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  • Ernst Zundel goes free: Defending the indefensible « Breaking News
    stood up for Ernst Zündel None have decried the shameful abuse of power the cynical political calculation that is this government s decision to label Ernst Zündel a threat to Canada s security This is wrong Today I stand up for this Nazi apologist Today I stand with the haters the anti semites the racists the cruel and ignorant who are Ernst Zündel s natural constituency and his only friends Today I ask who is the real threat to our freedoms our ideals our security this aging hater this semi retired painter with his crumbling and ineffectual network of the deluded or a cynical and mighty government that chooses to wield an immense nearly extra judicial power in secret and to use it to crush a man few seem willing to defend As an investigative reporter I spent six years in the early 1990s monitoring and exposing the rapid rise and inevitable fall of Canada s white racist movement an ugly cyclical blooming that brought them to membership levels and influence they d not seen in Canada since the mid 1930s Zündel and the burgeoning propaganda machine that was his three storey downtown Toronto headquarters was one of a few key hubs the movement revolved around I got to know Zündel personally and professionally And while I never had access to the fruits of the phone and fax and e mail taps the government employed I did learn much about his work through open questioning careful observation and at different times the reports of a number of informants who worked inside his bunker and would pass along what they d seen and heard The international scope and depth of his network of supporters who gladly consumed his e mails faxes newsletters videos satellite TV shows and radio shows was astonishing but not dissimilar to the network of supporters developed by the evangelical Christian ministers whose techniques he studied with the rapt attention a six year old boy bestows on professional athletes He had an impressive amount of energy and he earned impressive amounts of alms from his supporters But anyone who got close to him understood that despite the occasional sacrifices and gestures of monetary and moral support for others of his ilk Ernst Zündel cared about one thing Ernst Zündel It s what kept him from building a real movement from exercising real power when it appeared he might have it But for all his power and the power and numbers of the other Canadian white racists for all the fear they struck into the hearts of the righteous the white racist movement in this country accomplished little more than hobbling the Reform Party s rise and sparking pathetic street battles in Montreal Ottawa Toronto and Vancouver At every turn they were bugged monitored and infiltrated by a host of well funded and mostly honourable police and intelligence agencies On every street corner they were out hustled out organized and overwhelmed by their political polar opposites the anti fascists

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=190 (2014-10-09)
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  • Going where your audience is (and newspapers mostly aren’t) « Breaking News
    Hamilton Spectator to spend a half day or so with editorial staff from the Metroland West community newspapers at their annual Editorial Training Day Steve spent an hour and a half offering a highly personalized tour of the web tools he relies on for his need I say it award winning investigative reporting with a focus on online court and government documents and databases Steve has garnered multiple National Newspaper Awards and nominations for his work on topics like the food we eat A Pig s Tale the games we play Beaten By the Odds and a series of investigations targeting specific er interesting local businesses and their owners like Royal Crest Nursing homes the Great Glasses retail chain and the Grand River Enterprises tobacco empire Here s a copy of his slide deck complete with live links to the web resources he talked about For my part I focussed on a discussion about tools community newspapers could use to engage with and reflect the lives of the digital natives in their towns and villages Newspaper readership among 18 34 year olds is pathetic and getting more so by the minute Newspapers used to comfort themselves with the notion that not to worry this group would begin to subscribe to and read newspapers as soon as they set down their own roots in the community as soon as they got married bought a house and began cutting their own grass It hasn t worked out that way of course I suggested that they and their staffs needed to figure out how to go where their readers live online and find ways to engage them there I focussed on three simple online tools to use Facebook Flickr and Twitter offering cautionary tales about being useful meeting needs and understanding the online

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=160 (2014-10-09)
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  • Seven Ways to Write Like a Digital Native « Breaking News
    can enrich it for the reader 1 Are there original documents you can link to If you ve downloaded a report meeting minutes or agendas watched a video or listened to a tape share it If it s living elsewhere on the web link to it If you have your own copy can you scan it Post it yourself You ve already done the hard work share it with your audience 2 Are there any photographs related videos soundfiles slideshows online Dog and Frisbee You don t have to own a file to share it with your audience Need an photo of a dog and a Frisbee for a story on off leash dog parks Go to Flickr s creative commons search page and search for what you need That looks for photos with a Creative Commons attribution licence you can use the photos so long as you attribute them The dog photo comes from Bruce at www flickr com people superfantastic If you can t get permission to post or host the file yourself why not link to it 3 Can you map it Mapping information especially interactive mapping can offer readers highly useful information A simple locater map or a route map can be created and embedded directly into a story in a matter of minutes Some stories might even best be told entirely as an annotated interactive map Ask yourself if this is one of them 4 Can you gather past stories together and link to them It s a conversation remember You ve gone and dug out and re read the old stories to prepare for your interviews and to nail down the background why not share them Provide a sidebar or box with links to 2 or 3 or 5 related stories make readers happy

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=152 (2014-10-09)
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  • The Top 1,002 Internet Tools for Journalists « Breaking News
    2010 January 2010 December 2009 October 2009 March 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 November 2007 October 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 Blogroll Development Blog Documentation DreamHost Blog Plugins Suggest Ideas Support Forum Themes Seven Ways to Write Like a Digital Native Home If papers stopped dumping their print products online they might just find a real business model The Top 1 002 Internet Tools for Journalists By Bill on October 3rd 2009 It s Wordstock time again It s probably Canada s longest running annual professional development day for journalists and I got a chance to host two workshops a panel on place blogging with David Topping of Toronto ist and Tim Shore of Blog To and the perennial Top Tools workshop I felt pretty ambivalent about the Top Tools piece I mean who doesn t already have a toolbox crammed to overflowing with useful cool and free tools I felt that way last year too when I did it but my audience surprised me by being large and enthusiastic And it quickly became obvious that surprise my

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=147 (2014-10-09)
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  • Journalism « Breaking News
    hell to Continue reading What the propane depot explostions taught me about coverning breaking news on the web August 12th 2008 Category Blogs blogging Journalism News Tips 3 comments Comments are closed Propane depot explosions expose newspapers online shortcomings By Bill on August 10th 2008 photo courtesy http www photojunkie ca A bout two hours before this morning s grey dawn a series of explosions tore through a propane depot in the northwest corner of the city shaking buildings and homes shattering windows and waking people as far as 10 kms distant from the scene Fire and smoke shot to heights equal to a 20 or 30 storey building and led many to think worry fear that a jet airliner had crashed a terrorist attack had taken place the city was being bombed This was breaking news with a capital B and at this point six hours distant from that 3 30 am blast it offers some intriguing lessons in how coverage of these events is evolving in a world where digital cameras and web access are almost ubiquitous Bottom line in aggregate citizens journalists out performed their professional counterparts getting news out faster offering more details and better images and videos They also made more mistakes and had a high noise to signal ratio Mainstream media were slow off the mark and while they depended on the citizen journalists they failed to make the most of the possibilities that material offered See the bottom of the post for my thoughts on how to do that Toronto s a media rich city four paid dailies two free dailies several city news blogs in addtion to more than a dozen local radio and television stations I can t cover them all but took a look at the four dailies The Globe The National Post The Star and The Sun and the two big place blogs Blog TO and Torontoist I did a similar comparison earlier this year when the transit union launched an unexpected but legal strike on a Friday night at press deadline time and the results are pretty similar none of the dailies have figured out yet how to blend the strengths of their newsroom speed accuracy access with the new possibilities opened up by an always connected citizenry but most of them are trying The Star with the city s biggest newsroom although I can t imagine they had more than a single person on duty when the first blast hit produced the fullest account with pretty admirable speed Police fire eyewitness reports plus links to two of the eight or so citizen videos of the blast I found online The article had commenting enabled they don t always and you got a bit of a flavour of the impact on the city which is useful if basic The Globe and Mail seemed entirely asleep at the switch relying entirely on Canadian Press for it s text story still photos and video CP s video was quite good

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?cat=4&paged=2 (2014-10-09)
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  • NY Times Top Twitter-er, But Newspaper Readers Not Flocking to Sign-Up For The Service « Breaking News
    caught on among the digirati during the uber hip 2007 South by Southwest event and enjoys a still growing popularity espeically among the tech crowd who live in an always on always connected universe and love the way Twitter allows you to connect instantly or asynchronously with your friends and followers wherever and whenever you are Twitter fans like to brag that users repeatedly break big news earthquakes election results before the mainstream media but I m not sure just how much more useful is a tweet that announces Holy crap Earthquake as opposed to the US Geological Survey bulletin that arrives three minutes later with solid information about the epicenter and quake strength Still newspapers jumped on the twitter bandwagon last year and by September almost 50 papers had accounts pinging readers with tweets that contained the latest headline and a link to the story as soon as they were posted to the web Ten months later and Erica Smith a newspaper graphic designer and blogger has done some digging and turned up 303 newspaper Twitter accounts offering a list of winners and losers based on their percentage gains from the previous month See the top ten list below What really struck me however was how very few readers have signed up for this simple breaking news alert system While the New York Times primary account has 5 199 followers the average number is a paltry 131 Hell you could almost telephone each one of them if that s the numbers your service is pulling I m not sure what to make of this readers don t want breaking news fast I doubt it They don t want to pay texting fees to get that news a real possibility for many They just haven t heard of Twitter because

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=11 (2014-10-09)
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  • Readers reading web news just like it’s the morning paper « Breaking News
    2008 November 2007 October 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 Blogroll Development Blog Documentation DreamHost Blog Plugins Suggest Ideas Support Forum Themes Why Newspapers Still Don t Get The Web Home Seven Steps to Writing Like a Digital Native Readers reading web news just like it s the morning paper By Bill on June 25th 2008 click for larger image A look at seven weeks of page view data from a mid sized Canadian daily newspaper rather strongly suggests that the majority of their readers are treating the web like a morning paper The data which charts the median number of hourly page views for each day of the week reveals that six days a week page views climb sharply starting at about 4 30 am peaking before 8 a m that is before people get into work The page views peak twice more during the day once just before noon lunch and again just before the end of the work day but each of these is significantly lower than the A M peak 75 and 60 of the pre work peak respectively A couple of interesting points 1 People are using the website like it s a morning paper 2 People don t plug into news when they arrive at work at least not in great numbers 3 People check the news site just before going to lunch and just before leaving for the day Why 4 It looks like there s a real potential to grow our existing audiences page views and ad revenue simply by delivering fresh relevant content at noon and at the end of the day The increase comes from better serving existing customers without even worrying about attracting new ones Here s the big takeaway though best guess is that those pre work

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=28 (2014-10-09)
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  • “Most Read” stories may be a matter of luck, not quality as research discovers ‘hits’ are almost random « Breaking News
    us learned about it in a recent Fast Company piece by tech writer and Canadian Clive Thompson Is The Tipping Point Toast You remember the Tipping Point a fascinating New Yorker article turned into a hit book by another Canadian Malcolm Gladwell Gladwell struck by what he d learned about the way epidemics hit a tipping point and moved suddenly from geometric to exponential growth wondered if the same pattern was evident in society at large Can ideas or behaviour be spread from person to person like a disease In his book he argued very persuasively that they could and outlined three rules that he thought governed this The Rule of the Few The Stickiness Factor and The Rule of Context Wikipedia has a decent summary of the rules here Marketers and the media seized on the first rule which suggested that a very small number of people wielded enormous social influence and played the critical role in creating trends and hits in getting things to the tipping point Some scientist have begun researching the idea in greater depth and are finding results that point in a very different direction one of them Duncan Watts is the focus of Thompon s article Is the Tipping Point Toast I think the piece relies on a kind of straw man argument that ignores the nuance and complexity of Gladwell s book but never mind There s some interesting research underlying it just the same Probably the most interesting is the experiment Watts undertook with two other scientists Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market Watts set up a music downloading site populated it with 48 unknown songs by unknown bands and then recruited about 14 000 people to the site to listen to download and rate the songs

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=38 (2014-10-09)
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