Monthly Archives: March 2009

Why won’t news sites link?

linkslIt’s a great story. A magician posts videos of him shipping himself to Vegas from upstate New York via UPS. The Feds investigate. Turns out it’s a hoax and a publicity stunt. Hilarity ensues.

So far, so good. But you’re reading this online. What’s your first thought?

Right: Where’s the video?

You won’t find it in the AP retelling on the site.

You won’t find a link to the YouTube preview, or the special microsite set up to detail the fake journey.

You won’t find the links in the original story, in which the Syracuse Post-Standard is punked by the magician. (You will find the non-linked name of the web site, a sure sign that this is an automated port of a newspaper story)

And you won’t find them in the follow-up story on the Post-Standard either.

I’m picking on this one story, but it’s typical of far too many news web site stories that have obvious link potential: You won’t find links there.

Full post at Nieman Journalism Lab.

More evidence that social media works

mernitSusan Mernit — another prolific and incisive writer that may not be yet be among the bookmarks of enough journalists — shares a long excerpt of an even more exhaustive White Paper on how she and her team used social media to significantly raise awareness of the most recent Knight News Challenge.

In “Case study, using social media for social good: The Knight News Challenge 2008/09,” Mernit shows, step-by-step, why you weren’t imagining things when you thought that there was an awful lot of publicity about the Challenge this time around.

Click here for the rest of this post at Nieman Journalism Lab.

“Predisposed to miserabilism”

While we’re thinking Big Thoughts about what to do after the last press wheezes to its end, I thought I’d share this funny graf about newspapermen from James Lileks, newspaperman:

You can’t avoid being tagged as habitual downers when you’re in the news business, because the Truth Hurts, or at least Hurts Someone Else – but sometimes I suspect many people in the news business are temperamentally predisposed to miserabilism, because the idea of an unjust world run by monied smileys explains why the cheerleader turned them down for a date in high school. But I know too many who don’t fit that mold. So ignore the above, except when it seems to explain something. Except when you read someone who seems to think that by afflicting the comfortable, the afflicted are automatically comforted. As if writing is charity.

From today’s Bleat.

Einstein proves advertising and content are not necessarily opposites

einstein1The current newspaper business revenue crisis has led to some old ideas being dusted off and presented as new (Paid content! Micropayments! Preservation of print circulation!), and who knows? Maybe some of the experiments rumored and foreshadowed in Long Island and Seattle and across the Hearst Empire will net some needed dollars for the ongoing operations.

But what about advertising, which remains a huge part of any revenue strategy? Surely the banner ad isn’t the sum total of our creativity in commerce? Google couldn’t have managed to build the most perfect form of commercial speech on their first try, could they? Where is the creativity in commercials? How can local newspaper companies — with their deep ties into their communities, their newsrooms full of subject-matter experts, and their platoons of sales people — have managed to not move the needle more than a few notches in 15 years of building and selling ads online?

I was wondering this last week as found my mind drifting away from the evening clot of sheet metal and tires inching northwards toward the ‘burbs and thinking about the life of Albert Einstein. My Einstein reverie wasn’t out of the blue; it was prompted by an equal parts funny and entertaining riff by The Chicago Sun-Times’s tech columnist Andy Ihnatko, who was recommending — at length — an audio book about the atomic genius.

And here’s the point: it was an ad. It’s part of a weekly feature on the popular podcasts from Leo Laporte’s TWiT network in which journalist panelists on the showstep ever-so-slightly out of their traditional roles to talk about a book that they love that happens to be available for download as part of an subscription.

Listen below as Ihnatko and Laporte talk about Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson.

Forget TiVo-proof 30-second spots, that’s a 12-minute ad! Or, to be more precise, it’s 10 minutes of interesting and entertaining content that happens to also be the largest part of an ad.

(More at the Nieman Journalism Blog)