Responding to user revolts

protestors usaid.govSocial networking blog Mashable has a great roundup of recent revolts by communities of users, including recent incidents at Digg, Facebook and Second Life.

Some advice from the post:

“However, if you like to play it safe, the lesson learned from these virtual uprisings is to always engage your users in the decision-making process and be transparent in your policies. Regardless of your strategy, it is clear that fortunes can be won and lost in a matter of minutes in the world of online communities, so you best pay attention to the users that roam your virtual streets.”


Introducing the Journalistopia cartoon

Danny Sanchez Journalistopia cartoonToday begins the highly anticipated (by my mother anyway) run of the all-new Journalistopia cartoon!

In this blog about all things online journalism, I’ve written about the latest tips and trends for editors, writers, designers, photographers and more. But, yes it’s true. Between creating Important Commentary and producing Serious Journalism, I was secretly doodling toons all along. With the masses watching lonelygirl15 instead of the evening news and circulation taking a nosedive, perhaps us journos could use a few chuckles.

The Journalistopia cartoon won’t be published on any particular schedule, but I hope to put one out at least bi-weekly. The usual commentary will continue to appear on Journalistopia. Feel free to share and post the cartoons on your own blogs, just be sure to attribute with a link back to

The Journalistopia cartoon is dedicated to the memory of my late grandfather, Francisco Asencio, a man of limitless creativity who lived to share music, art and humor with the world.

See you in the funny papers…

New York Times slideshow: A Deadly Search

iraq.jpg[UPDATE: Fixed the broken links]

This morning, I ran across an incredible New York Times audio slideshow about two journalists who were on patrol with a group of U.S. soldiers in Iraq when a bomb exploded, killing one soldier and injuring several others. The journalists narrowly escaped being injured as well.

Amid all the political chatter about the war, pieces like these cut through the fog and show us firsthand what soldiers are experiencing in Iraq. Go take a look.

Your news site needs people pages

magnifying glass Search Engine Watch reports that 30% of searches done on Google and Yahoo are for the names of people. While there isn’t a breakout of what percentage of that figure is Britney and Paris, there’s still a key point here:

Your news sites should be more aggressively building search engine-friendly pages about popular figures. All of your newspaper’s previous stories about these people are a gold mine of valuable, keyworded content that can drive traffic to your site. See Times Topics for a good example of this.

The best part is once you set up your page to automatically bring in stories based on keywords, it populates itself and will likely bring in viewers with little to no hands-on management necessary. It doesn’t get any better than that.

[Photo by !borghetti]

Report: Google News negotiating deals with UK news orgs

google news[UPDATE: Google denies the claims made in the report.]

The Sunday Herald in Scotland reports that Google is in negotiations with several UK-based news organizations to license content for their free Google News service. Google has previously reached settlements with the Belgian press, French news service Agence France-Presse, and the Asociated Press.

More from the story:

“The deals are reputedly being kept strictly secret for fear that Google will end up having to pay for similar licences with all of the 4500 news services it carries on its news aggregator.”

“It now seems that Google has accepted it has lost the argument over carrying stories without paying for them.”

If the report is accurate, this could further open the floodgates even more for other news organizations demanding payment for use of stories. The intrigue continues.

[Via Download Squad]

Google adds neighborhood search

map-thumb.gifThank you, o Google Maps team for adding informal neighborhoods to the Maps search function. And thanks for apparently adding little ol’ Orlando (which, most regretfully, was snubbed when adding 3D-esque views for buildings).

The search function passes the preliminary smell test for Orlando, which has more dang neighborhoods than you can shake a stick at. However, the search does seem to occasionally have issues with neighborhoods that contain streets of a similar name (such as Baldwin Park and Baldwin Park Street). Nevertheless, it’s a great addition to the ever-growing map endeavor.

And for all you Mercatans, visit the Maps category for more fun stuff.

[Via Google LatLong]

Keeping the peace in online forums

trollBoing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow writes in InformationWeek about how to successfully manage online communities and not allow the jerks (or “trolls”) from taking over the discussion. From the story:

It can be distressing. If you’re part of a nice little community of hamster-fanciers, Trekkers, or Volkswagen enthusiasts, it’s easy to slip into a kind of camaraderie, a social setting in which everyone talks about life, aspirations, family problems, personal triumphs. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what brought you together — the fact that you’re together is what matters.

Then, almost without warning, your community goes toxic. Someone in your group undergoes a radical personality shift and begins picking fights, or someone new comes to the party with an agenda.

Check out the full story for more guidance on becoming a “troll whisperer.”

[Via Etaoin Shrdlu]
[Troll photo by aboveallprecious]

Come to Orlando; Be my boss

Golden opportunity here: is looking for a senior online editor!

Not only do you get to be part of an ambitious online newsroom initiative, you also get to work with really wonderful people, visit Disney World whenever you want and even get to tell yours truly what to do. I don’t do windows or foot rubs though.

The senior online editor oversees a team of producers that works on sports and breaking news, creates projects of all kinds and works to expand our local neighborhood efforts. There isn’t much “what’s an RSS feed?” going on here in Orlando. This is a Kool-Aid slurpin’ newsroom.

So all of you experienced online news gurus, check out the information below and contact AME Anthony Moor at if you’re interested in becoming part of a sharp, dedicated online news team.


Company: Orlando Sentinel
Position: Senior Online Editor for projects, community, sports, reports to AME/Online
Salary: Negotiable

Focuses on newsroom staff content development and management for Web projects, interactivity, community and sports. Manages the development of new Web products and content from reporters and editors created expressly for the Web, including staff blogs, message boards, commentary, multimedia, video/audio. Works with Sports to manage and develop high school sports and other sports-related Web initiatives. Oversees a team that also manages and develops our hyperlocal effort.

Ideal qualifications include: Seven years experience working for a newsgathering operation, including online experience, plus an undergraduate degree in journalism or related experience; a proficiency in Web skills, including content management systems, HTML, Flash, Photoshop; ability to lead in a collaborative environment with newsroom colleagues.

Don’t pass up the chance to live near world-famous attractions, stunning beaches and year-round sun and work for a fast-growing division of the Tribune Company. Orlando Sentinel Communications is an Equal Opportunity Employer and we encourage minority candidates to apply. Send inquiries to Anthony Moor, AME/Online at

Guidelines for online communities

Metafilter founder Matthew Haughey has an excellent post on his blog about his suggestions for how to build online communities. Go read it, and read it again.
Much of my time at the Sentinel involves working with a group of dedicated neighborhood bloggers who contribute their time and ideas to writing about local issues. Most of Haughey’s list closely mirrors many of the practices I’ve done my best to follow when working with these fine folks.

Sometimes, it can be easy to treat community contributors as specks of data on a screen. It’s the same phenomenon as when one angrily flips a birdie at another driver — something people seldom do face to face.  But the people who blog on your site, regularly drop comments or even send in a photo of their cat deserve respect and appreciation for their efforts.

Joyce Wiatroski is a foodie who believes strongly in natural foods and loves to share her appreciation of Central Florida arts. She is not user-generated content.

William Beem is a motorcycle aficionado who enjoys taking photos of the places to which he travels. He is not more page views.

Tim Welch is a film-making hobbyist, blogger and community organizer. He is not text on a screen.

Community contributors are not just “users” “generating content” and racking up page views for your site. Most of them are people who are just trying to have a good time and make their communities better — each in his own way. Amid all the page view goals and revenue pressure, don’t ever forget that.

[Haughey post via Etaoin Shrdlu]