508 #111: Principals

posted by Mike on April 30th, 2010

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Mike and Brendan talk with School Committee member Tracy Novick.

Audio: mp3 link, other formats, feed

Video: Downloads and other formats

508 contact info

[0:00] We start by talking about school funding, principal firing, and union negotiations.

[10:33] Brendan notices some anti-drug-dealer graffiti on a log.

[18:35] The T&G reported a circulation decline this week, and is planning to charge for some online articles. We discuss whether this matters and how Worcester’s bloggers are doing in picking up some of the slack.


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10 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On April 30, 2010 at 11:18 Nicole said:

    Ugh. The Wifi at City Hall. I usually just dial in, and bypass the Wifi altogether, but the laptop I’ve had this week doesn’t have a card that will do that. (I am the biggest luddite in the Worcester blogosphere, so that might not make any sense.)

    While we’re saying nice things about the T&G, I have to say that Nick K’s City Hall Notebook has been a very good example of how the Telegram should be using their website. And I don’t understand why they don’t link to this from the Local section, or make that more prominent. That is the single most informative part of that website (well, besides Albert Southwick) and they BURY it in a little banner.

    Does anyone else remember reading a comment to one of the zillion Venerini articles where someone wanted to nominate Jackie Reis to be on the board of Venerini Academy because then they’d be able to get updates on what the heck is going on over there? I thought that was priceless.

  2. On April 30, 2010 at 12:16 Nicole said:

    Regarding politicians on podcasts:

    I keep toying with the idea of doing my own podcast (and always decide against it because I have both a radio face and a silent-film voice).

    But I just had an idea for Nicole, Worcester: the podcast.

    Half the podcast would be me having esoteric conversations with Albert Southwick about the origins of the heart on the city seal, or how much Eli Whitney actually contributed to the invention of the cotton gin, or whatever.

    The other half would be me talking with Mike Germain about, well, whatever it is Mike Germain is interested in. Hockey? Golf? How to get elected to an at-large city council seat with no web presence whatsoever? I have no idea.

  3. On April 30, 2010 at 12:28 Tracy said:

    You don’t mention the log writing in the show notes. That’s the best part!

  4. On April 30, 2010 at 12:37 Mike said:

    Tracy: Thanks for the suggestion. Post updated accordingly.

  5. On April 30, 2010 at 16:03 Tracy said:

    This just in on Race to the Top:http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/04/28/more-and-more-caution-flags-in-race-to-the-top/

  6. On May 11, 2010 at 18:25 Noah R. Bombard said:

    I’ve long been an opponent of paid online news content with the exception of some very niche situations. I think Brendan is right, most people will just hit that limit and then go somewhere else. Who ends up being the only people who pay? The most dedicated and loyal of customers. Sticking your best customers with a fee while the occasional web drifter gets in free just always sounded like a bad business model to me.

    If the Telegram is like any other news site, the largest traffic comes from direct traffic (people who go directly to telegram.com). Second behind that is usually traffic coming from Google (and I should disclose that with my purchase of a Droid I may actually now be owned by Google). Yahoo usually comes in third with AOL and others lagging behind. Now, if your sites reach across the web translates into a commodity with real advertising power — and I think it does — by charging to view content you are going to restrict growth, hurt your reach and your best customers with the bill.

    In the end, I don’t think the metered model will kill the Telegram, but it will restrict it’s web growth. And how much money does it stand to make in return? How many potential advertising dollars and opportunities are lost by restricting the number of eyes on your product?

    I think the other thing that bothers me about the paid model is that it’s rather presumptuous. It assumes that the media corporation can control the customer, tell them what is valuable and tell them what they will pay for it. That’s just not how the world functions anymore. Sure, some lone blogger isn’t necessarily going to replace the Telegram as a local news source for the entire market. But what about a handful of journalists working on their own? All you really need to compete in the market for local news these days is talent, time and a computer.

  7. On May 11, 2010 at 18:27 Noah R. Bombard said:

    Oh, where’s the edit button on this? I shouldn’t type and eat at the same time.

  8. On May 11, 2010 at 21:53 Nicole said:

    Noah — I always appreciate your comments.

    Something that has been gurgling in the back of my mind is how much of a part tips play in the news, and (since I’m not a journalist) I don’t really know. I’m sure the major media paid a little more attention to the Rose-Tirella-identifies-the-wrong-pornographic-firefighter debacle because I pointed it out. Some of the stories in the T&G, like the guy-spotting-for-parking-trespassers article, are likely sparked by a call to the newsroom.

    I look at that as a definite advantage for the professional journalists — they are the number people call when they’re disgruntled and want to tattle.

    The advantage that I have as a lone blogger is that I’m not bound by size constraints, or deadlines. I don’t need to fill something out to 500 words, and I can write and write and write if I like. Blogging is also a touch more creative — so, I can do a tribute to a cable access show, write about pit bulls, and make a cheesy chart about commenters, all in the same week, and I’m not constrained by a need to be ultra-professional.

    So — that was rambling and didn’t make sense. But I hope that (local Worcester) professional journalists can take the tools that bloggers use to keep their work fresh. (And, as for the paying model, that’s just not going to work well.)

  9. On May 12, 2010 at 12:14 Noah R. Bombard said:

    Tips are huge, Nicole. I wish I could say the stories I’m most proud to ever have been a part of were because on my own hunch I decided to dig up some records in city hall or randomly do background checks on people (well, I have done that from time to time). But most really good stories start with someone calling a reporter or editor and saying “hey, you should look into this.” I’d say 90 percent of these tips are dead ends. But, if you bother to give them all at least enough credibility to warrant an initial phone call or two, you stumble across the big one.

    And that is very difficult for bloggers to get that kind of pipeline going. Although I think if a blogger has a large enough following and can blow the lid of a story or two, people begin to think of that person as a possible outlet for their story ideas.

    One of the stories I was proudest to have worked on was at Worcester Magazine when a caller tipped me off to check into the background of the then-executive director of the Worcester Animal Rescue League (http://worcestermagazine.com/content/view/2424/). A little digging turned up that she had admitted to embezzling $10K from a former employer and that under her watch, $20K had gone missing from the rescue league. Without that one call, I likely never would have started the digging that turned all that up.

  10. On May 12, 2010 at 18:28 Nicole said:

    Noah, that was one of my favorite stories ever. Especially since ther person in quesion is now no longer working for WARL (and is — as far as Dr. Google knows — the office manager at a plastic surgery office). There’s a story there somewhere that no one has yet written.

    I find that many people are extremely responsive when I email them (Councilor Clancy, who seems to get most of my questions, especially); others aren’t responsive, no matter whether I identify myself as a bloggah or as a private citizen. Professional journalists, I suppose, get more returned calls than do bloggers.

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