links for 2009-03-23

links for 2009-03-22

  • With the new “real time” stream on Facebook’s redesigned home page, Facebook is relying less on its ability to algorithmically select interesting content for users and more on users’ abilities to group and categorize their friends to create the most interesting stream. Here are a couple quick tips for customizing it the new Facebook home page to make it work better for you:
  • "Should your company offer an API for outside developers to build on? Should you engage in one of the fast growing developer platforms or with another company's API? There's a world of options opening up to leverage cross-site functionality and data exchange, but there are also some serious questions to ask about this emerging paradigm. [img: Flickr Mashups by David Wilkinson]

    "We discussed some of the common concerns about platforms and APIs with a circle of industry experts, executives and engineers last week and thought we'd share that discussion with you.

  • "Hotshots, rock stars, geek heroes – many of us follow a lot of the same people online. But who do they pay the most attention to themselves? The influencers of influencers are of interest for a lot of different reasons, most appropriately because finding them is a good way to dive deeper into niche topics.

    "Twitter exposes conversations that can show us who's in anyone's inner circle because conversations there are public and programatically accessible. In the following post we look at the data and find out who has the most reciprocal conversations on Twitter with 10 geek heroes – from the founders of big sites like Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon to nonprofit geeks working to challenge injustices.

    "There's something a little uncomfortable about being able to see this information. Fact is, though, it's part of the nature of this powerful new system of communication. We expect that data parsing like this is only the beginning.

Instapaper: Because the Device Shouldn’t Matter

Kindle next to iPhone
Image by alexhung via Flickr

Now that I own (and use daily) a laptop, iPhone, and Kindle, I’m developing a new relationship to text content. I realize that I shouldn’t have to care about the device. The news and other content I choose to read should just be there — available on whichever of my devices I prefer at the moment, in a format friendly to that device.

This is especially true for anything longer than about 750 words. I’ve found that’s my personal limit for reading through a Web browser, either on my laptop or iPhone. Yes, I can and do occasionally slog through longer Web-based content on those devices. But honestly, after about 750 words I tend to stop truly reading and instead scan quickly through the rest to gauge whether it’s worth further reading.

So I was pleased to recently discover an online service called Instapaper, which makes it easier to read electronic long-format content and to share that content across multiple devices.

Here’s how it works…

Continue reading

links for 2009-03-21

New iPhone Software: Copy & Paste (Finally!), Intriguing APIs

:Image:IPhone_Release_-_Seattle_(keyboard) cro...
Image via Wikipedia

The iPhone is due for a major operating system update, and this week Apple revealed what the iPhone OS 3.0 software (due to be distributed summer 2009) will allow users and developers to do.

In a nutshell: Plenty.

The biggest splash: iPhone 3.0 will support copy and paste. Seems like a no-brainer, but so far iPhone users have not been able to employ this basic user interface tool which has been available since long before Apple even started making computers. The iPhone’s lack of copy and paste has led to considerable user frustration and some clumsy work-arounds involving javascript bookmarklets for mobile Safari. I’ve heard several people say they’d get an iPhone if only it did copy and paste. So it’s possible that this key bit of usability catch-up could broaden the iPhone market base.

But even more importantly: New iPhone APIs offer exciting opportunities — especially for news orgs and other online publishers… Continue reading

links for 2009-03-20

  • ABSOLUTELY!!!!!! Stop whining about the internet, and start kicking managerial ass!

    "Major market papers typically have suffered from the greatest anachronisms in their cost structure due to everything from oppressive union work rules to just bad management. The instant at which you have heard a paper is shutting down or going online-only have typically involved cases where the legacy liabilities, cost structures or regulatory burdens of operating were overwhelming."

  • Gary London, a local real estate analyst, valued Copley's two key properties at a combined $105 million and said they were likely "a major percentage of the transaction." London estimated the Mission Valley land's value at $100 million, calling it a "trophy property."

    Real estate often attracts private equity buyers, said John Morton, a Maryland-based newspaper analyst. "They see opportunities for real estate to sell it and lease it back. Or to just sell it outright. They look at everything. They don't just assume that the way the newspaper operates is necessarily going to be the same."

    Morton said the typical rule of thumb before the recession was that a newspaper would sell for $1,000 for each average daily subscriber. A newspaper like the Union-Tribune, which today averages 287,000 daily subscribers, would've sold for $287 million. Now, Morton said, that multiple is much lower, perhaps $500 per daily reader — or less.

  • A private equity firm has bought The San Diego Union-Tribune, the two sides said Wednesday, ending eight decades of Copley family dominance of that city’s news media.

    Copley Press and Platinum Equity, based in Beverly Hills, declined to say how much Platinum was paying, but a person briefed on the deal called the price “very low,” and said Platinum was the only serious bidder, The New York Times’s Richard Pérez-Peña reports. The sale will close in the second quarter.

    The sale, which includes two small weekly papers, will be Copley’s exit from a business it entered in 1905, when Ira C. Copley bought a paper in Illinois. He built an extensive Midwest chain, and in 1928 he bought two San Diego papers, which merged in 1992.

  • "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin immediately implementing the restored rules for companies to report toxic pollution through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). According to an announcement on the EPA website, "These changes affect TRI reports due July 1, 2009," thus covering toxic release data from 2008."

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin immediately implementing the restored rules for companies to report toxic pollution through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). According to an announcement on the EPA website, "These changes affect TRI reports due July 1, 2009," thus covering toxic release data from 2008.

  • This rubs me thewrong way. Sounds like acartel to prop up a failed model
  • This is great freedom of information news! "The Obama administration is ready to tell federal agencies to release records to the public unless foreseeable harm would result, a Justice Department official said Thursday."

    "It was not immediately clear whether all pending lawsuits would be reviewed under the new standards. If not, the requesters could just file new freedom of information act requests for the same data after the new guidelines take effect."

    "The new standard essentially returns to one issued by Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. It would replace a more restrictive policy imposed by the Bush administration under which the Justice Department would defend any sound legal argument for withholding records."

    Cracks me up that the source on this story is anonymous, though….

What do journalism students really need today? Poynter event Monday

On Monday, Mar. 23, 1 pm EDT, the Poynter Institute will host a live online chat: What Do College Journalism Students Need to Learn? It was spurred by a recent (and excellent) post by my Tidbits colleague Maurreen Skowran, Reimagining J-School Programs in Midst of Changing News Industry, which attracted some intriguing comments.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to participate in the chat since I’ll be heading to the airport at that time. However, I have had a great deal to say about this topic earlier on Contentious. Here are my posts from last year:

  • April 9, 2008: Journalism remains a smart career, despite shrinking newsrooms. This theme in my posts began in response to Elana Centor, who asked me: “Is journalism still a smart career path?” My answer began: “Personally, I think that developing journalism skills and experience is valuable for many career paths — but I think that betting that you’ll spend your career working for mainstream news orgs is a losing proposition in most cases. I think most j-schools are setting bright students up to fail, and that bugs me. A lot….”
  • April 10, 2008: New J-Skills: What to Measure? This followup post is a reply to Mindy McAdams’ thoughtful response to my earlier post. She challenged me to translate my original quick list of what j-schools should be teaching into a something more testable and measurable that could be translated into a curriculum.
  • April 16, 2008: Overhauling J-School Completely. This begins: “I’ve heard from some journalism educators that the kind of preparation I’ve proposed is far beyond what most existing j-schools could offer. I understand that. Really, I think what may be needed is to completely re-envision and rebuild j-school with today’s realities and tomorrow’s likelihoods in mind…” (This post also includes links to many other posts sparked by my previous posts on this topic.)

Again, I wish I could sit in on the Poynter chat. But hopefully this material might help inform the discussion. I look forward to reading the live blog and chat transcript after I land.

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links for 2009-03-19

  • Where did Twitter come from?…
  • "It is not the mere number of journalists that matters; it’s the choices that editors and publishers make about how to use the journalists available to them. Journalists are a crucial resource and how they are utilized has a significant influence on quality. Few newspapers have cut sections or types of coverage, choosing instead to cut throughout the newsroom and not to reassign journalists to the kinds of journalism that matters most to society.

    "ASNE statistics: number of newsroom supervisors has declined only 7/10 of 1% since 2000; copy editors 1 percent, photographers and artists 10 percent, and reporters 11 percent. Seems unusually lopsided to me. If there are fewer reporters and photographers to be supervised and edited, one would expect that fewer editors and supervisors would be required and warranted.

    "Maybe it’s about time that journalists stop whining about their troubles and initiate some internal discussions about how their own newsrooms are structured and operated."

links for 2009-03-18