Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘digital’

Prince ‘crazy’ to press this one

In Media law on 17 Sep 2015 at 12:37 pm

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Has anyone ever asked you to take down something from your website by claiming copyright to the material? Then pay attention. This involves a dancing baby, a barely audible YouTube video and Prince. Yes, that Prince.

This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals settled an important point of law in a ruling on the case. It requires anyone issuing a “takedown notice” consider the concept of fair use before telling YouTube (or the Montrose Daily Press for that matter) to take something off the Web.

In 2007, a woman named Stephanie Lenz thought it would be cute to post this video of her child dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Prince’s lawyers must have good ears, because I can’t even make out the song. Nevertheless, one of the world’s great entertainers wanted to assert the principle that he controls his art. It’s understandable, in a way. He can’t selectively enforce his copyright claims. So he asked YouTube to take down the video. YouTube did that. Until Lenz claimed fair use and sued Universal Music Corp. for misrepresenting a Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim.

This week, the appellate court ruled in Lenz’ favor. She and her now pre-teen are free to go crazy.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? … Read the rest of this entry »


Hoarders — the newspaper edition

In Management on 28 May 2015 at 5:02 pm


Here’s a question I’m still turning over in my mind: What kind of stuff should your newsroom keep in perpetuity?

I’m not talking about reporter notes. That’s a separate topic. I’m talking about old photos and negatives, city staff reports from big projects, public records requests from 2007, yellowing newspaper clips, background from that award-winning series in 1999… That sort of thing.

If you are like me, you probably have a bunch of that stuff taking up space on your desk or even at home. You may even have occasion to use that material from time to time.

I ask because Pat Wick at the Sierra Vista Herald asked me for my advice as she and Bill Hess and perhaps others consider a purge of stuff in their offices.

I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to what to keep in the digital age. Some of us are just “keepers.” We like knowing that we have materials that we may need again. Others are “recyclers.” We want a clean desk and don’t see the need for all that clutter nowadays.

If there is a continuum between those two poles, I’m probably leaning toward the “recycler” side, but I do have some things I have a hard time tossing. For instance, I have a drawer (you see the contents in the photo) that I hadn’t opened in years before today. I can say with near certainty that I will never need any of that paperwork again. In fact, if I ever get around to it, I’ll throw it all away. … Read the rest of this entry »

Is 800 words too much?

In Media on 7 May 2015 at 3:34 pm


I’m always wary of anyone who pretends to know the future of journalism, so I approached this interview with Quartz Editor-in-Chief Kevin Delaney as if it were a rattler under a rock.

But the man makes some good points.

Haven’t seen Quartz? You know it’s cool because the URL is qz.com. See? That’s cool already. If you go there, you will see a news site that is decidedly different from most. It doesn’t place much truck in photos or images. It’s essentially a list of stories that editors think will be interesting to smart people. It also blends in native advertising in a way that I find purposely confusing to consumers. But I digress.

Delaney suggests that the era of the 800-word newspaper story is over. He may be right-ish about that. To the extent that he is, it should be said that he didn’t discover this fact. Al Neuharth and Gannett did about 30 years ago when the company started publishing USA Today. We had the “eight-inch rule” when I worked at a Gannett paper 25 years ago. Our stories were capped at about 400 words. If readers’ attention spans were challenged in the Reagan years, they are only more so now that we are all trying to consume news on smartphone screens the size of playing cards while riding the train. Incidentally, many of the Quartz stories I see today are themselves pushing 800 words and Delaney’s podcast interview on DigiDay was more than 36 minutes. … But I digress again.

He suggests that many journalism processes are antiquated. No question that is true. He takes particular aim at the beat system, which traditionally focuses around processes and places, like “cops” or “courts.” He suggests reporters focus on a rotating list of “obsessions,” probably driven by what the analytics say folks want. I completely agree that how we view our bests is very important. For example, I prefer to think of “cops” as “public safety.” That would include a lot more than what you see in the police log. … Read the rest of this entry »

Looking into our archives

In Online media on 3 Apr 2015 at 9:16 am

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At least a couple Wick publishers were approached recently about a research project, and it turns out that it could provide us all with interesting information.

Edward McCain leads the Journalism Digital News Archive at the Reynolds Institute at the University of Missouri. He has won a Knight Challenge Grant to study small newspaper archives. Specifically, he wants to determine the value of all those stories, photos and advertisements that we lovingly upload onto the World Wide Web.

He asked – and was granted – permission to comb through data Wick Communications stores on TownNews servers. It’s an unusual request, which is why I wanted to talk to him about it.

He’s particularly interested in what he calls “digital born” content, which is distinguished from stuff that newspapers may have scanned from old newspapers. He thinks this journalism from the digital age has a value and that it would be a shame if it were lost. … Read the rest of this entry »

Running toward the digital age

In Online media on 26 Feb 2015 at 2:55 pm
Dean Baquet of The New York Times. Todd Heisler / New York Times

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet made an important symbolic change. Todd Heisler / New York Times

Last week brought two seminal moments in the long arc of this thing we call journalism. One occurred at the New York Times, the other within Wick Communications.

First, let’s talk about that Manhattan daily. Executive Editor Dean Baquet announced that the newspaper – excuse me, news organization – was making a “small but significant step in our digital transformation.” The change? Essentially, the newsroom desks will no longer pitch stories for Page 1 of the print newspaper, but rather for prime digital space.

He created “Dean’s List” or what amounts to the day’s tops stories. Those that make the list will get most prominent play across the organization’s digital platforms. One assumes somewhere in there some ink-stained wretch will continue to plop these great stories into the next day’s print product, but that won’t be the focus of the vigorous debate that has always culminated in the newspaper of record.

“It’s worth noting that the tradition of selecting Page 1 stories under the old system has long made The Times distinctive,” Baquet says in his memo to staff. “We are seeking to preserve the rigor of this process, but update it for the digital age. Desks will compete for the best digital, rather than print, real estate…” Read the rest of this entry »

Save newspapers for Sundays?

In journalism on 24 Jul 2014 at 2:35 pm


David Boardman shook up the journalism world last week with his breathtakingly well written and passionate suggestion that newspapers are dying. Actually, that doesn’t do his piece justice. You should read it yourself.

The important caveat for Boardman is that Sundays are still an opportunity to go long, that Americans will still get their fingers dirty on the seventh day, when presumably, we all have time to sit around and think about the world. He suggests a vigorous Sunday product with long-form journalism and all the rest, and an acknowledgement that the rest of the print stuff has to go. He suggests using those resources now spent Monday through Saturday editions be put toward “more reporters, photographers, videographers, data journalists, software developers, mobile designers, social-media experts, workflow architects, marketing strategists and digital advertising pros.”

Boardman, who is dean of the Temple University School of Media and Communication, president of the American Society of News Editors and chairman of the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board, says the future is digital and only deniers and liars would suggest otherwise. … Read the rest of this entry »

Is it really digital or die?

In Ideas on 19 Jun 2014 at 4:01 pm
The New York Times photo of Aaron Kushner.

The New York Times photo of Aaron Kushner.

The blogging heads of the journalism world have been dueling all week over cutbacks and paywalls at Aaron Kushner’s Register newspapers. There is Clay Shirky’s told-you-so, Ken Doctor’s response and Ryan Chittum’s defense. In case you missed it, or would rather have a root canal than read it all, allow me to summarize: Those other guys are lying liars and only I have the courage to tell it like it is.

You’re welcome.

As I say, all this I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I commentary comes on the heels of an abrupt about face for Kushner, who had been pouring money into Freedom Communication’s Register newspapers in Southern California. The investment in print products had been the talk of the journalism world and many of us hoped that such a bold bet would be a success and lead to more investment, more print journalism.


This week, Kushner and company President Eric Spitz announced a dramatic scaling back that includes furloughs, layoffs and other restructuring. Kushner isn’t conceding defeat, noting in a memo to staff that not to have tried would have been the real failure.

Buried in Doctor’s long inside baseball discussion of what went right and wrong, is a two-paragraph truism. He stipulates that the future is digital but suggests the present requires print. I couldn’t have said it better than this myself: … Read the rest of this entry »

Blox training begins next week

In Online media on 1 May 2014 at 3:29 pm

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As many of you know, we’ve embarked on a fairly intensive appraisal of our relationship with Town News, the provider of our website infrastructure. The reason is that we need to have the most robust, interesting, engaging digital production we can have in the 21st century.

We launched a task force last year and a bunch of things have come from that effort so far. We’ve surveyed our papers to see how we’re using those products. We’ve had face-to-face and many phone meetings with Town News executives. We’ve considered other providers. But, for my money, one of the most important things to come from that naval-gazing is the understanding that we need to take the bull by the horns. Too many of us on the editorial side are blissfully ignorant of all the tools at our disposal and that simply has to change.

With that in mind, Christian Ramirez and the Wick Digital team have designed a series of BLOX tutorials aimed at teaching both the fundamentals and some of the extras you need to make Wick websites work for you. (If you work at the Sierra Vista Herald, and you’ve read this far, you are free to go since you don’t use Town News. The rest of you, please read on.)

The webinars are only 30 minutes long and set for 11 a.m. pacific time over the next three Tuesdays, May 6, 13 and 20. You should have gotten an email with the dial-in number, password and also how to follow along on your computer. Christian will be sending that information again in an email on Monday.

On May 6, the topics include creating an asset on Blox, as well as posting, sizing and other manipulations of images. He will also discuss tags and how to post videos. … Read the rest of this entry »

Emphasize the river

In journalism on 23 May 2013 at 2:38 pm

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The screenshot above is a tweet from David Skok, director of digital global news at Shaw Media in Canada. He distilled an earlier blog post from Steve Buttry, whom I’ve quoted before. Buttry calls himself the digital transformation editor for Digital First Media. Consider him a sort of digital evangelist within the news game. He has been around the block and yet isn’t afraid of the new technologies that can help us do our jobs more effectively.

Buttry has penned an entire series of blog posts he calls Advice for Editors. All of them can be found at the end of the above link and all of them merit your attention.

The post that Skok references is all about the power of disruption. We here in Silicon Valley take the disruptive model as an article of faith. Everything is changing all the time and if an enterprise resists, it’s sunk. Buttry puts it like this:

“We’ve always done it that way” isn’t an acceptable explanation for doing anything in your newsroom.

I think Skok’s idea is a good one. Consider your job the care and steering of a river of information rather than a lurch from deadline to deadline. That may change the way you look at daily or weekly meetings. You don’t have to throw out the baby with all that bathwater rolling down the river of knowledge. Keep the weekly meetings, but acknowledge that hourly huddles are necessary in order to keep your Web product fresh.

Thumb through Buttry’s posts. It’s good stuff.


Too much to do

In Time management on 27 Jan 2012 at 9:38 am

This week I had the distinct pleasure of talking on the phone with Steve Buttry. He is the director of community engagement and social media for Digital First Media. Digital First Media used to be known as the Journal Register Company and it owns a bunch of news properties in the Northeast and beyond. Steve is a well-known innovator in the journalism world and often speaks to industry groups about his experience with the hyperlocal news startup TBD.com and other ventures.

I wanted to talk to Steve about why I am so damn busy. Actually, I wanted to pick his brain about ways to deal with the ever-increasing workload we all feel as journalists in the 21st century. Why bother an even busier guy with a question like that? Well, because, Steve is presenting a webinar titled “Managing your Changing Workload.” (It’s from 1 to 2 p.m., CST, Feb. 10, and it would be $35 well spent.)

Newspapermen and women have always worked at break-neck speed. It’s just that we did far fewer things in the not-so old days. We used our time to obsess over comma splices and AP style. We still do that, but now we have to update the Web, tweet game results, write blogs that add nuance to our coverage, upload videos, moderate comments, curate user generated content… Obviously, something’s got to give. … Read the rest of this entry »