Reinventing the Newsroom

Next Stop Florida

Posted in Creating Context, Digital Experiments, The And World by reinventingthenewsroom on April 21, 2009

New posts may be sparse this week — I’m heading down to Florida for a Poynter Institute sports summit, in which I’ll talk blogging for seasoned pros and newcomers, but mostly listen and learn. I was lucky enough to grow up around Poynter’s halls, and they always put on a good show that leaves you eager to try out new things. Having been tapped as the Blog Guy, I’ll be very interested in the reactions: The last Poynter sports summit I attended had a couple of veterans who were actively hostile and dismissive about blogs in the usual boring, uninformed Get Off My Lawn way, as well as some students whom I quickly learned had a lot to teach me about being entrepreneurial and making blogs work. I’ll also be curious to see if the sportswriters are ahead of the journalistic curve in pondering new storytelling forms and ideas for beats, keeping in mind Steven Berlin Johnson’s observation that sports is more of an “old-growth forest” in terms of Web coverage and competition than other parts of the news. Anyway, I’ll try to do some posts from Poynter as events allow.

On other fronts, editorsweblog discusses the Associated Press’s latest moves and goals with Jim Kennedy, AP’s director of strategic planning. Jim and I were colleagues together at the WSJ.com, so it pains me how much I disagree with what he has to say here. He fleshes out what AP means by landing pages, which at least sounds better than suggested by the initial reports I reacted to somewhat savagely here. But the fact that these pages will be largely automated sets off all kinds of alarm bells for me — automated topic pages are generally the box canyons of newspaper search, eroding reader loyalty by dead-ending them somewhere that’s not particularly useful. (To see how to do topic pages right, check out the New York Times — but think about the amount of work behind it. Now, if the AP wanted to go in the direction of creating truly curated, honest-to-goodness news guides around subjects of import, I’d be much more interested.) And Jim’s response to criticism about the AP selling content to portals seems beside the larger point that’s only beginning to be examined — instead of talking about Reuters and AP Web revenue, I’d like to hear him answer Dave Krieger’s question about why the aggregation arm of the AP should still exist.

Besides, the overall idea is still based on the premise that Google News isn’t doing its job very well, which certainly isn’t true for me. Witness the Google News Timeline, which I can’t wait to play with — and desperately wish (as do others) that I’d seen invented by a newspaper.

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