Internet Explorer 7 add-ons for the busy Web producer

Make sure to mosey on over to Wired News for their list of seven essential Internet Explorer 7 add-ons.

At the top of the heap for us newsroom denizens is ieSpell, a little tool that spell checks all the text you input into a Web form. I have been anxiously awaiting a tool like this for IE, which is usually the preferred Web browser of content management systems everywhere. Firefox 2.0 has a similar function, which has certaii…er… certainly saved me a few times.

Of course, many of the add-ons are meant to replicate behaviors found in Firefox, such as the Inline Search (which, by the way, also works in IE6). But I suppose we’re all used to the imitating-Firefox bit by now anyway…

[via Lifehacker]

World’s best machinima (movies made from video games)

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Now I must admit; I have been skeptical of machinima because the few videos I had seen were relatively sophomoric productions. However, many of the videos showcased by Slate are actually polished and funny productions, since people like to play different types of games, including the action bank slots game, fluffy favorite, and baccarat online for the people which like casino games online, if you are one those people you may be interesting in the info from
youtube-warcraft.jpgMy favorites: The Avril Lavigne music video made with “The Sims 2,” the comedy in French made with a flight simulator game, the Evel Knievel-style skiing adventure short made in “Line Rider,” and –if you’re not too prudish– a “World of Warcraft-“made spoof on the Broadway musical Avenue Q with its theory on why the Internet is around (porn, that is). Okay, maybe that last one IS sophomoric, but heck, it was well-done sophomoric.

I fervently believe that elements of gaming are going to increasingly become important for journalism. The interactivity, 3D exploration and feeling of community will likely be be increasingly replicated to provide a richer experience on online news sites. Randy Stewart recently wrote a date rich women.

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Google Maps gets more detail


The Google Maps team has officially announced some very cool new added detail to certain large cities when in the standard “Map” view. However, the new detail isn’t (yet) available through their API, so tough luck for your lovely mashups. No map-detail love for Orlando either, though the old homestead in Miami got some.

Some readers at the Washington Post have suggested all sorts of new levels of detail, which could very well turn Google Maps into a clunky –though admittedly useful– GIS map like this one.

For my two cents, Google should instead focus on implementing a variation of their relatively new polygon feature so that users can create meaningful linear information, such as outlining bike trails and defining boundaries. Adding all those layers into the main map data will just make Google Maps even slower than it already is!

Survey: Sports writers hate them blogs

According to a University of Mississippi study by Brad Schultz, 74 percent of sports writers surveyed disagreed that “blogging builds audience,” and 67 percent believe that those who read the blogs do not consume their traditional sports content.

Is anyone surprised? If we assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s true that people who read blogs don’t consume traditional sports content, then doesn’t that build audience?

It’s a shame really. Sports blogs can often become some of the most successful blogs, particularly at mid-size and small newspapers that don’t have strong national audiences for things like politics, entertainment, technology and lifestyle. As any sports blogging enthusiast will tell you, blogs such as Darts 501 also provide an outlet for the great tidbits that never make it into the paper’s story.

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Foolish, foolish writers. Just because you don’t like blogs or prefer to write long pieces for the paper doesn’t mean you can’t understand that they have an important and unique place in journalism now.

[Thanks to Will Sullivan]

Another Florida college paper bought by Gannett

Reports emerged today about Gannett purchasing the Central Florida Future, the newspaper of the University of Central Florida, which is the sixth largest university in the nation.

This comes on the heels of Gannett purchasing the Florida State University paper, the FSView and Florida Flambeau.

I can only imagine that Gannett is circling over my alma mater’s paper, the Independent Florida Alligator, after the general manager of the Alligator retired. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I was formerly the metro editor there.)

On the one hand, this is great for the financial stability of the paper and for potentially providing an advertising network and professional contacts for the students. It could mean the survival of a struggling college publication.

On the other, it bodes ill for the independent voice of these publications. For better or worse, Gannett will have to rubber stamp the content of these papers, which means some of the more daring (or inappropriate) content could be quashed.

And do we really need more of a corporate presence on college campuses than what already exists? I remain cautious and skeptical.

[UPDATE 02-15-07]: Bryan Murley also appears to be concerned.

Al’s Morning Multimedia in your inbox

I’ve been a longtime subscriber now to Al’s Morning Meeting, a daily e-mail newsletter (or RSS feed) providing excellent story ideas by Poynter’s Al Tompkins. But aside from his thoroughly researched ideas, Al has recently begun providing a daily dose of multimedia, which makes the list even more worth subscribing to for all us Web heads.

Today, Al highlights a slideshow from the Boston Globe about a Marine who took his own life after being refused a hospital bed for post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a great example of an audio slideshow and of how the audio truly drives these pieces.

Sign up, and see if you enjoy. I know I do!

And for more audio slideshows, Flash graphics and other regular multimedia goodness, check out Mindy McAdams’ Teaching Online Journalism, Angela Grant’s In The Circle, MultimediaShooter and Interactive Narratives (which hasn’t been updated in a while but has a great archive of this sort of stuff).

When is the gee-whiz Flash graphic worth it?

Online Journalism Review has written a piece about how to decide when to treat a story with a Flash graphic or when to just go the basic HTML page route (thanks Angela). Certainly, many newsrooms are exercising greater sophistication with making this decision than they have in the past.
But one issue in regards to this that seldom gets discussed is accessibility. Newspapers have a pretty dismal record of catering to visually impaired and other special-needs users. When planning a Flash graphic for the news site, you should also ask yourself:

1) Is this graphic conveying any crucial information to the reader, such as where to get ice during a disaster?

2) If we do a graphic, is there a way to provide the information in an alternative form, such as a transcript or a static HTML page that contains no interfering style elements or Flash graphics?

While I’m not an evangelist for making every single thing on a news site accessible (where would we be without cool Soundslides after all), do try to consider ways where you can include everyone in your journalism when possible.

New York Times publisher: ‘I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years’

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published a story in which New York Times owner/publisher Arthur Sulzberger admits the future of the printed Times is bleak.

From the story:

Given the constant erosion of the printed press, do you see the New York Times still being printed in five years?

“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either,” he says.

Sulzberger is focusing on how to best manage the transition from print to Internet.

“The Internet is a wonderful place to be, and we’re leading there,” he points out.

Hearing this from the head honcho of the Times, I can only imagine journalists and production people up north are pooping their pants. These are some scary, sobering comments.
Only time will tell, but let’s hope I won’t have to eat crow for my post about Lucas Grindley’s predictions.

Orlando Sentinel morning news crew gets started

orlandosentinel.gif[Full Disclosure: I am a web producer for the Orlando Sentinel.]

Online news head honcho Anthony Moor shares on Cyberjournalist some of the changes going on at the Sentinel, including the creation of a morning news team that will deliver content to accommodate the surge in early user traffic. And, check out the announcement from senior editor John Cutter for a photo of the crew in their cool t-shirts.
The paper has essentially rearranged the schedules of some reporters and photographers in order to follow up on overnight happenings and get breaking news content earlier in the day, particularly photos and video.

From the story:

“For a paper our size, this is a significant commitment of resources to Web publication — specifically targeting the morning timeframe when most newsrooms are somnolent but Web sites are seeing their highest traffic of the day,” [Moor said.]

It’s an important acknowledgment: the news cycle and staffing needs of the Web site are different from the newspaper’s. If your staff isn’t working to target lunchtime and mornings with the Web site, well, they’re your page views…