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July 30 2011


Joe Mullin: Welcome to America, Spotify. Here’s your patent lawsuit.

paidContent :: Every company doing anything interesting in the tech sector these days gets sued for patent infringement—it’s practically a rite of passage. For proof, look no further than the lawsuit filed this week against Spotify by PacketVideo, which was considered a hot startup back in 2001, when it was working on streaming video to mobile phones. Mike Masnick at Techdirt has some details on the history of PacketVideo, as well as a copy of the complaint.

Continue to read Joe Mullin, paidcontent.org

August 03 2010


Nieman: Would dedicated follow-up outlets make for better journalism?

It’s an idea which has been circulating for some time now, but was raised again by Megan Garber on the Nieman Journalism Lab in light of the recent WikiLeaks leak – “what if we had an outlet dedicated to continuity journalism”.

Her idea seems to centre on both the issue of sustaining interest in stories, as well as the importance of journalists continuing to follow-up on topics long after a story is published.

While it may not always be practical in a busy newsroom, she suggests the creation of a separate organisation whose sole practice it is to follow-up on past news stories.

What if we had an outlet dedicated to reporting, aggregating, and analyzing stories that deserve our sustained attention — a team of reporters and researchers and analysts and engagement experts whose entire professional existence is focused on keeping those deserving stories alive in the world? Sure, you could say, bloggers both professional and amateur already do that kind of follow-up work; legacy news outlets themselves do, too. But: they don’t do it often enough, or systematically enough.

It is a debate which has drawn support from both sides – one of Garber’s commenters, Adam O’Kane, who runs the Late Press blog, has already announced he has secured the domain ‘followupstories.org’.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick says he is “not convinced”. He says that not following through a on a story at a later date may actually be a sign of a good understanding of what makes news.

After all, there are plenty of news stories that live on for a while, if the “follow up” events are considered newsworthy. And certainly, on niche topics, there are plenty of dedicated folks who follow those stories all the time. So an organization that just does follow through doesn’t necessarily make sense, because the problem isn’t necessarily the lack of follow-up, but the lack of newsworthy information to come out of such follow-ups.

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July 22 2010


The WWTDD Effect

Should we give readers what they want?

I’m reminded of my time at the student newspaper, a couple of years ago. In an attempt to get any sort of clue on what our readers wanted to read, and why students in some fields of study didn’t care about the paper at all, we organized a survey. Y’know, one of the most boring, but also one of the most effective ways of getting quantitative insight into whatever it is you’re doing.

The survey itself was heresy at the paper.

In the eighties, the attitude at our student newspaper can be summed up as “actually, we don’t want you to read us, since you’re probably too dumb anyway”. Subsidies by the college administration can do that to people.

By 2008, we’d grown out of that cocky attitude a little bit, but not entirely. In the end, so sayeth the wise sophomore, what constitutes good journalism depends on objective criteria, not on what readers think, isn’t it?

Okay, so, good journalism might sometimes be at odds with what people wish to read. Both tend to coincide, but not always. Readers aren’t stupid, but they’re only human after all.

That’s how it starts out. And before you know it, the newsroom is collecting snippets of inane reader comments and every morning starts off with a lament of how these kids just don’t appreciate good reporting.

Many journalists don’t factor in how readers respond to their writing when contemplating their self-worth. That’s scary. Because in the end, if nobody reads what you do, that’s probably a sign that it’s not that good. And even if it is, any type of enterprise reporting �" think investigations �" depends on a sizable readership to have its desired effect.

I’d like to see more serious reporters who, while holding themselves to the highest possible standards in reporting, take audience reach and interaction as one of the chief metrics in ascertaining their success. Great quality, no lowest common denominator, huge readership. Challenge yourself.

I’d like to see more reporters tackle tough issues, yet in a way that attracts readers not dissimilarly from how What Would Tyler Durden Do attracts even the most jaded liberal arts grads to celebrity news.

Impossible, you say? Then how come half the world read a detailed blogpost on antenna design? How come people from around the world follow American politics on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, when they can’t even seem to bother to follow their local elections? Why does Mike Masnick have a successful blog on something as dreary as intellectual property rights? Why do San Franciscans visit The Bold Italic en masse? Wasn’t regional journalism supposed to be boring? Something you only do because you can’t get a job at a real newspaper?


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