Friday, May 21, 2010 2:09 PM
On Thursday evening, Melville House played host to the first Moby Awards for book trailers—an event the publisher plans on making into an annual tradition.
The complete list of finalists (with links!) is on the Moby Awards website, while Paper Cuts, the New York Times’ books blog, has reported on the evening’s winners, including the ear-grater named least likely to sell a book. Here are my favorites.
Finalist for Best Low Budget/Indie House Trailer
A Common Pornography, by Kevin Sampsell
Winner Best Performance by an Author
Head Case, by Dennis Cass
Winner Best Big Budget/Big House Trailer
Going West, by Maurice Gee
Sources: Melville House, Paper Cuts
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 2:08 PM
How much money did your favorite writer make off that last book? You have no idea, right? With his next book, science fiction writer, copyright activist, and Utne Reader visionary Cory Doctorow is heading the demands of nobody (who ever demands financial transparency from writers?) and publishing every dime he earns in a column at Publishers Weekly. The transparency piece is intriguing enough, and it's just one piece of an ambitious publishing experiment:
Here's the pitch: the book is called With a Little Help. It's a short story collection ... Like my other collections, it will be available for free on the day it is released. And like my last collection, Overclocked, it won't have a traditional publisher ... Doctors swear an oath to do no harm. For this project, I've taken an oath to lose no money ... In the ideal world, every object I make available will either cost nothing to produce or will be physically instantiated only after it has been ordered and paid for. With this in mind, let me run down the packages.
The run down is lengthy but worth a look. Here's the elevator version:
+ Free E-Book
+ Free Audiobook
+ Print-on-Demand trade paperback
+ Premium hardcover edition
+ Commission a new story: $10,000
Many of these tactics are not new for Doctorow. He's been giving away e-books for free since 2003. This is where the transparency piece comes in. Doctorow explains:
This business of my giving away e-books is a controversial subject. I encounter plenty of healthy skepticism in my travels, and not a little bile. There's a lot of people who say I'm pulling a fast one, that I'd be making more money if I didn't do this crazy liberal copyright stuff, or that I'm the only one it'll ever work for, or that I secretly make all my money from doing stuff that isn't writing, or that it only works because I'm so successful. Of course, when I started, they said it only worked because I was so unknown. People want proof that this works—that I'm not deluded or a con artist.
In a recent interview with Utne Reader Doctorow spoke succinctly to the non-believers: "Of all the people who fail to buy my books today, the majority do so because they’ve never heard of them, not because someone gave them a free e-book."
Source: Publishers Weekly
Image by Paula Mariel Salischiker , licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, October 05, 2009 12:50 PM
Dan Gillmor, director of the
Knight Center for Digital Media, has issued 22
new rules for news organizations. He offers up his edicts as
weapons against lazy and unimaginative journalism. Here are four of
- Transparency would be a core element of our journalism. One
example of many: every print article would have an accompanying box
called "Things We Don't Know," a list of questions our
journalists couldn't answer in their reporting. TV and radio stories
would mention the key unknowns. Whatever the medium, the
organisation's website would include an invitation to the audience to
help fill in the holes, which exist in every story.
- We would replace PR-speak and certain Orwellian words and
expressions with more neutral, precise language. If someone we
interview misused language, we would paraphrase instead of using
direct quotations. (Examples, among many others: The activity that
takes place in casinos is gambling, not gaming. There is no death
tax, there can be inheritance or estate tax. Piracy does not describe
what people do when they post digital music on file-sharing
- If we granted anonymity and learned that the unnamed source had
lied to us, we would consider the confidentially agreement to have
been breached by that person, and would expose his or her duplicity,
and identity. Sources would know of this policy before we published.
We'd further look for examples where our competitors have been
tricked by sources they didn't name, and then do our best to expose
- Beyond routinely pointing to
competitors, we would make a special effort to cover and follow
up on their most important work, instead of the common practice today
of pretending it didn't exist. Basic rule: the more we wish we'd done
the journalism ourselves, the more prominent the exposure we'd give
the other folks' work. This would have at least two beneficial
effects. First, we'd help persuade our community of an issue's
importance. Second, we'd help people understand the value of solid
journalism, no matter who did it.
What would you do differently?
Thursday, September 03, 2009 4:22 PM
What would Buffy do—if the beloved (and powerfully feminist) vampire slayer encountered the Twilight series’ Edward Cullen? Video remix artist Jonathan McIntosh has crafted an answer in a beautifully edited video mash-up: Buffy vs. Edward (Twilight Remixed).
Writing on the blog Rebellious Pixels, McIntosh explains that his video remix is more than “a decisive showdown between the slayer and the sparkly vampire.” His piece of transformative storytelling—protected under fair use doctrine—dishes out a “
pro-feminist visual critique of Edward’s character and generally creepy behavior.”
“Seen through Buffy’s eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal Hollywood themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed in hilarious ways,” he writes. The remix also functions as “a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21ist century.”
Watch for yourself:
Source: Buffy vs. Edward, Rebellious Pixels
Thursday, August 13, 2009 9:14 AM
Earlier this summer, as part of a master’s program at Emerson College, Kerry Skemp began blogging and tweeting about online commentary (i.e., comments left on websites or tweets) and its role in the future of publishing. The resultant blog, You’re Talking a Lot, but You’re Not Saying Anything, is filled with rich observations. For anyone who hasn’t been following all along, Skemp recently summed up the lessons learned with the ultimate “meta-commentary” post: “Commentary on My Commentary on Commentary.”
The distillation is fascinating stuff: a vision of online commentary that rebuffs proverbial complaints of commenters-as-trolls-and-idiots and slays simplistic traffic-building stratagems. “Online commentary both is and affects publishing,” Skemp writes. “It is publishing in the sense that it ‘makes public’ information that would otherwise remain private. In doing so, commentary (ideally) affects more than the commenter and the person being responded to.
“The unique nature of commentary on the internet allows it to be read by an unlimited number of people with varying levels of connection to the topic at hand. An astute comment can educate and inspire others; a negative or uninformed comment can motivate others to help educate. Admittedly, online commentary doesn’t give rise to enlightenment: but it can, and should.”
Finding enlightenment in a comment field might seem a bit farfetched, but Skemp backs up the claim with savvy observations that will be interesting to track as online comment infrastructure evolves. The presence of nasty (or self-serving) commenters, for example, means that “the art of commentary includes determining what to weed out,” a.k.a., a dose of media literacy. Additionally the “Twitterfication of commentary”—knowing who’s reading what you publish—injects accountability into the system, eliminating the anonymity under which bad manners and cheap shots flourish.
But more than commentary shifting toward more refined discourse, Skemp ultimately sees it functioning as a sort of super-discourse. “Commentary is the future of . . . search, and potentially even publishing,” she writes. “Commentary is the future of finding everything we need online, and responding to what is already online. Algorithms can only go so far without the human input that comes in the form of commentary: data showing what people think about other data.”
Source: You’re Talking a Lot, but You’re Not Saying Anything
Image by preater, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 11:32 AM
If the internet is killing books, the blog to book deal is an ironic reward for blogosphere fame, writes Sarah Hromack in the July/August issue of The Brooklyn Rail:
How strangely anachronistic is it (and yet, extraordinarily telling) that those who participate in perhaps the most monumental democratic exercise ever—and who do so daily, often for a living—would seek to tame the great, unbridled, immaterial beast that is the Internet with some high-gloss stock and two binding boards? How thoroughly odd it is that one would attempt to translate the particular digital reading experience of the Tumblr blog, or Twitter feed, or Facebook update into an analog one.
Source: The Brooklyn Rail
Friday, March 13, 2009 9:23 AM
With the media in freefall, newspapers are fighting to survive and journalism schools are struggling to stay relevant. The Anniston Star newspaper and the University of Alabama have found a partnership that could help both. Using a grant from the Knight Foundation, the Anniston Star has started accepting master’s students for a community journalism program to pitch and report stories and supplement the newspaper’s editorial coverage.
The move was met with some resistance from the paper’s editorial staff. Troy Turner, who was the executive editor of the Star before the program began, told the American Journalism Review, “They wanted a training model like a Navy hospital ship. But we worked like a battleship, with all guns blazing. We wanted to continue doing the solid journalism that the Anniston Star had long been known for doing.” Now that the program has started, however, Turner admits that the it’s having some success.
Other journalism schools haven’t had as easy of a time adjusting. When the New York Times partnered with the City University of New York for their own community journalism project, “The Local,” New York Magazine reports that the move was seen as a slight to the University of Columbia venerable journalism school.
Since then Columbia has increased its efforts to stay current. According to New York Magazine, the school will soon offer “a revamped, digitally focused curriculum designed to make all students as capable of creating an interactive graphic as they are of pounding out 600 words on a community-board meeting.” But just as many old-school journalists don’t want to dive into blogging, professors at Columbia are less than enthusiastic about going digital. Ari Goldman, a 16-year professor of Columbia’s Reporting and Writing 1 (RW1) class, is quoted as saying “fuck new media,” describing the move to digital as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”
Image by Bluemarine, licensed under Creative Commons.
Source: American Journalism Review, New York Magazine
Friday, February 06, 2009 3:04 PM
Public television's international news show, Worldfocus, has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with GroundReport to air a new segment consisting entirely of videos produced by GroundReport’s extensive network of citizen journalists. According to the Editors Weblog, this is “the first time that a mainstream U.S. channel has committed to airing a citizen journalism segment on prime time television.”
The first segment asks global contributors to send in their advice for President Obama. Submissions are due February 15.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 8:47 AM
In the latest issue of This Magazine, Daniel Tseghay provides a roundup of bloggers and citizen journalists who are behind bars or have done time in recent years for what they've written, shown, or refused to disclose. It's no surprise to see bloggers from China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran on the list. But the United States?
"Journalist and video blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned in 2006 after posting a video on his blog showing an anti-G8 demonstration in San Francisco," writes Tseghay. "Police wanted Wolf’s unedited footage in order to investigate an attempted arson, but he refused to comply and was charged with contempt. It led to Wolf serving about seven and a half months in prison, the longest period any journalist has ever served in the U.S. for refusing to disclose sources."
If you missed the Josh Wolf story the first time around, here's an interview from the the PBS documentary series Frontline.
To read about the much more grave situation for jailed bloggers around the world, read Daniel Tseghay's piece here.
Friday, January 09, 2009 12:48 PM
Coverage of the conflict in Israel and Gaza rarely has a nuanced human face. But citizens from both sides of the border are working to change that.
Peace Man and Hope Man, for instance, are friends who maintain a blog about the violence and their daily lives. Peace Man is a Palestinian, living in a refugee camp in Gaza, and Hope Man is an Israeli living in Sderot. Though the two live only about 10 miles from each other, Hope Man, whose real name is Eric Yellin, told NPR’s Melissa Block that they both knew virtually no one across the border before the blog.
“But as soon as I started meeting people,” Yellin said, “it created a real connection and understanding that on the other side of the border, there are people exactly like us who are suffering. We are suffering, too, through this conflict. But the only way to end this was through some kind of connection and dialogue.”
“Gaza Sderot: Life in Spite of Everything” is an online video project similarly aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. For two months, two two-minute videos—one following a resident of Gaza, the other an Israeli from Sderot—were posted to the site every day. The videos depict scenes of everyday life as its lived by normal people.
“When you realize that people have the same issues about work or about love, about raising your kids, in places where you don’t first think in these terms, well then I get the feeling that we’re doing good work. And that happened quite a few times,” the project’s executive producer, Serge Gordey, told The World’s Carol Zall.
These alternative lenses not only initiate dialogue, they effectively communicate the weight of the situation for both sides, a particularly important function given the lack of on-the-ground reporting from Gaza. In a recent post, Hope Man writes, "Many people of our region have left it for good over the years. Bringing up children in such a reality seems almost abusive and certainly irresponsible." Just above that, Peace Man's latest post from Gaza ends with this reflection: "I hope I will have the chance to write you again."
Image by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008 3:14 PM
A few weeks ago the European Commission launched Europeana, an online multimedia project that aims to make Europe's scientific and cultural heritage universally accessible. Enthusiasm for the project is so high that within hours of Europeana's official Nov. 20 launch, millions of hits reduced the site's speed to a crawl, forcing administrators to shut it down temporarily. The developers plan to have a sturdier version up by mid-December.
The site, which has been in the works since 2005, boasts “more than two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the European Union's 27 Member States.” If it exists in a digital format, whether it’s a book from Hungary or a painting from the Louvre, it will be on Europeana and available in every language of the EU.
And this is only the beginning. For the next three years, the website and related projects will receive millions of euros in funding from the EU to expand the collection and create interactive space for users with specific interests.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:04 PM
“Overload!”, the Columbia Journalism Review’s current cover story, is every bit as overwhelming as its subject.
In a lengthy, thorough explication, Bree Nordenson lays out the results of a study commissioned by the Associated Press to track the news consumption of young adults around the world. The gist of the findings is grim, but hardly surprising: There’s more information out there than ever before, and this is not a good thing. “The American public is no better informed now than it has been during less information-rich times,” Nordenson writes.
Or, in numerical terms: “Two hundred and ten billion e-mails are sent each day. Say goodbye to the gigabyte and hello to the exabyte, five of which are worth 37,000 Libraries of Congress. In 2006 alone, the world produced 161 exabytes of digital data, the equivalent of three million times the information contained in all the books ever written.”
The way information, particularly news, is disseminated has been revolutionized, for better and worse, by the internet. Context has disappeared; data usually travels in a chaotic tsunami and arrives “unbundled” and often indecipherable. “These days, news comes at us in a flood of unrelated snippets,” Nordenson writes.
The rest of the article examines a number of different trends affecting the current state of news consumption: the limits of human attention, the role of media in democracy, and the new role of journalism. The piece does end on a relatively optimistic note, however; the final section, titled “Why Journalism Won’t Disappear,” contains this easier-said-than-done prescription: "If news organizations decide to rethink their role and give consumers the context and coherence they want and need in an age of overload, they may just achieve the financial stability they’ve been scrambling for, even as they recapture their public-service mission before it slips away."
Monday, November 10, 2008 1:03 PM
When television broadcasting goes all-digital in February, a range of old TV frequencies known as “white space” will be up for grabs, and technology pioneers like Google’s Larry Page have been lobbying the FCC to dedicate that spectrum to free internet and other public communication.
But the National Association of Broadcasters, mobile phone companies, and other entities who stand to profit from private, pay-based communication have been fighting white space liberation.
Until last week, that is, when the FCC ruled to open white space to unlicensed use (pdf), scoring a huge victory for Page’s camp. This essentially means that online communication will be faster and available to more people, especially rural and low-income users. It will also likely result in cheaper offerings from internet, cable, and cell phone service providers as competition in those markets intensifies.
Jeff Jarvis outlines these and other benefits of public white space at his blog BuzzMachine. (“Note this historic moment,” he writes. “I’m praising the FCC.”) He argues that the internet is no longer a merely a privilege, but a right: “Access to the internet—and open, broadband internet that is neither censored nor filtered by government or business—should be seen, similarly, as a necessity and thus a right. Just as we judge nations by their literacy, we should now judge them by their connectedness.”
Jarvis also does a good job of explaining white space and its benefits in non-wonky terms, focusing on the ways it will benefit education, government, and society at large.
Image courtesy of rvaphotodude, licensed by Creative Commons.
Monday, November 03, 2008 1:46 PM
After reporting significant losses in addition to rising production costs, the Christian Science Monitor has turned to a solution that it hopes will minimize losses while maintaining or even increasing readership. The newspaper’s daily content will soon be entirely web-based, with a print edition (photo features, in-depth reportage) coming out weekly. Along with the change comes a steep drop in subscription prices, from $220/year to $89/year. However, this doesn’t mean that the CSM is completely dodging the bullet: Editor John Yemma still plans to cut 10-15 percent of staff next year.
The Monitor’s transition appears to be relatively painless, but the Columbia Journalism Review warns that the strategy may not work for all troubled publications. One of the biggest variables in the plan’s success is ad revenue: Print advertisers may not want to make the switch, especially since the print edition of the Monitor skews to an older demographic than its online content. It’s also difficult to predict if subscribers who aren’t tech-savvy will adapt or simply give up. The evolution is slated for April 2009.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 2:03 PM
The Sound of Young America’s podcast aficionado Podthinker (née Colin Marshall) recommends the New York Review of Books’ new(ish) podcast, which debuted in June and already is filling out an impressive archive of conversations with literary luminaries such as Oliver Sacks and Edmund White.
I am grateful to Marshall for turning more people on to this terrific podcast, but I take issue with his one criticism of the NYRB’s audio and print content: that it’s too political. “Evidently, the editorial board of the magazine will not rest until a certain number of otherwise pleasing articles are dragged into the much [sic?] of unseemly political territory,” Marshall writes. “Your podthinker has, in other venues, repeatedly reached the conclusion that when it comes to the place of politics in art, it doesn't have one.”
Really? There’s no place in art for politics? I know a few people who’d disagree—namely, 99 percent of my favorite writers, musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists.
It still amazes me when people deem politics a separate and easily demarcated external force we can segregate from the rest of our world. Marshall evidently prefers a “pleasing” aesthetic universe free of political content—which, remember, includes but is not limited to gender, race, class, education, the economy, transportation, healthcare, and war (or “something about Iraq,” as Marshall refers to an interview with CJR contributor and foreign affairs scholar Michael Massing). Because really, who cares about such trifles? And who could possibly be interested in Joan Didion’s ideas about the narratives of presidential campaigns or Samantha Power’s global policy analysis?
I encountered this same desire to segregate politics from life while writing about the politics of bicycling. While I certainly share the public’s weariness of partisan rancor and have developed an acute allergy to the mere mention of Sarah Palin’s name, I firmly believe that it’s naïve and unwise—let alone impossible—to try and scrub our daily lives clean of politics.
Pardon me. I seem to have lost focus and let the unpleasantness of politics divert me from my main point, one on which Marshall and I agree: the NYRB Podcast is definitely worth checking out. And so is the Sound of Young America, which boasts shows featuring art/media darlings like Patton Oswalt, George Saunders, and cast members of the Wire—three cultural forces whose work is, no doubt, completely devoid of political overtones.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:34 AM
Government agencies are hopping on the Twitter bandwagon, with mostly good results, reports Silicon Alley Insider. Followers of the State Department receive updated travel alerts and country information, the FDA tweets about food safety news, and the U.S. Geological Survey posts a surprising amount of useful links, about rocks (naturally) but also about topics like alternative energy, natural resources, and the environment.
Of course, not all of the newly Twittering agencies are making the most of microblogging. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, tends to post—and infrequently, at that—about the country’s much-mocked color-coded threat level. The intentions are good, perhaps, but the information is hardly crucial to most people.
On the whole, it’s great to see the government going with the instant-information flow by using this service. Most people can appreciate getting condensed versions of pertinent news without having to navigate the overcrowded, out-of-date messes that are many government websites.
(Thanks, World Hum)
Image courtesy of trekkyandy, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, September 22, 2008 3:37 PM
The Virginia Supreme Court has overturned its conviction of spammer Jeremy Jaynes on the grounds that the state’s anti-spam law could potentially infringe on free speech. In 2003, Jaynes was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison for violation of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. After a February 2008 appeal, the court voted 4-3 to uphold the verdict, but later decided to revisit the defendant’s argument that the law violated the First Amendment. This month they concluded that the law is "unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mail including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” It’s important to note, however, that this won't lead to a male-enhancement products free-for-all: The federal CAN-SPAM Act is still in place.
(Thanks, Maud Newton.)
Friday, September 05, 2008 9:46 AM
Personalized advertisements will soon make the leap from the internet to your TV screen, writes Brian Morrissey for Mediaweek. Within the next ten years, cable companies will be working with networks to customize commercials for individual viewers based on their interests and communities.
How will they find this information? Simple: You'll give it to them. Morrissey, citing a new report by Forrester Research, notes that the advent of on-demand programming and the availability of local demographics often provide cable companies with as much information about their subscribers as a web browser does. Eventually, the Forrester report suggests, these (non-skippable) ads will allow your TV to function more like the web, where you can go from ad to point of purchase with the push of a few buttons. But is this true innovation, or is corporate greed just getting more wily?
, licensed under
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 10:44 AM
Everyone seems to be watching the economy a little more closely, whether they're most concerned about the foreclosure crisis, credit card debt, or paying for college. Media coverage often misses the boat on these complex issues, but lively economics blogs have stepped in to fill the void, delving into politics and media criticism while deciphering the latest research. Here are a few to get you started:
Dean Baker, codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, criticizes and clarifies the media’s economic coverage at the American Prospect's Beat the Press blog.
Brad DeLong, a professor at the University of California–Berkeley, writes Grasping Reality with Both Hands, where he frequently corrects errors in economic and political reporting under the not-so-subtle heading “[Publication Name] Death Spiral Watch."
, an oft-updated site maintained by George Mason University economics professors Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, appears on DeLong's helpful list of recommended econ blogs. Last week, Tabarrok posted an in-depth critique of the latest "math wars" study that questioned the existence of a math ability gap between boys and girls, attracting dozens of responses about sexism and former Harvard President Larry Summers' 2005 imbroglio over sex and scientific ability.
Another pair of George Mason economists, Donald Boudreaux and Russell Roberts, author the more conservative Cafe Hayek, which can be refreshing in challenging such conventional wisdom as the evils of Wal-Mart or off-shore drilling.
At The Fly Bottle, Cato Institute research fellow Will Wilkinson offers a center-right view of economics, from critiquing global-warming alarmism to questioning the benefit of the minimum-wage hike.
is a Harvard professor who blogs (infrequently, but quite readably) about globalization and economic development. For a more regular feed, Rodrik recommends Yale political scientist Chris Blattman's economic development blog.
Image by genericface, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 12:28 PM
"Beat blogging" is emerging as an online-media method for gathering public opinion, a web-friendly alternative to the traditional “person on the street” approach long utilized by print journalists. Patrick Thornton at the Journalism Iconoclast describes how, rather than interviewing people for quotes, online reporters can rely on the comments section of each story to supply a potentially unlimited array of opinions from the public.
The old model of quote-gathering required time-consuming phone calls and footwork in search of opinions from “real people.” But online news organs that open their stories to comments can instantly acquire a sampling of views from real people—or at least the ones who populate the internet. Journalists can concentrate on core reporting in their initial stories (the lede, nut graph, and data of a typical newspaper story) then open that information up to readers for corroboration, dispute, and commentary (the body and context). What began as a conventional news story morphs into a dialogue.
Of course, this model isn’t perfect—reader comments represent a diversity of opinion, but only within that segment of the population with the time and motivation to comment on a news story. Furthermore, a theoretically infinite quantity of comments doesn’t guarantee a quality of insight or eloquence. The New York Times quickly discovered the promises and perils of online discussion when it opened some of its stories to reader comments last fall; public editor Clark Hoyt documented what happens when the readership becomes the rabble.
Still, beat blogging has a lot of potential. Thornton elaborates on the idea at Beatblogging.org, a network of 13 online news organizations attempting to harness the news-gathering capabilities of social networking. Their successes and failures in this quest might provide an accurate picture of online journalism’s future.
Friday, June 06, 2008 6:05 PM
A while back I blogged about a witty British group that’s pushing Parliament to make legislation more technologically accessible to the public with its “Nice, Polite Campaign to Gently Encourage Parliament to Publish Bills in a 21st-Century Way. Please. Now.”
I lamented the lack of such efforts in the United States and longed for tools that would let people easily search and track legislation (no easy task today, as anyone who has rooted around Thomas.gov for legislative information without a public policy degree knows), but also allow citizens the opportunity to provide feedback and help shape the proposed laws that will affect their lives.
Well, apparently there was no need to lament. Turns out there are some innovative, promising stateside websites and online conversations converging to create Legislation 2.0. And I heard all about them at a panel at the National Conference for Media Reform today.
First, there’s Open Congress, a handy project of the Sunlight Foundation and Participatory Politics Foundation that lets you search, track, and comment on legislation. Also check out PublicMarkup.org, another Sunlight effort that goes a step further. The site invited the public to help Sunlight refine their own legislative proposal, the Transparency in Government Act of 2008. They’re culling through the feedback, and a newly revised version of the bill is due out later this month.
“Legislation is essentially an outgrowth of conversation,” said Open Left cofounder and panelist Matt Stoller. “That conversation has been corrupted.” The internet offers a way for citizens to reclaim the dialogue from lobbyists. Stoller offered the real world example of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s efforts to open an online conversation on how to expand broadband access. Live blogging and an unexpected flurry of feedback ensued, unleashing the thoughts and passions of fired-up, informed constituents. And those are the folks that Senate staffers need to hear from (and be motivated by), said panelist Russell Newman, then a legislative aide for Durbin.
They’re all very encouraging developments in terms of democratizing legislation and shedding some light on the machinations of Congress. Before I go, I’ll just mention one more. It’s not about legislation per se, but rather the wining and dining that gets legislation flowing: This July the Sunlight Foundation will release Party Time, a database of all the D.C. hobnobbing, fundraising parties and the hosts who host them. Should be an interesting new tool for tracking the web of money and influence in Washington.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:07 AM
Let’s play word association. Except, when I say, “Rupert Murdoch,” you don’t hiss and croak, “sulfurous prince from the bottomless pit.” Instead, do like Columbia Journalism Review and see Murdoch’s Fox Business Network as potentially the most relevant and useful—not to mention populist—resource for financial news out there. It may have its irritating quirks and it may not be widely watched (yet), but its perspective is fresher than wealthy-investor-oriented CNBC. Maybe that jargon barn is hell’s true diplomat.
Image by World Economic Forum, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 10:09 AM
Bloggers and Internet news-digesters write so extensively about the success of online media—and potential for more success, and capability to accomplish blistering successification—that it’s more than I can reasonably be expected to appreciate. Occasionally, I proclaim that I’ll stop reading anything online altogether and declare, with fist-swirling certainty: “If I see one more blog, I’m going to blog all over my blog.” This probably just reinforces the notion that I’ve read too much online media analysis. (Also, I’m totally blogging about blogging on this blog right now, man. I must be approaching that point of cessation.)
And then I exhale. Writing for the Times Online, Jonathan Weber breaks down the still-vibrant profitability of print media vis-à-vis Internet media. As he reports, local magazines and newspapers—i.e., those in “Anytown, USA”—still generate more ad revenue than their online homes because local print sources remain more visible and desirable to their constituent markets. Simply put, ad revenue is still persistently print-oriented.
Weber also notes that newspapers have not, in general, become unprofitable. Rather, they are no longer “extremely profitable,” as they were following fifty years’ worth of media consolidation that left U.S. metropolitan areas large and small with one newspaper instead of three or four. Weber’s own online magazine, NewWest.Net, is set to launch as a print venture in “a few weeks,” and he anticipates that it will out-earn the website for at least the next two or three years.
By the time online-media revenue catches up to print, things will have changed considerably: I'm thinking we’ll all be curled up in homes constructed with recycled newspaper in updated Hoovervilles, synchronizing our cerebral implants as our bodies absorb the all-encompassing contents of the Internet.
Image by Richard Saunders, licensed under Creative Commons.
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