Friday, April 17, 2009

Twitter makes Forbes, tires Times, fills Facebook

This article titled The Twitter Zeitgeist at says "Twitter became a part of popular culture in less time then it takes to write a 140-character status update."

It adds some details to things I've been telling my students in the past few months, but (more importantly) posting this quick link also gives me an opportunity to test whether I've solved the Blogger glitch that was putting big external links at the tops of my posts and keeping me from editing them for the past week. (See test post from yesterday.)

Now the headline above should be a "permalink" to the address of this particular post. I like that, but can't promise to find time to go back and edit all my previous posts into that format. (For older posts, the "permalink" address is linked to the time stamp at the end of each post.)

Meanwhile (Sunday update), I've decided my own Twitter feed ( is a fine place to post links to mainstream-media stories about Twitter, including a flock of them recently in The New York Times, including a Sunday column that suggests early users are tiring of tweets. My three tweets, easy as one, two, three using

But my best Twitter-related discovery is how to hide the Facebook posts of a Web-ubiquitous friend who mirrors all his Twitter posts as Facebook status updates. I only need to see his stuff in one place, thanks. Coincidentally, the problem and the solution came from bloggers with the same first name. Poetic.

Journalist killed; journalism continues

The Center for Investigative Reporting launched the Chauncey Bailey Project in 2007, after the local news editor was shot down in the street in Oakland, Calif. The San Francisco Chronicle mounted its own investigation.

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls Bailey's death the first targeted killing of a journalist in the United States since 1993.

This week, the headlines are Man agrees to guilty plea in Oakland journalist's killing, Chilling account of killing editor, Oakland cops in hot water and Grand jury to probe Oakland editor's slaying.

Meanwhile, Democracy Now has an interview with Chauncey Bailey Project head Robert Rosenthal about the case, how reporters joined together to continue Bailey's work, and whether that model might be the future of investigative journalism, with newspapers all over the country having financial difficulties.

Bailey was a young reporter when we both worked at the Hartford Courant in the 1970s. He went on to the Detroit News and several California papers, and was back in his hometown as editor of the Oakland Post, where his work in community journalism included an investigation into the finances of an Oakland business at the time of his death.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Previewing News: Wall Street Journal on the iPhone

In a Nieman Journalism Lab interview video clip, the executive editor of The Wall Street Journal Online previews the paper's upcoming Wall Street Journal iPhone reader.

"On the Web you don't get the sense of completing a task the way you do reading a newspaper,"'s Alan Murray says, suggesting that a top-20 stories "when you're done, you're done" approach will fit the way iPhone readers use the device.

The Journal actually sees its business Blackberry users as a bigger market than iPhone users, and both applications are modeled in part on the paper's half-century-old "What's News" box on page one.

The difference: The Blackberry version is more of a headline-feed of "what's most recent," while the iPhone content will be more "what's most important," with more substantial headlines for a top-20 collection of stories.

"I think people interact with the iPhone in a different way," he said.

Like and the print newspaper, the mobile device versions will eventually require you to pay for the full experience.

bX-fjm14b means something Is broken

This is a test. A mysterious Blogger error message coded
bX-fjm14b has been making it impossible to edit items once they are posted.

Has it been fixed? (No, but there's a workaround.)

Update: April 17. It looks like the cause is related to three things -- some recent change in Blogger's software, using the "BlogThis!" script to post a blog item based on a Web site you're visiting, and Blogger's internal "settings" for display of page titles. With the page set to not display titles, "BlogThis" was copying the address and title of the visited site into the hidden "title" area, and displaying it on the blog post.

I've just reset this blog to display page titles, and now I can edit pages again, and make their titles words of my own choosing. That also makes my title/headline link to the permanent address of the blog post, which is the way my other blog works. That's especially helpful if you want to bookmark a particular item, not the address that gets you the most recent post.

Most recent:

Just one post:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The easiest thing in the world for a reader to do is to stop reading

My newswriting class just wrote about a speech in which Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Gartner gave advice about writing -- and said the best advice he ever got on the subject was one sentence from his old Wall Street Journal boss, Barney Kilgore. It's this item's headline.

(In his speech, Gartner used the Kilgore quote in a plea for simpler, less murky writing -- good advice for any writing class. Coincidentally, the sentence might apply -- for other reasons -- to today's failing newspapers.)

Coincidence #1: I ran into the same quote yesterday in a Wall Street Journal article, "Making Old Media New Again," offering Kilgore's remodeling of the WSJ more than a half-century ago as a road map for 21st century newspapers. I decided to copy the column and pass it out to my classes... Then said to myself, "Why copy it and just give the class a link? I'll find it at, assuming it's not behind a pay-per-view firewall."

Coincidence #2: Dave Winer's Facebook/Twitter/Blog/Feed sent me the link to the story before i had time to look it up... and just in time for class.

Coincidence #3: Kilgore is credited with leading the newsprint Journal to a circulation over one1 million readers -- in part by recognizing in the 1940s that "new media" (radio) would give people the breaking news, so newspapers should shift to explaining the news. Crovitz, meanwhile, is credited with "overseeing the growth of The Wall Street Journal Online to more than one million paying subscribers, making the largest paid news site on the Web." (See the "About L. Gordon Crovitz" box next to his online column.)

Along with "what makes readers keep reading?" and "what might make readers keep reading on paper?" we can use the story to start discussing the issues of "authority" and "transparency" (about connections and biases) in today's media.

Crovitz's article in praise of Kilgore is a review of a new Kilgore biography by yet another former Journal executive, Richard Tofel. The book is Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal and the Invention of Modern Journalism.

Not that those connections mean that Crovitz is wrong about Tofel, that Tofel is wrong about Kilgore, or that Kilgore was wrong about keeping readers reading.

Says Crovitz, "If readers would prefer more-compact city newspapers, a less-is-more approach could help cut newsprint, printing, distribution and other costs that don't add to the journalism. Newspaper editors could craft a new, forward-looking role for print, alongside the what's-happening-right-now focus of digital news."

Meanwhile, Crovitz (with Steve Brill) is one of the founders of, an attempt to set up a payment system for online news publishers.