Friday, November 17, 2006


Time once again for the weekly update from our student bloggers.

No toons for Trillin.
Celia Soudry blogs an appearance by Calvin Trillin at the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism, and learns that the New Yorker writer isn't too keen on Wikipedia. Why? Someone wrote that Trillin likes comic books. He doesn't. But the current Wikipedia entry on Trillin seems to get it right.

You get what you pay for. Chelsea Petersen writes about Jay Rosen's talk at the Berkman Center earlier this week on NewAssignment.Net, his experiment in open-source journalism. Petersen's wondering how much of a contribution volunteer activists can make to journalism, writing that "it's my own personal belief that nothing really comes for free."

A podcast in defense of print. Chris Estrada likes Ted Landphair's Voice of America commentary on the threat posed to newspapers by technology. But he also thinks it pretty amusing that you can listen to Landphair's lament as streaming audio, or download it in two different formats. Et tu, Ted?

The definition of futility. Like many bloggers, Evan Brunell can't believe that journalist/lawyer Peter Scheer was serious when he suggested that news organizations withhold their content from free portals such as Yahoo News and AOL for 24 hours. "Look around," Brunell writes. "You're in 2006. You're way out of your element as a newspaper dinosaur."

Bidding for ad revenue. Glenn Yoder points to an Editor & Publisher article about a new way for newspapers to sell advertising that sounds an awful lot like an auction — except that "it's not really an auction," according to the guy who started it. Yoder's encouraged, though he'd prefer the days when "big bosses puffed cigars lit by flaming $100 bills pulled from the piles of money forklifted in from advertising profits." Hmm. When was that?

Cell-phone documentary. Jane Mackay reports on a cell-phone video on YouTube, made in the Powell Library at UCLA, that shows an Iranian-American getting repeatedly shocked with a Taser gun. It's hard to tell what the young man did wrong other than not having an ID and not leaving quickly enough to suit the campus police. Just one piece of the story, obviously, but powerful.

Censorship renewed. Calvin Trillin might not mind, but Lisa Panora does: It seems that the Chinese government's decision to stop censoring Wikipedia, celebrated in the media earlier this week, lasted for about a day before the shackles were put on once again. "It is hard to say how long the so-called Great Firewall of China can last in a world that thrives on communication," Panora writes.

Craft over code. Mike Naughton is pleased to learn that editors in online newsrooms are more interested in journalism-school graduates who can write stories than in those who have mastered the arcana of cascading style sheets. "It's hard to deny that the findings are a relief for those of us spending time and a lot of money in journalism schools learning the basics of the craft," Naughton says.

Facebook goes Globe-al. Rachel Slajda notices that the Boston Globe's Web site,, now offers the option of letting you share stories you like through Facebook. I tried it with a Globe story, and it now appears on my Facebook "Profile" page. If I wanted to, I could also e-mail it to Facebook friends. I've got to say, though, that this doesn't strike me as the most compelling use of technology.

The Matsuzaka watch. Thomas Chen shows us's "Scott Boras countdown clock," an up-to-the-second meter of how long the Red Sox have to sign Japanese pitching phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose agent is the notoriously difficult Boras. Chen also shares some video of a Japanese batter swinging and missing at a Matsuzaka delivery.