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....)


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.


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?
  • "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"


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.


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:
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):


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




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.