USATODAY.com - Papers take a leap forward, opening up to new ideas

Thanks to Len for bringing this one to my attention.

Best quote in there:

"Across the industry the message I pick up is, 'Oh my God. It's slipping away. What can I do?' " says Stephen Gray, managing director of the initiative, called Newspaper Next. The answer, he says, will require "a shift of thought from, 'How do we get people to read more newspapers?' to 'What problems are people trying to solve in their lives, and how can we help?' "


More Enron blogging

From chron.com:

Live blogging

As a tangent to my previous e-mail on editorial group blogging, here's some live "blogging" (really, they're more live logging of events as they happen) examples:


These Are The People in Your Neighborhood

Interesting audience overview pages over at IBS, which operates a multitude of television Web sites around the country, including many within our online competitive landscape:

Back on the IBS site, click through the various audience categories. In particular, I liked the slice from the Working Women page:

Pull quote: "I like to feel more connected with the outside world when I’m at work."

Backed up by:
  • 86% are white-collar professionals
  • 38% are college graduates
  • 76% are 25-54
  • 44% make more than $75,000 in household income
  • 23% spend $150+/week on groceries
Incidentally, IBS reported this week that their traffic grew 29% in December compared to the same month in 2004. I think their sites are weaker than many in terms of usability and content presentation, but clearly they are doing something right. Perhaps the key for them is understanding their audience as well as they do.


Lost Remote: The web is cool again! A checklist

MUST read the to-do list Liz Foreman posted today at Lost Remote. It is from a TV point of view, but the concepts are universal. It's a great blueprint for where to start in our newsrooms as we tackle re-engineering our approach to the Web in our daily work lives.

CitJ: Lessons Learned

It sounds like Dan Gillmor is giving up on Bayosphere, a citizen-journalism site in San Francisco. He's not giving up on what he calls "a more democratized media" but he lists some interesting lessons learned. Paraphrasing:

- The more people are required to clearly identify themselves and stand behind what they write, the better their contributions will be.
- Citizen journalists require active interaction and support. One of my basic questions about this whole area has been how we can expect good work from unsupervised amateurs when we work very hard to develop and guide our professional journalists.
- Good work requires some form of compensation.

It's not clear what happens next; he's looking for other people to take over Bayosphere so it will most likely continue. Meanwhile, he says he'll be concentrating on The Center for Citizen Media.


Yanksfan vs Soxfan

More from the "Blogs I Like" file... Check out Yanksfan vs Soxfan. Even if you are not a fan of either team, you'll appreciate the concept.

And can someone please explain to me how Theo Epstein returning to the Red Sox is good for anyone involved? Because another favorite blog o' mine, Management by Baseball, is curiously quiet on the matter.

L.A. Observed: Changes coming at LATimes.com

L.A. Observed: Changes coming at LATimes.com

Wisconsin State Journal: You Pick the News

Credit to Mark Jurkowitz for spying this item. I certainly wasn't trolling for news in Wisconsin this morning....

After reading Managing Editor Tim Kelley's column, I can't wait to return to the site at 11 to see how it is presented. It's a phenomenal idea, taking UGC to another level. What a great use for the Saxotech polling engine!

I'm afraid a weakness in its execution, though, is that the readers will be judging based on headlines alone. I wouldn't let that stop me from executing the idea myself. But I'd be working vigorously to figure out a way to link each headline to a broader summary (news budget item, perhaps) of the story.

Make sure to read the article all the way to the end. Kelley describes the new, "nothing too radical yet" things they are doing to enhance their Web product. Sounds familiar, eh?

Jurkowitz, by the way, isn't as positive in his outlook as I am. Speaking only for myself, I think he misses the point. Reader involvement makes the product better, not worse. Don't more voices in a story make it better? Aren't single-source stories highly frowned upon? Why can't those principles apply to news decisions?

I'll keep my thoughts on Jurkowitz's we-know-better-than-you undertone (heck, maybe it's an overtone) to myself. Ask me about them next time we sip a cocktail together....


SeattlePI.com Buzzworthy - Departing from dayparts

Spied on Lost Remote. I've not yet seen the buzz elsewhere on this, but I can predict the knee-jerk reaction will be to proclaim "Death to Dayparting!"

Lost in the translation will likely be these two key phrases:

  • "...we can't be all things to all people all the time." (This gets back to the product development notion I introduced last week: Design a suitcase for a flight attendant, and you'll likely meet the needs of a much greater population. Likewise, design a local news and information site for your local news and information consumer.)

  • "We'll still change the content mix on the home page constantly...." (Have to. It's the key to turning the once-a-day consumer into a devotee of the site. Draw the eyeballs with frequency. Keep them with stickiness.)

Study: Users Judge Web Sites in the Blink of An Eye

Len La Barth pointed this out to me Wednesday morning, and I mentioned it on the fly during our breaking news session.

I'd share the actual article on the study with you, but it's a little more than I should spend. So we can all just admire their prices.


The Local Paper of the Future?

Jon Fine finds Debra Galant's guest post at PRESSthink and wonders whether this is an approach the "Daily Whatever" should mimic.

Just last week, I wrote in an e-mail to Andrew and Ken Hall that Barista of Bloomfield Ave. would be worth showing at the conference. We never got around to it, but if you have a minute prowl around. It's got personality, longevity, links and participation on some posts. Hard to miss the quantity of advertising, too.

Comments turned off

At washingtonpost.blog - The Editors Talk About Site Policies, Design and Goals, they decided late yesterday to shut off the user comments.

What an uncomfortable decision that must have been. A newspaper, which at its core is dedicated to promoting public discourse, decides to discontinue that very practice on the blog about its policies and procedures.

I once shut down a couple of bulletin boards for essentially the same reasons cited by the Post, hoping that the brief hiatus would calm tempers and perhaps inspire the rabble-rousers to seek other venues. It was a mere Band-Aid. The good news, though, was that instead of attacking each other in the forums, they attacked me. I was OK with that. It was the lesser of two evils in my book.

I've always found that focused commenting fares much better than free-for-alls. Topic-focus polls and article-specific commenting systems generally seem to remain free of flames.

Even highly-focused threads within forums tend to fare better than general topics such as national news, local news, politics, etc. Check out Jon Comey's entry on the top 10 Fox shows of all time over at SouthCoastToday.com. As of 9:51 a.m. it's flame-free. Let's hope I haven't jinxed it by noting it.


Also, the books mentioned yesterday...

Nieman Reports: Citizen Journalism

Here's the link to the Nieman Report Mike Levine was carrying under his arm yesterday.

» Five things to consider when changing websites. » Online Marketing Blog

Here's a well-timed tip sheet, given today's discussions on the site rollout process and online marketing.

Food for thought: In addition to a site map, consider putting together an online readers' guide for your new site, much like the print example Penny Abernathy showed us yesterday that preceded the launch of WSJ Europe.


Ken Ficara and I are experimenting with blogging at http://ottaway.blogspot.com/. Feel free to chime in with comments.

Intro to RSS

To further explain my point during the today's session on marketing, Yahoo! has a good RSS overview, and also has "Publisher's Guide to RSS."

If you know the URL to an RSS feed -- such as http://poynterextra.org/rss/tidbits.xml (Poynter's E-media Tidbits) -- and you have a Yahoo! login and use My Yahoo!, click on Add Content, and then find the link to Add RSS by URL (to the right of the find button in the Find Content module.

Any questions, drop a line.


The Austin Chronicle: Snoring Out Loud

First spied on JD Lasica's New Media Musings. Bit of a lengthy piece on the blogging efforts by the Austin American-Stateman, but worth the read to the end. Sure, it's hip, edgy alt-weekly ranting on traditional daily. But after beating up the daily Statesman, the alt-weekly Chronicle does outline what is working and why at the daily -- albeit on a smaller scale than originally intended.

Echoes a lot of the sentiments you'll hear us talk about when discussing successful blogging: Blogs must be updated frequently, inspire or solicit reader reactions, AND have a personality.

One thing I noticed: The Chronicle does not appear to have blogs. You would think an alt-weekly would. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe their writers are blogging elsewhere....


Niche blogging

Boston Herald: Boston Mommy

Barista of Bloomfield Ave.

The former I encountered some time ago, and have continued to enjoy it. The latter I ran into the today while doing a Web search for Dunkin' Donuts Turbo Ice game (more on that in another post).

What's best about them? Both are pretty well focused, exude personality, have endured well beyond their inception, link to many interesting things (you'd be surprised at how many blogs don't link out), and draw a decent amount of reader comments.