Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Margaret Moth - true tale of a shooter, gunmen, and the ultimate killer

The cable news channel CNN celebrates Margaret Moth, a fearless camerawoman from New Zealand who, fifteen years ago, was hit by a sniper in Sarajevo and nearly lost her life. She was wounded beyond recognition but her work was unmistakable. Moth embodies the Frank Capra mantra that you cannot get too close to the action. A hard-living lady whose story shows her indominatable spirit. "I would have liked to go out with a little more flair," she says. Click here for two video segments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Huffington Post headlines get the popularity test

Something devilishly brilliant: Huffington Post readers are randomly shown one of two headlines for the same story. After five minutes, which is enough time for such a high-traffic site, the version with the most clicks becomes the one that everyone sees.

Nieman labs analyses this latest twist in real time A/B testing.
Headlines have always played the most promotional role in news, charged with selling readers on the articles they adorn, so it only makes sense to apply the best tools of market research to their crafting. Think of it as a more rigorous version of magazines adjusting their covers based on newsstand sales.

Paul Berry, chief technology officer at The Huffington Post, spoke briefly about their real-time headline testing on a panel at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco earlier this month. When I talked to him afterwards, Berry said the system was created inhouse, but he wouldn’t disclose much else about how or how often it’s done. He did say Huffington Post editors have found that placing the author’s name above a headline almost always leads to more clicks than omitting it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blue-haired Marge Simpson takes it off for Playboy spread

SOft-porn is taking to cartoons, as Playboy mag reaches out to a 'toon demographic. The BBC got word that the shots are "very, very racy"...but this may not be surpsising after Bart Simpson's full frontal in the movie.
Cowabunga. These are different times

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Waiting to Inhale

Wanna-be cannabis critics have been keen to share samples of their writing with Coloradan editor Patricia Calhoun, who is sifting through them to find the perfect journalist to assess medical marijuana dispensaries for her rag, Westword, in "the Mile-high City." She recounts how

...the staffer who'd been posting "Mile High and Low" reviews every week for the past month under the name Mae Coleman (an homage to Reefer Madness) was ready to get back to his day job. Still, since the number of people seeking medical marijuana cards is growing even faster than the number of dispensaries in this state, we knew that not only was there a need for critical information, but that we'd have no shortage of qualified applicants. Not in the Mile High City. So we published a post asking would-be dispensary critics to write a brief essay on "What Marijuana Means to Me."

Our first applicant replied within five minutes — fast work for a stoner. Our first media response came a few minutes later — really fast work for a journalist.

A week later, our quest has been captured by everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times, and the essays continue to pour in — some silly, some actually spelled correctly (many potheads don't seem to care for punctuation), some very sincere. A sampling:

From an engineer who started with the great line "Hey, Joe, whatcha doin with that doob in your hand...What Mary Jane means to me: As a 'burner' of more than 14 years, I have spent many an hour pondering the importance of herb in my life... among other things. Recently, however, I have realized a new herbal importance to my overall quality of life. I am an outdoor sporting enthusiast and have experienced my share of injuries throughout the years, as many of us do. As I have aged (elegantly, damnit!), I have developed a couple of recurring conditions that have allowed me to legally indulge myself as an alternative to prescribed narcotics and the dangerous longterm effects. Long story short... (TOO LATE!) I have been frequenting many of our local dispensaries with mixed experiences. Most places are kind and professional. Others, though, are simply drug dealers that check your ID. I think that you have a great idea — a service, rather, that will help your readers make educated decisions and enjoy their 'medication' experience to the fullest..."
read more

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

High response to newspaper ad for Medical Marijuana critic

With journalist jobs increasingly cut, the response was predictably high for a new position as a critic of medical marijuana at a local Colorado paper which covers the cannabis depositories around the mile high cities of the Rockies. And after the NY Times came lately to cover this media story, interest just kept rolling. The editor, Patricia Calhoun, responds to the extra attention, and points out that it's no joke.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Convention on unconventional news in Silicon Valley

New media and old school hacks mingled at a conference sponsored by UC Berkeley over the hill in Silicon Valley. They sized each other up and attempted to sort out what lies ahead, acc to the Los Angeles Times columnist James Rainey, who was on the scene.
John Temple, the former editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, which closed in February after 150 years in business. "I feel like a cadaver being asked by the funeral director, 'How did you like the flowers?' " Temple said, before offering his autopsy on the paper.

Temple said the much-celebrated Rocky and other papers have been so worried about their printed product (which brings in the vast majority of the ad revenue) they've given short shrift to expanding Web opportunities.

The favorite buzzwords at this convention: aggregated mega-data, the whuffie factor, and the social stream. Some old pros walked away puzzled, convinced that reporters were needed ould have to cut through the blizzard of factoids and news babble out in cyberspace