March 19, 2008

Are you mobile-compliant? 15-point checklist

Over at WMG, we've just finished our 15-point checklist to help you determine how (and if) your website will work on mobile phones both in the U.S. and abroad.

The checklist includes these and other questions:

  • How large are your pages?
  • Are you delivering content for the correct screen size?
  • How long will your site take to load on a mobile device?
  • Does your site use an XHTML mobile profile?
  • Do you have the correct character encoding?

You can download a free copy of this report here.

Oh, and in case you were wondering whether is mobi-compliant, it's definitely not. But is. :-)

February 07, 2008

Who Owns What...v2.1

In the wake of Microsoft's proposed $44 bil takeover of Yahoo (and all the subsequent chatter), I've updated my Who Owns What chart. Because I think this topic is so important to all journalists, regardless of whether they work in traditional media or even in the United States, I'm going to launch an RSS feed and a widget soon that will roll constant updates on who owns what.

In the six months since I first created the chart, there are a handful of notable updates:

  • AOL's list has grown tremendously, while Google, News Corp and IAC have remained relatively unchanged.
  • AOL is heading strong into behavioral targeting and various ad network options.
  • Yahoo's buy early and large strategy toned down considerably in Q3 and Q4 of 2007.
  • Google's last acquisition was Postini early last fall.
  • Though I'm not tracking this on the chart, News Corp has also been selling lots of assets - namely local television stations.

Here's the new Who Owns What page at mydigimedia. Download the new chart (PDF) here. And if you want to read my original post and learn more about why I started tracking all this to begin with, have a look here.

Again, the chart isn't intended to be absolutely comprehensive - else you wouldn't be able to print it out. (And print it out you should! The trees will understand. Hang this up at your desk, look at it regularly, and remind yourself that all this digital stuff isn't going away.) If you see any glaring errors or omissions, please let me know.

Meantime, keep your eye out for a WOW widget and dedicated RSS feed...coming soon.

June 22, 2007

Multimedia Quiz for Journalists

Have a look at the new MyDigimedia Quizzes + Tutorials page. We're going to start hosting short, informative sessions to help you learn more about the Web and to beef up your multimedia skills.

Here's our first attempt... You can play the quiz here.

We're planning to put some more of these together during the next few weeks that are either very specific (audio or video-only quiz) or are tutorials. Want something in particular covered? Did we make a mistake on one of the questions? Give me a shout.

June 14, 2007

Amy @ NAHJ

I'm speaking on a panel about convergence in journalism and leading a few hands-on workshops at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' convention in San Jose. I also plan to live blog some of the sessions. If you're here, I'd like to meet you... so please say "hi."

Listen to this article Listen to this article

May 31, 2007

Mobile Search - "Will Sing" Part II

Not too long ago, I extolled the virtues of Midomi, the incredibly smart voice-activated search engine: audio, I mean you can literally hum a few bars of a song into it and it'll return likely results.

Why is this important? In another life I was a musician, classically trained in piano. I don't play anymore. I do have a great appreciation for music, but I have a horrible time remembering the names of songs. I used to hear something playing in the background or at a party and then would have to call my sister, a professional opera singer, hum a few bars and then beg for info as she berated me, American Idol-style.

So far, Midomi has found Alcohol (Barenaked Ladies) and Let Go (Frou Frou). I tried singing in some Japanese songs I know well but they didn't pop up.

Then I found a press release in my inbox from Verizon. They've launched V CAST Song ID, which essentially mimics the same kind of search:

With Verizon Wireless' exclusive new V CAST Song ID, you can now hear a song, hold the phone toward the music, watch it capture
a sample of what you're listening to and within seconds V CAST Song ID will identify the music, and allow you to purchase a matching full-track song, Ringtone or Ringback tone -- all right over-the-air from your phone.

Verizon has supposedly indexed 4 million songs and a quick search should produce a display with the name of artist, song title and, because this is a commercial enterprise, a note about how to download the track as an mp3, a ringtone or a ringback tone.


Midomi, and now Verizon...

Our industry should, in the very near future, capitalize on what we do best. We aggregate (reporting). We sort, verify and analyze (writing and editing). And ultimately we make content available to the masses (publishing).

I know that citizen journalism is the latest, hottest trend now, but I wish that we could branch off into the direction of smarter aggregating and publishing. We should be in the business of innovating tools like Midomi.

Listen to this article Listen to this article

March 26, 2007

Launched: The MyDigimedia Toolbar

I've cobbled together a digital journalism toolbar that you can install right into your browser (Firefox recommended, though IE 6 or above should also work).

The toolbar will give you access to digital journalism resources, such as professional organizations, how to's, downloadable tipsheets and RSS (blog and podcast) feeds about/ for digital journalism. Just for kicks, you'll also get your local weather. You can customize it to some extent as well...

Once you've installed it, all of the links will be automatically refreshed when you launch your browser. I'll be adding more resources in the coming weeks. Speaking of new resources, give me a shout if you think something should be added!

Seed Newsvine

February 13, 2007

Will Sing For Search! Try this Web 2.0 voice-based search app

Ok, I know this isn't exactly journalism. I recently found Midomi, a very Web 2.0 audio search engine.

And by audio, I mean you can literally hum a few bars of a song into it and it'll return likely results.

Why is this important? In another life I was a musician, classically trained in piano. I don't play anymore. I do have a great appreciation for music, but I have a horrible time remembering the names of songs. I used to hear something playing in the background or at a party and then would have to call my sister, a professional opera singer, hum a few bars and then beg for info as she berated me, American Idol-style.

So far, Midomi has found Alcohol (Barenaked Ladies) and Let Go (Frou Frou). I tried singing in some Japanese songs I know well but they didn't pop up.

Anyhow, as amused as I am by this gem I'm more excited about all of the voice-based search possibilities this implies:

Reporters might play back part of a press conference tape to get the material they missed...
Copy editors could use voice-based search as a means to check stories before they're published...

Imagine this:

A reporter could be doing a phoner interview with a source about a very complicated medical subject. While she's sitting at her desk, she's running a voice-based search app in the background on her desktop. As she mentions breast cancer, the voice-based search engine pulls up a picture of cancer cell mitosis from the National Institutes of Health as well as some recent data on the cancer rates in America... all without her having to type a thing.

So very, very exciting! Even if it only means in the interim that my sister won't make fun of me anymore...


February 12, 2007

Newspapers: Meet Barack Obama's web design tea

By now, you should know that the single greatest way to increase web traffic is virally. Say something interesting, deliver your message in a compelling way,'s the most important part...make it damn easy for other people to share your content with others.

And so I present to you the newest features on Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's website. They went live yesterday: BarackTV and

ObamaTV offers an archive of videos - stump speeches, citizen testimonials - the standard campaign hoo-ha that we've all come to expect. But it also makes it achingly easy for an Obama supporter (or detractor, even) to embed that video within his or her personal website. A toolbar below the video allows you to email the clip, link it, or get the code to copy and paste:

This is very, very smart. And I've tried it out below. [NOTE: The Obama site isn't feeding the original video I had posted anymore, so I've removed it.]
I also like the, which is a newly-constructed social network based only on his campaign. Users can create a profile (a la MySpace and Facebook), raise money (hints of, plan and attend events (Google calendar), blog about Obama and even hook up with other supporters (O-Date anyone?).

I would love to see traditional media get out of the business of just blogging. On the norgs listserv over the weekend, we've been discussing the fallout from the Inquirer yanking the blinq blog and what that indicates for the future of Carl Lavin, one of the deputy managing editors wrote that, to the contrary, the Inquirer actually launched two new blogs:

"For example, let's look at two blogs that started this month: and Are these blogs perfect? No. But it's more evidence that the Inquirer newsroom is moving forward, not backward, to embrace the possibilities available in 2007. We have expertise in many areas, including weather and transportation, and we are determined to make the most of that expertise in every format possible."

I guess that what I'd really like to know is why so many newspapers are forging ahead to develop new blogs or even Podcasts. Who's even more desperately competing for an audience than newspapers? Politicians! Even they realize that the best way to build a constituency and to engender support among an audience is to take charge of the technology that's currently available - and to make it simple as hell to get others involved.

I'd really love to see a newspaper develop a widget or stand-alone app on its website that helps users to find headlines that they're interested in, connect and share with others, blog about featured stories, share their own personal histories, publish video and photos on their personal sites...

MyObama definitely has my vote for targeted content delivery and design.

February 08, 2007

Newspapers: One way to save your audiences

According to the Center for the Digital Future at USC: Non-Internet users watch an average of 9.1 more hours of television per week than Internet users. I can tell you that I'm not included in that group. I watch as much television as I can during the week - but I watch via TiVo or downloads onto my computer.

The Center just released its 2007 Digital Future Project Report, which focuses on how we use and interact with technology. Among the key findings:

  • 43% of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they “feel as strongly” about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities.
  • Almost two-thirds of online community members who participate in social causes through the Internet (64.9%)
    say they are involved in causes that were new to them when they began participating on the Internet.
  • The number of Internet users in America who keep a blog has more than doubled in three
    years (now 7.4% of users, up from 3.2% in 2003).

Here's how this information can help inform those in the newspaper business. If more folks are going online for social reasons - if they're seeking both information and a subject-focused community to discuss and disseminate that information, wouldn't it make sense for newspaper companies to revisit the zone edition model from the late 1980s and 1990s and possibly reapply it to a new online model today?

To wit: the Daily Bugle newspaper in Metropolis might consider changing the structure of its site to a porthole system with different channels. There might be a high school sports channel, where the Bugle's sports reporters and photogs would contribute content just as they would in the newspaper. But there would be an area for parent contributions. Maybe that section would share content with Metropolis' high school newspapers and carry student commentary. Citizens at games would edit and upload their own video (parents, boyfriends, girlfriends and grandparents are doing it anyways - why not capitalize on content that's already available??). On the discussion boards, there'd be gossip about coaches and alternative commentary about what happened at last night's game.

And there'd be plenty to monetize in this model, too. Advertising would come from very targeted vendors - sports retailers, college athletic programs and new movie releases. Game and season stats would be available up until a certain point, and then they'd be available via a database for a minimal fee, either subscription or pay-per-use. It'd be one part news, one part library, and one part must-visit digital social scene for all high school sports fans in Metropolis.

Think of the most successful sites and blogs on the web. Their focus is very specific and targeted. Getting married? Who hasn't heard of Want to know about new tech? Technorati. Celebrity doings?

They're popular because of their content, yes...but because they've effectively captured their market. And in an age of information overload, where thousands of groups are competing for just a fraction of your attention, the ones that succeed capitalize on your personal relationship to a subject matter.

So to newspapers, I ask this: Just how emotionally tied to (fill in your city here) are your readers? Might you capture more of their attention if you started specializing content? You already have an easy place to start: high school sports. Then, move to public schools. Local politics. Hyper-local real estate. The daily commute.

Innovate online products that will compel users to visit and stay on your site...not because you're the local newspaper, but because they feel a social connection to your brand, your reporters and to others who contribute to the site via blogs, discussion forums or multimedia. That's how you'll win back your dwindling audience.

Hell, it'd be a start.

January 07, 2007

New Beginnings...

Greetings and happy 2007. I'm starting out the new year with a new full-time job in a new(ish) city!

I've had a fantastic two years at Dragonfire and am proud of what we've accomplished. We went from a single office with a crappy old Dell computer running Win 98 to a bustling suite of offices, 25 staff members, 100 freelancers worldwide and an army of very snappy Apple G5s.

During that time, I've learned tremendously about what kind of digital publishing works (and why) and about all kinds of possibilities for the future. I often wondered what I would do post-Dragonfire. I've discovered that what I'm best at is the entrepreneurial side of publishing: developing products, launching, monetizing, and ultimately helping organizations to make their digital information more sticky, more relevant and more accessible on multiple platforms.

This month, I'll begin consulting full-time as Dragonfire transitions to new leadership. I feel confident that Dragonfire will continue to produce high-quality interactive content, and I'm excited to see how the publication I launched will grow. Meantime, I'll be working with magazines, newspapers, arts organizations, foundations, museums and more to bring greater interactivity to their websites.

I'm now based in Baltimore, and I'm traveling throughout the week to work with clients in D.C., Philadelphia and New York. I'll be launching my new consulting website soon, but I'll continue to use this blog as a way to share information about digital media with journalists and folks interested in new media.


December 08, 2006

Recent Traveling...

It's been a few weeks since my last entry -- have been very busy working on a handful of interesting projects. I've also been traveling quite a bit.

I can now say, without any hesitation, that I've found the best headphones that exist on the market. (Technically, Dr. Brian found and purchased them for me.) They cancel out noise and bring out pieces of audio tracks I never knew existed.

How this applies to you, the reporter: If you have tape with questionable audio quality and simply must hear through a garbled mess, these headphones will save the day.

For everyone else, you'll rock out to the Stones like never before.

November 16, 2006

Paying for Citizen Journalism

So the BBC announced that it will begin paying for some user-generated content.  The Guardian reports this morning on the company's new policy, which says:

"Material is submitted to the BBC under published terms and conditions. These give us a free, non-exclusive licence to publish on any platform, and the person who took the footage/pictures retains copyright.

"However, on very rare occasions where material is particularly editorially important or unique and depicts something of great significance, we may consider making an appropriate payment.

"In newsgathering, journalists should consult their senior editor, before entering any negotiations on payments; in English regions referral should be made to [heads of regional and local programmes] and through heads of news and current affairs in the nations.

"Audiences should not be encouraged to think that payment is the norm, or in any way encouraged to take risks, put themselves in danger or break any laws in order to secure what they perceive to be material of high monetary value."

"In return for payment we may negotiate an assignment of copyright or exclusive rights - but bear in mind that material other than photographs may be copied and used by other news organisations under 'fair dealing'.

"Bear in mind also that under the standard terms the person sending in material generally retains the copyright, so they are free to give or sell their material to others. They may go on to agree an exclusive deal with another outlet, which would in effect terminate their licence to the BBC, and we would not be able to reuse the image, video or audio. We would not have to delete the archive though."

Appears as though BBC is angling to secure exclusive rights to content in exchange for cash.

This is an interesting proposition for two reasons.  First, it would intimate that the content citizens are able to get on the ground is potentially as good or better than what trained journalists might get in the course of their daily work.  If not, why enforce an exclusivity clause?  

Second, it calls into question the entire idea of what we're calling "citizen journalism."  Paying people for their "reporting" makes them freelancers, no?  And it suddenly gives them a financial incentive.  I get the feeling that many citizen jurnos were originally motivated by a sense of civic duty, to uncover information that the mainstream missed (or wouldn't report on).  To now pay folks for information now would change the impetus -- and in my opinion, the outcome of that kind of news-gathering.

October 22, 2006

Check out the Larry Kane show...

It's all about how the media covers (or doesn't) international news. The show airs tonight (Sunday) at 9:30pm EST on Comcast's CN8 channel. From Larry's site:

In a roundtable debate on the subject on CN 8’s VOICE OF REASON, taped for tonight at 9:30 P.M., the verdict was unanimous: Americans are not getting the information they need to make proper judgments.

Chris Harper, former network and news magazine bureau chief in the Middle East blames declining overseas coverage for the fact that most Americans have limited knowledge of the forces in Iraq that are fighting each other. He calls it a real crisis of information. That view is shared by Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, who has strong words about the lack of foreign news events that are often overshadowed by fluff and puff on local news.

Bob Zelnick, former ABC correspondent told me that he finds it ironic that most young Americans are getting their news from Comedy Central when they should be reading more. And Michael Days, Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, was candid enough to admit that readers are not coming to his paper for overseas coverage and that there are plenty of outlets for it.

Perhaps the voice of the future on this show is MyDigiMedia, editor in chief at Dragonfire, a most unusual and in depth news and information website. Amy thinks that the web with its platform and space will eventually be the premiere news site of the future.

I checked Dragonfire out. If you want depth and a special level of reporting expertise, I highly recommend it.

My view on the overseas coverage debate? If you look had enough you’ll find the information you need, but most Americans don’t have the time. Aside from the cable news networks, the major news organizations of this country are doing little to explain the real nature of our foreign challenges in a time when we need it most — when challenges overseas threaten us at home.

Beyond superficial headline summaries, American newspapers and TV outlets must do more to make things clear.

Amy may be right. In a vacuum of in-depth coverage, the internet may be the place to go for news that counts.

August 31, 2006

Brand Yourself on MySpace...

Maybe newspapers and mags should create MySpace pages with engaging information for younger users. Make it interesting enough, and people might link and befreind that media source...

The smart way to do this, of course, is to take whatever local youth spinoff a large media group has (the Trib's Red Eye, for example) and create a hip MySpace presence with it.

Honda, Nike and others claim that their MySpace entires are translating into $$...

August 21, 2006

Listen to the Interview...

Listen to my interview on today's Talk of the Nation. If you want to continue the discussion, or if you have questions I didn't answer, please use the comments section here or shoot me an email.

Tune In to Talk of the Nation...

I'm a guest on today's Talk of the Nation (NPR), which begins airing at 2:00 p.m. EST. Please tune in - more information is available on the NPR site.

August 18, 2006

My Digital Diet: A month without print or broadcast media

In June, I embarked upon a Great Experiment: I went on a strict digital diet, spending 30 days without any form of traditional media. I wanted to know which was more important _ the medium (television, newspaper, magazine, radio) or the information itself. I kept a daily journal of my successes, irritations and failures. The story ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, April 20th.

The Rules:

  • No reading magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • No listening to the radio or watching television. Listening to a broadcast online is OK, as is downloading previously aired television shows.
  • No looking at newspaper stands or boxes.
  • Also, no looking at flyers or copies of print stories.
  • No books, unless they can be read or listened to online.

My story is featred in this Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Below, I've listed some of the tools that I used, websites that I visited and a handful of pictures... NOTE: Please read my disclaimer about my use of Apple products.

The Equipment:

  • Fifteen-inch PowerBook G4 (Mac).
  • G5 with 20-inch cinema display (Mac).
  • BlackBerry 7105t.
  • iPod Photo (30 gigabytes of memory).
  • Canary Wi-Fi Digital Hotspotter (to find open wireless networks).
  • DSL connection at home.
  • T-1 connection at the office.


I read most of my news using an RSS aggregator called Bloglines. It delivers headlines and summaries throughout the day from the 27 feeds I subscribe to. I'm also able to access all of my feeds on my BlackBerry, which means that I'm able to stay on top of the news 24 hours a day... or as long as my batteries are powered. Here's what my "digital newspaper" looks like:

Even before the experiment, I typically work on multiple projects at once so I toggle between Bloglines, various websites and Word documents I'm using for work:

Because I was relying primarily on digital sources for information, I was always on the watch for useful sites. Here are some that I continue to use today...

Web 2.0 Search Engines:

Search blogs:
Search for specific feeds:
Crawl through discussion forums for information without actually visiting each one:
Search Google and Yahoo at the same time:

Fantastic News Sites:


How I Watched TV...

First, a word of caution: There are laws against distributing copyrighted material. I'm not advocating that you start burning copies of your favorite television shows to share them with all of your friends on the Internet.

That said, there are plenty of ways to download or stream broadcast content -- some legal, some questionable.

Legal TV: I downloaded copies of The Office from the iTunes store.

Questionable TV: YouTube is an easy site to search for video files. Sites offering downloadable torrents are also good resources for video files. I've used BitTorrent as my client.

A note to Mac users: I would suggest downloading a copy of VLC, a cross-platform media player that will allow you to view files intended for PC-only applications.




July 31, 2006

Online Advertising is Dead

I just finished breakfast at Editor & Publisher's EPpy conference. I was sitting with a colleague and a new friend, the GM at a large news organization, and we were talking about revenue streams.

Here's what I said this morning, and what I've been saying for the past year to whoever will listen. Why, oh why, are we still relying on advertising in the news business? Here's an update folks: The online advertising revenue model is fundamentally no different from the 1860's newspaper model we're now lamenting. If news organizations continue to rely on businesses to fund their organizations, we stand at risk to lose -- and lose big -- once the banner ad boom bursts.

Problem #1: Younger audiences are already avoiding banner ads. Ad placement online tends to be uploaded in the same basic places. Above the top navigation. Below the left-hand navigation. At the bottom. A square in the middle of a text article. With increased usage, our eyes are now accustomed to where ads are placed online, and we're entering a period of ad avoidance.

Case in point: I was recently speaking to a group of college students. I asked the standard questions: What are your favorite sites? Where do you get your news? What online brand do you recognize most?

And then I asked how often they click on a banner ad. The response? Every single one of them said that they've never clicked. They don't even notice banner ads anymore. No matter how much blinking, how snazzy the rich media -- we're avoiding the banner ads we see online.

News organizations are struggling to attract online advertisers, because they're doing battle with the print side operation. That might affect the overall revenue stream, since online ads are cheaper. And that could affect the editorial budget, and eventually the paper's circulation.

So let me pose this question to you: Why aren't we in the business of selling information? After all, we are the information brokers. Our core competency is gathering, packaging and distributing news. Why don't we turn the information itself into a revenue stream?

Your newspaper or magazine has compiled a real estate report, I'm sure. Something about property values going up by zip code. Or a report card on the local school system. Or a list of your city's most dangerous intersections. It was our strong desire for news we can use that spawned the CAR (Computer Assisted Reporting) movement five years ago, and access to technology has kept that movement growing today.

Why are we not packaging that data into robust databases that can be searched by users for a price? Real estate agents would subscribe to get access to that reporting. Consultants and parents would pay a small fee for access to information on schools.

Need proof of your ROI? Look at what US News has done with its school rankings. The service is now fee-based, and they're making a mint.

If we were to start shifting away from the standard advertising model to an information-as-commodity model -- and there's much more packaging to be done besides the subscription database idea -- we'd see a brighter future, one less dependent on businesses and their advertising.

It's not hard to do, and if you want to talk more with me about how to get started, give me a shout. But it will require an attitudinal change in how the big guns at corporate media organizations think about revenue streams. It's not hard to get traditional journalists enthused about 360-degree reporting. And training doesn't have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If we're going to survive, I say this: Chuck the old media advertising model. Banner ads, site passes -- these are just new window dressing.

June 30, 2006

Video Feed - norgs + Media Giraffe Project

I was at a really interesting conference yesterday with my colleagues from Philadelphia. The Media Giraffe Project is currently hosting "Democracy & Independence: Sharing News & Information in a Connected World," the first summit conference of The Media Giraffe Project at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

From the site:

"Traditional and citizen journalists, political strategists, educators, bloggers, developers, technology and media researchers convenedJune 28-July 1, 2006 at University of Massachusetts Amherst for the first Media Giraffe Project conference. The Media Giraffe Project, a non-partisan, interdisplinary research effort of the UMass journalism program, is hosting the roundtable summit and how-to sessions designed to:

1. Consider and recommend answers to changes to the financing and practice of journalism
2. Bridge the gap between new and traditional media
3. Show and consider the impact of new media technologies on journalism and the "public sphere"
4. Spotlight emerging business models
5. Create new networks of media innovators which bridge traditional carriers among journalism, education, politics and technology
6. Watch and share innovations in media-literacy education."

Part of this conference included a virtual panel discussion by norgs, a Philly-based group of journalists, engineers, programmers and bloggers who are trying to envision what Will Bunch originally called a "news organization of the future."

On our panel were: Wendy Warren (Daily News), Paul Socolar (Philadelphia Public School Notebook), Karl Martino ( and Comcast), Carl Lavin (Inquirer), Chris Krewson (Allentown Morning Call) and me.

We talked a lot about the fate of Philadelphia's newspapers and about how to implement multimedia strategies in the newsroom. Here's the Quicktime video (click right to download). You'll see the Philly group and our colleagues at the conference.


June 21, 2006

Notes for norgs

An asterisk (*) denotes sites/ areas where we’ve spent the most time and done the most research. DISCLOSURE:  I do not have any financial interest in any of the sites or companies listed below.  Dragonfire currently uses the Ingeniux cms.

Before you begin:
I strongly recommend making a laundry list of items that you absolutely want your content management system to accomplish as well as a list of things that you’ll want to do on your site.  Do you want to be able to use Flash in a variety of ways? Do you want to include blogs?  Do you want to have user input automatically display?

Reviews, ways to review cms options, ratings:

  • -- and -- *
  •  *

After doing extensive testing and research, it is my opinion that any newspaper looking for a cms solution invests in a few good programmers and creates their own, in-house system.  I have not found any cms that is designed to meet the publishing demands of a newspaper.

Open Source cms:
If you can create a list of essential tools and functions that you need out of a cms - -and this list needs to be thorough, you can then work with a developer to customize one of the many open source cms options available.  Developers would likely work on a freelance basis, but a better option would be to hire someone outright to have in the newsroom who would both customize and document the open source cms you decide to use.

There are several systems available, and it’s easy enough to work with an existing system, modify it and implement it.  Most of these open source cms require PHP, SQL and XML at a minimum.  However, I have seen cms that are coded in PERL or Python.

Free, Structured Systems
Mambo: *
A lot of people really like Mambo (it’s now called Joomla).  It’s free, more structured than most of the open source systems and there are thousands of pre-made templates.  There’s a WYSIWYG editor, support for CSS and HTML, inclusion of Flash files, popups and more. Assuming that you have a hosting package that can handle (and that you know) PHP and SQL.

We downloaded and played with Mambo, however we ultimately decided that we weren’t going to be able to modify it to meet our needs.

Drupal is a popular cms with lots of great features.  It’s emphasis is on Web 2.0 functions – lots of interactivity and community input.  On the other hand, it isn’t really designed for a robust news organization with lots of content.  Learning curve is steep.  One neat feature:  Drupal allows you to turn dynamic pages back into a static one, and it the cache process is automatic.

There is, of course, Cofax, which was designed and implemented by KR and the PNI.  I don’t have experience specifically with this system…

Pay, Licensed Systems
Expression Engine:
I would not recommend this for a newspaper.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Symphony.  It uses xslt stylesheets and templates.  It allows you to pull content from Flickr, etc. On the other hand, you have to know how to code xslt stylesheets – not impossible, but cumbersome.

Ingeniux: *
Dragonfire uses Ingeniux.  In many ways it’s a great system – all inputs are in WYSIWYG, allowing any of our editors or writers to easily create static or multimedia pages from a variety of our preset templates.

There are serious limitations, however.  In order to change parts of the site, we must edit our xslt stylesheets.  It’s very difficult to implement blogs, chats, shopping carts and newsletters.  Ingeniux offers these at very high prices, and developer training isn’t included. 

Documentum: *
Formerly Documentum, a new beta with a new name is set to be release by EMC any day now.  Documentum was widely condemned throughout the multimedia and IT communities because it was extremely cumbersome to use.  It was a very difficult system with many bugs.

PHP Cow:
This was released about a year ago.  They offer a free trial, and compared to other systems, it’s not all that expensive.  Obviously, the system is coded in PHP.  We don’t have experience using it at Dragonfire, however it was supposedly designed specifically for newsrooms.

We looked at this platform but didn’t test it.  One of the features is bringing a Word document right into the cms without weird MS formatting issues, but I never saw that in practice.

June 15, 2006

ONA Submissions Due...

Don't forget... Online News Association award submissions are due today.

June 02, 2006

Get Linked

Here's a handy tool for reporters...I've just joined the LinkedIn network, and it's a pretty robust social networking program. Here's my link, and to start a profile of your own (it's free), click here.

May 18, 2006

Convergence: Inane discussion, same result as before

I'm listening to a discussion about convergence, but this time we're not talking about how to pool broadcast and print resources. Greg Mitchell (E&P; Editor), Rajiv Chandrasekaran (AME/ WP) and Jim Brady (VP & Exec. Ed., are talking about convergence between print-side and online.

Take notebook computer. Thrust against forehead. Repeat.

Why in the hell are we still talking in terms of separate departments? There should be no distinction between online and print-site reporting, and the longer that we perpetuate the notion that newspaper and online versions should remain separate entities, the longer we're going to suffer.

Once again, the change will need to be abrupt, and it will require a serious attitudinal change. News organizations should no longer speak in terms of print-side and online. They should consider themselves news gathering and disseminating groups that bring information to users via newspapers and the web.

This discussion is bad, bad, bad for journalism.

PS: Still no women talking or pontificating. The lady at the reception table was really nice, though.

May 14, 2006

Welcome to My DigiMedia

Welcome to My DigiMedia, a site dedicated to bridging the gap between traditional and digital journalists. My name is MyDigiMedia, and you can find out more about who I am under the About section on your right.

The basic background is this: I'd been working overseas in my 20s, and I was reporting on the tech industry from Asia. It soon occurred to me that my field, journalism, was already way behind the curve. Somehow we'd managed to break news about all this cutting-edge technology, but we were making no effort to implement all the neat tools we were writing about in our articles.

Things got worse, and fast. The dot-com bubble burst, and journalists were left wondering what would come of newspapers and magazines.

That was 10 years ago. While I see large news organizations, flush with cash, embracing the Internet, I don't see many hometown newspapers following suit. And when publishers ask their editors to cut budgets, money for training becomes even more scarce.

The result? Most publications in North America now have an online presence. Many are using RSS feeds. Lots are announcing to the universe that they're Podcasting and blogging.

But really, multimedia allows traditional media to do so much more.

I'll be sharing my observations about our industry on this site, and my reporting will come from meetings and conferences I attend as well as from my colleagues. My intention is to provide background and information, useful tips to help traditional journalists get started and brainstorming on what we might accomplish in digital media...before it's too late.

Questions? Comments? Post what you think...I'll look forward to an ongoing conversation about digital media.