Google Maps mashup based on book locations

google mapNow this is what newspapers should be doing to their stories!

Check out the new feature on Google Book Search, where some mashups have been created to show on a map all the locations referenced in the text of the book. A cool one: Around the World in Eighty Days (scroll down a bit). If only they could pop in a Carl Hiaasen book next…

[Via Download Squad]

SofaTube: A different way of looking at content

When you have a spare minute, drop by the new SofaTube, a service that swipes YouTube and Revver videos and completely reconfigures the layout to make it more viewable from far away (hence, on your sofa).SofaTube is apparently being marketed for use on home theater PCs, the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii,

In SofaTube’s case, they may run afoul of YouTube’s execs for how they are using the content. At least one court has cried foul over repurposing content the match date.

But picture this: How long will it be before someone starts remixing your news site’s headlines or other content into something more user friendly? Or, as I’ve said before, a site like News Sniffer may come along to monitor all your edits and republish all the filthy comments that are moderated. Either way, I get the feeling that Google News is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this sort of thing.

Should such operations be embraced for the attention and interest they generate? Or will they eventually go too far with using the five-finger discount for content?

Examining the relationship between writer and message board troll

Salon’s Gary Kayima has written a thoughtful, well-written (if somewhat long) piece examining how the outpouring of public commentary is affecting writers’ relationships with their readers. Also, make sure to browse through the comments.

Some highlights from his article:

“All of us — writers and editors and readers alike — are still struggling to get used to this cacophonous cornucopia of communication. It is a brave new world, filled with beautiful minds and nasty Calibans and everything in between. Its benefits are undeniable. But it has some downsides, too — not all of them obvious.”

“The information revolution has set off a million car bombs of random knowledge at once, spraying info fragments through the marketplace of ideas.”

“Formality? The context of online communication is more like being in your car in a traffic jam than sitting across a table from someone and having a talk — and it’s easy to flip somebody off through a rolled-up window.”

“Nasty and ignorant letters affect the reader, too. A few ugly or stupid comments in a discussion thread have a disproportionate impact. Like drops of iodine in a glass of water, they discolor the whole discussion and scare more thoughtful commentators away.”

“Forget the word “elite”: In our laudable all-American haste to trash bogus royalty, let’s not forget there’s a completely different category. It’s called professionalism.”

Thankfully, Kayima does not simply tear into message board users and does concede that certain controls can better the situation. For instance, Slashdot has a tiered system for weighing users’ contributions. Lifehacker requires you to ask nicely. Wikipedia has its own complex system and hierarchy of users.

Many in the online news industry agree that story comments, while excellent to have, often result in simple-minded, often boorish spleen-venting and do not constitute a true online community. Personally, I am not even slightly loathe to nuke a message board if the conversation takes an offensive or disgusting turn, particularly when it involves someone’s death.

However, through user blogs and other innovative tools, I believe it’s possible to elevate the conversation to something that is even more useful for both writer and reader.

World’s oldest newspaper goes Internet-only

Sweden’s Post och Inrikes Tidningar, recognized by the World Association of Newspapers as the world’s oldest newspaper still in publication, is shutting down its presses and publishing exclusively on the Web, AFP reports.

While this seems to be more a result of a competitive environment, it is good to note that the lower-cost online option exists to keep some traditions and publications alive, at least in some form. While the big papers aren’t going to be closing up shop any time soon, prepare to see many more college papers and high school papers going this route to preserve their publications (and journalism programs) and cut costs.

And for added fun, here is the complete list of the world’s oldest newspapers. Haarlems Dagblad, of the Netherlands, yer up!

[Thanks to Tim Welch for the tip.]

Digital Edge Award winners list

Eager to see who had snagged some Edgies this year, I visited the site, but their blog seems to be down. Never fear, your humble host was able to snag the list by previewing their RSS feed, so here it is.

Congratulations to all!

The list of Edgie winners:

Online Innovator

Steve Yelvington, Media Strategist for Morris Digital Works and Blogger,

Best Overall News Site

Circulation less than 75,000,
Daily News

Circulation 75,000-250,000, The

Circulation Greater than 250,000, The Washington Post

Most Innovative Multimedia Storytelling

Circulation Less Than 75,000

Studio 55 vodcast

Daily News

Circulation 75,000-250,000

John Muir Trail blog, The Fresno Bee

Circulation Greater than 250,000,
Tribune Interactive

Most Innovative Visitor Participation

Circulation Less Than 75,000,
Morning News

Circulation Greater than 250,000

Gasparilla – The Movie,

Best Design and Site Architecture

Circulation Less Than 75,000, World Online

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000, Austin American-Statesman

Circulation Greater than 250,000, Star Tribune,

Best Classified Innovation

Circulation Less Than 75,000

Gainsville Sun online classifieds and, The Gainesville Sun

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000

Courant Pets, The

Circulation Greater than 250,000 – Pets Classifieds,

Best Use of Interactive Media

Circulation Less Than 75,000

Pigskin Review, Globe-News

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000

News Sentinel

Circulation Greater than 250,000

– wireless and the

Best Advertising Program

Circulation Less Than 75,000

Latest News Expandable Ad – Prime Home Builders

Daily News

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000
Ad Services Program,

Circulation Greater than 250,000

Hooters Swimsuit Pageant & Beach Party,

Best Local Guide or Entertainment Site

Circulation Less Than 75,000, World Online

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000, Spokesman Review

Circulation Greater than 250,000,

Best Local Shopping & Directory Strategy

Circulation Less Than 75,000 Restaurant Guide,
Daily News

Circulation 75,000 to 250,000

Tri State Home Show, Evansville Courier Company

Circulation Greater than 250,000

ShopMinnesota, Star Tribune

Rob Curley on Studio 55 vodcast details

studio55.jpg Rob Curley, award winner for …er… lots of stuff and now a Washington Post staffer, is delivering the long-awaited details on how and why his former crew at the Naples Daily News created the often-discussed Studio 55 vodcast.

Studio 55 is a daily video news show for the Daily News‘ site that incorporates some of the slickest production values I’ve ever seen from a newspaper-generated news show. And what the heck is a “vodcast anyway? Curley answers:

We already had been producing a fairly slick daily audio podcast at the Naples Daily News, so I’m sure the word “podcast” had some sort of inspiration on us. But to be honest, our publisher *really* didn’t want us to call what we were going to produce a “newscast.” In fact, he was adamant about it.

I never really got to the bottom of why he didn’t want us to use that term, but I always sensed that it was because he wanted us to make a statement that what we were going to be doing was going to be very different from that of a traditional local television news program.

If you’re thinking about starting a video segment or are pondering changes to the one you do, make sure to read Curley’s recounting.

Microsoft offered cash for Wikipedia alterations

Microsoft got its hand slapped by Wikipedia after it was revealed that Microsoft attempted to pay writer Rick Jelliffe for altering Microsoft’s Wikipedia entry, according to an Associated Press report.

From the report:

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time until some media organization gets caught paying off a prominent Digg or Newsvine user. Maybe they’ll even call that person an “Outreach Editor.” Of course, some organizations are already buying search ads on Google for news articles…

Newspapers slashing intern budgets

Woe to the wide-eyed college senior who dreams of scoring that big, paid career-making internship. In these troubled times, newspapers are seriously slashing their budget for paid interns, according to a detailed report from Leann Frola, a Naughton fellow with the Poynter Institute.

Frola interviewed some of the top dogs at many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oregonian and Star-Tribune, so the article is detailed and very much worth a read.

I remember how saddened I felt when, some time ago, I saw the Oregonian‘s Web message declaring that they were no longer budgeting for interns. Not that I had my heart set on that particular paper, but it was still unfortunate to see. However, it appears to be getting worse, Frola writes:

Faced with tighter budgets, many newspapers are offering fewer internships this year than last. Interviews with 23 people including editors, recruiters, executives, news directors, career service directors and students indicate this year’s applicants have entered one of the most challenging intern markets in recent memory.

In another red flag for the college crowd, internship guru Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free-Press had this to say in the report:

Joe Grimm, who also writes Poynter’s Ask the Recruiter column, said he’s noticed a paradox with the recent cuts. At a time when it’s “harder than ever to hire or place good people,” enrollment seems to be up at communications programs, he wrote in an e-mail. “This seems to me to be a tough time for big media companies,” he said, “but a time of rapid growth for journalism.”

Translation: More wannabes, less openings. If you’re a college student, you will need an edge more than ever. Getting those Web skills might just help you do it, but you’ll still need to have a solid traditional news foundation.

Have you checked your domain name lately?

Martin Stabe reports on a strange occurence: Google Germany apparently lost its domain name,, to a domain squatter last night but quickly got it back.

The lesson: Check all of your domains right now and make sure your web host has them set to automatically renew. Then check them again. Squatters are highly aggressive at swiping even the smallest domain names. If you’re a small media outfit, you won’t have a pack of angry Google lawyers to bail you out.

Predicting Armaggedon for newspapers

terminator.jpgLucas Grindley gets all ‘Terminator 2’ on predicting a bleak and disastrous worst-case scenario future for newspapers. In his nightmare scenario, the print editions falter, then down goes the AP, and then, perhaps a really bad person or organization is left to pick up the pieces and fill the void.

He writes:

“When newspapers die, there will be an immediate and large unmet demand for news.

So what won’t get covered? That’s the immeasurable cost of all this. Failing financially now means failing the country later.

The founders built the check and balance of the press for a reason. Without it, politicians can spend and legislate with fewer investigative journalists to worry about. Businesses can bully consumers without so much as a phone call because the beat reporter has been cut. I could go on and on.”

Personally, I’m not as pessmistic, even if the numbers are depressing. I’m of the mind that newspapers will continue to be around for some time to come, though I admit, perhaps not in some markets by the time I’m near the age at which most die. If newspapers are to survive, they’re going to have to start thinking like Web sites have been: What can we do to be different from “that other medium.”

I don’t need to remind this audience that, whether we like to hear it or not, much of the reason people pick up a newspaper is for the comics, classifieds, weather report, movie times, tv listings and even that big stack of Sunday inserts. So what can we offer on a printed page that just doesn’t work for the Web? How can we make newspapers absolutely essential again? Hell, if I really had the answer I’d make my billions and retire to the Caribbean.

But some editors say the answer is running more perspective pieces than on the Web and less breaking news, as the Wall Street Journal has done with their redesign. That may be part of the solution, but the answer isn’t necessarily “better journalism” or a nicer design or more of the same kind of content only tweaked. I believe it’s introducing new kinds of important content that can only possibly work in a multi-page, easily flippable paper publication and that will become embedded in the social psyche, much as the weekend store ads have. Let’s start thinking hard-core about “what doesn’t work on the Web” and then do way more of that in the paper.

Remember that in ‘Terminator 2,’ they managed to prevent Armageddon, even if the big save did come from some unlikely people.

CNET, Yahoo and making use of social networks

Martin Stabe highlights a story by the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss covers a forum by the Association of Online Publishers in which representatives from CNET and Yahoo! get into the nitty-gritty of how they’re leveraging content from users and some of the practical challenges associated with that (including grumbling from the editorial staff at CNET).

Buried way in the story is an interesting nugget about CNET’s blogs:

“Every journalist has their own blog and are not allowed to “hide behind a brand”, [Suzie Daniels, head of business media at CNET Networks] said. They must use their real name because users nowadays expect transparency, honesty and authenticity. Where the authority of editors used to be in being in charge, it is now in participating and building a relationship and credibility with users in a more direct way. The life of a journalist, she said, looks very different now and is as much about responding and blogging as reporting.”

Sounds like a stab at the infamous unsigned editorial to me.

Web sites for citizen journalism techniques, tutorials

In response to a question on the Placeblogger listserv, I put together a list of Web sites that are great for citizen journalism tutorials (particularly free ones). Here’s the list:

Knight Citizen News Network -  This site was created by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism (another great resource), which is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. KCNN  features training modules, tutorial, featured multimedia and more.

J-Learning Online journalism tutorials galore for reporting and Web technology.

News U Run by the non-profit Poynter Institute and has many great (and FREE!) online journalism courses open to everyone.

OurMedia Personal Media Learning Center A great resource containing interviews with citizen media pioneers, summaries of media law and more.

EditTeach.org A site funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with many resources for editors, as well as a growing online section.

Online Journalism Review Wikis A series of in-depth articles here cover everything from news terms to ethics to how to make money off your work.

Investigative Reporters Resource Center Has great tips on developing leads and using public records. You can also buy cleaned public data from them if you’re interested. Check out the IRE listserv as well.

Reporters Cookbook a wiki with how-tos, particularly about computer-assisted reporting

Florida Public Records Handbook Perhaps your state has an author who has done what Joe Adams has for Florida. His book is a staple for Florida journalists. He highlights Florida stories that have used public records in them.

I’ve also been compiling whatever Journalistopia tutorials I write into the Tutorials category.

Suggest any other nifty sites in the comments, and I’ll be sure to add them to the post.