You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2009.

The New York Times announced this week that they have hired a Social Media editor, Jennifer Preston. This comes after Times writers made (their own newspaper’s) headlines for improper use of social media (columnist Maureen Dowd being the main culprit, which should surprise no one after her snarky Twitter interview). The Times already “blogs,” and some columnists (including a personal hero, Mark Bittman– @bittman) have been tweeting without editorial sanction. This move is an attempt to improve and standardize the Times‘ digital media efforts.

Preston is now “someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times journalism and deliver it to readers,” according to a memo sent by the Times‘ Deputy managing editor, Jonathan Landman. Prior to this role, she was a reporter and editor of the regional pages. MediaPost quips, “maybe that is where the role makes sense, with the Times thinking that social media is the new local.”

Preston apparently joined Twitter (@NYT_JenPreston) for the job. Wait, the new Social Media Editor just joined Twitter? This and other clues make me think that nothing is really going to change for the Times. They expect to adapt a new media mindset to traditional journalism by bringing in someone with 25 years of experience in traditional journalism. While I respect internal promotion, this is like a hospital asking a brain surgeon to take over the cardiology department. Same body, different organ.

However, it represents a step in the right direction. Landman continues, Preston will “work closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends, and break news as well as to gather it.” This implies that the Times accepts that social media reveals information faster than traditional media, and will be adapting to this change.

Our books seem to follow two assumptions. Either 1) you will use a service like Podbean to put out your podcast or 2) you work for a company with a tech department that can handle your feed for you. Unfortunately, if your company is small, you’re going to need to learn a little more; if you use Podbean, the feed will be associated with Podbean, which isn’t ideal for branding your podcast as legitimate and professional, but if you want to use your own server to host it, be prepared to go out of your comfort zone with web programming: even the most seasoned software engineer may not understand podcasting without a bit of explanation.

My company, a small start-up, has just started podcasting. Since I am taking this class, I was enthusiastically given the task of distributing the podcast. I was looking forward to submitting it to different podacst catchers and getting hundreds of interested listeners to tune in. Instead, they gave me a raw MP3 file and told me to have fun with it. Ultimately, I got the tech guy to create a feed, but first I needed to explain to him what exactly he needed to do, which required a crash course in XML and RSS. The University of Washington’s Learning and Scholarly Techniques page does a great job explaining RSS feed. Podcast 411 also has a decent page (and a podcast episode) devoted to this.

Once we got this squared away, the tech guy was able to show me the actual details of how to add episodes. 1) Acquire the MP3. 2) Make the MP3 available by uploading to a server: the company uses Amazon’s S3. This is pretty easy: I downloaded an S3 plugin from Firefox, entered some top-secret information, drag’n’dropped the file and then made it public. 3) Publish the podcast: this requires updating the RSS file; the company has a wordpress plugin that does it for me so that I don’t have to worry about <this sort of stuff>. Voila! Now, if only my free wordpress acount would make podcasting so easy…

Explore Seattle

Our group project show notes draft is available at exploreseattle.podbean.com.

You can see the Dinner and a Beer podcast notes at dinnerandabeer.wordpress.com.

The National Intitute of Health has very detailed show notes for their archived shows, though none for their present one. Their May 1, 2009 episode has the date, the episode number, the length of the show and the size of the MP3 file. They also have a complete transcript. However, there is nowhere to either play the podcast in the browser or to subscribe to the podcast. If you click on the Episode (which is blue to indicate a link), a box appears asking if you would like to download the mp3. It is only by going back a few pages to the NIH Podcasts page that the reader gets the subscribe option. However, on this page they have an FAQ section dedicated to podcasts, which is a nice touch. Overall, it seems to be a good example of show notes.

The Splendid Table is a decent example of show notes too. They include the date but not the episode number or length. However, the actual notes portion is very detailed, with links to relevant websites and recipes, addresses of restaurants discussed and musical credits.

At frst glance, I would say that KEXP’s Music that Matters podcast site is lacking. They list the host, the episode number and the songs played, but not the date or the length of the episode. However, there isn’t a whole lot more to the show than the songs, so this information is really all that the viewer/listener needs.

So that leaves a bad one, and my suspicion that Beer is Tasty would be lacking in show note quality proved correct. The boys give a brief (3 sentance) description of what they cover, as well as the episode number and when it was posted, but not much else. If they are going to be making cheese dip, they should give us the recipe!

I changed the design of my blog a few weeks ago after we discussed Annie’s blog, Social Potato Chips. There were several reasons for this. For starters, my title was boring: “Helen’s blog.” In addition, it did not give any indication as to the blog’s content. “Helen’s blog” could be about politics or knitting or ceramic cat collecting. Plus, “Helen” implies geriatric grandmother, not digital media savant. I wanted a title that would convey both that the blog is about digital/social media as well as that digital/social media represents a radical change in communication.

Another outcome of that particular class was that I started categorizing my posts, which has improved the organization. I also added a few more widgets to make it a little more interactive; this includes a blogroll of my classmate’s blogs and the ones I am following. I will start making my tags a little more varied, a search within a search. My font is already sans-serif, though it is grey on white, so I am looking for a way to make it a solid black. I like grey, but agree that it is not easy on the eyes.

My header has undergone a few transformations since I created my blog back in April. Basically, every time I learn something new in Photoshop I change it. As I develop a personal brand, I will try to keep it consistent, but for now I am having fun experimenting.

The Medium is a blog in the sense that it is a collection of related articles posted in reverse chronological order with a section for comments. There are no categories or tags, meaning that the content is not easily searchable. The text is white on black, but uses a serifed font (Times New Roman), which I suppose is not too surprising considering the blog comes from the New York Times, though is not ideal for usability. The content stays in fairly close allegiance to the genre (the convergence of TV and internet) but does not demonstrate a true acceptance of what she reports, meaning the audience is non-technophiles wanting to learn more (but not too much more) about current technology trends.

Neither of my podcasts have corresponding blogs, so I will review Grammar Girl instead. Her blog provides searchable meta data for her podcast, including episode date, name, number and transcript. There is a comment space, and again, the entries are in reverse chronological order, though I don’t see any categories or tags either. Her text is black (Times New Roman again) on peach, which is easy enough to read; however her links are light blue, which is painful on the eyes on the pinkish background. She sounds young and hip and makes pop culture references, making me think that her audience is young, professional (or academic) women looking for an entertaining way to enhance their writing. The content of the episode I listened to wasn’t about grammar (it was how to tactfully remove/replace curse words in writing) though was still relevant to serious writers.

At the International Food Blogger Conference (organized by my work, hence my attendance), I had the chance to pose a question (via the live chat- I’m really shy, ok?) to former PI writer Rebekah Denn on the new tax break for newspapers that has some bloggers up in arms. Rebekah currently blogs because she wants to keep her PI readers and because she just loves to write. She was clear to (diplomatically) say that she is no expert on the subject, but the way “we think about newspapers has got to change” and while tax break does not extend to online journalism, online journalism is indeed a legitimate source of news. Her blog at the PI was “where the real work got done” and contained just as much or more info as what was published in the paper. Her message (despite some hesitation and beating around the bush): this model of news on paper does not make sense.

The topic of blogs vs. the printed press actually (not surprisingly) came up a few times. The Food Blogger Code of Ethics, which was developed recently by a group of print journalists/bloggers, is very controversial in the food blogging world (as evidenced by an alternative food blogger code of ethics).  Some bloggers want to be seen as legitimate journalists, while others see their blog as a form of uncensored self-expression and do not want to conform to a proscribed code.   The Washington Post‘s food blogger Kim O’Donnel said that if you write a blog, even if it is unpaid or just a hobby, your views are out in the public and you should respect that. Another panelist, MCDM’s own Kraig Baker, said that whether or not you consider yourself a journalist, you are still an influencer and must be consistent with your actions. Plus, as we discussed in class, everyone is subject to defamation. The ultimate consensus is that newspapers have norms and standards that took centuries to develop and blogging will catch up soon.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Boston Globe presents compelling arguments as to why newspapers can never go away. For one, if you slam down a blog on someone’s desk to make a dramatic point, you are probably going to break your laptop.

Advice on blogging from the bloggers (via twitter).

  • how often to post blog updates. tip: study your traffic patterns to find the best days of the week to post.
  • What is the identity and message of your blog? Are u an authoritative voice on that subject?
  • “more than the frequency with which you post, its the consistency.” your readers will adapt to your publishing schedule
  • Voice isn’t just about how you write but also about what you observe…@katflinn
  • tip from @rebekaden: write as if your telling the story out loud. emphasize where its natural, be conversational
  • Food blogger conf panel on “voice”; rebekah denn “I try to use the same voice I use when I talk to my husband”
  • Project a consistent persona (even if you need to steal it from someone else)
  • Q: do you have to know all the answers to be an authority? A: no. as long as your readers enjoy the ‘conversation’ with you.
  • “Reality” in your writing resonates w/ people
  • succesful voice: be transparent, be universal. if you dont know something, admit it. Realize that we’re all pretty similar in private.
  • conscious reading is critical to writing
  • Your writing should change as you change.
  • 300 dpi print. 72 web. RT @seattlefoodgeek: Q: what’s difference between photos 4 web vs. print? A: smaller resolution for the web.
  • If you’re not using Google Analytics, do
  • Links are the currency of the web
  • critical factors for page rank on a search engine? how long a page has existed, and how frequently it gets updated.
  • Elisa of Simply Recipes: Three pillars to build traffic: Content, context and community
  • Elise of Simply Recipes: You must be useful, entertaining or timely
  • Elise/Simply Recipes: If you are generous with your links out, people notice, and you build community. Web karma.
  • Pick your titles well to increase SEO: make them what you think readers will be searching for
  • when you hit 40, can’t read tiny print or white text on black background. Usability!
  • Oh, snap. Elise: “If you’re serious about getting traffic, get off of Blogger”
  • Blogging as a career: if your blog = your income, prepare to stress out!
  • staying up on the technology, being there, coming first: jump on opportunities ASAP to distinguish yourself and get people to notice.
  • [on traffic] “When you double a small number, it’s still small”
  • Make money? Make blog very unique and meet someone from Amazon and Google.
  • Strategy for gaining legitimacy: offer to write (for free) for a real publication like local paper, radio station, etc.
  • Diversify your brand: Pitch stories for print, television as well as your blog
  • Give it away for free if it’s going to help you; don’t give it away if it doesn’t help you.
  • Speakers are saying that they felt successful when “old media” mags and papers recognized them.
  • Invest in the right tools: Consider your blogging platform, your camera, your domain
  • http://www.Compete.com and http://Alexa.com are great tools for tracking traffic. Pick two blogs you admire and compare.
  • I think I’m realizing that I’ve been posting a lot of fluff just to have updates. NO MORE! Time for less (but better) content!
  • Treat your blog/name as a business; drive your brand. Learn from those who know. Know what you stand for.
  • Go back to your early blog posts, however painful, and see how you’re developing.
  • Rule #1: be transparent with your readership. If you have personal relationships with chefs or get freebies, disclose it.
  • Why do we have ethical issues? To maintain credibility and reputation. Have transparency and be consistent w/your standards.
  • You can’t publish untruths that are damaging to other people. That’s defamation and it’s illegal.
  • good to know: if someone leaves a defamatory comment on your blog, you’re not legally liable.
  • Companies exempt from liability if their authors are independent contractors and write defamatory material; employees are different
  • transparency=saying the circumstances behind receiving what you are reviewing or talking about on your blog.
  • Choose your license well. Your work can be attributed to others if you are not careful.
  • You cannot retroactively pull back license but you can unpublish and republish under new license
  • But you cannot copyright anything for which you do not have originality, creativity or fixation

Time Magazine thinks that Twitter is a waste of time. According to an unscientific poll, 89% of the country believes Twitter is a waste of time while only 11% believes that it is beneficial. This doesn’t surprise me too much, though . Twitter is an emerging technology, and not everyone has embraced it. However, Time also broke the survey down by state. I would think that the more liberal and tech-savvy the state, the more open they would be to new technology. Furthermore, I would expect the more conservative states to oppose “socialist” social media. In actuality, whether a state swings red or blue has nothing to do with their residents’ views on Twitter.

100% of respondents in Maine, Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii, South Carolina, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Wyoming and Idaho believe it’s a waste of time. However, 70% of Nebraska, 67% of Delaware and Montana, and just 60% of North Dakota feel this way. I don’t think of North Dakota as being much more than nuclear weapons, snow and cows, but apparently those cows are having a ball letting their friends know what they had for lunch (grass). Twitter has a 9% approval rating in its home state of California and 8% in MCDM’s home state of Washington.

Time magazine is a well-respected new source, though their survey methods may be questionable. Their 100 most influential people of 2009 poll drew criticism for naming Christopher “Moot” Poole of 4chan.org as the most influential person of 2009. Besides, an unscientific survey doesn’t prove anything. The press claims to be the only legitimate source of news, but by publishing results that may or may not be correct, Time isn’t living up to a true journalistic standard.

So, I’m going to do my own unscientific poll. What do you think?