AP Ending Its "asap" Service in October

I missed this on Friday. Perhaps you did too: AP Ending Its "asap" Service in October

I came across it via a post by Juan Antonio Giner at What's Next: Innovations in Newspapers. He and I are of a like mind:

A good service, but in our Young Readers Global Report for the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), one of our main recommendations was not to develop “ghetto-sections” for young readers.

They hate this kind of “Guantanamo mentality.”

Some have heard me espouse this before, but it is the many unsuccessful efforts to reach young readers around the industry that leads me to consistently eschew youth portals that we hope to draw audience to, and instead push for distributing content to the audience in a format that makes sense for the medium the audience is already traversing. Two years ago, that was MySpace. Now it's that and a myriad of other sites and platforms, not the least of which is mobile devices.

I also firmly believe this is the only means by which we succeed with personalization, too, because it is not only a strategy by which we reach younger readers, but also how we get at the 91 percent of the online audience that is not coming to us now.

On a more Ottaway-centric note, I had been pushing the AP to allow us to use pieces of asap a la carte, in particular the "Worklife" column (sample), which would be ideal for our employment sections. Thus far, the answer has been no. "Must order all of ASAP to get that feature," they say.

I think there's a light at the end of that tunnel, according to the E&P story: "Elements of the service will be incorporated into the regular AP report."

Remains to be seen whether AP will unbundle features and take a more a la carte approach. Hank Ackerman, our retiring corporate liaison who recently doubled as acting bureau chief in Albany, has indicated that approach is under consideration. Stay tuned....


PoliticsNJ.com Power List 100 | Politics NJ

An interesting idea that could apply for each of our markets as we get nearer the 2008 election year: PoliticsNJ.com Power List 100 | Politics NJ

The list is definitely inside baseball, but readers tend to gobble up just that kind of thing:

In developing our list, we eliminated anyone who currently holds elected office, as well as the Judiciary. We also eliminated the living former Governors, United States Senators, and Bill Gormley: we believe that all former statewide officeholders remain highly influential and well respected. This is an Insiders List. We looked at policy makers, party leaders, fundraisers, lobbyists, labor unions, businesses, and associations and have assembled the ultimate list of New Jerseyans with clout, with an impact on politics and government in the Garden State.


Just How Far Can a Video Go?

As a follow-up to my recent post on the video “sneezing” site Hey!Spread, I wanted to share with everyone the results from just one site.

I uploaded two videos, the “How Not to Break a Baseball Bat” video from Southcoast and latest of the “Golf Course” videos from Pocono and after barely four days on MetaCafe, the baseball bat video has been viewed nearly 300 times and the golf course video about 2,000 times.

Across all the sites that Hey!Spread distributed to, the Baseball Bat video was viewed nearly 600 times and the Golf Course video 2,500 times. And all I had to do was upload the videos just once.

So if you haven’t already, check out Hey!Spread. And, if you have the time, explore the sites it distributes to as they each have their own features, some of which you might find valuable. For example, Blip.TV has its own distribution effort that will further the reach of your videos (they’ll even post to your twitter stream when you’ve posted a new video).

Have fun and if you have any questions or thoughts, give me a shout.


Little League pages

I happened to be at Seacoast yesterday as they launched their Little League All-Stars landing page, and now notice today that Hudson Valley has done the same. Anyone else got a similar page they want to share?

As Howard Altschiller and I were discussing Twitter, he used that as one mechanism to announce the page launch: http://twitter.com/seacoastonline

(And as a reminder, make sure you're linking to new pages from your Site Maps, so that Google/Yahoo/Ask/MSN/AOL can pick them up when you next get crawled. You should enter these new pages into the Google Site Search spreadsheet on Google Docs, so when your user searches on your site for that topic, it gets featured as a Suggested Page at the top of the results. Still confused about the latter? Give me a shout.)


A Video Site That's Nothing to Sneeze At

Ok, so I know you’ve all been hearing about the importance of video and how you should try to post your videos to sites such as YouTube and/or Myspace. I also know that your time is limited, that you have many, many competing demands, so I was excited when I learned that the first video “sneezer” site had been created.

Hey!Spread takes your video and distributes or “sneezes” it to 10 popular video-sharing sites including: YouTube, MySpace, Google Videos, Yahoo Videos, Dailymotion, Blip.tv, Photobucket, Metacafe, Bolt and Putfile – as long as you have registered with each of them (they’re free). While Hey!Spread isn’t pretty, using it is easy.

You complete a simple form including your video’s:

  • Title – This should not necessarily be the headline, while that sells the story (if the video was with a story), it may not do a great job selling the video itself.
  • Description - Remember to include your site address in the description as a place where people can go for additional information. I found that many video-sharing sites will make links in descriptions active.
  • Tags – This is completely up to you and while not all the sites use the tags, most of the larger ones do, so give this some real thought. You might even want to find a similarly themed popular video and see what tags it has.
  • Categories – Their category list is pretty basic, so look for the best fit.

You then point to your video file (I found that many of the sites do not accept the flash format, so stick to the unprocessed formats) and move to the next screen.

Hey!Spread then has you enter your usernames and passwords for the video sites (you only have to do this once) and then it takes over. Depending on your connection speed, it might take a minute or two to upload your video. Hey!Spread will send you an email listing all the links once the video is posted. If your video was rejected or there was a specific problem, they will note it there as well.

I tested the service with a couple of files (which is how I learned about the flash format issue) and was pleasantly surprised. Files upload and were “sneezed” pretty fast. And in the time that it took me to visit each of the links the video was already being watched and commented upon.

Some of the sites Hey!Spread reaches will allow you to add additional information about your video, but visiting each site kind of cancels the idea of the “sneeze.”

Make sure that when you do register for theses video-sharing sites to make your sites’s own profile robust – include a photo, your web address and some fun details.

So give Hey!Spread a shot and let me know how it works for you. I think one site that gets our videos out to 10 can only be a good thing, so try to include it in your workflow.

Any questions, give me a shout.


More Twitter

Not that you were wondering, but here's who I'm following on Twitter, so far:

Biz Stone (Twitter founder)
Boston Globe (set up, but not yet in use)
Boston Herald (hasn't been updated since May)
C.C. Chapman (podcaster and new media marketing guru)
Mary McCauley (web developer at Pocono)
Nashua Telegraph
New York Times
Opinion Journal
Pocono Record
Boston Red Sox
Yoni Greenbaum

In the case of NYT and ESPN, Twitter has supplanted my RSS reader as the means by which I most frequently interact with their content. That's especially true of the New York Times. I still have their Media & Advertising feed in my Google Reader, but their latest news now pops up on my IM via Twitter, and I am finding myself clicking into the stories from there almost daily now -- visiting their site much more frequently than was the case before.

Are you on Twitter? If so, who are you following? Come to the Ottaway Online Editor's blog and share your list in the comments below this post.


Twitter / OpinionJournal

Hey, speaking of Twitter (as we were on the noon call today, look who else is using it: OpinionJournal.

In Push for Local Readers, Post Unleashes LoudounExtra.com - washingtonpost.com

LoudounExtra.com is very nice on the front end, and chock full of data on the back end, but the user experience in between so far leaves me wanting more: In Push for Local Readers, Post Unleashes LoudounExtra.com - washingtonpost.com.

That said, the overall effort is right on. While I could not yet find evidence of of iPod-downloadable restaurant guides or mobile late-night options, it does give me ideas for our own dining effort.

"Over the past several months, the six-person staff (and one intern) of LoudounExtra has assembled a restaurant guide by asking each of the county's restaurants to answer questions about their operation, contacted more than 130 houses of worship to find service schedules (and offered to upload podcasts of their sermons onto the Loudoun site), asked all county high school principals about their curriculums, shot panoramic photos of each school and collected statistics on each high school football player, among other data-collection tasks.

The information will be searchable and deliverable on a number of platforms, meaning users will be able to download the site's restaurant guide onto their iPods and use their cellphones to find restaurants open late at night."

As impressed as I am with the description of what is being done by the Post in Loudoun County, the cardinal sin was committed in the article. It's an article about a new Web site, and there is neither a link to the Web site from the text of the article, nor is it in a prominent related links box that would make it as easy as possible on the user to click and go.

I don't get it. We are in 2007, right? The story is chock full of links to other places on the washingtonpost.com Web site. But the most important link -- the focus of the story, mind you -- is missing.

Please tell me I missed it. Please tell me that one of the pre-eminant Web journalism operations in the country pays attention to such details, and I am simply as blind as a bat....

Presidential Candidates' Campaign Finances - 2008 Election Guide - Politics - New York Times

Talk about leveraging databases! Check out this interactive campaign finance feature on nytimes.com: Presidential Candidates' Campaign Finances - 2008 Election Guide - Politics - New York Times


Why Join Another Social Network?

Interesting take by Chris Brogan on the value of being a part of burgeoning social networks. I lean more toward the Rocketboom camp, in case you were wondering. I'm certainly of a mind that we need to be everywhere, though it should all connect back to our main product(s) via our profiles on each network.


Columnist Seeks Your Online Best

I recently came across a new column on editorandpublisher.com. Written by Pauline Millard, formerly of the Associated Press and now online editor at E&P, “Pauline’s Picks” offers “regular picks of the best or most innovative new online features at news sites.” Recent columns have included coverage of the Baltimore Sun’s Interactive Homicide Map and the work being done at the NWHerald.com.

Of the NWHerald, Millard wrote:

"They've had a daily online newscast in place since March 2006. At first they partnered with the CBS affiliate in Chicago to produce them, but have since brought the production in-house. The result is a piece they call the QuickCast, which hits the site at 4 p.m. each weekday. They also produce about 10 interactive features a week. Most are embedded in the online stories. All recent work is archived on a single page that makes it easy for readers who are interested in video to find what they are seeking."
Her column is worth checking out as a quick way to keep up on what other newspaper sites are doing. In addition, and the other reason that I wanted to draw your attention to her column, is that Millard is seeking suggestions (email her at pmillard@editorandpublisher.com). Here’s an opportunity to promote what you are doing at your sites and share those successes with the rest of the industry.

In any case though, check out her column, I think you’ll find it time well spent.


Recovering Journalist: Keeping Customers Satisfied—Or Not

A newspaper-related jobs-to-be-done illustration: Recovering Journalist: Keeping Customers Satisfied—Or Not

Speaking of Mainetoday....

Check out their new vlog: Roger That!.

Joe Michaud's description of how it got started is here.

Like Amanda Congdon, Rocketboom, even CapeCast, it's another example of how a healthy dose of irreverence and personality works online.

If I'm watching video at my desk during the work day (and a large portion of our video audience will, at least initially), entertain me. If you happen to inform me along the way, I'll consider that a bonus. I am not likely taking a break from my daily grind to be served up a bland talking head.

MaineToday.com | Joe Michaud: On the Green Line

Joe Michaud is blogging the revolution at Mainetoday.com: On the Green Line. Note the blog description's tie-in to Newspaper Next.

Full disclosure: Joe and I are on the board of the New England New Media Association, and have been friends for several years.

Most intriguing item I found in the blog so far: The new design scheduled to launch next week.