Sunday, July 31, 2005

Shawn Blore: Back in blog

Canadian journalist in Brazil Shawn Blore has started blogging again after a long work-induced hiatus as a freelance correspondent in Brazil.

Somehow, he's now found the time to get back to blogging. Shawn's new blog includes the original posts from his old Blore in Brazil blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google launches limited Moon service

Google Moon made its debut today, applying features fom the Google Earth service to a photographic map of the moon landings on the 36th anniversary of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon.

Software engineer Larry Schwimmer writes in the Google Blog:

This adventure started with my birthday wish on a Post-It note.


A week later, we've achieved lift-off for Google Moon. It's great to stand on the shoulders of giants, especially the brave and brilliant people at NASA we commemorate and whose data made this possible. And it's energizing to work at a company that can translate a birthday wish into a product in a week.

While it may be little more than an online toy at the moment, a two or three decades from now, we could see an expanded service as plans for a lunar base and colony, and for manned missions to Mars (Google Mars?) start to become reality. Google Moon may yet evolve into a key tool in a long-term story.

Be sure to zoom in all the way on the image for a characteristic Google surprise.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Google launches test of Groups Alerts

As many journalists know, Google Alerts is a handy tool to help you track the latest developments in a story or beat you follow/cover. It e-mails you links to the latest items (usually news) that match your search criteria.

Software engineer Naga Sridhar Kataru writes in the Google Blog:

If you track information on a batch of discrete topics all the time like I do, managing your inbox is no day at the beach. Monitoring a number of mailing lists for interesting news on, say, [harry potter] or [sony aibo] or [housing bubble] without actually subscribing to what could be hundreds of mailing lists is a daunting task.


That has led to our latest Alerts offering, a beta version of Google Groups Alerts. It monitors the top 50 most recent Google Groups search results that relate to keywords you're interested in. Any new articles posted that match your criteria will be emailed to you, just like Google News alerts.

With a little luck, using this tool to track another corner of the deep Web could yield some good stories.

Monday, July 11, 2005

More on CTV's blogging policy

At least one CTV employee is taking advantage of the broadcaster's blogging policy vacuum by disregarding its nascent rules and continuing to blog. Bill Doskoch posts at his own blog and the Canadian Journalist group blog with Vancouver freelance reporter Deborah Jones and Halifax jack-of-all-journalistic-trades Greg Locke.

When I e-mailed Bill to ask him about his approach to CTV's pending staff blogging policy -- which obviously differs from David's -- his response was a terse two words:

"No comment."

I have to admit that the curt response took me by surprise since I've known Bill for a few years and have had many thoughtful, engaging and cordial conversations with him about journalism in general as well as its intersection with blogging.

It's especially curious since Bill seemed to have plenty to say to the Ryerson Review of Journalism for a feature article on blogging, and to respond to it -- multiple times.

Beyond that, "No comment" is a particularly odd thing for a journalist to say -- we take people to task all the time for that particular non-response, especially when it's about something as innocuous as a few words about one's approach to blogging.

But perhaps Bill's tight-lipped missive is an indication of just how sensitive this subject can be, both for bloggers who work by day (or night) for institutional news media, and for media organizations struggling to come to grips with the impact of a populist revolution in the production and delivery -- and redefinition -- of news.

PREVIOUS: David Akin's blog on hiatus

Saturday, July 09, 2005

David Akin's blog on hiatus

For regular readers of CTV national political reporter David Akin's blog, the last couple of months have been a little dry -- David hasn't added a post since April 20. The absence struck me as odd since David is arguably the most prominent Canadian journalist who blogs and tended to post regularly.

I thought perhaps his move to Ottawa had simply resulted in less time to blog, but after dropping David a note, learned there's a more substantive reason.

David says his "blog is in a state of suspension pending the approval of some new CTV policies on staff blogging."

There has been an absence of formal policies on blogging among most Canadian institutional media outlets. Case in point: David has been blogging for a couple of years and only now is CTV getting around to developing a policy.

UPDATE: Bill Doskoch's divergent approach to CTV's blogging policy

Monday, July 04, 2005

Dan Gillmor's HonorTags bid to distinguish journalism in blogs

Professional journalist turned blogging pro Dan Gillmor's company has soft-launched what appears to be its second project: HonorTags.

The project's Web site explains that "HonorTags help readers find content they can trust, and help journalists, bloggers, podcasters and other creators build that trust within their communities."

The explanation continues in another section:

HonorTags are self-identification by bloggers, PR folks, enthusiasts and several other categories of writers, podcasters, and other content creators.

This is a bottom-up, voluntary system. We think it has the potential to help readers and creators alike.

The readers get the author's intentions up front. This is not meant to be a gauge of quality, political positioning (it's totally nonpartisan) or whether the postings are G-rated or pornographic.

What's in it for the creators? They get increased control over how they're identified. They can enhance credibility and trust. It could also help them affiliate with others into networks. And, just maybe, this could enhance legal protection as a journalist.

What's in it for the reader? A helpful tool, or the beginnings of one, to find relevant and/or trustworthy stuff online.

The first six HonorTags are:

There are also detailed explanations of each one.

The first HonorTag appeared on one of Gillmor's blog posts at Bayosphere.

The system is not a bad idea. But one potentially huge flaw is identified in tags themselves: it's based on the honour (or honor, if you prefer) system. Since it's entirely voluntary, it doesn't appear there's anything to stop less scrupulous individuals or companies -- such as spam marketers, for example -- from hijacking what could otherwise be a useful tool and turning it instead into what I term tagspam.

If HonorTags are abused by those without honour -- and there's every historical indication to suggest they will be -- then what's the use of having them at all? How long will it be before a search for HonorTags will yield posts offering Viagra, hot sex, or any number of other products and services whose sales pitches litter today's e-mail in-boxes? A year? Less?

Keyword metatag spamming by Web sites previously killed the utility of tags embedded in Web pages and forced search engines to alter their search ranking system to focus more on content-based page elements. That ultimate result may be a positive development but that's beside the point. HonorTags are likely headed for the digital dustbin after falling casualty to the rapacious jackals of the Internet.

I hope I'm proved wrong.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

NYTimes on Romenesko's salary

The New York Times has picked up the story about Romenesko's salary that was recently posted on the Mediacrity blog.

Who said you can't make money giving away news and opinions on the Internet? Apparently not Jim Romenesko, who runs a popular site ( devoted to comings and goings in the news media. According to tax records filed by his employer, the Poynter Institute, Mr. Romenesko received $169,187 in salary and other compensation in 2003, making him Poynter's highest-paid nonexecutive.

The income picture for other bloggers and Web columnists is less rosy. Some blog for the fun of it - that is, free.

In a justifiable but whiny response, Mediacrity complains about being "ripped off" by the Times. Although he does win a reference in the Times piece, it's not clear in the article that Mediacrity was the original source for the story.

Previous: Romenesko: Blogging for a living

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day