Sunshine Week, March 13-19: Acceptable advocacy for journalists

For several years, I’ve loved Sunshine Week — a campaign by the American Society of News Editors to call for more government transparency.  It’s one of the few times that journalists and news orgs are willing to engage in direct activism, which makes for a lot of amusing verbal gymnastics.

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center, I wrote about new advocacy/awareness tool from Sunshine Week: a model proclamation that news orgs and other activists/advocates can customize, publish, and challenge specific government officials and agencies to adopt. It gets into specifics, at least to some extent.

See: Sunshine Week shows how to call for open government

It’s a good start, but here’s what else I’d love to see from Sunshine Week…

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More break-the-story-box news tools: Andy Carvin, Twitter, and Egypt

Form follows function — which is why when traditional journalism tries to shoehorn fast-breaking, multidirectional events that unfold via social media into traditional narrative stories, it often flattens (and sometimes skews) the experience.

This is why I like tools that allow reporters and others to break “story box” by creating real-time collages that combine original reporting and commentary with curated contributions from social media and elsewhere.

The past month, NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin has been doing this via Twitter — first for the Tunisia uprising, and now with the Egyptian revolution. Today Berkman Center research Ethan Zuckerman published an excellent interview with Carvin exploring why he’s been posting an average of 400 tweets daily for the last month, and what others can learn from his efforts.

I summarized some highlights from this interview that might especially interest news professionals over at the Knight Digital Media Center site.

See: How NPR’s Andy Carvin is using Twitter to tell Egypt’s story

Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch | Knight Digital Media Center

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center site, I took another look at a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project about generational differences in tech gadget ownership and user.

See: Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch

The trends & implications I saw are:

  1. Picture-taking is the most popular non-voice cell activity, even more than texting! So why not do more with community-contributed pictures?
  2. Tablets are still a niche market. Right now, there are much bigger mobile fish to fry in terms of potential market size. Consider where your business interest really lie.
  3. MP3 players are especially popular with young adults, so consider doing more with podcasts and other audio content.

I discuss the details more over at my article on KDMC.

Breaking the story box: Al Jazeera uses modular content management for Egypt phone-in updates

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center site, I explained How Al Jazeera is putting audio updates from Egypt online fast.

They’re using ScribbleLive, a modular-oriented content management tool that “plays nice” with content from a variety of sources — social media, MMSed-in photos, blog posts, and — as shown — phoned-in audio updates from Egypt.

See Al Jazeera English, Live Messages from Egypt.

I’ve covered ScribbleLive before. I think it’s a great tool, and I’d like to see more tools like it for venues that cover breaking news. Another good option is Burt Herman’s Storify project.

Making links work for news: Mobile

As part of my research on mobile strategies for news, I subscribe to text alerts from several news organizations around the country. I do this from a cheap little Samsung Freeform candybar-style feature phone, so I can get a feel for what this experience is like for the vast majority of mobile users.

In general, this has been a pretty mixed experience…

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Exploding some common myths about the role of feature phones in the mobile media market

Yesterday I noted that on Poynter.org, Damon Kiesow picked up on my call for news organizations to pay more attention to feature phones in their mobile strategies.

See: News publishers need to reach the 74% of Americans on feature phones

But some of comments from journalists who read that story indicate some pretty common misunderstandings that people in the media business often have concerning feature phones.

I’m not faulting my colleagues for these misunderstandings. It’s understandable — they’re as drenched in smartphone/tablet hype as anyone who gets tech news. So I hope no one takes this post as disrespect.

However, since news orgs ostensibly have a mission to serve their entire communities (not just the people who can afford high-end mobile devices), and since advertising and similar revenue models generally work better when you reach more people., I thought I’d point out and clear up some of these feature phone fallacies…

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How missing links hurt online news, part 1 | Knight Digital Media Center

My latest post to the News Leadership 3.0 blog of the Knight Digital Media Center at USC.

For nearly 15 years, the internet has been popular with the general public. So it amazes me that so many online news stories still routinely lack the kind of links that online and mobile users find helpful—and that also enhance the transparency, credibility, and shareability of news.

In a blog post this week, the Google-newsroom conspiracy theory Kevin Sablan of the Orange County Register nailed exactly how bad missing obvious links make news organizations look…

Full story: How missing links hurt online news, part 1 | Knight Digital Media Center.

How the NY Times turns topic pages into link spam

Topic pages can be a great for news venues and audiences. In my post yesterday to the Knight Digital Media Center’s News Leadership 3.0 blog, I sang the praises of topic pages as a tool news orgs can use to engage communities over time around issues.

Of course, news topic pages can be abused, too.

Today the New York Times (which in many ways pioneered the use of news-related topic pages) offers a classic bad example of spammy links to its own topic pages… Continue reading

Media mending the vocabulary gap: Polyamory and the Boston Globe

Last weekend, the cover of the Boston Globe Sunday magazine featured a good story about a topic I know well: polyamory. In Love’s New Frontier, Globe writer Sandra Miller did a far better job explaining this approach to relationships than most mainstream publications do. No wide-eyed, mock-shock sensationalism.

As a polyamorous person, I was rather tickled that this topic got such prominent play. I figured: Cool! There goes a chunk of the vocabulary gap!

If you haven’t heard the term, polyamory means being open to having more than one intimate relationship at a time, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Yes, I realize any new term sounds awkward until you get used to it. So: Get used to it. Because here’s what the vocabulary gap looks like to a poly person…

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Poll: What’s your favorite journalistic style guide, really?

C’mon, journo types, be honest. Which of these resources is REALLY your go-to, most relevant and current style guide?