Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An online reading list for old and new media

I want to offer the folks in my newsroom a useful reading list on topics related to journalism, emerging media, etc. But rather than build it as a text document, I'm going to build it here.

So this is the goal: Instead of compling an exhaustive, show-off list of web resources related to journalism, media, new media, convergence, blah-blah-blah, I'm going to put together an edited list: Not everybody. Not even all the big somebodies. Just sites I think might be useful to journalists who want to join the conversation, plus notes.

Here's what I came up with this afternoon (Ed note: updated on Nov. 30):

Big ideas, discussion and criticism
The Mac Daddy of all media/new media sites: Jay Rosen's PressThink. You at least check it every day, even if there's not a new post, because the comments and discussions can be great. Rosen is currently off writing a book, so his readers are keeping up the site ... even though Jay is still guiding things from behind the scenes. (RSS)

Jeff Jarvis' Buzzmachine is considered by many to be the perfect companion/counterpoint to PressThink. I disagree. I think you read Jarvis for Jarvis and Rosen for Rosen. Rosen has a better comments section.

Professor Andrew Cline has a blog and a podcast and calls it the Rhetorica Network. Cline is great at cutting through the crap on bias claims. Does bias exist? You betcha. Only it's more complex than most people think.

First Draft by Tim Porter is a very Rosen-esque site, in that the concepts are big and the context runs deep. The big difference is that Porter is a newsroom veteran, while Rosen is an academic. Porter isn't trying to bury newspapers -- he wants to save them. But he also understands that the real goal is improving journalism, no matter where it appears.

Dan Gillmor used to be the main man when it came to blogging about grassroots journalism. He even wrote the book on the subject: We The Media. These days he's involved in a local San Francisco project, so his blog isn't quite as useful to people outside the Bay Area as it used to be.

CJR Daily: Real-time media analysis from the Columbia Journalism Review. CJR Daily is the lair of Steve Lovelady, one of the great personalities and thinkers from PressThink.

MediaChannel is a broad, deep resource. The MediaChannel's Danny Schechter blogs as The News Dissector, and you can get him every morning in your e-mail if you subscribe.

Steve Yelvington works for Morris in Augusta and was the brains behind the Bluffton Today model. He's awfully damned smart. Don't-miss link: Ten years in new media: Looking back, looking forward. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

Morph is a collection of writings, with comments, at The MediaCenter. (RSS)

Why should we limit our discussions of new media to old media forms? EPIC 2014 is an eight-minute Flash animation by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson that will orient you as well as any ponderous feed you might add to your browser.

Technology, culture, geekery, etc.
Slashdot: News for Nerds.Stuff that Matters is one of the best-read sites on the net, but if you're a journalist, you've probably never heard of it. (RSS)

Dave Winer's essential proto-blog, The Scripting News (RSS available, but not recommended, and isn't that ironic considering that Dave is the RSS Daddy?) probably has more daily readers than your newspaper does. Chew on that for a while.

The business
Digital Deliverance is a media business blog by Vin Crosbie. Crosbie also blogs over at the Corante group collaboration Rebuilding Media. He thinks big thoughts, but they're generally industry thoughts, not journalism-practioner thoughts. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

Lost Remote TV blog is useful to print journalists trying to get the new media world, in which you have to grasp multiple media, not just newsprint. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

Romanesko is the place to get the buzz about the journalism business. It's more like gossip column/newsletter for journalists more than it is a serious discussion of Big-J Journalism (although this is where you get the news that fuels those discussions). It's part of the Poynter Institute, which also offers the useful E-Media Tidbits, which is nice to have as an e-mail subscription.

Memeorandum: The Newfangled News Tangle (RSS) is a way of tracking what stories are being discussed. I keep it as both a static bookmark and as an RSS bookmark, and if you check it out you'll understand why. The static bookmark gives me more info about the items. The RSS bookmark makes for faster scanning.

For more meme tracking with strange little graphics that mean something, try The Daypop Top 40 (RSS available, but not recommended).

Blogdex calls itself The Weblog Diffusion Index. (Keep the RSS and static bookmarks side by side in your favorites)

The Hotline's Blogometer might just be the one thing I'd read every day if I could only read one thing. This is the best digest of blogosphere comment I've ever found. New one posted every business day at noon.

Blogpulse has multiple Zeitgeist/meme-tracking tools. I don't use them, but some people will love 'em because they're so easily customized.

Technorati is the standard for blog searching and its basic search page gives you the Top 10 search terms for the past hour. So if you wanna write about something that people are talking about, ya go to Technorati...

Newsmap gives you a real-time visual grok of the global info stream by country perpspective. Size, color, x-and-y coordinates -- everything means something at Newsmap.

Media watchdogs
Liberal watchdog: Media Matters for America. (RSS)

Conservative watchdog: Media Research Center.

Newspaper blogs/sites
The Times Picayune became a virtual newspaper the day Katrina hit, because so much of its readership was literally scattered to the winds. Today, its NOLA.com website has elements that might make it the world's biggest blog.

John Robinson's The Editor's Log. Here's the editor of a mid-size metro daily walking the walk for transparent, user-focused 21st century journalism..

The (Greensboro, N.C.) News and Record's staff blog and reader-writer blog idex page is called Town Square. Notice how the reporters who blog here are blogging as an extension of their beats, not as opinion columnists. Unless, of course, they happen to be opinion columnists.

rtptv.com is a different kind of site. It's the online component of the newsprint RTP Tech Journal, but rtptv.com manages to be innovative in all sorts of ways. I like the idea behind its frontpage design. I like the way they use video. I like the way they structure and organize content.

GoUpstate is the website for The (Spartanburg, SC) Herald-Journal. It's run by Andy Rhinehart, a former print reporter who taught himself HTML back in the 1990s. GoUpstate works in ways many larger newspaper sites don't, and despite being the website's only employee, Andy still finds time to innovate. Consider: GoUpstate has been streaming live audio coverage of local high school football games for years, while other papers in the state struggle to post high school scores before Saturday morning. Note how the homepage design is optimized to fit your a computer screen.

Bluffton Today is a significant experiment in combining online and print products. Lots of web-savvy thinking here, and bold uses of user-generated content. It would belong under the hyperlocal header, but it's corporate, not independent.

The Knoxville News Sentinel site (KnoxNews.com) is one of the better ones out there, at least as far as design goes.

Will Bunch is a newspaper guy who runs the full-service blog Attytood in Philadelphia. It wasn't on my list at the beginning, but after going back on a recommendation, it's high on the list now. (Special recommendation from Paul Lukasiak.)

The Cincinnati Post has a blog for its photo staff that offers a simple and attractive concept: Put up a shot, write about it, then let the users comment. Good photos provoke strong emotions, so this is a natural fit. Special recommendation from Grace Beahm.

Ed Cone, who could write the book on metablogging, is best known for his Word Up blog, which everybody just call's "Ed's blog." He also blogs about ACC basketball, among other topics. (RSS) I could point out other metablogs, but in the spirit of the original idea, I'll stop here. Just read Ed.

Hyperlocal, independent news blogs/sites
The New Haven Independent was founded by a long-time reporter who spotted something I had written at PressThink and decided to give journalism another try -- on his terms. I think it's a great site, naturally.

Hypergene is a participatory journalism blog, with plenty of how-to stuff. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

If you live in Watertown, Mass., and you care about local events and have a computer and a sense of humor, you read H2OTown. It's written by Lisa Williams.

I seldom get around to reading this, but check out Essex County, New Jersey's The Barista of Bloomfield Avenue by Debbie Galant and Liz George. This is hyperlocal news with style and pop and personality. It's a nice bookend for H2OTown, too.

Greensboro101 is Roch Smith's community blog portal. Between Roch and Ed and The News and Record, Greensboro, NC, had everything it needed to become the capital city of Blog Nation.

Craig's List could have been filed in all sorts of places on this list, but I'm putting it here because it functions as a useful connection to your community. Those of you in the newsprint business should be paying particular attention, because Craig's List and its unborn cousins are far bigger threats to your traditional business model than flashy start-ups like Pajamas Media will ever be. Craig's List is where you go to find a job, a rug, a roommate or a ride, but you can also rant about what bugs you, write a love poem to the woman who smiled at you as her train left the station, or book a multi-partner neighborhood sex party for the weekend.

Useability, web design and site architecture
Jay Small works for Scripps-Howard and blogs at Small Initiatives. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

Jeffery Zeldman is a web designer and author who blogs at Zeldman.com. (Special recommendation from Andy Rhinehart)

Steve Krug wrote a great book about website useability (Don't Make Me Think). There's more at his site.

Chris Nolan is a recovering reporter who morphed into a techie and now blogs with a sharp, cold eye.

Wikipedia belongs on any new media list for a couple of reasons. In the first place, if you need a reference for new media developments and their related technical terms, or if you're looking for information on the innovators in the field, Wikipedia is probably the best place on Earth to find quick answers. Secondly, it's the largest encyclopedia ever created, a feat accomplished with only two paid employees. But I think it belongs here for a third reason: Wikipedia is a model of the voluntary cooperation that is an emerging theme in Internet culture. This tends to freak out business types, who can't imagine such behavior on such a broad scale. Like it or not, wiki-esque cooperation and community is going to be a feature of future commerce, so you'd better adapt your thinking to include it.

(Nov. 21 update: Wrote a more descriptive header for the first category; added the link to the EPIC 2014 Flash animation; added Craig's List and Wikipedia; fixed the spelling of Jay Small's name, which has only one "S" in it; fixed the link to CJR; after going back and reading it more thoroughly than I have in the past, I added Attytood to the list on the recommendation of investigative reporter Paul Lukasiak. Thanks for the other recommendations so far -- I'll have to take some time to check them out before deciding whether or not to add them.

(Nov. 22: Took the non-existant "e" off Roch Smith's name. Thank you, Anna H.)

(Nov. 30th: Fixed style and bad-writing glitches, fixed fixes I missed, added the interesting photoblog suggested by Grace Beahm. I've gotten myself an in-house website for the newsroom, so it's about time to post this stuff for my bretheren. Thanks to everyone for your feedback and help, both on- and off-blog. --dc)