Journalism links 8/31

Paul Wallen, design director at The Huntsville Times, points out the handsome and stirring Assignment Afghanistan. It is an incredible example of bring all the tools and techniques available to tell a more complete story. There are great stories, amazing photographs, maps, flash timelines, video, the works. I encourage you to spend some time, learning about what’s happening in Afghanistan and being inspired by a wonderful project.

I mentioned Mircosoft’s breakfast media table concept in this space yesterday. I tossed out a little flip line about competing against television. And now, today, there’s Google’s CEO:

“History shows that in the face of new technology, those who adapt their business models don’t just survive, they prosper. Technology advances, and no laws can preserve markets that have been passed by.” Google chairman Eric Schmidt may not have intended those remarks as a verbal grenade, but many in his audience of 2,000 television industry members took them that way.

Schmidt was speaking at the 2011 MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, where he gave the prestigious annual MacTaggart Lecture. The festival is attended by over 2,000 people with a business interest in television, including on-air talent, broadcasters, distributors, support services and digital innovators.

Schmidt was the first person invited to give the MacTaggart Lecture who was not in the television industry. His remarks therefore were tailored to address the interests of his audience, many of whom believe Google has a destructive effect on their business and a cavalier attitude toward copyright.

Viewing will shift, he predicts, and location will become a critically important contextual signal. There’s a lot in that story worth chewing on.

Howard Owens writes:

Every time a small town n’paper publisher puts up a paywall, a potential local indie publisher should hear cash registers ringing.

He should now. Who is Howard Owens? He’s publisher of The Batavian.

There’s a simple principle of economics at play here. Scarcity creates value. But. If you hide behind a paywall you make yourself scarce, at the risk of losing an audience willing to find their information elsewhere. As you might have noticed, information is often plentiful.

Remember, yesterday, when I mentioned either human or algorithm curation? Steffen Konrath found a story that quotes a prediction of 40% of large companies using context-aware computing projects in the next few years. Context motives content and interactivity. That engagement gets results. Forbes picks it up from there:

It’s often said that “content is king.” The ability to create high-quality content that attracts, engages, retains and converts visitors is still an important objective for every website. Content is indeed still the heart and soul of every site. But if content is king, context is its queen; and together they will rule the kingdom of audience engagement and of the corporate Web site experience.

Context is the key to providing Web experiences that deliver business results. Context shortens sales cycles and grows revenue. It increases customer engagement and loyalty. Gartner describes as “Context-Aware Computing,” and defines it as “the concept of leveraging information about the end user to improve the quality of the interaction.” Gartner goes on to note, “Emerging context-enriched services will use location, presence, social attributes and other environmental information to anticipate an end user’s immediate needs, offering more-sophisticated, situation-aware and usable functions.”


There is no excuse for ignoring context on the Web. Context is just as pervasive and just as available online as it is in the physical world. It comes in as many forms including preferences, behavior, location and social networks, there to be used by savvy marketers if they only would.

There’s that word again, location.

Quick hits: Mindy McAdams on getting that first job in journalism. Great advice. Another Apple employee, another bar, another lost iPhone. I’m beginning to think this is the soft-pedal link technique of choice at Cupertino. The Iron Bowl version of Stranger in a Strange Land. GQ comes down to try to figure it all out. (Hint: Fans can be overzealous.)

Finally, the finalists for the 2011 Online Journalism Awards are publicized. Tons of great material to examine there.


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