Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Quality for subscribers

In journalism on 27 Jul 2017 at 2:07 pm

If you are looking for encouragement in the 2017 media landscape, look no further than the subscriber model. There is reason to believe, 20 years into our little internet experiment, that readers will pay for quality journalism.

Well, some will. What becomes of the rest of us remains to be seen.

The latest good news comes in the form of “The Athletic,” which must be the worst name for a journalistic enterprise in the last decade or so. It is the spawn of the Y Combinator. It is a Silicon Valley start-up engine that often leads to big funding for good projects. (Reddit, Wufoo and Airbnb are just a few of the companies that emerged from the incubator.)

The Athletic promises premium sports coverage for the discriminating sports fan… meaning someone with the means to pay for it. So far, it’s opened bureaus in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto with more to come. The start-up enterprise has raised lots of money and is poaching some of the best sportswriters in the country to cover stuff. The sites are beautiful. The Athletic wants $39.99 a year for access. …

I have always thought the best model would be the free model. We reach as many people as possible with fine journalism and advertisers feel obliged to pay for those eyeballs. Such a model has the distinct advantage of being democratic. You want as many people as possible to have the benefit of your work.

I was slow to see the benefit of paywalls. I hate the idea that good information is only available to the privileged. Besides, stopping potential readers with a paywall invites them to search for other news outlets and that can reduce a brand that was once ubiquitous. … Read the rest of this entry »


A new take on take-downs

In Online media on 27 Jul 2017 at 2:02 pm

By now, I’m guessing all the editors at Wick properties have been asked at one time or another to “take down” or remove from the website an old story that is an inconvenient truth for some unlucky reader. We’ve been talking about what to do about these requests ever since we started publishing online. (The Kicker first addressed the issue seven years ago, for what it’s worth.)

Perhaps the most typical case is something like this: A guy was arrested for a DUI in, say, 2005, and it continues to come up when he searches his name on Google. He thinks, perhaps with some reason, that the old arrest is figuring into his trouble getting a job. He may even tell you that the case was ultimately dropped.

So what do you do?

Time was, the police blotter appeared in the print newspaper one day and that was it. It didn’t follow you around like a virtual puppy dog intent on peeing on your leg every so often. Obviously, we couldn’t “unpublish” something that appeared in the paper 10 years ago. But, theoretically, we could take it off our website.

It would be very rare for me to recommend you do that. And I was heartened by some legal advice that appeared this month in the California Newspaper Publishers Association quarterly.

CNPA legal counsel Nikki Moore said that there is no legal obligation to honor such requests, unless a court orders you to do so and that is vanishingly unlikely. … Read the rest of this entry »

New Google News

In Online media on 20 Jul 2017 at 2:42 pm

We all have go-to spots on the web for news and one of mine is Google News.

I appreciate what to me seems like an honest curation of the top stories of the day and the fact that I can sample many sources in one place. There are channels for top stories and sports and whatever else interests you and you can even set it to find your particular interests.

Recently, the crew at Google redesigned the interface. I guess the sweet spot with such things is to tweak them for better usability without completely upsetting the virtual apple cart, and by that standard I would have to say it’s a success. (Though, truth be told, I don’t think it’s much better than the original, which worked for me just fine. Do you think the “card format” is easier to read than the old blue headers? Perhaps you do.)

There are a couple of things I do like. Google is now tagging stories as “Local Source” when that is the case. Seems like that would be good to know as we all know that local media sometimes has a different and more grounded perspective on some stories. And it’s pretty breathtaking in some instances to click “full coverage.” Doing so can bring you dozens of stories on a topic, related video and tags that can bring you deeper into a story. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to Google.

One last thing: If you aren’t already setting Google alerts to send you emails of stories that mention your town or beat… you should. If you can’t figure it out, lemme know.

— Clay Lambert

Worried about ‘fake news?’

In journalism, Uncategorized on 17 Nov 2016 at 4:46 pm

Perhaps the hottest topic in our industry is “fake news.” You know what it is because you probably see it in your Facebook feed or Google search all day long. Hillary Clinton promised amnesty for undocumented immigrants who voted for her. World War III is days away. John Podesta is a witch.

Most of these things are pretty obviously not true. The trouble comes when you are in your own echo chamber and what you read generally confirms what you want to believe. Then discerning the difference can be a matter of will.

A lot of smart people think this is a big, big problem for real journalists. Is real journalism devalued when it comes amid so much fakery? If people can’t tell the difference, will they just choose to believe what they want to believe?

Jack Shafer says no. He’s a well-known media critic who notes that there is nothing new about fake news. Politicians and their minions have been faking stories about the opposition for as long as there has been ink and paper.

That is true, but I tend to believe there is something more pernicious happening today. I think it has to do with the viral nature of media now. Shafer points out 18th century hoaxes about man-eating trees and monkeys trained to pick cotton, but those stories weren’t shared millions of times in an hour. They didn’t take on a life of their own. … Read the rest of this entry »

Checking the facts

In First Amendment on 11 Aug 2016 at 1:29 pm

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One of the most persistent complaints about “the mainstream media” is a perceived lack of interest in the truth. Many, many people think we sacrifice the truth in trying to be fair to each side – regardless of whether one or both sides are just plain lying.

There is truth to that complaint. We are hard-wired in many instances to seek a rebuttal. The mayor says this. His chief rival responds thusly. Etc. You see it every day in coverage of the presidential campaigns. Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She says she doesn’t. Ad nauseam.

But which side is telling the truth?

Too often, we don’t even try to say. That is partly because ferreting out the truth is harder than he-said, she-said reporting.

Well, Green Valley News Editor Dan Shearer has stumbled on one way to get at the truth without having to do it all himself. He pointed me toward FactCheck.org. It describes itself here:

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. …
Read the rest of this entry »

Taking the ‘I’ out of internet

In Associated Press on 7 Apr 2016 at 11:14 am

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Beginning June 1, AP style calls for an end to uppercase Internet and Web. So, enjoy your stature while you still can, 20th century terms for the digital future.

I don’t know how you feel about these changes, but I guess I’m agnostic, though leaning a bit toward support of the new rule. It makes sense to me. These are much more generic and certainly ubiquitous terms than they used to be. They are not proper nouns any longer, I don’t think, at least not in the common usage.

Most of the digital punditry about these changes suggest that it is about time. The know-it-alls say AP is just old-school and slow to adopt standard usage. I say that is a good thing. I appreciate that the keepers of the style are reflective and not reactive.

And another thing: It has been suggested that capital letters themselves are archaic. They are just too hard to read, apparently. To this, I say, “nay!”

From Susan C. Herring’s really interesting and well-researched column in Wired last year:

The fact is, decapitalizing internet is part of a universal linguistic tendency to reduce the amount of effort required to produce and process commonly-used words. Not only does decapitalization save a click of the shift key, but, as one marketing website put it, “Capital letters are speed bumps for the eyes when reading. They should be eliminated where possible.” …
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About those passwords

In Ideas on 15 Mar 2013 at 9:27 am


If you are like me, you have just about replaced your tangle of cords (connecting your stereo to your television to your computer to your Easy Bake Oven…) with a tangle of online passwords. I have a list of about two dozen passwords that I keep in a completely unprotected file on my computer.

This is one of the dumber things I do, and that is saying something.

Periodically our own Pete Bakke reminds us to change passwords or be more careful with them. Why?

Take the case of Matthew Keys. He is a deputy social media editor for Reuters. This week he was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiring with the hackers group known as “Anonymous” in order to mess up the website belonging to a Sacramento, Calif., television station. The feds say Keys, a former employee of the TV station, turned over log-ins and passwords to the hackers, though his motive for doing so hasn’t been made clear.

I am taking this as a warning of sorts. I intend to do something about my password mess. Here is as far as I’ve gotten: Not very far. But I know there are a number of free password storage utilities I can use to help me manage these things. Here is one for Mac and another for Windows.

Read the rest of this entry »

What do they want?

In Ideas on 5 Oct 2012 at 7:42 am

In 2011, a unit of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism partnered with the Knight Foundation to survey news consumers in different kinds of communities to see how we differ based upon our environs. They separated respondents into four camps – city dwellers, suburbanites, those in small towns, and rural residents.

It turns out we are more alike than you might think.

For instance, we all (or most of us) use three or more sources for news over the course of the week. A surprising percentage of Americans – regardless of where they live — participate in the dissemination of news. Forty-one percent of adults surveyed email news story links, post news on social media sites, comment on news blogs, contribute to online discussion groups or send in articles or photos to local news sources. More than half of suburbanites do so, but a third of rural residents do as well.

There are differences in our audiences and some of those differences are well known to Wick editors. Suburbanites are more connected. The survey confirms that papers in places like St. Tammany Parish, La., are most interested in weather, commutes, restaurants and life in suburbia. Rural and small-town residents are most connected to their local newspapers and care most about local governance and schools. City residents, interestingly, don’t seem to care much about taxation. The survey suggests that is because so many residents are young and renting. … Read the rest of this entry »

On SOPA and Wiki

In Online media on 27 Jan 2012 at 9:17 am

If you hadn’t heard of the Stop Online Privacy Act or its companion, PIPA (no, not the English princess), before Jan. 18, you likely had after you tried to see that Wikipedia page on the Absolutely Fabulous Housewives of New York City. The Internet hiccupped that day and it seemed like a big deal, didn’t it?

I may be a bit out of my depth here, but here’s my take: The battle boils down to a tussle between big-money outfits in Hollywood and Silicon Valley and those on both sides are more interested in making money than preserving Internet freedom or intellectual property rights. In other words, I think there is room for compromise and both are being more than a little disingenuous as to their motives.

But forget all that for a moment. How did you do without Wikipedia that day?

I bet you did just fine. Journalists have flourished for hundreds of years before there was an online encyclopedia. We weren’t about to fold up because the dang thing was down for a day. But what if you awoke to a world without Wikipedia? … Read the rest of this entry »