The Daily Newspaper Minus the Print

November 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ahh, just what I wanted for Thanksgiving, a paper-less daily paper on my non-existent iPad.

Here’s the rundown on Rupert’s newest pet project:

Who: News Corp.’s “The Daily,” a staff of 100, and Mr. Murdoch.
What: A daily digitial newspaper available only from an iPad app.
When: Set to debut sometime in 2011.
Where: Available on iPads everywhere, for a price that is.
Why: Cha-Ching $

Like its namesake, The Daily will be published daily. Imagine a newspaper website, now imagine never being able to refresh it until the next day. The limitations don’t stop there; the staff of 100 is expected to churn out mostly original content, with some recycled bits of content and videos from News Corp. and Fox Sports. [Compare that to most large daily operations which feature at least a couple of hundred on staff.]

Staff highlights include the likes of Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker, Steve Alperin of ABC, and Richard Johnson of Page Six fame. While I’m interested to see what this static, multimedia daily will look like, I’ll admit that I lack the capabilities to do so. The access cost, in this case, an iPad, is quite high–and that’s before I can even access the content via the application.

No need to fear, Murdoch expects half a million to snatch up the app [about 5 % of current tablet users according to the Times]–an ambitious feat, even for the media magnate.

But with tablets and smartphones representing a growing cash mine with users routinely spending on apps, it just might pay off.

The Downside to the Buzz: Google's Failed Attempt at Popularity

November 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

In 2009, Myspace was found to be home to thousands of sex offenders as well as aspiring musical bands. [No worries, they’ve since moved to Facebook.]

In 2010, Facebook’s numerous privacy violations became the subject of a book, which in turn became the subject of a movie. All are successful.

In September, Tyler Clementi commits suicide after a telling tweet from his roommate and Perez Hilton vows to be nicer.

Foursquare, and other location-sharing applications, let you become your own GPS and is a privacy suit just waiting to happen.

Digital native or not, we’re all familiar with the fallout of when popular social networks become too social.

The latest notch in the proverbial stick is Google Buzz, an experiment by the tech giant that was launched earlier this year with mixed results. Though it has in no way reached the status of any of the aforementioned, it’s interesting to note that Buzz is not without its problems. As one of Gmail’s 170 million + users, I received the following email earlier this week:

My experiences with Google Buzz were uninspiring and short-lived. I basically clicked on it during its debut in February, only to find a mismatched collection of some of my Gmail contacts that included everyone from good friends, acquaintances, professors, and random people from some random mass emails I’ve received/or sent over the years.

It was weird. It lacked the interactivity of Facebook and even the shallowness of Twitter. And that was about it.

And by the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. Google’s current lawsuit stems from angry users who suddenly found their contact lists made available due to Buzz. You can view the terms of the settlement here:

Of course, tech-media watchdogs like TechCrunch were all over the suit like white on bread, pointing out that Gmail will not be forking over a penny to any of its disgruntled users. Instead, the $8.5 million fund will go towards “organizations focused on Internet privacy policy or privacy education, as well as to cover lawyers’ fees and costs and other expenses.”

In a time when companies are thirsting after web interactivity and web 3.0+, privacy issues are ablaze. And when you figure in the economic and editorial impact such services play in today’s journalism industry, it’s no small matter.

Leave it to Google to reap the cost without the benefits. On the social front, anyways.

An Endangered Species: Science Journalism

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

While the 2:14 video didn’t divulge much in terms of details, it pressed on a topic that was near and dear to my journalistic heart: science reporting.

Peter Lewis on the state of science journalism.

Peter Lewis, a Knight fellow, former New York Times tech writer, and proud maker of the nytimes.com domain name, is working on building a model that creates a generation of science journalists ready to report in-depth on a plethora of technology, health, and environmental issues.

Lewis, who had originally to set out to find an alternate business model for the sagging journalism industry, has since shifted his focus away from “reinventing the wheel” to finding a way to “revive the idea of robust science journalism with a focus on the environment.”

In a world where technology dictates every facet of our lives and climate change is a household word, it’s hard to believe that science journalism wouldn’t be catching on like fire.

“It turns out that science journalism is one of the most endangered species in an overall industry that’s in turmoil right now,” Lewis said of the need for knowledgeable science reporters.

One of my many far-reaching journalistic aspirations is to be a science reporter that specializes in the environment (this is supposed to happen somewhere in between being an international correspondent and an investigative reporter).

All too often I see science journalism abstracted into ideological debates that are unfounded in the roots of the scientific inquiry. At the same time, I’ll be the first to admit that I am unqualified to become a science reporter.

Not only for the geek-inclined.

In the minds of many, science journalism still remains a niche field, relegated to specialty magazines like Wired.com for the tech-geek, or Popular Science for the general geek. In its purest form, science journalism becomes too unsavory and too dry and technical for the average reader to comprehend.

“It doesn’t relate to me” is a general complaint I hear from people in relation to why the Science Times section ends up in the wastebasket.

But in my experience, science is about as human as it gets. Nothing has a greater ability to link us to one another than a story about DNA and evolution. Nothing is more distressing to read than a large-scale community ravaged by natural disaster. And few things are more frustrating to read about than humanity fouling its own nest.

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