This Week in Review: Rupert’s online reader purge, election-night innovation, and ideas at ONA10

[Every Friday, Mark Coddington sums up the week's top stories about the future of news and the debates that grew up around them. —Josh]

Skepticism about News Corp.’s paywall numbers: Future-of-news nerds have been watching the paywall at The Times and Sunday Times of London pretty closely since it was instituted in June, and we finally got our first hard numbers about it this week, from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. itself. The company said 105,000 readers had paid up — either as subscribers or occasional purchasers — for the paper’s site or iPad or Kindle apps, with another 100,000 activating free digital accounts that came with their print subscriptions.

To hear News Corp. execs tell it, those numbers marked a huge success. The Times’ editor told the BBC he’s “hugely encouraged,” and Reuters led with the fact that the drop in readership was less than The Times had feared. (TBD’s Jim Brady called this rhetoric the Spinal Tap defense — “it isn’t less popular, its audience is just more selective.”) But most everyone outside the company was skeptical. The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade and blogger and web activist Cory Doctorow both said we have no idea how successfully this paywall is until we have some more substantive numbers to dig into.

Fortunately, TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld and Reuters’ Felix Salmon found some other relevant data that helps us make a bit more sense of the situation: Schonfeld looked at the Times’ sites’ traffic dive and concluded that its strategy might be working in the short run but not long-term, and Salmon pointed to another report that contradicts The Times’ apparent theory that print circulation is dropping because people are reading the paper online. “The fact is that insofar as printed newspapers compete with the web, they compete with everything on the web, not just their own sites,” Salmon said. “No general-interest publication can prevent its print circulation from declining simply by walling itself off from the web.” The New York Observer’s Ben Popper saw the numbers as a potential readers-vs.-revenue paradox, and The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh took a stab at what that revenue what be.

Other critics were even more harsh: Lab contributor Ken Doctor said The Times’ numbers “don’t seem to provide a path to a sustainable business future for the papers, as readers go digital,” and GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram argued that it’s time to officially deem the plans a bust. Former Guardian editor Emily Bell had the most insightful take on the situation, explaining that it indicates that The Times has become a mere pawn in Murdoch’s larger media-empire chess game, which means that “the influence game for The Times is up.” Once one of the world’s leading newspapers, “internationally it has no voice, or none to speak of, post the paywall,” Bell wrote.

Innovation on election night: The midterm elections made Tuesday easily the biggest day of the year in U.S. politics, but it was also an important day for news innovation as well. News organizations were trying out all kinds of flashy new web-related techniques and gizmos, all ably chronicled by Lost Remote’s Cory Bergman and by Matt Diaz here at the Lab. The online efforts were led by The New York Times’ streaming web video coverage and Twitter visualization, The Washington Post’s sponsored Twitter topic, and CNN’s web of holograms and magic walls.

Not all of those ambitious new-media efforts hit the mark: The Lab’s Megan Garber criticized The Times’ and Wall Street Journal’s webcasts for simply adopting many of cable news’ norms on the web rather than trying something web-native, saying they “had the feeling of trying to be cable news without actually, you know, being cable news.” And Poynter’s Regina McCombs had a tepid review of news organizations’ election-day iPad apps, giving them an A for effort and probably something around C+ for execution. “By the end of the night I was tired of how much work it was on mobile, and I went old school,” she wrote.

Of course, some things about the press’s election coverage never change: Most election-night TV coverage hasn’t been terribly helpful in the past, and this year it was marked by uneven analysis masked by excess. And leading up to the elections, the media again lavished the lion’s share of its attention on a fringe candidate with little chance to win but plenty of interesting sound bites. Election coverage didn’t come without a minor controversy, either, as ABC News invited and then uninvited budding conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart to participate in its coverage. NYU professor Jay Rosen issued a warning to the mainstream press about welcoming in those who are openly hostile toward it.

Ideas, conversations and ‘evil’ at ONA10: Quite a few folks in the news and tech worlds were headed to Washington last weekend — not for the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally, but for the Online News Association’s annual conference. (OK, probably for the rally, too.) As usual, the conference featured plenty of nifty speakers and panels, all of which were captured on video and helpfully gathered in one place by Jeff Sonderman. Other sites also created visualizations of the tweets around ONA 2010 and the association’s members.

We got several varied but useful summaries of the conference, starting with the Lab’s Justin Ellis, who recreated its sessions, one by one, through tweets. Craig Silverman of PBS MediaShift was just about as thorough with a roundup of both days’ events, focusing largely on the conference’s three keynotes covering TBD, NPR, AOL, and WikiLeaks. Poynter’s Mallary Jean Tenore listed five key themes from the conference, including the emergence of investigative journalism online and the decline of the “Is this journalism?” debate. The Online Journalism Review’s Pekka Pekkala had a review of themes, too, and NPR’s Patrick Cooper had some more personal thoughts on the conference, noting the youth and energy of its attendees.

The individual session that drew the most attention was a conversation with NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong (liveblogged by Tenore), in which USC j-prof Robert Hernandez asked Armstrong of AOL’s controversial large-scale hyperlocal news initiative, “Is Patch evil?” Armstrong responded by defending AOL’s treatment of Patch editors and pointing out its connections with local bloggers in Patch blogs’ areas. In a blog post, Hernandez explained his question and gave his thoughts on Armstrong’s answer, concluding, “Under the umbrella of ‘we care about the community,’ this is a business venture. That’s not evil, that’s capitalism.” Two other sessions worth reading a bit about: Webbmedia’s Amy Webb on digital storytelling and several others with advice for would-be journalism entrepreneurs.

Twitter adds ads to the stream: Twitter took another step in its integration of advertising into its platform this week with the introduction of Promoted Tweets in users’ tweet streams. The tweets will initially be tested only with users of the Twitter application HootSuite, with Twitter selling the ads and HootSuite getting a cut of the revenue, according to Advertising Age. The Next Web chatted with HootSuite’s Dave Olson about how it will work, and said that Promoted Tweets have successful and relatively inoffensive so far: “Focusing on a good user interaction, instead of simply on the money, Twitter has kept its users and advertisers happy.”

ReadWriteWeb’s Mike Melanson talked to a few web experts on the potential for user backlash, and they seemed to agree that while Twitter will likely get some initially angry responses, it may end up keeping a satisfied user base if it reacts well to that initial response. As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land explained, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets were also added to Google search results, lending some credence to Mathew Ingram’s assertion at GigaOM that Twitter is in the process of growing up from an awkward teenager into a mature adult right now.

Reading roundup: A few good things to read before I send you on your way:

— Two relatively lengthy first-person pieces by journalists who did stints with the content farm Demand Media were published yesterday: A more colorful one by Jessanne Collins at The Awl and a more contextualized one by Nicholas Spangler at The Columbia Journalism Review. Both are worth your time.

— Your iPad update for this week: AdWeek looked at why most media companies’ iPad apps have been disappointing, and New York and Newsweek magazines released their iPad apps — Newsweek’s with a subscription option.

— The Columbia Journalism Review ran a short but sharp editorial urging news organizations to work toward earning authority based on factual reporting, rather than cowering in ideological niches, and Free Press’ Josh Stearns connected that idea to the concept of “talking to strangers.”

— Finally, three miscellaneous pieces to take a look at: Investigative journalism veteran Charles Lewis’ map of the new public-service journalism ecosystem, Jason Fry’s list of five places sports departments (and any news department, really) can innovate, and Steve Coll’s open letter to the FCC on digital media policy.

ONA10 Rewind: Recapping Saturday sessions through the lens of Twitter

For the second year in a row we’re running through the highlights of this year’s Online News Association Conference thanks to the power of Twitter (and those handy hashtags.) Running through Saturday’s sessions, it was a day featuring discussion on building better apps, how to elicit the best content from readers, the top tech trends of the year, and some rally taking place on the Mall. And, of course, WikiLeaks and The Onion. Only at ONA.

Having sifted through more than a thousand ONA tweets, we’re happy to announce our MVTs — Most Valuable Tweeters. This esteemed honor goes to the ONA attendees whose livetweeting was sufficiently voluminous and excellent to merit special recognition. They are: @KimFox (Kim Fox), @ethanklapper (Ethan Klapper), @tgdavidson (Tom Davidson), and @emraguso (Emilie Raguso). We hope their fingers are resting comfortably.

For more remember to check out the Saturday ONA10 schedule as its updated with presentations. And remember to check out Friday’s sessions, which we posted yesterday.

9 a.m.

A Wikileaks Download (#ONA10 #wikileaks)

Brooke Gladstone, On the Media
Gavin MacFadyen, Centre for Investigative Journalism
Jim Michaels, USA TODAY
Clothilde Le Coz, Reporters Without Boarders

“The boundaries of digital journalism were Topic A on July 25, when a little-known Wikileaks released a 92,000-page dump of classified documents relating to the U.S. involvement of the war in Afghanistan. WNYC’s Brooke Gladstone leads the panel in examining what this could mean for journalism and the role of the Internet in news and information.”

kcorrick: Jim Michaels, military cover USA today, is making comparisons with the Pentagon Papers bit.ly/cQvBaG 1SHRMScribe: 122,000 registered deaths of civilians; 15,000 gruesome deaths — there was a massive coverup of info by govt, docu show

yurivictor: Wikileaks did a huge service for human rights

kcorrick: ‘The first record of what happened, to enable us to memorialise what has gone on… a huge human rights service’ MacFadyen

1SHRMScribe: Knowing this info helps ppl memorialize these deaths-somehing that wud hv been unknown w/0

yurivictor: USA reaction to Wikileaks shows journalism is at risk

nytjim: MacFadyen made effective argument for release of #wikileaks docs, saying the information otherwise would never be known

yurivictor: The winners of war will no longer write history

Zhengyou: Clear divide between U.S. and overseas journalists on issue #wikileaks #ona10, to “challenge with the victors own documents.”

stacyannj: This is probably the first time the definitive history will be challenged with the victor’s own documents.

meg_e_martin: Signif now: We don’t get the smoking gun; #journos get data dumps/pkgs of docs that need databasing.

Zhengyou: #wikileaks divide breaks on the issue of dumping and editorial propriety

stacyannj: Gladstone: Data dumping is a technique the government will actually use to obscure information.

nytjim: MacFayden argues lapses in redaction of 1st #wikileaks dump were driven by time demands & need to affect course of war.

yurivictor: USA vs the world on opinion of Wikileaks

KTKING: Le Coz: “The future of journalism will be done by non journalists. That’s what’s worrying the journalists about #wikileaks.”

kcorrick: Q: Is everyone who dumps documents a journalist, is everyone now a journalist? is everyone who releases info a journo?

kcorrick: You are reporter dependent on the value of the information you have not if you have a press card, says le Coz

kcorrick: Q from floor: Should it make an ethical difference whether the information is leaked or hacked?

hmKuldell: #wikileaks panel takeaway: states can have secrets but can’t hide embarrssing info thru overclassifying

10:15 a.m.

Creating Killer Apps with Public Data (#ONA10 #killerapps)

Bill Allison, Sunlight Foundation
Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Foundation

“As the government unloads more data — on everything from the stimulus, taxes and spending to the safety of child car seats — developers, designers and journalists have developed show-stopping ways to make the numbers more accessible. See demos, hear cases studies, and learn the secrets of scraping data.”

kimfox: Pollock: Everyone pays taxes, everyone uses public service, curious to follow the dollars

wdmmg: The website for the project @rufuspollock is talking about is Where Does My Money Go bit.ly/9ZQIKl

kimfox: Pollock: I got started with the Q: Where does my $ go when I pay taxes?

meg_e_martin: One reason to do it: b/c just about everyone pays taxes, just about everyone uses public services. bit.ly/dCYt9B

meg_e_martin: Check it out: www.wheredoesmymoneygo.org/, created by #UK’s Open Knowledge Foundation. Slick

davidherzog: Data apps take lots of background work, research. Not easy tracking govt spending w/#killerapps

dskok: Po: Spent 8 months accessing FOI data and cleaning it up for use

wdmmg: Another challenge is getting the databases and datasets. We spend lots of time working on FOI requests says @rufuspollock

kcorrick: We’ve built our own API, it enables others to build their own apps, do their own research on the data says @rufuspollock

stacyannj: One of the exciting things to me is allowing the community to start editing the data, says @rufuspollock

sacmcdonald: not just about gathering data, but enriching and improving it, says @rufuspollock.

dskok: To do; Use eye candy, improve source data, community: commenting/annotation: data about the Data, what’s hot?

emraguso: sunlight is trying to make the data much more accessible to the public — all about the visuals, folks @bill_allison

dskok: Politiwidgets: Take political influence data, process, reformat, make it avail, easy to circulate.

emraguso: politiwidgets lets you search your address and find all kind of info on politicians @bill_allison

davidherzog: visualization of #opendata makes it more accessible and interesting for the public.

dskok: Data viz requires the same tenets of storytelling: contextual and relevant information.

emraguso: politiwidgets is easy to embed, customize for blogs. very cool, easy, informative. wish #patch had embed @bill_allison

emraguso: can find fundraisers and recovery money recipients with sunshine foundation apps @bill_allison

meg_e_martin: Huge opportunity in data.gov directive: @sunfoundation working on public-facing national #data #apps

meg_e_martin: One of their projects: Took raw data from data.medicare.gov & created hospital compare #iphone #app

emraguso: ResDAC sounds like the holy grail of medical data @bill_allison

emraguso: But ResDAC is prohibitively expensive and you need a flowchart to see how to get your info request met @bill_allison

DanaChinn: Lots of data out there but the really good data is hard to get & clean up so it’s usable, accessible

stacyannj: Sunshine Foundation has talked to www.resdac.org/ about national data and received quote in millions of dollars.

kcorrick: Q: I hoped when I came to this session you’d show us how easy this was. *audience laughs*,

emraguso: sunshine foundation has a policy shop that works with govt and tries to get them to keep better records @bill_allison

DanaChinn: Getting data is getting easier but as you push the envelope you want more data-Rufus Pollock

emraguso: problem is legacy systems set up before anyone thought of making data public. getting it fixed takes time @bill_allison

stacyannj: Useful tools for data analysis & viz: Moving away from Flash to javascript. Happening now, says @rufuspollock

wdmmg: Protovis is a really good tool if you want to start doing visualisations bit.ly/a6ZaaF , says @rufuspollock

emraguso: good first project: look at your local spending, the local budget. zoning decisions are really big @rufuspollack

meg_e_martin: Tip: Use #javascript over #flash with #data viz; add #Protovis (vis.stanford.edu/protovis/) to your toolbox #code

emraguso: sunlight believes the govt shld make the data available. then journalists can decide what public needs @bill_allison

Turning Bits into Bucks (#ONA10 #bitsbucks)

Mark Briggs, Serra Media, Ford Fellow for Entrepreneurial Journalism at Poynter
Michele McLellan, Knight Digital Media Center, Reynolds Journalism Institute
Mike Orren, Pegasus News
Rafat Ali, Founder, PaidContent

“Learn how journalists have found success as entrepreneurs, from startup software companies to local bloggers, using innovation to power new business models for news.”

lcirivello: “If you are a journalist and want to be an entrepreneur — you need a serious attitude adjustment” @michelemclellan

stevebuttry: Paid circulation is the most ridiculous metric to determine what you’ll charge for ads, @mikeorren of @pegasusnews tells #bitsbucks

andrewjpolk: In the #BitsBucks session. For journalism start-ups, @michelemclellan rightly says content cannot be the only focus. Gotta get paid

tgdavidson: Mike Pegasus gets 80 pct from display; e-commerce/groupon play is 10 pct but growing fast

susanmernit: #bitsbucks #ona10: @mikeorren describing how he started @pegasusnews 5 years ago….in Dallas…wanted better news, basically

perfectmarket: “.@paidContent we targeted influential audience; thru ads, classifieds, conferences — 1/2 of rev = conferences.” @rafatali

tgdavidson: Rafat: started PdContent bec. got out of school just as 1st tech bubble burst. Created site as a sort of a digital resume

kimfox: How do we unlock content and marry with portable platform? How do we add the social layer? These are some interesting Qs

brianjameskirk: 3 entrep models: micro neighb cov (ads), capacity-building comm sites (grants), regn sites (multiple)

tgdavidson: Michelle: The bigger the org, the more req for multistream revenues — memberships/donations, ad nets, etc.

stevebuttry: .@pegasusnews identifies user interests for content hubs & deliver targeted ads, @mikeorren says.

tmcenroe: takeaway so far — not shocking, but ad-dependent models are not a great way to build a news property these days.

tgdavidson: Mark — partner with big media? Mike: depends. As a rule, tho, same size or smlr partners better. Big prtnr problematic

andrewjpolk: Local blog collectives team up with online subscription newspaper to streamline revenue streams? A mouthful, but it works

stevebuttry: “Training local businesses to use digital social media” is another revenue model, says @michelemclellan

kimfox: How is consumption changing/How do media companies adapt? some of most interesting areas at moment

tgdavidson: Rafat on his nxt step: bearish on ability to do another news startup Form factor is more intg to him (port. books)

andrewjpolk: Seems like as much time and innovation needs to go into revenue systems as the content itself for a startup to work

tgdavidson: What are int’d models for nonprofits? Michelle: 120 of 1500 she studied were “promising” — two legged stools

kimfox: One weakness of journos (acc to panel): Inability to talk about/ask for money

tgdavidson: Michelle: j’ists work hard, focus, hit deadlines, all gd traits. But you have to apply those skills beyond content

kimfox: Why journos mk good start-up ppl: Critical thinking skills, deadline-driven, focus, hustle and hard workers

kimfox: Startups: Doesn’t matetr how much goodwill you have, if ad companies don’t know who you are

andrewjpolk: @MikeOrren If no-one on your team has sold an add, go find someone who has. You’re going to have to sell.

kimfox: Journalists have the ability to work with passion for peanuts — makes them great startup ppl

stevebuttry: In question from floor, @janjlab says one of the toughest things for journopreneur to learn is to “make the big ask.”

tgdavidson: @jans good content alone doesn’t cut it — need engagement (and multiple skills)

craiglstone: Jan Schaffer from @JLab ruffling some feathers in #bitsbucks panel. Says most journalists are not equipped to be entrepreneurs.

tgdavidson: Rafat: if you can’t make the ask, you don’t have a biz. But you don’t have to answer EVERY question first

tgdavidson: Mike; telld @jans he thinks they agree more than disagree. Prob isn’t lack of journalism; prob is biz model

tmcenroe: @mikeorren sez: If you have an ad model, your readers are not your customers. Your advertisers are.

tgdavidson: Mike: if your goal is to only do j’ism, you’re a charity not a biz. Lack of innov in rev models

SuziSteffen: .@susanmernit says learn how to be a salesperson. “I don’t want to hire salespeople until I know how to do their job.”

stevebuttry: Big mistake: Underestimated how long & hard it was to build a brand in ad community, @mikeorren says

stevebuttry: We went out w/ complex ad model. Bells & whistles got meetings, but customer wanted simple run-of-site, @mikeorren says.

andrewjpolk: @MikeOrren — It’s a long hard road to develop a brand w/ advertising community. Ad decisions are not always rational

tgdavidson: Rafat: mistakes? Where do I start? Name; no comments (due to spam); accounting!

kimfox: Rafat: Stay organized — as a journo keep your financial house in order

tgdavidson: Mike: huge mistake in time spent pitching VCs on a nat’l biz rather than bldg his business

stevebuttry: .@pegasusnews wasted too much time planning big plan, @mikeorren says. Build something cheap and fast and get moving

kimfox: Journos: Do the thing that is your thing. Let open source community worry about your technology

farano: @rafatali the problem w/ news entrepreneurs is that they talk all the time about themselves

craiglstone: @rafatali says “Keep your head down and work. Don’t worry about 50 business models in the industry”

cnewvine: It’s easy to find people to write for free. It’s harder to find people who will sell ads for free.

tgdavidson: @markbriggs Two Ford prize winners: Localocracy (commenting) and Rocky Mtn Inv News Netwk

tgdavidson: Parting advice: Michelle I figure out what you don’t know. Mike: know whose problem ur slvg

digitalamysw: Briggs: power combo to have in creating startup: creativity, optimism, risk and lots of hard work

Rewiring the Ivory Tower (#ONA10 #academia)

David Johnson, American University
Emily Bell, Columbia University
Rich Gordon, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
Mindy McAdams, University of Florida

“Revamping journalism curriculum is a tricky tightrope walk, balancing digital skills, academics and computer science. How do accrediting standards and the arms race for shorter degrees set the boundaries for the new journalism degree? Panelists share what is being lost and what is being gained.”

darthcheeta: @emilybell: the digital business becomes a legacy business if you don’t keep pushing it

lsnifka: #ona10 mindy mcadams: need to figure out a way to get past the remedial. This woman is my hero.

yurivictor: Does your journalism school teach javascript? Not a lot of hands going up.

j_nb: As multimedia skills become standard for journalists, interactive journalism needs to move forward, says @darthcheeta how?

jackiesauter: @emilybell ‘It’s time for academia to really lead the (journalism) industry’ on a large scale cressman: How competent are our digital native students? @macloo suggests asking them how many have uploaded a video

j_nb: It’s hard for newsrooms to have an alchemy between technical creative thinking and journalism, says Emily bell

cressman: Problem of multimedia capstone, says @macloo, is bdcst or print students don’t know programming & CS students lack journo

amandabee: #ona10 #academia we do students a real disservice by referring to them as digital natives. They’ve consumed, not produced

fishnette: Fundamental skills in multimedia & how the web works are often missing Mindy McAdams says

mckennaewen: Coming from #academia: Profs need to wow students & show them what’s possible, then give them the basic tools to get in the door

amandabee: Okay, so who is teaching news apps? CAR 201, no?

j_nb: Are we just training citizen journos w/ a lot of student debt if we don’t talk abt entrepreneurialism, asks @darthcheeta

sgoldenberg: #ona10 #academia: Why innovation is coming from Computer Science and not from us? Great panel! @macloo @richgor, @darthcheeta, @emilybell

mckennaewen: At #academia, @richgor suggests separating the j-school curriculum into 3 subjects: storytelling, reporting & producing / publishing

sgoldenberg: #ona10 #academia @darthcheeta we should not prepare “citizen journalists with a big loan debt”

sgoldenberg: #ona10 #academia Teaching Computational/Multimedia Skills is different from Computation/Digital Media/Theoretical/Critical thinking

cressman: It would be useful to #crowdsource a list of tech/programming skills j-school students need.

btrpkc: How do we train young journos to be publishers? Technologists? I want those people working for me at @NPR.

cressman: Are partnerships creating innovation centers, farm teams, or sweatshops, @darthcheeta asks.

momiperalta: Rich Gordon: /Emily Bell theres a risk in academic- media partnerships because students are in learning period

yurivictor: Holding a microphone in front of a camera isn’t a skill

cressman: If students need to be good at one thing in order to get a job, says @macloo, it should not be TV news or newspaper.

kellyfincham: #ONA10 #academia @macloo People in the sweet spot of design and coding know html, css and javascript which most j-profs are not teaching

yurivictor: Journalism tech cheat sheet bit.ly/2CgrEg

cressman: Today’s j-students will continue to learn. @darthcheeta offered this cartoon to illustrate the point. xkcd.com/627/

drsyb: #ona10 #academia nothing in digital is ever done. Past taught as polished and perfect. Change is the way it is. Emily Bell

jo_in_la: not hearing: how to engage w/a community. It’s not only about story& tech — it’s also relationships.

amandabee: And news judgment. We still need that

11:30 a.m.

Android, iPad and Beyond (#ONA10 #mobile)

Jamie Pallot, Conde Nast Digital
Jim Spencer, Newsy
Liesel Kipp, Thomson Reuters
John-Henry Barac, Barac Consulting

“The web is increasingly moving from the desktop to the palm of your hand. Learn the best practices for creating content for mobile and touch devices.”

publicinsight: Always suspected this, #mobile session confirms: users love icons…and they really love to touch icons. Put icons in your apps.

publicinsight: Show of hands from Blackberry users elicits groans and giggles. It’s the AOL e-mail address of #mobile devices.

girljournalist: When it comes to #mobile apps, “It’s about truly interacting with the device” says @newsydotcom’s Jim Spencer

kev097: Newsy app was built by 22 and 23 year olds who innately understand all the touch gestures.

digitalamysw: Barac: There are fundamental differences in design for the mobile vs. web — very important point

TylerMachado: Don’t make apps (even iPad ones) look like newspapers. AMEN.

digitalamysw: Barac: We should not be afraid — try new UI and experiment

agahran: Guardian #mobile developer advocates apps targeting content verticals, like sports or environment

publicinsight: Stop trying to provide ALL your content on your #mobile apps. Make apps that will fulfill a key need of your user where they ar

girljournalist: Build your own or go w/ vendor? You can learn more by doing it yourself & be better prepared for what comes next panel says.

ckanal: #Mobile = “personal media devices,” says @jamesjspencer. Customization important. Touch offers user feeling of control

girljournalist: Design mobile content w/ mobile audience in mind. It’s not a website. It’s diff. More intimate, singular focus.

girljournalist: Mobile apps need singular focus. Do one specific thing, do it well, make it specific to the device says Conde Nast’s Pallot

publicinsight: Seems like #mobile news app creators should be lobbying HEAVILY for public transportation so people have time to use their stuff.

publicinsight: Seems like #mobile news app creators should be lobbying HEAVILY for public transportation so people have time to use their stuff.

ckanal: Use tags creatively to re-organize your content in many ways on #mobile says @johnhenry from @guardian.

girljournalist: Reviews, ratings, social sharing from app, Apple featured app — this is how you will get the word out about your #mobile app.

publicinsight: Seems obvious, but many orgs blow this. @johnhenry: Promote your #mobile apps on your main Web site. Your target audience is there.

ckanal: “Do something Apple really likes” w/ UI, something no one else has done, says @jpallot1 of Conde Nast

girljournalist: Is ASO (App Search Optimization) coming next? Right now, it’s about marketing, branding. See previous tweet

DanaChinn: Barac: mobile metrics showed there might be place for app for ppl who spend a lot of time w/mobile at home

ElenaTheRican: 20% of iPad use is in bed. #mobile #ONA10 No wonder Americans are so tense. #putdownthemobiledeviceanddowhatnatureintended

ckanal: Level of interaction on #mobile “fantastically important” says @johnhenry. Think social when developing your apps

agahran: Well, #ONA10 #mobile session is concluding, and they succeeded in avoiding any discussion of feature phones & mobile web. #Doh!

tmcenroe: Surprise at iPhone/iPad use in bed? Why? It’s instant on, not hot, portable. Multimedia experience of reading before bed

jrstahl: @agahran Ignoring feature phones a widespread problem…is so different than smartphones and really needs its own discussion

Seven Deadly Sins of Data Visualization (#ONA10 #dataviz)

Hannah Fairfield, The Washington Post
Juan Thomassie, USA TODAY
Geoff McGhee, Stanford University

“Face it: if your data display doesn’t look good it might as well not exist. Harness data visualization by being a smart producer and consumer of infographics.”

ethanklapper: Fairfield using a case study about foreclosures from when she was at the NYT. 3D map. Pretty neat

kcorrick: Aha: sin no. 1: when trying to show everything you lose the sense of story

emilywithrow: Yes, my favorite question: Hannah Fairfield: “Just because we can, should we?” Sometimes more data = loss of narrative.

denisereagan: We need to work harder to tell stories with interactives, not just set people loose to play.

ethanklapper: Now @hfairfield is showing one of my favorite Web visualizations: the Netflix maps: nyti.ms/6cWUY

annatauzin: A showcase of #dataviz projects from @hfairfield, right now WaPo’s A Source of Crime Guns wapo.st/cD3Nef

annatauzin: Woohoo! Now @jthomassie1 from USA Today. He says #dataviz is a passion for him, especially how it relates to storytelling

ethanklapper: Three parts to data visualization, JT says: Data, Design, Development

hbillings: Data + Design + Development = data viz. (Wow, Venn diagrams are popular at this conference!)

ethanklapper: Rare to find all of these skills in one persion, JT says, so you need to collaborate.

ethanklapper: This guy visualized his own presentation. He took the venn diagram and made a tag cloud out of it!

ethanklapper: Another really neat news visualization site: newsmap.jp/

jrstahl: Layers of information accessible through interactivity. Incredible how powerful well-organized data is for storytelling

ethanklapper: As an #avgeek, I just got excited. Thomassie now showing a graphic of holiday travel cutbacks: klapp.me/auy5EK

richgor: Another fab #dataviz www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2010-mens-coaches-poll-database.htm #ona10 Alas, Flash=iPadfail ·

annatauzin: Journalism in the Age of Data from Stanford’s Geoff McGhee. #dataviz #ona10 datajournalism.stanford.edu/

ethanklapper: Really unfortunate that there are many, many empty chairs at #dataviz. Folks are missing out on an awesome session.

ethanklapper: Look! An academic paper from Stanford about narrative vis! vis.stanford.edu/papers/narrative

annatauzin: Inspiration found in comic books, movies, video games says Geoff McGhee.

annatauzin: Ethos of Visualization: Transparency, Conversation, Exploration

annatauzin: Transparency: Allow the audience to download the data themselves or see where you got it

ethanklapper: This cool thing got a passing mention: “Visualizing the Rural West.” klapp.me/boiyjP McGhee says it needs more work.

annatauzin: Think about partnering with a university or other experts outside of your newsroom if you don’t have an whiz on staff.

ethanklapper: USAToday.com uses Omniture to track metrics. Saw it in use at @NPR on Thursday, too

MollyGrayOSU: You need to build a #dataviz engine to create good things often and get a cost-benefit

Ten Tech Trends in ‘10 (#ONA10 #techtrends)

Amy Webb, Webbmedia Group

“Think you finally have a handle on the latest technological developments? Think again. Amy Webb is back again to highlight the latest tech trends for the dawn of a new decade.”

stacyannj: Jon Stewart does not have the goodies I’m going to be giving you today, says Amy Webb. #techtrends #rally4sanity #ONA10

stacyannj: Trend #1: Mobile Scanning, ie: QR codes.

greglinch: .@webbmedia highlighting @SunSentinel use of QR codes in the newspaper, an effort led by @dannysanchez

Twheat: @webbmedia extolling the virtues of QR codes, Valentines Day games, and the BK Whopper Bar at #ONA10

mckennaewen: At #techtrends, @webbmedia suggests using QR codes within print stories to drive traffic to multimedia projects

KevinLoker: Contextual link for @webbmedia’s talk! Just spoke with her on the status of her #techtrends from ‘09 bit.ly/93DVcc

emraguso: New optical recognition … can put phone over magazine ad to make the ad come to life… oohs and aaaahs

stacyannj: Geofence app for iPhone: Keep track of your kids. Messages and alerts when they’re somewhere they shouldn’t be.

emraguso: Geofences can help curb your cravings, send a message: “Hey fatty, don’t go to the Pink Berry”

stacyannj: Trend 2: Geofencing! Foursquare not ideal b/c have to manually check in. Don’t have to really be somewhere to che

meghannCIR: Another fantastic idea: hyperlink in print so phones can scan.

stacyannj: TabbedOut: Check into a bar with your credit card. Easy to get drinks, tip bartender, pay tab, avoid boozey over tipping

emraguso: Trend #3: Predictive Analysis kimfox: iSwig: Check-in cocktail drinkers (HJI-LARIOUS: tcrn.ch/9gQWJ5)

ladansusan: “people don’t just want the merit badge anymore-they want something associated with it” @webmedia

drsyb: #ona10 @webbmedia #techtrends new Checkin services Plerts, iSwig, tabbedout, fanvibe. I smell API mashups everywhere.

Twheat: Hyperlocal Hype Cycle — consumer interest yet to match media’s excitement.

drsyb: #ona10 #techtrends @webbmedia data you share on FB fuels predictive analysis is making others money. What are YOU going to DO?

Twheat: #techtrends #ona10 Stealth social net readers like Kuplia www.kuplia.com/ makes smart predictions from info users willingly share

emraguso: trend #4: claim is that hyperlocal hype cycle is waning

mckennaewen: Here are some of the cool location-based apps from @webbmedia’s #techtrends presentation: GeoFences, iSwig, Burc, TabbedOut, Plerts

emraguso: for news organizations: lots of free tools where you can monitor predictive analysis

kimfox: Webb: People are freely/unwittingly giving away data. Reporters should be paying attention to this for stories/biz dev

emraguso: trend #5 — dynamic curation (e.g. paper.li, flipboard) meghannCIR: Don’t be hyper-local, be hyper-personal

stacyannj: Hyper personal content needs to be real-time. Maps + citizen journ not enough.

nytjim: More Webb: “Local is where I am right now, not where I live.”

fcoel: The 5 hyper-personal rules #ona10 #techtrends twitpic.com/329c73 twitpic.com/329c79

Twheat: @webbmedia — “Flipboard is the future of news, as far as I’m concerned.” www.flipboard.com/

emraguso: another crop of tools, wavii — will use natural language processing, will personal based on how you search

nytjim: More Webb: Big shoutouts for Flipboard, Pulse and Storify.

KevinLoker: A bit better graphic of “The Hyperlocal Hype Cycle.” #ona10 #techtrends plixi.com/p/53843283

kimfox: Webb: All the news orgs are spending millions on apps. All Flipboard is, is an algorithm. News orgs cld DO THIS

drsyb: #ona10 @webbmedia #techtrends #6 search is getting personal. Greplin search your cloud self gmail, linkedin, FB etc

emraguso: greplin looks through everything you have stored in the cloud

mckennaewen: At #techtrends, @webbmedia is showing off www.qwiki.com/ as a multimedia presentation tool. Love it.

ladansusan: for someone who forgets my hundreds of gchat conversations, this is perfect @webmedia #techtrends https://www.greplin.com/

emraguso: “big big things are happening around the personal search”

stacyannj: Spokeo: Paid service. Looks thru social networks, can find all your usernames with e-mail address used to registe

carrieCIR: Flipboard. Paper.li. Storify. Wavii. Qwiki. Dynamic, real-time, RSS-generated content aggregator displays.

emraguso: trend #7: augmented reality (so please groan)

kimfox: Webb: Re/ Personal search: golden age to be reporter. If you say it sucks to be reporter, you dnt know what you’re doing

emraguso: trend #8: tablets (2011 is the year of the tablet), more iPods at #ONA10 than at the #apple store

kimfox: Key Takeaway: Are you geotagging your stories? Aug Reality/Diminshed Reality for reporting and publishing

cressman: OMG: Image recognition and social networks fueling diminished reality.

emraguso: diminished reality allows you to smudge something out of a live event in real time, very hard to detect

nytjim: Webb looks at tablet future: So many models coming out with no definite standard.

yurivictor: Let’s all agree on a tablet to develop for and push the market in one direction (might be illegal).

petersmeg: “@mashable should be your daily vitamin” -@webbmedia

ladansusan: newsrooms: know what tools your audience uses to figure out which to invest in

cressman: All these different tablets and mobiles coming means APIs and algorithms make sense

stacyannj: Trend #9: Interactive TV, a la Google TV or WebTV from 10 yrs. ago. Webb’s bribing us w/Starbucks coffee

meghannCIR: Love info @webbmedia is giving us, but challenge is keeping news informative, factual while using tools

robbmontgomery: My question for Webb. Should publishers turn off their RSS feeds when they go behind paywall or meter paid content?

kimfox: Webb final trend: Get ready for tags in the real world (RFID: You scan over a chip, and something happens

Webb: CNN could benefit from My Generation app — which displays content in sync with TV programming

emraguso: Contra Costa County is tagging kids with RFID @eastbaypatch

KevinLoker: Fun part about #ona10 #techtrends session? Faces. Some people seem to have never heard of the coolest ones! Hope it inspires reading

emraguso: Like it or not, next iteration of mobile phones will have sensor technology

emraguso: Amy Webb is wearing a prototype sensor that lets you sync your body to your phone #BodyMedia

drsyb: #ona10 @webbmedia #techtrends Body Media measures your body’s energy and provides data syncs with phones. Consumers love metrics

12:45 p.m.

You Invent It, They Fund It 2010: Lunch with Knight News Challenge Winners (#ONA10 #knclunch)

Jose Zamora, Knight Foundation
Retha Hill, New Media Innovation Lab
Amanda Hickman, DocumentCloud
Eric Gundersen, Development Seed
Aaron Presnall, Jefferson Institute

“Interested in finding out how to apply for this year’s $5 million Knight News Challenge? Join Knight Foundation’s Jose Zamora and past winners as they demonstrate the innovations designed to bring news and information to communities in new ways.”

jczamora: Welcome to #knclunch! #newschallenge winners: @rethahill @amandabee @ericg @Jeffersoninst Projects: bit.ly/K094p

ElenaTheRican: What Knight News Challenge seeks in grant applications: focus on mobile, business models, authenticity, or community

jczamora: #newschallenge application tip: Follow our blog to learn more about the contest and for more tips & advice.

drsyb: #ona10 @rethahill #knclunch Retha talking about SeedSpeak mobile, geo location app to improve community. Phoenix #5 city in US and growing

digitalamysw: When applying for Knight News Challenge, review the past projects funded — Hill

ElenaTheRican: Hearing about SeedSpeak, a mobile app to plant suggestion “seeds” in Phoenix where you get an idea or see an unmet need

drsyb: #ona10 @rethahill #knclunch To secure funding: research, diagrammed how app would work on phone, on desktop, budget, and business plan

digitalamysw: Hill: Use the open-entry process when applying — to receive key feedback and comments for your project

ElenaTheRican: Policy discourse is driven by data, says Aaron Presnall.

ElenaTheRican: In the “republic of ideas,” sharing another’s inspiration doesn’t cost anything

ElenaTheRican: What do you really want to do, that no one else could finance 1-time only? THAT’s what Knight is looking for.

digitalamysw: More about TileMill: bit.ly/djJAH0

digitalamysw: Gundersen: Have your code complete and your project launched — can help as you apply

dorsey: Would’ve been really useful to hear from KNC judges who selected the winners — and what elevates an applicant

sacmcdonald: innovation, not invention, is key for Knight News Challenge apps, says @jczamora

2 p.m.

News Apps: Showcase and Strategy (#ONA10 #newsapps)

Katharine Jarmul, USA TODAY
Matt Waite, St. Petersburg Times
Richard Pope, ScraperWiki.com
Aine McGuire, ScraperWiki.com

“In this rapid-fire session, four speakers show the journalistic and technical highlights from some recent news apps, providing insights into the lessons they’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have to.”

ethanklapper: Getting a nice demo of scraperwiki.org

btrpkc: Coder + British + visuals = Most succinct #ona10 presentation yet

ethanklapper: We’re hearing from the awesome @mattwaite of @PolitiFact. Says “You should always strive for simple.”

ethanklapper: .@mattwaite: “Transparency is like sex.” Says it can be awkward.

ReporterAndrew: #newsapps PolitiFact gave left, right hammer with transparency of sources. PolitiFact, not coincidentally, best in biz.

sgoldenberg: #ona10 #newsapps @mattwaite: “we did not approach it as stories but as structured data”

ethanklapper: We as an industry are focusing too much on content problems and not enough on structured data problems. — @mattwaite

ethanklapper: BOOOOOO. Jarmul: “I don’t use a Macintosh.”

ethanklapper: Jarmul: As journalists, we need to start thinking outside the box. Which is why @hatchjt’s team at @USATODAY was assembled.

ethanklapper: Wow, Jarmul says this elaborate site (klapp.me/cGGP2t) is both mobile and iPad enabled.

yurivictor: Bring together different disciplines (journalists, coders, designers) for successful team

patbrannan2131: @mattwaite made a good point that we often learn more from failing than we do when we get it right.

annatauzin: There is no computer jesus. — @mattwaite

ethanklapper: .@mattwaite: “Programming is an act of journalism.” Killer quote of the day. Small applause from otherwise silent

yurivictor: The secret to programming: Don’t quit.

lheron: Quote actually from @memespring, not @ainemcguire: When u hear ppl say “my tech guy”, that’s not an equal relationship

Tips and Tricks for Shooting Video with Your DSLR (#ONA10 #dslr)

Kurt Lancaster, North Arizona University
Travis Fox, Travis Fox Films
Danfung Dennis, Independent filmmaker

“So you have a DSLR camera. Now what? Learn how to view footage from the field, get good sound, get footage into your computer to edit, and find the gear that’s most useful in the field. The panel will include examples of video journalism, as well as a discussion of how to best use your DSLR for video work.”

emraguso: danfung: space between documentary films and feature films. now we can tell stories in a cinematic way. it’s a new language

cressman: Watching the NPR/Frontline piece on the Haitian Tap Tap buses. Beautifully cinematic video shot with Canon

emraguso: unexpected moment: watching a charming video on snail racing. bejeweled snails!! fascinating stuff. great music too

emraguso: yep, now the snails are humping. along to some lovely piano music. anyone not in here is missing out

emraguso: tip: from KEH photo, can buy zeiss lens for $300. better natural feedback from subjects with small camera

emraguso: danfung: shooting observational footage, audio in camera, 80 hrs of footage. must buy some external mic (rec: ME 66 sennheiser)

emraguso: PBS will blow you off if you don’t have the right audio. he had 100 hrs of footage, had to sync every night, said travis fox

mckennaewen: Now we’re getting into the “never ending debate” of #dslr audio issues

emraguso: danfung said DSLR cameras starting to adapt bc people are starting to pic them up just to shoot video (high intimacy factor)

emraguso: a monitor can be real important during an interview so you can maintain eye contact, tho it’s a matter of preference

mckennaewen: #dslr @TravisFox uses a separate audio recorder to shoot his @frontlinepbs documentaries and syncs each night w/ Plural Eyes.

mrkmully: #ona10 @McKennaEwen #dslr Good to know Danfung Dennis’ amazing footage: vimeo.com/6995256 shot with mod’d glidecam

3:15 p.m.

Don’t Call it UGC (#ONA10 #notugc)

Laura Brunow Minder, Pictory
Alexis Madrigal, Longshot Magazine
Sarah Rich, Longshot Magazine
Robin Sloan, Twitter

“Professional-level input from a sea of amateurs? Community editorial requires finesse, hard work and a lot of respect for your submitters. Get expert advice on how to encourage high-quality content from a staff of strangers.”

christopherwink: Constraining prompts for contributions is important, says @robinsloan they need to be crafted

ckanal: Love this quote from @robinsloan: “Crowdsourcing is a craft.”

digitalamysw: Excellent points by Sloan: crowdsourcing and citizen journalism are not new — they have existed for centuries. Yes!

Twheat: Rich + Madrigal discussing lessons from 48Hr magazine. Now @longshotmag

digitalamysw: Innovative: Longshot Magazine produced in 48 hours by hundreds of creatives from around the world bit.ly/9WrNux

Twheat: Sloan asks if community editorial is harder than tradtional? …and it goes largely unanswered.

kimbui: Prompt design and “universal particulars” matter in getting the content you want

lavrusik: Good prompts for community editorial content have “universal particulars” says @robinsloan. Specific but relate-able

chrisboutet: .@LBM’s example of great prompt for user contribution: “The one who got away: Stories of lost love.” Relatable and evocative.

jrstahl: Best #ona10 q so far: “what would our interaction actually be like” — thx for sharing the practical stuff. that’s what we need!

chrisboutet: Is community editorial easier, or harder than “real” content? @LBM: It’s hard, but worth it. Content is always surprisin

Twheat: Madrigal: 48mag got more than 1K fiction submissions in part because they weren’t specific enough in prompt

chrisboutet: Pictory’s @LBM has a Django custom-built CMS (bit.ly/2wzniy), uses Google Docs for all her editing.

kimfox: “Behinsd every breakthrough project these days is a shared Google spreadsheet’

kimfox: @pictory: Did you pay contributors? 1/4 $ to go back to mag prod, 1/4 to all contribs, 1/4 best 3 submitter, 1/4 crazy stunt

terabithia4: Money is not the only motivator — so is exposure, bragging rights.

fcoel: Really appreciating the CoveritLive bit.ly/dpQPZP for #ona10 #notugc when my english listening comprehension fails

kimfox: @longshot A: Ppl undervalue the Community aspect. Mkng those connection between ppl is of value (reason ppl will contribute)

terabithia4: Don’t assume your readers will be the ones who produce the content = “Joe Francis theory” of content submission.

kimbui: Readers are not always your producers. True, but that only applies to niche or national pubs. Community news is diff…?

terabithia4: One issue: How often do you go to the community?

asoglin: More submissions isn’t better. Better submissions is better.

kimfox: (Brilliant) #notugc: Go on a meme safary. Go on the web, see what ppl are already doing. Incorporate into your edito

kimfox: A: @longshot — all marketing occurred on #twitter. All our traffic from there or email list

lheron: RT @suncorpguy: “Meme safaris” sounds so much classier than stealing somebody else’s great ideas ;-)

kimfox: Incentive for submission at Atlantic: Ppl know their contributions are going to be exposed to a very specific community

kimfox: Miner: We ask ppl who don’t get into the print ed of the mag, to post their stuff and send us their links and we’ll promote

tiffinit: Submission prompts by @Pictory & @LongshotMag remind me of @thesunmagazine’s Readers Write section

Twheat: Madrigal references 50 Posts About Cyborgs — a user submitted science fiction project: 50cyborgs.tumblr.com/

kimfox: You have to have a level of comfort when crowdsourcing content, with content not made for you

chrisboutet: Pictory’s @LBM: The best community submissions is often that which wasn’t made specifically for you, but are still relevant.

Twheat: Miner: With any product — the level of design speaks to the overall quality.

zseward: Did @robinsloan just coin “meme safari”? Definition, I think: scoping the web for resonant ideas. Love it.

emilyingram: Final slide in #notugc: finesse, hard work, respect.

sacmcdonald: Don’t call it ugc, call it crowdsourcing or just plain content.

The Onion: Explaining Over 250 Years of News Dominance (#ONA10 #onion)

Marc Lieberman, The Onion
Baratunde Thurston, The Onion

“From the invention of advertorial content to the development of television news, find out how America’s Finest News Source has managed to stay ahead of the competition for the past several hundred years and continues to lead the way with over 4 million social media connections and top ranking mobile applications.”

emraguso: “by a show of applause, who here does NOT know about the onion?”

emraguso: “World’s largest metaphor hits iceberg” #loveit

emraguso: @baratunde said he’s “every black man” in onion photos

annatauzin: Sometimes all you need is a photo and a headline, says @baratunde

ladansusan: “Huffington post launches new print edition featuring articles torn out of other papers” haha, funny

emraguso: hearing about the onion news network, one of its biggest investments, reaches 500,000 US prison cells @baratunde

notblue: The #Onion uses a state-of-the-art wormhole satellite to bring news from the future.

emraguso: “We’re here in part to share our take on the news industry” #shouldbegood @baratunde

lisalisle: #onion: Majority of newspapers now purchased by kidnappers to prove date.

emraguso: Video: Let’s look at the redesign to target the Globe’s “last three readers” @baratunde

ladansusan: @washingtonpost now delivers on pancakes with a side of bacon

emraguso: Now we’re serious: Went online in 1996. And 7m uniques a month @baratunde

emraguso: And they have 2.5m comments a month — they built it themselves #gettingtechnical @baratunde

emraguso: Four servers, one database; CDN-based, only three developers #wow @baratunde

dorsey: Difficult to tell when The Onion’s Baratunde shifts from parody to “actual facts.” #satiresideeffect

jsabbah: Theonion.com = Django based homegrown CMS (online since 1996)

emraguso: “very lean, very efficient” and we reach a large number of people. no one laughing now @baratunde

jsabbah: The Onion has 2.4 million follows on Twitter and 1.3 million Facebook fans.

emraguso: Says Cornell U study, onion has 4th most influential #twitter feed (after @mashable, CNN, @big_picture) @baratunde

emraguso: Real-time coverage: A little bit new for us. When it comes to major events, #twitter is great for us @baratunde

jsabbah: Onion social media uses = content/viral distribution, breaking news, real-time coverage, participation and nation building.

emraguso: apple rejected the app for a game to shoot people in the face, but they built #facebook page #ohwell @baratunde

ladansusan: The Onion is the 4th most influential news account on Twitter

emraguso: 1m downloads on Android and iPhone @baratunde

notblue: “Apps are like children.” You have to feed them, clothe them, take care of them. Makes sense.

emraguso: Next platforms will include: Tablets, @GoogleTV, @Foursquare, @IFC & @ComedyCentral @baratunde

emraguso: Gonna be a launch spotlight partner on @GoogleTV @baratunde

emraguso: Show launching on @IFC in Jan. taking Web video and forcing it into people’s homes (w/ more commercials) @baratunde

annatauzin: Final slide of the #onion presentation. :) #ona10 twitpic.com/32bm7q

heidide: Thurston: “Execute ideas, not people.”

ladansusan: “how many lawyers do you have on staff.”

sacmcdonald: Only one #onion writer knows ap style.

taliawhyte: Marc Lieberman said that when the #onion won the Peabody Award, half the staff didn’t know what the award was

It’s people! Meet Soylent, the crowdsourced copy editor

The phrase “on-demand human computation” has a sinister tinge to it, if only because the idea of sucking the brain power out of a group of people is generally frowned upon. And yet, if you call it “crowdsourcing” everything sounds so much friendlier!

But calling Soylent “crowdsourced copy-editing” isn’t quite fair, since the system performs the type of jobs that are somewhere in the gray area between man and machine. More than a spell check, not quite the nightside copy editor versed in AP style, Soylent really is on-demand computation. It’s what all word processors need, the “Can you take a look at this?” button with a small workforce of people at your disposal.

Soylent is an add-in for Microsoft Word that uses Mechanical Turk as a distributed copy-editing system to perform tasks like proofreading and text-shortening, as well as a type of specialized edits its developers call “The Human Macro.” Currently in closed beta, Soylent was created by compsci students at MIT, Berkeley, and University of Michigan.

For those unfamiliar, Mechanical Turk is an Amazon service that makes it easier for small tasks (and the money to pay for them) to be distributed among a group of humans called Turkers. While savvy writers could already use MTurk to edit their work, the team at Soylent believes their system can produce better and more efficient results than would a writer working alone.

“The idea of Soylent is, what if we could embed human knowledge in the word processor?” MIT’s Michael Bernstein, the lead researcher on Soylent, told me.

That sounds technical, but as Bernstein explains, we all call on friends for help when writing. Research paper, essay, email, story, or blog post — most people rely on a second pair of eyeballs for help at least some of the time. And one thing Mechanical Turk has to offer is a lot of eyeballs.

Soylent’s three current features are called Shortn, Crowdproof, and the Human Macro:

Shortn: Ever write 1,700 words and blow right past your 1,200 word count? Shortn lets writers submit passages of text to MTurk for trimming. They can determine how much they want to cut with a handy slider tool.

Crowdproof: A superpowered, sophisticated spell, grammar and style check that provides suggestions as well as explanations why your choices are wrong.

The Human Macro: For more complicated changes — something like “change all verbs to past tense” — the Human Macro is, as Bernstein says, programming-as-craigslist-ad. The writer describes the changes she wants (capitalization of proper names, altering verb tense, annotating references with Creative Commons photos) in a request form, which humans then act on.

Bernstein argues that Soylent’s cold, detached eye is just what some writing needs. “It’s really hard to kill your own babies in your writing,” Bernstein said. “To be honest, another motivation for me is that it’s very time consuming to go and snip words and cut things from paragraphs an hour before deadline.”

But to writers already nervous about those babies being disappeared on the copy desk, handing over their copy to the faceless masses might not sound like a solution. In their research, Bernstein and his colleagues identified “lazy” and “overeager” individual Turkers, with the lazy ones doing the minimal amount of work and the overeager making wholesale changes. Bernstein said the distributed editing process behind Soylent eliminates this problem because no one Turker is working with whole passages of a document; the work is split among many.

Some in news circles are already experimenting with Mechanical Turk; ProPublica used it to identify companies getting stimulus dollars for the Recovery Tracker project. (Here at the Lab, we use it for the long transcripts we sometimes run of video or audio interviews.) MTurk could be used for any number of tasks that call for on-demand labor. But what makes Soylent different from using MTurk directly is a programming pattern Bernstein and his colleagues created called Find-Fix-Verify, which disseminates tasks across a large group of workers. The only thing required of writers is an Amazon account to pay Turkers; Soylent sets the payment rates.

Instead of one Turker reading over an entire page or paragraph, Soylent asks a group of workers to find areas that need fixing and make corrections. Those fixes are then filtered by other Turkers for inaccuracies, which produces a set of recommendations or an edited graph to a writer. Depending on the job and the document, it usually took Soylent around 40 minutes to complete a task.

To news traditionalists, Soylent may sound like the latest turn toward outsourcing in journalism that has sent copy editing jobs to places in India. It could also be akin to the automated journalism being tested by some companies or the Huffington Post’s real-time headline testing. And some day it may be. But Soylent is far from ready for the mainstream, thanks to the processing time and payment methods. Bernstein says they’re working towards having real-time edits and managing payment through Soylent, as well adapting the program to work on photo editing. Instead of outsourcing, think of Soylent as microsourcing.

And about that name: It comes from exactly what you’re thinking. Bernstein said they were looking for something familiar but also true to the idea of what they created. Soylent is made of people. It is indeed, people.

“The original name was Homunculus,” Bernstein said. “It didn’t have the same ring to it.”

Felix Salmon takes a blogging fellowship at CJR, has no problem annoying funder, Pete Peterson

Felix Salmon, who blogs on economics for Reuters, is heading to Columbia Journalism Review — sort of. Salmon has signed on to a part-time fellowship covering, as CJR puts it, “the media’s handling of the federal budget, unemployment, income disparities, the national debt, entitlement programs, taxes, and the other economic policy questions.” The fellowship is sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peterson is a former Nixon commerce secretary and fiscal conservative whose foundation takes a strong stance on the need to cut government spending. Peterson also funds The Fiscal Times, an online news outlet that covers much the same turf, and whose partnership with The Washington Post led to criticism from some corners, including our Jim Barnett.

We don’t wade into ethics-in-media-criticism debates much here at the Lab, but in this case we thought it might be worth a call to Salmon about the arrangement. As foundations — some of them with pet issues or agendas — emerge as major backers of the news we consume, what’s a healthy distance between the hand signing the check and the one taking it ensured? Salmon happily told me he isn’t worried about his work being unduly influenced: “Just as I have no fear of annoying other journalists, I have no fear of annoying Pete Peterson.”

I also spoke with Salmon about how the arrangement will work day-to-day. Salmon’s CJR posts will also appear on his blog at Reuters, so his regular readers will see all of the content and CJR readers who don’t follow his work will get a taste. The gig is only for a few months, as Salmon is finishing out the fellowship for Holly Yeager who recently jumped to the Washington Post (and is also a friend and former colleague of mine). The fellowship might renew in January. It’ll be interesting to watch Salmon work with CJR’s Dean Starkman, since Salmon has criticized him before on his blog. (Like here, last month: “Dean has a very old-fashioned view of what journalism is and should be…in fact Dean’s attitude is extremely elitist…But Dean doesn’t see it…”)

Here’s a lightly edited transcript of my conversation with Salmon:

LKM: Why did you take the gig at CJR? What do you hope to write about there?

FS: Well, I think it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Macro and fiscal policy, or rather the meta stuff — I’m going to be blogging about the press coverage of macro and fiscal policy.

LKM: How is that different from what you’re doing now on your Reuters blog?

FS: It will all appear on the Reuters blog. It’ll basically be cross-posted on the Reuters blog and CJR. The Reuters blog will get all the magic CJR fairy dust, insofar as there is any. So, there is no real difference. There is a bit of a narrower focus, and this will basically force me to do more of what I was doing when I first started out on my first full-time blogging gig in September 2006, sort of concentrating more on economics and less on — well, not less on, but it’ll help to force me to write more about economic and fiscal matters. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I just you know, let fall through the cracks.

LKM: How was negotiating this between Reuters, your corporate boss, and CJR, this nonprofit? Was there any tension between the two organizations?

FS: I was not party to any tension there. Basically, this is a win-win for both. This is good for the blog because it means I get to benefit from Dean Starkman’s expertise and other people at CJR who will sort of help improve my media criticism. And it means that my stuff gets a certain amount of ratification by them and it means I get read by a certain number of people who wouldn’t read me otherwise. So that’s all good for Reuters and it’s obviously good for CJR too. I think one of the things they find difficult is finding people who are willing to be rude about fellow journalists, when I’ve never had much of a problem on that front.

LKM: Is Deak Starkman going to edit your stuff? In terms of it being a “blog,” how is it going to work — will you file and he’ll give you edits?

FS: I think it’s going to be more sort of a high-level conceptual editor position. Not disimilar to what I have with Jim Ledbetter here at Reuters. This isn’t going to be, “he sort of line-edits every piece before it goes out.” The details are a little bit TBD right now — I don’t even have my Moveable Type login yet or whatever it is they have. I’m sure I’ll simply be able to post these things. But at the same time, I’m equally sure I’ll be in contact with Dean and he’ll be giving me ideas and we’ll be talking about what I’ve been writing and that kind of thing.

LKM: How much do you think we’ll see of you on CJR’s site?

FS: That’s a really good question. I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It largely depends on how much various people send me stuff and engage with this whole new emphasis on an old beat. If I get a lot of emails from people, “look at this, isn’t this wonderful, isn’t this terrible” — from Dean, from readers, from anyone, then I might tend to be doing this quite a lot. Yes, please. If there’s coverage that merits me writing about it, either pro or con, send it to me. Send me an at-reply [on Twitter] or email it to me.

LKM: One thing we’re curious here about at the Lab is the fact that it’s a Pete Peterson fellowship. Is there a certain take that you’re expected to have?

FS: Thank you for asking that. The answer is, of course, no. There isn’t. Pete Peterson is well-known for his views on fiscal policies in particular. One of the reasons he set up this fellowship is because he wants people to really pay attention to what people are writing about fiscal policy. But this does not mean in any way that I am an austerean. There was no ideological litmus test here. No one at CJR asked me about fiscal policy at an ideological level. And although I’m absolutely going to be including my own opinions in these blog posts, I think most of it is going to be more my opinion of how these things are going to be how these things are reported — rather than in terms of what should be done about revamping Social Security, say, or something like that. Just as I have no fear of annoying other journalists, I have no fear of annoying Pete Peterson.

LKM: I am sure a lot of places would be happy to syndicate your work. What you sold you on this?

FS: The syndication question is an interesting one. There’s obviously some kind of value to what I do and Reuters is interested in syndicating my work generally. I think one of the reasons its not a problem from a business perspective is that it’s a very narrow subset of what I do. This isn’t sort of a full-rights syndication deal. It’s not like someone who would want to like to syndicate my stuff and say, look, CJR get’s all the stuff for free — it’s not even free — but, anyway. The main upside is that this isn’t a one-way thing where CJR gets content from me and I get nothing in return. I’m getting drawn into that little group there. I’m hoping that a little bit of editorial feedback and ideas for stories are going to come and it’s going to improve my blogging. Now, if I get syndicated to some random site that just copies and pastes what I do, that doesn’t really improve what I do in that sense. This, with any luck, if all goes according to plan, really will.

It’s election night: Here’s what some news orgs (old & new) have planned

It’s election day in the United States, and with election day comes election day coverage. With more media players than ever aiming for their own slice of the audience, here are a few highlights of what they’ve got planned to help you sort through the abundance:

The Washington Post is now the first news organization to purchase a “promoted trend” on Twitter, sponsoring the term #Election. The “promoted trend” will appear at the top of the list of current trends on Twitter with a yellow label clearly marking it as “promoted.” In addition, anyone who does a search for the hashtag will find a tweet from the Post attached to the top of the stream. This is an intriguing and aggressive move for a news organization and it’ll certainly be interesting to see if they can take advantage of the increased election conversation on Twitter to drive traffic.

Twitter is also encouraging its users to report their experience at the polls by using the hashtag #votereport or #NYCvotes for those in New York City. NYC had a lot of trouble in September with the new voting system they unveiled for the primary election. Twitter is pulling together all of this information at TwitterVoteReport.com.

In addition to using Twitter the news startup TBD.com is encouraging its users to help map voting problems by using a piece of software called Crowdmap, as well as through email or submitting a tip directly to their website.

Increasingly social networking sites are creating ways for users to make the act of voting a social activity. Foursquare is offering up an “I Voted” badge for those who check in at their polling place or “shout” that they voted. Foursquare is then visualizing the data in order to “encourage civic participation, increase transparency in the voting process and develop a replicable system for the 2012 Presidential Election.” Twitter is encouraging its users to use the hashtag #ivoted to remind their peers to vote.

Facebook is joining in on the fun as well, reminding users 18 and older to vote today by posting a note in their news feeds and offering a polling place locator.

As usual, The New York Times is going big: Its election maps and charts are elegant, intuitive, and work on the iPad. The Times has also created a neat visualization for exploring election traffic on Twitter. The addition of Nate Silver and his blog FiveThirtyEight to the Times’ politics coverage is sure to be an additional draw to those interested in making sense of all the polling data. Talking Points Memo also has an excellent election results app that’s also not dependent on Flash. This is fitting given that the number of TPM readers on mobile devices is growing.

The Los Angeles Times has an intriguing news application that lets you explore the campaign contributions affiliated with Proposition 19, an initiative in California that would legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana. The app lets you explore the over $4 million in donations and figure out where it all came from.

The Huffington Post is trying to make the midterms even more fun with a “Predict the News” challenge where users can make predictions race by race and then earn points for those they get correct. You can of course challenge your friends through Facebook and Twitter and compare results.

In addition to their homepage, The Wall Street Journal is offering six hours of live video coverage on election night starting at 8 p.m. EST. The coverage will include “real-time news and analysis, live reports from key race locations, interactive maps, and features” and integrate with their iPad app.

And as always there are a wealth of options for election night viewers, especially with many big cable channels and networks supplementing their broadcast coverage with online streaming.

What else is out there? If your news organization has something exciting planned for tonight, let us know about it in the comments.

Photo by John C. Abell used under a Creative Commons license.

ONA10 Rewind: Recapping Friday’s sessions through the lens of Twitter

It’s never easy to figure out what panel to attend at large conferences like the Online News Association’s confab in Washington last weekend. Programming has to be purposefully vague, enticing as well as diverse — and when it’s all said and done there’s always a few sessions you wish you had time to attend. (Not to mention the many folks who would have liked to attend, only to see the conference sell out quickly.)

But thanks to Twitter, not to mention livebloggers and streaming video, the panel experience can be recaptured and even expanded. For the second year in a row, we at the Lab thought it would be good to highlight the discussions, both from the front of the room and the audience. What follows is a tweet-by-tweet, panel-by-panel recreation of this year’s ONA, based on the online voices of those in the room.

Make sure to check out Friday’s schedule for links to presentations from the panels. We’ll recap Saturday’s panels tomorrow.

9 a.m.

Keynote: Starting from Scratch — TBD.com (#ONA10 #TBD)

Jim Brady, Erik Wemple, Mandy Jenkins, Steve Buttry, TBD
Moderator: Laura McGann, Nieman Journalism Lab

meg_e_martin: @jimbradysp @ #ona10 panel re: #tbd: “Our strategy was to build a regional site with local elements”

meg_e_martin: @jimbradysp re: local strategy/advertising/etc. “There’s no silver bullet, just shrapnel.” Amen, friend

emraguso: editorial vision for #tbd, 12 reporters on staff cover 5.3m people. editorial vision is “smoke and mirrors”

meg_e_martin: #ericwemple: “We want to be a place where, if you hear a siren, you go to #tbd and you find out what’s wrong.”

caitlindewey: #tbd panelists sparring: “if you’re running a website that doesn’t have something terrible on it, you’re not trying hard enough.

MiamiTheater: If you run a website where you don’t have something terrible you have #fail. Need to keep experimenting

meg_e_martin: #tbd social media prod.: “I want to make sure that we’re out there, talking to them, all the time.” Replies to every Q and critique.

emraguso: the heart of all this, still have to hire the best journalists you can. it’s not all abt gadgets, says #TBD #ona10

acarvin: Jim Brady: Twitter is the police scanner of the 21st century. There are always new stories breaking there.

emraguso: #TBD says things go thru a double filter and we don’t put up anything unconfirmed. wemple says lots of times officials get it wrong

meg_e_martin: @mjenkins: You have to treat #socialmedia like a tipline, not a source. Obvious, but: Check your sources

emraguso: why shld readers go to #tbd, not #patch #wapo? #TBD aggregates those other news media in town and has lots of blogs #ona10

10:15 a.m.

No Comment: Rethinking Online Commenting (#ONA10 #nocomment)

Alicia Shepard, NPR
Andrew Noyes, Facebook
Adam Clark Estes, Huffington Post

“With so much negativity and spam in comment sections, how are newsrooms tweaking their engagement policies? Should people be made to give their real names? Should discussions be moderated? How do we elevate the discussion without stifling it? What are we gaining with comment sections, Facebook and other platforms? Led by NPR’s ombudsman, this lively debate will help you navigate these tectonic shifts in the conversation around news.”

ianhillmedia: Good comments start with good content, followed by a clear TOS and active moderation.

JeremyLittau: Why are we so obsessed with moderating negative comments? Rather spend energy working for better comments

emraguso: how do we find editorial value in the comments? what are we hoping to get from the interaction? says #BBC

lheron: Here’s the obit sparked by a nasty comment that the St. Petersburg Times ran: bit.ly/9g12yA

assignmentdesk1: Problem with #nocomment panel is lack of solutions or ideas about how to handle web comments for news sites.

emraguso: #ona10 #nocomment failing a third-party solution, how do you get reporters to engage in comments? asks st. pete times

kimfox: Chilling effect on sources seems to be something we are all worried about at #nocomment #ona10 session

JeremyLittau: One takeaway of this session is it’s hard to engage a community if you distrust them at outset.

meg_e_martin: via #huffpo: Reward constructive commenters/frequent posters with badges. (a la vita.mn karma points, @mthomps!) #ona10 #nocomment

emraguso: rick times from charlotte observer: what do you think of crowdsourcing to get rid of the trolls?

bydanielvictor: @acarvin: We shouldn’t see commenters as “potentially evil people.” Love it.

emraguso: from shepard: #huffpost launched in april — awards badges to commenters who post frequently and moderate comments

chrisboutet: NPR’s @acarvin: By being part of the conversation, we can elevate the conversation. Mediation works better than moderation

emraguso: @acarvin we need to figure out ways of shifting away from siege mentality abt how to deal with comments

bydanielvictor: NPR’s @acarvin: We need to reward the 99% of online community members who behave. Great point..let’s give them incentive.

emraguso: tom mallory of san diego union tribute: a lot of us set up anonymous comments before: how do we close the barn door?

patbrannan2131: Following the 90-9-1 principle only 1 percent of a site’s total audience actually comments.

emraguso: @acarvin countless NPR reporters use things in comments to push reporting deeper

chrisboutet: @anoyes “Here’s the problem with Facebook’s ‘real-name’ comment culture: People lie.” Doesn’t stop trolls dead.

chrisboutet: Facebook’s @anoyes points out U.S. Army’s FB comment policy as an excellent model for all: on.fb.me/9xpVOR

jrstahl: We remind of our FB comments policy when people start to veer towards violating 1) respect 2) family-friendly 3) on topic

emraguso: 3.5m comments for #huffpo is “small potatoes” compared to what facebook gets says noyes

emraguso: Noyes: our big picture mission to make world more connected. comments are a huge part of that. real name culture is vital

notblue: Most comments are negative, attacking, cruel, “tone hijacks the conversation.” Knew a journ who called comments a cesspool

emraguso: “Real name culture” is important to create place where people are free to speak their minds more respectfully

JeremyLittau: Noyes: Real-name culture is backbone to comment system on Facebook.

meghannCIR: @NPR ombudsman says she often finds comments cruel. She asked staff if they needed comments on site.

emraguso: Shepard said NPR is having a rough time trying to keep up with comments — hired an outside moderation

kimfox: Sheaprd: Huffington Post gets 3.5 MM comments per month

emraguso: Alicia Shepard #NPR said 1% are online dominators, scare people away from wanting to comment

JeremyLittau: Shepard: Tension in online comments is between diatribe and dialogue.

emraguso: 99-1 principal — participation inequality for online — 90% are lurkers, 9% editors, 1% creators

dbronx: Shephard: Diatribe v. dialogue — guess which is winning?

Content Sharing Through API’s (#ONA10 #apis)

Daniel Jacobson, NPR
Delyn Simons, Mashery
Daniel Choi

“More and more newsrooms are opening their vaults and sharing their content. What can you do with other organizations’ content? Should your newsroom be thinking about creating its own APIs, too? Experts explore the operations, business models and more.”

dskok: Having a NYTimes open API provides unintended benefits that drive traffic and U/X. Simons

jrue: News organizations can use APIs to track who’s using their content much better than RSS. Many are delivering RSS over an AP

tmcenroe: USA Today considering feeding RSS through API, which then would allow tracking, metrics

dskok: It seems API’s are crucial for internal dev and future platform growth. Sharing those keys publicly is just a nice addition

cyhung: good API = 1, good documentation 2, developer support 3, terms of use for your API that are generous according to Choi

DanaChinn: APIs allow “tremendous speed to mkt” for local-social-mobile but do trad media orgs have the mindset?

sarahmorayati: #APIs are another way to make news organizations flexible; example: CNN’s use of Outside.in gives it an instant local presence

adamostrow: NPR has doubled page views in 12 months (as measured across platforms — iPhone, android, iPad, etc)

tmcenroe: NPR mobile apps drive almost half of all pageviews (nearly 40 mil/month), made poss by API developemn

richgor: Jacobson: real value of API at NPR was to accelerate internal development, partnerships — not help ind’t developers

dskok: Having a NYTimes open API provides unintended benefits that drive traffic and U/X. Simon

The New Investigative Journalism Ecosystem (#ONA10 #ecosystem)

Charles Lewis, Investigative Reporting Workshop
Lorie Hearn, Watchdog Institute
Kevin Davis, Investigative News Network
Raney Aronson-Rath, Frontline

“The number of global nonprofit reporting organizations has exploded — from three in 1990 to more than 30 today. Most have been created in the past three years. Panelists share which organizations are collaborating, which projects draw eyeballs and where this phenomenon is heading.”

RobinJP: Repeated theme at #ecosystem and #proam sessions: need to learn more about financial sustainability.

tgdavidson: Jay: Mtg crisis story was there to be spotted/collected LONG before it broke. “That’s where the real excitement lies.”

SuziSteffen: @jayrosen_nyu asks, “When will we start moving the needle on distributed reporting?”

jmestepa: Nonprofits are in competitive environment. Need to build trust for collaboration.

tgdavidson: Raney: Despite initial challenges, collab brought far more rptg to stories like Law & Disorder

tgdavidson: Davis: Among next steps for INN: Marketing and PR. Commercial syndication deals now, but ultimately want public support

jmestepa: Investigative News Network focuses on sustainability, training, back office resources, tech support, collaboration

tgdavidson: Davis: “What most of our members were doing was trapezee w/o a net. Very exciting, and very dangerous.”

digitalamysw: Investigative News Network’s membership now stands at 51 with 10 applications in process

tgdavidson: Lewis: What’s the effect of pub’ing some information earlier? His note — it builds audience. Raney: Yup.

Raney: “Law & Disorder” proj was 1st effort where used web to publish ongoing reporting, not svg all for film.

jmestepa: Lorie Hearn of Watchdog Institute: Nonprofits think they can just get grants and give content away. That’s the proble

jmestepa: Only half of nonprofit journalism organizations have ethics policies posted on their websites

tgdavidson: In aggregate, those orgs has op budgets of $80MM / yr.

digitalamysw: Ecosystem report: 23 out of 60 nonprofit news orgs are run by women

tgdavidson: 60 non-profit journo orgs with 600+ rptrs have risen from the ashes. But: Only 13 fully disclose their financial backers

wcochran: Charles Lewis: two-thirds of nonprofit news employees come from legacy medi

digitalamysw: New journalism ecosystem report — 60 nonprofit orgs comprise the ecosystem #ecosystem #ona10 bit.ly/aXbiwW

11:30 a.m.

DocumentCloud’s First Year (#ONA10 #dcloud)

Aron Pilhofer, The New York Times
Brian Boyer, Chicago Tribune
Jeremy Ashkenas, DocumentCloud

“DocumentCloud.org has impacted news stories big and small by making primary source materials easier to scour, annotate and share. A look at how the open-source project is solving journalistic and technological hurdles.”

chandlereclay: #ona10 #ona observer #dcloud wouldn’t let wikileaks in. Tries to keep the community of users focused and narrowed to newsroom docs

4GJournalist: #ona10 #dcloud will be able to tag private annotations eventually as tool for reporters working on large document piles

bydanielvictor: They want to make documents able to be publicly annotated as a crowdsourcing tool. Yes, please

jendorroh: When it comes to sharing its code, the mantra of @DocumentCloud is “release early and often.”

richgor: Phase2 Technologies about to release @DocumentCloud publishing module for Drupal.

ethanklapper: Ashkenas says you should always redact the source PDF — NOT in DcoumentCloud

chandlereclay: #ona10 #onaobserver #dcloud Document cloud is funny. Uncovered the blacked-out text in Blagojevich docs. Awesome

bydanielvictor: An expert on ballot design annotated image of a NY ballot for problem spots. No better way to tell that story.

chrisboutet: Document Cloud adds journalistic layer to open online documentation. Allows annotations. Makes docs searchable, collaborative

ethanklapper: @pilhofer: The tools reporters have used to do document-based reporting haven’t changed in forever

Forging Pro-Am Partnerships (#ONA10 #proam)

Joe Bergantino, New England Center for Investigative Reporting
Rich Jones, New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Initiative
Josh Meyer, National Security Journalism Initiative, Medill School of Journalism

With newsrooms cutting staff and journalism schools booming, it was bound to happen — the news industry is collaborating with academe for content in brave new ways. The panel explores how the partnerships work and whether the model applies to your newsroom.

UOSOJC: A: Coach them, help them, throw them out of the nest and see how they do.

akrewson: Q. followup: How are you reaching audience beyond traditional media? A. Bergantino: Using social media, planning focus groups.

UOSOJC: Q: is it fair to send students out into hostile interview situations & how do you get folks to take the students seriously?

emraguso: Medill’s Josh Meyer says he’s “not at liberty to say” who their media partners are right now

akrewson: Meyer: “You’re standing on the shoulders of traditional journalism.”

lkelley10: Possible revenue streams to sustain pro-am partnerships: paid content, custom research, training

akrewson: Bergantino: Almost 60 academic centers around the country, an explosion. If all go to same foundations for $ … not enough.

emraguso: Bergatino: You can prove how valuable you are in the setting you’re in. You draw in students with investigative reporting.

akrewson: @WillMedia I’m curious about the “am” portion that can’t afford university tuition. Haven’t seen that addressed yet.

emraguso: it’s not really abt who publishes it first, it’s a force multiplier

Twheat: Jones: Shooting for %50 of @nytlev content from community. Developing journalism workshops

akrewson: Q: Why do you need pro media partners if you don’t need printing press? A. from Josh Meyer: Build community and audience

akrewson: Jones: No money has exchanged hands between @nytlev and @NYT

akrewson: Jones: Newsroom has developed a Wordpress plugin for assigning stories at @nytlev

emraguso: Local East Village: no money has changed hands between NYU and NYTimes

emraguso: Local East Village: looking at how we engage the community in posts, tips, comments

emraguso: Local East Village: we measure success by the success of our students. training students in multimedia

daileyl: Pro-am journalism partnerships: “This is a movement, this is a revolution” — Joe Bergantino

JeremyLittau: So far it seems like workload, logistics for #proam investigative journalism is made for bigger j-schools, not programs our size

emraguso: Local East Village: serves 70k people, partners with @nytimes for content, based out of NYU

emraguso: New England Ctr for Investigative Reporting: Focusing on training as a revenue generator. Esp. high school students

daileyl: Josh Meyer makes the point pro-am partnerships are not new. Many J-schools provide D.C. coverage bureaus, for example

emraguso: josh meyer: walls are crumbling between legacy media and new media, and that’s a good thing

From Earthquakes to Coups: Tools for Crisis Reporting (#ONA10 #crisis)

Solana Larsen, Global Voices Online
Mark Frohardt, Internews
Robert Soden, Development Seed
Robert Baker, Konpa Group (Ushahidi Haiti)

“Citizen, niche and traditional media are using social media and other tools to collaborate on covering international conflicts and disasters. This has made reporting from global hot spots more effective than ever. Learn what these panelists from around the world find work best.”

dskok: Engage with first responders before the crisis hits. Explain how your information will help their response

lheron: New version of @Ushahidi will be integrated w/ Facebook, YouTube. Coming out in next 2 months

andrewjpolk: While Ushahidi Haiti took a team of 170 to produce info, developers are working on automating and expanding their services

lheron: Baker of @Ushahidi: Accountability & storytelling are major pushes. Dots on a map not good enough anymore

digitalamysw: Universities 4 Ushahidi launches in June 2011 DC bit.ly/cMsAuH

andrewjpolk: Ushahidi is releasing several new programs/platforms, such as SwiftRiver, Ushahidi 2.0 and others, look at apps.ushahidi.com

lheron: In Haiti, critical info “I’m trapped, need help” was getting routed to Coast Guard before going to Ushahidi map

internews: Frohardt: in Kenya, we’re piloting @ushahidi platform in a non-crisis situation= local media building skills & sources

lheron: Mark Frohardt of @internews: Haiti earthquake had unprecedented use of new tech. But crisis not best moment to intro meg_e_martin: Frohardt: “Double info jeopardy” exists in #crisis situ: Dramatic incr. in need for info paired w/dramatic decrease in supply of info

publicinsight: @GlobalVoices asks journos to diversify sources abroad…so it’s not just aid workers and journalists painting the #crisis picture.

meg_e_martin: @solanasaurus: Journos’ challenge in a #crisis: Find a way to engage with ppl in the forums where they already exist and communicate

internews: Larsen: local blogs can provide a diversity of opinion on the ground for MSM

digitalamysw: Solana Larsen at Global Voices Online — helps reporters connect and collaborate during crisis coverage

Placecaster: Wow. @openstreetmap blows @GoogleMaps out of the water in places like Kinshasa and Mogadishu. Important for #crisis news and relief

digitalamysw: Soden: power of openstreetmap is its functionality that goes beyond the features of Google maps

12:45 p.m.

Keynote: A Conversation with Vivian Schiller of NPR and Tim Armstrong of AOL (#ONA10 #key)

Moderator: Kara Swisher, All Things Digital

richgor: Armstrong: If you think Patch is evil, ask yourself whether the sites in your community really meet your local info needs

kimfox: Armstrong to editors: ‘Cover straight up the middle, dnt go too far left or right. The country has enough of that at the moment’

emraguso: Armstrong: It’s highly likely where we will do more partnerships with local blogs (?) and #Patch

kimfox: LOL: Armstrong: ‘Press on press, you guys write more about each other then anything I’ve ever seen’

kimfox: Armstrong: ‘Our business plan is we’re going to go with whatever works’

tgdavidson: Armstrong: unifying strategy at aol: did we give consumer a magical experience? Did we curate it well?

emraguso: Armstrong: We’re laser focused on the consumer experience at Patch. Haven’t heard anything abt a pay wall

tgdavidson: Armstrong: Avg Patch hires has 6 yrs experience, 75 pct paid as much or more than they used to make.

rickhirsch: Q to Armstrong: Is Patch evil. Armstrong: Complete 3-leg stool of what is evil.

sgoldenberg: #ona10 #key AOLs Tim Armstrong: “Brands are powerful” from niche markets to tv devices

tgdavidson: Irony alert: Schiller talking abt soc media as a powerful tool, and NPR ombud trashing comments 2 hrs ago in same room

tgdavidson: Schiller: WRONGLY hyped — soc media. It’s NOT just a distribution tool, it’s a NEWSGATHERING tool.

emraguso: Armstrong: Consumers use 20 brands a month, flip flop out of 1-2 monthly.

richgor: Armstrong: To sell ads, you must have data to tell advertisers who your audience is

tgdavidson: Armstrong: you need to ask: how good is my product? Would *I* pay for it? How can I improve it? Need to constantly ask that.

emraguso: Armstrong: On direct monetization…. people will pay for info that’s valuable for them

rickhirsch: NPR’s Schiller: Success comes where you are niche (local) and mass at the same time.

emraguso: Armstrong: If you have a web page with 17 ads on it, not gonna work. One ad to one consumer, results are net positive

boyreporter: NPR, AOL can succeed b/c it’s both mass and niche at the same time. — Vivian Schiller

tgdavidson: Armstrong: whether it’s AOL or someone else, still huge biz opptys in content.

yaelgolan: AOL’s Tim Armstrong: “users want curated experiences”

tgdavidson: Armstrong: Patch got started not bec. of grand corp. strat, but because he cldn’t find great trusted local information.

rickhirsch: NPR’s Schiller: we have member stations in every town. Most disruption is in local media. need to partner to their future

rickhirsch: NPR’s Vivian Schiller: not moving away from radio, but IP radio is where growth is. Our job is not to pick the future.

EvanstonHost: RT @richgor: Armstrong: For longterm viability of a free press, good brands will stand out. E.g., AOL’s TechCrunch acquisition

2:15 p.m.

Go Niche (#ONA10 #Niche)

Andrew Geiger, SB Nation
Jonathan Kealing, LJWorld.com/Lawrence Journal-World, 6News
Matt Thompson, Project Argo, NPR

“Crackberry. Deadspin. The latest wave of media websites have one thing in common: they cover one topic, but do it hardcore. Hear innovators from niche sites across the country discuss what’s working, what’s not — and bring your own experiences to the discussion.”

akrewson: Thompson explaining “local focus, national resonance.” Local focus can illustrate abstract concepts like climate change.

akrewson: Q: Are you going beyond advertising for revenue? Kealing: event marketing, some paid groups within WellCommons.

eyeseast: Interesting that even LJ World (birthplace of Django) struggles to balance print and web. They go web first, then paper

christopherwink: “Niche sites do best when they are part of something,” says @jwkealing

eyeseast: @lavallee likes to talk about “solved problems.” That’s why the sites are mainly Wordpress, with Django as the glue.

eyeseast: The Argo model: Find the conversation, filter it, extend it.

mayerjoy: @mthomps says biggest flip when going #niche is to find the conversation first: go where people are

akrewson: “Local focus, national resonance.” That’s focus of Project Argo, Thompson says. Platforms are Wordpress/Django.

akrewson: Sites mentioned so far in #niche: wellcommons.com (uses Ellington), casualhoya.com (has integrated analytics)

Social Media Storytelling (#ONA10 #socialj)

Zach Seward, Wall Street Journal (formerly of the Nieman Journalism Lab)
Anna Robertson, Yahoo! News
Mathilde Piard, Cox Media Group

“These days the hip new job is social media editor. Learn how those in the hot seat use social media to break news, expand the brand, AND tunnel through pay walls. Insiders reveal how to balance competing strategic goals — successfully.”

andrewjpolk: Lot of localized media being discussed here today. Patch, EveryBlock, and now @WSJ w/ FourSquare to bring news where you are

megangarber: A bit of background on @WSJ’s Times Square breaking-news check-in, with smart thoughts from @zseward #ona10 #socialj bit.ly/bo6l0s

boyreporter: Adding tips to Foursquare allowed WSJ to give info at best time. i.e. knowing what to order when you check into a resto.

bydanielvictor: Here it is: The Benton Curve of Journalistic Interestingness: bit.ly/bSTir9

sarahmorayati: #socialj slide shows the “Benton Curve of Journalistic Interestingness.” Conventional reporting at bottom of parabola. Ouch.

tscurrie: Cox Media’s @MathildePiard: They’re using data from users’ social media streams to customize news content.

burtherman: Most people communicating with @wsj on Twitter point out typos and corrections, says @zseward

sarahmorayati: #socialj @zseward from Wall Street Journal: something as small as replying to tweets can make people appreciative

sarahmorayati: #socialj @MathildePiard: news organizations should both fish content out of the social-media stream and cast content into it

kimfox: @MathildePiard ‘We are focusing on where the media is going to be versus focusing on yesterday’s problems.’

boyreporter: Cox has created a “software innovation lab” based on Google’s 20% time. — @mathildepiard

andrewjpolk: “Customers now follow trusted information streams, not specific publications” Big question: what does it take to be trusted?

DigiChick: ‘If the news is that important, it will find me’ | ‘Consumers now follow trusted info streams, not specific publications

jrstahl: Create once, publish everywhere — does that limit tailoring for each platform/exploiting strengths of each platform?

emraguso: says @yahoonews future of news is creating hyper-personal social interactive news loop

kimfox: Roberston: In 6 wks over 7 MM votes and over 12 MM minutes spent on Ask America

kimfox: Robertson: Things are headed in the direction where the news story needs to be plugged into the social loop

mckennaewen: New multimedia journo name via @AnnaRobertson: Producer + Editor = Predator. Love it

burtherman: Yahoo News uses social media for distribution, voice and community, engagement and relevancy

kimfox: 230% increase in referrals since Yahoo invested in their facebook efforts

emraguso: Robertson: You can’t choose to be ignorant of social media anymore. Find users on Twitter and Facebook, don’t wait for them

3:30 p.m.

Coders Are from Mars, Designers Are from Venus (#ONA10 #marsvenus)

Tyson Evans, The New York Times
David Wright, NPR

“More than any other medium, the Web fuses together creative and technical processes. Learn strategies to inspire your right brain while exercising your left brain.”

meg_e_martin: And: When forming that common lang., learn a bit about the lang. of the other group (e.g. if a coder, learn about kerning)

meg_e_martin: More re: that relationships theme here @ #ona10: Find a proj w/ low stakes; build a common language b/w #coders & #designers.

chandlereclay: Designers attest that content is still most important. Without it you just have pretty designs

greglinch: “Code is really currency” — @davewrightjr. If you’re a design & know code, it can inform your decision and vice versa

yurivictor: Designer+coder+journalist: A good threesome. Quote of the day.

greglinch: “Create the thing itself, not the thing that represents it,” says @davewrightjr, citing principles of @37Signals & others

yurivictor: Stop talking about it (wireframes, documentation) and build it

alisonjk: designers vs. coders. appreciate each other’s OCD; know enough to criticize the other platform.

KDMCinfo: Sit together. Face time is important. Don’t be afraid to say I broke this. How do I fix it?

greglinch: “Remember that everyone is a journalist,” says @tysone. “Be willing to step back a couple of degrees.”

A_L: Literate programming! “A well-written piece of source code should read like an essay.” — Jeremy Ashkenas

greglinch: @davewrightjr: Communication vs. dismissiveness. Convert your shop into one of love and not “us vs. them”

yurivictor: When designers fail: It sucks. When programmers fail: It doesn’t work

jkandel: If the code fails, everyone’s going to know “500 Internal Server Error”

greglinch: @tysone: Coders live in a culture of FAIL. Most prog is failing, then succeeding. Then geting assigned another prob

denisereagan: Great slides & great ideas at @tysone & @davewrightjr’s #marsvenus session. Perfect metaphor for marriage of style & substance

eyeseast: What designers need to know. First, Version Control. Git, svn, Hg, whatever. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

greglinch: @davewrightjr: Since early PCs, designers have moved from aiming for a perfect design(?) to a perfect system.

jkandel: Differences between design and decoration — Punch it up a little — Can you make it pop!

yurivictor: Coders to designers: Use version control (Think photoshop history)

kev097: #marsvenus already the best session of #ONA10 so far, and that’s not just the beers they handed out talking.

alisonjk: Indeed. “Web design is 95% typography.” -@davewrightjr

boyreporter: “Great journalism is its own justification. But great j is no substitute for excellent user experience”

greglinch: From slide — Design: What you see. Code: That it works. Intersection: How it works.

What’s Next for Traffic and Search (#ONA10 #traffic)

Dana Chinn, University of Southern California
Liana Evans, LiBeck Integrated Marketing

“New paid-content strategies and traffic-based compensation for writers have put a renewed focus on understanding audience patterns. This session will go beyond counting page views and keywords to discuss how engagement can be more directly measured across the Web, mobile devices and social media platforms and also review best practices to increase traffic.”

Jeffhidek: “There’s a difference bewteen a report and analysis.” — Dana Chinn in the #traffic panel at #ONA10

stacyannj: Embed links out in content. Provides more value to your story & the person you’re linking to. — Li Evans

kimfox: If you write an article and #traffic does well, you should write a follow up article. RESPOND to audience

kimfox: Li: News orgs ask me shld I link to other places? YES. Shows that you don’t think you are the end all and be all

emraguso: Embed videos and transcribe a bit about what’s going on, so search engines will pick it up

momiperalta: your profiles in social sites should talk about what you do (journos) , so as to be found

Kimfox: ‘It’s about being found’ (Li) True, no mater how great your content is — if it’s not found, it’s nt read

dskok: SEO: Write for your audience, do keyword research, optimize titles and content, tag and categorize, optimize digital assets.

emraguso: Don’t get hooked on Digg traffic. Digg is bad for your bounce rate. And they’re mean to marketers

marykay7: Li Evans saying that succeeding in search engines is about giving value to your audience -Content your audience wants

jeremycaplan: Live #ONA10 Notes: 7 Key Metrics News Sites Should Focus on by @DanaChinn #traffic bit.ly/ona10metrics

emraguso: slideshare.net/danachinn — find the whole presentation on analytics and traffic

kimfox: ‘Don’t just settle for PVs, look at all the places your content is. Understand right metrics are which will gv you full pic

jsabbah: Klout, measures influence on Twitter. Topsy tracks tweets, RTs, traffic about specific page/topic.

kimfox: It’s not what you like abt the design — it’s whether the audience can FIND content

emraguso: Do your old-fashioned surveys and ask folks who aren’t coming to your site WHY? It’s expensive but it’s important

emraguso: You need to know WHY people are engaging, did they find what they needed or did they leave? Usability surveys are impt

sarahmorayati: another useful one: search terms used in *internal* search engines. specifically, which ones got few or no results

Jeffhidek: Dana Chinn is excited about metrics the way that dog in the Beggin’ Strips commercial is excited about bacon. Love it.

emraguso: For hyperlocal, you need to be able to show advertisers KIND of news are users are looking at, what neighborhood

meg_e_martin: Pay attention to the search terms people use, and note what stories/pages should be coming up when they use them. Act on it

emraguso: if you can explain people WHY you’re asking them for personal info, they’re going to be more likely to share

emraguso: If you’re only gonna use one metric, it’s gotta be the visit. Percentage of new visits shld be higher than returning

emraguso: it’s not like 100k people came to your site. it’s abt what percent of your target audience did you reach?

christopherwink: Very important in local sales: @danachinn at #ona10 #traffic says give advertisers only the data they need and nothing more (traffic trends)

tmcenroe: @danachinn says Paywalls have an upside — you can capture massive data from reg forms — non-pay sites can do this, too.

patbrannan2131: Visits is Key Performance Indicator No. 1

jsabbah: Number 1 way to indicate people are going to your site is page visits (if you’re only going to use 1 metric, use visits)

sacmcdonald: From Dana Chinn at #traffic: Do you have the type of content your audience would be willing to pay any amount of money for?

emraguso: to determine engagement, look at multiple computers, mobile devices, social media — at least 7 ways people get to your site

emraguso: we need to go way beyond page views, measure all the ways users can engage w/you. now we have to ask where is the audience?

sarahmorayati: it’s not enough to pay attention to one form of metrics — there are so many ways for people to find your work

Getting lapped by innovation abroad? Mario Garcia’s path to better designed newspapers

In seeking out inspiration for its print redesign, Canada’s Globe and Mail didn’t look south of the border, as one might expect. Instead, the national daily focused its gaze overseas, pilfering design tips from newspapers in southern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Editor-in-chief John Stackhouse went so far as to call the U.S. market “fairly depressed in terms of newspaper innovation.” It doesn’t get more blunt than that.

Not to flog a dead horse, but newspaper design guru Mario Garcia reported a similar sentiment back in 2008, this time from an anonymous Indian editor expecting to ooh and ah while touring American newsrooms. The editor was less than impressed.

“I am disappointed, to be honest,” he told Garcia. “I went to the U.S. to learn, to get ideas on how to improve our newspapers here, but in every case, I was faced with newspapers that are hardly innovative. Why are American newspapers less willing to experiment, to take that leap into the future, to analyze their products and to adapt them to the realities of a multi-platform world?”

To be fair, that was two years ago and major dailies are, slowly but surely, becoming multi-platform vehicles. Still, the disappointment expressed by Stackhouse and the Indian editor speaks to what Garcia calls the general dearth of innovation in American newspaper design. For whatever reason — financial difficulties, tradition, sacred cows — American design innovation has stagnated. (For the record, design consultant Ron Reason is more optimistic than Garcia on the point.)

“When you look at newspaper design overseas — like Spain and Latin America — they’re much more adventurous, much more interesting, much more magazine-like,” Newsonomics author (and Lab contributor) Ken Doctor says. “It’s all about presentation; there’s a visual surprise.”

The surprise, however, has more to do with information architecture — how papers structure headlines and sections — rather than color and typography. “Pure design is just cosmetic,” Garcia told me last week. “It’s not going to solve the problem.”

Garcia, a sort of newspaper-design Carmen Sandiego, has consulted newsrooms in over 96 countries, including Hong Kong, where he’s currently working with the South China Morning Post, and Colombia, where he recently helped re-launch the Bogotá-based El Tiempo, which he chronicles, step-by-step, on his blog in refreshing and lengthy detail.

Garcia readily admits the continued (and often growing) interest in print overseas has given foreign newspapers some of its room to innovate. American editors are “plagued by a sense of malaise, that print is going to die,” Garcia says. Foreign newspapers, on the other hand, take a more carefree approach: As circulation increases, why not take some risks? The outcome might be a fresher, more navigable newspaper. “American newspapers think of death and dying; foreign newspapers think of birth and renewal,” Garcia says.

Over the course of our interview, Garcia laid out some design innovations popping up in the foreign market, citing the United Arab Emirates’ Gulf News, which devotes an entire, editor-run page to online citizen journalism, and New Delhi’s Hindustan Times, which reaches its millions of readers by publishing nearly 20 regional editions. It’s as if The New York Times ran an edition for each of New York’s five boroughs.

Foreign newsrooms, he argues, are well attuned to the newspaper’s role in the online/mobile/print/tablet nexus. Papers are usually considered supplementary, rather than top-dog, all-that-matters news sources. Here are three ways Garcia sees international newspapers innovating design:

Information architecture comes before design

In its redesign, El Tiempo eschews traditional sections in favor of a more guided approach. The paper splits into three sections: Debes Saber (What you must know); Debes Leer (What you must read); Debes Hacer (What you must do).

Debes Saber covers local, national, world, sports, and business news. Garcia describes it as the “kitchen,” where you hastily gather news over your morning coffee. Debes Leer, the “living room,” provides opinion and analysis; it’s the newspaper’s salon, a more leisurely, end-of-the-day read. Debes Hacer, the “outdoors,” covers health, fitness, food, and fashion.

Garcia writes in his blog that he was “thinking like a reader” when he sat down to help overhaul El Tiempo. Indeed, El Tiempo’s compartmentalization gets to a news consumer’s most basic needs. “It’s about how you get the content flowing better for people who have less time,” Garcia says.

Respect the cult of personality

“People desire to hear the opinions of others, even if it’s nonsense,” Garcia says. Analysis should be on the front page, not reserved for back-page editorial sections. English-language weekly The Moscow News, which will be relaunched as a daily — under Garcia’s guidance — in early 2011, will publish celebrity journalist commentary on A1. Garcia concedes American papers might find this unseemly — where’s the objectivity? where’s the integrity? — but a newspaper, he says, should be the most obvious place to find must-read writers.

Sound like tomorrow, not yesterday

“To find your place, you need to relinquish your time advantage,” Garcia says. Online provides the five w’s as they happen; print needs to find, and accept, its place as an ancillary source of information.

Foreign newspapers are less afraid to publish “headlines in the future tense, running second-day headlines on the first day,” Garcia says, pointing to Spain’s El Pais, which routinely pushes stories forward by focusing on what comes next, not what happened yesterday. More recently, The Independent’s Metro-style i, the UK’s first new national daily in quite some time, scatters snappy news briefs around ideas-driven articles, refusing to dwell on yesterday’s news .

American newsrooms may be handcuffed by traditions and finances. Garcia thinks they see him as an “interior decorator,” which may explain why he hasn’t consulted stateside in three years. But American editors, like Stackhouse, may be wise to pay attention to design changes in the foreign market: Before long, they may be the ones globetrotting to international newsrooms.