Friday, April 22, 2011

AP to distribute content from nonprofit news centers

The Associated Press will distribute news from nonprofit sources like ProPublicia and the Center for Investigative reporting. Marquette University's College of Communication has produced a variety of such material -- for example, the Milwaukee Obesity Project, created by a graduate class last year -- offered to media for its use.

The problem so far is that much of the news content has fallen under the media's radar. It is hoped that distribution by AP will broaden its use.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 best iPad news apps?

One blog offers what it calls the "five best apps" to follow news for the iPad.

Design counts

Design counts. Gawker changed its design on all of its family of sites -- to make them less blog-like --, and their viewership dropped off precipitously. There's a reason, the sites are truly awful. In Gawker's favor, the sites all offer one-click to the old design (I use it all the time).

Privacy issues swirl around smartphones

For some time, I pondered whether privacy issues may spell the end of the growing online media presence.

Online Media Daily reports today that most smartphone users are concerned about privacy, especially in light of reports that some iPhones and iPads are tracking users' locations.

Apparently the online business community just doesn't get it. How much privacy will we trade for convenience? We are going to find out.

Global warming heats up a good question on truth

Salon's Alex Pareene takes after the Washington Post and its editorial page editor Fred Hiatt for "now apparently acknowledging that he specifically prints things he knows to be untrue and irresponsible." The spat is over Haitt's criticism of Sarah Palin comments on global warming. Pareene also says (and links to others saying) that Post columnist George Will's columns have included: "Actual, demonstrable lies" on the issue.

Setting the politics aside, the question posed by this is simple: What is the responsibility of an editorial page director to make sure his columnists are correct? It's part of the larger question facing journalists who find themselves with two sources stating directly opposite "facts" as truth. How far should we go to sort out the truth, and should "opinion" writers get greater leeway on statements they claim are true?

Virtually every letters column in the Journal Sentinel contain a letter with something I know is not true. What is the paper's responsibility? These are hard questions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Milwaukee Magazine writers score well

Bruce Murphy this month offers some interesting comments about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, suggesting it is allowing its local bias to give Rep. Paul Ryan the edge in stories over President Obama in the battle of the budget. Some suggest it's the basic conservatism of top editors. The paper has long been promoting Ryan so it's really not surprising to see an observer spotting different treatments, but Murphy's is quite well done.

Meanwhile, Murphy links to his magazine's Eric Gunn and his Pressroom Buzz column (another one I read regularly) who tackles the mysterious non-coverage of the much-denied -- but much suspected -- plan by state Republicans to offer a proposal that would allow the state to take over cities it deemed in "fiscal crisis," like Milwaukee may well be after the shortfall between cuts from the administration hits home. Gunn ties rumors back to a website set up by the secretive, industry-dominated Greater Milwaukee Committee that doesn't make its ties to the GMC very clear and does indeed reference the controversial and, in my opinion, extremely undemocratic Michigan government takeover system (albeit with language explicitly saying it isn't endorsing any such plans for Wisconsin).

Excellent work by both, and be sure to read the comments.

Many online viewers see ads as distraction

New study shows many online users view ads as distractions. That explains the low clickthrough rates. Every once in awhile you see a study rich in data, such as this one. Well worth reading, especially for anyone involved in designing online advertising -- and we all have a stake in what's working online.

Newsweek chief explains weak ad sales

Newsweek's chief explains weak first quarter ad sales. It's all due to the magazine's sale.

Congrats to the JS for another Pulitzer (are they getting ho-hum in that newsroom?) in a contest recognizing online efforts

Congratulations to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which placed its four straight Pulitzer finalist and third winner in that span. It certainly supports the huge bet the newspaper took by pulling so many top reporters out of the general newsroom to staff its special projects unit (headed by Greg Borowski, often teacher at M.U. and even more often lecturer in classes as well as participating on the Alumni and Student Media boards). The weakness, of course, is that means those reporters aren't available for more routine coverage -- and they're needed.

Nevertheless, it's wonderful to see the newspaper's work honored. Those of us lucky enough to read them throughout the year have already awarded them our personal prizes for producing the great work.

Other than that, the big news from Pulitzer-land is that ProPublicia won it's second straight award, this year for an entry that never appeared in print, the first time that has happened. Just as the JS's award honored the entire team, multimedia, photographer and designer, ProPublicia's award honored its web entry (where much of the JS entry was published). It's a new world for media, for sure.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A sad state of affairs

It says something about American newspapers when the first item in my Google stream under "newspapers" today is a New York Daily News report that Van Morrison had a child with his mistress. (Says something else that it quotes British media as its source.)

The Times as a test of media economics

The shaky economic ground of media is nowhere more evident than with the New York Times.

An AdWeek report by Katie Keola shows the problems. Although by far the top-drawing site digitally, online advertising pays so little that the Times must make it's paywall work, according to analysts. So if it doesn't pay for the biggest and, arguably, best of the news sites, how can we expect online advertising to support a robust media.

One answer: We can't -- and that comes with serious questions not only about the media but, for those who believe the media is essential for a working democracy, the world.