links for 2009-09-08

  • Kevin: Judith Townend at looks at some good examples of how the VentnorBlog, a hyperlocal site on the Isle of Wight, has been covering protests against the closure of a wind turbine plant on the island. "Last week, using the Area Ship Traffic Website, AIS, VB was able to report where two barges held by an agent – NEG Micron Rotors – who used to own the Vestas’ factory were due to head."
    Judith asks: "Now let’s take that one step further: how can journalists tap into this kind of publicly available data to scoop stories?" She's got some good comments from Tony Hirst, of Open University who writes the excellent OSuseful blog. (
  • Kevin: Jeff Jarvis flags up how the traditional media engages in 'internet bigotry' when reporting rumours. A New York Times report blamed the 'free-for-all internet media' culture. However, it appears that the reporter, Peter Baker of the New York Times, is blaming the internet for what is a rumour created and passed along by the traditional media, according to Jeff. "Yet this snarling about the internet still bubbles up from the newsroom, from reporters and from the many editors who choose to publish it."
  • Kevin: More than 70% of adults in the US get their political news from television, but the role of the internet is increasing. "The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that for the first time a majority (55 percent) of voting-age adults engaged with politics online during the 2008 presidential election." Another interesting finding of the Pew study, "Smith said that for the first time the Pew data shows that people admit they go online to get information that agrees with their existing viewpoint."
  • Kevin: "News Corporation is launching a global service that will make all its news stories and videos instantly available to its entire network of TV, print and online news outlets.

    The service, called NewsCore, will operate like a global wire service for all the company's newspapers, TV networks and websites. News Corp is describing the venture as a "21st-century multi-media information service that will draw on the worldwide news and sports resources within News Corporation and make them available to other News properties everywhere".

links for 2009-09-04

  • Kevin: Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times writes: "I suspect the journalistic landscape five or ten years from now will be a mix of survivors and start-ups, and that the distinction between mainstream and new media will diminish from both directions."
  • Kevin: OK, just testing out if I could be a headline writer for a British tabloid. However, I really wish that I were farther off the mark than I am. "Humphrys himself remained resolutely unconvinced, commenting in his post-show review on the Today website: "I've never tried morris dancing, never tried incest – does that mean I should try them?" To incite more British anger, I probably would have got more bang for the buck by saying that he compared Morris Dancing to incest.
    I normally wouldn't engage in such sensationalism, but I figure that Humphrys engages in similar tactics in his interviews, so it's just a bit of karmic accounting.

links for 2009-09-03

  • Kevin: paidContent looks at newspapers in the US that have put their online content behind a paywall. "The newspapers tend to be located in smaller, often rural markets; online-only subscriptions are typically priced at a substantial discount to the print edition (in general, about 75% of what the print product costs); where numbers are available, the number of online subscribers is still a tiny percentage of their print counterparts (less than 5%); and many of these papers say they began charging not so much to make money online, but rather to protect sales of their print editions."
  • Kevin: Want to know why the newspaper industry is in crisis? It's not the rise of digital but their inability to create viable digital businesses. From the FT: "Alarmingly, the industry has also so far “failed to make the digital transition”, according to a report last month from Outsell, a publishing research firm, which found that news organisations’ digital revenues were just 11 per cent of their total revenues, compared with 69 per cent for the broader information industry, which includes legal and financial data providers such as Reed Elsevier and Bloomberg."
  • Kevin: This is similar to a post I wrote recently about social filters and news. I find that professional contacts on Delicious, Twitter and Facebook are much more useful in highlighting stories that I need to know about rather than the media. As my post and this article suggest, people are finding ways to personally filter news and information that is much more effective for them than portals, news sites and other traditional editorial mechanisms. "Precise statistics about the rise of sharing information through social networks are hard to come by because links are being shared on multiple platforms, and new services such as link-shorteners are complicating efforts to monitor the flow of traffic. …
    But the broad strokes are clear. Media companies' efforts, coupled with the increase of sharing online, have effectively turned social networks into massive engines of recommendation, responsible for directing an ever larger amount of online traffic."
  • Kevin: There are some really good tips in this post about how to be a successful community manager. The five tips are good for anyone working with online communities. 1. Speak up. 2. Focus on concrete issues. 3. Be honest. 4. Be firm. 5. Be grateful. The post is coming from the point of view of virtual world Second Life, but many of the concepts do translate to other online communities.
  • Kevin: John Temple is the former editor, president and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, asked his former staff if they had found work after the newspaper "published its final edition on Feb. 27". His findings? "So, what struck me about the responses?

    As might be expected, the Web staff seemed the most successful in finding new work. People landed at,,, and other sites.

    It seems many reporters, photographers, videographers, designers and managers are finding some success, satisfaction and cause for optimism by either starting their own businesses or freelancing."

  • Kevin: "After several months of trying to get the deal done, Citizen-J site NowPublic is about to be sold to a non-traditional buyer: local news network, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group, we have learned. The price is around $25 million range, according to a source, including a part of that as an earnout. Also from a source, the other potential buyers included AP, Fox News, Glam Media and even Technorati, though not clear who all were interested in late stages."
  • Kevin: "It seems that The Telegraph has been using Digg successfully to drive more traffic to its website, and provides a useful example for other newspaper and blogs to follow." Subs (British English for copy editor) thought 'the Horror, the horror' when SEO experts told them to write boring, American-style headlines. I wonder how many will commit suicide writing Digg-optimised headlines.

    Seriously, tying into social media is a good thing. I have mixed feelings about link-bait.

  • Kevin: "Yahoo! is readying the launch of an English-language version of its Twitter-like microblogging website, Yahoo! Meme, after quietly rolling out the site in Spain and Portugal." There is already a lot of talk on Twitter about what what hole in the market this is filling. It's being touted as part of Yahoo's social media strategy. I haven't seen the service. That being said, if it's a status update service that elegantly connects to existing Yahoo services, I can see it being useful for people who are heavy users of Yahoo services, but I can't see it as a break out product that will bring new users to Yahoo.

links for 2009-09-01

links for 2009-08-28

  • Kevin: An excellent overview of the use of social media by major newspapers in the United States with interviews with key editors in charge of the efforts.
  • Kevin: Steve Outing writes about a future of news conference in Aspen. About the the paid content debate: "Will news publishers charge for content online? Almost certainly, yes, for some of it — actually, for a very small part of it. I believe there is consensus among most (not all) news publishers that they can and should charge online users (and mobile, too) for the extra-special, can't-find-it-elsewhere, this-will-make-you-more-money-or-improve-your-life content they produce. And most of the news content that is the traditional fare of newspapers will remain free online, supported by advertising and additional revenue streams." He says that if publishers can get 10% their loyal online readers to pay for something, it would represent a significant source of new income.
  • Kevin: This is well worth a read, and while some of the problems might be more pronounced in the US, some of the issues are affecting newspapers in most developed countries. He points out: "Subscribers didn’t pay for news. Advertisers did." His point that newspapers are the product of monopoly thinking might be more relevant to the US than the UK where there is competition in 'national' daily newspapers. But he doesn't just criticise editors and managers, he also challenges journalists. "Journalists like to affect a garrulous Ludditism." It's definitely worth a read.
  • Kevin: We use Google Docs internally here at the Guardian to share documents and to collaborate. We also use Google Spreadsheets to publish data to our Data Store, where we publish the data that informs our stories. This is a great tutorial on how to get started with Google Docs.

links for 2009-08-27

  • Kevin: Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb – the best site for coverage of internet developments – writes of why people are wrong to abandon RSS. More importantly, he pulls back the curtain on how his team at RWW keep on top of the latest developments on the web.

    "I will tell you that I no longer use Google Reader or Netvibes. Instead, I use open source software on our own servers that is more customizable, more reliable and more efficient.

    Our team scans over thousands of company RSS feeds each morning for updates (what news writer wouldn’t do that?) and we use an open source customizable meme-tracker to make sure we haven’t missed anything important. We use open source RSS parsing software to set up a dashboard tracking all our competitors’ feeds, we use an RSS to IM alert system to get some feeds sent to us right away and at least some of us use Gmail Webclips for another layer of ambient feed tracking."

  • Kevin: "The universe of reviews, ratings and recommendations online open a tantalizing window on the collective consciousness."

links for 2009-08-24