Blues for Mai Cramer
"Newspaper people, once celebrated as founts of ribald humor and uncouth fun, have of late lost all their gaiety, and small wonder. They have discovered that their prime duty is no longer to maintain the republic in well-informed condition -- or to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, as the old gospel has it -- but to serve the stock market with a good earnings report every three months or, in plainer English, to comfort the comfortable."
What Else Is News
The New York Review of Books
July 18, 2002
(from Dave Winer)
USS Saratoga Museum Foundation
My other sites
July 3, 2002
Happy birthday to me
As a tot, I thought everybody was celebrating my birthday.(wav) I still do.(wav)
The title of this blog comes from the way I learned to view journalism 17 years ago as a baby newspaper editor: We work for the reader. Is it clear to the reader? Are we giving the reader everything he or she needs to understand this story? Does this page show it and tell it to the reader?
During this two-week vacation from my job as a news website producer, I am that reader. And here's what I see.
What's your name? Who's your daddy?
Is he rich like me?
But online, there's a rush to wall news sites off from all but registered users, diminishing the number of people who might casually glance through a site left open out there on the web. The reader has become a freeloader.
It's not as though readers are flocking to our hot news sites. At Editor & Publisher, Wayne Robins reports (Online News Consumption Is Flat) on a study released by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press in Washington, D.C.: "The center's biennial media survey showed that 25% of Americans go online for news at least three times a week. That's barely a blip more than the 23% who did so two years ago."
How'd we get from bragging about 2.6 readers per newspaper sale to newspaper websites that demand personal information about each reader to get beyond the headline, go 'way if you won't pony up?
I can't find a reference that says this outright, but I have been told that a Harvard Business School theory spawned a generation of marketers who assume people will behave online the way they want them to rather than the way you yourself behave. This seems to be an update of the Joe Six-Pack theory: The customer is stupider than you.
The best commercial website I have ever seen is deckplans.com. Its product is Dek-Blocks, "cement overshoes" for a "floating deck system" that eliminates the need for costly foundations.
How big a deck do you want? Plug in your numbers and they'll generate a plan, a materials list, a cost estimate. There are step-by-step instructions, a forum where Deckman answers all comers, another where you can ask people who've built one for the real skinny. (Pick a name, no registration required.)
You want to put a hot tub on a little octagonal deck? There's a plan for that, and a tip: Just add one more block for support.
It took one awesome website and one knowledgeable employee to turn a mundane core business into a transient, churning, knowledge-sharing community. And it's a brilliant way to sell cement.
The magic's in the music
If they lock up the culture, we'll have to create a new one.
Bonus: Gnome Girl's Tech Links
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Photos by Sheila Lennon unless they're credited to someone else
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