Thursday, February 28, 2008

Globe downsizes, spares

The Boston Globe has announced another round of reductions as the business model for newspapers continues to deteriorate. But, in something of a silver lining, publisher Steve Ainsley says will be spared. Obviously the online component is where the Globe's future will be, as we could see with Emily Sweeney's visit to our class yesterday.

Tough times for journalists — but if you can develop your social-networking, blogging and multimedia skills, you'll be in far better shape for what comes next.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here are my snow pictures

Hoping to see yours soon. Click on the picture for a Flickr slide show. These were taken earlier today in Magnolia, down by the ocean.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Trekking through blogland

I don't know what you've been doing with your Friday night, but I've been spending mine catching up with your blogs. I haven't written a round-up this time. Instead, I've left a comment on every blog that has new content.

Most of you are doing very well. If you haven't posted lately, you need to jump in. Don't make this a bigger deal than it really is. Once you start banging out items three times a week, you'll find that it becomes second nature and doesn't take all that much time.

Maybe we can see who posts the best snow picture for Monday's class. Hmmm ... I suppose I should, too. I'll try to remember to bring my camera outside tomorrow morning while I'm shoveling.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blogger now compatible with Safari

If you're a Mac user who prefers Safari, Blogger now reports that version 3 of Safari is compatible. This fixes a longstanding issue. You may have made the switch from Safari to Firefox earlier in the semester. If you prefer Firefox, fine. But if you miss Safari, you might want to give it another try.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Polk for crowdsourcing

Josh Marshall and the gang at Talking Points Memo have won a coveted Polk Award for their coverage of the U.S. attorneys scandal of 2007, which eventually led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Will Bunch calls it a "landmark day for bloggers," and it is. But it's also a landmark day for a certain kind of journalism.

You see, the TPM folks did not do that much original reporting. Rather, they relentlessly kept a spotlight on what other news organizations were uncovering and watched patterns emerge that weren't necessarily visible to those covering just a small piece of the story. This is crowdsourcing — reporting based on the work of many people, including your readers.

We'll be talking about crowdsourcing more in a few weeks. This week, though, keep in mind what Dan Gillmor says in the excerpt from "We the Media" that we're reading: "I take it for granted ... that my readers know more than I do — and this is a liberating, not threatening, fact of journalistic life."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Social-networking analysis

Here are some links that came up during our discussion of social-networking analysis last Wednesday:
Investigative Reporters and Editors offers a section of social-networking analysis resources.

Catching up with your blogs

It's hard to believe that the semester is almost half over. Most of you are doing a good job with your blogs. Remember, I'm looking for an average of three items a week of roughly 350 words per item. If you haven't been doing that, now is a good time to begin.

I want to encourage you to comment more on each other's blogs. I occasionally run into such comments, but not nearly often enough. I'd also like to see at least an occasional item in which you go out, do some reporting and take a picture. Items like that are a nice break from the usual practice of finding something that interests you, linking to it and commenting.

Please proofread your work and double-check your links. I'm surprised to run into its/it's errors. Remember, its is possessive, while it's is simply a contraction for it is.

Here's a round-up of what you've all being doing.

Bailey Clear
has found some unsettling journalism about the plight of sharks, whose numbers are being reduced because their fins are a delicacy in Asia. She also tells us about a video that documents what could be purchased with the money the U.S. government is spending on the war in Iraq.

Everybody's excited about beagles following Uno's win at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and Bianca Strzelczyk is no exception, telling us here and here about the action. She's also impressed with an unusually young political pundit.

Brendan Gupta weighs in with a long list of government scandals. He also tells us why he likes Barack Obama, and why he liked Dennis Kucinich before Kucinich ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A gigantic, rusting crane in Quincy is being used as a nest by falcons. Brian Benson explains why environmentalists are hoping to move the falcons before mating season starts. Brian is also startled to learn that Popular Science has ranked Boston as the third-greenest city in the United States.

Valentine's Day was a day for celebrity-couple break-ups at the New York Post, says Candice Springer. But what does it say that I've never heard of most of the celebrities? Candice also tells us that she liked Kanye West's performance at the Grammys. But his speech? Eh, not so much.

Even a sports junkie like Casey Ramsdell would sometimes rather look at pictures of athletes than read about them, which is why she's full of praise for She also ponders the high cost of attending Patriots game, and thinks back to the days when her father paid considerably less to take her to games.

Nobody missed Polaroid cameras until they were gone, including Chelsey Pieretti, who admits that she prefers her digital camera but laments the Polaroid's passing. She also informs us that Flava Flav is back on VH1, and observes that "the only instantly apparent benefit to dating him is never having to wear a watch."

Danny Kowalski tracks the spreading story over the Patriots' alleged spying over the years, noting that U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Philadelphia Eagles, is demanding some answers. Danny is also impressed at the way StubHub has revolutionized ticket purchases. All you need is money.

In a series of posts starting here, Derek Hawkins has been following coverage of the Northern Illinois University tragedy in the Northern Star, the student-run campus newspaper. He also notes that the Daily Free Press, at Boston University, is covering a story he wrote about last fall — professors who impose their political opinions on students.

Eleni Himaras is picking up some HTML and content-management skills while working on campus, hoping it will make her more marketable. She also tells of a pretty interesting exchange she had with investigative reporter Bill Dedman, which led to her figuring out how to put together a PivotTable presentation in Microsoft Excel.

Craigslist recently posted a photo of what looks like the world's largest snake, which prompted this response by Erica Tochin. Bad news: The snake is lost. In Boston. With the Patriots' loss now in the rear-view mirror, Erica is also looking forward to spring training and the Red Sox.

Erin Cahill points to a serious ethical problem: Advertising that looks like journalism. In this case, she notes, advertorial content from Beth Israel runs on the Web site for WCVB-TV (Channel 5) without any labeling to indicate that it's a paid ad. Erin also likes the PostSecret blog, explaining that it's connected her to strangers across the country.

Some serious on-campus hypocrisy at Duke University is the subject of this post by Erin Semagin Damio. After the lacrosse-team fiasco, she notes, university officials banned strippers from university events — yet they recently allowed a "Sex Workers Art Show" that sounds pretty offensive. Erin has also been blogging high-school basketball games.

The Hollywood writers' strike is over, and Jessica MacNeil observes that the outcome marks another step in the transition of television from broadcast and cable to the Internet. Also, Jessica tells us a little bit about Herbie Hancock following his surprise "Album of the Year" win at the Grammys.

Jessica Torrez-Riley has been relentless in her quest to find out why the Boston Globe has been replaced with USA Today on campus this semester, writing, "I prefer the Globe and prefer to support the local paper that at least sometimes covers news about Northeastern." She also assesses the Patriot Ledger's redesign, both on her blog and at Wired Journalists.

How would you like your most embarrassing phone call uploaded onto the Web for everyone to listen to? That's what Kelly Sullivan says happened in Fairfax, Va., when the wife of a school official chewed out a student, only to find out later that she was being recorded.

Lisa Newman explores the phenomenon of people who can't stand Hillary Clinton, and how that's playing out on the Web. "Hillary's supporters would probably walk out in front of a bus for her," she says, "and her opposition would gladly push her in front of one." Lisa also introduces us to an interesting form of, uh, journalism called "Red State Updates."

The Tribune Co. is the subject of this post by Maureen McLaughlin, who reports that real-estate mogul Sam Zell, the new chief executive, plans to cut as many as 500 jobs at the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and its other publications. She also tells us that drivers will soon have to pay $50 a day to bring gas-guzzlers into London

Mitchell Esteller is intrigued by Harvard University's plan to stop charging tuition to all but its wealthiest students, and wonders what implications that might have for Northeastern. He is also skeptical of a proposal by President Bush to set aside $300 million for families to send their children to private or religious schools.

New England Cable News founder Phil Balboni's plan to start a foreign-news service called Global News Enterprises caught Stacey Perlman's eye. "It's a good step for journalism as it's sad to say that in 2008 the United States still doesn't have a site like this," Perlman writes. She also considers the new Washington Independent, an experiment in nonprofit journalism.

Stephen Asay is interested in Amazon's newish e-book reader, the Kindle. "I love reading a book or a magazine. The tactile experience is one of many enjoyable aspects for me," he writes. "And yet I find myself really wanting a Kindle." Stephen is also impressed with the way Popular Science magazine's Web site was recently remade.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Film Your Issue"

Those of you who are already making videos will be hugely interested in "Film Your Issue," a journalism contest for people between the ages of 14 and 24. The idea is to make a two-minute video. Deadline is April 14.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feature-story guidelines

I've posted the guidelines for your 1,500-word feature story, which is due on Wednesday, Feb. 27. I've also added a link to the guidelines from the course documents, in the right-hand sidebar. We'll talk about this in class tomorrow.

And the winner is ...

Our own Brendan Gupta was the 1,000th person to sign up with Wired Journalists. Brendan wins a free lifetime membership — unless, of course, they start charging.