12.18.2006

FW: Deck Map the Halls

Sharing an idea from Bakersfield via our new friends at Baristanet....


From: Debbie Galant
Posted At: Friday, December 15, 2006 3:53 PM
Posted To: Baristanet
Conversation: Deck Map the Halls
Subject: Deck Map the Halls

christmas%20light%20map%20%282%29.gif
We saw this holiday light map over at Bakersfield.com and decided we had to have one of our very own. And the wonderful folks over at Faneuil Media, who made our Tear Down Map and our Java Map have agreed to make it happen. Have some Holly Jolly to show off? (Lights? Reindeer? Inflatable Simpsons? Or just some really classy garlands?) Send us your street address (with town) and a photograph, and we'll include you on the map. Please use this e-mail address: barista.lights@gmail.com and send your photos (low-res, please) in by the end of the day on Monday.

12.14.2006

More to the Story from the Traverse City Record-Eagle

Interesting in-paper marketing tactic from our recently departed sibling in Traverse City:


The print edition of the Record-Eagle often refers to more information about a story that is available online. Watch the print edition for the "More to the story" icon and go online here to view the extra information.
Also note the box in the upper right rail of their home page, which links into the page described above:


It's a tactic used a lot by local broadcast TV stations. I've seen the practice referred to as NewsLinks, but maybe that was just a Belo TV term. It's meant to be one place to collect all of the things you relentlessly promoted in your news broadcast.

If you adopt this idea, don't let it stop you from enhancing your story files. Remember, people increasingly encounter our content via the search engines, e-mail sharing, IM or otherwise (i.e. not via our home page or section fronts), and it is important to lead users from that story to the enhanced or related content you have on that topic.

A Dozen Online Writing Tips - CyberJournalist.net - Online News - Tips and Tools

Someone asked this week whether there are any good online writing resources or training that we could recommend. We came up empty at the time, but I did manage to dig up these tips, written in 2000 by Jonathan Dube, who is now editorial director for CBC.ca.

This post is also a way to introduce the new members of the mailing list members to the existence of this Ottaway blog, in which I share insights and tidbits from our peers and elsewhere about this Internet thing we're trying to wrap our arms around.

New posts get automatically e-mailed to the list.
Some days that's many posts. Some weeks there are none.

12.04.2006

A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local - washingtonpost.com

A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local - washingtonpost.com

A must-read, and file it away for future discussions. Many of you have likely heard me advocate a similar concept whenever I am asked how our newsroom workflows might evolve.

11.07.2006

Election Day ideas

A quick survey of the Ottaway landscape shows these Election Day ideas in action:

Cape Cod Times: Election Night 2006 blog -- Includes a couple of items on Ted Kennedy voting.

E-mail alerts from Danbury (last night), Pocono (this afternoon) and Traverse City (this morning), touting what's coming tonight on their Web sites.

Voter utility landing page in Medford, plus their ongoing coverage of turnout at the polls.

On-the-fly photo galleries in Middletown: Spitzer and Pirro voting, not to mention their Election Day quiz and landing page teased from the small barkers on the home page.

Ongoing vote turnout coverage in New Bedford.

Election themed Street Talk, a new multimedia feature on Oneonta's Web site.

Election-themed morning update (first time posting before midday?) on the Santa Cruz home page.

Election 2006 landing pages with varying degrees of complexity and features in Plattsburgh, Portsmouth, Stockton and Sunbury.

10.26.2006

Citizen Media: The High School Years

Clever metaphorical rundown from last month's Fast Company, itemizing UGC tools and enterprises.

www.myspace.com/newstimeslive

Add another to the growing roster:
www.myspace.com/newstimeslive

I also started one for Discover Nantucket last night:
www.myspace.com/discovernantucket

10.19.2006

Cape Cod's coverage of the Christa Worthington murder case

Run, don't walk, over to the Cape Cod Online to check out how they are tackling coverage of an ongoing story with national interest happening right in their front yard. The trial started this week.

Landing page to collect all of the coverage and provide context? Check.

Live trial blog? Check. Eric Williams (full disclosure: Eric worked for me in a previous professional endeavor) not only offers his unique style of observations from the trial, but also has in at least one of his posts fielded a question from a reader about whether anyone could attend the trial. Love the interaction.

Special video player just for the trial? Check.
Compelling video, too, which at times reverts to audio slideshow format to combine photos from the courtroom with trial audio.

Traffic? Not spiking as much as I'd expect. I'll have to check back with Editor Paul Pronovost on what kind of promotion is taking place in the paper and elsewhere. If it were me and my universe, I'd be giving it all a big specialized, highly designed treatment on the home page of the site to clearly accentuate and group all of the goodness they're offering. (In my previous life, we were big proponents with a story of this magnitude to dedicating the entire home page -- or at least most of it -- to our coverage. Leverage your strength of the moment, if you will.)

10.16.2006

www.myspace.com/gofriday

Quick show of hands... who among us has a myspace profile, a la the Times Herald Record:
www.myspace.com/gofriday

p.s. Timely context comes courtesy of nytimes.com.

10.11.2006

Speaking of cool Cape Cod projects...

Also stop in on Yarmouthport Astronaut Dan Burbank's photo log. Talk about giving readers a view from someplace they would otherwise not get to go!

Holiday logo

Middletown has done a nice job making its site logo festive for the upcoming occasion:

10.05.2006

Newsrooms and Technology

CyberJournalist, reporting from a panel at ONA, lists tips to prepare your newsroom for the online world. The most interesting one, in my book, is the very last:

The Web is a place for structured data. Newsrooms are a place for unstructured information. That means reporters and editors will have to begin to gather information in structured ways if it is to make it onto the Web.


Meanwhile Citizen's Media says, "My sense is that journalism is becoming a high-tech profession — not just in using the net as a distribution mechanism but developing new software."

9.27.2006

More from New Bedford

Please fulfill Fred's plug mission and pay a visit to New Bedford's special report on the Portuguese-American experience. It's well worth the time. Fascinating stuff.
 
I'll echo Fred's note about particularly noting the linguica video: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/anossavida/video/sausage.wmv
 
Unscripted, conversational narrative? Check.
 
Excellent and numerous photos? Check.
 
Ambient sound to help give the viewer a sense of place? Check.
 
The piece takes people behind the scenes of someplace they would not ordinarily go. Bravo!  Now that's something you can proudly promote as an online enhancement in the print presentation of the series. Encore! Encore!
 
(Fred, set aside some print copies for me for when I visit tomorrow, will you?)


From: Fred Harwood [mailto:fharwood@s-t.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 9:26 AM
To: 'spolay'
Subject: RE: [Ottaway Online Editors] SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Hi Sean,

 

Just wanted to call your attention to all the multimedia stuff we’ve done to go with our four-Sunday special project – A Nossa Vida: The Portuguese Experience in America.

 

You can find them here:

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/anossavida

 

What is cool about these, I think, is that the reporters themselves produced them (with varying degrees of success/difficulty) with little or no experience doing this before.

 

Although they each have something to offer, of particular note are:

n       the overview

n       linguica

n       romeiros

n       fado

 

We’ll be adding the stories from Week 2-4 over the next three weeks.

 

All of the content can also be found in a book we produced (which, if you have any Portuguese friends you need a holiday present for, can be purchased on the Web site [plug, plug!])

 

 

 

Fred Harwood

Managing Editor for Online Content/New Media

The Standard-Times/SouthCoastToday.com

25 Elm St.

New Bedford, MA 02740

Phone: 508-979-4441

Fax: 508-997-7491

E-mail: fharwood@s-t.com

 

9.26.2006

Halloween UGC ideas

As we head into the home stretch of this year, and strive to build audience, increase reader engagement with our products and build hyperlocal, online communities of geography and interest -- not to mention achieving our annual goals -- here's some ideas for the Halloween season, which is ripe with UGC opportunities. Remember, Oct. 1 is this weekend, so you need to be baking your ideas now and get them up and running by the end of next week to have any real opportunity at success.

First, some ideas from my previous life:

Accessorize Your Pet slideshow
Jack-O-Lanterns slideshow

Also, before I arrived, projo did a Halloween scream contest. The specifics escape me, and the pages went the way of the Internet stratosphere in 2001 when we switched from a local server to corporate hosting, but you could imagine a contest in which you had people call into a voice mail box -- or send you an mp3 -- with their best, blood-curdling scream. A week before Halloween, have the staff narrow down the entries to a half dozen of the best, and then open it up to the readers to vote for the winner. Collaborate with your ad departments so they can find a sponsor (and perhaps a prize donor).

An idea that never got any traction: Halloweens of Yore slideshow (and have a good laugh at my expense thanks to my baby photo, which I added as a way of seeding the slideshow).

Projo didn't corner the market on good ideas, of course.

Keene (NH) Sentinel: Pumpkin Festival Photo Gallery
Cincinnati Enquirer: Costumes photo gallery

I'm surprised I could not find a similar gallery out there for haunted houses. Seize that opportunity! There's people out there that are more nuts about decorating their house and lawn for Halloween than many are about doing the same at Christmas.

Pocono Record - Pocono Autumn

Speaking of ideas I love:

Pocono Record - Pocono Autumn

SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Love this idea!

Photos.SouthCoastToday.com - SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Hyperlocal in Chicago

Gleaned from I Want Media today:

Chicago's Sun-Times Unveils Hyper-Local Online Service
The Sun-Times News Group's new Web site features a drop-down menu for users to access news in their local community. Tabs along the left-hand side of the home page send visitors to Roger Ebert's movie reviews, blogs, video, classified sections, the Yellow Pages and more.
http://www.suntimes.com/welcome/index.html

For what it's worth, I hate the design. And in the admittedly limited poking around that I have done, they're not fulfilling the essential mission of being hyperlocal: Connecting with a community beyond (or below) the big news, and facilitating connections within that community.
 
Granted, how to successfully fulfill that mission remains a work in progress for us.
 
But just aggregating local stories to a single page does not make it hyperlocal in my book. The only mechanism the Sun-Times is using to signify that you are on a hyperlocal page is changing the logo in the upper left to match the publication that covers that area. There is no sense of place otherwise: No resource links; no map; no local conversations taking place in forums, polls or otherwise. No local blogs either -- at least none that I could find... the only blogs I encountered I reached from the Chicago page, and they all, more or less, are what you'd expect of major-metro blog fare.
 
And why put AP video on a local page? Looks as if they were simply trying to fill out their online-only module. Fair enough, but it does more harm than good, because now all of the hyperlocal pages look less distinctive content-wise.

9.24.2006

How Clean is your Fire Truck?

Seth Godin, change agent, marketer, not sure what he does -- wrote this insightful post about why fire trucks are always sparkling clean.

Made me think about the change we are experiencing in our industry to become more competitive in the increasingly fragmented and digital marketplace.

Part of it is the ability to be interative. The Internet isn't about perfection, it's interative. If we wait for everything we produce to be perfect and to have a process in place to "control" it, we lose first-mover status which is important if you want to be innovative and all successful companies are innovative and iterative.

Here's a quote from an article about what changes Proctor & Gamble are going through to meet the new marketplace demands which references my favorite reference to perfection as a hindrance by Meg Whitman:

Stop testing so much. It's not the P&G way to put out a product without test-marketing it. But consumer testing takes time--a luxury that P&G execs increasingly don't have. Says Susan Arnold, P&G's beauty queen: "We don't have time to cross all the T's and dot all the I's. This business is trend-based and fashion-based. You have to be intuitive, instinctual, and gut-driven." ... P&G has reduced product launch time from lab to roll-out from three years to 18 months companywide. Meg Whitman, eBay's CEO and a P&G board member, believes that P&G should move even faster. "Perfection is the enemy of good enough," she says. "I think that's right," says Lafley.


So, the next time you are heading into yet another meeting about whether or not to create a new online section or try out a new column in the newspaper, ask yourself if you're just cleaning the old fire truck again.

-- Sorry for the long post.
Kathy

Disclaimer -- of course I am not advocating that we ignore our journalistic or public responsibility to report objectively and be fair. I am advocating that we launch products in versions, like everyone else, so that we can be a part of the game and given the chance to improve our products with customer feedback, like everyone else. KS

9.20.2006

Cape Cod YouTube

A clever blog concept: Cape Cod YouTube

Only one post so far. Will be interesting to see if there is enough material there in the long run.

9.19.2006

Living without print?

Some of you may already have seen Amy L. Webb's writeup of her 30-day experiment without "traditional" media? I'm a month late to it, encountering it tonight via an NPR story (and I encountered that by reading all the way through NPR's account of the L.A. Times/Tribune cost cutting feud).

I'm fascinated by Webb's article for a number of reasons:

One, a Sunday without a newspaper is an empty Sunday indeed! When my family has Sunday plans, and I skip my usual weekly couple of hours with a couple of newspapers, I actually get a little cranky inside.

I'm not feeling relaxed or looking forward to another hour of reading in bed. The digital version of my typical Sunday has left me wanting.
And what are our kids doing while my wife and I read the paper? Playing in Webkinz, a virtual world for youngsters. Granted, our boys are 8 and under, and at the very least the 8 year old asks me to save him the funnies, which he will read later in the day. Do I think his interest will graduate to the sports pages and beyond? Hard to say. If so, it will more than likely be because at the very least my wife and I are bringing the newspaper into the house regularly... so far....

Two, as an online junkie myself, I find myself at times with the same feeling of restlessness and listlessness that Webb describes.
I'm averaging about 14 to 16 hours every day online, and my head is hurting by the time I fall asleep. I'm antsy, much more impatient than I used to be. Worse, one of my closest friends this morning said that my attention span is "worse than a 2-year-old child's."
Over the last couple of yers, I've tried to force myself to read a book in bed before going to sleep. Granted, reading five pages at a time before falling asleep is not my preferred method to curl up with a good book. Worse, I've broken that habit lately (again). But after reading Webb's article, I realized the attempt was my subconscious way of relaxing my brains so I could fall asleep more easily. And it was working, too -- reason enough to kickstart the practice again.

Three, it's encouraging that the state of local news feeds from our broadcast competition in the big cities is not where it should be. So whatever broadcast competition we face at our tier of markets is further behind than that. We need to relentlessly exploit that advantage.
(To be fair, if you checked today, you'd probably find dozens of RSS feeds available on local news from local Web sites - but still, it's clear that our local venues have some catching up to do where Web technology is concerned.)
The stop dead moment?
I've concluded that the medium doesn't matter after all. After a month without any print or broadcast media, I can say with confidence that I could easily live without ever picking up a physical newspaper again.
In my conversations with people around the company and industry, I get asked from time to time, "How can we effectively promote the print product from the Web site? What can we promote?"

I usually respond by suggesting they promote the stories coming up in the Saturday and Sunday papers, because those days are when print still has an advantage over online.

I don't expect that advantage to last, and I'll be rendered speechless by that Web-to-print marketing question sooner than I'd like to predict.

9.11.2006

Wikipedia

Jay Small's blog post today regarding brands and Wikipedia -- and he was riffing on a post by Steve Rubel -- got me wondering: How many of our brands are represented on Wikipedia? Is the information accurate?
 
Check out the Pocono Record entry. Scroll down a bit... Holy loads of detail, Batman! The Cape Cod Times, on the other hand, has a sparse entry -- and 2004 circulation numbers. The entry about New Bedford is sparser still.
 
Piggy back that to a conversation that I had with Patrick Mullen last week: When we create geographic or topic-specific landing pages, should we add ourselves as related links in Wikipedia?
 
Rhetorical question, of course. That should be part of the landing page creation workflow, and we should make that #19 on the list of 9 Ways for Newspapers to Improve Their Websites... I say 19 because Todd Zeigler added to his list based on reader feedback.
 
I just added three external links to the Wikipedia entry for Nantucket. Took me eight minutes, and only took that long because it was my first time poking around under the hood. Won't take most more than a minute or two to add a landing page link to the Wikipedia entry or entries that make the most contextual sense. Meanwhile, I'll let you know how the Wikipedia referrals to the Nantucket sites go.
 

9.07.2006

Promote new content and features on the home page

Called up my Google home page today, and a module in the upper right, promoting "New Stuff" that I could add to my personalized page, immediately caught my eye:


As with all things Google, it is simple, concise, elegant and effective. I'm not necessarily an astronomy buff, but I am intrigued enough to want to try out the second item, a moon phases module.

As we've been working on the Web site redesigns around the company, we've been constantly drumming the need to promote content inside the site -- and rotate those promos throughout the day. It is a proven, effective tactic when it comes to drumming up more clicks from both your core (frequent) and sampler (once in a while) audiences.

The Google layout in this case shows that not everything needs to be on the home page. There are likely a dozen or more new modules being created daily (heck, we should be creating some), but not all of them can -- or should -- be surfaced to the home page. In fact, sparseness (or "creative use of white space," in newsroom layout parlance), can provide more amplification for the promo.

9.05.2006

Steve Irwin guestbook

Pat on the virtual back for Pocono yesterday for putting a small barker on their home page pointing to the Legacy.com guestbook for fans of Steve Irwin to leave condolences:
Anyone else doing so? If not, I recommend it. Legacy usually does this for notable deaths, even minor celebrities. And if you have a local celebrity whose death you are reporting on, you can e-mail Legacy's customer service folks, and they'll set one up for you (and marry the obit with it later).

Also, when you do so, tease it from the paper, too!

8.15.2006

Got Cute?

For those with Pet sections: Cute Overload!.

You can add your own widget to give your readers a window onto the cuteness (and have automatically refreshing content to boot).

(Got it from the meebo blog, in case you're wondering....)

8.11.2006

Photo Gallery | Columbia Daily Tribune

Aside from the fact that the photo of the guy's toilet showing his reading material on top of the tank creeps me out a little, who says the reporter can't be part of the story?

Thanks to Roger Black for pointing out the audio slideshows done by the Columbia Daily Tribune.

8.08.2006

RE: Blog Report

One quick suggestion to piggy back Jeanne's report: Many of you that have blogs also have RSS feeds, but don't list the blog feeds among the RSS offerings (and almost all of the blogs have RSS). Would be great for the segment of your audience that's acquiring your content via RSS if you listed ALL of your RSS offerings on your RSS pages.
 
(You also should also know that you have AP RSS feeds at your disposal, which point to your co-branded, AP hosted stories. See Cape Cod's RSS page. All you have to do is plug in your sites AP code to make them work for you. Every traffic driver helps!)


From: Jeanne Hubbard [mailto:jhubbard@record-eagle.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 4:34 PM
To: IAC Ottaway
Subject: Blog Report

Awhile back I asked for a show of hands on who's doing blogs. Here's the responses:
 
  • Just one blog from a freelancer, unedited ("after a few weeks it was obvious that the entries needed no editing whatsoever")
  • Hopes to add newsroom blogs soon. Newsroom blogs will be edited in the newsroom. Editor is concerned, however, that they won't be able to keep it up with enough frequency (shooting for three entries each week).
New Bedford: http://www.southcoastresponse.com/board/ubbthreads.php?Cat=0 (scroll down to the blogs section)
  • Several blogs from outside sources (freelancer writer, local radio personality, etc.)
  • Sportswriter blogged from Red Sox spring training earlier this year, with mixed results (he did great, but there wasn’t a whole lot of reader interaction with him)
  • Unedited: "This has backfired only once, on a blog we had from a former FT employee who was getting disgruntled with the lack of freelance work he was getting from us."
  • Intends to pursue some more beat specific blogs in the near future.
  • 5 bloggers who are all from the newsroom
  • No word on whether they are edited?
Nantucket:
  • "No blogs here. Too many concerns about oversight, lack of someone to monitor content, etc."
  • Three bloggers: two staff, one columnist
  • Unedited
  • Mostly written by editors, with the exception of the book blog and the sports blog, which go unedited.
  • 90% community contributed, 10% employee blogs
  • No editing
  • Several bloggers: Myself + freelance columnists who blog unpaid
  • I or an editor read over the blogs before posting, but generally post without much editing
  • We have had success with the "temporary" blog in which someone blogs throughout an event. We had a student blog from the National Spelling Bee and most recently a blog last week from our Film Festival. Both generated great page views.
  • Staff blogs are not on the horizon. Due to our perpetual short-staffed situation, the Editor feels that blogs would detract from the daily work of getting out the paper.

Sean Polay sent you a story from Newstimeslive.com


Sean Polay was on Newstimeslive.com and is forwarding you this article "Sean Polay sent you a story from Newstimeslive.com"

http://www.newstimeslive.com//story.php?id=1009635&email=1





Here is their message ...
Sharing from Danbury....





Read The News-Times and check <a href=http://www.NewsTimesLive.com>www.NewsTimesLive.com</a> for updates.




If you do not want to have stories forwarded to you please email webmaster@newstimes.com

FW: landing page Eagle tall ship

Sharing from Seacoast....


From: Deb Cram [mailto:dcram@seacoastonline.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 10:56 AM
To: spolay@adelphia.net; spolay@ottaway.com
Subject: landing page Eagle tall ship

Hi Sean,
When you get a chance, check out this landing page for the tall ship Eagle that came to Portsmouth.
Hope all is well....
 
 
 

FW: Bloggers as Sources: What's Your Take?

Sean Polay sent you a post from NewsGator.com:

Bloggers as Sources: What's Your Take?

In a comment to my Aug. 1 posting on live blogging, Tim Esterdahl (senior writer for the college paper The Metropolitan) posed the following question:

"What is the opinion of current editors about using bloggers as sources?

"For example, say I am covering a sporting event. Being a small, budgeted publication, I am doing double duty for photography and writing. Honestly, it will be nearly impossible for me to get all the interviews I want.

"[However, since] I believe in always trying to find the best quote: Is it frowned upon to go to, say MySpace and/or develop a network of bloggers I can read for more quotes?

"Does that in some way diminish the role I play in covering the event, or does it enhance it? I personally feel that it is enhancing it as maybe I can find that one piece of information or quote that is truly beneficial. I would really like to know what guidelines there might be for this sort of thing."

Excellent question Tim! So I'm throwing this out to the Tidbits audience. What's your opinion? Does your news organization have any policies or guidelines regarding quoting bloggers? Please comment below.



Message from sender Sean Polay: As with many of these types questions, I would guess that your answer is, "Depends on the story -- and the blogger." But thought this might inspire some intersting discussion among us.

8.02.2006

Frank Barnako: Backfence to triple "citizens media" sites

Second to last paragraph gives a glimpse at the Backfence strategy as it approaches launching more of its flavor of hyperlocal sites. I think targeting 10 groups -- or whatever number makes the most sense for your resources -- is a pretty good starting point for the conversation surrounding the creation and production of either hyperlocal or topic-specific landing pages.

Remember that the success of these pages hinges on more than just creating a place to collect archived content. You need data, and community involvement, for the pages to have a lasting impact on your success with your current and potential audience.

RELATED: The aforementioned June 2006 issue of Presstime, which I finally had the chance to read during a good number of plane rides last week, was filled with new media nuggets. Among them, some hyperlocal efforts:

Here's some bookmarks I've collected along those same lines:
Got others -- either online-only or Web-to-print, hyperlocal and/or citizen journalism efforts -- in your bookmarks that I can add to the collection?

Audio slideshows

I wanted to point you to a multimedia piece that David Cuddy, the New Bedford photo editor, produced as part of the report on a recent show performed by a local band. Kids would be cranking the speakers or headphones, but depending on where you are viewing, you may want to start by turning them down:
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/multimedia/awilhelm/awilhelm.wmv
The band, A Wilhelm Scream, was performing at a concert sponsored by New Bedford's youth-oriented site, southcoast247.com.
There are many things I like about the slideshow (authentic, creative, gives people a sense of what it was like to be there), but perhaps best of all was the simplicity involved in its production: All David used was the batch of photos taken at the show, an mp3 from the band (pulled from the band's Web site with their permission to use it in the slideshow), and Windows Movie Maker software, which already comes with any Windows XP machine in your newsroom; no special training or purchase required.
I showed this piece to the newsrooms of Medford and Ashland this week, and the next day Julie Wurth, Medford's online editor, told me that after seeing it she quickly tried piecing together her own movie with the software. She was successful (though she didn't want to share), and was quite pleased with the software's ease of use.
I get asked frequently whether I think video ought to be a focus of a newsroom looking for ways to get more involved in producing content for the Web site. While I wholeheartedly endorse experimentation with the right stories, audio slideshows are easier to produce, are often a better user experience, and can be as good as or better than video when it comes to three-dimensional storytelling.
First, audio sideshows leverage an asset we already have: great photography. That's a key point to remember as we determine how to reorganize and reorient our newsrooms toward new media: leverage existing strengths. Second, acquiring audio, even ambient background sounds such as what you'd hear in NPR pieces, is easier to collect with equipment that is a lot less expensive. Same goes for producing them -- software is cheaper (in some cases, like Movie Maker and Audacity, it's free; Soundslides is $30), and the learning curve is much gentler than Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or Macromedia Flash.
Check out this June 2006 Presstime article, which also lists some other software being used by smaller newspapers around the country to produce slideshows such as "A Good Death" and "Buried Truth." I've also spoken to many of you about some examples done by my staff and newsroom colleagues at my previous job (admittedly with more complicated software, but more simplified versions could be attempted by organizations with fewer resources):
Sure, the New York Times is all-in for video (though they continue to produce audio slideshows, too). So are many other major metros: latimes.com, dallasnews.com, washingtonpost.com, signonsandiego.com. And I do not discount the video efforts underway in Sunbury, Seacoast or Cape Cod, the latter of which saw some promising traffic for video last month: 23,000+ page views to its video player, the site's 26th most popular page of the month (0.5% of the overall traffic).
But if you're looking for a place to start, particularly as you budget for next year, an audio slideshow presents you with a pretty low hurdle for entry into the multimedia realm.
For example, you can buy several digital audio recorders for the cost of one inexpensive video camera. I recommend the Olympus WS100 ($100), but if some of your staff have iPods, a Belkin TuneTalk ($70) can work just as well (I just bought one, and will report back on its quality once I get a chance to test-drive it). For those old-school reporters still using analog (tape) recorders, an adapter from Radio Shack that connects the recorder's headphone jack to the PC can work too. There are also devices out there (maybe you already have one) that make it easy to record phone calls directly on computer. Make sure you're following your state laws in terms of notifying the person you're recording.
Other resources (by sharing the podcast links, I'm not necessarily advocating podcasting, though I listen to many. Most of the required tools are the same, however):

8.01.2006

Video Mashup

washingtonpost.com's Video Mashup. This should be interesting.... They've essentially posted videotaped questions. Reader inserts answers. Some assembly required.

Also: Internet Weighs In With Mash-Ups

Call me crazy, but it might be interesting to do a contest with your users to let them do an audio slideshow based around an event, upcoming or gone by. You provide the photos, they provide the finished product. Just a thought....

FW: obit guest books - traffic driver

And another belated one.... This was shared with the editors during their conference in June, and many instantly gravitated to the idea. In fact, Medford had a triple-fatal accident  during  that conference, and utilized the Legacy guest books as part of their online packaging.
 

From: Patrick Mullen [mailto:thrmullen@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 6:42 PM
To: alanghoff@ottaway.com
Subject: obit guest books - traffic driver

 

Andrew,

 

We always struggle with traffic deaths that involve teenagers - especially around graduation. We had a horrible accident on Friday that took the lives of three Port Jervis girls. The paper covered the story very well and we wanted to do something meaningful online. With a weekend in the way and a desire not to be perceived as 'capitalizing' on such a tragic event we decided to simply link to the Legacy.com guest books - from our index page -  for each of the teens involved.

 

Two of the guestbooks had no entries when we started this morning -- now two of them have 2 pages of entries and a third has 6 and counting. We've had over 11,000 pageviews to the guestbook section so far today (compared to 2,000/ day average) and I really believe that we provided a great sevice to the family and friends of all involved -- just wanted to pass this along.

 

Patrick

7.30.2006

FW: Blogs: A Success So Far

When I posted "Record-Eagle Blogs" on June 9, I should have shared the whole
back story....

Jeanne, Alison, how's it going, two months in?

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeanne Hubbard [mailto:jhubbard@record-eagle.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 12:35 PM
To: Bill Thomas; Mike Tyree; Alison Widmer; Ann Reed; Jacki Krolczyk;
Triston Kirt; Dan Roach; Maia Conway; Loraine Anderson; Kathy Gibbons; Dave
Miller
Cc: Andrew Langhoff; Sean Polay
Subject: Blogs: A Success So Far

As many of you know, we launched our new blog site
(http://blogs.record-eagle.com) last month on the 26th of May. Since the
launch, the blogs have gotten some pretty good traffic: 6,460 page views for
the period of May 26 to June 7.

Much of the launch success is due to Sara Robinson's blog from the National
Spelling Bee (depsite the fact that no refers were made in the printed
paper). She wrote with an excellent voice and her posts were always fun to
read. I'm hoping to keep her on as a blogger and we'll be talking soon about
blog ideas for her. If you have suggestions, feel free to shoot them to me.
I'll keep you posted on what we come up with.

We've also got Dee Blair blogging about her garden, Andrew Dost about being
on the road with his band, and yours truly with a rather bland but
informative blog about web site issues.

Please keep your eyes and ears open for other blogging opportunities. If we
have a resident heading off to do something interesting, let's pitch the
blog idea to them. It's easy and can be done from any Internet connection.

Also, if there's any interest within the newsroom for staff to have their
own blog(s), please let me know. I can set up a quick training session and
can discuss content ideas. Some ideas for blogs:

- Book Blog. What are you reading, what books do you recommend?
- Internet Blog. What's happening online in our area of the world? A place
to highlight local web sites and online articles about local issues.
- Photography Blog: post a daily photo of the region and talk about how the
shot was taken, discuss photography methods, etc.

There's so much we can do, it's really wide open. Those are just a few ideas
off the top of my head.

Jeanne Hubbard
Webmaster
Traverse City Record-Eagle
www.record-eagle.com
webmaster@record-eagle.com
231-933-1469

7.29.2006

FW: New twist on sports blogs

A bit belated in sharing this. But became reacquainted with it as I was going through older e-mails this morning....


From: Patrick Mullen [mailto:pmullen@th-record.com]
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 5:00 PM
To: alanghoff@ottaway.com
Cc: spolay@ottaway.com
Subject: New twist on sports blogs

FYI –

We created a baseball blog for NY sports fans. The thought was to create a place for NY sports fans to talk about the game—during the game. We added headers for special match-ups like the mets/braves, ny/boston and the subway series. Our NY sports columnists will chime in during batting practice tonight. They will be able provide some real-time coverage of something only folks in the ball-park are able to see….

Let’s see how it goes. If it starts out well we will improve the platform over time.

http://recordonline.com/sports/mlb/

Best,

Patrick

Go Yankees!

7.21.2006

FW: Internet fails in the travel fringe

Sean Polay sent you a post from NewsGator.com:

Internet fails in the travel fringe

All Ka and I wanted was to trot three teen and near-teen kids over to an East Coast beach, within driving distance, for a long weekend.

Three plus two makes five, about two too many for a comfortable stay in one hotel room. Two rooms near a beach would be expensive, and no hotel will guarantee adjoining rooms anymore. So we hoped to find a condo, villa or small vacation house.

Starting the end of next week.

And that's where the fun began. Not fun as in "ha ha, look how easy," but fun as in "this @$%&*! thing is driving me insane ... maybe we should just camp in the back yard!"

What we found is the Internet becomes little better, and sometimes worse, than a remote phone book for locating a place to stay in those circumstances.

We had turned to the Internet in the first place because we knew most travel agents have no incentives to work very hard, if at all, to book lodging on itineraries where no flights or resort packages are involved.

Mainstream travel sites, including Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire and Hotels.com, work fine for mainstream travel: book a flight on a major airline, reserve a room in a chain hotel, rent a car from one of a half dozen brand-name providers, get rewards program credit for all of the above.

But they outright break when you try to tell them a family of five wants a place to stay together, the Rev. Al Green be damned! Some of the user interfaces simply won't let you attempt a search for lodging for two adults and three children, unless you start your search assuming you will split them into two rooms. Others will, but since most of the chain hotels limit occupancy to four humans per room, they seldom return any usable results.

Hotels.com supposedly lets you focus a search on condos and other vacation rentals, but results still appeared to contain quite a few chain hotel rooms that would not be big enough.

I tried kayak.com, one of the newer travel metasites (meaning it searches across many of the other travel search sites). I like the way it works, and that trial was enough to get me to consider using it in the future. But it, too, still focuses too much on mass-market travel and not family vacation lodging.

Next stops: smaller, regional sites from local real estate companies, leasing agents and rental aggregators. These sites, without exception, were maddening in their inconsistencies, untimeliness and what I call "rotten Easter eggs" -- waiting until after you drilled several steps into the process to tell you something you really needed to know before you started.

Best examples:

  • Sites that let us put in our arrival and departure dates for a 4-day trip around a weekend, and find good-looking matches, only to get a rude alert when we tried to reserve that said the properties were available only for weekly rentals beginning on Saturdays.
  • Sites that gave us good-looking matches that, it turns out, show up as available only because the property managers have not updated or integrated their reservation calendars in months or even years.
  • Sites that simply list dozens of properties by cutesy labels, with no search at all, forcing you to browse every detail listing to find the ones that even could work -- then find they're booked up.

Perhaps, you say, we set ourselves up for this failure by trying to book a last-minute stay on busy beaches in peak season. I won't argue with that. But last-minute deals can be found -- just, apparently, not on the 30 or so Internet sites we have tried so far.

Where does that leave us? Using the "Outernet," and having better luck. We're getting recommendations and leads from friends who live, or have lived, in the areas we're targeting. We have some phone numbers of leasing agents who may have some last-minute openings. Worst case, we'll book rooms a bit off the beach, but it appears our offline contacts will beat all these online efforts Real Soon Now.

I'll keep you posted.

This episode certainly reveals a tangible Internet business opportunity in local markets with a critical mass of vacation rentals. And it is proof that technology alone, in the form of databases with search engines, can't efficiently address many human wants on the fringe without, well, human attention.



Message from sender Sean Polay: Note Jay's last paragraph. But in addition to the business opportunity, this exemplifies the kind of "make-my-life-easier" content Andrew and I have been talking about.

7.13.2006

Good example of a landing page for a hot-topic story

Am just back from a day-and-half excursion to Massachusetts, where conversations throughout the day yesterday were focused on the collapse of ceiling tiles from a tunnel that connects Logan Airport to the Mass Pike and I-93.

As I fired up my e-mail today, an alert came in from boston.com, reporting the latest development. Links in that story led me to a related story, which in turn led me to boston.com's landing page for their ongoing coverage. Talk about a best practice!

The landing page has links to stories, photos, related video (boston.com includes the site of their partner, New England Cable News), and forums. They also already had a commuter blog, which is linked from this landing page because of it's ongoing focus on the incident's impact on area drivers.

(Eugene, this would be a good model for the Galante landing page we spoke about Tuesday! Pass on to Eric, if you wouldn't mind...)

6.09.2006

Record-Eagle Blogs

Record-Eagle Blogs

In-paper promotion

Just received the following from Roger Black in Plattsburgh:


Was on the front page of today's Press-Republican.

5.25.2006

5.24.2006

NOLA.com: Flood graphic

NOLA did a very compelling online graphic of the Katrina flooding sequence a couple of Sundays ago.

5.19.2006

Book blogs

Santa Cruz: The Book Eater (Feed)
Cape Cod: Bookmarked (Feed)

Anyone else have book-related pages out there?

Santa Cruz UGC

From: Len LaBarth [mailto:llabarth@santacruzsentinel.com]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 1:32 PM
To: spolay@ottaway.com
 

 

Students at school here go to D.C. every two years as part of a government in action program. They meet with lawmakers, journalists, etc. This year they’re doing a blog, complete with fotos and audio files, archives. The blog entries are a little long, but that’s to be expected. Cool community stuff.

 

Len

 

Len La Barth

New Media Editor

Santa Cruz Sentinel

(831) 429-2411

(831) 429-9620 (FAX)

www.santacruzsentinel.com

 

5.15.2006

Nieman Reports: Newspaper Survival

I know what I'll be reading on the plane when I travel later this week: Nieman Reports: Newspapers' Survival.

Quick peak reveals this first headline atop Tim Porter's article:
If Newspapers Are to Rise Again
'Reinvent or die. It's that simple.'

Full report: PDF-friendly | HTML

5.13.2006

Steve Outing » A magazine brings its editors out into the open

It's a familiar rant for Steve Outing: Allow newsrooms to become more transparent through blogging. His latest post on the subject highlights what's happening at Bike magazine.

5.11.2006

FW: DailyCandy Dedicated E-mail - Call the Shots

I like this UGC idea. Turn the users into assignment editors.


From: today@dailycandy.com [mailto:today@dailycandy.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 1:38 AM
To: spolay@ottaway.com
Subject: DailyCandy Dedicated E-mail - Call the Shots

DailyCandy



May 11, 2006 Send to a friend

DEDICATED E-MAIL
Call the Shots
Fun!

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Click to see full contest rules.