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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2006. Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Highly recommend the Countdown podcast, re the Military Commissions Act of 2006, signed into law yesterday. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mets.gifJose Reyes homered in the first inning to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead in Game 5 of the NLCS. The Mets scored again in the 4th to lead 2-0. And then in the 7th, with 2 out Lo Duca delivers, driving in 2, to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. "Facing elimination, the Mets are," they say. Right on, that's grrrreat motivation. Final score -- Mets win 4-2. It was a real thriller at the end. As the camera went around the stadium you could see the fans' faces reflect the history of the team. Even when they were up by 4 we all knew it could go the other way. Mets fans are always surprised by a win, never surprised by a loss. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

News.com: "Bloggers are showing signs of outrage and amazement at the way Apple is handling the issue." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

CNET reviews MSIE7, released today. Add to the list of reasons not to switch -- doesn't run on Mac OS. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

News.com: "More than 1500 TV stations in the United States are now broadcasting HD signals over the air." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Grace Davis: "I am one tough mofo." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

YouTube videos filed under "Mac Sucks."  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Julie Leung has a randomly shutting down MacBook.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Om Malik has a randomly shutting down MacBook.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Every time the Mets make it to the playoffs there's a feeling of hope, it's a good feeling, but when it dawns on you that it might not happen this year, that's not a good feeling, and that's how I feel right now. I would really like it if the Mets made it to the World Series. If they don't, life will go on, of course, I hope, knock wood, praise Murphy. But life would be enhanced immeasurably by a Mets World Series, imho  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

How to improve professional reporting Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Continuing the thread about news in the future, and what comes after Who Knew What When, I wonder if people caught that I'm trying to help. It may not be what you want to hear, but isn't it my job, as it is yours, to say what I see, and tell you what I think? I hope it's obvious that I think news reporting can be done better. A few simple guidelines follow, which I hope are helpful.

1. Encourage your sources to have blogs. One simple way to do that is to de-emphasize the phone interview, and take quotes straight off the blogs of experts in the area you're reporting on. They'll get the message pretty quickly, if you want to be quoted (and most people still do) it's more likely if you have a blog.

2. If a person you're quoting has a blog, point to it from your piece (if not from the print edition, from the web version).

3. Speaking of pointers, shorten your URLs through redirection (this also lets you gather stats on which links your readers found interesting). So for example, if you're going to point to another reporter's article, like this, you can, instead, use a shortened URL, like this. Now you can include more web pointers in your print articles. (Note: I'd recommend you establish your own service, not use Tinyurl.)

4. Start your own blog, point to it from every one of your print stories. Even if you have no idea what you're going to write there, start it, so you're over that hump.

5. Float ideas for stories on your blog, much as you would with a person on your staff. See what kind of response you get. Most reporters don't have a good feel for how their readers think, or even if people are reading their articles. If I were a professional reporter, this is what I'd want to know first. People throw around a lot of theories about what sells papers, but what do they base their beliefs on? When they say people prefer news about pedophiles to news about bribes and payoffs, they don't really have a strong foundation for that belief. One common objection is that you tip off your competitors, but I think, really, reporters worry too much about this. Readers don't care if someone stole your idea. And sure, there are some ideas you can't float, for legal or ethical reasons, so don't.

6. Back to sources having blogs, I'd consider hosting those blogs. This is an idea I've pitched to Martin Nisenholtz at the NY Times, first in 2002, and a couple of times since. How it would work -- when a person is quoted in a Times piece, a few days after the article runs, a person from the publishing side contacts them, congratulates them on being quoted in the Times, and asks if they want a blog. No strings attached, you can say anything you want on your blog, no editorial review, and no cost to you. We get to run ads on your blog, they won't be intrusive, much as we run ads on columns by regular NY Times columnists. The reason this works is that it includes the reporters in the vetting, ultimately it's their decision who gets to blog under the corporate masthead, which is important in an organization where the talent is so important to its success. But they also have to deal with competiton from a new source, their sources. I think it's really clever, and the first news organization that does this will have a leg up on all the others.

7. Finally, as you learn, share what you learn with your readers. Sure some will snark at you, but that's been going on since the beginning of time (read the Letters to the Editor if you don't believe me). And you'll be teaching your competitors too, but that's good -- it's called leadership, and everyone wants that. Basically, it's been my experience that the more you share of what you learn, the more you will learn.

Disclaimer: I am looking for a job as CTO or Chief Scientist at a professional publisher that wants to make a strong transition to the new environment. So here I practice what I preach, I'm floating ideas in advance of using them.


Last update: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:23 PM Pacific.

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