Friday, January 16, 2009

Cybergeeks Goosing the Gray Lady?

New York magazine has great fun with headlines... I borrowed a couple of key words for mine from its fascinating article about The New York Times online development team and what New York's Emily Nussbaum says may be "the only happy story in journalism."

The article discusses some new features I hadn't been paying attention to at (or -- in this age of Internet journalism even "main stream media" can be flexible about its identity).

For Emily's full magazine story (a few thousands words, plus comments), see: The Renegades at the New York Times
Despite the swiftness of these changes, certainly compared with other newspapers’, their significance has been barely noted. That’s the way change happens on the web: The most startling experiments are absorbed in a day, then regarded with reflexive complacency. But lift your hands out of the virtual Palmolive and suddenly you recognize what you’ve been soaking in: not a cheap imitation of a print newspaper but a vastly superior version of one. It may be the only happy story in journalism.
Speaking of change and evolution in the media, New York magazine traces its roots to the Sunday magazine of the old Herald Tribune. See my December item, Historic magazine archive via Google. The magazine kept going after the daily paper stopped publishing in 1967. (For more of its history, try its Wikipedia page.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Watch U.S. Statistics in motion

You can now use the statistical analysis site Gapminder to visualize U.S. statistics for population, immigration, unemployment, health and income, comparing regions wthin in the United States -- as well as comparing U.S. stats with other countries in the world.

See gaps within the U.S.

You may have seen Hans Rosling's incredible TED conference demos of the same software, which he uses to point out false assumptions about -- and dramatic change in -- the "first" and "third" worlds.

If not, watch these:
"The Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid - toward better national health and wealth."
Blog site for Gapminder

Gapminder is a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Retiring editor tells all...

I've just listened to this on the radio, but thanks to the Web I'll be going back again... Former 'Post' editor details the 'Rules Of The Game' is the headline NPR's Web site put on Terry Gross' wide-ranging interview with Leonard Downie Jr. on his retirement from the position as executive editor. 'Rules Of The Game' is also the title of his new novel -- about an investigative reporter in Washington.

Len Downie spent 44 years at the Post, starting as an summer intern in 1964. He had been executive editor for 17 years when he stepped down last September; he remains a vice president of the company. In the interview, he answers Terry's questions about "to publish or not to publish" decisions, confrontations with the government, and the "end of an era" for big financially strong newspapers.

Speaking of "rules of the game," here's something I didn't know: While editor, Downie did not register to vote or read the paper's editorial page. He tells Terry why... and where he thinks journalism is going. (If you think his novel might be interesting, there's an excerpt on the NPR Web page.)

Later on the same show, Terry interviews Christian Science Monitor editor John Yemma on the paper's move to become a Web-only daily with a weekly print newspaper. Yemma mentions that the Monitor has already moved away from the standard model of a daily newspaper -- it hasn't owned its own presses or delivery trucks for years.

For class discussion: Downie and Yemma tell Terry about "firewalls" within their organizations -- between the news and editorial-page staffs or between news and advertising.