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.”

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.

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!

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. Cooking at home is as popular as ever, especially with the introduction of all sorts of new technologies and tools that make your time in the kitchen better and more effective than ever. Portioning, preparing, or just making sure your meal is immaculately prepared on a day to day basis, now is possible with the best kitchen scales from https://scaleszen.com/best-digital-kitchen-scales/.

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.

Gannett buys college paper FSView

In a suprising move, Gannett has bought up Florida State University‘s independent newspaper, the twice-weekly FSView, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed.

This news strikes close to home, as I was a former metro editor at the Independent Florida Alligator, another independent student paper nearby in Gainesville, Fla.

It’s generally quite difficult for college newspapers to support themselves as independents. It’s harder even to make the leap from being college-run to independent. Usually, it’s only possible at larger campuses.

The paper’s existence can be seriously threatened by the death or illness of the owner. A professional staff is difficult to come by. Competition from other local newspapers can make it a headache to retain the best student writers and editors.

Corporate ownership could be a saving grace. In Gainesville, the Alligator’s best writers are often swept away by the Gainesville Sun, which arguably offers more prestige but also little to no pay and generally lousier assignments (the pros usually take the really hot stories).
Perhaps being owned by a larger entity can provide some of that prestige and stability so that student editors can focus on doing good journalism. Furthermore, there would be a professional infrastructure for providing things like national advertising, information technology and even a network of professionals for guidance.

But corporate ownership could also diminish the independent voice of student journalists, which often gets them in trouble with student groups and school officials. Will Gannett be willing to stomach the fallout when a paper does something highly controversial like, say, publish the “f-word” in a cartoon? An incident like that would certainly trickle up to affect the corporate parent’s good name.

During the protests and boycotts resulting from the Alligator cartoon, much of the campus called for the heads of the paper’s editors. For better or worst, they kept their jobs and learned many a lesson in having to deal with readers’ adversarial sentiments.

A corporation would likely have dropped the axe.

How does your newspaper site stack up?

The Bivings Group has released a comprehensive study [PDF] on “the degree to which newspapers are embracing the Internet.” The study, which examines the Top 100 newspapers in terms of circulation, is an excellent one-stop shop to get ideas from other large newspapers’ practices. (Thanks to Desiree.)

The criteria of the study serves as a great list of basic technologies that newspaper sites should be offering (RSS feeds, story-level comments, blogs, most-popular lists, podcasts and more). Check out Mark Glaser’s breakdown of the study on PBS’ Mediashift.

Some of the report’s key findings:

  • 76 of the nation’s top 100 newspapers offer RSS feeds on their Web sites.
  • Only 31 of the papers offer podcasts.
  • 80 of the papers offer at least one reporter-written blog
  • Only 19 allowed readers to comment on the articles.
  • And much more…

So why are these technologies not available on so many of the top newspaper sites? Is it primarily a lack of initiative, development staff or something else altogether?

How Google Earth may shrink real estate sections

Never to leave a segment of newspapers’ profits untouched, Google has plans to launch interactive local ads in its new version of Google Earth, according to Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard (registration required). Google has apparently been scraping real estate data that would allow Google Earth users to see any home’s purchase price, property taxes and more. To know more about claiming dependents on taxes go through our site.

Google is also planning on selling Google Earth ads that will provide a sharp, emphasized image of the building along with a link to the store’s Web site. Hopefully, no one will be dumping the trash in the back when the satellite snaps the pic. I’d love to see a three-dimensional view of the Dumpster with the leftover fried rice inside.

Still, this all beggars the question: What services to real esate advertisers will local news sites be willing and able to offer that Google can’t? Will a text listing on a newspaper site be competitive against a beautiful three-dimensional image and an interactive map of the area?

What happens when Google perhaps starts integrating local crime statistics and school information into their map databases to give buyers a better sense of the area in which they are considering purchasing a home?

Hello world!

Welcome to Journalistopia, a source for news, debate and perspective on the latest happenings as related to online journalism, news industry trends, writing, editing and things to simply make your time on this Earth just a little better.

It’s my hope to do my bit in serving the public by serving you, the reporter, Web producer, editor or manager who is trying to slog through the torrent of changes affecting the news business.