October 03, 2007

Wikirage: Track the zeitgeist

If you haven't already, take a look at wikirage, which I think is an interesting way for journalists to track burgeoning stories before they hit.

Wikirage tracks Wikipedia pages that are currently receiving the most edits per unique visitor. You can look at aggregations of six hours, one day, three days, one week or one month. Chances are that when a social network within Wikipedia starts editing or adding content, folks elsewhere are talking about that topic, too...

In the past hour, Halo 3, Blackwater, Heroes and Mt. Vernon High School are popular...

June 21, 2007

Notable European Web 2.0 Startups

Some recent European Web 2.0 startups... (via Robin Goode). Descriptions are either from Goode or from the startup site. My comments are indented below...

Photo-sharing of geolocated photos. Panoramio offers 2 Gb of free storage for photos. The site has 330,000 registered users and 1.1 million geolocated photos.

Amy Says: A lot like Flickr. Lots of storage.

"A real-life" where you can remember and share with your friends all kind of places (from business to sculptures) around the world using comments, tags, photos and videos.

Amy Says: This is actually pretty innovative. You might consider using this as a digital, virtual beatnote/ sourcebook - especially if you travel frequently. Or an entire newsroom might use it for collective reporting.

Anywr is a web and mobile system that offers simple, yet powerful services for managing contacts, calendars, events and communications virtually from anywhere: using browsers, mobile devices or any other of the over 750 million compatible devices available today.

Amy Says: This is another possible reporting/ newsroom sharing tool.

Tupalo is a social mapping network for local and independent culture, allowing members of elusive niche cultures to add, rate, review, search and tag their favorite local businesses in major cities around the world via PC or Mobile devices.

Amy Says: This is like an interactive Craigslist. I'm starting to see opportunities for editorial content embedded within interactive maps - and advertising (local biz) to go along with it. What about a map - rather than a newspaper or magazine or even full-fledged website - as the publication medium?

More notable startups to try:

Properazzi - the property search engine - is a crawler-based web 2.0 property search engine for all of Europe. We launched in March 2007, and currently list 1.8 million sale and rental properties in 45 European countries, in all European languages and currencies. We're backed by Mangrove Capital Partners (Skype, Quintura, Nimbuzz). We've got a highly international team and are based in Barcelona, Spain.

Menéame is the leading Digg-like website in Spanish. It helps anybody promote news from any source by creating new pages according to users's votes. It was launched in 2004 from Mallorca.

SlideBurner allows you to share and discover easily slide-shows/presentations (Power Point or OpenOffice files). Upload your files and they can quickly be viewed online in any web browser on any platform. You have full control on the security of your slide-shows; you can select precisely the person who can access your data. You can also create groups around your fields of interest. Moreover, the site is multilingual; for the moment it is available in French and English.

5min is a place to find short video solutions for every practical question, and is also a place for people who want to share their knowledge. 5min's vision is simple: any solution can be visually explained in 5 minutes. Users of the 5min platform will benefit from a visual illustration of any solution through a Smart Player. Unlike all of the video sites on the net, 5min created a video player that is adjusted specifically to the instruction field.

Listen to this article Listen to this article

June 14, 2007

NAHJ: Digital Revolution

I'm at the opening Plenary session: The Digital Revolution. Speaking are George Lewis (NBC), Meredith Artley (VP and Exec. Editor,, Josh Cohen (biz product manager for Google), Shermaze Ingram (spokesperson for the NAB DTV Transition Team), Liz Lufkin (Yahoo), Susan Gonzolas (Comcast) and Randy Stearns (East Coast deputy editor for MSNBC).

George Lewis started by showing us a piece he did 15 years ago about the then-new San Jose Mercury project to put archived and new newspaper content online. Showed a US News screen dowloading...took several minutes. We all got a chuckle - the change has been dramatic these past years. I've forgotten what it was like before. (Hoping that I'll find a copy of the clip or that George will make it available on the web - it's a must watch for everyone.)

MA: Everyone is still producing online news as if they're writing for a paper. Reporters should start to gather news as if they were producing for the web first. Stories shouldn't just be updated, instead, why not blog?

This is so refreshing...first, I'm more than excited to see an exec position within a major media .com staff go to a woman (Artley is newly hired). Second, it absolutely makes sense to blog breaking news events rather than writing a traditional news story. Why aren't more msm outlets doing this?

See the breaking news blog (fire entries)...

GL: If the new media puts the old media out of work, where will Google get its content?

JC: Simply putting up print on to the web isn't a smart digital strategy. Same goes for video. It's no the best format to stream a half hour of a newscast. Figuring out what works best for print, for images, for video needs to be part of a editorial digital strategy.

I think that George makes a very strong point - as much as I think the new tools and content production opportunities are important, aggregators don't work without content. And until bots can gather and create that for us, we're going to need good, human reporters and editors...

SG: Everyone should tell people about DTV, let minority communities know about gov't-issued vouchers for the converter boxes for their analog TV sets. The people who need vouchers won't be on Google and Yahoo to learn that analog TVs will go dark in 2009.

The last two speakers are talking about the switch from analog to digital television...kind of disjointed, given the previous speakers. I didn't know there was a voucher system.

We're back to journalism now...

RS: It comes down to content. People are hungry for the information, they just want it in different formats...

GS: Are we going to be eating junk food journalism, since people can now pick and choose?

JC: Newspapers were the core of the local community before. Classified ads, everything that comes with the community were a part of that. What's behind Google news is that peole want to be exposed to news from different sources. Yes, they'll search for Paris Hilton, but there are people who are digging much deeper into a variety of sources that may not have been able to with jus ta newspaper. At Google, we're presenting a variety of sources. We're not trying to force feed people. Users should be part of the process.

I really wish that Josh could be telling us about some of what Google's working on...wish that he would also address Street View and how that may or may not impact journalism. Same goes for video and how some newspapers are throwing their video up on YouTube.

RS now says that we (journalists) need to pay attention to data:

RS: If you take away hard news, people get upset. The big drivers at MSNBC are breaking news stories. People get tired of overplaying certain stories (re: Anna Nicole Smith). People continue to care about news because they can go so much deeper to get information.

SG: Content is driven by demand. Comcast has a portal online as well as cable because the public demands content. There's an opportunity for growth...with so many different sources, one story has the opportunity to get your name out there as a journalist.

MA just said that the has been meeting with consultants and wireless providers and that they'll be rolling out mobile content and other mobile services in the very short future. She says that mobile right now is the web of 1993. Amen!

I'm uploading an mp3 of the panel right now ... speed is a little slow. As soon as it finishes I'll post if for download/ streaming.

Listen to this article Listen to this article

April 16, 2007

Help Me Innovate... Let's find a new business model for American journalism.

Morningstar's bleak outlook for the media sector (via Cyberjournalist):

In our opinion, print ads, which make up the lion's share of newspapers' ad revenue, will continue to be at risk, particularly in the first half of 2007. We anticipate ad revenue from print ads will be down another few percentage points for the year. In particular, print national and classified ads should continue to face challenges, as ad spending in these categories is particularly susceptible to the threat of the Internet...We wouldn't be surprised to see yet another round of layoffs in the near future.

So again, someone tell me why we're not trying to develop a new business model for American journalism?

Here's what I'd like to do. I'd like to form a Wiki and invite economists, product developers, successful CEOs, publishers and anyone else who's interested to brainstorm a new model, one that isn't solely dependent on advertising. I'm serious about this, so if you're interested email me. (As a side note, I'm coordinating all of the business/publishing panel discussions at this year's Online News Association conference in Toronto - one of the sessions will be about this very subject.)

April 13, 2007

Wikia Launches Four New Mag-Sites...sort of

Yesterday, open-source guidepost Wikia announced the launch of three new magazine-style collaborations as part of its "open source magazine" project. They follow the same Wikipedia template/ user style and are:

• Restaurants.wikia: a review site with user contributions of comments and menus. Like Zagat without the subscription fees. So far, there are 20,000 restaurants covered in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston.

• Foodie.wikia: Recipes, cookbooks, food encyclopedias, etc.

•Fitness.wikia: Community site for fitness, dieting, exercising, nutrition, weight training.

• Mortgages.wikia: You guessed it: mortgages. Everything you could possibly want to know about them.

From Dan Lewis, vice president of business development at Wikia: "As with our other open-source magazine sites, we hope that the new sites launched today continue to give people the opportunity to create and share information on the topics that are most important to them."

I understand the Wiki concept and why Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales launched the service. What I don't understand is how these four "magazine" sites differ from Wikipedia entries. I know that users can rate and rank entries, that they can blog...but it seems to me that these sites just rearrange citizen content. I think "magazine" and suddenly I want multiple features, interactive stories, long-form narratives and great photography.

Other Wikia "magazine" sites: Entertainment, Gaming, Sports, Politics.

Seed Newsvine

March 02, 2007

I (heart) Data: My afternoon snuggling up to instacalc

More Data!

I'm in a numbers mood and have been playing with this calculator, which might be a model for a widget. I could see a newspaper site developing something like this, monetizing it with a GoogleAd and inviting users to create new hyper-local calculators and saving them to a shared section.

Meet instacalc: a sharable calculator tool that enables users to enter data and get fast answers. Data can be shared and charted, to boot. As an example, you can use instacalc to figure out your site's bandwidth:

Ideas for hyper-local calculators for use on newspaper websites:

  • Property taxes
  • Tax rates + city services
  • High school sports stats
  • Public employee salaries vs. your salary
  • Body mass index
    • BONUS! Keep track of zip codes, aggregate with a Google map and tally the BMI of your reader area
  • Holiday sales vs. interest rates
  • Diet/ calorie counter
  • Grade keeper (how well you'll have to do on upcoming tests to score a certain percentage)

I like it, I like it!

Seed Newsvine

Apple iTunes

February 28, 2007

Find Hotspots: Will report from anywhere

Here's a helpful site for anyone who travels and needs to get online but doesn't have a BlackBerry to hack. Hotspotr, still beta-ish (they said it, not me), is a very clever Google mashup with community input on hotspots around the U.S.

I clicked on Chicago and found 2958 listings. Some are free, some are paid (someday I'll rant about pay-per-use airport hotspots). A few years back, I bought a wireless sniffer to allow me to see wireless networks, their channels and whether they were open or secure to enable me to get online fast when traveling. I really like Hotspotr because other folks vet the information, rate spots, upload addresses and all that data is spit out as an interactive Google map.

If you're a reporter or blogger, I highly recommend that you have a look.

Seed Newsvine

February 13, 2007

Radio Free Internet



Here's an interesting concept: Live radio-style talkshows produced entirely by regular folks and offered as free Podcasts (sortof) online.

BlogTalkRadio launched recently, and the service enables users to record a live show - even allows listeners to call in - with minimal knowledge of audio recording.

From the site's FAQ:

What is BlogTalkRadio?
BlogTalkRadio is a platform that extends the blog, allowing any individual to host a live blogshow online. Our service is free to all users, whether you host a blogshow or listen in. Plus hosts earn half of all revenue generated by their blogshow and Host Channel page.

Where do I get my call in phone number?
As a host, we will provide you with your own dedicated phone number. We will also assign a separate phone number for your callers, which will appear on your host channel page. We provide these numbers free of charge. When you are ready to host your blogshow, you simply call in, dial your host pin (which is automatically generated when you sign up) and begin talking...

So I've spent the past few weeks listening to a handful of recent shows. One problem stands out immediately: Hosts can't edit anything, since shows are recorded live and then archived for everyone to hear. And editing, as we all know, can be a beautiful thing. I heard everything from mucked-up intro music to a host complaining that they couldn't get their computer to work properly.

I've mostly heard bloggers and professional marketers hosting shows on behalf of their products or organizations so far. But some well-knowns have been showing up - Sen. John Kerry was featured yesterday and earlier Congressmen Duncan Hunter (Republican presidential candidate from California) appeared live. And I'm not sure where the ad revenue is coming in - I keep waiting to hear ad placement during the blogcast, but haven't so far. I'm also not seeing any banners on the site.

The concept is certainly interesting. Technology has made it easy enough for anybody to host and promote a call-in talkshow and distribute it to an infinitely large audience. Programs featuring news a la the Daily Show are popping up all over YouTube - and if you ask me, I seem to get more context and content out of a short segment online than I do watching my local broadcast affiliate.

It's not just that more people have computers and know how to use them. We need to keep in mind that innovative companies are capitalizing on our hunger for reaching out to others. Fifty years ago, only a few had access and the means to produce a newspaper, magazine, television or radio broadcast. And without that medium, there wasn't getting any news.

Today, we're not wholly depended on the old news distribution model. Makes sense for the big, traditional media companies to start beta testing completely new ideas right now, doesn't it?



October 07, 2006

Netscape's New Look

Definitely check out the new Netscape, which went from beta to slick new design yesterday. Lots of interesting changes. For one, they've gotten rid of the standard online lexicon. There are "anchors" who help edit and moderate the site. Rather than visiting pages, users choose "channels" according to their interests.

Of course, there's a lot of the same adaptation we're seeing elsewhere on the web... tagging, story ranking, user-generated content and lots of voting...

What application might this have for newspaper sites?


September 26, 2006

Dateline: China

Citizen journalism strikes in China! The government may still control the official press, but a new service allows average citizens to record video spots with their camera-enabled mobile phones for upload on a YouTube-like site. Eriz Zhang, formerly of the China Daily English-language newspaper, just launched

And as a side note: friends in China recently informed me that Dragonfire has been banned there. Maybe we should shoot camera-phone movies of our site and upload them to Molive...

September 06, 2006

Music Re-revolution

August 31, 2006

New Citizen Jurno Experiment...

The latest from Wired...

"In an experiment in collaborative journalism, Wired News is putting reporter Ryan Singel at your service...Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the job of a Wired News editor and whip it into shape. Don't change the quotes, but feel free to reorganize it, make cuts, smooth the prose or add links -- whatever it takes to make it a lively, engaging news piece..."

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 20, 2006

CMS...coming soon

I'm on a listserv that goes by the moniker "norgs," and it's a group of very forward-thinking journalists, programmers and editors. Norgs is supposed to mean "a news organization of the future." Lately, we're talking about content management systems, and I've promised to go through all of my notes and research. I'll post here as well later in the week...

I was going to link to norg and just realized...there's nothing to link to...

June 14, 2006

Multimedia Stylebooks: Gotta have it!

The U.K.-based Telegraph is set to launch a stylebook for bloggers. Makes me wonder why more news outlets here aren't doing the same...

Dragonfire uses AP style and does have an in-house stylebook, but we've now decided to implement a multimedia stylebook as well. It'll be written by our interactive team and will include all elements of our digital production. What size should that Flash animation be? What will be our standard template for photo essays? What's the bitrate for audio? How are we tagging stories? This, we'll ponder the next few weeks... We're open to collaboration, too. Have any thoughts on what a multimedia stylebook should include?

Question now is, do we make the guide itself interactive? Guess we'll have to...

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 19, 2006

Search 2.0

Google, Google, Google. It seems like every time there's buzz about search, the story has to do with Google.

There's a lot more out there, and while yes, Google is playing with serious math porn back in its top-secret development labs, there are some newer, more interesting ways to search through all that cyber sludge.

How does this help you, the traditional journalist? For one thing, Lexis ain't coding Podcasts to drop into its databases. If you're working on a story about the Japanese shrimp economy -- and at one point a few years back, I was -- I can guarantee that some shlub is geeky about those tiny crusteacans and devotes his lonely nights to researching and recording a Podcast. Would I quote him as a source? Not a chance. But I'd take that information as a lead and start tracing his steps to find my analysts and my experts.

Same problem with online content that's coded in Flash. The presentation may have fantastic, useful information, but if it's embedded in ActionScript, you're going to have a difficult time locating it using a standard search engine.

You can glean a tremendous amount of insight from multimedia files. The problem is that because of the way traditional search engines work, it's hard to find information hidden within, say, Flash content.

Below, you'll find a handful of search alternatives. Try them out and see what you get -- and if you have additional ideas, add them in the comments section.

  • Find specific audio and video streaming files (auf Deutsch, but it works):
  • Search blogs:
  • Search for specific feeds:
  • Crawl through discussion forums for information without actually visiting each one:
  • Search for images:
  • Search Google and Yahoo at the same time:
  • Look through what other people have already found:
  • Not really a true search, but Bloglines offers a fantastic way to pull RSS content on very specific subjects.

    And last but not least, the ultimate in vanity searches...

  • Find out where a search on your name ranks: