Monday, August 17, 2009

Delicious Today: local, social news, $$

#1: acquires local news Web site: Chicago-based EveryBlock will continue as independent brand
EveryBlock "allows users to type in their address, neighborhood name or ZIP code to view nearby news coverage, blog entries, civic data, photos and dozens of other types of information — all updated throughout the day."

Even though it covers only 15 big cities, EveryBlock is a rare example of data-mining journalism that digs deep into government and public databases (using technology and people) to create useful and meaningful local content. It has invented a new form of journalism practice that's native digital journalism. The significance could be like that of camera movement for movies. Early movies often repackage theater performance for screens using a fixed movie camera. Then people discovered the wonder of moving cameras, and a new form of visual storytelling was born. Most of the online journalism today is still in the repackage phase. EveryBlock's data-mining journalism is an exciting step into the next phase. Now empowered by MSNBC's vast resources and market space, EveryBlock can really go far in its exploration of native digital journalism.

Public broadcasters need to be aware of, if not engage in, the latest development in journalism practices such as data-mining journalism. Being an early adopter is costly, but it's equally costly if we are not a close follower.

#2: Facebook, Huffington Post Launch Social News Service
"The Huffington Post and Facebook have teamed up to create HuffPost Social News, a service that lets HuffPost users easily connect with friends on Facebook around the news and opinion site."

Social news could be another form of native digital journalism. I tried HuffPost's service but was confused by the site. I don't know exactly what the attraction is and how to navigate it. Let's wait and see how many people will sign up and how they will use it.

#3: The CUNY Nonprofit Model
Should nonprofit news organizations accept advertising? "The City University of New York's New Business Models for News Project is rendering its own verdict: Nonprofits can't afford not to."

Public broadcasters can't run ads on air but can online. This research adds one more reason why we should be more active in finding an effective way of doing it online.

#4: A Social-Network Solution: How investigative reporting got back on its feet
"Most investigative reporting falls into specialized subjects or themes—corruption, human rights, energy and the environment, international security, health and safety, etc. Each of those subject areas is of interest to vast, worldwide social networks of reasonably well-educated and well-informed people—cumulatively, tens of millions of people. ... Now these vast networks became both specialized markets for the work of wire’s international cadre of reporters—exponentially increasing wire’s Web traffic—and pathways to new information resources, crowd-sourced experts, and potential citizen muckrakers."

I agree with the author's vision, but the hard part is implementation. Public broadcasters have a vast internal network of journalists and producers. Right now, we don't have to tackle the extremely hard problem of how to use external social networks to aid reporting and distribution. Let's start with an easier and more rewarding one: how do we better utilize our internal network to improve our investigative reporting?

#5: The Role of Research in the Redesign
"We feel it's important to share exactly how the perspectives and needs of our radio listeners and web visitors were incorporated into the new site design."

I'm so glad that NPR gave a detailed account of the process of the redesign. The result of a web design is easy to copy, but it may not be what you want if you have a different audience. The key is to understand and own the process. NPR does a great service to other member stations by disclosing the process of their redesign. That is the right way to create a learning organization. I wish more of this will happen in the future.


kathy said...

Lisa -- you always find great stories to share. the EveryBlock info is especially interesting. Again, the question is -- what is the business model. As you note, this would be very expensive to do. If there is interest for this type of hyperlocal coverage, there must be some way to capitalize on it.

Lisa Bu said...

Yes, it's expensive to do for the first city because EveryBlock people have to write computer code from scratch to retrieve and present data. But cost of covering subsequent cities will become less and less because of code reuse and scale of economy. Once the site becomes well known and dominant, the cost can be further reduced because they'll need less effort to convince city governments and organizations to give EveryBlock access to their databases.

Lisa Bu said...

Their business model can have two parts: (1) charging readers and/or other media companies for data content which is unique and hard to duplicate; and (2) selling data-mining technology and/or access to other media companies.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Lisa Bu said...

Margaret, thanks very much for the nice comment.