Saturday, November 25, 2006

Live from Central Ave

I'm blogging from the Barnes & Noble in Colonie, N.Y., right off Central Avenue — which just happens to be the subject of this Adam Marschilok post.

Adam recently demonstrated a multimedia feature for us from the Times Union Web site called "Central Ave: Broken Dreams, Second Chances." It traces Central Ave from the mean streets of downtown Albany to the malls of Colonie. If you've ever been to the Capital Region, it's worth checking out.

Also around the blogs this week:

The $100 trolley ride. Thomas Chen offers Thanksgiving greetings with the tale of a man who got lucky after overpaying just a bit for his ride on the Green Line. Tom also thinks could have done a better job with a video of sports writer Nick Cafardo on such burning issues as whether the Red Sox will be able to unload Manny Ramírez this winter.

Sordid tales from the SGA. Ricky Thompson shares a new blog he found, the NU Governator, that purports to offer the inside dirt on Northeastern's Student Government Association. But Ricky is skeptical of how believable any of this stuff is, citing the "middle school" tone of the proceedings.

Citizen journalism in India. Rajashree Joshi discovers a site called Instablogs, which appears to be a citizen-journalism project based in North India that's focused more on news than it is on opinion-mongering. "On the whole," she writes, "I felt that although the quality of the reports was not all that great, the variety was good. It is definitely a good start."

Digg-ing trivia. Lisa Panora points to a story in Dow Jones MarketWatch, which reports that Digg's system of allowing users to rank stories by popularity could wind up further trivializing the mediascape. She also finds a strange tale of a lost mushroom-picker who was saved because rescue workers saw the glow of his iPod. Good thing it was charged up.

Save the Internet. Jane Mackay catches up with "net neutrality," the term favored by those who oppose an attempt by large corporations to turn the Internet into a multi-tiered system favoring — well, large corporations. She also discovers that the celebrated recent New York Times article on "Web 3.0" was actually 11 months late.

The F-word. That would be "finished," which is what Glenn Yoder says Michael "Kramer" Richards is following his racist, N-word-laden tirade at a comedy club. Glenn asks, "Didn't he learn anything from the decline of George Allen?" Apparently not. The lesson would be that, in the age of the Internet, everything you say can and will be recorded, uploaded and used against you.

Cable news crack-up. Chris Estrada says the debut of Al-Jazeera's new English-language channel and the upcoming launch of France 24 mark the further fragmentation of cable news into smaller and smaller niches. He also gives props to the Houston Chronicle for embracing YouTube rather than fearing it.

Has Yahoo got game? Chelsea Petersen wonders if Yahoo may have gotten back into the game against Google with its recently announced advertising partnership with seven newspaper chains. She also shares her thoughts on the explosion in Danvers, across the harbor from where she was staying that night (thanks for your concern, Chelsea; the Kennedys are fine), as well as on some fine photos by citizen journalists posted on (which seem to have moved).

Don't call him a "graphic novelist." Celia Soudry catches an appearance by comic illustrator and writer Joe Sacco at the recent Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism. She also offers some observations on the college student behind TVNewser and weighs in on "the date from hell" — chronicled on the Web for your voyeuristic amusement.

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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jay Rosen on Media Nation

I've posted my report on Jay Rosen's appearance at the Berkman Center. I hope that those of you who were able to attend thought it was worthwhile. If you couldn't make it, please watch the video. It hasn't been uploaded yet, but it should be here later in the week.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Web 2.0 is so 2006

Look out: At a time when we're all still trying to wrap our minds around the participatory Internet that's come to be known as Web 2.0, heading straight toward us is Web 3.0. John Markoff writes about it today in the New York Times.

Markoff's article is pretty interesting, but a little short on explaining exactly what Web 3.0 is. Apparently there is some, uh, disagreement. Look it up in Wikipedia and you get this: "This page has been deleted, and protected to prevent re-creation."

Essentially, though, Web 3.0 is about thinking of the Web as a giant database, and being able to use it to get answers to highly specific questions that are asked in plain English. Given that online journalism is becoming increasingly database-driven, Web 3.0 is a development worth watching.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday morning with the blogs

From Gannett's move into citizen journalism to the latest attempt at censoring the Dixie Chicks, student blogs at Journalism of the Web are hopping. Here is the latest roundup.

Gannett takes the plunge. Chris Estrada is psyched about the giant newspaper chain's "Information Center" initiative, by which Gannett papers will embrace hyperlocalism, citizen journalism and a 24/7 news ethos. Rachel Slajda also writes about Gannett's experiment, and voices some skepticism about the language being used to describe it: "Nothing like nonsensical corporate jargon to save newspapers."

High-altitude annoyance. Celia Soudry is less than thrilled with plans to allow folks to yap on their cell phones while flying. Even though the service will cost $3.50 a minute, Soudry believes our tech-obsessed society will embrace it.

Speeding from the scene. Chelsea Petersen is amazed at how quickly the news media moved on following Deval Patrick's big win. By the next morning, she writes, was treating it as old news.

Most valuable logo. Evan Brunell continues to update us on the redesign of his sports Web site, Most Valuable Network. Ever coy, Brunell writes, "I won't be showing the logo here, but rest assured that it's an edgy logo ..."

A world without paper. Jane Mackay covers a talk by one of our fabulous guest speakers, William Powers of the National Journal. Powers, who's spending a semester at Harvard's Shorenstein Center, is thinking about what we'll miss when paper is gone.

Marketing by censorship. Lisa Panora reports on the Dixie Chicks' latest marketing breakthrough: NBC's decision to ban an ad for their documentary "Shut Up and Sing." Like any good netizen, Panora provides us with a link to the trailer.

Microsoft's domain. Rajashree Joshi ponders Microsoft's decision to give away Internet domain names for free as part of its Office Live product for businesses, and thinks it's mostly a good idea.

Candid camera. Thomas Chen issues a warning to professors: when you see a student aiming his cell phone at you, he might be taking a picture so that he can upload it to Good grief.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Around the blogs

Some notable posts from Journalism of the Web student blogs this week:
  • Feel the hate. Celia Soudry links to an anti-Israel rant posted on YouTube. The most remarkable moment comes near the end.
  • Garbage in, garbage out. Chelsea Petersen discovers that a New York Times interactive political map has some outdated information about the Massachusetts governor's race.
  • Pro-am conundrum. Chris Estrada finds an Associated Press story on the difficulties of incorporating citizen journalism into the mainstream media.
  • The e-Hot Stove League. Evan Brunell likes the Boston Globe's online guide to the Red Sox' off-season moves, complete with interactive multimedia features.
  • Share this story. Jane Mackay takes a look at how the Boston Globe and other papers are using social-networking sites such as Facebook and
  • Nine-figure milestone. Mike Naughton notes that there are now 100 million Web sites online. That's one for every three Americans.
  • Work-friendly networking. Rajashree Joshi wonders if the rise of business-oriented social-networking sites will be more accepted in the workplace than
  • Giving it away. Thomas Chen asks why he pays for Baseball America when it's now offering a podcast for free.