Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Adapt or Die

The headline is a killer. But it's the subhead that really got me to read this Big Picture piece from AJR.org: "As newspaper companies confront a challenging future, they are increasingly viewing their trademark print product as the engine driving a diverse 'portfolio' that embraces other 'platforms' such as Web sites and niche publications. Is this a strategy for survival?"

Rachel Smolkin's story starts off by painting a dismal picture of a newspaper industry rotting at the core while trying to find new ways to attract readers, either through websites, blogs, Spanish-language publications, and other initiatives.

Experimenting is not a bad thing.

My beef is the attitude that runs through many newsroom that these new initiatives are fads. It hinders the potential for trying new initiatives. Fortunately, many newspapers are using these platforms, and measuring them for effectiveness. And when you do that, any journalist will tell you: the numbers don't lie.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blondes aren't alone

In his "Off Message" column, the National Journal's William Powers [left] asks an obvious question: Is anyone in journalism having fun any more?

His answer? Bloggers are.

"While mainstreamers cry in their beer -- or their herbal tea -- about the sorry state of journalism, those troublemaking bloggers are, in the finest tradition of hackdom, simply having a blast," he writes.

Question: Are you having fun? Or is Powers' right?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Collaboration the trend?

The Washington Post and Newsweek have created a new collaborative blog called PostGlobal. It's described by moderators -- the Post's Dave Ignatius and Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria -- as "a new online special that features independent journalists from all over the world in an ongoing dialogue about global issues [that] features a network of experts contributing regular analysis of pertinent happenings in our world."

Two established pub's working together expands the online reporting possibilities for others, depends on how long the collabo lasts, though.

I like the idea that a blog doesn't have to be written by some lone-wolf, but by a group and not necessarily all working for the same publication or media outlet. As journalists begin to use this medium for transmitting news, I feel they'll understand the "team" template PostGlobal is using is quiet effective.

Question: Has your newsroom created team blogs? Do you think blogs written by folks from two different newsroom is a trend?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

You say tom-ay-toe; I say tom-ah-toe

"The Media Guy" Simon Dumenco makes some interesting points on the similiarities and differences between bloggers and their "old" media counterparts (don't you like how some of these online cats use that term?), most notably this one:

"[I]t occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing -- writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder. It's just software, people! The underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same."

When I read this on Romenesko back in January, I couldn't agree more.

We've been some blogging fools at my paper during the last year, and I mean that in a good way. It's truely a time of experimentation here at the H-T. We have blogs on real estate written by the real estate reporter, a politcal blog scribed by the political, ect. And that doesn't count the numerous temporary blogs set up for multi-day events like the local film festival, and high-profile murder trial.

And not once in the discussion leading up to launching the blogs have I heard folks alyzing the role of web logs at the paper. Our web team gives us weekly updates on the number of folks viewing the site, so we know they're coming. We see the writing on the wall and know people read 'em.

We're like Nike: we just do it.

Question: What's the attitude towards blogs and blogging in your newsroom?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shear Bluntness

The Washington Post's Michael Shear [left] let bloggers have it at a recent Virginia blog summit, according to the "Beltway Blogroll." Speaking at a session focused [coincidentally] on journalism and blogging, Shear stated:

"[B]e honest about what you are -- and what you are not. You are pundits. You are aggregators of other people's work. You are analysts. You are political activists. You are gossips. You are agitators. You are not journalists."

Alllllllrighty then... I think Shear used two fingers while drawing his line in the sand.

Question: Is Shear right?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blogging: Hazardous to Your Job?

Discipline is what keeps a blog fresh. I knew going into this project I'd have to make time to find new useful information. It hit me tonight. After work.

Fishing for information keeps a blog fresh. Got to find the right lake or stream though, or you come up short, or worse, empty. Here's what I caught today...

AlterNet.com's Rory O'Connor wrote about a new study that shows 1 in 5 companies have disciplined employees for disobeying blogging policy.

I read this article with particular interest, for the obvious reason. And immediately thought about my paper's policy. It' sensible and simple: you post an entry, an editor looks it over, who then publishes it for the world to read.

Haven't always agreed with it. But at least we have something to start with.

Every newsroom should have a clear blogging and multimedia policy. Too much is at stake for reporters, the newsroom and the public.

Question: Do you know your newsroom's blogging policy? What do you think of it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Welcome 2.0

Hello. Again.

Welcome to ‘the buzz,’ a temporary web log focused on daily journalism and blogging. This unique blog is an outgrowth of a workshop, which takes place at this year’s NABJ national conference in Indy.

It’s also a tool. Now anyone interested in the subject has an online destination that is informative, useful and interactive. Along with occasional blog entries, the column on the right offers plenty of useful links. Check them out.

Some background…

I was supposed to launch this blog two weeks ago. Only I had a couple of problems: too much on my plate, and I wanted to create a site that went beyond my personal musings about being a blogging journalist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

My interest in blogs has mushroomed in the last couple of years. Along with regularly reading popular blogs like Poynter.org’s Romenesko, I've also created work and personal blogs.

I think 2006 has proved blogs are a handy tool for the mainstream media -- in my neck of the woods, anyway. It's the new way to follow a murder trial, local sports team or hurricane. Bottomline: blogs deliver information effectively.

That said, blogs have also become a headache for journalists. Working in this gray area between old and new media can be lonely, weird and stressful.

At the moment, this is the brave, new, free world.

Anyway, I set up a template for ‘the buzz,’ and spent many late nights surfing the net compiling stories, tools and examples to initiate discussion and debate. The whole time, keeping in mind that this information would enhance the “Blogger Buzz” workshop.

I have to credit Poynter’s Romenesko, Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, CyberJournalist.net, and other sites, where most of the entries came from.

But I questioned myself. Did I have enough entries? Are people interested in the topic? How do I make it useful? Will I have time to update it? So the digital dust gathered. For two weeks.

Now, 'the buzz' is here. But only until the workshop, which I plan to blog in real-time at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18.

So spend some time here.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer, full-time blogger, student, or somebody with an itch to type hard and fast about blogs and journalism -- leave a comment , give a suggestion, add to the debate, or pass on a link or an article. I could use it. So can others.


Blogging reporters beware

Mike Sando [left], writer of the award-winning Seahawks Insider blog, told USC's Online Journalism Review the potential risks for newspaper reporters who blog:

"I think a blog will expose a poor reporter more quickly, while allowing a good reporter to flourish more demonstrably. Also, the comments section of a blog will test a reporter's restraint. I've spent a fair amount of time maintaining the comments section by discouraging crassness, hot-temperedness and overall idiocy."

Question: You agree with Sando's statement? Why? Why not?

Digital Notes from East Afrika

Follow a delegation of National Association of Black Journalists members as they tour hospitals filled with malaria-stricken families, walk Artemisinin fields, and meet Tanzanian officials. In May, the group blogged their 15-day, United Nations-sponsored trip to the East African nation.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Top Bloggers Share Research Tools

Came across this item on CyberJournalist.net, and I think it's very useful for those of you operating blogs on a regular basis.

Blog consultant B.L. Ochman asked several bloggers, including Linux Journal senior editor Doc Searls [left], which tools they use to keep up with the deluge of information constantly streaming in from the net.

Although some bloggers in Ochman's article shun blogs as a regular information source, I regularly turn to Poynter.org's Romenesko for journalism news about blogging. His entries are short and to-the-point, and constantly updated.

Question: What online information tools do you rely on for your blog?