Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Over and out

Welcome to the final wrapup of class blogs for "Beat Reporting: The Journalism of the Web." Many of you have done a terrific job this semester. Although I won't post here again, I do hope you'll keep blogging. It's a great way to hone your writing, to stay connected to the news and to show prospective employers what you've been doing.

I've enjoyed reading your work, and will continue to check in on what you're writing about.

"Fauxtography" smackdown. Celia Soudry shares some examples of anti-Israel bias in the media as presented by HonestReporting.com. She also shares her frustration with Blogger.com: "Unfortunately, blogger.com is not allowing me to upload any photos at this time, which is very frustrating — and takes so much away from this entry." Yes, indeed. That's why Media Nation is considering a possible move to WordPress.

The year in pictures. It may only be mid-December, but Boston.com has already uploaded its 2006 compilation of "The Year in Photos." Set aside some time — there are 91 pictures here. "So long, 2006," writes Chelsea Petersen. Wait a minute — I'm not ready.

Fluffer off his nutter. Chris Estrada concedes he might be losing it in blogging about the confluence of citizen journalism and fluff. In one of his more lucid moments, he writes, "There's always gonna be some sort of 'soft news,' but as citizen journalism and hyper-local coverage become bigger, the newspapers are going to have to put a serious check on things to keep their legitimate reputations intact."

Keeping an eye on Albany. Jessica Harding checks in on a blog devoted to what's going on in Albany, N.Y. Albany Eye, Jessica writes, is sometimes funny, sometimes mean — and could definitely be improved by opening itself up to comments from its readers.

Educational blogging. Michael Naughton discovers that the Scituate Public Schools have joined the Boston school system in starting a blog to keep students and parents informed. He also notices that Facebook has started a blog, which he sees as "yet another step toward world domination."

Politics as conversation. Rachel Slajda erupts in profane delight at former Washington Post reporter John Harris' interview with Jay Rosen about his new Web-based venture. Harris: "we’ll try to loosen the style and in the process tell readers more about what we know, what we think, and why we think it." Rachel: "@#!*$# fantastic!"

Mandatory advertising. This is insane. Ricky Thompson reports on a lawsuit filed by a newspaper publisher in Florida against a community college that pulled its advertising because of what college officials described as unfair coverage. Can advertiser boycotts really be outlawed?

Future sports podcaster. Thomas Chen reflects on his experience as a blogger this semester, and outlines plans for a sports-related blog/podcast that he hopes to unveil in the near future. "I think I have a co-host lined up and now it's just a matter of acquiring some audio tools and software and learning the ins and outs of podcasting," Tom says. "That's going to be my project during Christmas vacation and hopefully, I'll be able to launch in early January."

Fake site gets real. Adam Marschilok says that a Conan O'Brien joke about a non-existent Web site devoted to the love lives of lonely manatees is now actually up and running. He also observes that "60 Minutes" recently saved some graphic footage of Mixed Martial Arts fighting for the Web, and worries (as do I) that the Red Sox aren't going to sign Dice-K.

A streaming podcast. Not a contradiction in terms, writes Amy Costa, who says that Mercora is an innovative breakthrough. Amy also offers some advice on where to find underground music online, and is pleased that the Internet is wreaking havoc with the commercial media's marketing plans.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Daily Me, rebooted

In our weekly blog roundup, Chris Estrada and Rachel Slajda take a look at new sites that specialize in personalized news of one sort or another.

On a national and worldwide level, Chris examines a site called NewsVine, which he says is a little bit like Digg, only it remembers what you like and pushes more of it at you. "I'd definitely recommend for you to partake of the grapes from this Vine and see what you think," Chris writes.

Rachel goes local, checking out a site serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area called Pegasusnews.com. Her verdict: Tastes great, less filling. "Pegasus is lovely. The site uses bright colors and big buttons on the top for each section," she writes. "But the news content itself is a lot of fluff."

Elsewhere this week:

Paid citizen journalism. Rajashree Joshi reports that Yahoo and Reuters have embraced citizen photojournalism and video journalism — and, unlike the situation at YouTube, contributors can actually make money. Sounds interesting — but, in my limited experiment, I couldn't get the video to play.

A rival low-cost laptop. Ricky Thompson finds that Intel is working on an alternative to the celebrated $150 laptop, and that Brazil is interested. He also checks in on the new CNBC.com as well as the Yahoo-Reuters citizen-journalism collaboration.

Multimedia ICA. Glenn Yoder is hugely impressed with Boston.com's multimedia package on the opening of the Institute of Contemporary Art. Among other things, the package includes the debut of Globe arts writer/blogger Geoff Edgers as a television correspondent.

The BBC's conversation-starter. Chelsea Petersen likes the BBC's "School Day 24," which gets students together from around the world to talk about everything from terrorism to marriage. She also praises a Los Angeles Times slideshow on "AIDS in Africa."

The never-ending season. Thomas Chen wraps up the Major League Baseball winter meetings, and how they're being covered online, from blogs to a photo gallery. "Oh, the Winter Meetings are every blogger's dream," Chen writes.

Media ups and downs. Evan Brunell points to recent stories that show television and online revenues are rising, whereas print revenues continue to fall. Still, he's dubious about an experiment at the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press to play down print and pump up the Web.

Shop till you drop. Mike Naughton notes that BJ's Wholesale Club has finally embraced online shopping. And he's less than impressed with the new Boston School Department blog, saying it "reads very much like a stack of press releases abandoned on a newsroom fax machine."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday blog roundup

I'm late in posting the weekly blog roundup — I've been editing the first drafts of your final projects. The good news is that I had a chance to go through all of them, so you'll be getting them back on Monday rather than Wednesday. With that, here is what you've been writing about online during the past week.

Third World laptops.
Adam Marschilok is taken with a New York Times story on a project to provide laptop computers to children in the Third World at a cost of just $150 apiece. Adam also notes that the Times discussion board allows readers to react to the story immediately. Indeed, as of Sunday at 4:45 p.m., there were already 350 comments.

Free speech isn't free. Celia Sourdy observes that expressing yourself on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook can get you fired. She also asks whether Muslims are being unfairly singled out, finds an odd report about a high-school fight triggered by MySpace, and offers a disturbing example of Craigslist-fueled child abuse.

But sometimes it is free. Chelsea Petersen is a lukewarm supporter of a court ruling that Web sites cannot be sued for libel successfully for material placed on their sites by third parties. "This, to me, is both good and bad news," Petersen writes — good for free speech, not so good for people wondering if what they read online is reliable.

Pulitzer Prizes 2.0. Chris Estrada reports that the Pulitzer Prize folks will now allow newspapers to submit various multimedia packages, including blogs, slideshows and videos. Chris also takes a look at an article that claims the New York Times Co. has flatly refused to sell the Boston Globe to a group headed by former GE chairman Jack Welch.

Press those words. Evan Brunell sets up a WordPress blog and finds it's incredibly easy. "Everyone who's on Blogger should just basically move over," he writes. (I know, I know, I just have to find the time.) Evan also recounts an unpleasant run-in he had with a contributor to his sports site, Most Valuable Network, over the abuse of a press pass.

Mitt and Mormonism. Glenn Yoder notes that Time magazine is taking a close look at how Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon religion could affect his presidential campaign, a subject that has been explored locally for some time. (Here is the definitive piece, by the Phoenix's Adam Reilly.) Glenn is also a little unnerved by a CIA recruiting campaign and psyched over the new, tech-savvy Congress.

The Doctor is right on. Jane Mackay digs up some wisdom from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson that is as pertinent today as when he wrote it. Also, Jane loves a recent New Yorker profile of O.J. Simpson ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves, who appears to combine cheerful amorality with an acute awareness of his limitations.

From Swarthmore to Baghdad. And speaking of the New Yorker, Lisa Panora is impressed with a piece about "War News Radio," a student-radio production featuring telephone interviews with residents of Baghdad. Lisa also shares the joy of an ear-piercing teenager repellant that she is still young enough to hear.

HSTV on Boston.com. Mike Naughton tells us that the Boston Globe's Web site, Boston.com, has begun to solicit user-submitted videos of high-school football games — an interesting citizen-journalism twist on an old standby. "Are home movies of little Billy's high-school football games just the beginning?" asks Naughton.

Podcasting politician. Rachel Slajda writes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun to record three-minute video podcasts, and they've proved quite popular — except with the news media, which do not like the idea of a politician communicating directly with her constituents. Rachel also notes that two of the Washington Post's top political reporters are Web-bound.

The Little Red Wiki. Rajashree Joshi observes with some consternation that the Wikipedia entry for Mao Zedong differs considerably depending on whether you're reading it in Chinese or English. "It is hard to say whether this is deliberate because after all, Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia where viewers edit the information," she says.

Targeting informants. Thomas Chen views the notorious Web site Who's a Rat, reported on most recently by the Associated Press, and wonders about a site that endangers the lives of police informants. Still, he notes, "The documents and information that the site posts are of public record and no one's challenged the idea that the site is not protected by free speech."