Monthly Archives: February 2005

More fretting over the ‘death of the newspaper’

Keyword: . Editor & Publisher reports on The Washington Post pondering the demise of print (demographics and lifestyle changes are said to be the real problem) at the same time as gives an overview of the same concerns, including the strange assertion in Press Gazette that internet TV news could spell the death not only of print, but of radio and TV news.

This sounds far too much like the doom-mongering for print that came with the introduction of both radio and TV news, and is still asserted with reference to the internet. The main danger to the future of print seems to be the extremely low investment in it as a business, but this is part of a wider commercialisation of news that the new trend in ‘citizen journalism’ seems to be addressing.

We’re living in a time of flux. Quite fascinating, really.

Where a good blog can take you

Keyword: . Granted, most of us don’t live in the middle of a war zone, but it’s heartening for bloggers everywhere that Salam Pax – the Baghdad Blogger – has won a Royal Television Society award for the programmes he made with Guardian Films and Newsnight. Added to the increasing success of Super Size Me-style documentaries it seems there’s a public (and awards panels) getting hungrier for independent, alternative viewpoints.

Another search tool

Keyword: . The Search Engine Journal sings the praises of TurboScout, a website that allows you to search a good dozen or so search engines – but not at the same time.

It’s a bit of a cheeky way to make some money – piggybacking on the search technologies of others – but could be attractive for those of us who don’t want to have to remember all those search engines and use them individually.

It would of course be useful if TurboScout told us which engines were good for what types of searches…

Readers want more video

Keyword: . That’s the upshot of this report from the Online Publisher’s Association, which also has the useful stats that,

“The largest proportion, 66 percent, report viewing streams of news and current events, while 49 percent see movie trailers, 29 percent eyeball music videos, and 27 percent check out sports highlights. Those figures might be somewhat skewed, however, because many of the sites included in the survey were online newspapers or magazines.”

Somehow, however, I can’t see publishers investing just to please these surfers.

Ignore at your peril: the beauty of the email newsletter

Keyword: . If you’re a news organisation with a website, there can be far better uses of your resources than creating an email newsletter. It creates a constant relationship with your audience, reminds them of your existence, and can even create a feedback loop that leads to better stories and more participation in discussion.

Radio 4’s The Message is one good example of this, with a weekly newsletter and email facility on its site (that’s pretty much it apart from audio of the last broadcast), and the BBC as a whole are very good for email updates – their sport section, for instance, allows you to receive email alerts for your favourite team. The Guardian have a number of email services for specialist areas such as media, football, cricket, travel, education, society and so on, which surely drive a significant amount of traffic to the site. And Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow co-authors their excellent Snowmail service, which adds a personal touch to the medium.

I could go on, but I’d rather wait for others to email me their recommendations…

UPDATE (Mar 7 05):

What makes a good blog posting?

I’ve been mulling this one over in my head: what makes a good blog posting? Here’s my bullet point list, based on a mix of reading and browsing:

  • Firstly, it should have a clear headline. None of this cryptic, punny rubbish – tell me what it’s about. Now. Chances are I’m reading this in a list of headlines and I need to know if it’s relevant.
  • Secondly – and this is not a blanket rule – but it shouldn’t be overlong. Note I don’t say “short” – what I mean is it can go on for a while if it’s a worthy analysis, but otherwise, don’t keep us waiting with fluff.
  • Thirdly: focus and relevance. Pick your subject and stick to it.
  • Clarity.
  • Transparency – link to everything you mention. And deep-link: that is, don’t link to the homepage, link to the specific page that concerns what you’re talking about.
  • Knowledge – why would we read what you write, if you cant back it up?
  • Finally, the best blog postings have personality – a passion about the subject and, if appropriate, a wit in talking about it.

Now, if you want to read someone else’s opinion, The Washington Post give their tips here.

Clearing out my Bloglines

Keyword: . I’ve been clearing out my Bloglines subscriptions as they seem to have grown out of control to the extent where I never actually get around to reading them. So, if I don’t see me reading them every day, they’re gone – or at least moved to a place where I’ll still check it, albeit less often.

Out goes News Dissector, which, er, dissects the day’s news (in America), as does the similarly focused Media Matters for America, Nieman Watchdog and Orcinus. I’m tired of reading about America – it’s like I’ve been watching depressing art films for months and have decided to enjoy myself for once with Dodgeball instead.

NEWSgrist looks eclectically curious, but is still out – likewise The Revealer. And while I like the idea of The Smoking Gun, reading it every day is a silly idea.

Finally the whole of my ‘general’ folder goes out the window: Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok’s comment on microeconomic theory and the globalization of culture at “Marginal Revolution”, and alternative media site AlterNet. Out go “Iraq: The Model” and “Baghdad Burning,” which respectively support and oppose the U.S. military intervention; the right-wing “Edge of England’s Sword” and the pro-war leftist “Harry’s Place.” “Slugger O’Toole” ‘s blog covering the Northern Ireland beat, and “A Fistful of Euros”’ overview of Western European politics. BlogAfrica‘s syndicated blogs from across that continent, Living in China‘s expatriate perspective on Chinese politics and society and Japanese tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Joi Ito (“Joi Ito’s Web”) also get ditched. Really, who was I kidding?

From hacks to hackers: the future of celebrity journalism?

Keyword: . I was pretty amused when a contact emailed me Paris Hilton’s phonebook, which has been hacked and distributed online. Tempted as I am to call her dad and ask for a loan, or ring Fred Durst for a casual chat there wasn’t much I could do with it. Mainly because it’s not journalism – just a hacker who wants to spread some gossip – but it’s perhaps a sign of how celebrity journalism in particular may go: how long till hacks have their own hackers? (sorry, couldn’t resist that). Paris certainly isn’t the first, as this article attests.