30 September 2008

Gazette Seeks 1,000 Hyperlocal Contributors

The editor of the Teesside Gazette has revealed that the title aims to recruit a total of 1,000 people to provide content for its hyperlocal sites.

Darren Thwaites said the current figure stands at 400 contributors and the Gazette is now looking to further swell its ranks of community correspondents and bloggers, reports Journalism.co.uk.

He told delegates at a recent regional media conference that the two community coordinators for the website will be tasked with attracting an additional 600 residents to write for their area’s hyperlocal online news channel.

And he also said that the Gazette could experiment with placing targeted adverts on the hyperlocal sites.

GazetteLive.co.uk now has in excess of 20 of the award-winning community websites.

They offer news for different postcode districts in Middlesbrough and draw about 150,000 unique visitors each month.

Picture from Design Interval.

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29 September 2008

BBC Box Delivers Multimedia Tale Of Trade

The BBC is using all its media channels to tell the story of a year in the life of a cargo container.

Called The Box, the project aims to highlight the individual places and faces behind international trade.

It represents a feast of multimedia storytelling with an online map enabling visitors to follow the progress of the branded container, plus still images and video footage from various journey points.

The BBC said its correspondents will produce video reports as the box makes loading and unloading stops around the world to show “who’s producing goods and who’s consuming them”.

And the public can also get actively involved by sending in photos of the box on its travels by submitting them either to the BBC site or to a newly created group on Flickr.

According to Jeremy Hillman, editor for the business and economics centre, The Box “is a project which plans to deliver content for television, radio and online audiences - telling the individual stories behind what makes the global economy tick”.

If you want to know more about how the BBC is coordinating the tracking of the container and other technical issues, take a look at this Q & A page.


26 September 2008


“The vision I have for the Web is about anything being potentially connected with anything.”

These are the words of the man credited with the invention of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and in them he encapsulates the central idea behind the Web - connectivity.

And it is through the act of linking that the millions of disparate institutions, groups and peoples that populate the Web can connect to one another.

Therefore, linking is a founding principle of the Web and a principle of its founder – and yet one blogger recently termed it the “Achilles’ heel” of mainstream media.

While a group of editors at a conference earlier in the year was reportedly “appalled” by suggestions that their online news articles need to link out more.

Are they missing a trick and failing to engage with the ethics of the Web? Or are they making a judgment call based on sound commercial ideas?

This SPOTLIGHT post will look at some of these issues while also highlighting some of the ways news sites are starting to get to grips with linking.

It will also take in the basics - what is linking, what are the different forms it can take and how can it be used by digital journalists.

Finally, we’ll round off with the usual suggestions for further reading.



“An element in an electronic document that links to another place in the same document or to an entirely different document.”

This definition from Webopedia shows the two main types of hyperlink (hereafter shortened to link) – an internal link to a different section on your own site or an external link to a new website.

Hyperlinks are usually a different colour from the main text to make them stand out and are often underlined, as in the above sentence where clicking on Webopedia would take you to its page entry on Hyperlink.

Inline Link

Rather than users being diverted to a new website (as with the above link), inline links open up within the document and usually open as a box with a select amount of content from a different site.

These are currently being used by both the Washington Post and by the BBC – more of that later.

Deep Linking

This takes users to a direct page on a different website as opposed to just the main page or homepage.

For example, a definition of deep linking can be found on Wikipedia – this deep link takes you straight to the entry on it rather than just the Wikipedia homepage.

More definitions of different types of links can be found on Netlitigation.com.


Now that we’ve examined the most common sort of links relevant to digital news media, let’s look at how some commentators believe linking can enhance online journalism.

In this section we’ll also be looking at the ways that some mainstream news websites are experimenting with external links.

1 – The Web & The Ethic of the Link

To kick us off, here is academic and blogger Jay Rosen talking about “the ethic of the link”.

For Rosen, the “ethic of the web” is all about connecting people to each other and to knowledge - and this means online newspapers which do not link out are essentially “anti-web”.

Therefore, one argument for mainstream media to incorporate external links in their content is that they can never be fully integrated into the World Wide Web until they do so.

Former BBC journalist and new media blogger Alfred Hermida asserts that traditional media could also risk alienating users by not engaging with the connection capabilities of the Web.

“Editors should be thinking of their products as a service that is part of a larger network of news,” he notes.

Hermida adds: “Legacy media risks becoming irrelevant by insisting they are destinations and refusing to open up to the network.”

2 – An Information Gateway

In 2007, Jeff Jarvis wrote on his Buzz Machine blog: “Try this on as a new rule for newspapers: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.”

Under Jarvis’s rule, this means local online newspapers link to content that other media provide rather than producing their own version of it.

Jarvis says this approach would enable regional news editors to “reallocate your dwindling resources to what matters, which in most cases should be local coverage”.

Local news websites then become an information gateway for the community, pointing users in the right direction.

3 – A Community Hub

An example of how this might work in practice was supplied earlier this year by blogger and local link journalism advocate Scott Karp.

When snow fell in Tennessee last March, KnoxNews.com produced its own news story on the biggest snowstorm for five years.

The site then also linked to the myriad of pictures and posts popping up across personal blogs showing how local residents had been enjoying the rare snowfall.

Writing on his Publishing 2.0 blog, Karp asserts: “Newspapers should aspire to be a hub for shared community experiences - and that’s what the link journalism piece on Knoxnews.com did, by presenting as a shared experience what would otherwise be disconnected blog posts.”

This approach could also be used for a non-geographical community, as shown by a new project from the Washington Post.

Launched this week, the Post’s Political Browser supplies links to all that day’s top political stories, including those on rival newspaper sites.

A press release from the Post states: “The Political Browser creates a hub for readers to instantly find the top news driving the day's political discussion selected by the Post's political team.”

And executive editor Jim Brady adds: “This section is a source for readers to find the best of the Web’s political stories all in one place.”

4 – Hypermedia News

Unlike the linear narrative of a print news story, a Web article can be read in different ways by different people thanks to the presence of links.

Therefore, readers can be given the option on whether they want to know more background information or follow links for further reading – just as in this blog post.

Or to paraphrase New York University’s Brooke Kroeger, according to PJNet, “a little story that any 6th grader can read can also be linked to an extremely sophisticated information base for a more sophisticated reader”.

Plus, linking can see a simple text article be supplemented with all kinds of multimedia to add an extra dimension for readers who want more than words.

It is this aspect of linking that the BBC has recently been experimenting with through its use of inline linking to its own pages and to sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr.

Last month, the corporation began using links within selected standard news articles to see if this enhanced the experience for some users without distracting others.

Readers can elect whether to have links enabled or not and clicking on one brings up a small box containing background information or a video or photographic content.

The user can then close the box and continue reading the BBC article or open a new browser window on this page.

Also making use of inline linking is the Washington Post, which introduced pop-ups to two of its blogs in April this year.

The Editors Weblog reports that the strategy (using Apture technology like the BBC project) was to give users extra information without sending them off-site.

5 – Transparency Of Sources

Jarvis terms this “supporting journalism at its source” - linking to original source material - and it’s a practice he says is prevalent in the blogosphere but not in the world of mainstream media.

Linking to sources shows the reader where the journalist has got his/her information from and credits the original author.

And according to blogger Tammi Marcoullier, encouraging reporters to link to source material should reduce incentives for journalists to plagarise others and will reward original content.

6 – Synthesis Of Stories

Simple linking will point out external sites which may be of interest to the reader if they want to know about x, y, z – the information gateway.

However, Scott Karp suggests that “link journalism” takes this whole concept much further by digesting and evaluating that information before presenting it to the audience.

For example, Karp writes about a post on the New York Times’s The Lede: Notes on the News blog concerning how newspapers were reporting oil price forecasts.

Karp notes “The value for the reader here is enormous - not only do they get Times blogger Mike Nizza’s framing and perspective, they get links to all of this original reporting and analysis on this issue.”

He adds: “The Lede has helped readers make sense of what they read elsewhere, helping to make the Lede more essential than those other sources.”

7 – Reciprocal Linking

This summer the SEO Company carried out an experiment to see whether mainstream news websites that included outbound links were likely to receive more inbound links.

Its conclusion? “In general there is a strong relationship between news websites linking out and getting links in return.”

This might just be in the interest of news websites when you remember how much value is placed upon incoming links by search engine software.

And it brings us back to the fundamental nature of the Web itself – a network of connections - and to its founder's vision of anything being connected with anything.

Linking & The Law

The fundamental right for websites to link to other websites has not yet been challenged in court (netlitigation.com), but there have been a number of cases challenging certain aspects or uses of linking.

Some of these saw victory for those linking (German courts legalised deep linking in 2003) and some saw defeat (French website fined for linking to site which committed breach of privacy).

At present, there are no formal rules and regulations governing links but here are a couple of websites which hold information on past court cases.

Netlitigation.com outlines some of the early legal challenges and this document from the World Wide Web Consortium offers an interesting defence of deep linking.

While Links & Law is a useful resource with details on various lawsuits concerning issues such as inline linking and deep linking.


The Web houses some good practical guides on linking for journalists, including this article from the Online Journalism Review about when and why to link in an article.

Another good authority is Jakob Nielsen, who has written extensively about usability on the Web.

This article may be four years old but it still has valuable advice on formatting links, while this page offers an interesting argument for deep linking over generic linking.

Of particular interest to journalists is a post put together by new media blogger Sarah Hartley with practical tips on linking.

And anyone who wants to know more about the ethical side of linking should take a look at this article on Poynter Online which has a set of online journalism ethical guidelines created by digital reporters.

Finally, more in-depth offerings and analysis of linking can be found in The Hyperlinked Society.

The chapters are available online and Lokman Tsui’s section on Newspapers and Blogs is well worth a look for its discussion on the dual function of links for citation and reciprocity.

And that wraps up this latest SPOTLIGHT post. Next time we’ll be taking a look at the related world of social bookmarking.

In the meantime, do get in touch if you have any interesting examples of online newspapers using links or if there are any topics or themes you’d like to see covered in this series.

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Google: The Article Is Key

Search engines have shifted importance from news websites to individual articles, according to a Google advisor.

And this means newspapers need to readdress how they structure their digital content as the unit of consumption moves from the whole site to a single story, said Richard Gingras at a recent conference.

Blogger Pam Maples notes that Gingras compared the current news situation with online music where the unit of consumption has changed from albums to individual songs following the success of iTunes and similar download services.

He then urged delegates to take a leaf out of Wikipedia’s book and create “living stories” which can be regularly updated.

Gingras was echoing ideas earlier espoused by Google’s vice president for search and user experience, Marissa Mayer.

Here’s a short video of Mayer explaining the atomic unit shift and the concept of “living stories”.

Google VP Marissa Mayer on the atomic unit of media consumption from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Gingras was speaking at this year’s conference of Associated Press Managing Editors in Las Vegas.


25 September 2008

E-Readers: The Future Of Newspapers?

The unveiling of two new electronic readers shows how the devices are getting closer to the look of a real newspaper.

Although both models are aimed at the business market, some commentators believe they offer a glimpse into the future and the next generation of e-newspapers for the consumer audience.

First up is the iRex Digital Reader 1000, which has a 10.1-inch diagonal screen (much bigger than the Amazon Kindle’s screen originally designed for viewing books) and boasts Bluetooth and wireless connectivity on its top model.

According to the New York Times, this and other new-look e-readers will stimulate demand for content and “drive innovation so the thin, lightweight and flexible e-reader arrives even sooner”.

The other e-reader to be unveiled this month in prototype form came from Plastic Logic, a spinout company from Cambridge University.

Chief executive Richard Archuleta presented the unnamed lightweight device with a 13-inch diagonal screen at a recent trade show and demonstrated its touch screen technology.

Despite being aimed at the business market, the model will offer downloadable newspapers when it launches next year, although Plastic Logic’s partners in this venture are yet to be revealed.

Both launches go some of the way to fulfilling one of the three requirements outlined by Roger Fidler as essential for the e-reader to become popular.

According to The Editors Weblog, the e-newspaper researcher and consultant says these requirements are: larger screens, colour screens and lower prices.

If you want to know more, cnet has a review of the new iRex e-reader while this New York Times article discusses the unveiling of the e-reader from Plastic Logic.


Lessons Learned From Blogging

Digital journalism academic Paul Bradshaw recently celebrated his 1,000th blog post with a list of all the things he’s learned since joining the blogosphere.

The author of the Online Journalism Blog packs his chart with useful tips for journalists looking to embark upon a blogging adventure and covers vlogging and moblogging too.

He also uses his list to dispel a few myths about the blogosphere and to highlight the advantages of writing your own blog.

Here are some excerpts from “1000 things I’ve learned about blogging”:

On Blogs

“Blogging is not ‘writing a blog’. Blogging is linking and commenting. Any writing is a bonus.”

“Regular posting is important…”

“Setting yourself a maximum number of posts per day is a good idea.”

“It takes time. Sometimes years. Persistence counts.”

“A blog doesn’t open doors for you, it just gives you the idea to try knocking.”

On Journalism

“As a journalist, blogging is a good way to rediscover the joy of journalism.”

“Being transparent about your sources is not only good journalism, it’s good distribution.”

On Video

“When video meets conversation, good things can happen.”

“Everyone looks ugly on video. Get over it.”

On Moblogging

“If you’re moblogging an event, bring a power lead, an extension lead - and a spare phone.”

The full post can be found on the Online Journalism Blog.

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24 September 2008

Northcliffe Local Sites Go Green

An online environmental initiative from Northcliffe is being rolled out to its regional news sites.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that 13 online newspapers now have their own localised versions of the Big Green Switch website, which encourages visitors to cut energy usage.

The Plymouth Herald and the Exeter Express & Echo are among the first batch of sites to go green and now include links on their homepages to the new websites.

Project manager Steve Allen said the Big Green Switch aims to show people easy ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.

The sites also have interactive sections where users can submit their own environmentally friendly ideas, write a blog, or coordinate green groups and events.

Plus visitors can search the database for “environment-related” job vacancies and enter competitions to win green prizes.

Northcliffe ultimately hopes to create tailored versions of the Big Green Switch for all its local news websites.

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BBC Blogger Tests Reporter’s Toolkit

After road-testing some of the essential components from the digital reporter’s toolkit, Rory Cellan-Jones reaches some interesting conclusions.

The BBC’s technology correspondent carried out his experiment at a recent Apple event in London where he compared the coverage offered by a mobile phone / laptop with online access through Twitter, a video phone using Qik and a Flip video camera.

Writing on his dot.life blog, Cellan-Jones also reveals that he took along “an invaluable gadget called Dan Simmons, my multimedia colleague from Click, who brought along his much more professional video camera”.

And here are some excerpts from his findings:

“Now I’m not sure if it was ‘broadcasting’ - after all Twitter is a pretty narrow community - but it was an enjoyable way of covering the event, with plenty of interaction coming back to me from other Twitterers.”

He also notes that this real-time interactivity helps to create “a temporary micro-community”.

“The quality is pretty poor - it’s being streamed over a 3g network which seemed to struggle to get into the hall - but immediacy is the thing here.

“Apple is very controlling and bans live video relays of these events, so there is a kind of ‘pirate’ appeal to getting the pictures out ahead of time.”

“Has the advantage over a mobile phone of shooting an hour of material without needing a charge … and the disadvantage of a lack of instant connectivity.

“Still, I loaded it straight onto my laptop, cut it together with a simple editing programme and produced this behind-the-scenes video.”


“It was Dan Simmons with his small, but semi-professional, video camera who made the most important contribution - after all his pictures were of far greater quality than mine, and reached a far bigger audience.”

In Conclusion:

Cellan-Jones reckons a laptop with internet access is certainly an essential part of a digital journalist’s toolkit while video streaming from a mobile phone can be useful.

However, he maintains that despite all this user-friendly technology on offer he would always rather take along a professional with a good video camera.

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23 September 2008

Users To Produce News Show Via Wiki

A talk radio show is inviting users to help to produce a weekly segment about some of the hot topics for the forthcoming American presidential election.

The Brian Lehrer Show in New York has created a wiki where visitors are asked to suggest angles, questions and guests to appear on future spots devoted to issues such as immigration and healthcare.

Users are also encouraged to carry out their own background research and provide tips on audio clips that could be used.

According to the WNYC station’s website, the aim is for listeners to collaborate on producing a segment and “do everything a normal Brian Lehrer Show producer does every day”.

The wiki has been created using free Media Wiki software and features an introductory message from Lehrer, explaining the idea behind the project.

He writes:

Remember, a wiki is a collaboration, not a debate. Work together with people you agree with and people you don’t to shape a segment that addresses the questions and concerns of all interested parties and the public at large. This is pretty experimental for talk radio. We believe you can handle it and help produce more thorough, more balanced coverage than any professional journalists can do without you!

Thanks to CyberJournalist.Net for the pointer on the 30 Issues wiki.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid Of Pricing Content’

News consumers are prepared to pay for top quality content, according to the managing editor of FT.com.

And this means news providers shouldn’t be nervous about putting a price on their digital products, said Rob Grimshaw at a recent industry summit.

Press Gazette reports that Grimshaw also rejected assertions that online media have to be either all free or all paid-for and pointed to FT.com as evidence of a successful part free/part paid business model.

He told delegates at the recent SIIA Global Information Industry Summit that news organisations should have the confidence to charge for premium content.

“There is a push to say everything should be free and many major publishers have caved in in the face of that, but you only have to do one Google search to see where that [content] ends up.”

Grimshaw added: “If everything I see is free, a lot of it is going to be rubbish.

“Regardless of what is said in public, if you speak to the consumers they are prepared to pay for it and often a lot for it.”

And he concluded by saying paid-for subscription models should not preclude websites from generating “eyeballs revenue” either.

“We need to find a way to do the two things together: make money from our content - it’s some of the best content you will find anywhere, you shouldn’t be afraid of putting a price on it - and we want to make money from advertising.

“We don’t see why you can’t do both.”

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22 September 2008

Digital Advertising Facing Slowdown

Media groups are facing a “reality check” as the growth in online advertising is slowed by the global credit crisis.

This is the view of Enders Analysis, which has just published research showing that revenues from digital display advertising are rising slower than predicted.

Analyst Ian Maude told the Financial Times that projected growth of 9.8% in online display ads turnover in the third quarter of 2008 represents a “collapse” when compared to last year’s increase of 30.5%.

The study from Enders also estimates that revenue from online classifieds will go up by 7.8% during the same period, in comparison to growth of 54% in 2007.

However, the report notes that paid search services offered by companies such as Google will continue to see significant growth rates.

Maude described the classifieds and display ads projections as “a reality check for online advertising”.


BBC Trials QR Codes Online

Visitors to the BBC’s online shop will soon be able to access mobile clips via QR codes.

NMA.co.uk reports that the corporation will be trialling the use of the barcode technology from the end of this month in a bid to boost DVD sales.

The codes can be scanned by mobile phones with QR scanners, which read the code and download the relevant material.

Mobile users who scan the codes will then receive free download clips from selected BBC TV programmes.

And a spokesman for the project revealed that the Beeb could extend the use of QR codes as a marketing tool across other channels, such as print, if this trial proves successful.

One media title already offering QR codes in print is The Sun, which launched them at the end of last year.

Developed in Japan in 1994, Quick Response codes can store internet addresses and URLs.

MoFuse currently offers free QR code conversions for mobile versions of blogs and websites.

Thanks to Martin Stabe for flagging up the BBC trial.

[Picture of the QR code for The Next Web blog.]

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19 September 2008

Site Maps Freelance Reporters

Journalism.co.uk has launched a new mapping resource to help commissioners track down freelance journalists around the world.

And the website has also unveiled a second version of the Google Maps application for freelance photographers.

Members pay to submit their details and users can then search the maps by postcode or area in order to discover professionals working in any given location.

Journalism.co.uk states that the new services will also help freelancers find colleagues and gain an insight into how many people are operating in their region.

The site’s publisher John Thompson says of the new resources: “In this online and news-hungry world with rolling deadlines, location is both less significant and more significant for freelancers.

“Less significant, because it’s much easier to be found by and to work for clients anywhere in the world; more significant, because location can be key for breaking news or stories that are local to the freelancer.”

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‘6 Ways For Newspaper Sites To Attract Traffic’

How to make a smooth transition from print to online is the focus of a recent blog post from Mark Potts.

The new media consultant says part of the problem is quite simply the poor standard of many newspaper websites

“What should newspaper websites be doing to break out of the box they’re in and get traffic and revenue moving in the right direction again?”

In answer to this question, Potts has put together some quick and easy suggestions on how newspapers can improve their digital services.

Here are some of the highlights from his post:

1 – Keep It Simple

“Knock half the links off your home page. Then go back and knock off half of what’s left.”

He adds: “And don’t forget to put some of that simplified home page navigation on every page - unlike printed newspapers, few readers enter websites through the front door.”

2 – Nail The Niche Market

“Build strong niche products - possibly as separate sites with their own brands - to go after targeted audiences and advertisers.”

3 – Don’t Stop Moving

“Web-savvy companies like Google or Apple or Facebook or Yelp think nothing of jumping into smart new technologies and ways of producing and displaying information.”

4 – Build Links

“Use your site to create the best possible guide to what’s going on in your market, regardless of sources.”

Potts adds: “Make it essential that your readers come to your site first to find out what’s going on around them.”

5 – Spread The Word

“Do content-sharing deals anywhere you can - with competitors, social networks, blogs, aggregators, whatever.

“Put your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible and use it to drive business back to your site and your advertisers.”

6 – Find The Audience

“Deliver your Web content any way you can: e-newsletters, RSS, Facebook apps, Twitter, whatever. Get it out there (and be sure to include ads!).”

To read Patching The Leaking Lifeboat in full, visit Potts’s Recovering Journalist blog.

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18 September 2008

Telegraph Begins Interactive Online Novel

Readers could have a say in the outcome of a new novel being serialised online by The Telegraph.

Each new chapter of Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith will be available exclusively every weekday on Telegraph.co.uk for the next 20 weeks.

The text version of the new serial novel can be accessed on the website, via email updates or through an RSS feed.

Plus an audio version of each chapter will be uploaded every day and available as a daily podcast via the website or through iTunes.

And readers are being encouraged to get involved by submitting their comments and questions online, where they could be read by the author himself.

McCall Smith, author of the successful No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books, explains the interactive nature of the project.

“Readers will also be able to contact me with suggestions as to how the plot should unfold, as at any time in the publication of the novel I shall only be about 20 episodes ahead of the one that is published that day.

“This should make the novel interactive - to some extent at least. I obviously have my own ideas of what will happen, but I shall be open to persuasion.”

If this wasn’t enough to whet the appetites of McCall Smith fans, Telegraph.co.uk also has a writing competition where the winner gets to meet the writer himself, plus the site has online profiles of each character as they appear and a link to a Google Map showing the real-life setting for the imagined mansion.

Further details can be found on Guardian.co.uk and The Editors Weblog.

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Chronicle Launches Social Network

Community is the watchword at the Jewish Chronicle as its online arm launches a social network.

Registered users can now upload their profiles, make friends with fellow members and join interest groups on The JC.com.

In addition, members can write blogs as well as upload their own photographs and video content.

Managing editor Richard Burton told Brand Republic about the strategy behind this latest digital initiative.

“A lot of the bigger papers are finding it hard to identity communities within their readership.

“What struck me was that we had a ready-made community and the opportunity to harness that.”

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17 September 2008

Multimedia Inspiration From The Las Vegas Sun

Blogger Mindy McAdams has published a series of blog posts highlighting the online achievements of the Las Vegas Sun.

Academic and new media author McAdams says the Las Vegas Sun is “one of the more inspiring stories of the intermediate stage of online journalism” thanks to its online strategies.

Entitled Why The Las Vegas Sun Is So Great, the trilogy of posts tells the story of the title’s multimedia ambitions, from their earnest beginnings in January 2008.

McAdams takes her cue from a talk given by Las Vegas Sun’s online pioneers at the recent Online News Association conference and follows up her summary of the forum by showing what the Sun does best and how it’s doing it.

This includes its video strategy with content distributed via the 988-pixel player on the Sun’s website, HDTV, a local TV channel, a dedicated YouTube channel, and iTunes.

All this prompting McAdams to declare: “This is probably the most ambitious and interesting video strategy at any newspaper anywhere in North America.”

She then outlines some of the newspaper’s most ambitious online multimedia projects, such as the History of Las Vegas and the interactive Flight Delay Calculator.

Check out Mindy’s blogs for the full posts: Part One of the series introduces how journalists, designers and programmers first ushered in the multimedia era at the Las Vegas Sun.

While Part Two looks at the Sun’s current strategies regarding video, photos and user-generated content and Part Three shows the most recent multimedia projects.

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Must-Have Digital Tools For Journalists

Personalised news applications prove a popular addition to Alfred Hermida’s list of “31 Essential Online Tools for Journalists” for 2008.

The blogger and academic includes no less than six RSS software and online feed readers, including FeedDemon for Windows, NewsFire for Mac operating systems, and Google Reader on the web.

Hermida’s guide also comprises four personalised news page services (such as Netvibes and MyYahoo) and news alerts offerings from Google and Yahoo.

And under the heading of Web 2.0, the former BBC journalist reckons a digital journalism toolkit would not be complete without a social bookmarking website like delicious and online storage services like Wuala and Box.

Hermida, who is programme leader at the University of British Columbia, said of his list of essential tools for 2008: “What is striking is how much these tools have developed in the past year.

“Some fall by the wayside and new ones spring up, such as sites that mine social network sites for personal information.”

The full list is available on Hermida’s reportr.net blog and he welcomes any additions to his 31 essential tools.

Picture: Results Through Training

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16 September 2008

Northcliffe Launch Focuses on Interaction

A Northcliffe spokesman has asserted that the publisher is looking to enhance its interactive offerings with a range of new sites.

Guardian.co.uk reports that the company is unveiling some 45 new websites today, many of which form hyperlocal additions to existing news portals.

And director of marketing Sean Mahon revealed that the latest move is designed to open further the channels of communication between the websites and their users.

He said: “The whole thing for us now is looking at total audience across newspapers and websites and as part of that we’re focusing on interaction.

“We have 200,000 interactions on our sites each month, be that voting, commenting or registering.”

Mahon also commented that Northcliffe is considering web launches in areas of the UK where it does not have print coverage.

Among the new areas to be served by hyperlocal sites are Sherwood and Beeston through pages on thisisnottingham.co.uk.

This takes Northcliffe’s website total to 151 and means the group now publishes more websites than newspapers.

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Site Aims To Out The Spinners

A new website seeks to arm readers in the war against media bias with its spin-seeking software.

The download tool from start-up SpinSpotter can be used on highlighted text to root out transgressions against what it sees as the key tenets of journalistic ethics.

Taking its cue from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, SpinSpotter’s technology (based on algorithms) is designed to highlight The Seven Deadly Spins, including lack of context, use of biased sources and selective disclosure.

Users can download the application in the form of a toolbar and use the Spinoculars to test online news articles.

They are then encouraged to flag up any breaches of ethics to others within the SpinSpotter community.

At present SpinSpotter is only available to those with Firefox 3 (Internet Explorer 7users should be catered for within the next couple of weeks) and a New York Times blogger produced this post on her attempts to spot the spin.

If you want to know more, visit The Editors Weblog.

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15 September 2008

Google Opens Newspaper Archive

Search giant Google has launched a new feature which enables users to read newspapers from the past online.

Google News Archive Search is designed to bring readers digitised copies of printed newspapers in their original layouts.

The Google Blog reveals that the new initiative will allow users to search by event, headline, photograph or advertisement in order to find the archive article they’re looking for.

Readers can access the search through Google News and results will also bring up archived editions housed on the websites of participating newspapers, such as the New York Times.

However, many of these are on a pay-per-view service and visitors looking for free historical content should use the advanced search option and select No Prices.

I tested out the search by using the term D-Day Landings and opting for free archive content only.

Within the first ten results were links to scanned versions of original news stories about the landings from newspapers such as the St Petersburg Times and the Evening Independent.

The pages open in the Google News Archive window, where you can zoom in or out and browse other pages from the issue.

And this represents only the tip of the iceberg of Google’s ambitions with archive newspapers and magazines.

The blog post explains: “This effort is just the beginning. As we work with more and more publishers, we’ll move closer towards our goal of making those billions of pages of newsprint from around the world searchable, discoverable, and accessible online.”

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Spot.Us Tests Crowdfunding Model

A financing model where a community pays for investigative journalism is being trialled in America.

The Spot.Us project is currently pre-testing a model often known as crowdfunding where lots of people make a small donation towards a specified piece of work.

Spearheaded by Dave Cohn, Spot.Us is taking ideas from residents in the San Francisco Bay area about issues they would like to see investigated.

Donations are then submitted to fund the work of a freelance journalist to look into the topic and the resultant article is made available on the Spot.Us site.

Stories may also be distributed through other channels and via a single news organisation if it purchases exclusive rights.

Among the current pitches for investigation are the feasibility of cutting emissions from cement plants and increasing voter awareness.

Here’s the Spot.Us process according to its wiki:

"How ‘community funded reporting’ works:

Step 1: Anyone can create a story idea.

Step 2: Independent journalists create pitches from community feedback.

Step 3: Community members share the cost of reporting with micro-donations.

Step 4: Spot.Us will work with local news organizations to get the story published in as many places as possible. Or - we will give exclusive rights to a news organization that is willing to reimburse the original donors."

Spot.Us is funded by a $340,000 (£195,000) grant from the Knight Foundation through its News Challenge project.

Further details on Spot.Us and the crowdfunding model can be found in this New York Times article.

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12 September 2008

Northcliffe Unveils Website Traffic Stats

Some ten regional newspapers sites from Northcliffe are making public their traffic data through the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC).

Websites including thisisplymouth.co.uk, thisisnottingham.co.uk and thisissouthwales.co.uk are now covered by the ABCe six-month certification process.

Northcliffe stated that releasing data, such as unique user statistics, through the independent audit will make its audience figures available to advertisers.

And director for marketing Sean Mahon told HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk that the company is seeking to increase the transparency of its online reach.

He said “We are very excited about the growth we’ve experienced across our ‘thisis’ network during the last few months.”

Mahon added: “It is important at the same time to illustrate to the advertising community that we have a thriving and growing online audience.

“These individual sites ABCe figures are the next stage of an ongoing process to provide transparency on our online reach.”

Next year Northcliffe plans to double the number of regional sites offering audited data through the ABCe with the ultimate aim of all its websites being enlisted.

Here’s the full list of the first ten:


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‘Shares Plunge’ Story Picked Up By Google

The archived news article that caused a run on shares in United Airlines (UAL) was picked up by Google News, claims a new press report.

According to Associated Press, the story dating back to 2002 came under the radar of Google News software after it appeared in the Most Viewed section of the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s business section.

From Google News the article regarding the airline’s appeal for bankruptcy protection was mistakenly taken as current and a summary posted to Bloomberg, where it was viewed by thousands in the financial sector.

Within minutes the share price fell by almost 75% before the Nasdaq stock exchange put a stop to trading in UAL shares, reports the BBC.

Gabriel Stricker, spokesman for Google, said its automated crawlers check web pages for clues to the original publishing date and only saw a current one on the story.

Further details on the story as it unfolded can be found on Editor & Publisher and the International Herald Tribune.


11 September 2008

The Web 2.0 Story: From Conception to Birth

Blogger Alison Gow has published her ideas on the way Web 2.0 tools have changed the way journalists show and tell their stories.

In her thought-provoking post on The Lifecycle of a News Story, she compares the ways reporters source, research, present, share and follow up news articles in a Web 1.0 and a Web 2.0 world.

For example, she suggests that Web 2.0 tools enable journalists to source potential stories through searches on microblogging platforms like Twitter or via Facebook.

Gow, who works at the Liverpool Daily Post, also asserts that story research can now incorporate crowdsourcing using social media, the creation of online surveys and interaction with the audience using blogs.

The full post can be found on Gow’s Headlines and Deadlines blog.

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Slideshows Tell Mother’s Story

A regional newspaper in California has used multimedia storytelling to create a moving feature about an everyday woman.

The Stockton Record’s Mother To All slideshows enable a local foster mother to tell the story of her life looking after over 140 children during the past 27 years.

And they also offer an insight into the adoption process as she opts to permanently care for one of her foster children.

The use of audio interview and photos really brings the whole story to life and provides a warm and engaging accompaniment to the traditional text piece.

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10 September 2008

Four Ways To Improve Online Newspapers

Despite the launch of several next-generation websites, many online newspapers in the UK still have some “annoying features”.

That’s the view outlined in a recent e-consultancy blog post which includes a short guide recommending ways that news sites could improve on things that “can spoil the user experience”.

Here are some highlights from the list:

1 - Cut The Overlays

“Overlays can be even more irritating than pop-ups as they obscure the article you are attempting to read, forcing you instead to search for the ‘x’ that will allow you to close the thing.”

2 - Strengthen Site Search

“For example, the top headline on Times Online this morning was ‘Rice heads to Georgia amid scorched earth claims’.

“Enter this headline into Google and you’ll find that the search engine has already indexed it, but the newspaper hasn’t.”

3 - Speed Up Comments

“I appreciate the fact that comments sometimes need to be checked for abusive or racist language, as well as spam, but this needs to be done quickly enough to allow the debate to flow properly.”

4 - Don’t Be Afraid To Link Out

“Newspapers are frequently linked to by bloggers, so it only seems fair that they occasionally return the favour, especially as many journalists use blogs for inspiration or for background for their own articles.

“Newspapers can also benefit from linking out more; a recent study by blogger David Eaves found a correlation between the number of outbound and the number of inbound links.”

The full list is available on e-consultancy and reactions to it can be seen on Guardian.co.uk’s Digital Content blog.

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Pro-Am Website Aims To Supply MSM

A new pro-am journalism website says it can provide the mainstream media (MSM) with stories from hard-to-reach places.

Demotix features international news reports from both professional freelancers and citizen journalists and aims to fill a perceived gap in foreign coverage by traditional news providers.

Chief executive Turi Munthe told Journalism.co.uk that the website will provide mainstream reporters with access to on-the-ground news from countries with strict censorship rules.

He said: “By creating a website that everyone can access in many ways we give a megaphone to the person on the street where ever they are.”

And Munthe denied the charge that the site could pose a threat to standard media groups: “We are categorically not a death to professional media.

“They [professional journalists] can’t disappear, on the contrary they’re the ones with the opinions and with the particular points of view.

“What we want to do is supply them with raw and original data from places they can’t reach.”


09 September 2008

Live Streaming Rules Conventions Coverage

The recent party political conventions in the US saw an explosion in the use of live streaming video by mainstream media.

Among the big hitters offering real-time video footage shot using mobile phones were washingtonpost.com and Newsweek, as this Poynter Online article reveals.

Live video offerings from the Post's website, including a speech from Hilary Clinton, were accompanied by discussion sections on the dedicated web page to provide users with interactive options.

And in a press statement released before the conventions, washingtonpost.com executive editor Jim Brady promised a new style of political coverage.

“Our live video and our ability to incorporate reporters’ uncut footage straight from their mobile phones will give users a conventions experience like never before.”

Meanwhile, Reuters sent many of its reporters to the conventions armed with cameras in order to capture and stream footage as it happened, reports Journalism.co.uk.

If you want to find out more, the NewTeeVee blog has a round-up of both the mainstream and independent media’s live streaming services during the Democratic convention.

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Widget Channel Turning TV 2.0?

Yahoo recently unveiled plans to bring Web 2.0 applications to the small screen through its Widget Channel.

The internet company says the new channel will turn television into a truly interactive experience as viewers can watch shows while keeping up with personalised web services.

According to Yahoo, these widget applications could include communication platforms as well as listings and other information-based web offerings.

In a press release with project partners Intel, Yahoo stated: “TV Widgets can be personalised because they will be based upon popular Internet services such as Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Blockbuster® and eBay® that viewers have customised for use in their daily lives.”

Intel senior vice president Eric Kim emphasised the interactive capabilities of the planned channel: “No longer just a passive experience unless the viewer wants it that way, Intel and Yahoo are proposing a way where the TV and Internet are as interactive, and seamless, as possible.”

He added: “TV will fundamentally change how we talk about, imagine and experience the Internet.”

The Widget Channel is expected to launch in the US during the first half of next year.

Further details on this story can be found at Guardian.co.uk.

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08 September 2008

Herald Strikes Gold With Daley Video

A local newspaper’s video interview with Olympics star Tom Daley has been seen by almost 190,000 users on YouTube.

The Plymouth Herald recorded the video in spring this year and saw views take off after the young diver became one of the most famous faces among the Team GB athletes.

Web editor Neil Shaw told HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk that the video simply wouldn’t have been seen by anything near the current total had it been placed only on The Herald's website.

He said: “The video is branded with The Herald’s logo so this success has meant our name is now known across the world and is associated with content people want to watch.”

Shaw added: “We started uploading our videos to YouTube a few months ago, as well as uploading them to our own video player, and find it to be a fantastic way to get our content ‘out there’ and have it noticed.”

As well as being featured on the YouTube homepage, the video has attracted over 450 comments and was made a favourite by visitors.

Another regional newspaper making waves with its multimedia coverage of a local Olympian’s success is the Mansfield Chad.

Journalists provided extensive coverage on the double gold medal haul of Mansfield swimmer Rebecca Adlington.

This included real-time updates during her final races as well as photo slideshows and video footage of her homecoming parade.

Further details on the Chad’s coverage can be found at HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk.

[Disclosure: The Mansfield Chad is a Johnston Press publication.]

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Tribune Launches Opinion Blog

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis has recently started a blog to encourage dialogue between editorial staff and readers.

Editor & Publisher reports that the Opinion Exchange page provides a forum for users and editorial board members to discuss the latest issues and hot topics.

The blog is updated regularly and aims to encourage debate through its posts and comment sections.

“Opinion journalism especially depends on give-and-take and timeliness,” said commentary editor Eric Ringham.

He added: “We need to be engaging with readers when they are interested.

“We shouldn’t ask the reader to wait until Wednesday to discuss news that happened on Monday.”

The editorial team also selects highlights from the opinion blog to publish in the following day’s newspaper.

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05 September 2008

Readers Set Questions With Dialogg

A new crowdsourcing initiative from Digg is giving the public a chance to put its questions to some of America’s most powerful people.

Digg Dialogg invites users to post text and video questions online where they can be voted on by the Digg community to create a ranking list.

Then the posers which have proved most popular at the close of play are put to the interviewee.

Concentrating on the current party conventions, the first series of these Dialoggs has seen Digg team up with CNN and its citizen journalism arm, iReport, in a joint bid to enable the audience to have its say.

And first up to face the Digg treatment this week was the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Digg chief executive Jay Adelson assumed the task of putting the questions, exactly as they were submitted, to Democrat Nancy Pelosi in a live broadcast for CNN.

Further details can be found on the Guardian’s Digital Content blog.

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04 September 2008

Kindle Offers Times And FT

The Times and the Financial Times (FT) are the latest newspapers to make their content available on Kindle.

Owners of the digital reader from Amazon can now subscribe to receive The Times for $14.99 (£8.18) per month and the FT for $9.99 (£5.45) per month.

The latest editions are automatically uploaded each morning to the Kindle using Amazon Whispernet technology.

“We see the digital distribution of the newspaper as a vital part of our strategy and it’s crucial that we offer customers the flexibility to access our award-winning journalism through as many channels as possible,” commented Greg Zorthian, global circulation director at the FT.

Not yet on sale in the UK, the wireless device now offers a total of nine international newspaper subscriptions to its users.

Already available from the UK is The Independent while the Shanghai Daily and France’s Le Monde also have Kindle editions.

Further details about this story can be found on Editor & Publisher and on this blog about all things Kindle.

Picture from Mashable.

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03 September 2008

$10K On Offer To Citizen Journalists

A global citizen journalism website is offering cash rewards to contributors if their reports generate 100,000 page views or more.

Up to $10,000 (£5,400) is available to any citizen journalist posting their work on allvoices.com if they crack the page view minimum over six months, according to the Journalism.co.uk editors’ blog.

The site states that members signed up to its Excellence in Citizen Media Incentive Program will receive $1,000 for every 100,000 total page views generated by their submitted content up to a maximum of $10,000.

In a press release, allvoices chief executive Amra Tareen points out: “The business models are broken in traditional media and are undergoing tremendous change.

“Meanwhile, citizen reporters and freelance journalists are under a great deal of pressure to create and showcase their content and get paid.

“With the Excellence in Citizen Media Initiative, allvoices is experimenting with new models to support citizens, writers, journalists, bloggers, students, photographers and videographers.

“We give them a platform to succeed and the ability to build a global community around their reporting and contributions.”

Further details about the project, which will run from August 2008 until February 2009, can be found at allvoices.com/incentive.

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02 September 2008

Social Media Task Force Reaps Rewards

A newspaper has revealed that a team dedicated to boosting its social media presence has helped its website score an 8% increase in page views.

The four-person task force at the Chicago Tribune has distributed content through a variety of new channels to draw in traffic, according to the Huffington Post.

One of their first actions was the creation of the character of Colonel Tribune to become the face of the newspaper on sites including Twitter, Digg and Facebook.

And as well as bringing traffic to the main site, the Tribune said the strategy is producing good story leads and helping journalists keep in touch with their readers.

“Essentially, social media gives us a year-round, real-time focus group to monitor conversations and keep us in tune with what consumers are thinking,” noted Bill Adee, head of the task force and associate managing editor for innovation.

Representatives from the Tribune were at the recent newspaper industry convention in Chicago, where they discussed their social media initiatives in detail.

Professor Jane Singer was at the session at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention and here’s her summary of the main points:

“Daniel B. Honigman, social media coordinator for the Tribune and the Colonel’s creator, sees the character as a ‘Web ambassador’ and a way for people to interact and engage with the paper.

For instance, the Colonel recently hosted a meet-up, which around 50 people attended. The character also serves as a point person for news tips (which Honigman forwards to the appropriate journalist).

However, the Colonel is hard to find on the main website. Honigman said the marketing department does not know what to do with him.

He emphasised the need for detailed metrics to enable the sales staff to sell social media, notably to optimise the potential to bring different audiences to advertisers.

Other social media bits from the Tribune:

* Honigman said bookmarking (for instance, through digg.com) has been the most successful social media strategy for driving traffic. Popular ‘diggs’ are highlighted on the home page.

*The Tribune also has several hundred fans on Facebook, and one reporter is particularly active on Twitter. Honigman says Second Life is no longer worth the effort for a newspaper company.

* Bill Adee pointed out that social media functions such as bookmarking are handled by newsroom staff at the Tribune, in contrast to The New York Times, where those functions are the province of the marketing department.

* Along with ‘most popular’ and ‘most e-mailed’ stories, the home page includes a ‘Hot Topics’ button, which offers links to Chicago Tribune stories related to the most popular items on Google News and Google Web. Adee says this tactic helps boost the site’s SEO.”

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01 September 2008

Report Highlights Mobile Successes

Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile media but were afraid to ask is in a report released this summer.

The Moving to Mobile study from the Newspaper Association of America aims to be a “growth and development guide” covering “the many aspects of mobiles for newspapers”.

Included in its online version are chapters on mobile content, advertising and other forms of revenue generation as well as case studies from four news organisations which have implemented effective mobile strategies.

And among the mobile successes highlighted are the Cincinnati Enquirer’s real-time marathon text service and the mobile site from Tampa Bay Online.

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