Old friends! Ripoffs! Hateful comments! — A media blitz roundup

Invisible airwaves, crackle with life…

I don’t write about it much here, but I love the radio. NPR is my primary daily news source. So, I was totally geeked when Here and Now asked me to be on their program. And through the magic of editing, I think I managed to sound pretty alright!

(You know how, when someone gets under your skin, but you’re so worked up all you can say is “Oh yeah? Well, your momma!”? And then later, when the moment is gone forever, your brain catches up and comes up with all sorts of erudite, polysyllabic arguments? Radio is like that.)

Best part about the radio bit? All the old friends who emailed me after they heard the program, including one of my favorite high school English teachers. Dunno if/when the web will have that kind of reach. Love.

“…part of a hegemonic institutional perspective that is glaringly…”

Back online, my Hackers wanted! bit on O’Reilly Radar got a lot of attention, mostly hating on journalism and grumbling about needing a bachelors degree before pursuing a masters degree. But I’m hopeful that the message got through to a few programmers who want to make the world a better place.

In retrospect, I should have probably explained the importance of journalism in a democratic society, and ceded that yes, journalism is mostly broken right now, but this is our opportunity to fix it. Hindsight. Le sigh. If you’re into it, check the comment threads on the original post, and the nerdy aggregators that picked it up:

S’pose if you’re not pissing somebody off, you’re doing it wrong. Right?

Rich Gordon, the fella who decided it was a good idea to bring coders to J-school, wrote a response on Idea Lab including an interview with my new boss, Digital Editor at the Chicago Tribune, Bill Adee.

I even got ripped off completely by Tech Crunch, where fellow Medill alum Leena Rao summarized my post and completely failed to mention where she got the brilliant idea — eliciting 85 comments. Thanks for not linking!! Love!

Got a job

Next week, my internship at ProPublica will end. The chance to work here was an extraordinarily lucky break, and I can say without reservation that this is the best job I’ve ever had. Never before have I worked with so many brilliant, interesting, and damn nice people.

I love living in New York, and am disappointed to be leaving so soon. The Grand Army Plaza green market just turned from great to brilliant, and I only had my first, proper NYC pastrami on rye this week.

So it’s somewhat bittersweet to announce that in a couple of weeks, I’ll be leaving NYC and returning to my adopted hometown, sunny Chicago, Illinois.

The World’s Greatest Newspaper

In June I’ll start my first full-time journalism gig, as the News Applications Editor at the Chicago Tribune. The team I’ll be leading will be a new one, composed of programmers and investigative journalists, and we’ll be building news applications in conjunction with the Trib’s fantastic investigative team.

Specifically what we’ll make, I don’t know, but I anticipate building a wide variety of data-driven web applications to visualize data and present investigative stories online. (If only the PolitiFact crew hadn’t set the bar so high…)

For the nerds in the audience

What I do know is that we’ll be using Python, Django and lots of other open-source tools. Chicago has quietly become a very important place in the open-source world — the Second City is home to both Django and Ruby on Rails, the two hottest web frameworks — and I’m committed to making the Chicago Tribune a contributing member of the community.

If you haven’t figured it out yet — I’m geeked. This’ll be fun.

So, adios, City That Never Sleeps. The City That Works is calling me home.

Three reasons the new Tribune tabloid should be free, a twitter serial (republished in blog form)

The Tribune announced this week that they will begin printing the fat Chicago daily as a tabloid! Huzzah!

The Tribune’s move, replacing its broadsheet edition with the tabloid version at the retail level, is an aggressive bet that a switch in size will improve sales. There are no plans to make the tabloid-sized edition available for home delivery

I thought today’s tweets on the topic might be good to republish.

Brian Boyer
brianboyer Three reasons the new Tribune tabloid (http://bit.ly/qLN3) should be free, a twitter serial. Bring on the haters
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 1 If the paper is free, I pick it up. (Even the Red Eye, which runs 1/3 celebritrash, not including sports, neither of which I care for.)
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 2 On a tabloid page, I notice (and occasionally read!) the ads. On a broadsheet, they’re just annoying blocks to reading.
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 3 TribCo’s current gratis daily is crap. A proper paper would bring a new age of enlightenment in Chicago. Embiggen, Obama, Olympics.
Brian Boyer
brianboyer = $$$ from more effective ads shown to a larger audience, plus an improved, vital brand, loved by a better-informed populace. You dig?

Am I nuts? Riding the train this morning, I saw a lot of glossy-eyed folks reading the Red Eye, and a few diligent readers struggling with the crowd and the fatty broadsheet.

Outbound links? EveryBlock? What the hell just happened at the Trib?

I just had an interesting chat with Daniel X. O’Neil, EveryBlock‘s People Person, and he confirmed my suspicions…

Two (maybe three) *totally amazing* things happened on chicagotribune.com today.

  1. They silently released a new “(beta test)” feature, an EveryBlock-enabled police blotterGaper’s Block got the scoop, from, get this, a tweet by the Tribune’s twitter persona, according to Daniel.
  2. More shockingly, the aforementioned blotter links *out* to EveryBlock, which links *out* to other news organizations. Click on one of the “more news in this neighborhood” links to see for yourself. I’m not positive, but I think this is a Tribune Company first!
  3. (maybe) They added a digg widget to their homepage? This may have happened earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

Who runs newspapers? Who should run news web sites?

Joel Spolsky from Inc. Magazine (via SVN):

Watching nonprogrammers trying to run software companies is like watching someone who doesn’t know how to surf trying to surf. Even if he has great advisers standing on the shore telling him what to do, he still falls off the board again and again. The cult of the M.B.A. likes to believe that you can run organizations that do things that you don’t understand. But often, you can’t.

Readers, I need a hand.  Can you answer two questions for a newbie?

  1. I don’t know who runs newspapers.  Are publishers usually former journalists?  Or are they more frequently experts in publishing topics like ads, printing and distribution?
  2. Who should run news web sites?

I’m constantly amazed at how bad news web sites are.

For example: Search the Chicago Tribune for my dean’s name, “Lavine.”  It returns no results.  There were at least a half dozen articles about Dean Lavine printed in the last six months, I promise.  What gives?

My suspicion is that the folks running the news sites just don’t understand the web.  If the web is the future of news, should technologists be the publishers?  I’m thinking no, instead it should probably be tech-saavy journalists.

The only strong feeling I have is that it should *not* be ink and paper newspaper publishers.