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  • Are we doing too much online? « Breaking News
    news I ll bet your nav links outnumber or very nearly outnumber your news links If you re a daily paper I guarantee they will If you re a community news site they ll be a little more balanced But still having 2 to three times more navigation than story links on your home page is like using 60 to 70 per cent of your front page for an index to your section fronts not individual stories Insane yes So why are you doing it It does not serve our readers well or at all This visual chaos this cacophony of context is a the bastard child of our newsprint legacy and our desperate advertising departments It is a fatally flawed attempt to digitally duplicate the authoritative bundling of news information and advertising that we ve done in print for so very many decades We are still trying to duplicate the newspaper online to bundle up all that news and information and display advertising into one big happy daily package that we imagine readers will sit and consume We re still doing this despite more than a decade of clear and contrary evidence about the behaviour of our readers and the needs of our advertisers Readers graze they don t grow roots Readers don t come to our sites and settle in to browse the news They may spend 15 45 minutes a day with our print product the reality is that s about how much time they spend in a month on our websites Putting aside the tiny band of lonely lurkers who live on our sites and comment sections most digital news readers are gazers and grazers they stop by spot something that catches their eye read it and move on returning if we re lucky several times over the course of the day Looking for something new looking for something they need to know Check your stats you do check your stats don t you and you ll find I ll wager that at least 80 per cent of your traffic is being generated by 20 per cent of your content And that 20 per cent is going to be the news cycling through the one part of your home page that displays fresh news Your readers aren t clicking through to the links to the section fronts and sub sub sub section pages It s too much work for too little and indeed very rare reward They want news as soon as it happens They want stories that they can talk about online and in person with their friends They want stories they need to know about so they don t look stupid at work or in the coffee shop or at the schoolyard waiting to pick up their kids This is usually less than 20 per cent of the content we typically fill our papers with Digital news needs are different Readers can and will get their NHL news their movie reviews their recipes their

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=333 (2014-10-09)
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  • Shut up so I can listen to you « Breaking News
    worked every day since I turned 17 Pooh head SaltyBoy327 No you re a pooh head IlikeTurtles Go take a shower and so on I made that exchange up but if you ve ever dipped your toes into the caustic solution that is most newspaper website s commenting sections you ll recognize it as a completely authentic exchange Why Why does commenting work in some places our beat blogs sites built around comments like Metafilter and Slashdot and fail so miserably in the general news section This question and the debate over potential solutions to the problems it underlines has raged for serveral years with solutions falling into a few broad categories Identity Force commenters to either use real identities or identities that persist i e can gain reputations and the quality of commenting will improve dramatically The Batavian Slashdot Investment Charge people to belong to the community that can contribute even a small amount will deter the trolls Village Soup Chronicle Sun Metafilter Crowdsource Allow the community to police commenting themselves burying the bad and surfacing the good Digg com Reddit com Moderate Heavily Pay for staff our outsource the work to vet each comment to meet some standard thestar com cbc com I wish I had the answer and could tell you which will work well but I don t If you have no budget for technological change I d recommend a simple solution turn on commenting selectively for key articles that will likely draw discussion and then require the reporter to moderate each and every comment as well as engage with the readers in the comment section That would be a win win higher quality comments and a free education in the new world of journalism for your reporter Still I can t help feeling that the reason we re having so much difficulty solving this problem is that we re still seeing it through our old media lens that we re framing the question the problem incorrectly and that s why it s proving so incorrigible I don t know what the right question is but I ll bet it lies not in the comments but in our definition of a story that dead delivered bit of information sent from us to them Thoughts Worth Reading Mozilla Knight Beyond Commenting Challenge Philip Smith Comments are Dead Long Live Comments Slashdot s discussion on commenting Howard Owens on using real names Cross posted from my Shift Lock column in Newspapers Canada s The Publisher Photo by Bixentro used under a Creative Commons attribution licence June 18th 2011 Category News 4 comments Comments are closed 4 comments to Shut up so I can listen to you Mark Alan Whittle June 19 2011 at 7 37 am You re right the Spectator comment section is like the wild west I alway post under my own real identity ot through Facebook Thanks for a good read Lisa June 21 2011 at 8 14 pm I think that comments sections can

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=319 (2014-10-09)
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  • The Future is now – so why is everyone facing backwards? « Breaking News
    very very few staff a couple of editors a programmer perhaps a resident techie Stories would be entirely outsourced to a community of freelancers and contractors who would bid on a constantly evolving roster of ideas the editors wanted done Freelance copy editors would comb the completed work for errors etc while illustrators and photographers would vie to have their work published with the story I was a little vague on production but I said distribution would be largely digital with local editions available maybe weekly via print on demand services neighbourhood by neighbourhood Like all would be futurists I was profoundly wrong in a bunch of important ways didn t understand the value of audience participation in news but I had nailed a few key truths I think For all but a few newsrooms local would matter more than ever There would have to be some very harsh re assessments of the economic value of local journalism and a consequent harsh reduction in our cost structures If we were to survive we needed to embrace radical change Six years later and I wish I could say we re right on track to embracing those radical changes to re alligning our production costs with our output s true value but we re not Publishers fooled by the rich analogue metaphors of pretty iPad publications are turning their heads from the desperately hard work of genuine reformation and falling prey to the siren songs of paywalls and subscriptions This is a deeply dangerous fantasy It is entirely possible to create an attractive subscription based digital tablet news product by re purposing your print content No question But you won t be attracting new customers What you ll be doing is trading your 200 or 300 a year print subscriptions and the 300 500 a year they attract in advertising revenue for a 50 a year digital subscription and about 50 in ad revenue Good deal Worse you ll be wasting all your intellectual and management capital chasing money down the drain instead of strategically investing in innovation I really didn t want to write about all this again but this damn paywall idea is like some zombie before the rot has set in looks great doesn t stink yet but that doesn t change the fact that it wants to eat our brains It just won t die but we will if we get too close I heard Emily Bell speak about newspapers and online innovation at a seminar at U of T the other week thanks Samara Foundation and Massey College Bell was funny sharp and personable She s the journalist who launched the innovative Guardian co uk web site and helped a paper that was smaller than the Toronto Star reach an international web audience of nearly 40 million readers a month An astounding success yet it took her 8 years or so to break even and even then with 10 times their print audience they re still only

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=305 (2014-10-09)
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  • Now that the seas seem calm – launch the lifeboats « Breaking News
    giving the old media a kick in the teeth In their annual survey of which news sources Americans turn to Pew reported that the internet finally overtook television as the primary news source among 18 29 year olds and appears poised to surpass TV in all age categories within 3 years or so For newspapers this is old news We ceded the crown to TV 30 years ago and then the internet lapped us among 18 29 year olds back in 2002 and among all age groups by 2007 But there was one number in the report that gave me real pause and I think puts the lie to the hopes that we ve reached some kind of floor or bottom Among 50 64 year olds after television the internet was nearly equal to newspapers as a primary news source That sound you hear ladies and gentlemen is the floor joists splintering beneath us For 20 years we ve consoled ourselves with the vain hope that young people would pick up the newspaper habit once they married bought a house and settled down It didn t happen So for the past five years or so we ve thrown our arms around the legs of the the long lived baby boomers that immense demographic bulge of 50 65 year olds You ll never leave us we ve sobbed They re leaving us My colleagues at Newspapers Canada beg to differ and suggest that we should not confuse the two markets that the Canadian news business is very different I d agree that our businesses are different we re healthier have more stable corporate structures less exposure to classified losses and have suffered nowhere near the catastrophic declines in advertising revenues that American papers have seen in the past 2 years But so what I d argue our readers our audiences are more similar than not That if anything past experience demonstrates that we adopt digital services more swiftly and painlessly than our southern neighbours I could not find truly comparable data for Canada the closest is 2008 data from the Online Canadian and News study which didn t ask about primary news sources per se but did ask about the source for specific new stories and found overall no real difference between the internet and newspapers 16 per cent cited the internet and 17 per cent cited newspapers Their age breakdown was too different to be useful So humour me imagine for a minute that I m right that our core readership is finally inexorably slipping away dropping our papers in the blue bin and propping their iPads against the milk jugs on the breakfast table What can we do In a word research And innovate Okay that s two words But I m betting neither can be found as line items on your budget or in the budgets of any Canadian newsroom Oh some are doing it at the chain level but do you have a SINGLE person in your

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=299 (2014-10-09)
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  • Witness: a news column for this century « Breaking News
    is the notebook for the column and the paper Although the columns will clearly and necessarily feature a strong and passionate voice they are not to be a mere sounding board or soap box for my opinions Witness will be about our city her people and their stories Not mine Once a week however I will produce a very short 60 120 sec self produced video column which will offer a less restrained look at the week s events by way of commentary exposition satire or hell I don t know stick figure animation The vast majority of news video is either pretty pictures self important or just plain boring Video as a medium can do so much more and iWitness Video will do just that Below is a confection I put together yesterday simply to demonstrate that I have at least a basic understanding of the grammar of video and sound and editing Witness will stop talking about itself in the disembodied third person right now This is an updated version of the draft pitch I posted last week I d to thank all the people who emailed me offered comments on this blog messaged me on Twitter and talked to me in person the feedback and encouragement was fabulous A special thanks to Steve Buttry director of community engagement at the Washington DC internet news start up TBD who took the time to respond to my draft pitch with a thoughtful full blown blog entry January 31st 2011 Category News 4 comments Comments are closed 4 comments to Witness a news column for this century Bill Doskoch January 31 2011 at 1 16 pm Hi Bill I made the following observation to Steve Buttry on Jan 27 via Twitter stevebuttry A columnist is the guy at the bar who starts the conversation Alt ly she s the person who actually knows something That s what I m looking for in a columnist along with the ability to tell a ripping good story But in this day and age I also value someone who talks with me as well as to me You noted the importance of this in your first pitch as did some commenters However I think it s important to make it clear to one s audience that a columnist can t maintain a simultaneous one to one relationship with dozens hundreds or thousands of people Over promising and under delivering is a big problem in social journalism In the rush to embrace the new I m also troubled by sentiments such as this expressed by yourself in your Jan 26 post One of the things I learned when I stepped out of the newsroom is that reporters despite how smart we all think we are are almost by definition the dumbest most ignorant person involved in any story that s why we have to ask so many questions To my mind exaggerated modesty is almost as much of a journalistic sin as arrogance If I

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=295 (2014-10-09)
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  • What should a news column look like in the age of Twitter? « Breaking News
    come into the office only long enough to check in pick up some new batteries my laptop and camera and then head out again I ll be out of the office before 9am and stay out until I ve found my story Because there are no shortage of stories just of people willing to find them Our city is incredibly diverse a post industrial university town desperately struggling to reinvent itself and overcome a crushing poverty rate and a crumbling core Yet it also houses a vital if threatened agricultural sector an energetic and entrepreneurial artistic community and world class medical research facilities Witness will cover that whole city range across it daily looking for stories not just the comfortable ones or the ones fed to us by self serving sources The landmark Northwestern study of newspaper readership found something like 9 key reasons people bought and read newspapers regularly People real people and their stories was one of top reasons for reading Another was getting the feeling that the paper the writer was on my side Witness will also bear witness reflecting the heart of the community and telling stories for those whose voices have been silenced Trust is something to be earned not assumed Witness will also practice transparency and openness and I ll publish to the web my written notes and unedited recorded interviews I ll provide links to every bit of research I do News is a conversation which means shutting up sometimes and letting the other guy talk And listening I ll listen Witness will publish to the web at 5 pm on the day before it appears in print And every night we ll cull the smartest truest comments on the column from the web and publish them in the paper the next day right beside the column News is a conversation The community conversations story telling takes place on many different platforms Witness will also maintain and use Twitter and Facebook and photo and video sharing sites to ensure we are always open to and taking part in conversations with our commuhnity Witness will solicit reader community ideas stories photos and will use them all Witness will publish to the web publish to print publish full versions via RSS and will also podcast each column for the commuter the visually impaired the auditory learner Although the columns will clearly and necessarily feature a strong and passionate voice they are not to be a mere sounding board or soap box for my opinions Witness will be about our city her people and their stories Not mine Once a week however I will produce a very short 60 120 sec self produced video column which will offer a less restrained look at the week s events by way of commentary exposition satire or hell I don t know stick figure animation The vast majority of news video is either pretty pictures self important or just plain boring Video as a medium can do so much

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=280 (2014-10-09)
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  • What’s a story worth today? « Breaking News
    economy of abundance Newspapers flourished in that economy of scarcity We successfully bundled expensive information on one hand and audiences on another bringing the two together turned out to be alchemy from cold facts and hot lead we spun pure gold But the digital revolution has demolished the old information marketplace lowering the production and distribution costs for information so dramatically that the value of the average bit of information is very close to zero So what s a story worth these days Fourteen years ago when I was thrown out of a big city newsroom with 100 others I found freelance work with some computer trade magazines at 33 cents per word I d pull in 250 400 dollars for modest articles that typically took 2 3 days to finish Pre layoff as a daily news columnist I had been earning about the same 30 cents per word but I was able to sell 900 or so words a day every day five days a week But the web was very very young back then I was a supplier in a scarce market Today a slightly shorter piece for Demand Media a distributed digital content factory would pay me just over 3 cents a word 15 an article A short instructional video will earn the videographer something like 20 If you don t know about Demand Media or Associated Content you should Unlike us both of these organizations approach the news information business with a sharp appreciation for where the value lies in this new information marketplace Neither are rooted in journalism They say that information s value lies in meeting reader s needs needs uncovered by a careful algorithmic analysis of readers web search terms what do they need and a dispassionate matching of those terms with what advertisers are actually paying for those same search terms Demand meet supply Demand Media s success in particular has been phenomenal They claim that ditching human editors who guessed at what readers needed for a programmed analysis of search term use has increased their profitability by something like 20 to 25 times The key lies in a ruthless appreciation for the true tiny value of each story Most newspaper sites try to raise up the value of each story by creating scarcity paywalls Demand media cuts costs until they fall below the value of the story then they grab the difference Their distributed network of low paying freelancers produce 40 000 articles and videos a day Nothing to do with quality let alone social value Demand meet supply Search Google as I just did for terms like How to kill a rat How to thread a needle Fold a fitted sheet Hang a heavy mirror you ll find Demand Media which owns E How and Expert Village content in the number 1 2 or 3 spot for each of those terms Traditional journalists are almost incapable of approaching information that way Or at least we used to be Here s

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?p=277 (2014-10-09)
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  • Breaking News
    rambunctious clan is taking part in the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation s annual Great Strides fundraising walk under the Dunphy Armada banner The walk is on May 30 In addition to the walk I ve decided to challenge my network to raise enough money for me to shave off my beard something that hasn t been done since the previous century That s right I m going to go naked faced out into the world next Sunday You can learn more about it and even sponsor Continue reading Getting Naked for CF Seven Days and Counting May 24th 2010 Category News Comments are closed How to write for the Web it ain t just words on a page By Bill on May 19th 2010 Looking at research around writing for the web quickly turns up a central paradox Readers scan web pages they don t read them like books they jump from page to page from link to link and back again they drop stories and headlines within reading the first two words YET people are apt to finish more stories on the web and to read deeper into stories if they finally do light on them What s up Hard to say Surely it has something to do with the conditioning we ve received on the web with the continual invitations to distraction that a Continue reading How to write for the Web it ain t just words on a page May 19th 2010 Category News Comments are closed Mapping The Story By Bill on May 17th 2010 Here s the slides complete with links from my Camp VJ session on Mapping and the Web May 17th 2010 Category News 2 comments Comments are closed Cheap and easy video for independent newspaper sites By Bill on May 14th 2010 This is really for the folks from Ink and Beyond the Canadian Newspaper industry s annual gathering where I gave a brief presentation on video for independent newspaper web sites I m posting it here really just to give everybody the links Bill May 14th 2010 Category News Comments are closed Beware of turtle necked strangers bearing gifts or The iPad is a many edged device By Bill on April 8th 2010 Rarely have I been so conflicted as while trying to evaluate Apple s much hyped iPad On the one hand I can see the real potential in an instant on beautifully engineered letter sized touch screen device that plays videos and music that replaces books magazines and newspapers and offers print publishers the same simple digital storefront that music and video folks have had for years with iTunes Simply put I want it On the other hand I look at Steve Jobs loose and lanky on that Moscone Centre stage smiling lightly and offering the world his latest shiny steel and plastic fetish Continue reading Beware of turtle necked strangers bearing gifts or The iPad is a many edged device April 8th 2010 Tags Apple mobile disruption Category

    Original URL path: http://www.billdunphy.ca/?paged=2 (2014-10-09)
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