Digg the New York Times

A few familiar social bookmarking icons can now be spotted on stories at NYTimes.com. Just look for the Share heading in the Article Tools box. Click on it, and Digg, Facebook, and Newsvine buttons drop down, along with an all-important Permalink option that issues a linkrot-proof way to blog about the story in question, no trip to the RSS feed or old Link Generator page necessary.

NYTimes.com sharing options

via TechCrunch

Still wondering which online journalism skills to learn first? Glad you asked.

Wow.

A great study by Northwestern master’s student C. Max Magee surveys Online News Association members and other online journalists to find out which skills are most important for aspiring Web-native producers and managers.

Some of the findings are pretty standard: Attention to detail, multitasking ability, and communication skills are high on the list. That should go for any reporter or editor.

When it comes to technical skills, HTML, CMS use, and Photoshop are the big three, with Web usability in fourth place. I’m not sure if we’re talking about accessibility or UI, but I’m glad to see that folks think it’s important, either way.

At the bottom of the list? Javascript, database administration, and Flash.

Hmm. I’d like to see those last two a bit higher, but perhaps the majority of papers take a walk-then-run approach, which makes sense in many, many ways.

Skills that aren’t mentioned at all? RSS and blogs.

Interesting.

via pretty much every blog I read, but here’s a link out to online news squared, the source of this bonus link:

The video editor at the New York Times answers questions from readers:

“…we don’t consider video journalism to be a ‘cyber-fad,’ or ‘an after-thought.’ Nor would we concede that television stations’ journalism is better produced than our own; in fact we have an advantage in being able to create a new form without being constrained by time limits or Nielsen ratings.”

Take that, broadcasters. Note to self: Production values are crucial…

Job: Develop WordPress blogs for the New York Times

[Ed. note: I normally stuff interesting job postings into the del.icio.us feed that runs down the right rail of this blog, or in your feed reader, but this one is too interesting not to point to from here.]

The New York Times is hiring a WordPress developer.

The job is posted on the PaidContent new media list, and I imagine it’s elsewhere as well. This is pretty high up there on the list of jobs I want, in about a year or two.

I don’t read the NYT blogs – I think some of them are behind the TimesSelect paywall, but I never stick around long enough to figure it out.

But still, there must be a dozen highly qualified WordPress developers out there who would drool at a gig like this.

Oh – note to J-School students – learning this stuff does, in fact, get you hired.

It was the best of MyTimes…

I haven’t seen it for myself yet, apparently not being one of the chosen 5,000 beta testers, but the New York Times aggregator/personalized news page called MyTimes is live.

Reviews, analysis, and gripes are up at TechCrunch and PaidContent, including screenshots for the curious.

It looks like a flawed but good effort from what I can see. The best part, or at least the most pleasant bit of functionality might be the sharing of your list of feeds with other users. Of course, their angle is more like “Read what our journalists read,” but the potential should be there to have a list of “friends” and be able to see their list of sources and easily add them to your own page, sort of Netflix-ish. Does Rojo do this? I think it might, but I don’t have any personal friends who use it, so it’s not something I’ve pursued.

What I know I like about this is that it’s a newspaper rolling their own RSS and social networking play, without hooking themselves to a MySpace or a NewsGator (Ed. Note: both of which I use with great frequency and abandon).

If more newspapers can make more of their own plays in the send-the-users-away-so-they-come-back-for-more department, they’ll be one step closer to becoming a destination for information rather than just one source of many.

New York Times on e-paper

“One Day Soon, Straphangers May Turn Pages With a Button”

The New York Times reports on the move some newspapers are already making to e-paper:

“This is only one test of new e-paper devices competing to become the iPod of the newspaper business. Other e-paper trials are being undertaken by the paper Les Echos, which is based here, by the newspaper trade group IFRA in Germany and, in the United States, by The New York Times….The International Herald Tribune, which is owned by The New York Times Company, is also in discussions to make subscriptions available later this year for the same e-paper devices used by De Tijd, according to Michael Golden, the International Herald Tribune’s publisher.”

Engadget provides some recent updates on the technology.

Here’s my little futurist riff on the topic from a few weeks ago.

This boring headline is full of keywords

I’m having fun reading the headlines on all the blog posts that refer to a New York Times story from a few days ago. The story, which sported the headline “This Boring Headline Is Written For Google,” sort of half-explained the fact that online editors are now writing their headlines to specifically appeal to a wider audience on the Web that might not know exactly what they’re talking about when the headline is taken out of context of its home paper.

Oh, and this helps things like Google News find your stories, too.

A few amusing blog post headlines from a quick spin around the Web:

And thus, (a little bit late, I know), I’ve written a blog post about bloggers writing headlines about the New York Times writing headlines about writing headlines for search engines.

Meta.

Redesign round-up: The New York Times

nytredesignThe New York Times launched a redesigned home page yesterday, with Multimedia and Video high enough on the page to make me happy, and a cute little “Most Popular” tabbed box that includes the stories getting e-mailed and blogged the most, as well as the top search terms on the site.
It gets better. Click on an article, then scroll down to the bottom of the story, and you’ll find direct links to “Related Blogs,” as well as related stories (although anything older than a few days is hidden behind the Times Select paywall) and searches on the keywords from the story.
I was about to moan and groan that even after buying Blogrunner, the company behind the Annotated New York Times, the redesigned site hadn’t started self-annotating. Of course, I would prefer the blog links to be a little more high profile. Hey Mr. Apcar, how about creating a little logo bug for the “NYT Annotations” and placing those “related blog” headlines a little higher up on the page, a la WashingtonPost.com. Take a look at this article on trends in Internet traffic and notice how easy it is to find the blogs. Then again, my eye is drawn to the familiar little green Technorati logo.

The most intriguing link on the new NYT site is right on top of the page, just to the right of the “Home Page” button. It’s the one that says “My Times.”

Whoa. That looks like a New York Times personal homepage, or maybe an aggregator, or more likely, a memetracker. The tagline is “Where the best minds in journalism help you edit the Web.” Hmm. Interesting. You can even sign up for the beta to be notified when the service goes live. How very Web 2.0.

More along these lines:

  • Khoi Vinh, a web designer for the NYTimes who came on board after the redesign was already underway, gives some details about the operation.
  • Anil Dash of blog software compant Six Apart writes that the new NYT borrows from blog layout, including the new 1024 pixel width.
  • Mike Arrington of TechCrunch is patiently awaiting the arrival of blog content published directly on newspaper sites.
  • Dave Winer isn’t impressed“…because it ignores most that has been learned about reading news on a computer screen, and instead models the front page of the print pub. Not a good use of the screen, it ignores the fact that they can produce a new document for each user every time they visit.”
  • Steve Outing says the new width on the NYT site means it’s finally time to ditch your outdated monitor and upgrade to a higher resolution. Amen to that. I fought this change early this semester at the Daily, but then quickly saw the Knight Ridder sites and CNN both stretch out their pages. Seriously, even the cheapest of cheap monitors these days should be able to handle 1024-pixel-wide pages. (Note to self: Should this blog page get wider?)
  • And finally, James Cramer writes this week in New York Magazine that the Times should ditch the print edition entirely and go all-digital.

    “That’s right. It should abandon newsprint and force everyone to the Web. It should make a stand against Google, using its About.com division—something with real growth, and which is actually working out despite the $410 million in debt taken down to buy the thing—to lead the way. Maybe it should even take the revolutionary step of blocking Google from accessing its content, something no one else is willing to do. Or maybe it should at least say, “This is the deal: You want our stuff, you must share much more with us than you are willing to share with others.” It is worth it to preserve value for the future, to make it so our kids don’t think, Let me go to Google for all the news that’s fit to print. Heck, in another couple of years they won’t even know that the New York Times exists as anything but private-label news source for an Internet portal.”

What would your dream newspaper homepage look like? (And with that, I admit that I daydream about this sort of thing. Sigh.)

Who Needs Ink? A panel discussion on the Future of Newspapers

Commonwealth Club event at San Jose City Hall: Who Needs Ink?

Who’s here?

  • Ex-Mercury News tech writer Dan Gillmor, currently of various citizen journalism initiatives
  • Jerry Ceppos, ex-Knight Ridder news executive (and Merc alum)
  • Peter Appert, a Goldman Sachs analyst
  • Joan Walsh, Salon‘s editor-in-chief
  • Jim Bettinger, communications prof from Stanford (and Merc alum) is moderating
  • And about 60 audience members…(It is a rainy night…)

[ooOOh: There is free wifi at City Hall. Go figure… By the way, the SaveTheMerc folks were at the registration table.]

The Future of Newspapers is pretty timely at the moment, with the future of the Mercury News (way) up in the air, along with the 11 other KR orphans.

Oh, and I don’t have my camera with me tonight, but for nostalgia’s sake, you can check out this shot of Dan Gillmor with a couple SJSU faculty members from last year. (I am not a photojournalist.) If anyone took pictures tonight, I’ll happily link to them. (Steve Sloan’s got a shot here)

Okay, enough preamble…questions are being asked by Bettinger.

[Ed. note: If it’s not in quotes, it’s paraphrased.]

Do investors think the business model is broken?

  • Appert: There will still be a paper on your doorstep tomorrow and the next week. Revenue growth is sliding, and if you’re public, there’s pressure from the shareholders to get more value out of the company.
  • Gillmor: “The facts are the facts. The business model is eroding…” Newspapers under attack by “nimble, hungry” competitors. (Who is he talking about? Blogs? Alt weeklies? TV? I dunno.)
  • Ceppos: “We clearly have a great new way to distribute the news, but there still is a print culture in our newsrooms.” Take half your staff, and point them at the Internet. For real. Not “Hey, file a story online before you write your important story for the paper.” The culture of the newsroom has to change. Free dailies will do well, but the Web is the thing. It’s the content that matters, not the channel.

Can the Web revenue grow fast enough?

  • Ceppos: Probably not, but let’s figure out how to make money off it.
  • Appert: Internet ad revenues for news orgs are growing, but the print revenue is shrinking faster. Web ad rates are a fraction of print rates. (Ed. note: Charge More.)
  • Ceppos: Ditching the stock tables from print is a bright idea, and it has been for years. Why did it take so long? (What I want to know: What else can print cut out this year?)
  • Walsh: Yesterday’s wire stories? Ditch ’em. Everyone read those online last night. The Rosenstiel report: more outlets doesn’t mean more news. What took big orgs like the NY Times so long to integrate print and Web? “We have to think of ways to make newspapers essential again, and they might not be newspapers.

Are newspapers dinosaurs? Slow, lumbering and tiny-brained?

  • Ceppos: Yes. The NYT’s e-mail the bylined writer schtick – once a day the writer gets a set of e-mail. Plus, the Times Select op-ed writers’ e-mail addys are still hidden behind the paywall.
  • Gillmor: Newspapers are in the manufacturing biz, not the news biz. “That’s what really runs the business.” How do you get out of that while maintaining enough good journalism? “Clearly, killing the stock tables is a very nice first step.” Appert: “I love the stock tables.” Gillmor: Understands the NYT’s fear of gobs and gobs of reader e-mail, but they should still get it. News people have to understand that the audience is an active participant now. Cue We The Media Mantra: “My readers know more than I do.”
  • Appert: “The freight is paid by the advertiser,” so how do we make the newspaper more appealing to the advertiser so we can make money to make great news?
  • Gillmor: Journalism isn’t getting the high-margin ads (the classifieds). Walsh: Advertising can’t really drive the discussion. Success is going to come with feeding your audience what the want – be nimble, be creative. Appert: “Tragically, I think you’re wrong.” Editorial has to be aware of what the advertisers want.

How has Salon been profitable?

  • Walsh: “We cut costs to the bone and it wasn’t pretty.” Then, they focused on what they do best. At one point, they talked about subscribing to the AP wire and rewriting stories “the Salon way.” We’ve got a subscriber model – if you subscribe, you don’t see the ads. That’s not actually working out that well. (The advertisers want the opinion leaders’ eyes, eh?) Comments are on, and there’s no flood of crap to edit for libel/death threats, but it’s going alright. The WaPo comments flap, and the WaPo plagiarist blogger kerfuffle.
  • Gillmor: The Web works great because you can experiment and cherry-pick the winning ideas.

Verification before publication, or publication and self-correction?

  • Gillmor: Most blogs are conversation, not journalism, so don’t sweat it. Factual errors can be fixed quickly. Citizen Journalism doesn’t mean that everyone’s a journalist; it means that some people “from time to time, commit an act of journalism.” Dan’s new rules for journalism include transparency.
  • Ceppos: The best newspaper sites are getting the news out accurately.

The Google/Yahoo News question – aggregation vs. creation?

  • Ceppos: Pretty neat, but I don’t need to read the same story 10 times. People want news, they need news, they’ll get news. Will there be any money to pay for news? Yeah, but put that big bunch of staff on the online edition.
  • Walsh: Newspapers are overstaffed. Cue Chronicle joke. This is a Merc room… Great journalism has not been rewarded – KR’s Iraq repoprting was best.

Audience questions:

Has the print industry outlived the business model?

  • Gillmor: The transition from here to there (print to online) doesn’t “happen by magic.” Newsrooms are full of real humans with real jobs. It’s not easy to change. “I don’t know that we need newspapers, I know we need what newspapers do.”
  • Appert: Family-owned papers have much more freedom to make changes and let profits slide a bit without shareholders to answer to.
  • Is the long form feature story dead?

  • Walsh: No worries – when a story’s great, we put up 5000 words, and we can tell if people are reading the whole thing. “We don’t have the limits of advertisers supporting pages.” Gillmor: “I print them out.”
  • Ceppos: Magazines will be the place for long form writing.
  • Gillmor: Magazines are great niche publications. “In those cases, the advertising is at least as interesting as the editorial content.”
  • Appert: What about the Wednesday grocery ads in newspapers?
  • Ceppos: “Why shouldn’t every newspaper be famous for something? When you try to cover everything, you cover nothing very well.”

How many audience members read a daily newspaper?

  • The demand for instant news, without a physical product…
  • Gillmor: Hopefully there’s some sort of way to package news to create context in communities.
  • Walsh: The NOLA Times Picayune rocked after Katrina. Went straight to the Web, then published readers’ stories. “The readers became experts.”
  • Appert: Demographics are a challenge. Newspapers have a depth of local coverage you can’t get from other media.

What should J-Schools be doing to prepare students for the future?

  • Ceppos: We should focus less on convergence and the specifics of how to build web pages — we should be teaching them how to cover the news and file stories in different ways. Focus on the basics, but know how to file for all media.
  • Walsh: At NY event she was at, news execs were falling over each other to make content deals with J-Schools. (Ed. note: PAY US. Please do not refer to students as “cheap labor.” It’s not cheap for us, mmkay?)

Tom Paine + Ben Franklin = blogs? Death of newspapers is okay, right?

  • Gillmor: “Blog” is just a “foxy word” “proxy word” [CORRECTED 4/1/06 – Thanks Dan!] for “doing things ourselves.” Ninety-five percent of everything (not just blogs – everything) is crap. How do we surface the really good stuff? We need to get past the Daily Me and to the Daily We. “The Tom Paines of tomorrow are probably going to be doing it with video” and other forms that are native to the next generation of mediamakers.

What direction should news orgs be “sprinting” to in search of the new business model?

  • Appert: It’s not that bad yet, but it’s getting worse, so sprint.

Why print out Web stories to read them, fellas?

  • Ceppos: The lack of portability.
  • Gillmor: Screens aren’t pleasant enough to read yet for long periods of time. Good stuff coming soon, and more portable too. (Ed. note: think e-paper.)
  • Ceppos: You want to pass a section of the paper back and forth over the breakfast table with your spouse. (Ed. note: Bathroom reading did pop up as another reason.)

Local weeklies, dailies?

  • Gillmor: Consolidation has made weeklies crappier. But they should be better, and have a chance, because a lot of these areas are too small for Craig’s List to get into.
  • Ceppos: Still not convinces that people care about their hyperlocal news.
  • Appert: Hyperlocal papers have the best penetration rates. Chorus: They’re free.
  • Gillmor: Metro dailies could let communities talk to each other about their local issues.

Vision/Mission statement for a new print paper?

  • Ceppos: “Be famous for something.”
  • Walsh: Great reporting and writing, and “a place for the reader at the table.”

Last question: What’s the most important journalistic value that needs to be preserved, and how?

  • Walsh: Accuracy. “It’s not very sexy…” but you can’t separate the current news problems from the accuracy and credibility problems.
  • Gillmor: “Telling the truth,” a slight twist on accuracy/objectivity. Help readers sort out the important issues instead of just reporting he said/she said. Laments for the KR Washington bureau that stood up re: Iraq.
  • Ceppos: “A new kind of fairness that goes further than we’re comfortable with.” Though the WaPo’s right-wing blogger idea wasn’t bad. “Preferably, don’t hire a plagiarist to do this…” Change traditional news-covering habits to avoid imbalances. (He told his Republican pumpkin story — those who have heard it once or twice before know what I’m talking about.)
  • Appert: The industry can’t survive without journalistic principles, BUT “profability is required to support good journalism.”

(For the answers to a few more questions, check out Edupodder Steve Sloan’s podcast, recorded last night after the panel discussion.)

My take: First one to figure out a new business model for newspapers WINS.

Personally, I think the print newspaper should either be a luxury item or a rock-bottom bare-bones tabloid. Perhaps both, eh? Charge more (alot) for the fat luxury version, and charge advertisers more (alot) to reach the demographic that can afford it. In the tab version, print just top national news, more local news, sports, and the funnies. Make the tab free, with appropriate ads for the demographic it reaches. The luxury version is what subscribers get at home, the tab is what you pay 50 cents for at the newsstand, and the online edition is completely free, with lots of multimedia, audio, video, opinion, blogs, forums, and comments are on everywhere. But that’s just me.

Travel the world, meet interesting people, blog for the New York Times

Win a trip to the developing world with Nick Kristof.

What?

And you won’t just be watching. I want you to report as well – probably in a Web log or video blog on the New York Times Web site, maybe in some other way. I’m open to other ideas as well, but I want you to convey reactions to what we encounter to the Times audience. You won’t be practicing tourism, but journalism.

We’ll be traveling with Naka Nathaniel, who is legendary at The Times for his multimedia presentations on the Web. He often travels with me to produce video specials from my trips, and he’ll work with you as well on your presentations and help you file them by satellite phone.

Okay.