By paulgillin | July 12, 2010 - 7:33 am - Posted in Fake News

In case you missed it, the perpetually poverty-stricken Journal Register Co. is doing some pretty gutsy stuff. The company, which was delisted from the NASDAQ New York Stock Exchange two years ago, has a new CEO who’s interested in reinventing publishing. John Paton (right) has a blog and a Twitter Account. He also has the admiration of Jeff Jarvis, who doesn’t confer praise lightly.

What got Jarvis so excited was a July 4 experiment in which the company’s 18 dailies published using nothing but free, web-based tools. They called this the Ben Franklin Project in recognition of both the country’s birthday and Journal Register’s liberation from ancient proprietary production systems.

More importantly, the company changed the way it reported the news for that day. Readers were actively involved at the front of the process in directing the reporting staff and looking virtually over reporter’s shoulders as stories were prepared. “The Ben Franklin Project is the beginning of a new era of an open and transparent newsgathering process,” wrote Paton on his blog. This is a company worth watching again.

MediaShift has an excerpt from journalism educator Alfred Hermida about rethinking the role of the journalist in the participatory age. While Hermida doesn’t break a lot of new ground, he crystallizes some concepts we’ve been talking about here for some time, namely that the evolving role of the journalist is as aggregator and authenticator rather than original reporter. Quoting Tom Rosenstiel, Hermida describes the still-important role of the journalist as “a sense-maker to derive meaning, a navigator to help orient audiences and a community leader to engage audiences.”

He also quotes from an article by BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks that calls for an end to “Fortress journalism.” Horrocks writes, “In the fortress world, the consumption of journalism was through clearly defined products and platforms… but in the blended world of Internet journalism all those products are available within a single platform and mental space… the reader may never be aware from which fortress the information has come.”

In the world Horrocks describes, the audience pulls together its own newspaper, woven from bits and pieces assembled from various online sources. The consequence of this is that media organizations can’t afford to reinvent the wheel anymore. Each needs to focus on what it does best and pool efforts rather than duplicate them. So maybe 90 of those 100 journalists who currently attend a Presidential press conference can spend their time out in the field assessing reaction and gathering analysis rather than listening to the same thing. What a concept.


Advertiser optimism continues to grow. Advertiser Perceptions Inc. (API) reports that 32% of ad executives now expect to increase their ad spending over the next 12-months. That’s the largest percentage increase since API began asking ad execs about their intentions in 2007. A year ago, the figure was -5%. The 1,412 ad executives who were surveyed continue to be pessimistic about magazine and national newspaper advertising, with intentions to increase spending down 10% and 32% respectively. But even those sentiments are greatly improved over the -26%/-46% plans of a year ago. The biggest winners are digital and mobile media, with more than 60% of ad executives planning to increase spending there.

Give Tribune Co. credit for trying to diversify its revenue stream. The bankrupt company is dedicating 10 people to a new consulting business that will sell knowledge of social media and Internet advertising to small and mid-sized businesses. The new venture is called 435 Digital Services, a nod to Tribune Co.’s headquarter address at 435 N. Michigan Ave.

The Denver Post is going after a local political site, saying that Colorado Pols is stealing its copyrighted material. The political site, which generates marginal revenue, allegedly lifted between three and eight paragraphs of news articles from the Post and other publications. Colorado Pols says it doesn’t need the Post. “There’s thousands of other outlets out there,” says founder Jason Bane. Post owner Media News is one of those media companies that wants to raise the perceived value of its content. The company has confirmed that it will begin testing online pay models this summer at its newspapers in Chico, Calif., and York, Pa.

Speaking of pay walls, Time magazine now has one. Secure in its role as the only newsweekly left standing, the venerable but mostly irrelevant magazine is requiring readers who want to read online versions of its print article to subscribe to either the print or the iPad edition. They can then see the same stuff that’s in the magazine on a screen. Online-only content will continue to be free.

Circ Labs, the University of Missouri-backed startup that is developing a tool that learns from a user’s online behavior and delivers recommendations for content, has launched a prototype service prior to general release. The prototype installs a Firefox add-in that enables the browser to recommend an article and to read similar articles suggested by the algorithm. Users can share content with each other and be notified of new content as it becomes available.

To test, go to and create an account. The confirmation page contains a link to the toolbar software. You can then browse and add pages to the knowledge base. We were able to install the menu bar, but couldn’t log onto the site for some reason, and Circ Labs provides no means to recover a password. We guess that’s why they’re calling this a test.

Buried in a lightweight study of the Internet habits of young women is this nugget: “Nearly half — 48% — of all respondents now claim to get more news through Facebook than from traditional news outlets.”  This number comes from Lightspeed Research and Oxygen Media, which surveyed the habits of 1,504 U.S. adults who use social media. The researchers also claim that 39% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 now describe themselves as Facebook addicts, and that a third of young women check Facebook before going to the bathroom in the morning. We supposed one needs one’s priorities.

Variety’s website has adopted DailyMe’s behavioral tracking and recommendation technology called Newstogram.  Newstogram generates data on user’s interests to deliver visitors content, advertisements and e-commerce opportunities tailored specifically to them, based on their specific interests and behavior. DailyMe started life as a customized news service for consumers but has morphed into a customization engine that publishers can serve up to their visitors. Readers get filtered news and publishers get better insight into what motivates readers.

And Finally…

Roy Rivenburg is still at it. The jokester who dreamed up Not the LA Times two years ago continues to tweak the nose of the West Coast’s most self-important newspaper. A recent story has Times editors arguing over whether it’s better to start articles with the time or the weather. The inspiration is this page of formulaic opening sentences extracted from the real newspaper. “If I don’t find out the time of day in the first sentence, I stop reading,” says one subscriber.



This entry was posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 7:33 am and is filed under Fake News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. July 13, 2010 @ 7:30 am
  2. July 14, 2010 @ 3:36 am

    […] don’t know what to make of this, or how it played out at the RJs Connecticut papers, but the concept is intriguing — putting […]

  3. July 14, 2010 @ 7:54 am

    I am currently aggregating my own news together from dozens of on-line sources.

    This is a lot better that being dictated to by some persons deciding based on their own agenda what they want to show me and what they think I should know. (You can read about the same objective fact any number of ways depending on the viewpoint of the editor, but you can’t read about the stuff they didn’t write about. Use more than one source and you stand a better chance of getting more objective facts.)

    What this requires though is time.

    We end up looking for some trusted arbiter or keeping the dozens of sources approach in mind, arbiters on some areas of interest.

    Using RSS and social sites like Digg, HuffingtonPost, and the like as well as Twitter to keep an eye on what’s happening now, it possible to put together a personalized journal everyday.

    Posted by msbpodcast
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