Scarborough: Online readership growing

Web readers can account for up to 15 percent of a newspaper’s audience, according to a recent study by Scarborough Research. The study analyzes the percentage of readers who only read the paper, readers who read both and readers who only read the Web version.

Check out the study [big PDF], a story from Editor & Publisher, Scarborough’s press release, highlights from PaidContent.org and a nice chart of the top 25 from Online News Squared.

E&P points out:

The research also bears out that audiences reading newspaper Web sites tend to be younger than those reading printed newspapers. Looking at some of the markets measured, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, for example, reaches 30% of adults 18-to-24 online while only 22% of that demo reads the print product.

Not surprising by any means, but still food for thought as far as how we present stories and market news sites.

While you’re at it, check out this story about the Audit Bureau of Circulations. They’re putting out what’s going to be called a Consolidated Media Report to track readership for newspaper sites.
[Via Online News Squared]

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The ethics of hunger

The New York Times‘ Michael Wines has written a compelling piece on how journalists deal with the crushing poverty they encounter in the course of their reporting. Wines essentially argues that it is ethical to provide help to people after the reporting is concluded.

Wines, referring to his trips to Africa, poignantly writes:

“So what to do when a penniless father asks why he should open his life free to an outsider when he needs money for food? How to react to the headmistress who says that white people come to her school only to satisfy their own needs, and refuses to talk without a contribution toward new classrooms? Is that so different from interviewing a Washington political consultant over a restaurant lunch on my expense account?”

It makes me wonder: Are we as journalists free, to a certain extent, to take off our objective fedora hats once our work is done? Do we, in the name of objectivity, too often sacrifice a measure of our humanity? And is this lack of humanity, or what some would say is subjectivity, one of the primary reasons that the public’s disdain of journalists has risen to such a degree?

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Google strikes with map coupons

The New York Times reports on how Google is now allowing businesses to upload coupons for free onto its Google Maps service. The acrimonious lede, which I confess I enjoyed, goes:

“Google is expanding its local directory business using the same sort of disruptive tactics it has used in other areas: giving away something for which others charge.”

Newspapers may again be left with the same dust in their faces that Craigslist kicked up. For newspapers to survive, the best and brightest need to redouble efforts to figure out what local news operations can offer that Google can’t.

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Photo doctoring hall of fame

Check out this Web page with a great list of infamous doctored or manipulated photos. The site makes for a great set of examples for pointing out what are some unacceptable uses. Photos on the page range from clone stamp-happy images to a simple manipulation of color that questionably went too far.

The link comes from Jim Lewis’ article in Slate about doctored news photos.

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The fix is in: blurry photos

CNet reports on a shiny new statistics-powered method for fixing images that are blurred from camera shake. And it takes a whiiiiile (like 15 minutes), according to the article. Here’s a description of the method:

“The technique is based on an algorithm that deduces the path that a wobbling camera took when a photo was shot, then uses that path to reverse much of the resultant blurring. The method isn’t a miracle cure, but researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto have used it to significantly help a wide variety of sample images.”

The technique involves more manipulation than simple color balancing and toning. Also, it seems to occasionally alter the coloration of the photo a bit. However, if the technique restores the image as actually seen by the photographer, does it therefore make it ethical?

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My kingdom for a sat phone

Paul Conley spins a great “when-I-was-your-age” yarn about his encounter with a stubborn payphone in 1986 while trying to file a story for NPR.

In order to send my interviews to D.C., I had to connect my tape recorder to the pay phone. It was a cumbersome process that involved fitting a strange piece of gray-colored foam rubber over the mouthpiece. But I couldn’t get it to work…
And I struggled and fumbled with this for a long time until — believe it or not — a female sergeant based on Air Force One came over with a tool box to help me dismantle the phone and connect the recorder directly with a set of alligator clips.

I couldn’t help thinking about how I drove around downtown Miami during the recent Castro celebrations *attempting* to file video with a cell phone-based laptop connection. A Toyota RAV4 does not a comfy editing station make, and Starbucks with their Wi-Fi spots are a tough find in Miami (little Cuban coffee shops rule there).

The technology evolves, but somehow, the headaches seem to stay the same.

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What lurks beneath AOL

There’s a Web site up now where you can poke around the searches of millions of AOL users, information that was accidently released to the public. Check out AOLSearchDatabase.com. Google hasn’t indexed it as of this writing.

Using some computer-assisted reporting, I’m sure newspapers can write up at least one good story based on this info. [Updated 2:42 p.m.: Check out this great little person/big picture story from the New York Times.]
If you search around the database, you’ll find there are some truly sick, depraved AOL users out there. Some of those search terms, as buddy and databasing aficionado Matt Waite puts it, “will rot your soul.”

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TV station citizen journalism

Check out this TV Technology.com story about how TV stations are getting into all the citizen journalism rage. (via Online Journalism Blog)

camera

Being that there are only so many folks out there with cameras, it seems as if though media outlets will have to increasingly compete for the loyalty of the best citizen journalists. Those who wish to succeed had best take pains to understand why drives people to contribute (attention, recognition, serving humanity and a little cash at times, among other reasons) and what will keep them coming back.

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Look into my eyes…

SmartMoney has a great article on how to use your eyes to influence people, win friends and improve your daily dealings with others (via Lifehacker). In journalists’ case, using your eyes could help you get the story and build sources.

An excerpt:

“The eye contact changed all that. I’d compare it to using a Sawzall for the first time, that moment you realize you could cut through pretty much any wall in the world if you had the right blade. With my eyes, I calmed them, slowed them down, and did so without knocking them over or humiliating them. I used my eyes to upset the speed and indifference of their routines and simply register my presence by asking them to do a double take. It worked every time. They didn’t know me, but then, suddenly, it seemed they did. I thought of it as a kind of dominance, holding them in the kind of invisible grip you might have once seen employed by a villain in a DC comic. I got discounts I didn’t deserve, a room facing the water. I was warned off the calamari and onto the crab cake. The desk clerk perked up when I arrived at the hotel and stood up straighter when I checked out.”

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Alert: Internet Explorer 7 downloads automatically

Microsoft will be releasing its new Internet Explorer 7 as an Automatic Update, according to a CNET report. This update stuff is a huge deal because: a) it will likely cause a quick, sharp drop in IE6 users since it’s automatically downloaded, and b) IE7 could cause certain layouts or features on your Web site to break because of changes and bug fixes.

The Web development team should begin combing through the Web site IMMEDIATELY with IE7 Beta 3 (find it here) if they haven’t started already. Also, staffs should be testing whatever content management systems or other Web-based software (e-mail, photo archives, etc.) to ensure that it all works in IE7. While IE7 won’t automatically install, it will automatically download.

When you install IE7 Beta, make sure it’s on a computer on which you don’t need IE6. Unfortunately, you cannot install more than one version of Internet Explorer without doing funky stuff like editing the computer’s registry (I know, I tried it!).

Browser testing panic aside, newspapers should re-examine their RSS feeds. IE7 features a user-friendly, built-in RSS system, which means that more people will likely start subscribing to your site’s feed.

Thought of delivering ads through the feed? Now might be a good time to ponder it considering the potential increase in RSS users. Only 80 of the 100 largest newspapers are now delivering ads through RSS, according to a recent study by the Bivings Group.

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More conferences, wonderful conferences

A few more conferences coming to my home state of Florida:

Poynter’s National Writers Workshop is coming to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 1. Being that the conference is over a weekend and a measly $90 if you register now, this is definitely not one to miss. Last year’s conference, which I attended and was also hosted by the Sun-Sentinel, was packed with many a great mind. NWW is especially great if you’re a student in Florida. Most conferences are far more expensive, but NWW still offers awesome career advice, workshops and networking opportunities.
Frankly, this year’s speaker list looks even better than last year’s, and that’s saying a lot. They’ve got Jacqui Banaszynski from the Univeristy of Missouri, who dropped by the St. Petersburg Times this summer and delivered a helluva talk to the staff on how to write profiles. Rick Hirsch from the Miami Herald is coming by, and he’s heading up soom neat changes at the Miami Herald and Herald.com. There’s Matt Cooper from Time, and my old professor William McKeen, a great mentor (as well as a fabulous resource on The Beatles).

***

Also in Florida is the Society of News Design’s annual conference on Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, hosted by the Orlando Sentinel. Check that out too!

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Online News Association conference registration open

Come one, come all! Registration for the ONA conference in Washington D.C. on Oct. 5-7 is officially open. Yee-haw!

Here are the details from ONA:

Early bird registration fees are $399 for ONA members, $549 for non-ONA memebers. Early bird registrations ends Sept. 1, 2006. Fees after $449 for ONA members and $549 for non-members. ONA student members fees are $150, while student non-members will pay $200. You can get more information on all registration fees here.

You can register for the 2006 ONA Conference here.

Hotel rooms may be booked for $186 per night until Sept. 8. Reserve early to get that rate: (202) 393-1000. You can also register online at the Capitol Hilton.

Details of the conference, including agenda and speakers (when they are finalized, sponsorship opportunities and other important information can be found on the 2006 ONA Conference blog.

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