uninformed opinion on the Internet and not a lot of solid reporting,” said Fred Brown, vice chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee and a columnist at the Denver Post. A professional journalist “respects the truth and lives up to standards of ethics. Certainly that isn’t the case in the blogosphere.”
That kind of attitude is killing the newspaper business, Mr. Brown. Maybe it’s time for you to learn how to use an RSS reader. And read something online other than the Drudge Report.
Newspapers should make a clear distinction between staff-written and blogger-generated material as a service to their readers, said David Ardia, director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
I agree with that in principle, but I would not use it as an excuse to “ghetto-ize” your community bloggers. Sticking them off in an ugly little ad-cluttered space of their own broadcasts, loud and clear, what you REALLY think about them.
But what if a blogger gets a fact wrong or makes a defamatory comment about someone?
Newspapers have to be careful, but federal law generally protects a website owner from postings by its users. As long as employees of a newspaper site have nothing to do with a blogger’s work, Ardia said, the newspaper is probably protected, because it is simply posting content produced by an outsider.
Translation: You do NOT have to moderate comments before posting them.
At the same time, the law allows newspapers to act as good Samaritans to protect their readers, and Kinsey Wilson, executive editor of USA Today, said his paper had been doing just that.
Translation: You own the Web site. You’re allowed to delete stuff that is offensive or illegal.
But — be cool. Don’t delete stuff just because it’s edgy, or “may offend some viewers.” Threats about, say, hanging up nooses would be worthy of deletion, in my opinion. But someone saying the president is an idiot? Last time I checked, we were still allowed to say that in the United States.
The USA Today site has run excerpts from such blogs as College Football Resource and A Socialite’s Life, the latter a gossip site that discusses and mocks fashion, celebrities and the media.
Wilson said in an interview that the industry wasn’t adopting blogs in place of traditional reporting but in addition to it. In any event, he said, newspapers can’t afford to think about distributing information the way they used to.
“The walled garden is dead. We’re living in an era of distributed content,” he said. One important role of a newspaper nowadays is to sift through rafts of information online, he said, and help readers use it.
It’s nice to give credit where credit is due. For many years, business reporters at publications as lofty as The Wall Street Journal have “borrowed” liberally (some would say shamelessly) from the trade papers. If a journalist is tipped by a blogger, it’s only decent to refer to the source. Let’s not go down a dark road where journalists act like blogs are inferior while at the same time stealing from them.
One possibility is to welcome the best and the brightest into your own journalistic fold:
Some popular blogs have been “absorbed,” to use the New York Times’ term, into mainstream media sites. Freakonomics, a blog about economic thinking in everyday situations, runs on the New York Times site, and its authors share the ad revenue.
Stephen J. Dubner, a Freakonomics coauthor, said the partnership provided an opportunity to be featured on one of the most prominent newspaper sites in the world “with all the readership and support that comes along with it.”
Everybody wins! Not mentioned in the LA Times story was The New York Times “acquisition” in June 2007 of young Brian Stelter, the TVNewser blogger, almost immediately after his graduation from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication.
So if you’ve heard anyone recently disparaging bloggers’ credibility or usefulness or integrity, why not ask them to name specifically which bloggers they are reading?
And if they’re reading such unreliable and unethical bloggers — I have to ask — why? Why aren’t they reading the good bloggers?
More of the same: I gave a 90-minute talk about similar ideas at a workshop for journalists last weekend.
The SNDies competition honors online journalism story presentations, with an emphasis on effective design. We see different winners here, compared with other competitions, because the judges in this competition focus on how well the package works, as well as its overall aesthetic (and the journalism must be good).
Joe Weiss has tagged them all for us — easy links to each winner (thanks, Joe!):
Lee Glynn, a multimedia artist and designer at The St. Pete Times, in Florida, showed off a package about the Sputnik anniversary at a workshop held Saturday at our university. It’s kind of a workaday package, but that’s worth thinking about. It’s an anniversary story — you can plan ahead. It’s not a huge story — but it’s got special appeal in Florida.
Lee explained how the print and online artists and designers worked together to create both packages concurrently. She drew the storyboards (above) for the online package and asked the print graphics folks to provide certain views and angles of the 3-D model. Lee did the photo and video research herself.
You can see the full-page graphic that ran in the newspaper at right, and a few screens from the online package at left. Notice how both treatments can use the same assets.
This is a good example of how every newsroom should be working.
All I’m doing is one session about blogging. I would have done anything they asked me to do, but blogging is all they wanted from me. (Yeah, go figure — a prophet is often without honor in her own land, they say.)
The exceptionally talented Lee Glynn, of The St. Pete Times, will be teaching multimedia graphics! Woot!
There will also be video training!
When: Saturday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We will start up in the Gannett Auditorium, first floor of Weimer Hall (see map).
Workshop slots will be limited due to the technology required for several of the sessions. Participation will be first-come, first-served, with no limit on the number from any newsroom.
Update: Wow, I had a packed room for my talk about blogging! People carried in chairs and stood in every spare chunk of floor space. I had no idea so many people wanted to hear about journalist blogs. The PowerPoint is online, and you can download it.