December 2004 Archives

Top 10 online journalism stories


From Cyberjournalist

1. Bloggers cover political conventions (Multiple related entries)

2. Blogs post exit polls

3. Sites create great presidential campaign interactives (Specifically: Great presidential candidate selectors and The best campaign interactives

4. Few newspaper readers visit papers' sites

5. launches blog-like features

(Also see this entry in which Times reporter Andrew Revkin discusses his blog-like diary.)

6. California paper undertakes ambitious participatory journalism project

7. Blogs still rare, but foster community

8. Could Google News be sued for libel?

9. More than 6 million paid video subscribers

10. NakedNews, porn goes wireless

How to Sell Your Boss


Working Smart: How to Sell Your Boss.

As the president of a company, I spend a good deal of time listening to proposals. Those doing the pitching usually need my approval to proceed with their project. Frankly, I never cease to be amazed at how poorly most people do in this kind of situation.

Cognitive overload


Sometimes it seems it's the only way to get things done. We call it multi-tasking; scientists call it cognitive overload. It's become a way of life at the office and at home, but the question is whether in the end we benefit. Good article about this from Seattle Times. Interesting discussion at Slashdot.

Reading email or surfing sites is one common way people multitask. In Dec. 30 NY Times "Internet Use Said to Cut Into TV Viewing and Socializing" it says a current study shows "an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes." Article repeats something I'd read recently that younger people use instant forms of online communication and many only use email to communicate with older folks, like their parents.

Play 20 questions

| It's eerie how many times it gets the right answer.

Good reading from ACBJ -- Dec. 27


Lists for my reading list


New York Times: 100 Notable Books of the Year. Several interesting non-fiction books

Wired News: Slip a Geek Book Under the Tree. For my list: "Spam Kings: The Real Story Behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and %*@)# Enlargements" by Brian McWilliams.

The Economist's top book picks of 2004. For the list: "Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America" By Nomi Prins.

rexblog library of accidental blog books. For the list: "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson

More news to depress newspaper execs


Wired news: Newspapers should Really Worry. Washington Post focus group of 18-34-year-olds found many who would not accept a subscription even if it were free. Point of article is repeat of what many already know: this age group will never acquire the newspaper-reading habit.

Lauren Rich Fine, a managing director for Merrill Lynch and a member of Poynter's board of directors, noted some positives in her annual industry forecast, including that newspapers have a better reach than other mass market media (the broadcast industry faces even more challenges) and newspapers will continue to do will with Sunday preprint advertising. The negatives facing the industry include: its demographics are older and less attractive to advertisers, long-term circulation decline, and further loss of local help wanted advertising.

While saying nice things about newspapers, when Fine recommends stocks of newspapers she lists only E.W. Scripps, with its cable operations, and Washington Post, with its education division.

Last Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal's advertising newscolumn looked at the lack of a rebound in newspaper advertising. Reasons given was inability to provide a compelling product from either the what's on the web or CNN. One marketing consultant in the article said another problem was stodgy "squared-off, regimented print ads."

Even when looking hopeful, there seems to be worries. Last month in MediaPost: Print's Future: Full Of Changes, But Experts Say There Will Be One. "Print will see its place at the media table change over the next few years, as technology dramatically impacts both the business and users' habits, but the medium is expected to survive and potentially thrive."

Top science advances for 2004


A watery past on Mars and the Indonesian "hobbit" were the top picks by Science magazine via BBC.

Good reading from ACBJ -- Dec. 20


Why I Write by George Orwell


The Literature Network has an essay by George Orwell about writing.

Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

1. Sheer egoism.
Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen – in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all – and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

2. Aesthetic enthusiasm.
Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

3. Historical impulse.
Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

4. Political purpose.
– Using the word 'political' in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Tip from Websense.

Oldest domain names


Ads viewers hate most


Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: The Most Hated Advertising Techniques: 1) Pops-up in front of your window, 2) Loads slowly 3) Tries to trick you into clicking on it.

Punctuation tips


Roy Peter at the Poynteronline has offered 50 writing tips since April. The current tip is about punctuation.

"Most punctuation is required, but some of it is optional." he writes. Quick tips on using semicolons, commas, dash and thos other pesky things.

Good reading from ACBJ -- Dec. 13


Oils, clay, Powerpoint


Wired: PowerPoint Message Is the Medium. "(W)hat if a group of artists got hold of the software and competed with each other to see who could use it most imaginatively?"

Wired: Roads Gone Wild: No street signs. No crosswalks. No accidents. Surprise: Making driving seem more dangerous could make it safer.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, planners have redesigned several major streets, removing traffic signals and turn lanes, narrowing the roadbed, and bringing people and cars into much closer contact. The result: slower traffic, fewer accidents, shorter trip times.

Good reading from ACBJ -- Dec. 6


Books -- Dec. 5


Current: "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. Good read. That's why I look forward to his books.

"Little Scarlett" by Walter Mosley. First time to read Mosely. Want to read more

"Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

"Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaason

"Plain heathen mischief" by Martin Clark.

Audio Books

Current: "There must be a pony in here somewhere: the AOL Time Warner debacle and the quest for a digital future" by Kara Swisher.


"Riding in Cars with Boys" by Beverly Donofrio

Intelligence in war (from Nelson to Hitler)" by John Keegan. About a third of it.

"Shadow Divers" by Robert Kurson

"The last stand of the tin can sailors (the extraordinary World War II story of the U.S. Navy's finest hour)" by James D. Hornfischer