Archive for August, 2010

Stuff I Love: The Trailer for ‘The Social Network’

August 29, 2010

It’s the haunting choir rendition of Radiohead’s The Creep, the opening images of people friending each other flashing on the screen, and the carefully selected bites of drama from the film, edited together so crisply, that make the upcoming ‘Facebook movie’ trailer satisfying enough to be it’s own short film.

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Celebrity Death Pool Summer Update

August 19, 2010

My friends Blake, Reeve and I began a celebrity death pool last summer over some adult beverages at the Red House Lounge. At the time, 2009 was waning but some high profile people had yet to meet their maker. Blake picked Walter Cronkite, I picked Patrick Swayze, Reeve went with Robert Byrd, who cost him the contest last year but ended up winning him a point in 2010.

For the 2010 celebrity death pool, we let another pal join in and each picked ten celebs we thought might die within the year. So far Reeve is leading the pack. Let’s review our 2010 pool rules and picks:

STAKES: All you can drink on the losers during MLK holiday weekend, 2011.

RULES: One point per death, and in case of a tie, we will total the distance of the death ages from 100. Greater difference (younger deaths) breaks the tie. Every member of the death pool must tweet the point update after a celebrity dies.

OUR PICKS, in no particular order:

REEVE: Elizabeth Edwards, Dennis Hopper (74), Robert Byrd (92), Ronnie James Dio (67), Olivia DeHavilland, Nelson Mandela, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bryant Gumbel, Kirk Douglas, J.D. Salinger (91) (FOUR POINTS)

BLAKE: Harry Morgan, Ariel Sharon, Ronnie Biggs, Dick Clark, Zsa Zsa Gabor, The Lockheed Bomber, Chemical Ali (61), Mike Wallace, John Wooden (99), Billy Graham (TWO POINTS)

ELISE: Rue McClanahan (76), Billy Graham, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Pat Summerall, George H.W. Bush, Bob Lanier, Bum Phillips, Courtney Love, Fidel Castro (ONE POINT)

JUSTIN: Larry King, Shia LeBeouf, James Garner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Artie Lange, Rue McClanahan (76), Roman Polanski, Fidel Castro, Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds (ONE POINT)

AAJA 2010: Digital Reporting Tools and Techniques

August 5, 2010

3:56pm: Here we are at the Digital Reporting Tools and Techniques panel, helmed by the esteemed Olivia Ma of YouTube, Jennifer 8 Lee of the Knight News Challenge and David Sarno and Jon Healey of the LA Times.

3:57pm: We’re talking about free tools available in the cloud. Scribd is getting a lot of conversation right now – Lee, who used to be with the NYTimes, says Scribd is interested in partnering with news orgs so they’ll let you customize your Scribd browser. “Even though it’s being powered by Scribd, it’s your brand all the time.”

4:04pm: Comic Sans should be banned from Powerpoint. WORD!

4:06pm: Use Listorious to found a connected network of people who are interested in or write about a specific topic. If you follow these groups, it’s another kind of heat map about what communities say about certain topics, says Soren.

4:07pm: When a keyword is meaningful to you or relatively unique, you can use Twitter alerts (which sort of works like Google News Alerts) to get updates on “Particularly useful for discrete events you are covering for a limited time period. You wouldn’t want to follow “music”, but maybe you would follow “MGMT”.”

4:09pm: And the Powerpoint crashes just before the YouTube maven begins talking about her tools. She goes on anyway, introducing YouTube Direct, and YouTube Moderator, which “are meant to help news organizations engage with their audiences.” Trivia: YouTube staff doesn’t use the term ‘citizen journalism’ and prefers ‘citizen reporter,’ since “journalists” are professionals or have specific training/experience. “Citizen Reporters” can document, provide real value in terms of showing what’s happening, even if they can’t put it in a broader context. Example: Kayaking in the Street during Nashville Flooding

4:14pm: YouTube’s been partnering with various news organizations to help them engage their communities and get the community involved. PBS’  ‘Video Your Vote”, CNN’s YouTube Presidential Debate. YouTube Direct is partnering with ABC7 in the Bay Area, inviting audience to upload video of stories happening in their communities. They’re starting to see momentum in getting the community to show their stories and getting them told. Editors and producers get a moderation panel to review the submissions and approve it for their own page.

4:16pm: YouTube Moderator is a product that lets news orgs crowdsource, host video of newsmakers, and then let audiences rank questions or the responses up or down. (This is totally new to me, I have no idea how it works yet but I want to find out.)

4:19pm: Now the panelists are talking about how awesome the ProPublica data crowdsourcing has been. I second that. “Every journalist should have a peopledex, that you can consult, so if you start building it now, you can recall it for many different purposes,” said Sarno.

4:21pm: Jennifer 8 Lee’s turn to talk. Her “five tools to remember” for digital future: Ushahidi, Kickstarter, Tableau, DocumentCloud, and DavisWiki, which is the most successful local wiki in the country, if not the world. One out of every seven people in Davis, California uses DavisWiki. You can find lost pets, do I need a roomate. (DAVIS WIKI IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE FUTURE OF CONTEXT. See earlier post.)

4:24pm: “Communities, when given the right tools and the right platforms, can inform themselves,” said Lee. Knight’s given the Davis people a tool called “localwiki”, to help other communities get this platform and start using it.

Ushahidi: A crowd-sourced mapping platform that came out of Kenya, where people were reporting their rapes and other violence. Got a lot of publicity in Haiti, in which needs for water or medical help were getting mapped on Ushahidi. Free, open-source. WashPo used it for #snowmaggedon last year.

4:27pm: Ascendancy of raw material as a form of real journalism. WikiLeaks, for example. The threat to journalism is not big brother, but little brother. The threat is that the individuals that surround us can report really well. So use tools like Document Cloud, to give people access.

4:28pm: You could do a six month investigation about use of force in schools, or you can show them a 30 second video of a teacher beating a kid in a school. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s worth 10,000 words.

4:30pm: The reporting process is becoming public. Instead of hoarding information and dropping a massive investigation, we now report it out one part at a time, let people weigh in and help inform or shape the next chapter, then report the next part. It’s a journey. (I love the quest narrative.)

4:32pm: “Governments are all excited about opening up their data, or putting data sets online, but raw data is actually really ugly,” said Lee. Where it becomes valuable is when it’s visualized. When you can play with it or see it in various ways, that’s where it becomes interesting.

4:36pm: “Ask your audiences more for their participation. The more news orgs value that, more of the audience will feel ownership,” said Ma. Use computers to build a human network. The more you use your human/social network, the more likely your sources are likely to come to you.

4:43pm: Lee, to a questioner- Are you asking, what are the other problems that need to be solved, in the suckiness of the current news organization? One of the things we’re really interested in at Knight right now is how publishers can effectively use Facebook. The other thing we’re interested in in is mobile.

OK that’s all for this panel. I hope I didn’t miss anything huge.

AAJA 2010: Present/Future of Online News

August 5, 2010

“This is the most exciting time ever, to be in journalism. More people are consuming more content in more ways than ever.” -Mike Allen

This morning’s conversation featured Manav Tanneeru, wearer of many hats at CNN.com, Dave Morgan, Executive Editor of Yahoo! North America, Mike Allen of Politico and John Bracken, Director of New Media at Knight Foundation (Knight is one of Tribune’s generous benefactors, and we love Knight. Shoutout.)

Create Content with Value, Cause It’s Competitive Out There

The success of Politico (which started with 30 employees and is now nearing 200), is based on the premise, “What if we did a paper with only interesting stories?” The changing habits of consuming news (less loyalty to the major papers, brands) has been a benefit.

“Traffic is one of the attributes we consider, we don’t even tell our reporters our traffic because we dont want them to value that above our audience. We’re not there to serve a mass audience,” said Allen. “Think about ‘if i didnt write this story, or made this video, would I read it?” It’s amazing how many things in our news orgs dont meet that test. Before you invest time producing something, would someone email this, blog about it, would i book segment based on this? If you’re hitting a couple of those, you’re breaking through and creating value for your audience.”

Yahoo’s thinking about original content as well.  It’s aiming to change the content they provide. “Yahoo is traditionally a good aggregator, but if all we’re doing is distributing great partner content, then we’ll be replaced,” said Morgan. The company’s web strategy is moving more toward reporting for the audience and not just hosting the audience. A lot of people can do commodity information – score of the game, who won the election – what do you add to that? What is the unique content you provide.

“Everyone can do their job on a laptop, which means anyone else can too. If we can’t do it shorter and sooner, someone else will and should. That’s the great part about the way people consume news now, it’s almost completely a meritocracy. it used to be if you were the Miami Herald, LA Times, you had a guaranteed audience. We don’t have guaranteed time with the audience anymore,” said Allen.

It’s Not All About the Pageviews
Remarkable ideas are remarked on, remarkable content moves up. It’s wrong for traditional companies to think, how can I move up in search rankings instead of, what can i do to make irresistible content?

When we get too obsessed with what people want to know, are we shortchanging them on what they NEED to know? There’s little interest in non-US news in the US, but the world’s more connected than ever. Will there still be outlets to provide the important stuff that the audience isn’t naturally hungry for?

SEO Today

“In the foundation world, we get grant applications that say, our web traffic is this, this number of Twitter followers, etc… What are web metrics that matter? What does that really mean?”

If you’re a reporter you should not be thinking about SEO first, but still, everyone in the newsroom should have general understanding of core principles that allow something to be elevated. CNN chooses slugs very carefully, Daily beast used tags in URLs, etc.

Future Considerations

If you’re starting something, you’re a lot better off to start in niche because you have a more obvious revenue stream. You have a specific audience to target, i.e. Politico’s focus is on serving Washington insiders.

The two major considerations of Politico as they head into the future:

1.) Sideways traffic, and how to maximize it. (Audiences don’t go to homepages as much as specific story pages, much of the readership consumes content without typing in politico.com)

2.) Fewer people with desktops/laptops – how to move to mobile.

Generally, part of our task is to think about the holes being created at the same time all this exciting change is happening. “When there’s a news gap, it’s very significant. The newspaper has been the closest thing we have had to a community forum, and when that goes away, what replaces it?
Is the frame we have for local news still appropriate for the digital age? How do we carry it over to the web, when people are going to their own places for news?” said Bracken.

Local news is an area most ripe for innovation.. using tools already available is empowering. But news experiments won’t fill all holes. If Brooklyn was reported with just blogs and Twitter, there would be huge gaps in its portrayal. How do we dig deeper?

“If youve arrived at a winning model, enjoy it because it’s already changed.” -Yahoo!’s Dave Morgan

California

August 4, 2010

Why does this guy have a star on the walk of fame, and other burning questions, coming up this week.

I’ve returned to California for the first time in a long time for the national Asian American Journalists Association convention. We Asians (and Stiles) will be convening here through Saturday, getting some quality training in and talking about the future of news, which is one of my all-time favorite topics besides chili cheese dogs, Mad Men and Harry Whittington. Come back for some #newsfuture posts and assorted photos. I’ve unintentionally engaged in a Twitter war to tweet the shizz out of this conference, so my blog will be an extension of the 140 character updates.

My fellow Texans also happen to be in California this week. Lawmakers are partying an hour south in San Diego, for a lawmaker convention (far fewer Asians, but rife with opportunity for drunk driving arrests!)

Quick Update

August 2, 2010

So much random blogging, so little time. To get a sense of where my head’s at, two alternative blog locations:

Conversations about Mad Men, a group Tumblr my friends and I are penning together as we journey through the fourth season of one of television’s best shows.

Hu-Stiles: The Blog, where we looked back at the crazy spring weekend we spent in Europe with the people we love the most.