Thursday, August 30, 2007

'We're no longer a daily newspaper'

"We're a 24-hour information center." So says the managing editor of the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., a Gannett paper that adopted the "Information Center" approach early on.

A lot of the things we have in the works here -- most notably the "universal desk" -- bear strong resemblance to what's going on in Gannett. (Insert ominous music here.)

The ME shared some of the lessons she learned during their transition:

  • Communicate often. Managers must tell employees that change is coming, even before managers know exactly what the changes will be.

  • Expect turmoil as newsroom resources are redeployed. Expect some resignations, and expect staff to express uncertainty of the results. Quality may suffer during the transition, but it will return.

  • Be flexible. Great ideas will come from unlikely sources. Capitalize on opportunities. And don't be afraid to make adjustments.

  • Train managers to manage the change and to manage staff in their new roles. Train staff on the new equipment, technology and processes they will be using. Ask what they need, and ease their fears that they will be left behind.

  • Encourage and reward innovative ideas, and celebrate successes. Host monthly progress parties that celebrate changes accomplished during the month.

Also of note in this Inland Press story, the paper's vice president of human resources offers some advice to help staffers transition from the old model to the 24-hour, Web-centric newsroom organization.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More launches for preps sports

Chris Krewson (no relation) and the crew at The Allentown Morning Call are soft-launching "Varsity."
Here's a sample school page.
I get a big "Site Warning" when I go there from work, which in the past has been related to a Flickr embedded widget at other sites. Unsure how many banks/schools?/military users get the same thing because of internal network security controls.
The paper is part of the massive Tribune network. Chicago's also launching a similar site here. And Orlando is here with a "Site Warning" under a video heading for me at work.
No games in Allentown yet, but stay tuned. Check it Saturday, or early next week.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

LinkedIn vs. Facebook

Some comparison thoughts, inspired by questions from Charles Apple of the Virginian-Pilot, as journalists explore social networking tools.

I recall trying to explain LinkedIn to a well-educated, very busy college teacher and mom. She bought in to the idea after I said you don't have to do anything, just show up.

That's the beauty of LinkedIn; you don't have to DO anything; just come to the party. Friends will find you. Some really good long-term friends might take weeks to accept your LinkedIn request, but eventually, they buy in. Some of these folks might be your most interesting friends, who actually have lives and don't stare at a screen any more than they have to.

Facebook feels different. It has so many bells and whistles that you feel as if you have to DO something. Of course, you don't have to buy into the hype; you can just show up, hang out, and sooner or later its functionality might lure you in.

Facebook LOOKS different. People will judge you by the appearance of your friends. Recently I checked out the friends of a person promoting a conference.
White male. White male. White male. White male.
I get a good idea what the conference will be like.

Think about it. REALLY think about yourself, and who you're hanging out with. I suspect few of us non-white-male folks want to be tokens, but we do judge others by the diversity of their friends. And the visual power of Facebook amplifies that.

(Self-analysis disclaimer and plea: All my white male friends, please don't take this personally. And I admit that the social divide of the entire pool of people on Facebook might skew results. It skews mine. I claim extra credit, as a FB friend said, for having friends with pets as their personal photos. And maybe Simpson characters).

Over the years, I've enjoyed analyzing the faces we publish in our regional publications of the young All-Star Scholars in our public schools. In some regions, their diversity has exploded. Non-white, non-male young people are succeeding academically. Especially non-male (and don't get me off on a tangent about maintaining gender balance in colleges....).

A group of faces tells us viscerally, quickly, emotionally, what's going on in that group. Facebook has the power to help us ponder what that says about ourselves.

Ideas on Facebook and business from Scott Karp:

The problem of friends.

Facebook for business.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A little relief

Stress relief from Adrian Holovaty, a programmer formerly of The Washington Post and now balancing life with a Knight grant.
He has 600 subscribers to his YouTube acoustic guitar channel here.
He's still writing code sometimes, which you can read about here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New preps site lets readers get in the game

Talk about giving Web readers what they want... The Salt Lake Tribune has unveiled a bold new site that focuses on local high school sports. The site makes it easy for readers to find the most relevant content quickly, and it looks pretty darn cool. (Note the iTunes-style reflecting graphics.)

Readers can localize the site to their favorite sport, school or team. Eventually, it will feature reader-submitted photos and stories, in addition to staff content. I particularly liked the prominent "GameTracker" feature. (Something we could easily emulate...)More on the site here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rating newspaper Web sites

On the heels of its recent report on how well U.S. newspapers are incorporating current thinking on usability and Web 2.0 features into their sites, The Bivings Report has ranked the top U.S. newspaper sites.

No real surprises in the top 3 — NY Times, Washington Post and USA Today — but I found some of the other choices interesting.

4. Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
"We like the non-newspaperish feeling that this homepage exudes. It’s significantly different from any other newspaper site. offers its users interactive features such as comments and blogs, has a great RSS system made available right on the homepage, and looks good while doing it."

Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel
Knoxville News Sentinel

"I’m not sure a newspaper website could look any better than this one. When we talk about de-cluttering sites and making them look “clean”, this is what we mean."

Some of the commonalities of the sites mentioned:

  • An easy-to-navigate site that isn't too cluttered.
  • Incorporation (and prominent display) of "Web 2.0" features that allow users to contribute content to the site — blogs, photos, comments, networking.
  • Database applications — voter's guides, crime maps, congressional vote databases, etc.
  • Strong presence of multimedia.
(Also, with the exception of the NYT and USA Today, each of the sites has a horizontal navbar at the top of each page rather than just one down the left side of the page.)

None of these elements are particularly eye-opening in and of themselves — they're all features we've been mentioning here for months, and most are features that non-newspaper sites have incorporated for years now — but they're good examples of the types of features sites are using to tell stories and invite reader participation in ways not possible with the printed product.

And they're ways to address some of the key challenges, listed in last month's Bivings Report study, facing newspaper Web sites:
  • Lengthening the amount of time users spend on newspaper Web sites.
  • Expanding the purpose behind newspaper Web site visits.
  • Converting page views and stickiness into revenue.
  • Improving advertiser incentives for purchasing online ads on newspaper Web sites.
(If these aren't already some of the explicit goals of, they should be.)

Which newspaper sites would you list among your top 10?

h/t to Charles Apple for the link.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Atlanta, OC and alt-papers

Couple points from my morning RSS reads:

1. Atlanta's launching a free, P.M. Broadsheet that will be home delivered to non-subscribers, Charles Apple of VisualEditors reports. "Evening Edge is designed to provide busy people with help in planning their evenings and weekends. It provides ideas and recipes for quick dinners, guidance on what to do with (or without) kids in the evening — including spending quality time with their plasma TVs — weekend car trips, parenting tips, shopping opportunities and more. It replaces the more narrowly focused Thursday Buyer’s Edge.

2. Romenesko and the OC Business section report that the Orange County Register will cease publication on its 70,000 circulation, youth-oriented tabloid, SqueezeOC, and turn the content into a web only product, beginning Aug. 31. The Freedom veep for specialty media said, “It is a young adult audience and, generally, the first place they go for information - for things to go and do – is to the Internet as opposed to a print product."

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Bridge Observations

I'm posting this one for Tommy Tomlinson:

"Hey y'all,
Howard Weaver actually has a good idea on his blog about how to do a project on crumbling infrastructure in our community, with the aid of readers who take photos of bad bridges and such. This would be a really cool experiment for us.
Back to leslie: Richmond did a similar idea right after the collapse, where you could go to their site and find bridges in your neighborhood. I don't remember it being searchable, but maybe I'm just not looking in the right spots.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We should be thinking hard about the recent bridge collapse, and all the news coverage that came out of it from non-traditional sources, plus Will Sullivan's musings.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Flickr and the MN bridge, part ii

I sent a few of the photo editors the link to the bridge collapse slideshow on Flickr. Gary O'Brien, photo editor and tech guru, had an interesting take on the photos. While I was completely amazed by the quality of the photos that were posted by average joes, he pointed out that there may have been issues around media access. Gary wrote:
"Judging from their surroundings and the taglines, I'm guessing the majority of these weren't taken by citizen-journalists. I think this is mostly the work of a couple of firefighters, first responders or their friends - someone who has access to places the media isn't allowed.

This is increasingly a problem across the country - often, media photographers (as we know from past experience) are harrassed, while non-journalists are left alone or even allowed special access. A recent local example is the funerals of the two slain policemen - a fire department photographer had prime access, even to the point of creating a distraction to the mourners, while I was 300 yards away. We never saw those photos, nor did the public. ...

It makes me uncomfortable that we're now cut out of the equation in these situations and the best photos from the event are being made and edited by non-journalists who are public servants or their friends. They have a dog in the hunt - we won't see anything but what they choose.

I would like to see the work trained professionals could have done given this level of access. So would the rest of the world. "

Citizen Journalism and the MN Bridge

Good summary from on the citizen journalism that was going on around the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge.

  • Twitter was a very quick way for people to keep track of loved ones immediately after the collapse.
  • Citizen journalists were surprisingly competent, both with quality and volume of reports and with the quality of photos and video. That's not to say that there wasn't bad stuff. There was.
  • Photos are the best example of what the public can do. Check out Flickr (more on that in another post. A photo editor had some interesting perspective on those photos).
  • "The eyewitness blog posts, the on-the-scene photography, and even the handheld and cell phone videos complete with their jerky motion and blurry, overcompressed images, all contribute far better than the mainstream media, to giving you a more accurate sense of being there."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Flickr and MN Bridge photos

I can't seem to look at enough photos of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. When I looked at the Star Tribune site late Wednesday night, there weren't a whole lot of reader submitted photos or stories. Today's a different story. Not as many on the Strib or sites, but Flickr's seeing all kinds of reader submissions.

Check out the Flickr slideshow.