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August 13 2012

15:25

Discover a Bigger, Badder New York with Narratively

Discover Narratively

It’s no secret that New York is saturated with top-notch media outlets. But in such a fast-paced city, many of those outlets have no choice but to focus on the 24/7 cycle of breaking news, politics, entertainment and gossip. Countless blogs and websites repeat these stories over and over, but few have the time, resources or interest to undertake high-quality feature reporting. As a result, great human-interest pieces about New York are hard to find.

Narratively, a new digital publication, is here to change that by running the bigger, badder, weirder, sadder, uplifting and intoxicating stories about New York that average news headlines don’t cover.

Narratively is devoted to telling original, true and in-depth stories about New York, with plans to expand to other cities. It aims to slows down the news cycle. Each week, Narratively will explore a different theme about New York and publish a series of connected stories — just one a day — told in the most appropriate medium for each piece. One might feature a longform article with portrait photos on a Monday, followed by an animated documentary on Tuesday, then a photo essay, an audio piece or a short documentary film. Every story gets the space and time it needs to have an impact.

Narratively on Kickstarter

Narratively is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help them get their project off the ground.

Kickstarter donations will help their team create six months of compelling, innovative and important Narratively stories to kick off their publication.

They will also help complete development of the Narratively website and roll out their plan to become sustainable after their initial six months.

In their first week they are already more than 10 percent to their goal. Help them keep the momentum going!

Learn more about supporting Narratively.







August 28 2011

14:12

LNR - #Irene - Hurricane Irene passing through NYC, a walk around Brooklyn Heights

Business Insider :: Hurricane Irene is passing through New York City right now. NY1 is reporting heavy rains around various parts of the city and high waters along the Hudson and Coney IslandGlynnis MacNicol, Business Insider, took a walk around Brooklyn Heights earlier and while there are a few small trees down, many people are out walking their dogs.  "Over here it mostly it just feels like a heavy rainstorm except there are very few cars on the streets."

She snapped some pictures.

Pictures from New York right now Glynnis MacNicol, www.businessinsider.com

04:43

LNR - #Irene - CNN simulation shows Irene's effects on New York City

CNN :: Hurricane Irene brings wind and rain with it, but what will those elements do as it hits New York City. How much water will get into New York City? In this CNN video they used a model to simulate how much water could possibly get into a harbor. It also shows why you have to get out of the evacuation area and how dangerous it would be to stay there. 

Continue to read www.cnn.com

August 27 2011

23:12

LNR - #Irene - Ann Curry: power will go out in NYC, including Wall Street ...

Ann Curry | Twitlonger:: Ann Curry: "Why power will go out in NYC, including WALL STREET, even if the winds aren't bad: Utility officials tell WNBC 10 miles of steam lines are being shut off in Lower Manhattan, and warned power will be shut off there if there is flooding, which would take two to three days to be restored. That could mean Wall Street won't have power for the first part of the week, officials said. ...

Continue to read Ann Curry, www.twitlonger.com

19:09

LNR - #Irene - New York, curious scenes: a firehouse without a fire engine but a boat

New York Times :: Phil Graham walked by the firehouse between 9th and 10th on 43rd, New York. Inside, no engine but a boat! and firemen testing outboard engine. "Clearly something up!" - Times readers submitted their photos of early evacuations, storm scenes and aftermath damage. The photo Phil Graham took is one of them.

Go here to browse the gallery - www.nytimes.com

18:54

August 01 2011

11:09

Al Jazeera English launches in New York City

Huffington Post :: Six months after New York City news junkies flocked to Al Jazeera English’s (AJEwebsite for up-to-the-second coverage of the Egyptian uprising, they’ll now have a chance to watch the 24-hour news network on its original platform: television. At midnight, Al Jazeera English launched in New York City on Time Warner Cable, a major step in the network’s goal of expanding further into the U.S. cable market and a chance to reach two million households in a world capital of culture and commerce. AJE's website receives more online traffic from New York City than from any other city around the globe.

Continue to read Michael Calderone, www.huffingtonpost.com

March 04 2011

15:43

Councilpedia a Hit with New Yorkers, But Not Politicians

It's been a month since Gotham Gazette launched its Councilpedia project to monitor city elected officials and track money in local politics. (To read our earlier entry on Councilpedia, go here.)

In those weeks, we've learned a lot about what people like and don't like about the service. This information will help us improve what we think is an important tool for New Yorkers and an example other local news sites might want to follow.

Popular with People, not Politicians

councilpedia grab small.jpg

First, by and large, people like it. Even though most of the information -- but not all of it -- was already scattered about on Gotham Gazette and other sites, readers appreciate having all that data in one place. As someone who, like most editors, usually only hears from readers when they have complaints, I enjoyed getting emails with comments like "love it," "great new tool," "great addition to an already fine website," and so on.

We also received favorable coverage from a number of local news organizations. The New York Daily News ran a story about Councilpedia as did the local cable news channel and some political blogs. The New York Post even used it to call out a councilmember who seems not to have done much work during the last year.

Some of the city officials did not share that enthusiasm. In particular, they did not like the focus on campaign contributions. Our information on this is not original -- we took it from the city's Campaign Finance Board, which keeps track of such things and makes them public on its own. It's a very useful site. We did, though, sort all that information in an attempt to make it more user friendly and informative. So with Councilpedia, readers can, with two clicks, find out which unions gave money to Councilmember X and which lawyers helped Councilmember Y.

What some council members really, really do not like, apparently, is that we identify contributions from the real estate industry. Real estate -- developers, brokers, construction -- are probably the most important special interest in NYC politics. Many New York politicians rely on their support. They just hope people won't notice. Councilpedia makes it a bit harder to keep that secret.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

What We've Learned

Some of the lessons are already clear to us. One is that, while people visit the site and explore it, they have been slow to post comments. Getting the public to share information and having a discussion about money and politics are key to Councilpedia, so we will try to ramp that up.

In the next week or so, we plan to add a tutorial explaining more fully how to foster user interactions. We also hope to offer some short information sessions on Councilpedia and how to use it. And we expect that fresh information on the site -- the list of earmarks for the next fiscal year, for example -- will spur more people to get involved.

We're eager for other suggestions and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has done crowdsourcing and had a good response.

The second lesson: People would like to see more of this. They wonder why we did not include the mayor (Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire, so he doesn't take campaign contributions). Other readers wanted to see the information on state legislators, judges, and possible mayoral candidates.

More Money, More Monitoring

So would we. The problem, alas, is resources.

Councilpedia has something like 31,000 pages. While some of the data was copied or downloaded, much of it required formatting and tweaking by our technical manager JaVon Rice. And every single campaign contribution to all of the 53 officials in Councilpedia had to be hand-coded by sector and location. This required a large number of interns and freelancers working under the supervision of our city government editor, Courtney Gross. Even with a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, this stretched our resources to the limit and probably beyond.

New York's state legislature, which has been termed one of the most dysfunctional in the country and is awash is questionable campaign finance shenanigans, represent a tempting target for this type of project. Now if only we had a million dollars to do it...

February 23 2011

19:06

How to Fix the Tech PR Industry's Diversity Deficit

PBS.org has recently been home to some frank and thoughtful discussions about an overlooked issue: the lack of racial diversity in the media.

For those who may have missed it, the dialogue was sparked by Retha Hill in an Idea Lab post about the lack of minorities at new media conferences. Mark Glaser expanded the conversation from the comments section to a wider audience on Twitter with a MediaShift #mediadiversity chat. And Hill has followed up with a post on the need for media innovation in minority communities.

All this got me thinking about my particular media niche: technology public relations. What's so special about tech PR? Well, for those loosely familiar with the PR sector, imagine it as music. Entertainment, fashion, beauty and sports PR are akin to pop music.

Tech PR is more like opera. It requires a slightly different set of skills and media approaches. How many people of color in opera can music-lovers name? Aside from the great Kathleen Battle, not many come to mind. Unfortunately, this dilemma also rings true for tech PR. Persons of color are an untapped market that many PR agencies have not yet explored. Looking back at my six years in PR, I can count the number of brown colleagues I've worked with on less than two hands.

Why are minorities -- especially those of black and Latino descent -- largely missing from the tech media landscape? Inspired by this new-found dialogue on diversity in media, I want to talk about my career as a publicist representing and working with digital media and technology companies and offer some suggestions for remedying the tech PR industry's diversity deficit.

How I got here

When I was about 12 years old, I accompanied my father, who is a professor, to a wrap party for a film project where he served as an academic advisor. At the celebration, I remember one of the producers telling me that I'd be "good at PR" when I grew up. Back then, I didn't know what the producer meant. But that seed of advice remained in the back of my mind as I graduated from Rutgers College (part of Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey), studied and lived abroad in Europe and Brazil, and completed a master's program in marketing from the Bristol Business School in Bristol, England.

ana cano nennig.jpg

Upon finishing my master's program, I gravitated back to where my friends and family are from -- New York City, the so-called Silicon Alley of innovation -- and sought to finally discover what this PR thing was all about. Within a few months of my arrival, I landed an entry-level position within the technology practice of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. It was there that I met my mentor, Ana Cano Nennig, a female of Mexican-American descent. With her encouragement and guidance, I have navigated my way through the close-knit and competitive world of tech PR, representing some of the most innovative and respected companies -- from startups to established brands -- that are advancing the tech and digital media industries.

As Nennig evidences, I'm not the only person of color to succeed in PR. Minorities, especially African-Americans, have done well in sub-sectors of PR such as entertainment and sports where persons of color have played starring roles. This history stretches as far back as 1957, when the United Artists movie studio A.S. "Doc" Young to publicize an interracial love story, "Kings Go Forth."

New opportunities for Tech PR

When it comes to persons of color in technology and digital media PR, history may still be in the making. And, considering that minorities have led the way for technology adoption and innovation, I think a larger role for minorities is manifest destiny.

Take social networks and mobile technology, for example. New media and technology are widely embraced and used by minorities. According to a Pew Internet report [PDF file], 18 percent of Latinos and 13 percent of black adults who are online use Twitter; that's significantly greater than the five percent of white Internet users who tweet. Blacks and English-speaking Latinos were found to be more likely to use the various smartphone features such as web surfing and mobile shopping, according to Pew.

Given this history of early technology adoption and today's rising dialogue about minorities working in media and technology, I'm excited about what's in store. Smart business strategists hoping to increase their multicultural market share would do well to get on board.

How to promote diversity

In addition to continuing the dialogue of #mediadiversity, I want to include a few constructive ways to address the shortage of minorities within tech PR.

  • Weave diversity into everything you do. This is particularly crucial for PR agencies. One way to do that is by actively recruiting qualified minority talent, leaders, and mentors.
  • Create programs to help tell and preserve minorities' history in communications, as well as revitalize the role minorities play in the broader field of marketing communications. PR agencies can create an award or scholarship program to achieve this.
  • Educate minority youth on the opportunities in tech PR by partnering with minority communications professionals, entrepreneurs, journalists, and related organizations.

The reason I enjoy what I do is because of what technology and media represent: advancement and innovation.

In order for the industry to live up to the ideals it represents, diversity needs to be realized not just at the consumer level but at the corporate level as well. More personal dialogue should be encouraged regarding what it's like to be a minority in this industry.

But more importantly, action is required by the leaders driving the PR industry. PR agencies that serve technology and digital media companies should encourage diversity in both personnel team-building and marketing initiatives for clients.

Such steps will help to create stronger and more creative technologies and media that are reflective of our nation's and world's undeniable diversity.

Julian is an account supervisor at the Horn Group, where he has worked since November 2009 to executing PR strategy and manage media and analyst relations for marquee clients. Julian has regularly secured national feature placements for clients in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Adweek, GigaOm and Computerworld, among many other mainstream business, advertising, and technology publications. He is a martial artist and comes from a family of writers, including his father Dr. David McBride, a widely-known educator and researcher at Penn State University and his uncle James McBride, who chronicled their family in the New York Times and the international best-selling memoir "The Color of Water."

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October 06 2010

14:50

Pushing the Limits of What a Wiki Can Do with Councilpedia

Barely two decades into the digital age, we take online media for granted. So much is so easy and convenient -- at our fingertips -- that we can forget technology can only do so much. Then we come up with a great idea that leaves us with the challenge of how to successfully push the limits.

This is what has confronted Gotham Gazette as we move into the final stages of creating our Councilpedia site. Councilpedia, a Knight News Challenge winner that I've blogged about here previously, will explore more fully the links between money and politics in New York City.

Councilpedia will enable visitors to the site to share what they know about politicians and their donors. It is to be powered by MediaWiki to let people flag something -- noting, for example, that one contributor to a candidate owns land she hopes to get rezoned for a Walmart. Gotham Gazette staff will then confirm -- or delete -- the comment.

Filtering Data

The core of Councilpedia is information already on Gotham Gazette, information from City Council (on earmarks, for example) and, above all, the massive records from the city Campaign Finance Board on giving and spending. The sheer magnitude of all this data has posed an array of problems.

The city data, while thorough and accessible, is inscrutable to most New Yorkers -- a list of largely meaningless names. To make it easier to search and understand, we set out to code the data (to indicate large donors, those from the city, unions, real estate industry etc.). With some candidates having thousands of contributors, this presented a massive task. Fortunately, we had some conscientious interns this summer who, between their other reporting responsibilities, dutifully researched and coded line after line of information under the supervision of our city government editor, Courtney Gross.

Readers will be able to examine this data in a number of ways. They can view by candidate. They can find out who else the contributor helped fund. They can look at intermediaries and determine whose money they bundled and then who it went to. And so on.

For the wiki, though, this mountain of information has been a bit much. When technical manager William JaVon Rice began uploading the data into spreadsheets he had created, the process took 36 hours and produced some 31,000 pages -- a sure indication no one would ever attempt this in print. The system balked, overwriting pages, for example, which required Rice to check every candidate's list of often hundreds of contributors to determine which ones had been overwritten. Then he had to undo the overwrite.

Pushing The Limits of MediaWiki

We're still planning to have this ready to show you in the next several weeks. And we think you'll be impressed. Not to boast, but the reporters, campaign finance aficionados and followers of city government who viewed our test felt that way.

But we do see a number of issues looming ahead. Councilpedia is intended as a living, breathing site, meaning data will continue to accumulate as officials collect more money, award more earmarks, pass more bills, and so on. The updating poses a challenge for a small non-profit like Gotham Gazette.

The magnitude of the new information -- added to the volumes we already have -- is likely to push the limits of MediaWiki even further.

With this in mind, we're looking for ways to automate the process more. And we hope someone -- any takers out there?-- will make MediaWiki more robust or create or an alternative.

As always, we appreciate your ideas, so feel free to share them in the comments below. And stay tuned for Councilpedia.

March 23 2010

16:25

New MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Workshop Projects Launched, Additional Workshop Dates Added

From March 6-12, 2010, we held our sixth MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshop. Three teams of talented professionals, along with MediaStorm Producer Eric Maierson and guest producers Scott Anger and Rick Gershon, conceived, reported, and produced the following projects:


Take Care by Gillian Laub, Henrik Björnsson, Elena Ghanotakis, and Laura Varma
Virginia Gandee’s brilliant red hair and dozen tattoos belie the reality of this 22-year-old’s life. Inside her family’s Staten Island trailer her caregiving goes far beyond the love she has for her daughter.


Close to Home by Mary Beth Meehan, Michele Asselin and Maria Finitzo
Roxanne Pickering is a Brooklyn resident bound by family and economics to live near the Gowanus Canal, a polluted waterway recently declared an EPA superfund site.


Johnnie Footman: New York City’s 90-year-old Cabbie by Jan Johannessen and Charlotte Oestervang
Johnnie Footman, 90, may be the oldest cabbie in New York City. His age limits his time in the cab, but he remains young at heart carrying a cigar in his mouth, a fake spider around his neck, and a cap reading: “Old Dude made of Achey Breaky Parts.”

The MediaStorm Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshops in New York City are intensive, hands-on educational experiences in advanced multimedia storytelling.

Over the course of a week, participants work in three-person teams, reporting and editing in collaboration with a seasoned multimedia professional to produce a multimedia project for distribution across multiple platforms.

We will be holding two more Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshops in 2010:

  • Workshop Seven: July 17-23, 2010 – Application Deadline: Monday May 3, 2010
  • Workshop Eight: November 6-12, 2010 – Application Deadline: Monday September 13, 2010

Go here for additional information on the workshops, and to apply.

March 05 2010

15:48

January 13 2010

03:23

How Gotham Gazette Redesigned a Decade-Old Website

Gotham Gazette, our website about New York City policy and politics, unveiled its redesign recently. (Please take a look and let me know what you think by emailing grobinson at gothamgazette.com).

For our readers, we hope the redesign will create a more useful publication by making it easier for visitors to find information about New York City issues. For our advertisers -- who we hope will increase in number -- it offers more space and more options. And for the GG staff, it reflects our evolution -- and to some extent, the web's evolution -- over the past decade.

When Gotham Gazette launched in fall 1999, its publisher, the Citizens Union Foundation, wanted to use the power of the web to engage and inform citizens about local government. As part of that, Gotham Gazette included links to all the news sources in the city, as well as to government sites, a variety of organizations, and so on. Back then, that was unusual. Many sites would not link to other sources.

Aside from those links, though, Gotham Gazette in its early days resembled a print publication. We posted most of our stories at the beginning of the week and left them up for seven days. We did offer a daily news digest but rarely, if ever, updated the site during the day. And, of course, interactivity had not yet emerged.

Over the years, the web changed and with it, so did Gotham Gazette. Under former editor Jonathan Mandell, we began creating news games and added a blog -- the Wonkster -- to provide updates and short items. We increasingly focused on original reporting and commentary. Recently, we began posting more content throughout the week, offering multimedia, and creating interactive graphics.

While we continue to provide links and a daily news summary, we no longer have that field to ourselves, as even the blogs of some of the big N.Y. newspapers (such as the Daily News) link to material on our site and in other city media.

Focus on Original Work

With the redesign, we wanted to address these changes and give ourselves a more modern look. (There had been an interim redesign about five years ago, which brought us into the 21st century.) This involved an extensive effort by current and former Gotham Gazette staff, as well as valuable advice from the staff and board of our parent organization. As a veteran of several print redesigns, I found that the challenge of making one work online -- on a site with hundreds of pages -- at times seemed overwhelming.

This latest incarnation of Gotham Gazette focuses on our original work, while still offering the daily news summary and links to the best resources on New York City. We will also roll out more stories throughout the week. Articles are now listed and archived by subject area (art, environment, health) instead of labels (such as issues of the week and feature), which meant something to us but not to our readers. And we've done a major housecleaning.

The design was largely the work of former web producer, Ya-Hsuan Huang. Our technical director, W. JaVon Rice, played the key role in making her mockups a working reality.

We think our redesign represents a major step forward. Of course, we know we must continue to evolve. As part of that, we plan to launch our first crowdsourcing project in the coming months (more on that in a future post.) And, as always, we seek new ways and new formats to keep our readers informed about the city that engages, enchants and infuriates them.

December 18 2009

18:09

Big Apps Are Here

I've already voiced my own suspicion that New York City's Big Apps competition is a deft end-run on an actual open data bill in New York City. Nonetheless, some 85 applications built on the city's currently public data sets are available now to explore and vote on through early January. They include a handful of legislator lookup tools and an unexpected number of park spot finders. There's also a graffiti finder designed for the curious dual purpose of helping steer both Wildstyle fans and the city's Anti-Graffiti Unit paint trucks straight to new throw-ups.

Other gems that I've been watching include ProPublica's great and very offline crowdsourcing efforts as part of their coverage of police shootings in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

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