"Why can't a newspaper [use] more blog [technology]?

Barry Parr just concluded his “Why can’t a newspaper be more like a blog?” series. Over the last week or so, Barry has taken his “deliberately provocative” headline and explored how online news publishers could learn much from blogs.

While he covers a number of different related topics, his main point is that news sites should encourage — not just allow — readers to comment on their content, either through comments on the story itself (just like your standard blog comments) or through TrackBacks (which most blogs offer these days).

It’s a good idea, but it’ll be a hard, hard sell to most newspaper management, the majority of whom are uncertain about how to proceed on the web. Most stick to formats and features that are much (or exactly) like their print product. While there are some legitimate issues about liability involved, I think the bulk of the problem is a fear of losing control. Most newspapers tightly control their content and presentation.

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APA Award

A website I designed and programmed while at my last job (it went live over two years ago) won a First Place Award in the 2003 Arkansas Press Association Awards (award results not on their website yet).

That site got second place in 2001, third place in 2002, and, finally, first place in 2003. I’m sure it would mean more to me if I were still at that job, but I’m still pretty happy with it (the award, not the site).

The sites at my current job were not submitted for the awards this year, so I had no chance of winning. Next year, based on the redesign I’m working on now, I think I’ll have a good shot at another First Place. And the sites will be submitted next year.

independent vs. corporate content

John Gruber waxes eloquently about independent content in today’s Daring Fireball. He makes a lot of good points about the goals and means of independent vs. corporate content (and not just on the web). While his categories of “independent” and “corporate” imply a pigeon-holing that is pretty strict, his observations about content and audience can be applied to the advantage of corporate publishers as well. More on this later once I’ve had a chance to study on it a bit more.

UPDATE: Bloggers Gain Libel Protection

UPDATE: Jeff Balkin, an attorney who blogs clarifies the court’s decision mentioned here the other day. Bloggers aren’t protected from libel laws for things they write themselves, only for linking to libelous stories or — and this may be most important — libelous statements written by others but published in the blogger’s comments section.

Newspapers ARE liable for libelous statements in letters to the editor, presumably because they are checked thoroughly before publication. Would a newspaper that allows comments on its stories on its website which are NOT edited (just like most bloggers’ comments) be protected under this ruling if someone were to post a libelous comment to the newspaper’s website? I would think so (based upon my reading of the decision and my legal education), but it might have to get tested in court first, an expensive and embarrassing (just being accused) prospect for any newspaper.

That being said, I would like to see more newspapers experimenting with real comments sections targeted at individual stories, just as many bloggers (myself included) offer comment sections for each post, especially if reporters and editors get involved in the comments, creating a two-way conversation about the news.