Input needed: HOW could a news site be a truth vigilante?

I’ve been following, with interest, the recent flap sparked by this Jan. 12 column by New York Times public editor (ombudsman), Arthur Brisbane: Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?

Brisbane asked NYT readers: “I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

This led to consternation from many Times readers, who believed this kind of revelation is part of the basic job of any news organization. GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram offered a good roundup of the flap, and at The Guardian Clay Shirky wrote an eloquent deeper exploration of the mindset disconnect between the Times and its readers.

Many people are debating the ethical implications of this issue. However, I’m wondering about the practicalities and possible opportunities.

If the NYT (or any news organization) does decide to point out when sources offer inaccurate “facts,” HOW might they accomplish that? Might there be good options, especially online, that could serve this purpose in addition to inserting relevant text into stories?… Continue reading

Local, mobile, paywalls, Google, more: My latest KDMC news for digital journalists posts

Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…

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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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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.

US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center

For journalists and others who use Census data, the American FactFinder is a key research tool. It just got a pretty major upgrade — although the 2010 data isn’t included yet. Apparently that will happen “in the coming months.

I wrote more about this for the Knight Digital Media Center at USC site: US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center.

Alexa web traffic stats: Display varies by browser

Earlier today I was editing a post by Susan Mernit on Oakland Local (the community news & views site I’ve been working on lately). She was using the popular service Alexa.com to compare traffic statistics for three other Oakland-based web sites, for her post today: Can you gentrify the local web?

I got pretty confused when I couldn’t immediately replicate on Alexa the results of the searches Susan linked to there. Alexa appeared to be displaying some very different types of information from what Susan’s story described.

Finally, I realized that, at least on a Mac, the information that Alexa displays for site statistics can vary by browser.

Here’s an example…

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Wrestling with Scribd’s fullscreen display

I’ve been using the document-sharing service Scribd to embed documents in posts for various projects. but sometimes the “fullscreen” feature doesn’t work with the embedded document. I’m trying to troubleshoot this. So as a test I’m embedded a Scribd document here, to see if fullscreen works:

1 5 2010 Concurrent Meeting of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency City Council 10-01-05 Meeting Agenda

…OK, just viewed this post in Firefox for Mac and the fullscreen function does work here. But on another site I publish on, which is a complex Drupal site, it’s not working.

Have other Scribd users experienced similar display problems when embedding documents on Drupal sites? Got any solutions?

Making Twitter Lists more useful with filtering

Choose
Sometimes you don’t want EVERYTHING, just what you want. (Image by ervega via Flickr)

Today Twitter has begin a broad rollout of a new feature, Twitter Lists. The feature had been available only to a select group of beta users, but product manager Nick Kallen tweeted yesterday,Currently, 25% of all users have Lists.” I don’t have access to Lists yet, but I expect it’s coming soon.

The point of Twitter lists is relevant discovery: It’s an easy way to find and follow Twitter users you might not otherwise know about, but would be interested in. However, you might not be interested in everything (or even most things) a given Twitter user in a list has to say. This is more likely if you’re more interest in topics than people. In this case, Twitter lists might deliver more noise than signal.

But I think if you use a good tool like Tweetdeck for accessing Twitter (rather than just the Twitter site, which has always sucked for usability), you can combine Twitter Lists with filtering to end up with something very useful indeed, especially for staying abreast of news or topics… Continue reading