Best Things I’ve Read This Week
The always awesome Paid Content has an excellent analysis by Nic Brisbourne on his version of the future of news. At it’s core – it isn’t anything you haven’t heard before: Better quality writing, investigative journalism and in-depth analysis are a commodity we in the professional news world have going for us, even as news itself is an abundance.
He suggests we should leverage this to reinforce our place in the market – and do so with less cost and without charging for access to the news. He notes the examples of TechCrunch, Pitchfork and Huffington Post leveraging their trusted brands into things they can charge for – and doing so with a low enough overhead to make it with decent online ad rates. It isn’t earth-shattering – but it is at least the most plausible plan I’ve ever heard.
On the flip side – there’s the privately-funded investigative model of journalism that’s still wearing it’s fledgling feathers – but it’s really rocking out. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out “Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices” in the NY Times Magazine. The long-form investigative narrative is the sort of journalism we all wish we were doing – and it wasn’t done by the New York Times, for once. The work on this piece was funded by a grant through ProPublica – who worked with the NY Times to get it into print. Could agreements like this be a part of the future for in-depth reporting? If work like this is what comes out of it, I’m sold.
News on News
- Ok, I get it, so maybe you want a more technology-oriented solution? How’s about an iPhone App that Automatically Picks the News You’ll Like ?An RSS reader that builds a custom news network for you based on your reading habits? That sounds like something we should be working with. Even if the reader doesn’t “pick us” to be in an individual’s mix, something like this makes news accessible to those who don’t have the time to find new news sources. Maybe that new source can be you?
- Every online news source has either considered or tried free classifieds, with varying levels of success (mostly bad). Boing Boing asserts that Newspapers can’t make themselves as simple as craigslist – a well-deserved slam on the classified pages of most newspaper sites. There’s a reason why Craigslist works and we may have missed the point in trying (pathetically) to duplicate their effort.
- Did you know The Guardian is the most bookmarked newspaper on delicious? I don’t really know what that says about them, but they must have a lot of news their readers find to be useful – or else they wouldn’t be bookmarking it. Check it out.
- First it was the bloggers, now it’s the tweeters getting into the press boxes. One twittering fan has gotten courtside press credentials at St. John’s – the first of his kind (and probably not the last).
Social Media News
- Breaking News: Social Media Is for Narcissists! To some people (i.e. my parents), it may seem like a no-brainer that my generation (Y, Why?) is full of narcissists in regards to social media. What is interesting is the surveyed groups of (much younger) Gen-Yers understanding that that might not be such a bad thing to really sell yourself in such a competitive world – not only in business, but in life.
- In related news, all that news about teens not being into Twitter may not be right. It isn’t so much that the proportion of teens on Twitter are low, but that the majority of social media users are older simply because the social web is growing up. Twitter – unlike many of the others – actually started with an older group and they’ve had a longer time to adopt it.
- Pat Thornton writes on Poynter about different newspapers’ approach to Twitter use – and how there doesn’t seem to be one right answer for getting a good ROI out of it. Automated accounts sometimes work, personal accounts sometimes don’t – so perhaps variety is the answer? (At Cincinnati.Com, we have both)
- As you know, not everyone is sold on social media’s value – not even all of those marketers and brands out there. As much as some old-school companies might be fighting, the stats say Social Media Resistance Is Fading Fast and adoption rates are soaring.
- If you’re the sort of journo is is doing (or desperately trying) multimedia and online work in several software suites, you might find this collection of software cheat sheets from 10,000 Words helpful. It outlines helpful hints for all sorts of video, audio and web programs.
- And while most of these little hints apply to marketing and advertising types,it might be good to know these Eight Twitter Habits That May Get You Unfollowed or Semi-Followed so you don’t look like a tool on the Internets.
No winners in online comment debate
On August 25, 2009
In Industry News & Notes
From the time newspapers took a cue from blogs and added comments to online stories, we’ve been embroiled in debate.
I’ve been in the thick of it at Cincinnati.Com, where a big part of my job is in monitoring our site’s comments, maintaining our moderation policy and fielding lots of angry correspondence from staff and readers regarding those comments.
Everyone wants to debate whether the comments have any value (they do to those who comment), who’s responsible for their content (the law says the commenter is responsible, not the institution, but that doesn’t stop people from insisting otherwise). They question if removing comments is stifling discussion on a topic – and if that’s such a bad thing.
Online comments are a gigantic albatross for our sites, but I believe we need them. While the amount of racist remarks, predictable political attacks and name calling on our stories could fill a book – they are worth it for the ones that really reflect a community’s mindset.
Newspapers are supposed to be a community hub – and we can’t fill that role without giving our readers a way to respond to the news the same way they do other places online.
At Cincinnati.Com, we do after-the-fact moderation (where users can report comments) on our 10,000+ comments each week in accordance with discussion guidelines we set up in May 2008. It’s an imperfect system – stuff stays on the site that shouldn’t because it isn’t found or reported – but people get to have their say.
When the comments really start flying off-base, sometimes we have to make the choice to remove them altogether. WaPo Ombudsman Andrew Alexander recently wrote about that paper’s recent struggle with such a choice. They use the same system as the Enquirer and it failed on them when a subject of their story was vilified by his family in the comments….