Trains Collide
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When Media Values Collide

Overnight, I came out against my colleague’s story “New Mozilla CEO is allegedly anti-gay marriage—Firefox developers boycott” . Had I been editor on duty, the story wouldn’t have run, not because of the topic but the sourcing. However, response to the post—820 comments as I write—raises an interesting quandary about the cultural clash between old and new media.

Reader response is explosive, and comments are much more interesting reading than the story (no offense to buddy Brian Fagioli). Commenters largely fall into two opposing camps—those complaining about societal constraints on free speech and others disgusted by Mozilla’s CEO being allegedly anti-gay marriage.  The polarized ends, and even some discussion between them, is fascinating snapshot about freedom, community, and human rights—one person’s personal versus those of the larger group.[Read more]

Enterprise
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News Gatherers, don’t violate ‘The Prime Directive’

There is a very good reason why in my book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers that I identify The Prime Directive (yeah, like “Star Trek”): “Write what you know to be true in the moment”. Last night, one of my BetaNews colleagues violated this sacrosanct rule. I berated him privately, now publicly.

The story: “New Mozilla CEO is allegedly anti-gay marriage—Firefox developers boycott“. Had someone consulted me, the story wouldn’t have run (and the reporter did try to reach me). The problem is fundamentally one of sourcing. Four years ago, in post “The Difference between Blogging and Journalism“, I laid out the fundamental sourcing philosophy behind The Prime Directive. Excerpt:[Read more]

no drugs
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Google News is Narcotic

Over the weekend, during our online chat, someone boasted about another writer taking top placement on Google News. “Once you start looking for Google News ranking you’ve lost your way”, I responded. “I never look. I don’t even look there for stories to read”. It’s true. Nearly three months into the year, I haven’t visited Google News even once.

As a resource for readers, the site can be useful. For writers, Google News is bad news. I know way too many bloggers or journalists who obsesses about placement there too much. They write stories and carefully craft headlines to get lift, knowing that top placement can bring tens of thousands pageviews in just a few hours.[Read more]

Frying Pan Think Brain
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Good Headlines provoke Readers

Today at BetaNews, Brian Fagioli stirs up a hornet’s nest with story “Sorry Netflix, but you should pay ‘tolls’ to ISPs“. As I write, there are over 300 comments, in about 14 hours, and fierce debate and strong reaction among them. Funny thing: My January story “Sign me up for ‘Sponsored Data’” takes similar position—that ISPs shouldn’t give bandwidth gluttons like Netflix a free ride. I got 13 comments before they closed two weeks later.

My post focuses on a specific situation, an ISP program where services like Netflix pay and are rewarded. Brian also responds to a news trigger—Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ commentary “Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality“. Headline is one of the primary reasons Brian’s story soars, while mine fell to earth. Keywords that matter to readers—we don’t care about Google—are “ISPs”, “Netflix”, and “tolls”, which punch with commanding verb “should”. [Read more]

Malaysia Airlines 777
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Wired smartly curates ‘A Startling Simple Theory’

Someone at Wired deserves credit (and bonus pay) for curated news journalism well-done. Story “A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet” is original content that provides fresh perspective about Flight 370. The tech news site plucks this gem from Google+, where aviator Chris Goodfellow posted five days earlier. Wired sources the original, acknowledging authorship and curation: “We’ve copyedited it with his permission”.

The Plus post shows social sharing’s strengths, where the interaction in comments extends the storytelling (as does the broader Reddit thread that captures Chris’ post and many others). It’s unfortunate Google+ limits comments to 500, cutting off the conversation.[Read more]