August 01, 2008

Rethinking Your Editorial/ Publishing Workflow

One of the problems I've encountered in working with our clients on digital strategy is that many try to impose the same old workflow patterns they're currently using for broadcast or print.

For example, once a story gets published in a newspaper, that's typically the end. There may be a follow-up, or some letters to the editor. Otherwise, the story - at least in print - gets retired.

In the digital world, things don't happen in such a confined, linear way. Stories online, once published, continue to live. That's partially because with each new link to the story, there's boundless possibility for commentary, feedback, and additional stories based on what originally appeared. It's also because the story becomes part of a broader discussion, whether it happens via Twitter or on someone's blog or even (hopefully!) within the comment sections on your news org's site.

Those producing digital content need to change their workflow habits. Reporters need to get in the habit of multifaceted story development. They should offer hyperlinks and contextual/ related information - not the copy desk. Editors and producers need to feel comfortable adding information as the day progresses, even adding in more hyperlinks or other information long after a story has been published.

Below is our suggested workflow for online editorial content. You'll notice that part of digital content production includes a discussion with your advertising team, a step to republish your content across multiple channels and platforms, and creating meaningful ongoing conversations with your local community. I'm willing to bet that your newsroom is currently doing only half of what's below - and that's on a good day. You'll see that there's no real beginning or end. That's because digital content production is an ongoing process involving folks inside - and outside - your newsroom.

Print this out, bring it to your next managers meeting and start re-thinking how you're going about content development. And please keep in mind we're strategists and coders here at MyDigiMedia- not artists.


November 01, 2007

Tutorial Happy Place

Have a look at just-launched Tutsbuzz, which searches and aggregates instructive tutorials from elsewhere on the web. You'll find how-to's on 2D and 3D graphic creation, video and audio editing, and some light database programming (looks like mostly SQL).

The site just launched in the past month or so, and content is still coming in. I especially like the options to watch the tutorials as video rather than reading through text and photos. Here's one on how to create a preloader in Flash.

I posted a cheatsheet of cheatsheets a while back too - a megasite listing instructions on how to do thousands of web-related things.

October 24, 2007

Can media really make the world better?

At a summit in Washington D.C. for part of the day to talk about the future of journalism, globalism, technology and how all those things collide. Trying to wrap our heads around ways that media can change the world and make it better. It's a small gathering at the Ronald Regan building - less than 200 people. We're talking now about the changes in "citizen journalism" and about our current system of publishing. Listening now to Jan Schaffer, Solana Larsen (Global Voices), Tom Rosensteil (Project for Excellence in Journalism), Michael Tippet (NowPublic), Alan Webber (Fast Company) and more...

Says Webber: Media really can't change the world because you must challenge the status quo. To do that is to risk your financial well-being. There's a problm of finance. To change the system, you can't be in the system... The media is a newsgathering organization - Fast Company was in part "edu-tainment." The media isn't going to be in a place to change the world. Report on news, yes, but not raise questions that will significantly change the status quo.

Says Mike Hughes (Creative Director, Martin Agency): Citizens must change behavior. (We're talking now about Al Gore and climate change and the media response to him/ it.) The responsibility of the journalist is to tell the truth regardless... More environmental reporting, more honest climate reporting. We're facing a partisan lockdown. The backlash against Gore is unwarranted. Journalists should listen to the science and try to weed through the politics. Sometimes, in pursuit of balance, journalists are working against the spirit of telling the news and affecting change.

Says Schaffer: There are very different definitions as news. We don't see news as conflict, we' don't see scorecard journalism. In citizen journalism, we don't see these definitions in that space. Cit-jurnos challenge journalists to do their jobs better.

Says me: We should be differeniating advocacy journalism from American-style reporting and storytelling. There are many folks from international publications here - I'm wondering why, if we're going to have a discussion about the purpose of journalism, we're not discussing the historic purpose of reporting in America. I think journalists should engage the public in having discussions about current events and world conflicts...and I believe very strongly that technology enables this conversation to happen. It's not about creating a culture of anyman reporters or creating superfluous information - no, it's about communication on a grand, global scale. Hell, at least people are interested in news, no? I remember growing up and listening to my parents bemoan the lack of awareness people my age had in the state of the world.

October 12, 2007

ONA 2007 Conference

Very excited about the ONA Conference that kicks off next week in Toronto! I planned this year's Business Track sessions and helped organize the Super Panel, and I'm really excited to see what folks like Katharine Fong (Mercury News), Erik Schwartz (foneshow), Brian Gruber (, Wendy Warren (Philadelphia Daily News and, Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion and Edelman), Stuart MacDonald (founded Expedia Canada), Ian Clarke (Thoof), Anil Dash (SixApart), Dorian Benkoil (consultant),
Hosam Elkhodary (The Web Analytics Co. Ltd.) have to say. There are many, many others and more than 700 who will be in attendance.

If you plan to be at ONA, please let me know. While we're there, John Havens (BlogTalk Radio) will be recording and streaming live interviews starting next Thursday. You can call in to ask questions (347) 215-7814, too. You can listen to a 30-minute chat about some of the things we've planned for the conference here. Ongoing live coverage will be available here, and you can also subscribe via RSS.

August 29, 2007

Reading List

As promised, here's the reading list :

(See my previous entry explaining what the list is for.)

Reading #1: Internet Infrastructure

Reading #2: Web pages

Reading #3: O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Paper & Followup

Reading #4: Riding the Waves of Web 2.0
*also required: Life With Alacrity: Tracing the Evolution of Social Software:

Reading #5: Pew Report - The Future of the Internet

Reading #6: Google vs. Osama

Reading #7: Google vs. Osama, Part 2

Reading #8: Yahoo

Reading #9: Yahoo, Part Deux

Reading #10: What is RSS?

Reading #11 - 12: Micropersuation
This week, please read Steve Rubel's Micropersuation Blog every day. Make sure to also read his bio and profile so that you know who he is and where he's coming from... It is located here:

Reading #13: Jay Rosen
Watch this 30 minute video:

Reading #14: Citizen Journalism
Read the following articles:

Reading #15: The jurnos vs. blogger war

Reading #16: The jurnos vs. blogger war Pt. 2

Reading #17: Content - 1

Reading #18: Content - 2

Reading #19 - 20: Widgets
This week, I want you to read the Sexy Widget blog every day:

Reading #21: Multimedia tutorial

Reading #22: Storyboarding

Reading #23 - 24: Rising From Ruin
This week, spend time on the Rising From Ruin site at MSNBC. (It will take you more than a month to get through all of the content - so do the best you can.) This site has won every major digital journalism award and then some...

Reading #25 - 26
This week, spend time at MediaStorm:

Building a Better Business Model for Journalism

Tomorrow night marks the beginning of a new graduate class I'm teaching at Temple University, where I've been on the adjunct faculty for the past few years. The official title of the course is "Web Publishing," and I've decided that come hell or high water, we're going to try and develop a working model for sustainable journalism. One that doesn't rely 100% on advertising.

The 18 or so folks in my class have already been out in the field working. Many of them know what challenges our industry faces now - and they're just as interested as I am in making sure that good storytelling and solid reporting aren't supplanted by ad-supported sites with questionable ethics.

We're going to learn multimedia techniques: audio, video, the whole ball of wax. More importantly, we're going to rip apart current publishing trends to see if we can't innovate a more entrepreneurial approach towards pushing content. We'll look at metrics (how and why). How advertising in the future might impact publishing. The push to involve citizen journalists. What kinds of stories work best online. How to attract a "sticky" audience.

In the end, my hope is that we'll have developed a workable plan to fund traditional journalism across non-traditional platforms.

(Will post our reading list next. If you'd like a copy of the syllabus, email me: contact @ mydigimedia [dot] com.)


July 26, 2007

Journalists & Facebook

There's an interesting discussion happening over in the Journalists and Facebook group in Facebook. Pat Walters, a summer fellow at Poynter, started the group to see how Facebook might - or might not - impact journalism.

The group is said to have more than 650 members worldwide, but participation is dismal. Most of the folks who've joined are lurking rather than discussing. This is by no means unordinary - the participation rate on many listservs and discussion boards tends to follow a 90:9:1 rule (via Walters via Jakob Nielsen).

The crux of the conversation came down to this: How should journalists use Facebook? As a potential for sources and story ideas? As a way to network with other journalists?

You have to be a member of Facebook to read posts and others' profiles, so I'll repost my response to that question here:

I find it interesting that anytime a new application or digital tool makes a mass-market impact, journalists instantly try to adapt it. We adapt because we fear it may so dramatically impact our industry that we will lose significant ground (example: Google). Or we use it because we're desperate for a story about or related to the new site/ application. Some of us are afraid of the recent attrition in our newsrooms, so we're quickly trying to get knowledgeable on the latest trend (read: Facebook).

Perhaps Facebook is nothing more than a neat site where we can share ideas, discuss topics collaboratively and meet new people. Does Facebook have to impact journalism at all?

I'm not saying that reporters and editors should ignore new technology. I started my career covering tech as a reporter and then moved to the digital side. I'm now a consultant and work with news media organizations to help them adapt emerging technologies to their publishing platforms. I also help train journalists on how to use multimedia techniques for storytelling. The very last thing I would advocate would be that our industry ignores the changes in the media landscape.

Instead, I think we should start to take a good look at what's available now and what is ahead on the horizon. It's okay to be selective with the technology and digital tools we use as journalists. Just as I don't think video should be the next goal for many newspaper websites, I don't necessarily think that Facebook...or LinkedIn, or digg, or MySpace or even thoof...are sites to suddenly infiltrate.

It seems unnatural, somehow, to me to hear folks at conferences talk about how they've "friended" so-and-so, when they're not even sure if their newspaper has RSS feeds.

I'm eager and excited to share technology with others...but sometimes these tools can be enjoyed just for fun.

Walters said he's posting a story about all this later on the Poynter site. Will update after he does...


July 05, 2007

Top FOIA Stories... least according to Wired. It was 41 years ago, on July 4, 1966, that the Freedom of Information Act was signed into law.

(And after four decades of work towards creating transparency in government, it's taken only seven years to revert us back to the 50's. But I digress.)

Here's a list of Wired's top five FOIA wins and loses:

Top Five Technology and Civil Liberties Sunshine Requests

Carnivore Documents: In the 1990s, the FBI developed software, dubbed Carnivore, that was installed at internet service providers to track what targeted individuals did online. Though the FBI claimed Carnivore was not an untargeted dragnet, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, pried documents loose from the FBI showing the software was capable of capturing all traffic across a server, and that the software was not as accurate in practice as the FBI claimed. Little is known about successors to Carnivore, but ISPs have been configuring their networks to make them surveillance-friendly.

Airline Data Dumps and No-Fly Lists: EPIC filed a file cabinet full of sunshine requests to learn more about terrorist watch lists and post-9/11 airline data dumps to the government. Highlights included proof that Northwest Airlines turned over data to the government despite public statements to the contrary. Also revealed were no-fly-list mismatches, including a long-running screwup that snagged one of the nation's most high-profile nuns, who was only cleared for flying after her boss called presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Mercury Contamination in Fish: Successive sunshine requests by environmental activists revealed that certain fish, including popular canned albacore tuna, contained higher levels of mercury than the government had previously acknowledged. While canned tuna was never put on the list of fish that pregnant women should avoid, the data has proved important in an ongoing debate about the risks of eating seafood.

Domestic Military Spy Databases: The American Civil Liberties Union successfully uncovered a Department of Defense database, dubbed Talon, that was supposed to include reports on terrorist threats to military bases in the United States. Instead, the secret database soon became filled with reports on legitimate antiwar protesters whose activities were protected under the First Amendment. The program was shuttered following the ensuing publicity, but the full extent of the spying is unknown since the Pentagon deleted many of the records before an audit was complete.

Encryption Wars: Though it may seem like ancient history to some, civil liberties groups spent much of the 1990s fighting the government over encryption, which had previously been used almost exclusively by secret government agencies and the military. The government claimed that any public use of encryption, including such now-commonplace standards used to secure online purchases and banking, needed to have a backdoor for law enforcement. FOIA requests revealed that the government knew its proposals were flawed. It also showed the government intended to use requirements that digital telephone switches must be wiretap-friendly as a way to force encryption products to have backdoors. The government eventually lost "the war," and encryption now helps lock down internet e-mail, online purchases and commercial DVDs, though few use encrypted e-mail.

Five Unanswered Technology and Civil Liberties FOIA Requests

Warrantless Wiretapping Documents: A wide array of media and activist groups are attempting to get information on the government's warrant-free spying on Americans' phone and e-mail communications. So far, none have succeeded, though a Senate committee has just subpoenaed the Bush administration for some of the sought-after documents.

Automated Targeting System: For years, the Department of Homeland Security has been assigning threat levels to individual foreigners and citizens alike as they enter and leave the country. However, little is known about the algorithms or data used. So far, Homeland Security has failed to release documents in response to open-government requests.

Total Information Awareness Program: Nearly four years ago, Wired News filed a request for documents about the testing and privacy protections of a program intended to sift through a massive database of Americans' private lives in order to find terrorists. Instead of filling the request, Darpa, the Pentagon's advanced research arm, looked into this reporter's prior stories and questioned his motives.

Patriot Act Abuse Documents and Telecom Contracts: In March, an internal Justice Department report found the FBI had massively misused a key Patriot Act power that allows investigators to get financial and communication records on anyone relevant to an investigation without getting a judge's approval. The FBI also inked secret contracts with three large telecommunications companies to speed up the process. A judge recently ruled that the agency will begin releasing 2,500 pages a month starting July 5 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

FBI's Investigative Data Warehouse: Post-9/11, the FBI created a massive search engine that indexes a bunch of different bureau databases, including investigative files and phone records obtained through the above Patriot Act abuse. Little is known of the technology, which a representative compared to Google's, or the scope of the databases searched. Wired News and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have each filed sunshine requests.

For more information on the impact of FOIA and technology, see the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the EFF.

More info:

Blogger's rights
e-FOIA letter generator

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