Read All About It – some links and news (23 July 2010)

First up, a rather wonderful guide to digital storytelling, which is designed for educators. However journalists with little exposure to these types of skills could benefit greatly from it. The guide is compiled by Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano – I found it via Twitter but cannot find the original Twitter link!

Next, a fine round-up of relatively inexpensive multimedia equipment from Adam Westbrook. Great for those starting out or adding to their repertoire.

Hyperlocal alert! Will Perrin has a very nice slideshow, which provides an action plan for free and effective local journalism based on local authority data. Pay particular attention to the final slide (slide 18).

Excellent post from Advancing the Story called the ’10 laws of multimedia’. Quick, relevant and to the point. A must read.

There has been plenty of discussion about this article in the New York Times on reporter burnout – but here’s the link just in case you missed it.

Finally an amusing link from 10,000 words on journalists learning programming skills.

Festival bound with Clockwork Noise, have a good weekend,
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Publish2 launches ‘new Associated Press’

Publish2 has launched a news exchange in an attempt to replace what the Associated Press has up-to-now offered newspapers.

From what I gather Publish2 will provide a market place for newspapers to share their own content or use/buy content from publications, journalists, bloggers and other sources.

CEO Scott Karp outlines his vision:

Publish2 News Exchange solves the problems that have prevented newspapers from creating an efficient, scalable alternative to the AP. We bridge the gap between print publishing and Web publishing by connecting natively to outdated newspaper print publishing systems. We support the standard formats used by the AP and the technologies that newspapers already use to move content between print and Web systems. Our self-serve permissioning system enables newspapers and other publishers to distribute content to whomever they choose on whatever terms they choose.

Publish2 explains more about its offering here and Director, News Innovation, Ryan Sholin gives his views.

I understand the dilemma both newspapers and the AP are experiencing, but I’m not convinced this is the solution (here’s one small reason why: newspapers know they can trust the AP, part of the reason they pay so much for it, while Publish2’s editorial standards are a little lighter. How is it going to guarantee quality?).

Is Publish2 not getting ahead of itself believing it can replace the AP? Does it have to be a rival product?

I’m still thinking over Publish2, but in a comment on TechCrunch’s article, Topix’s Chris Tolles makes a very good point – the newspaper industry owns the AP. Another commenter points to a similar offering from the AP itself.

Think I’ll have to take the tour,

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Pierre Omidyar’s Honolulu local news site goes live

I’m watching the development of Honolulu Civil Beat with great interest.

Backed by the founder of Ebay, Pierre Omidyar, the online news project was launched earlier this week.

Subscribers will play a key part in the operation, which allows them to discuss issues affecting their communities through a concept called the ‘civil square’ hosted by journalists with different expert areas.

In an article on the site headlined ‘A New Approach to Journalism’, Founding Editor John Temple (formerly of the Rocky Mountain News) explains what it hopes to provide:

We start this news service with the belief that we’re here to serve you. That means our daily work is to ask the important questions citizens might have in the face of the complex issues facing our community. And to answer them in a way that helps members reach an informed opinion, based on our reporting and the discussion that will take place as we together create the new civic square.

You’ll find that our initial coverage is centered around five fundamental beats: Hawaii, Honolulu, Education, Land and Money. For each of these coverage areas, we have identified critical issues – and now that you’re here we hope you’ll help us sharpen our focus.

The monthly fee of $19.99 to use the site is generating the most comment.

Here’s Daily Finance’s take on the pay model:

Skeptics say no one will pay such a princely sum (in Internet terms) to participate in a local journalism site, and a lack of participants could doom the online “civic square” to failure.

But Omidyar’s new startup could be timing the bottom of the paid-content market perfectly. For starters, the subtle reeducation of Web users that not all content is free is well underway. The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times are all on paths to paid content in their online forms. Since these are “must read” publications that drive lots of other news coverage, it’s hard to ignore this trend.

Paidcontent’s view:

If they were aiming for a straight news service, then it makes sense as a business-model decision to let people know from the top that getting a quality product will take their financial support. But a civic-square vision carries a different kind of connotation and a suggestion of more, not less, openness. The implicit suggestion is that only people who pay are worth listening to. That seems to run counter to Omidyar’s description of the richness and diversity of Hawaii and “discussions that involve a diversity of points of view, conducted in a respectful and good-faith search for common ground and meaningful compromise.”

With a billionaire’s backing this project has plenty of room for experimentation, but it will be interesting to see what the people Honolulu make of it!

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What’s happening in hyperlocal…

Yesterday, the New York Times announced a collaboration with New York University to cover local news in the East Village.

NYT journalist Richard G Jones will edit the Local East Village site, developed by staff and faculty at the University’s Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute. The site will ‘live’ on nytimes.com.

The Times has already collaborated with another journalism school on a hyperlocal project in Brooklyn, it has a venture in Chicago and an upcoming Bay Area link-up in San Francisco.

Speaking about the most recent announcement, the Editor of Digital Initiatives at NYT, Jim Schachter, says:

We want to continue to expand our network of collaborations, in the New York area and across the country, through associations with individuals, companies and institutions that share our values — foremost, increasing the volume and scope of quality journalism about issues that matter.

The new East Village site is not the only recent development in local news.

AOL is expanding its local news venture patch.com. According to a report last week from Business Insider, the group is planning to grow the number of local news websites from 30 to ‘hundreds’.

Citing an internal communication with employees, Business Insider reports that AOL said it wants to be ‘the global and local leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high quality content.’

Insider says:

Patch is already growing fast. It served just 12 communities in New Jersey and Connecticut as of October 2009, when it announced plans to expand to another 11. It currently covers about 30.

Insider also reports that AOL is out at events (recently in NYU) seeking to hire journalism grads.

Writing about the AOL news, GigaOM’s Matthew Ingram says if patch.com is a failure it will be the biggest blow to hyperlocal yet.

Across the Atlantic, guardian.co.uk took its first steps into the world of hyperlocal with its Leeds website. Sites for Edinburgh and Cardiff are on the way.

Journalism.co.uk says Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger told Twitter the move was a ‘tiny toe in local web water’.

On her blog, Director of Digital Content for Guardian News and Media, Emily Bell says:

A hugely important part of this project has been the involvement of MySociety, who we’ve collaborated with to provide customised versions of their civic tools, allowing and encouraging local residents to report issues, contact their representatives and generally become engaged in the governance and care of their locality. This is an important partnership for us because we share many of the same values with MySociety, and it has been very valuable to work with them on a project like this.

I think hyperlocal has a big future – I have thought that for a long time.

I find it bothersome, however, that it mostly, at least in the US, remains the preserve of citizen journalists, journalism students and recent grads. Aside from the person tasked with being the editor, it seems the big names or more established journalists tend to be missing.

How do organisations expect readers to take local news seriously if they are not throwing major muscle, including journalists, behind it.

Local news is important. After all it can have the most immediate impact on readers’ lives and could possibly drive them to other parts of a media organisation’s operation.

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Huffington Post’s Chicago site up and running

The first of the Huffington Post’s local news sites launched today. The Chicago site is the first step in a broader strategy to set up a network of local news aggregation sites across the US.

It will be interesting to watch this site over the coming months.

More from Jemima Kiss here

BBC to spend big on local video news

The BBC has announced plans today to spend £68m on its network of local video news websites. The corporation already has a network of local news sites, but the new proposal would allow for an expansion to 65 websites and a broader range of content. The news sites would provide up to ten video stories each day.

More on this from paidContent.org

However there may be a hiccup or two along the way. According to telegraph.co.uk Britain’s telecoms regulator Ofcom will be looking over the plan after complaints from local newspapers that licence-fee payers’ money would be used to duplicate a service already provided by local newspapers.