links for 2009-04-17

  • Interesting example of social network set up to coordinate volunteers and political action/advocacy on renewable energy issues.
  • Whenever we debate the future of newspapers, inevitably someone asks, "if they go out of business, where will blogs get their stories?" That's a companion argument to "who will conduct investigative journalism"? Well, just as a wide range of journalistic enterprises are conducting investigative reporting (including online news outlets, television stations, and advocacy groups), so too will we get our news from a variety of different sources. In fact, we already do.

    "While newspapers were the most common source of information, they accounted for just 123 out of 628 total original information sources, or just shy of 20 percent. …I will be gleeful when the AP goes out of business. I'm actually shocked at how little we depend on those jerks."
    Out of curiosity, I decided to see where the news we discuss on this site came from the past week, from Monday, April 6, to Sunday, April 12.

  • "Update: There is free, and then there is free, apparently. A Dow Jones spokeswoman wrote to wired.com Thursday to say that the company does intend to charge for some content consumed on smartphones "so we have a consistent experience across multiple platforms," though the company is "still exploring its options" and isn't saying when that might happen.

    "They would offer "both free and subscription content, so the idea is to mirror the experience on the site," the spokeswoman said.

    "As a practical matter very little is free on wsj.com (I subscribe). Eight months after it released its Blackberry app Dow is still saying that "Full access to subscriber content (is free) for a limited time only." There is a free mobile site that has a large sampling of the Journal's content — and even has limited search, which the smartphone apps lack.

  • Would there be a better TV show than plopping Rod Blagojevich in the middle of a jungle and watching him try to find his way out?

    Nope.

    And if a federal judge gives the impeached ex-governor of Illinois the go-ahead, we’ll get to see it. Bizarre? Yes. A possibility? Maybe.

    New show

    We originally told you about this last night. NBC is interested in having Blagojevich appear on the new reality TV show ““I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”

    The premise is simple. NBC explains: “Ten celebrities of various backgrounds will be dropped into the heart of the Costa Rican jungle to face challenges designed to test their skills in adapting to the wilderness and to raise money for their favorite charities. Rod Blagojevich will be a participant on the show pending the court’s approval.”

    He needs the court’s OK because he’s facing 16 federal charges which could put him behind bars for 300 years. Yesterday, he asked the judge if he could travel, although he didn’t mention the jungle TV show.

  • Well, no point in paying $10/month for WSJ on my Kindle now… Canceling that!
  • I asked this question on Twitter, which I’ve set up to post to my Facebook account as a status update.

    George Sitting in a newspaper innovation meeting with co-workers. How can I convince them to join Twitter? – 10:36am

    Here are responses, which came mostly from other co-workers, friends and acquaintances on Twitter and Facebook, but also a few random users.

  • "His most important point of the discussion "what are you throwing away" – google thought about links while no one else did – what about other pieces of data are we throwing away that a business can be built around?"
  • "To understand the success of the WSJ subscription model and contemplate what other information-based products might merit a fee, I think you first have to explode another “myth” about WSJ.com. I think it’s commonly assumed that we conceptualized, designed and built The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (as we called it during development in 1994-95 and at its launch in 1996) and then decided to charge for it. Quite the opposite was true. We began with the premise that we wanted to build a “product” that would have sufficient value that people would pay for it."
  • Nobody would have predicted this scene in 1995, amid the heyday of the newspaper business, but the person it might have surprised most would have been the Times’ new publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. Sulzberger, chatting with Esther Dyson, reacts to one of her questions with an incredulous response: “Are you making the assumption that we’re going to put all of our reporters online?”

    "The assumptions at Times Open 2009 included: “when users innovate, support their behavior in your platform” (O’Reilly); data and interaction are as important to journalism as the story (Jacob Harris, Times developer); and “the goal is still widest distribution of our content” (Marc Frons, chief technology officer). Janet Robinson, the Times Co.’s CEO, made an even bolder assumption when she said her 158-year-old newspaper would “use every communications vehicle possible for the next 158 years.”

  • Beginning in August, Columbia will offer a revamped, digitally focused curriculum designed to make all students as capable of creating an interactive graphic as they are of pounding out 600 words on a community-board meeting. The force behind the change is former WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin, the school’s new dean of academic affairs.

    Grueskin wants to make multimedia skills and storytelling mandatory via the school’s core course, RW1, shorthand for “Reporting and Writing 1,” which has, since its inception in the early seventies, stuck to very traditional lessons in beat reporting and on-deadline news writing.

    "But the push for modernization has also raised the ire of some professors, particularly those closely tied to Columbia’s crown jewel, RW1. “Fuck new media,” the coordinator of the RW1 program, Ari Goldman, said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student."

  • "Of more than 1,100 adults polled in December, nearly 80% said they were very or somewhat more likely to consider buying products recommended by real-world friends and family, while only 23% reported being very or somewhat likely to consider a product pushed by "well-known bloggers."

    "This shows that popularity doesn't always equate to credibility," said Robert Hutton, executive vice president and general manager at Pollara. "Marketers might have to reconsider who the real influencers are out there."

  • "If you apply for expensive training in a dying profession, why should anyone trust your abilities to collect and analyze information?"
  • "Punishing times for journalism have been an unlikely boon for journalism schools. Would-be Woodwards and Bernsteins hiding out from the bad economy or learning new skills to compete stormed the admissions offices of top-tier programs last fall."
  • "Obviously there are lots of bloggers covering the local – the scandals, etc. But the vast majority of those blogs are struggling while tech and gossip blogs flourish. I do think there will be a day, however, when this video isn’t a joke – old media reporters will become the new media blogger – and there will be a guy check period for everyone in determining what they cover."
  • At last, some tranportation policy vision that makes sense. High-speed rail is crucial for efficient US transportation and to get us off fossil fuel. No way highways and air travel could match the benefits of high-speed rail. Hope this transportation initiative actually goes some where (pun intended)
  • "Amazon recently banned a customer for making what they considered too many returns, and when they did this they also disabled his Kindle account, although the returns were never related to Kindle purchases. So what happens when your Kindle account is taken away? Your Kindle still works, and the books you already bought for it will work, but you can't download those books ever again (better have made a backup on your PC!), you can't receive your magazine, blog, or newspaper subscriptions on it anymore, you can't email documents to Amazon to have them converted and sent to your Kindle, and you can't buy any new books for the device. That $360 device only works so long as Amazon decides it will work. That's the nasty thing about DRM—it prevents you from really owning things you've purchased."

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