News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Technology

March 09, 2010

Apps for Inclusion: New Knight contest to build the digital public square

On Tuesday the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a new contest to develop online and mobile applications that will help people improve their lives through better access to government/community info and services.

The Apps for Inclusion Challenge “encourages technology innovators to review government and community services and develop tools that will improve lives by making it easier for citizens to receive these services through mobile and online applications.”

This announcement came during an event co-hosted by the Knight Foundation in which the FCC previewed its forthcoming National Broadband Plan. The FCC will be “in partnership” with the Knight Foundation on Apps for Inclusion.

Contest entry criteria and deadlines have not yet been announced. However, the Knight Foundation will commit a total of $100,000 in prize money. A panel of experts will review applications and pick winners. The public will have a vote through several “people’s choice awards.”

Stay tuned for further details.

May 03, 2010

AP’s News Registry: Controversial content monitoring/distribution system to launch July 14

On April 29, the Associated Press announced several new digital news initiatives—including that its controversial News Registry system will launch July 14.

When AP first announced its News Registry plan last July, it attracted ample concern, skepticism, and scorn…

Critics complained that AP’s plan was heavy handed, confusing, and technically misguided. Supporters said the Registry would simply be good business, and they noted AP’s claims that the Registry is not intended to block fair use. (See this July 2009 CJR post, and read the comments, to get a range of views on the fair use issue.)

The strong backlash was fueled by AP CEO Tom Curley’s July 2009 statement to The New York Times that the Registry would catch and regulate AP content use as minor as a headline and a link to an article: “If someone can build multibillion-dollar businesses out of keywords, we can build multihundred-million businesses out of headlines, and we’re going to do that.”

AP says that “200 member newspapers have become part of the Registry’s beta test. That number is expected to reach 600 by the Registry’s July 14 production launch, when the platform will be opened to additional members and publishers.”

Also, the US Justice Dept. recently decided that the News Registry does not pose antitrust problems.

AP’s latest announcement includes no details of how the News Registry will function. However, last August Poynter’s Megan Taylor offered a good roundup of how AP’s News Registry is supposed to work. It’s based on microformat technology—a powerful semantic web tool that can aid discovery of relevant content, but that is also technologically simple to subvert.

AP is promoting the News Registry as a way for member papers to increase paid online distribution of their content. In the AP release, Curley is quoted as saying, “Every content creator who uses the Registry will be able to set the rights for the use of that content, so that it can be copied legally or used in new products that the industry or others create with proper permission and compensation.”

It’ll be interesting to see what rights the Registry allows for excerpting AP headlines or other content—and whether participating publishers will be free to specify usage rights for their content that are less restrictive than AP’s defaults.

July 06, 2010

News (and Newsrooms) in the Networking Age

If you’re trying to wrap your head around the transformation of the media industry, a good place to start might be the idea of “perestroika”—the old Soviet term that described the dramatic restructuring of its most mature institutions. That, in fact, is the theme for an industry gathering in Philadelphia later this month that explores the transformation of computing, communications, business, and society in the Network Age, while asking the question: After everything is connected, “what’s next?”

The July 29-30 Supernova forum, co-hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is produced by Kevin Werbach, a former FCC technology official and organizer of the PC Forum with Esther Dyson. Technologists, entrepreneurs, business executives, investors, and policymakers will come together to discuss three overarching themes.—evolving digital infrastructure and platforms, models for networked business innovation, and transforming or replacing established institutions.

Tech policy forum participants include White House official Beth Noveck, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, Google’s Washington counsel Richard Whitt and BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis. And other participants will also lead discussion at afternoon unconferences and “challenge sessions.”

Check out the agenda and register here.

If, on the other hand, you’re just trying to figure out the restructuring of your own newsroom, the gathering for you might be the International Newsroom Summit in London, Sept. 8-9.

Speakers and attendees include many European newspaper publishers, but Editor & Publisher reports The New York Time’s Arthur Sulzberger Jr., will be on the program, along with top Washington Post newsroom exec Raju Narisetti.

The key question: what does the new generation newsroom look like, and how does it operate? Discussions are around topics like newsroom synergies, smartphone publishing, innovative storytelling and paid content.  Register here.

July 30, 2010

Report: Successful News Startups Need Diverse Revenue Streams, Value Propositions

What’s the key to survival for nontraditional news startups? Diversity - at least in terms of varied revenue streams and ways to create journalistic and community value.

That’s one core precept identified this spring at a roundtable of a dozen innovative news startups and now detailed in a new report, “Seeking Sustainability: A Nonprofit News Roundtable.” The nonprofit startups included California Watch, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, Chicago News Cooperative, Voice of San Diego, The Texas Tribune and others. They were brought together in April by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Among other central lessons the startups shared:

  * Leadership, business model and visibility were more important to developing successful community and media partnerships than was initial financial backing.
  * Traditional media partners, particularly public media, can be very helpful for distributing content and providing organizational and financial support.
  * Memberships can be an effective source of revenue - incentives and benefits may be a further boost.
  * Existing technology is a better bet than custom tools, especially for startups with limited tech staffing and budget.

For more on the report, visit a July 27 post in KnightBlog, or go directly to the pdf of the 82-page report, which also includes nearly a dozen videos from the roundtable discussion.

August 09, 2010

Publish2 Offers News Co-op Tool to Help Create Wire Service-Like Partnerships

Publish2 has released a new tool that enables newsrooms to create co-ops for content sharing - a key add-on to Publish2’s recently launched News Exchange platform, a do-it-yourself system for newspapers and other publishers to distribute news by automatically exporting shared content to their print publishing systems.

The new “co-ops” aim to let one news organization seamlessly allow others to republish content from its Publish2 newswires.

According to Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at publish2.com, newspapers across a state could create a co-op to automatically share local news of wider interest, effectively creating a state wire.

The same tool could be used for national sports co-ops or national breaking news co-ops, he added. It’s also easy to imagine hyperlocal news organizations creating a co-op to share news around their community to challenge (or partner with) metros, either on print or online fronts.

Meanwhile, Publish2 has seen a spate of news services starting up, announcing July 26 that ProPublica, GlobalPost, Texas Tribune, and Texas Watchdog have created their own news wires using the Publish2 platform.

On Aug. 3, Publish2 also announced that photo agency Demotix will publish images on the platform (Neiman Journalism lab has more on the new partnership).

August 24, 2010

Knight Launches Tech Initiative; Funds $2M-Plus in Projects

More millions go into the pot for community technology with a new effort aimed at engaging citizens on local issues.  The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation launched the Technology for Engagement Initiative August 24 in an effort to “help residents take action to strengthen their communities.” Knight quickly put some large amounts behind the effort, with $2.23 million in funding going to five projects, including one with a co-founder of Facebook and another involving Craigslist.

The biggest grants - of $750,000 apiece - go to Jumo.com and to the Craigslist Foundation. The Jumo site, started by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, matches individuals interested in fostering social change with organizations that can help them do it (Hughes explains the project in a video). The Craigslist Foundation project would create an idea-sharing website.

Additional grants of $250,000 apiece will go to two other efforts. One, called Code For America, is based on the Teach for America approach and will enlist promising web developers to foster more transparent, participatory and efficient city governments. Knight funding will bring the project to Philadelphia and Boulder, CO.

The second project to receive $250,000, dubbed Community PlanIt, will use an interactive gaming platform to help community stakeholders improve planning and problem solving, initially in four communities supported by other Knight grants.

A fifth grant of $235,000 will go to a project called CEOs for Cities. The proposed effort will test a crowd-sourcing platform in San Jose, CA and Grand Rapids, MI, in order to encourage residents to work with city hall to solve local problems.

Watch a video clip for more detail on the Knight initiative, or visit the initiative site to submit your own proposal for funding.

October 19, 2010

Americans and their Gadgets: Pew report on US digital media device trends

These days, cell phones are as prevalent among US seniors as game consoles are among 18-29 year olds. That’s one of several insights in a new Pew Internet and American Life Project, American and Their Gadgets, which offers an overview of current trends in the digital media devices that Americans own.

Here are some more insights that should interest anyone who’s publishing any kind of digital media…

  • Ubiquitous cell phones. “85% of all US adults (and three-quarters of teens) now own a mobile phone.”
  • Computers: Desktops still have a slight edge. “Six in ten of Americans own a desktop computer, and half own a laptop.” Also: “Rural residents are just as likely as non-rural residents to own a desktop computer (56% of rural residents and 61% of non-rural residents do so) but are significantly less likely than non-rural dwellers to own a laptop computer (39% vs. 55%)”
  • Mobilized seniors. “Seniors are roughly 50% more likely to own a cell phone than to use the internet (40% of seniors are internet users).”
  • Other devices. “Just under half of all adults own an mp3 player (47%) or console gaming device (42%), while e-book readers and tablet computers are currently each owned by around one in 20 adults.”
  • Multiple gadgets. “78% of American adults own two or more of these devices, and the median adult owns three of the seven gadgets we asked about in our survey. ...The typical adult under the age of 45 owns four devices, while the typical adult age 55-64 owns two.”

 

November 22, 2010

USC Annenberg Launches Digital Media Innovation Lab

A newly launched center for media technology innovation has big ambitions—by putting its findings to work in the field quickly, it hopes to help tackle the marketplace dilemmas that now rack the media industry. The Annenberg Innovation Lab, announced Nov. 17 by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is positioning itself as a kind of MIT Media Lab 2.0, i.e. not just as a showcase for cutting-edge digital tools, but also as “a bridge” to outside businesses that can apply its work directly.

A key factor in the lab’s promise to bring technologies to market comes in the form of support from big corporations like IBM, Verizon, Levi’s and Mattel, which have reported pooled $1 million in initial investments in the lab. With that backing, the lab says it will focus its work in areas like semantic search for investigative reporting, multimedia e-book advances, social networking platforms, interactive TV applications, 3D storytelling tools and portable digital devices for production, distribution and monetization.

Collaboration will be central to the lab’s efforts - it plans to tap students and professors from USC’s business, engineering and film school. “The lab is a meeting place, a hub, where a lot of different kinds of people are coming together to think over the horizon but in practical terms about new kinds of digital tools for creating and disseminating information,” said long-time journalist Roberto Suro, a journalism professor at the school and the lab’s managing director.

The lab’s director will be entertainment industry veteran Jonathan Taplin, while creative director will be Erin Reilly, a virtual learning and digital media expert. Find out more on the Innovation Lab’s web site, or read coverage of the launch in this L.A. Times story and this report from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

January 10, 2011

IRE computer-assisted reporting conference: Raleigh, Feb. 24-27

It may sound quaint to refer to any act of journalism as “computer assisted” in this age of pervasive digital media—but this year’s CAR conference from Investigative Reporters and Editors offers a wealth of useful digital resources for beginners as well as advanced practitioners…

According to IRE, the Feb. 24-27 conference in Raleigh, NC will cover everything “from the latest technological advances to the basics on using spreadsheets, databases, and online mapping. Learn from the best in the business in panel discussions and during hands-on training sessions. Bypass the budget issues in your newsroom by taking classes in free software. Or get a look at what the biggest names in data-driven reporting are using to make a major impact online.”

Register now. Early bird registration ends Feb. 14.

The conference includes a special daylong NewsCamp workshop on Feb. 24 that involves several small-group, hands-on training sessions.

And before the CAR conference (on Feb 23 in Raleigh) the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism is offering a one-day workshop on investigating private companies and nonprofits.

February 15, 2011

The booming data business: Report, conference explore emerging options

News organizations generally don’t think of themselves as data companies, but they are—or at least, most have the potential to develop this business alongside their news and other offerings. A new report and upcoming event from Giga Om could help news orgs figure out where data opportunities might lie, and how to capitalize on them…

>The report Big Data (available to Giga Om Pro subscribers, 7 day free trial) covers the equipment and systems needed to store and manage large databases—or especially complex ones, as might be generated from a content management system and archive of decades’ worth of news stories, or from the web analytics for a complex, dynamic site.

Better data management tools can help journalists and editors analyze or visualize complex issues, especially those buried in unstructured information. It can make your publishing efforts more scalable. And—perhaps most importantly to the news business—it can support advertisers through data, analysis, and services.

These topics and more will be discussed at GigaOm’s March 23 event in New York City, Structure: Big Data 2011. One theme of particular interest to news publishers is how businesses are spinning out separate companies built around their data. The conference is mainly geared toward CIOs and technologists, but news publishers and technology managers might gain strategic insight here.

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