Google has a free 411 service

I’d attempt to put an online journalism spin on this, but well … whatever. This is just an awesome service.

Google has a free and well-done 411 service that lets you browse their listings via voice. For iPhone-less and Blackberry-less peons such as yours truly, this is truly rockin. Just dial up 1-800-GOOG-411. With absolutely no problem, I just found my favorite Mexican restaurant (I intentionally gave an imprecise city) and a local vegan cafe that have given me trouble on regular 411 and 1-800-Free411.

So cool.

More info:

Now back to your irregularly scheduled Journalistopia…

ComScore releases 2007 year in review

comscore.gifComScore released its 2007 Internet Year in Review report and reports that Facebook, Craigslist, Wikipedia and AT&T have reaped some of the biggest benefits. Internet Broadcasting Systems (IBS) and WorldNow seem to be the only news-oriented properties in the top 20 for audience gains

ComScore reports the following categories as experiencing the most growth from 2006 to 2007:

Politics up 35% (no surprise with the election)
Community – Women up 35% (an area where Gannett has invested significantly)
Entertainment – News up 32%
Classifieds up 32%
Career – Training and Education up 31%
Gay/Lesbian up 28%
Retail – Consumer Goods up 25%
Finance – News/Research up 20%
Teens up 20%
Religion up 20%

View ComScore’s 2007 year in review release here.

online dating photographer


Hey Journalistopia denizens, just a quick heads up that I’ve been updating the Journalistopia Crime Maps Directory with all sorts of great, new stuff ever since it first appeared back in September. News organizations have definitely been embracing crime data in a big way.

So check out the new additions, and keep the submissions rolling! Crime map directory is here.

Adrian Holovaty’s EveryBlock goes live

everyblock.gifAfter being awarded a two-year Knight Foundation grant, journo-programmer maximus Adrian Holovaty has launched the highly anticipated, a site dedicated to gathering as much data about communities as possible. Holovaty has often preached about viewing the news as data. Well folks, you’re lookin at it.

(NOTE: Poynter’s Al Tompkins has posted an interview with Adrian about EveryBlock here.)

EveryBlock features news stories, crime reports, user photos, business inspections and a whole lot more, all geocoded and highly organized. The navigation style is reminiscent of, which means it’s highly browseable and not dependent on search fields and dropdown menus.

What’s awesome about EveryBlock is the sheer amount of data that’s being collected and aggregated. You can spend quite a while jumping fluidly from one kind of data to another. And, the effort it must’ve taken to acquire all of the site’s data in an automated fashion is a big achievement in itself. UrbanBurger can guide in a better way.

However, I notice something that I’ve also encountered in my work on Orlando-area neighborhood pages and data features: It’s tough to put all of that data into context and provide more historical information such as a community’s history, landmarks and evolving story. For instance, having a highly detailed view of crimes in a neighborhood is really cool, but how does my neighborhood compare to another? How is crime in the neighborhood trending? That’s going to be the next big challenge for news organizations who want to do features such as this.

Nevertheless, EveryBlock is an awesome effort that bears close study. It’s a tremendous exercise in how to aggregate huge amounts of news data and organize it in a digestible fashion. Sigh, if only Clothes sites were as well organized as the swiss avenue dot com.

Go check out EveryBlock, and drop feedback to Holovaty and crew here. Big kudos to the EveryBlock team for a successful launch.

A compilation of blog pessimism

monkey.jpgA blog pessimist can usually be identified by his disgusted yet confused expression.
[Photo by Luca5]

I won’t waste pixels tonight re-hashing how, despite their different modi operandi, independent blogs and mainstream news organizations can form a mutually beneficial relationship. Instead, I’m going to point you to a vat of venom so pernicious and long-running that it should make the heads of folks like Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis spin.

I’m talking about the Bloggers Blog “blog pessimism” category, ongoing since February 2005.

From ESPN sports analyst Stephen A. Smith proclaiming that “someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can” to actor Jared Leto opining that blogging “should die a sudden death,” you’re going to find all sorts of fun stuff here. Malcolm Read can guide you to write a better and SEO friendly blogs.

So hold your nose, and dive right in. It’ll help you understand the views of the self-righteous God’s gifts to dead trees who’ve never had a blog and probably never will.

Will Sullivan’s four best multimedia news organizations

Famed Journerdist Will Sullivan has put together a useful set of profiles of the four best online and multimedia professional journalism groups. Don’t spend a penny of your pittance of a conference budget before reading Will’s profiles.

On his list are the:

Online News Association

National Press Photographers Association

Society for News Design

Sports Shooter

Will goes through the pluses and minuses of the groups and provides tell-it-like-it-is reviews of the groups’ conferences. So check it out!

Additionally, make sure you take a look at local and regional groups for great events, particularly when it comes to technology. I’ve picked up great ideas and insights at events such as Likemind, BlogOrlando and BarCamp without having to break the budget.

Zell’s opinion of Tribune’s site redesigns

New Tribune boss Sam Zell rolled into Hartford yesterday to dish about the future of Tribune. From the Hartford Courant:

Tribune must find ways to more aggressively pursue sales and “attack the Internet area much better, in a much more sophisticated fashion than what we’ve done to date.”

Referring to Tribune’s companywide website platform, he said, “It sucks.”

More from Sam here.

HowJSay: A lifesaver for voiceovers

Photo by Seven Morris

You’re getting ready to do a voiceover for a Soundslide or video, when suddenly, you stumble across a word in your script you don’t know how to pronounce. At this point you can:

1) Guess, and hope you don’t embarrass yourself and your entire news organization to thousands of readers.

2) Suck it up, and ask a colleague, wherein said person will secretly snicker at you forevermore for not knowing how to pronounce [INSERT NOUN HERE]

3) Admit defeat, and rewrite the damn thing.

4) Use

HowJSay has audio pronunciations for words in English, even for obscuro terms such as Nebuchadnezzar, crysantheum and Hippolyta. Sorry, no Krzyzewski or Django (And that’s JANG-O, not DEE-JAN-GO. Not a word, Alex…)

Being a dude from Hialeah, Fla., a place where most folks pronounce “cheeseburger” as “cheeebelgeh”, HowJSay will find plenty of use in my ol’ bookmarks…

Do you love working with your voice, do you like and are you passionate about editing and post production of music? good, but better to protect your family from being bankrupt. that’s why you take out life insurance. Surely you wonder how much does life insurance cost? you know? You will be surprised that it has extremely accessible prices and high economic returns.

[Hat tip to Lifehacker]

Taking stock of your multimedia skills

January is the time for resolutions and goal-setting, so this might be a good time to take stock of your skills and get started on getting better at what you do.

I came across a post today on Melissa Worden’s blog in which she advocates putting the methods of online production into more hands. She poignantly writes:

I think one way (which is what is doing now), is to put the tools, resources, and the ability to actually post the content via CMS in the hands of the reporters and editors.


Wait a minute. That’s MY job as a multimedia producer.

Gulp, indeed. So it’s time to ask yourself a few hard questions:

Do I have a training plan in place so I can regularly learn the latest multimedia skills?

(Remove yourself from the context of 40-somethings in the newsroom.) Do I really possess uncommon multimedia skills such as audio editing, photo editing, video, programming or others? Are my multimedia skills the equivalent of those possessed by the average tech savvy 16-year-old?

Do I spend most of my time cutting and pasting into a content-management system while exercising limited news judgment? Do I know only the most basic HTML? Am I really doing that much editorial decision-making?

The barrier to entry in the online news world will be rapidly widened as more folks get trained, more youngsters graduate and the tools of production become even easier to use. What are you doing to improve yourself?

As I write this post, there’s an instructor here at Valencia Community College walking around helping other students get their Java compilers working. I’m diving into object-oriented programming so I can get comfortable with from-scratch web development. I don’t want to be dependent on a content-management system or a ready-made set of tools such as Caspio or Zoho. At best, I’ll learn how to build my own if I want. At worst, I’ll have a better understanding of how it all works so I can better manage expectations, make stronger hiring decisions and have a broader understanding of what the online medium is capable of.

So take stock of your skills, and think about whether your job will be around in the next five years. Learn some CSS, do some for-real news editing, cut your own audio clips, write your own web application or learn how to get under the hood and tweak your blog yourself.

The alternative is to fall behind, and that’s something the new media market won’t tolerate for long.