Stanford Journalism Fellowship: Citizen Journalists Welcome to Apply

I just found out about a pretty significant journalism fellowship from Stanford University’s Center for the Study of the North American West: $3,500-$7,000 plus two weeks’ access to the Center’s facilities and resources.

The Western Enterprise Fellowship is for “research toward an article, series of articles or broadcast segment on a topic of particular significance to the United States west of the Mississippi, western Canada, or northern Mexico. Research areas can range widely, and may be related to the demographics, culture, politics, economy, or environment of the region.”

Now, the info page for that fellowship also goes on to say, “Since the fellowship is to disseminate new perspectives on these issues to the wider public, fellows must enter the program with an assignment letter from a news organization that commits to publishing or broadcasting the work within twelve months of the fellowship’s completion.”

I thought that sounded rather exclusive, so I inquired further…

(Read the full article at I, Reporter. I also published a related article on this topic today at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits.)

In online writing, little things mean a lot

(NOTE: I originally published this article in Spring 2000 in my former venture Content Exchange, which is now defunct. But it’s still useful information, so I’ve decided to republish it.)

Good writing is good writing no matter where you find it. However, each medium has its own unique considerations. One of the key points to consider about the text on your web site is microcontent.

Microcontent is all the short bits of text that help guide the user or provide an “at-a-glance” overview of what a given page is about. The basic categories of microcontent are…

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Brilliant headline from Koan Bremner

Usually, I advise people that when writing headlines or titles for online content, it helps to not be too “cute” or “cryptic.” This is because headlines are often viewed out of context online (in search engine results or feed readers, etc.). They generally need to speak for themselves.

That said, I love a good pun. And sometimes, depending on the author, topic, and target audience, a good pun is just what’s needed. This morning, my friend and fellow blogger Koan Bremner pulled off a magnificently punnish headline: “Ctrl-Alt-Delete.”

Now that might not sound like much of a pun – you need to read the article to see why it works so well. Normally I would consider that a problem, too.

However, here’s why I think it’s a great headline, even though it’s geeky and superficially cryptic – and what other bloggers can learn from this example…

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Link blog pros & cons

My friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Dave Taylor wrote on March 7 about how he’s finally “succumbed” and created a link blog: Dave Taylor’s blog clippings

…A link blog is a way to use a weblog to share interesting links. There are lots of different ways to do it. I use the free social bookmarking service to create link-related content for all of my main weblogs. In this weblog, that’s what generates my “Latest Recommended Links” content in the right-hand sidebar.

For my other weblog, The Right Conversation, I save links (with relevant excerpts or comments) in and then use an automated system to compile and post a daily roundup of links. (For instance, here’s yesterday’s link posting from The Right Conversation.)

Dave points out that while having a linkblog fulfills some needs (for him and, presumably, his audience), it’s not exactly conversational – especially in his case, since the tool he’s chosen does not allow comments.

I shared my thoughts on linkblogs with Dave, and asked him to explain his linkblog rationale further….

(Read the rest of this article on The Right Conversation…)

Egg on my face about Alexa stats

UPDATE MARCH 13: Well, it happens to every blogger sometime. Yesterday, when I posted this article (originally titled “Alexa’s ‘reach’ stats: More like ‘stretch'”) I got something pretty significant wrong. I was misinterpreting what the Alexa graphs actually communicate. Mea culpa, and apologies to Alexa and my readers. If you read the article below, don’t miss the comments thread, where a couple of my readers kindly clarified my error. Well, fortunately I view mistakes as an important part of learning. 🙂

Here is the original article…

Over the past few months I’ve seen articles, postings, and discussions concerning various aspects of online media tout site statistics offered by Alexa.

I’ve gotta tell you: I think something’s really wacky with Alexa’s stats – especially their “reach” benchmark.

Check this out. Here’s the Alexa “daily reach” results for Contentious over the past few months:

Alexa stats: Contentious daily reach as of March 12, 2006

OK, so according to Alexa, this humble little weblog you’re reading right now has recently had a “daily reach” as high as 58% of web users!!!

That’s flattering, but let’s get real. I see my server logs. There is no way I am reaching that many people. I do well with traffic to this blog, but Alexa’s figure is in the realm of utter fantasy. And it’s not even my fantasy!

So if you see people citing or touting Alexa statistics, here are some things to bear in mind…

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Transparency: Cleaning your \”filter\”

I just read an interesting post by Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion: “We’re All Gatekeepers.” He wrote:

“Everyone has information they’re holding on to. In the media’s case, it’s a scoop. In PR’s case, it’s a media embargo or exclusive. And in the blogger’s case, it’s information that they are among the few or even the one who’s privy to it. So the debate shouldn’t be over who is the gatekeeper or whether ‘gatekeeping’ is dead. We all are gatekeepers depending on where the news thread starts. As long as there’s news, there will be gatekeepers. Gatekeeping is just much more flat now. Anyone can join in if they have high-value information.”

It’s true, we have more ways to access information than ever before. Each point of access applies its own filter.

This means it’s more important than ever to be conscious of filters, especially as applied to any type of “news.” It’s no longer safe or smart to make wholesale assumptions about any class or genre of news filtering – from professional news organizations, to citizen journalism, to PR, to peer-reviewed journals, to personal blogs. We all have holes in our nets.

Here’s what I commented back to Steve…

(Read the full article at I, Reporter…)

My New Gig: Poynter\’s E-Media Tidbits Editor

A lot of interesting new work has come my way recently.

Along with my normal mix of editorial, writing, and consulting/training projects, I’ve just been awarded one new blogging gig of which I’m particularly proud. I’ve been named editor of the Poynter Institute’s group weblog, E-Media Tidbits.

I’ll be taking over this task from my friend, colleague, and fellow Boulderite Steve Outing, who’s just left Poynter to pursue an exciting new entrepreneurial venture in citizen media, The Enthusiast Group. (I’ll write more about this later, but rest assured this is a very cool venture well worth watching.)

Steve is a consummate editor who has managed to gracefully combine creativity, good humor, ethical grounding, and decisive guidance. I hope this job will be as easy as he made it look – but I won’t bet on that. 😉 I will do my best to continue his Tidbits vision.

If you’re not familiar with Tidbits, you really should be! Here’s what it’s about…

(Read the full article at The Right Conversation…)

Monday: BBC Radio covers women in podcasting

On Monday, March 13, the BBC Radio 4 program Women’s Hour will be covering the topic of women in podcasting. It’ll be a panel discussion, with audio clips from various shows hosted or co-hosted by women.

Here’s the Women’s Hour web site. They archive their shows in streaming format. After this episode is archived online, I’ll post a link.

If you’re interested in this topic…

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Conversation Overload: How do you cope?

Recently, Tom Foremski at Silicon Valley Watcher made an astute observation about conversational media. In “Welcome to the Conversation Age! All conversations may be monitored,” he wrote:

“Conversations about conversations leads me to think of this Internet 2.0 age as the Conversation Age. …The Information Age led to one of the early maladies of the digital age: Information Overload. …In the Conversation Age we will suffer from Conversation Overload.

“I think that Conversation Overload is a worse malady than Information Overload. Because I can walk away from reading Business Week this week, more easily than I can walk away from a conversation through blogging, email, etc. Those conversations are all important to me, yet I can’t keep up with them.

“Conversation Overload is tough because we don’t want it to seem as if we are ignoring someone but there is not enough time in the world to keep up with all the conversations.”

Oh, yeah – Tom nailed that one! Given the nature of my work as a conversational media consultant, I wrestle with conversation overload daily. Here’s what I commented on Tom’s article…

(Read the full article at The Right Conversation…)