Huffington Post is Going Local

June 20, 2008

Originally found this from Greg Sterling’s Screenwerk blog via Google Reader.

The Chicago Tribune announces that a Chicago version of the Huffington Post will be arriving (no official launch date set). It will be a full local news site and not just one dedicated to politics.

I’m really liking this. A couple weeks ago at the national NCMR event held in Minneapolis, I saw Arianna Huffington speak on independent media and really enjoyed seeing how the Huffington Post has embraced on bringing together online aggregation, blogging, and community building.

Arianna Huffington and Greg Watkins

One of the things she spoke about is the involvement of their community bloggers. They don’t always get paid, but they do get acknowledged and the Huffington Post does have a strict editorial policy. From what I understand, this means that their community bloggers definitely need journalistic credentials. I can see this being similar to Topix, but with less aggregation and more local online community building.

The Chicago Tribune mentions that this will be the first of “dozens of cities”. I’m hoping that Minneapolis/St.Paul will be one of them.

Any thoughts on this, yay or nay?

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NCMR – Day One: Net Neutrality and Minnesota Model of Countering Corporate Media

June 6, 2008

Today was the first day of the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I had prior engagements in the morning and had to miss the opening keynote by Mayor Rybak and Senator Klobuchar titled “Welcome to Minneapolis”. This was all fine since I live here anyway.

The first session I attended today was Future of the Internet: Open, Neutral, Mobile and Ubiquitous and it focused mainly on Net Neutrality. Toward the beginning, I saw a couple friends and fellow twitterers Ed Kohler and Ward Tongen. Just then I noticed a reply on a blog post I made yesterday from Twitterer John Breyault that he was in the same session as I. How cool is that? Hopefully I’ll meet up with him in the next couple days.

Regarding the session, Moderator Timothy Karr gave a US Web update. The US is falling behind on broadband as other countries are surpassing us. It turns out that Japan Internet users pay half the price and have faster access. Of course, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon would love to get involved so we could pay even more (that last sentence is my spiel).

Tim Wu was the first panelist to speak. He actually turned from the dark side as he used to sell services to where the government chooses what Internet access users have, which is basically a discriminatory Internet. He also sold to corporations who wanted to control which sites their employees go to. He claimed we don’t have the broadband infrastructure that we should. A suggestion that he made was to have alternative means of bandwidth that is not controlled by big telco or cable, or even to provide wireless bandwidth to a length that we’ve never seen before.

Next up was Eloise-Rose S. Lee from Media Alliance and wound up receiving audience applause as being the panelist that is or was not a lawyer. ūüôā Due to restarting the laptop I missed most of what she said although her presentation was very short, too. She thinks a solution can be found on the local level. Start communication from the ground up, and not from the top down.

Next to speak was Jef Pearlman of Public Knowledge and was there to talk about wireless and initiatives moving forward. The premise was that the Internet is going global. People text, use wifi, and the phone will even eventually go through the Internet. He also pointed out a text messaging statement snafu made by Verizon.

He then went through three initiatives, although it went by quickly and I wasn’t able to take the best notes. One was on Verizon buying C Block, and part of the rules is that anyone who uses it has to allow any access to get through, which does sound like a good thing although my personal knowledge on that is limited. He also mentioned a grass roots activist group that would use bandwidth from unused television sets in 2009 when analog goes digital.

Last up was an energetic Susan Crawford. As a member of ICANN, she is very concerned about the future of the Internet. Telco says that the Internet is being ruined because they’re not making enough money from it (shocker). She also mentioned that there are 40 countries that censor their Internet to limit what their people can see, and our government wants to do the same thing. There’s certainly a connection with big telco and our government (at least with our current administration). One way would be to charge video one way, cell phone another, etc.

She was happy to present OneWebDay.org to us, which is essentially an Earth Day for the Internet. This year it will be on September 22. The idea is to focus attention on online audience participation, local Internet concerns, and to create a global constituency that cares about defending the Internet.

That was quite a lot of note taking but hopefully worth it. The next session has plenty of notes as well.

The second and last session of the day was titled Minnesota Model: Countering Corporate Media. This premise was about the big dailies declination and how smaller and niche newspapers have countered. Their was problems with the videos so unfortunately accompanying Powerpoints were not available.

First up was Jeremy Iggers from the Twin Cities Media Alliance and of the Daily Planet. He actually credits Freepress.net to their success. He points out that they have one or two articles by citizen journalists every day, and they also provide many sources of education. He drew laughter from the crowd when he mentioned one of these was called “Facebook for geezers”.

Regarding the citizen journalists, the Daily Planet uses that term because they want to be known as more than bloggers. They don’t just put anything up there and they do have editors that strictly goes through every article to ensure they are up to par.

Next up is Vickie Evans-Nash from the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder. This publication is definitely what many search marketers will call “hyper-local”. It’s been around for 75 years and offers stories “for the people”. They use people in mostly African American neighborhoods who know and have lived in these neighborhoods for a long time. She credits this motto to their continued success.

They also do special things for the community. Every year they do a black senior month. They ask these seniors that have lived there for awhile how the city and neighborhood has changed and what advice they would give to younger people. They also showcase local talent such as African American students that have graduated from different schools in the state and special notices when minorities own sports teams, etc.

Janis Lane-Ewart from KFAI is up next. Countering the corporate media is probably the subset for KFAI’s mission. Years ago, they didn’t have a program that talked about controversial issues such as GLBT or people who spoke other languages and wanted to build an avenue to absolutely include everyone. They’ve recently directed programs for the younger folks as well as they have lacked that audience. It wound up that KFAI was one of the first radio stations to have 12 different languages in their programming so everyone can have a chance to voice their radio opinions.

Next Up? Kathy Magnuson from the Minnesota Women’s Press. She started out by stating they wanted to cover two types of stories. One is to cover stories that others are not. The other way is by covering stories that others carry as well, but to put a woman’s spin on it.

An example is a pretty sad story that happened last winter. A toddler was found outside barefoot in the snow and cold. Police found him, brought him home and the mother was not there. As soon as she came home, the policemen immediately arrested her and threw her in jail. This is the mainstream story from a man’s point of view.

It turns out that she definitely did make a huge mistake. She decided to not wake her child when she received a desperate phone call from a friend with a gravely sick child. She obviously made the wrong decision, but was not a wrong person. This was written from the Women’s press from a woman’s point of view.

Subprime mortgages is also something they wrote about that mainstream did not. She described that women are more apt to get roped into subprime mortgages. Women are 30% of all borrowers but 39% of all subprime victims.

Last up was Sarah Lutman, VP of American Public Media, parent of Minnesota Public Radio. One of the first things she mentioned was that public inside journalism is a big part of what they are currently doing. At any given time, someone was providing their staff with information about a story that they weren’t able to get. Over the last four years, they have been able to receive over 50,000 public journalists to help them out.

I had a big grin on my face when she said that Twitter has been a great example of public journalism. During last week’s Barack Obama event at the X, hundreds of people sent MPR tweets of what was currently going on, both inside and outside of the arena. What a great example of how to use Twitter!

They also do a lot of live music for their “The Current” FM radio station. Whether it’s in a studio or playing a show, a lot of that music is on YouTube. She even mentioned podcasting as another way of using social media. Big kudos to MPR as this is some of the info I was looking for in the first place – great uses of social media from non-search marketers.

Tomorrow will be day two and I plan to write up notes again, but probably not quite as much. I really enjoy it, but I spent a lot of energy typing away and think I could have done a better job doing more listening to what they have to say where it soaks in quite a bit more.

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Heading to the National Conference for Media Reform – 2008

June 5, 2008

NCMR 2008

Staring this Friday, I will be attending the three-day National Conference for Media Reform at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

A very general premise of this conference is to gather thousands of journalists, activists, lawmakers, and just about anyone who wants to listen and talk about making media better, how the Internet media has come into play, and where the media is today and where it can be going. It’s pretty exciting actually as there will be 300 presenters and 3,000 attendees.

This is a far cry from Internet and Search Marketing conferences that many of us have probably attended. No presenter here is going to be talking about anchor text, rankings (I hate that word), cost per conversion (I like that phrase), Quality Score, Technorati, MyBlogLog, Sphinn, Pay-Per-Call, or the three letter acronyms that many of us drool over; SEO, PPC, and ROI.

Matt Cutts won’t be at this conference. Neither will Danny Sullivan. However, Dan Rather, Arianna Huffington, and Bill Moyers will all be there presenting either sessions or keynotes.

There will be many topics ranging from media policy and activism to alternative journalism (blogging) and the future of interactive media.

What will be talked about in certain sessions and is the biggest reason why I’m attending is blogging, user-generated media, social media on the Web, Net Neutrality (that’s huge in my book), Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media opportunities.

What I really like is that these presenters won’t be talking about how to incorporate social media with search marketing. They will be talking about their own respective media industries and how they use social media. I can guarantee I’ll be walking out of these sessions thinking “why didn’t I think of that?!”. Learning more about services you offer from different perspectives is a fantastic way to understand them from the client’s point of view.

A few must-see sessions:

Newspapers: Not Dead Yet? – It’s no big surprise that print newspapers have been in decline. Who’s to blame? The Internet, corporate greed, or mismanagement? I’m pretty low key but something tells me I’ll have some audience input during the Q & A’s.

Online and Offline: Connecting the Grassroots and the Netroots – This will probably be a political session and I would bet that there will be an Obama success story in there. I can absolutely see taking some of these concepts and applying it to local search. After all, local search is about getting people away from their computer (netroots) and to a physical, business door (grassroots).

Future of the Internet: Open, Neutral, Mobile and Ubiquitous – A few readers of this blog know how much of a proponent of Net Neutrality I am and don’t believe big telco and cable giants should be able to screw small businesses who have success online by “offering” multi-tiered Internet access solutions, especially when this thought is backed by an out of touch Senator from Alaska who thinks that the Internet is a series of tubes.

Organizing for Change on the Social Web – This one will most likely be political too, but they will be specifically talking about the effects of social media opportunities such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. I’m really looking forward to get a non-search marketing view on how these opportunities have worked. That’s when the light bulbs really start shining over my noggin.

Regarding the social Web, the conference itself and organizers, Freepress, aren’t slouches. If you look at the conference home page, you’ll notice that they encourage users to tag the site on social sites such as Flickr or YouTube with the tag “NCMR2008”, which I have tagged on this entry. They also have a horizontal Flickr stream on the top of the site. If you’re on Facebook, you can also see their own Facebook NCMR page.

A few side notes:

It normally wouldn’t make since to go to a conference like this, but the Minneapolis Convention Center is a whopping 10 blocks from me and the cost for the whole three days is under 200 bucks! That’s a no-brainer in my book. Search marketing conferences are close to 2k.

There will be plenty of bed-wetting elephants and donkeys at the conference. I’m pretty sure I won’t be schmoozing with them. I’m there to learn, not to bitch. ūüėČ

I won’t be doing any liveblogging, but will hopefully give nightly updates of the events each day. Monday will come around too soon so I better get the posts in while I have time.

Are any of you attending? If so, let’s hook up and chat. Or, if you have any questions you’d like answered, let me know and I will certainly do my best to accommodate.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll think of the readers here while I’m geeking out for the entire time. ūüôā

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Star Tribune to Lose 145 Positions

May 7, 2007

There¬†is already plenty of news sources regarding this. The CityPages gives it a mention along with Ridder’s memo.

It makes you wonder what exactly Avista had in mind when they purchased the Strib. They’re not a publishing company, but an investment firm.

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The Many Blogs of the Star Tribune

February 19, 2007

I’m a little late to the party as the majority of these blogs have been up since the beginning of January, some of them before that. I just noticed the many blogs of the Star Tribune (hopefully you’ll be able to skip the whole registration thing. If not, sorry).

What’s especially nice is they don’t seem to filter much out. The majority of these blogs are already quite busy. You get some editorial thoughts or questions, and users chime into with their opinions. Some of these agree with the author, and some don’t… and can be quite harsh. As a user, I like being able to read¬†different people’s opinions, then come up with my own viewpoint. To me, that’s news.

The Strib’s community blog and entertainment¬†source should also be noted at buzz.mn¬†and vita.mn, respectively.

Thank you Strib.

One post came from the OmBlog on the importance of developing journalism ethics online. The interesting part is a link within it regarding ethical decision-making in digital media.

As¬†just one of a ton of¬†niche bloggers, I’m certainly not a journalist, nor will I ever claim to be. But, should we be trying to follow these rules in general, especially if part of the blog’s existence is to help promote a business or organization? I’ve certainly made tongue-in-cheek remarks on this blog regarding different issues¬†that something like a newspaper blog would not.

I’m probably going to continue to¬†write about “stuff” whether it’s considered¬†journalistically ethical¬†or not, but I’m curious if there are any opinions…

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City Pages Article on the Star Tribune Sale

January 9, 2007

A couple weeks ago, I gave mention to the McClatchy Company selling the Star Tribune for 40-some cents on the dollar, or well more than $500 million below the $1.2 billion they paid for it in 1998. The post contains the Strib article, a press release and a nice write-up by Greg Sterling regarding the sale and the current status of the newspaper industry.

Here’s a City Pages¬†article regarding the sale, giving a viewpoint that you probably haven’t¬†seen before, and you don’t have to give personal information away to read it for “free”. It’s a compelling article, with a few side articles including views from the actual people who make¬†the Strib¬†tick (stuff you won’t find in the WSJ).

Maybe McClatchy made enough revenue in the Strib’s 8-year ownership and sold while they could, maybe they bought something they just couldn’t afford. I’m not in the industry and don’t have a big opinion “why”. I’m just waiting for a major daily to bring out the perfect match between trusted print readership, and the deep online content and user-friendly ads¬†to go along with it.

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Star Tribune Sold to Private New York Investment Firm

December 27, 2006

I was surprised this morning to open up the online Strib¬†to see that the Star Tribune was sold to Avista, a private New York investment firm. Chances are you’ll have to¬†register just to read the article, so here is a press release put out by PR Newswire instead.

I’m certainly not in the industry, although it’s definitely surprising to see that the McClatchy Co. (who owns the Star Tribune) sold it for $530 million, under half of what they bought it for in 1998. It’s reported that the Strib’s circulation and advertising has stayed¬†solidly profitable compared to other large dailies. They have also reported, like many other large dailies, that their classified ads have¬†been affected by¬†Internet competition.

I’ve always been a fan of the Star Tribune, but have never advertised¬†or purchased anything from their online or print classifieds or¬†run-of-press ads.¬†To the new regime… make it enticing and easy for me to buy and sell, and I will (online).

01/02/2007 Update: Greg Sterling from Screenwerk provides comments about newspapers and the Star Tribune.

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