Friday, December 22, 2006

bstepno's bookmarks on
... are where I've been keeping a lot of the "for possible reference later" posts that I used to put in this Blogger blog after starting my Other Journalism Weblog.

(Also known as
Blogger Buzz: The New Version of Blogger
For now I'm just testing whether this new version works with my old "Blog This" button on Firefox's menu bar. Seems to...
But no. Now that I've poked around a bit, I see that Blogger is phasing in the new version, and it appears I'm not in the first phase. (The giveaway is that my "Dashboard" page doesn't have a section inviting me to try the new system.)
Oh well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our discussion of digital news archiving projects and the pitfalls of footnoting online publications didn't even try to approach the issues of archiving video or controversies surrounding Google's book-scanning project. This post by Jeff Ubois at Berkeley links to a larger ongoing discussion of both those topics.
Television Archiving? Blog Archive? Google “Showtimes” the UC Library System: "Digitizing the world’s books, films, video, sound recordings, maps, and other cultural artifacts could, to quote Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, provide “universal access to all human knowledge, within our lifetime.” So it’s troubling to see public institutions transfer cultural assets, accumulated with public funds, into private hands without disclosing the terms of the transaction.
The American Library Association, Library & Information Technology Association, and the Open Content Alliance are among the groups he mentions as being on the case.

Elsewhere on the site, I saw this quote from Lawrence Lessig, echoing things he said about "read-only culture" at the AEJMC convention:
“Why is it that the part of our culture that is recorded in the newspapers remains perpetually accessible, while the part that is recorded on videotape is not? How is it that we have created a world where researchers trying to understand the effect of media on nineteenth-century America will have an easier time than researchers trying to understand the effect of media on twentieth-century America?” - Larry Lessig, Free Culture

(As is true of many things, a Scripting News item led me into this series of links. Thanks, Dave.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I generally don't "blog live" from events, but Steve Garfield inspired me to give it a try during his presentation today... He was posting to his "Off On A Tangent" blog while telling a Media Giraffe session about blogging, including audio with cellphone and video with a snapshot camera.

(He also has a link to his Mom's blog, named My Mom's Blog, by Thoroughly Modern Millie. [Hey, my Mom was a Millie too!] Steve mentioned that her blog gets more comments than his. He demonstrated posting audio through, a pay service that he's involved with, which takes his phone-in audio and posts it to his blog. (He and others mentioned other services, some free, that help people post sound to their blogs, including Odeo, videoegg and loudblog.)

In the same session, Paul Grabowicz from Berkeley said he is skeptical about news organizations that have gotten into online multimedia simply because of the "fear factor" -- not really as a way to do a new kind of quality journalism. Newspapers should not be forcing reporters to add amateurish video to their plain text news stories, he said; they shold use video or audio when it's the best tool for the job, and they should take advantage of the computer itself. For example, his students are working with the UC Berkeley architecture department to tell the story of a jazz and blues club mecca in Oakland -- by building a video game re-creation.

Paul also had a healthy attitude toward "citizen journalism" -- that citizen journalists should be featured on professional news sites, sometimes driving the stories, with the professionals pitching in to get answers the citizens couldn't get.

I agree with him 100%, although I don't mind the idea of news organizations experimenting with audio and video just to develop a better understanding of the tools. But computers can do so much more by being computers, not just a digital printing press. If a story involves a lot of data, the best a newspaper can do is to include an enhanced table or graph, USA Today style. The same paper's online department, on the other hand, should have the tools to post an entire searchable database, perhaps with relational links to other databases.

Some great examples of database techniques have been shown at this week's conference, especially by Adrian Holovaty of the Washington Post and

Robb Montgomery of gave examples of creatively doing more with less and taking advantage of software on the Web. His examples included the Virginian Pilot's video only site, combining professional and neighborhood videos, New York Times readers contributions to coverage of the New York transit strike that used Google maps "mashup" of readers' reports, an MIT "zipdecode" project, and his own "snapshot camera" video from Moscow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 to allow reader comments on individual news articles: Says editor's blog, "Over the next several weeks, we'll begin allowing comments on articles from registered users of" The item explains attempts to fight comment abuse. The paper has had online chats and blog comments before, but this will be a first for regular news stories.
Silicon Valley Watcher--Tom Foremski: "Craigslist is being blocked by Cox Interactive - is this a net neutrality issue?"
Does this mean that Cox Cable Internet subscribers can't get there at all? Sounds like it. Craigslist offers free classified ads, unlike Cox-owned newspapers, such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Austin American-Statesman.

Interesting advertising-related figures in this report from England, too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On the Web, College Athletes Acting Badly - New York Times: "The indiscretions of college students — whether it is binge drinking, cheating or hazing — may be old school, but universities now face the new reality that their students' misbehavior will eventually be exposed on the Internet." + = worth watching

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cory Bergman at Lost Remote TV Blog keeps up with online-video developments, including Yahoo's plans for a video upload site... and Jay Leno's plug for the already-popular upload site -- as a source of a video parody called 'Lazy Ramadi,' which already had "104,000 video views and counting" when Cory got there.

Bergman also estimates what YouTube's 35 million video streams a day could add up to in digital space and dollars: about 200 terabytes of data, possibly approaching $1 million a month in bandwidth costs.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Technology | ?Ay caramba! MacBook is hot
"When I smelled bacon wafting from my new computer, I was thrilled -- until I realized it was the smell of my thighs igniting..."
Includes suggestions for using the MacBook to thaw frozen food, dry socks, etc. I wonder if the black or white MacBooks are cooler than the metal MacBook Pro in the article.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Serendipity of (Communication and) Technology Careers: Tim O'Reilly, founder of the technology-focused book publishing empire, told Berkeley information science grads to realize that to many they speak "a private language that sets us apart like one of the secret societies depicted in The Da Vinci Code!"
Not a technologist by training, O'Reilly said that helping a programmer friend with a writing project was the turning point in his life.
"I never imagined that I'd build a career as a technical writer, publisher, and entrepreneur. My training was in Greek and Latin Classics!"
Hey, wait a minute. Greek... Latin... Da Vinci Code... Hmm. Conspiratorial or not, O'Reilly's talk includes a valiant attempt to survey the current "Web 2.0" scene in language that wouldn't completely befuddle the parents in the graduation audience. Well, not completely.
See Full text on his blog.
(tx, rex)
KnoxViewers Night Out | KnoxViews: "Who: Anybody reading this
What: KnoxViewers Night Out
When: Wednesday, May 24th, 6:00 PMish
Where: Downtown Grill and Brewery, East TN History Center Auditorium"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

paulconley: Students, teachers and visionaries

Seasonal food for thought from media consultant Paul Conley -- highly recommended to seniors writing their resumes... and to younger students thinking about taking my new online journalism class in the fall:

"Last week I visited Northwest Missouri State's new media program... So I've been giving a lot of thought of late to the next generation of journalists. And much of what I've been thinking hasn't been positive.

"Perhaps the strangest thing I've run into is what I've come to think of as the silo student. Kids keep handing me resumes that look like they were written 20 years ago. They mention the student newspaper, the yearbook and the college literary magazine. But they don't mention Web sites, blogs, email newsletters, podcasts, html skills, citizen journalism projects, video, etc.

"And when I ask the students about their online experience, I get these weird responses. Lots of them tell me 'I only want to work for a newspaper.' Lots of them say things like 'I'm going to be a writer, not anything else.' Some seem genuinely perplexed and ask me if I think 'most newspapers have Web sites?' or if 'reporters need to do things on the Web?'"
New media lessons from magazines - Editors Weblog: "It's not just newspapers and television. Magazines are also fighting to adapt to new media. If they haven't already, newspapers could learn from several developments that took place over the past week in the industry of their smaller cousins, some of which could be used to attract young readers."

After you've followed that link, here's the quiz -- name the magazine publishing company that is:
1. Cutting back magazine jobs.
2. Increasing "new media jobs" (but not by as much as the print-side cuts), and -- perhaps just for irony --
3. Launching a website "aimed at office workers looking to waste time."

Presumably people from category #1 are not part of the intended audience for publication #3.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Murdoch speech at Stationers Hall - Times Online: Fox boss says "great content" will preserve news organizations

"What happens to print journalism in an age where consumers are increasingly being offered on-demand, interactive, news, entertainment, sport and classifieds via broadband on their computer screens, TV screens, mobile phones and handsets?

"The answer is that great journalism will always attract readers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged; they must feed the mind and move the heart.

"And, crucially, newspapers must give readers a choice of accessing their journalism in the pages of the paper or on websites such as Times Online or - and this is important - on any platform that appeals to them, mobile phones, hand-held devices, ipods, whatever. As I have said newspapers may become news-sites. As long as news organisations create must-read, must-have content, and deliver it in the medium that suits the reader, they will endure.

"Great content always has been, and I think always will be, king of the media castle."

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Coporation media empire, gave this address on the future of the newspaper industry last month to a London organization with an impressive name: the Worshipful Company of Stationers And Newspaper Makers. (Thanks, Hannah)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Great timing... Just when I have classes writing about "watchdog reporting," I've stumbled on a story about a do-it-yourself watchdog in Memphis. I don't know anything about Memphis politics and I haven't read much of Joe Saino's website,, but the message on his homepage is encouraging (just ignore the very-1996 graphics and hard-to-read upper-case type):
Here in Knoxville we have some watchdog-like activity from time to time in local blogs, including the group site KnoxViews, but I haven't seen a statement of purpose quite like Saino's. (Tuesday Update: Coincidentally, while I was typing this blog entry yesterday afternoon, the publisher of KnoxViews was writing up his first on-the-scene crime story, about Monday's bank robbery in Maryville, complete with photos of police on the job.)

The watchdog role of the press is also in the news as a celebration of Sunshine Week... an attempt by news organizations to draw attention to open meeting laws -- and Tennessee's a bill intended to give the state's version sharper teeth.

Michael Silence
at the News Sentinel calls this the quote of the day:
Tennessee has sunshine laws not just for state government, but also for local governments. However, those laws have no punishments associated with them. As a parent, I know better than to make rules without consequences. -- Bob Krumm on Sunshine Week

Wearing his other blog hat at Facing South (instead of KnoxViews), R.Neal says:

Somehow, $50 doesn't sound like much of a penalty for a secret meeting between, say, a wealthy developer and a zoning board to grease a multi-million dollar real-estate deal. It wouldn't even amount to much of a tip. But it's better than nothing, and should help raise awareness of the law.

Curiously, the law would not apply to the Tennessee General Assembly itself. According to a legal opinion by the state Attorney General's office, the state constitution prohibits the legislature from passing laws regulating itself.


Sunshine Week (national)
Tennessee Coalition for Open Government
Tennessee Press Association

More editorials and columns about the Tennessee records law:

Government meetings must be open to public
Robertson County Times, TN - Mar 12, 2006
Much has changed since 1974, particularly in the realm of communication, but something that hasn't changed significantly is Tennessee's sunshine law...

Lawmakers say meetings must be open
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, TN - Mar 12, 2006
Local legislators are applauding a new bill that would bolster the state's open meetings law if passed by the House and Senate. ...

AP moved Trent Siebert's story to papers all over the state, where it ran under various headlines:

Bill would fine officials for meeting in secret
Fairview Observer

Sunshine Law changes proposed
Shelbyville Times-Gazette

Bill adds teeth to law

Keeping government fair, open
Knoxville News Sentinel

Other voices:

Tennessee Sunshine law overhaul is overdue
Jackson Sun
We support bipartisan efforts to strengthen Tennessee's Sunshine law...
Opposition to Sunshine overhaul is misguided
Jackson Sun
A state association representing county officials should rethink its opposition to the proposed overhaul of Tennessee's Sunshine Law. ...
Open-Government Proponents Intensify Efforts Statewide
Memphis Daily News

Sunshine Law needs to heat up
Daily News Journal

Sunshine Law changes proposed
Shelbyville Times-Gazette

Law changes would charge officials for secret meetings
Oak Ridger

Freedom of information could be snatched away
Baltimore Sun

Include state legislators under Sunshine Law
Jackson Sun

Let more Sunshine into state
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle

For even more, here's a simple search of Google News for Tennessee & Sunshine Week.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Online Writing -- My Journalism Class Lecture Notes

Is there such a thing as "news writing style for the Web"?
Over at my usual blog (which also has a copy of this item), I've been updating my notes about news writing on the Web, in preparation for two bigger-than-usual classes this week. I want to be prepared, just in case the students show up... and I hope the no-shows will still learn something if they just read my notes.

Here they are:

(Actually, the verbose notes are a trap. Students who attend will watch me follow some links and wander away from those notes. Something I say or do during that wandering will be on the exam. Guaranteed.)

Those notes mostly apply to newswriting, but one of my presentations will be for a more general intro-to-communication course. I'll feel free to digress even more there -- and I'll probably be more entertaining. (If all else fails, I'll let, and take over.)

The intro-newswriting course is Thursday. I teach three 18-student writing-lab sections of that course, but the Thursday session is for all sections -- well over 100 students on a good day. However, by the luck of the calendar I'm delivering the large group's last lecture before spring break -- and a Thursday evening lecture at that, probably the last class before vacation for everyone.

I've been warned that even on routine weeks, half the class may get up and leave as soon as they've finished their weekly current-events quiz... the part of the weekly lecture that "affects their grade." I think we're about 10 years past the time that the magic of the Web would compel full attendance. To make matters worse, I'm sending out a page of "lecture notes" that will take students many hours to read, if they follow all the links and get as distracted by them as I do.

I'll try to keep things interesting. Come to think of it, I've rarely lectured to this large a crowd before. As a former student, I don't remember walking out of any big lectures part-way through, maybe because my classes were rarely large-hall affairs, or maybe that shows I was as boring a student as I can ever be as a lecturer? I do remember falling asleep in class a few times, which was rude too, but I didn't do that on purpose. Should I bring my banjo to class to liven things up? We'll see.

One link I didn't put on my Web-writing-for-journalists page is a 12-year-old article by Jon Katz. It's not about writing style, but I still think it's instructive: Online or Not, Newspapers Suck, which asks, "How can any industry which regularly pulls Doonesbury strips for being too controversial possibly hope to survive online?"

That one is better for a discussion session, not a lecture. But I'll tell the class whether I agree with it... and maybe that will be on the exam, too.

Meanwhile, this being a weblog, if you have any suggestions for things to add to my lecture -- or take out -- feel free to use the green "comment" link on my other blog's copy of this note.

Note for students in JEM 488 Online Publishing: This page was posted to Blogger by e-mail. Here's how:
(I had to go back in and edit it to make the links work. If there's a way to do that by e-mail, I haven't searched the Blogger help pages for instructions. If you know how to e-mail blog items with links intact, add that to the comments on my other blog, or just mention it in class.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

JEM 488 Class, March 9
I think I've put too many links on today's section of the page, but with any luck some of the students will follow some of them, some of the time.
Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P. on a Signature Issue - New York Times

Another quick example of BlogThis at work.
2006 (2008) Elections are Heating Up | KnoxViews

Today in class we're seeing how the "blogthis" button makes life easier.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

Oops. I gave my class a bum steer about Blogger's "Blog This!" tool today, thanks to being a little rusty about using this page. The "Blog This!" link at a the top of any Blogger weblog page (including this one, in light blue at the top center of the screen) is a way for readers to quickly link their own blogs to your site.

The Links/Toolbar "Blog This!" I was talking about in class is available on this help page. It is a Javascript program that allows you to quickly blog about any page you're reading on the Web.
Just drag the "Blog This!" link to your browser toolbar, go off browsing the Web, then click it when you're reading a page you want to write about. If you're already logged in to Blogger, the Javascript will launch a little text-entry window already linked to the page you were reading and automatically put the title of the page in place, fully linked. You can edit the page title, or just add comments.

That certainly makes a comment-on-sites-I've-visited weblog easy to do.