Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reporting within "walled gardens"

A reporter has entered the hallowed halls of College Confidential to seek out students willing to talk anonymously.

The reporter wants to talk to students about college application questions regarding school discipline and convictions. I don't know whether he's also seeking out people on Facebook groups.

Is this innovative cyber-reporting? Is this invasion of a walled garden where students feel as if they're safe posting anonymous (or pseudo-anonymous) comments? Is the reporter setting himself up for a fall seeking anonymous information at a place where sock puppets sometimes visit?

To the site's credit and the reporter's credit: The reporter apparently contacted a moderator, who posted this, in part:

"While we have verified that this is a legitimate LA Times request, we always suggest caution when divulging personal information."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Notes from the Intertubes

  • The latest in photo manipulation: content-aware resizing. And I thought Photoshop's rubber stamp tool was cool...

  • Over at VisEds, Robb Montgomery and David Dunkley Gyimah post a clip on what it takes to be an "interactive multimedia video journalist." Whatever you want to call it, it's a pretty cool clip (imagine a news segment produced by the director of "Se7en." Much different from anything you'd see each night on the TV news. But is something like this feasible in a world filled with deadlines?

  • Given that we're in the midst of a redesign, I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion here (or even in my nook of the newsroom) about how the Merc is going about its redesign. I like the idea that they're trying to make things transparent, opening up the discussions, etc. I'm not sure I like the three-section idea they're going with. But desperate times do call for desperate measures. What do y'all think?

  • Finally, I'm not sure who to credit, but there's a pretty cool (and helpful) Google Maps mashup of Mecklenburg's missing people. Wonder if we could use these sorts of features as a springboard to a full-out crime map a la Raleigh or Chicago. Now, we need to get advertisers on board to sponsor these sorts of Web features. With all the investment we've made in video, why do we still not have ads accompanying the videos? I'd much rather watch those than have to deal with one of those accordion ads that floats down from the top of a page, or from that annoying guy who pops up at the bottom of the home page and starts talking to me.

Meet the editor

The editor over at NYTimes.com is answering readers' questions this week -- er, rather, the editor of the Times' Web newsroom. Whatever. It'll be interesting to see what kind of things she goes into.
Fiona Spruill (right), a graduate of Duke University, joined NYTimes.com in 1999 as an intern and has served as a business and international news producer; a night editor; an editor of the site's home page, most notably on Sept. 11, 2001; associate editor; and deputy editor in charge of the features sections. She became editor of the Web newsroom in July 2006.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Travel and learn vicariously

A challenge over the next few days: Walk away from boring football on that other screen and go read the personal journals of some traveling Charlotte Observer folks. These are personal sites not affiliated with The Observer. You'll get lots of inside baseball but also travel vicariously.

From Cambridge
Mary Newsom is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, writing about her Nieman time. She's getting to hang out with people like Tom Fiedler, former editor of the Miami Herald, and she's continuing to study urban design and transportation while walking to class. Her husband, Frank Barrows, former m.e. at The Observer, is studying sports statistics (surprise, surprise). And daughter Maggie is Live Journaling (surprise, surprise), and jealous that her mom gets to read "Pride and Prejudice" for class.

From Cuernavaca
Reporter Deborah Hirsch is writing and posting photos about her time as a Rotary International scholar.
Blow some stereotypes by reading about Yom Kippur in Mexico. She's using Wordpress and posting lots of photos (hint, hint, Mary). She's also occasionally sending dispatches to Observer blog Enterese Charlotte, like a report with photos on the recent floods.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Local calendars: Our neighbors want them

As the busy holiday and art seasons approach, and as the political year of 2008 nears, our neighbors are crying out for decent social calendar tools.
Someone, or several someones, will figure out the right tools, and then steal our ads or find another way to make money from it, if we're not there first.
I could include many links of what some papers are doing, but the reality seems to be no one has it right yet. Let's keep looking and sharing.
If we share information, we can evolve faster.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Style note: Sign of the times

"Let's follow most business usage and make writedown one word, without a hyphen. That's an exception to our style dictionary."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Headsup: The Curmudgeon

What a treat it is to wander into Fred Vultee's "Headsup: The Blog." He's a world-class curmudgeon, and his blog posts have heds (not heads) like these:

Horse gone. Lock barn.

Shut up, Grandma. You too, AP.

Want proof? Go to seminary

Keep opinion to self

Of fallacies and mushroom clouds

Fred worked at The Observer on the copy desk and national desk a bazillion years ago, and Roger Mikeal calls him one of the best copy editors he's ever known. He teaches at Wayne State now, and taught many young journalists while working on degrees at Missouri. Amy Fiscus and Adam Isaguirre were among his students.

And Fred still reads The Observer, with a well-intentioned curmudgeon's eye. He's worth reading, because he's skewering editing us from afar. For free. And nothing is holding his sarcasm back.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sneak a peek into class

Amazing insight, links and research are coming out of a class at UNC on the global implications of new technology.
A diverse group of classmates is talking about Facebook, privacy, online defamation, Mexican politics, computers in schools, the funding of journalism, access for those with visual disabilities and all kinds of interesting stuff.
Free learning! Start anywhere and follow the class links.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A journalist hero is something to be

"I’m tired of talking about and worrying about the future of journalism. It’s time to help make the future. Directly. Hands on. Starting today."
--Matt Waite

Matt might not want the term "hero," but I couldn't resist the reference to a John Lennon song, updated by Green Day, with 2.5 million views on YouTube. (Update, Dec. 3: A link to the video originally appeared here, but then gave a "We're sorry, this video is no longer available" message. Apologies. If you like, let Youtube know that permalinks would be better than ones that expire).

"Role model" might work better. Matt's up for a Knight grant to build a way for tiny papers to deal with the Internet more easily. He's one of the people behind Politifact in St. Pete.

Visit and learn.

It's not just about advancing your career or keeping your job. It's about using all the available tools in order to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Blogging from the beach

Myrtle Beach Sun-Times editor Trisha O'Connor is blogging.
In fact, she's been blogging since April.
I knew Trisha long ago, when she worked at The Observer and was a single mom with two teenage girls. Her ability to balance life and her dedication to journalism were inspiring. She loved to share the gossip in the hall outside the newsroom.
And she kept Mike Weinstein in check.
Check her blog out -- she has some posts with community response about anonymous postings, whether the community wants video and other questions for the new times.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blogging from Ifra Newsplex

Randy Covington, the director of Ifra Newsplex at the University of South Carolina, is blogging at ifra-newsplex.blogspot.com. In a recent post, he examines the role of Facebook in coverage of the Ocean Isle Beach fire.

Newsplex also has a revamped Web site.

h/t Doug Fisher