Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Journalist turns to blogging to report story

A San Francisco based freelance journalist has launched a blog to give deeper coverage of the ongoing battle between U.S. federal law enforcement officials and users of medical marijuana, for example.

Ann Harrison's On The Record blog may be a sign of things to come. At a typical newspaper, thousands of words of deep context and background are cut from news stories every day, which leaves readers who want deep detail without.

She writes:

I started this blog because I got tired of the limitations of journalism.... This process usually involves gathering lots of information that gets squeezed down into a limited number of words.... In this torturous process many stories are left untold and important facts are often omitted.

Part of the problem stems from the physical reality: newspapers have limited real estate, so stories get cut. But there's only so much editing one can do before cutting out substance.

Bloggers have long covered things that the mainstream media (MSM) miss, such as controversial comments by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

As more journalistically disciplined, formally trained and/or experienced groups of people turn to blogging, perhaps blogs will start getting the respect and recognition they deserve.

50 bloggers to go backstage at Live 8

The Technorati blog is publicizing an opportunity for 50 bloggers to go backstage at Live 8 to cover the Africa anti-poverty concerts:

The gracious folks from have procured 10 backstage press passes to each of 5 of the following Live 8 concerts - Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. The folks at and Live 8 believe that bloggers can help to shape the media and bring a new voice and perspective - and help to set the agenda - before the G8 conference in Scotland. BTW, check out their new blog. []

In addition, Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines has donated his airplane to fly the Live 8 crew from New York to Edinburgh and back, and up to five bloggers will be given the opportunity to fly to Edinburgh and back with the Live 8 group. The idea is to blog the trip, including the beginning of the G8 summit.

As part of its contribution to the Live 8 effort, the blog monitoring service is urging bloggers to add one of the Technorati Live 8 badges to their blogs to help raise awareness of the effort.

M-J Milloy: Back in blog

One-time j-blogger M-J Milloy is blogging again. Once the author of the now defunct (one of the smartest, most informative and enjoyable to read city blogs I have seen to date) Milloy is now blogging about the H5N1 virus -- more commonly referred to as the bird flu virus -- at EPIDEMIca.

Milloy has apparently been at it for a little more than a month, and EPIDEMIca is an easy and informative read, but it could use a some kind of syndication feed for use with newsreaders.

Welcome back.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Yahoo 360 opens beta

Never mind.

Yahoo 360 is now in open beta.

Romenesko: Blogging for a living

According to the blogger at Mediacrity, the Poynter Institute's Jim Romenesko makes at least $152,163 US for his blog, making him the media education institute's top-paid employee.

That puts him in an elite club of bloggers who make enough money strictly from their blogs to live on.

Citing a post on's FishBowlDC blog, Mediacrity writes:

FishBowlDC points out one of Romenesko's shortcomings, which is that he has an "odd hatred of bloggers and loathes linking to blogs." That is certainly true, and I have a theory as to why that is--blogs very often beat the pants off of him, and bloggers are generally paid nothing.

By contrast, Romenesko is doing very nicely. Very nicely. In 2003, the most recent year for which IRS Form 990 figures are available for the Poynter Institute, he was paid the not inconsiderable sum of $152,163, plus $17,024 in benefits and deferred compensation. He was the highest paid employee of Poynter, as a matter of fact.

For the hordes of mathematically-challenged journalists out there, that comes to $169,187 US.

Stripping away Mediacrity's blatant political bias and apparent contempt -- or at least disdain -- for Romenesko and the media in general, it's still a noteworthy observation.

One of the vexing questions about blogging is: how does one make money doing it? Becoming a paid blogger, like Romenesko, is one way. But most who seek an income from their blogs seem to rely on ad revenue, selling merchandise, or using their blogs as a marketing tool to sell consulting or other services or products (including getting a book deal).

But if people in general and the media in particular stop regarding blogs as an Internet oddity and recognize them for what they are -- another format in the evolution of online information distribution -- maybe they can devote some of that energy to figuring out a viable business model that balances both the readers and their own financial needs in a way that doesn't sell out one for the other.

As for Mediacrity's complaints about Romenesko failing to mention a list of items mentioned at FishBowlDC, that's what the editorial process is about: being selective. Trying to characterize editorial judgement as a negative thing (unless it's clearly imbalanced) is, simply, ludicrous.

CAJ will accredit bloggers as professional journalists

I recently posted about media credentials for bloggers.

Quick on the heels of the Canadian Association of Journalists' board of directors meeting over the weekend, where I initiated a discussion on how we should address where bloggers fit into the media realm, here's an initial consensus conclusion CAJ directors reached:

Bloggers who abide by the CAJ's Statement of Principles & Ethics are eligible to receive full membership in the professional association.

That's not a formal resolution or motion that was voted on, and one would have to meet some of the other basic requirements of membership (such as either being Canadian or having legal status and/or reporting for a Canadian media outlet, etc.) but it's a key acknowledgement.

As far as I can determine, this is the first time anywhere that an organization of professional journalists of any kind -- whether it's a recognized media outlet or a professional association -- has acknowledged that bloggers who do journalism can be formally recognized and therefore accredited as journalists with the same status as their mainstream peers.

In other words, the medium in which one works has no bearing on full, official membership in the professional body; the only tests to meet are to:

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's not as simple as it may seem. Bloggers are a new category of media worker: part reporter, part editor, part columnist, part diarist, part researcher, part advocate, part activist ... (did I miss any?). It can consequently lead to some pretty grey areas.

That said, the CAJ has no intention or interest in defining who is or isn't a journalist; the association has always maintained a "walk like a duck, sound like a duck" and most of all "say you're a duck" approach to acknowledging who is a journalist.

Of course, this isn't the final word on whether some bloggers are journalists. This area is far too amorphous and is evolving too quickly to definitively pin down a blanket policy just yet (if ever). But it's an encouraging place to start the discussion.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Iraq Hack back: Tom Popyk blogs again

Freelance TV correspondent Tom Popyk is back in Baghdad and back in blog. Activity at Iraq Hack was low while Tom was back home in Canada, but now that he's blogging from the field again, keep your eyes open for some interesting news and analysis that often doesn't make it into the headlines.

The streets, and the people on them, seem more beat-up, worn-down; just piles of debris swept aside and ignored, but getting bigger.

The troops, most on their second tour, some on their third, have their heads-down, heels dug-in; they're mission-minded, get the small job done and let the Generals and politicians worry about the big picture, few optimistic. Ask if they're winning "The War on Terror" and one said, "ask me when I'm back here on the next tour." One new Iraqi soldier said: "ten years, maybe fifty - like in Germany. Americans will never leave."

For journalists, well, we seem to be declining breed. Too dangerous and expensive for freelancers; the big bureaus have downsized.

I'm lucky enough to have joined the CBS news bureau as a radio correspondent, trading flexibility for security. Low key travel with Iraqis is gone, replaced with heavy professional security and more phone calls returned from Officialdom.

And always there are the reminders of risk, echoes of AK's and the occasional thump in the air.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Sean O'Shea: Another Canadian journalist gets the blog bug

Global TV reporter Sean O'Shea has launched a blog.

After three or four years of telling Canadian journalists we should emulate our U.S. counterparts, drop the intermediaries (as much as possible) and speak directly to our audience -- or whoever might be reading -- through blogs, I think things may be starting to turn a corner north of the 49th parallel.

In the last year I've seen more Canadian journalists jump onto the blog bandwagon than in all previous years. It's a good sign.

Blogging can cause you trouble at work

This may be news to some people, although it shouldn't be. I guess that's why CanWest's careers site director Kim Peters appeared on Global TV yesterday talking about the subject, in a segment CanWest's site dubbed Your pithy and witty blog could get you into trouble"

A US 2005 study on outbound email security found that 63% of larger corporations either employ or plan to employ staff to read or otherwise analyze outbound email. More than a third of companies employ staff to monitor email today with another 26.5% saying they intend to employ such staff in the future.

Global TV: Kim, How careful should you be with your email?

Kim Peters: Companies are concerned, as they've been found responsible for email that comes from the corporate email addresses - for securities regulations and lawsuits, for example. You really should operate as if your email will be read, or at least electronically scanned. You could be held responsible for what you say. But really, it just makes sense not to divulge confidential or even company-specific information through your email address (or at all, for that matter). If you wouldn't physically carry it out with a big sign on it that it was from you personally and post it on a wall, you probably shouldn't do it.

Global TV: I understand it's not just email, but blogging has now become a concern for employees?

Kim Peters: Blogging is a diary of your thoughts that you publish and other people contribute. Some companies have taken a dim view of employee blogs that rant negatively about the company. Email and blogs may feel anonymous, but they're really like putting your name on a billboard. If you think of it that way, you'll probably be alright.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mr. Derakhshan goes to Iran

Canadian-Iranian blogger Hoder has decided he will go to Iran.

At the Canadian Association of Journalists conference last month, I asked him about his trip and he was still undecided about going to Iran, mainly due to logistical concerns about how to do so safely.

In a move that I expect we'll see more often in years to come, Hoder is asking his readers to underwrite his trip in exchange for "citizen journalist" reportage and commentary on what he sees there:

I'm a blogger, and if you are reading this post now, you have an interest in what I write about Iran and how I see and describe it. Therefore, as a citizen journalist, this trip will also benefit my readers.

I am going to need your help to finance this trip. In exchange, I will write about my observations from the life and politics in Tehran, will take hundreds of pictures, will record dozens of short videos, will interview countless influential and interesting people, and make podcasts till your ears fall off.

This kind of peer-to-peer journalism -- in which the correspondent is directly paid by and accountable to readers -- is a kind of fantasy that mainstream journalists discuss from time to time, mainly when they run afoul of advertisers -- or, rather, advertisers run afoul of them. It's more of a concern among news outlets in small towns but we've all heard anecdotal stories of pressure exerted at major media organizations.

Maybe there's a way to affordably apply this economic model to traditional news outlets so the audience has the added confidence of knowing their media is beholden to no one.

Technorati's new design blows

The title of this post says it all. Technorati's new design blows. They want you to tell them.

You can read about the changes at the Technorati blog.

In spite of some of the reasoning they offer, I don't understand why they're making the cosmetic changes. The site just seems more cluttered.

Photoblogging the news

When people ask me about where technology is going and what its impact will be, it's hard to answer such a broad question, so I narrow it down to one example.

I've been saying for a few years now that as technology advances, more people will chronicle their experiences online and give a microscopic view of news and events that unfold around us -- as opposed to the macroscopic view that mainstream media usually offer.

A couple of current examples of this are available on photo-sharing Web site Flickr:

The BBC has its audience routinely send in photos, capitalizing on the power of presence in numbers.

This kind of documentary work has been in the spotlight a few times in the recent past, usually as breaking news. The most notable example occurred after the provocative and controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was killed.

Van Gogh's body was [WARNING: graphic image] first photographed by a passerby with a cameraphone moments after he was stabbed to death. By the time news photographers arrived, the body was already covered up, so the 800,000 circulation Amsterdam daily De Telegraaf published the cameraphone image on its front page to tell the story.

What's often lacking in this kind of coverage is the context that mainstream reportage offers. But that doesn't mean it lacks value. It just offers a different, less filtered perspective of events. And as the Van Gogh example illustrates, sometimes that's not just a good thing -- sometimes it's the only thing.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Toronto Star launches podcasts

Catching up on my reading, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while I've been away -- particularly while I was busy at the Canadian Association of Journalists main annual conference in Winnipeg speaking on all things blog and podcast -- the Toronto Star launched podcasts and a blog.

I had been wondering why I didn't notice anyone from The Star in this year's blogging sessions... and what became of the distilled wisdom from previous years' efforts, which Star managers and staffers did attend. I guess I have my answer.

As far as I can tell, the podcast is the first of its kind by a major media outlet in Canada, and puts The Star into a small club of mainstream media outlets on the leading edge of Internet phenomena.

I don't know who's responsible for any of this, but I extend my congratulations to all involved and look forward to more forward-thinking developments.

Friday, June 03, 2005

What does a guy have to do to get into Yahoo 360?

I've been wondering for a while now: what does it take to get an invitation to Yahoo 360?

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, Yahoo has been running a closed public test of its new blogging system, dubbed Yahoo 360. To create or even view a Y360 blog, you have to be invited by Yahoo or a blogger with access.

Here's the part I don't understand: I'm the de facto international technology editor for a global newspaper group that has 30 million readers, the majority of whom fall into that oh-so-desirable 18-35, educated, urban professional, blah blah blah target demographic; I'm one of Canada's most vocal proponents of journalists becoming bloggers, am a regular speaker at conferences on the subject of blogs and journalism, I write about the subject all the time and will talk about it with anyone who'll listen... so why haven't I received an invitation from Yahoo to check out the service, even after e-mailing a request (twice!)??

As a journalist who follows blogging, I'm always interested in checking out what's new and in the works; it's part of the job. So why is it so difficult to get anyone at Yahoo to respond?

If anyone from Yahoo is reading, please send me an e-mail or give me a call. I'd really like an answer to this.