Items, many about journalism

posted by Mike on March 22nd, 2007

Thanks for the outpouring of support after I wrote I was sick! Some people would claim nobody reads this site, but I’ll tell you, at least my pals do. I’m feeling a little better today.

Binnacle of the week#
At Hooting Yard.

Tom Crouse watch#
From a rant about literacy:

There might not be a worse sign for country.

Zombies of Worcester#
I love the photo that illlustrates the Elm Park-Lincoln Estate Neighborhood Association’s article With Warm Weather Comes New Crime Concerns. What’s up with that guy’s hand? With warm weather comes—zombie attack!

elmpark.jpg

Feuds#
The Telegram highlights Williamson vs. Tirella, Worcester Magazine has Gencarelli vs. his neighbors (not online yet), and the Elm Park-Lincoln Estate Neighborhood Association tries to clear the air on Claude Dorman vs. Bob Bourassa. Victor Infante has some discussion of the Williamson thing. I wonder if the Neighborhood Association will ask the author of the article at that site to remove unnecessary slurs like:

. . . Dorman freely admitted to being the first to label Bourassa as “the Neighborhood Nazi” (a fine comment coming from a German).

“Small-town journalist makes big-time impact on Central Valley community”#
Profile of a journalistic “shit disturber” in Glenn County CA. Without reading a bunch of articles by a guy like this, you never know if he’s legit or dishonest. But anybody who can piss off so many county supervisors is probably on the side of the angels.
(via Romenesko)

Whither journalism?#
I have been a news junkie since the third grade. I love journalism and journalists. The web has been a huge boon to me—now I can follow a hundred times as many news sources for free! The web has also been crushing businesses that rely on conventional, professional journalism, which really worries me. What will I do if the supply dries up?

David Hakala, via Doc Searls:

The trouble with the online newspaper sites is simple. They can’t build Web sites properly. They can’t keep them running. They just don’t get IT and don’t get the Web.

Bruce Sterling’s SXSW talk (worth listening to the whole thing):

One of the things that you notice when the sort-of third “commons-based peer production” comes into work is that things that are businesses stop being businesses. Just like, not a business. I’m a journalist, so I talk to friends of mine who are journalists, and they really worry about things like Craig’s List, cause, you know, if Craig were a mogul, they would understand that. But you can talk to Craig, I mean Craig shows up around here. In fact Craig is one of the milder and lower-key guys to show up at South-by-Southwest. And he’s just not interested in a business. Craig’s interested in having, like, two-hundred million friends.

Y’know, and more power to him, I mean, for Craig it’s about having lots of friends, y’know and just sort of doing things that are nice for people. And Craig has just like gutted the revenue streams of major newspapers. Without classified ads these guys just aren’t in business. I mean I have friends who work for the Post and the Times and other major ink-on-paper outfits, and they’re like, “We’re getting more viewers and more readers for our articles, and we even think we’re having more social effect than we ever were, but we don’t have a business. You know, there’s no money. And what are we to do with ourselves, and who will pay us, and, y’know, where do we get health insurance, and why have we suddenly joined the global precariate? And why do we have to live like people who are contributing to Wikipedia? When we’re professional journalists, and, y’know, it’s just not a business anymore?”

That’s a very sinister development. You can fight back if you had somebody trying to acquire your business. But if somebody is making your business into a socially-based means of peer production, where the laborers do a better job than you, or a faster job than you and a cheaper job than you, and they aren’t even actually working. And they’re not seeking political power, they don’t try to legislate anything. They just start piling it up. They’ve all got information factories. They’ve all got machines that are easily as powerful as any mainframe from the early 90s, and these are the kind of machines that people abandon on the roadsides.

Now it’s not all doom-and-gloom for Worcester news websites. The T&G recently started requiring legit e-mail addresses for people posting comments, which should help them with spam issues and allow comments from registered users to appear more quickly. This is the system we use at Pie and Coffee. The downside is fewer comments from casual or first-time readers, who may not want to jump through the hoops.

News is even better at Worcester Magazine, which has moved to Joomla. They don’t have RSS or comments turned on yet, but they can easily add these features and much more.

These guys “get the Web” more than they did, and there’s no sign they’re moving backwards.

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