When sources scoop you

Mediabistro features a story today on how a reporter interviewed a blogger and found the entire e-mail exchange posted on said blogger’s site before the publishing of her story.

Take heed scribes, for as Mediabistro’s Greg Lindsay writes:

“So, the idea of sources publishing their interviews and spinning accordingly — without knowing what part they play in the larger story — promises to complicate their relationship even further, a headache that working stiffs don’t need.”

Journalists should be notified that this could happen to them unless they explicitly state the interview is not for publication with their sources.

Closer scrutiny for media’s web stats

The New York Times reports on Forbes.com‘s troubles with determining how many users visit the site and who they are, a trend I predict is likely to increase in coming days with other media outlets.

All evidence suggests that advertisers are becoming increasingly concerned with the accuracy of measuring users’ activities. The Audit Bureau of Circulation is pushing a web data initiative, as is the traditionally broadcast-only Nielsen ratings.

Editors and managers should be taking a hard, honest look at where their traffic comes from and whether it will be able to stand up naked in its full glory to advertisers. Fortunately, many newspapers seem committed to building local traffic, not just focusing on raw page views.

On Forbes, the NYTimes reports:

“A closer look at the numbers raises questions about Forbes.com’s industry-leading success. For its claim of a worldwide audience of nearly 15.3 million, it has been citing February data from comScore Media Metrix, one of the two leading providers of third-party Web traffic data.

There are several problems with that statistic, though, and comScore has since revised the figure downward to less than 13.2 million as part of a broader revamping of its worldwide data for many sites. Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix, said the new figures were released “a couple of months ago” after it changed its methods for estimating global audiences.

There is also the question, given Forbes.com’s user figures, of where those visitors were going. According to comScore, 45 percent of its February traffic went to ForbesAutos.com, a companion Web site heavy on car reviews and photos. About three-quarters of the ForbesAutos.com traffic came from outside the United States.”

[Via MediaBistro]


speed dating in person has a nice, concise list of tips on how to recognize when your blog post is quickly going down in flames. While these tips follow the basic, timeless tenets of good writing, well, even good writers often forget said tenets in their blogs.

Tips with excerpts:

1. What’s the Point?

The worst thing a reader can be thinking after reaching the conclusion of your post is “What the heck was that all about?”…

2. Who Cares?

The worst thing a reader can be thinking early into your post is “Why should I bother with this?”…

3. Bad Chi

Bad flow makes for bad narrative and confused readers. Be sure that your sequence of ideas is both logical and compelling…

4. Detail Dump

Don’t go off on tangents that unnecessarily drill down too deep. That’s what links are for…

5. The Rambling Road

Don’t listen to the people who say you should never write a blog post over 250 to 400 words. Any piece of good writing is as long as it needs to be, but not one word longer…

Editorial board rocks the vote with video

Big kudos to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for posting full videos of the editorial board’s interviews with Florida’s gubernatorial candidates. The page features the entire interview with smaller clips broken down by topic (I’m sure THAT was fun to edit). [Full disclosure: I worked at the Sun-Sentinel in 2005.]

This is exactly the kind of thing at which online news sites can excel. These videos are a terrific example of promoting the democratic process and involving readers by opening the newsroom to them. Editorial boards are a ripe area of the newsroom that are just tingling with potential for the web.

If you haven’t already, check out the Spokesman-Review’s Transparent Newsroom iniative. Some may argue this approach is too much. I’m of the mind that newsrooms need more interaction with the public, not necessarily transparency; editorial boards are a great place to begin.

[via Online News Squared]

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]

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?

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.

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.

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?

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). In order to prevent your personal information and data from being jeopardized, a fake phone number generator, like the one on phonegenerator.net, can be a life-saver.

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

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.”

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)


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. Which brings to how tv technology has evolved as everyone has TVs at home and even a corner wall tv mount to install them. It is very interesting to think that now you can stream movies on site like 123movieshub.eu. Looking back at how this technology started, we sure have come a long way, and in a short amount of time at that.