Saturday, October 25, 2008

Virginia's vote featured on PBS

I noticed this on a "most viewed" list...

Virginia's Vote . NOW on PBS:
"The state of Virginia has not voted for a Democratic President since 1964, but this year its 13 electoral votes are up for grabs as late polls show the race too close to call. This week, NOW on PBS goes behind the national polls and punditry and into the living rooms of real Virginia voters to learn how they'll be making their decisions."

Along with streaming video of the original program, the site includes links to separate statements by former U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder (D) on their parties' candidates, a discussion forum (already closed to new comments), and a transcribed interview with Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, who discusses "the changing political landscape in the key swing state of Virginia, and explains why he finds Sen. Barack Obama's popularity there 'remarkable.'"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stop the presses: Radio and TV news from 1735

Well, not exactly. But you can Tune the dial back to 1947 and hear it skip a few centuries by visiting my other blog's article about the radio and television dramatizations of the John Peter Zenger trial, a milestone in establishing freedom of the press in America.

I've just updated the page, adding the "Studio One" TV version -- which you can play directly from the blog page, thanks to the Web wizards at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

After paper, what?

What would it cost to give every reader of a major newspaper an electronic newspaper? What would it save in paper and environmental impact? Here's some food for thought...

Institute for Analytic Journalism:Views from a NYTimes R&D guy
"Guest blogger Nick Bilton is with the New York Times R&D Lab during the day and NYC Resistor at night.

Working in the R&D Labs at The New York Times, I'm constantly asked, 'How long will paper be around?' or more to the point, 'When will paper really die?' It's a valid concern, and a question no one can answer with a timetable. But there will be a point--and I believe in our lifetime--when we'll see the demise of the traditional print newspaper."

Footnote: I love the two images on the page -- a Saturday Evening Post delivery boy from perhaps 75 years ago and an ad for a Radio Shack 15 megabyte hard drive from about 25 years ago -- when that massive amount of storage cost $2,495. (No computer included.) Let's see... without pulling out a calculator I can divide both by 5 and see that would be 3 megabytes for $500, or $166 each.

Since we've been talking about journalists' mathematical skills around the office recently, I made a quick check at for something to compare with the $166 a megabyte price. I found a 500 gigabyte drive going for $90, which I'll round up to $100 to include sales tax or shipping -- but really just to simplify the arithmetic.

So the $2,495 that bought 15 megabytes then... would buy about 25 of these 500 gigabyte drives, with no adjustments for inflation...

Since 500 gigabytes is about 500,000 megabytes, that's $1 for 5,000 megabytes. Hmm. At $166 per meg, it looks like a comparable stack of those Radio Shack drives would have set me back about $830,000. Who says there are no bargains these days?

Or did I misplace a decimal point? Sigh. Math insecurity. Oops. I'm late for an appointment and don't have time to double-check before hitting "post." Excuses, excuses.

Related: My favorite science journalist explains how to visualize what you get with two of those 500 gigabyte drives, the terabyte.