Baby steps toward an open newsroom

I just got around to reading this article by Dave Winer from a couple days ago concerning what an initial step toward an open newsroom would look like. Essentially, Dave’s idea is to get the experts on a topic to communicate directly to the readers through the newspaper. He writes:

Now, to be clear — I’m not talking about recruiting idiots or people whose opinions are (in your opinion) worthless. I’m talking about respected experts, the kinds of people your reporters call to get a perspective on the news the people they quote. Instead of having them talk to the readers through the reporter, I want them to go directly. Their writing should be as readable as the reporters’ so I would choose experts who express themselves well.

Seems to make a lot of sense to me, and if these experts are producing content that is as good as the reporters, then it somewhat lessens the need for droves of reporters to pull quotes from the experts. I don’t see “expert reporting” as replacing all journalists at a paper, but I definitely see it as an important first step toward lessening the huge overhead that many papers operate under.

Link via Opening the newsroom, Step 1 (Scripting News).

Quick Safari 4 Thoughts

So as many have reported, written about, and tweeted Apple released a public beta of Safari 4 today. Since I primarily use Safari for web browsing this mattered a lot to me and I was excited to get my hands on it to see what the future holds. Below are some initial impressions.

First, it’s FAST. I mean significantly faster in loading pages. I don’t have facts and numbers, but loading pages is much more smooth and quick.

The new UI is interesting, and in general I’m a fan of it. The subtle changes work in my mind (but to read a more intensive look at the UI check out Sebastiaan’s post at the Cocoia Blog).

While most of the changes work for me there’s one significant one that absolutely frustrates me: the incorporation of the tab bar into the top bit of the window. With the new tab bar setup you can no longer drag a link to the tab area to create a new tab. Sounds like something small, but when you do it frequently it can be a pretty frustrating change to try and get used to. In the new version of Safari the only solution I’ve found is to drag the url onto the Safari icon in the dock. This will create a new tab, but it seems a little ridiculous to have to drag a url that far in order to open it.

Also a small gripe that is probably just a result of Safari 4 being a beta release, but while trying to link to Sebastiaan’s post above I realized that the hyperlink button in WordPress breaks Safari. The link window appears, but won’t actually allow you to do anything (even close it). Your only option is to reload the page. Hopefully that will get ironed out.

Anyway, in general I’m happy with the speed improvements and most of the UI changes and hopefully in future releases of Safari 4 Apple will make it so that a url can be dragged over the “+” icon to create a new tab. That would make a lot of sense to me and frankly seems like something that should be in there now.

Impressions of CollegeJourn

Tonight was the first time that I took place in the weekly CollegeJourn talk. This week it was the “Bring a Professor” chat so in addition to the journalism students that usually take part in the discussion there were a significant number of journalism professors and professionals there as well. Below are some of my first impressions of the system and the mode of communication.

First, as much as I like the idea of a streaming chat interface it was just too many people to make that useful. The lag between entering a message and seeing it appear was just too long. Personally I liked the idea that @joeybaker provided which was combining Twitter hashtags and Tweetchat. This would utilize Twitter and create what seems to me to be a more open group chat forum.

Second, after taking part in a discussion I truly understand the power of tools like Twitter. For something that (correct me if I’m wrong) has only been going on for the last couple months CollegeJourn brings together a surprising number of people who are really, truly bright. The ideas that were being bounced back and forth (even in a limited CoverItLive chatroom) were great. Hearing opinions from students, professors, and professionals was really great for me. Even though I’ve only really been into this college journalism scene since I was hired at the Whitman Pioneer it is something that is truly captivating.

Third, three hours is just too long in the present format. It was exhausting, and frankly I got too hungry by about 7:15 p.m. and had to drop the chat to make dinner. Thus, I missed out on some of the discussion concerning collaboration. While the length provides for some excellent discussion I think that a slightly shorter session (maybe 2 hours) could be a lot more digestible.

Fourth, just to reiterate, there are some really bright students out there in journalism. They’re smart, motivated, and passionate about what they do; it’d be great to have more people like that here at Whitman. CollegeJourn is a great idea and a great place for them all to come together.

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I plan on taking part in future chats. If you’re interested in college journalism, or even journalism in general check it out every Sunday night from 8-11 p.m. EST.

Slumdog Millionaire Protests

The current Room for Debate article on the New York Times website is a set of three opinions concerning the recent protests in India over the popularity and offensive nature (at least in some eyes) of the Oscar-nominated film, Slumdog Millionaire.

Responding to the calls of some that the film is essentially Western “poverty porn” Sadia Shepard writes that:

In the film, the director Danny Boyle uses a grab bag of recognizable Indian symbols — the Taj Mahal, cricket, Amitabh Bachchan — with which to make his film accessible and entertaining to Westerners. The Dharavi slum as depicted in the film, indeed the very notion of poverty itself, is merely one of these tropes. Choosing to represent squalor as colorful scenery may be in questionable taste, but it’s hardly pornography.

To me this seems to be a very important point to make about the film and it’s potential to be offensive. The reality is that Danny Boyle used the aspects of the slums simply as one more theme in his movie to convey the story. If you have seen the movie then it is pretty apparent that he was not intending to be offensive or derogatory toward the real inhabitants of the slums.

There is an important distinction between what is offensive and what is not that somehow got lost in these protests over the film. A film that was not intentionally offensive and was by no means derogatory to slum residents somehow got re-appropriated as a political catalyst. A more fitting use of political energy for those who are protesting would have been to take the real exploitation that is occurring in the slums and to have used that to provoke protests and political action. Instead, people have simply resorted to using fictional films as a reason to feel compassionate about social issues. It’s time that the real conditions sparked protests and fictional films simply remained as what they are: fictional entertainment.

The Credit Crisis Visualized

Andrew Sullivan posted this earlier today, and it’s a really well-done video that provides a simple and well-explained visualization of how the credit market came to be so over-extended. Worth watching if you’ve been wondering what exactly led us to where we are in our economic market.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3261363&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Update: It appears as though this video actually has it’s own website. (via @danielbachhuber)

Bad driver or bad mistake?

It’s nice to see that other countries make blatant mistakes concerning immigrants. Also from the BBC comes this story of Ireland’s “worst” driver. From the article:

“Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the first and surname on the licence,” read a letter from June 2007 from an officer working within the Garda’s traffic division.

“Having noticed this, I decided to check and see how many times officers have made this mistake.

“It is quite embarrassing to see that the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities.”

Link via BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | The mystery of Ireland’s worst driver.

U.S. and North Korea

One of the things that frustrates me most about the United States and it’s foreign policy (under Clinton, Bush, and now Obama) is the ridiculous hypocrisy that’s pervasive. This comes from an article on the BBC:

Referring to speculation Pyongyang was preparing to test-fire a long-range missile, Mrs Clinton said the US viewed any such tests as provocative.

“We don’t comment on intelligence matters but it is clear that under the United Nations that under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, North Korea is required to suspend all activities related to its ballistic programme.

I’m tired of us and other Western powers getting away with missile tests and nuclear stockpiles and yet somehow expecting other countries to do what we say and not what we do. This was the kind of diplomatic hypocrisy that I was hoping Obama would end.

Link via BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Clinton urges N Korean dialogue.