Possibly the most overused word in sports

It’s used to describe “Jack Macpherson, a key figure in the 1960s Southern California surf scene,” a New York pizza maker and “Bo Schembechler, who became one of college football’s great coaches.”

They’re all “legends” or “legendary.”

With all due respect, is the surfing guy, according to Merriam-Webster, “a story coming down from the past; especially one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable?”

The man’s only been dead two weeks, and apparently, he’s already semi-forgotten.

I’m not a pedant. Promise. But I read “legend” nearly every time some sports figure kicks the bucket. Use “great” or “marvel” or “revered” or “sensation” or heck, even “titan” if you must. But let’s do us all a favor and save ‘legend” for writing about Atlantis and the Abominable Snowman.

They’re watching your edits (Part II)

A fellow named Chris Riley has built a web site that tracks the BBC news site’s judgment. Essentially, it follows what people are reading in a manner similar to a tag cloud and then compares it to the order in which BBC producers have placed the stories on the site. When I checked, the BBC site was “37% in touch with what we’re reading.”

Add to that, the NewsSniffer site, which tracks all of the changes made to BBC articles, such as corrections, style changes, added paragraphs and anything else (SEE: ‘They’re watching your edits’).

Hey, maybe the next innovation is a machine that sticks anal probes inside all the BBC producers to check for bias at the genetic level.

[via date transsexual]

Careful with that internship!

sausage.jpgThere’s some great discussion going on over at Mindy McAdams’ blog regarding what to expect on the job at a newspaper site and how those jobs are evolving. One of the key pieces of advice: be wary of getting stuck in an internship doing mindless cut-and-paste work, or as Kevin McGeever, my old boss at the St. Petersburg Times called it, “making sausage.”

I made a similar post about this previously (SEE: ‘Sigh. I’m a cut-and-paste expert’) based on the feedback from the many esteemed readers of this blog.

[UPDATE: 11-29-06, 10:55 p.m.] Lucas Grindley weighs in on the merits of so-called “web monkey” work.

Pulitzer Prize shows love to the Web

The Associated Press reported today that the Pulitzer Prize rules will now allow “newspapers to submit video and interactive graphics as part of their entries for the top prize in American print journalism.”

Well about gosh durn time! That’s a long-overdue acknowledgment that serious journalism can be done on the Web and need not be exclusively a printed endeavor.

Still, I wonder whether this will tip the hat even further toward the big papers with their huge resources and fancy video studios. Will an entry now need an amazing video package? Will hosting, say, a killer hurricane still suffice, even if there’s no Flash graphic explaining the storm?
[Thanks to Roger Simmons]

Oh, green, how magazines loathe thee

kermit.jpgSlate has an interesting article on the long-held belief in the magazine industry that green is the color of death and dismal newsstand sales. Not being a magazine guy, nor having majored in design, I had not heard of such a profound hatred of this color.

Green, to me, evokes casinos and pool halls, not beautiful women on magazine covers. It makes me think of the machines there, and the gambling in, say, a trusted online casino California has. Personally, I’d even rather have Slate’s dark maroon or the Houston Chronicle‘s eyeball-searing orange.

Dave Barry, the original crowdsourcer

Take a gander at Dave Barry’s hilarious Holiday Gift Guide, featuring such wonderful holiday fare as the motorized ice cream cones and nosehair clippers disguised as a finger.

But pay attention to each item’s credit lines. Aside from Barry’s enormous talent as a humorist, an important part of his success stems from the hordes of readers who contribute items to his columns. The gift guide is a great example of this. By giving credit to his readers and involving them in the process, (also known in buzzspeak as crowdsourcing), he has built a solid reputation as being the master of locating all things funny.

It doesn’t always take a fancy Web 2.0, database-backed, AJAX-powered, time-sucking online contraption to build a loyal readership that takes ownership of content. The most important ingredient is the initiative.

And if that doesn’t help, you might try luring them in with a free copy of the Great Big World of Nematodes coloring book.

They’re watching your edits

I caught this on Cyberjournalist: Some folks have set up a site called NewsSniffer to monitor the editing of comments and stories on the BBCNews site.

The site “aims to monitor corporate news organisations to uncover bias.” I’d count on this interesting idea spreading to other news sites if I were you.

The site also tracks story revisions and highlights them. If you made a dumb typo, NewsSniffer will call you out on it.

The online producers who work at the BBC may need to re-evaluate their procedures for moderating comments now that they’re under the microscope. How are comments moderated at your news organization? Is there a thought-out set of policies, or does it rely on the judgment of the moderator at the time? Is it done by a staff member or a third party?

If sites like NewsSniffer pop up everywhere, will it have a positive or negative effect on news site message boards?