Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don Bolles murder: 30th anniversary

Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the day Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was critically injured when a bomb exploded beneath his car. He didn't die right away, instead he suffered with massive injuries and would have both legs and one arm amputated as doctors tried to save his life. He died, some might say mercifully, 11 days later.

Bolles wrote stories about organized crime and powerful people and it's believed that his investigative work in those areas led to his murder. To this day though, there's no general consensus on the reasons why someone wanted him dead.

To mark the anniversary and Bolles' memory, The Arizona Republic has created a special report which includes stories, slideshows and a look at the current state of investigative reporting. Two of the more interesting offerings are articles about Max Dunlap, the only person who was implicated in Bolles' murder and who is still in prison and a look at whether modern medicine would have been able to do more today for someone with injuries the extent of Bolles' and perhaps even have saved his life.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Librarians gagged no more

Four Connecticut librarians, George Christian, Peter Chase, Barbara Bailey and Janet Nocek,
who received a National Security Letter and were under a gag order not to reveal the fact that the FBI had made a demand for patron records, spoke out today on NPR's "All Things Considered." The order effectively meant that the four were unable to voice their opinions regarding the Patriot Act during Congress' recent debate over its renewal.

Chase, the chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee for the Connecticut Library Association, expressed his frustration, saying how he would have been arrested if he had revealed the FBI's request and that he had to turn down many speaking engagements regarding the Patriot Act because it would have put him in a position where it may have become known that he was one of the "John Does" in a lawsuit that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the librarians.

The American Library Association issued a press release in support of the librarians and incoming President Leslie Burger said that the position the four "has taken on behalf of the library community will help lead the way to laws that better reflect what this country stands for."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blogs drive traffic reports that 1/3 of the traffic being directed to The Washington Post's Web site is coming from blogs.

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the original tip.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The making of an extra

Thanks to Poynter Online's E-Media Tidbits for pointing to an article in Friday's The New York Times that details how the Houston Chronicle pulled together an "extra" two page wraparound when the newsroom got word Thursday morning that a verdict was imminent in the Enron trial.

The Times' story relayed the timeline as follows. Around 10:20 a.m., the newsroom learned that the verdicts would be announced at 11 a.m. Chronicle Editor Jeff Cohen pitches the idea of an extra to wrap around the Thursday paper, which was already on newstands.

The newsroom began to put the wrap around together and added a story, photos and graphics when the verdicts were returned. The headline read "Guilty! Guilty!" and the work was completed by 1 p.m.

The extra went to press at 1:30 and shortly before 2 p.m., 10,000 copies has been printed. A dozen or so of the paper's employees went to various downtown locations, removing papers off the newstands to wrap them with the special edition. Four employees took on the task of standing outside the courthouse to sell the papers for 50 cents each. Appropriately enough, they arrived just as Ken Lay was exiting the building.

The Chronicle has only published extras four other times, the most recent being on February 1, 2003, when the Columbia Space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas. Other special editions appeared on September 11, 2001; January 28, 1986, the day the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded; November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The Chronicle also has a page on its Web site, "The Fall of Enron," with lots of interesting features including profiles, interactive timelines, blogs, podcasts, trial transcripts and photo galleries.

Future of the Internet

Friday's "Talk of the Nation" on NPR had a very interesting discussion on the future of the Internet. Guests included Tim Wu, a law professsor at Columbia University and the co-author of Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World; John Horrigan, the associate director for research at the Pew Internet & American Life Project; and Larry Peterson, professor and chairman of the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University and the director of the PlanetLab Consortium.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Globe columnist doesn't do blogs

Columnist Alex Beam of The Boston Globe gives readers a look at the type of content he would post on his blog, if he had one, and uses the opportunity to demonstrate why you will likely never see his name and blogger in the same sentence.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Newseum receives $52 million in gifts

The Newseum, a museum dedicated to telling the story of how the news is created and to upholding the principles of the First Amendment, has received $52 million in gifts from several major media companies that will go toward the construction of a new $435 million dollar facility that will open in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2007.

The museum will welcome visitors with a 74-foot high marble engraving of the First Amendment at its entrance and will have 250,000 square feet of space that will include "galleries, theaters and retail space."

The Newseum is perhaps best known as the place to go to view front pages from newspapers around the country and the world. It's a site I visit daily to view the front pages of the papers back home in Wisconsin.

Thanks to Romenesko for the link.

Buffet pessimistic about the future of newspapers

Berkshire Hathway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet, speaking at the company's 2006 shareholders' meeting, weighed in on the future of newspapers, saying the outlook isn't good. Much of that is due to the fact that, according to Buffet, "newspaper readers are heading into the cemetery, while newspaper non-readers are just getting out of college. The old virtuous circle, where big readership draws a lot of ads, which in turn draw more readers, has broken down."

Buffet added that "Charlie" (Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger) "and I
think newspapers are indispensable. I read four a day. He reads five. We couldn’t live without them. But a lot of people can now. This used to be the ultimate bulletproof franchise. It’s not anymore."

Thanks to PJNet Today for the tip and for posting the link to a longer excerpt from the meeting at Hypergene MediaBlog.

School District to watch over students' blogs

A day after writing that I've been finding very little to blog about lately, today I found plenty. Read on.

The Community High School District 128 school board in Lake County, Illinois, recently voted to require any student participating in extracurricular activities to sign a pledge agreeing to the stipulation that "evidence of `illegal or inappropriate' behavior posted on the Internet could be grounds for disciplinary action."

The policy, which will take effect at the start of the school year this fall, includes student blogs and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

District officials say they won't be regularly trolling students' sites, but what they will do is more troubling. According to the policy, sites will be monitored "if they get a worrisome tip from another student, a parent or a community member."

Free speech and privacy rights arguments don't hold water with Associate Superintendent Prentiss Lea, who stated that "The concept that searching a blog site is an invasion of privacy is almost an oxymoron. It is called the World Wide Web."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blogging slowdown

I'm sure my few faithful readers have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of new content I've posted of late.

I only post when I find something I feel is interesting enough and quite frankly, it's been slow. That's simply bound to be expected from time to time.

Secondly, I have been obscenely busy, spending the majority of my time away from work preparing for my upcoming trip to Baltimore, fulfilling my freelance gig and planning for a new experience to add to my resume: teaching.

So dear readers, bear with me. It will get better, I promise. :)

"Adapt or die"

American Journalism Review offers "Adapt or Die," a look at how newspapers have slowly begun to realize the importance of exploring other mediums to deliver their content and the implications it has for the future.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yahoo! through the years

Yahoo!, which is set as, appropriately enough, the home page of my home computer, has unveiled a new look and CNET has marked the change with a look at "Yahoo's steady home page transformation."

I have no real preference as to the former or current look of the site. My big complaint is that Yahoo! doesn't seem to know if it wants to go with the new or remain with the old. Make up your mind already!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cool translation tool

In her weekend update, Liz Donovan of Infomaniac points to Polly Glotto, a tool created by Eric Iverson, that will translate and read out loud to you in 11 different languages.

On a lighter note

I had a very long day and needed something to make me smile.

What does Amy mean?

A is for Adaptable
M is for Misunderstood
Y is for Yummy (not sure exactly what this means)

What does your name mean?

With thanks to Ken Leebow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Anonymous postings lead to dismissal

Justin Quinn, a courthouse reporter for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, lost his job after it was discovered that he had been posting anonymous comments to a talkback forum on the paper's Web site.

In a letter, Quinn, who had worked for the paper for more than six years, apologized for his postings, saying he regretted his actions, but adding that he felt the need "to set the record straight about the topics he covered." Eventually, he began adding his personal opinions to the mix.

"It is extremely hard to sit idly by when people are misstating facts," he said. "They obviously have not read the article. It's just hard to sit there and take it."

Thanks to Romenesko for the link.

The Washington Post's "Date Lab"

A colleague told me this interesting tidbit as we were heading out of work tonight. The Washington Post Magazine is looking for interested singles for a new feature called "Date Lab." The paper will fix you up with a stranger and then pay for your evening out in exchange for the two of you telling all the next day to a reporter, as well as agreeing to have your photos taken for publication.

I admit if they were doing this where I live, I'd probably give it a try. I haven't been doing well in the dating department since being cut loose over a year ago and anyone has got to be better to be with than he was.

While you're visiting the Dating page, check out some of the other articles. I know a lot of them resonated with me. Looks like I've got some serious reading to do this weekend.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ask Jill Carroll a question

We were all so happy and thrilled when journalist Jill Carroll was freed by her captors and reunited with her family. She has been understandably quiet recently, taking the time she needs to reconnect with her family and friends and to come to terms with what she went through.

But now, "Jill is ready to answer your questions." You have until the end of business tomorrow to submit a question for Jill. She will answer a selected number of them, which will be posted on The Christian Science Monitor's Web site in the near future.

Circulation declines continue

The Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report was released today and for the most part, shows a continuing circulation decline for daily newspapers.