Rather than entertaining newsroom banter (see the Observer's new-ish blog, good though it is) this is more about embracing local citizen journalism and engaging readers in the news-gathering process.
"Each weekday morning and afternoon, the editorial staff of the Spokesman-Review meet to discuss that morning's paper and the coverage planned for tomorrow. We'll use this blog to help involve you in that process."
There's also an invite for readers to attend the Review's news meetings in person. If anyone knows of any UK newspapers that do this, I'd be interested to hear about them...
News without newspapers?
• Not necessarily a literal prediction, reports Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis. But that's what techie/writer/journalist/blogger Doc Searls quipped at a syndication conference last week.
The industry needs to approach news business models from a different direction, wrote Mr Jarvis on his blog:
"We need to rethink about newsrooms as news-gathering (not just news-creating) operations that bring together the community's news and share it wherever, however, and whenever the community wants. And, yes, we need to think of new business models to support this."
Incidentally, Mr Jarvis has a new job working on content development for About.com, now owned by the New York Times Company.
Again on his blog, he said: "This is more than an old-media property buying into new-media (as I first saw it); it's more than smart diversification (which the news business needs). About.com can be a platform for distributed media and I'm eager to explore all the great things that will come of that."
As if that's not challenging enough, he's also helped to write the new media journalism curriculum for City University New York, is set to be editor-in-chief of a new news start-up site and will be writing a book. Does this guy sleep?
Indian news, RSS, storytelling and podcasts
• Rafat Ali is continuing to build his digital media news empire with his new Contentsutra blog covering the Indian market. That's a massive growth area, if the amount of correspondence we get from the sub-continent is anything to go by. Smart move.
• The UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) has put its money where its mouth is and launched its own RSS feed. AOP's recent survey of major web publishers found that paid-for content now provides nearly one-fifth of revenue - more on that survey soon.
• Hewlett Packard has launched 'Storycast', a new storytelling tool that allows users to create 'narrated journals' using mobile phones. Users speak into the phone and choose thumbnails pics at the same time to illustrate the story.
"A tool like this could make it a snap for citizen journalists - or any journalists, for that matter - to produce and publish narrated slide shows from the field," commented Jonathan Dube over on Cyberjournalist.net.
• Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio has launched two trial podcasts: Tod Maffin's Nerd technology show and Bob McDonald's Quirks & Quarks, covering technology, science, medicine and environment news.
(For the uninitiated, podcasts are audio files that you can set up to download directly to your computer as soon as they are published. And you can listen to them whenever you want. More basics here - and a bit more background on Wikipedia. If that really gets you going, there's a list of available podcasts on Podcast.net.)
Local newspapers squeezed tighter as Microsoft muscles in
• MSN has squared up to Google and Yahoo with its plans for a new local search and satellite mapping tool, reports ClickZ News.
Virtual Earth offers similar potential for sponsored listings, and all three services are likely to present considerable competition to local newspaper advertising. And of course if it's happening in the US, it's only a matter of time before it takes off over here.
• Award for management speak of the week goes to the New York Times Company for its plans to "undertake a targeted staff reduction programme".
So you're sacking people then. Does evasive terminology make it any less painful for the staff involved? I doubt it...
Flowers are lovely...
• Times Online has a vibrant section on the Chelsea Flower Show, complete with new gardening blog and exclusive video clips presented by its gardening writer Jane Owen. Chelsea is particularly beautiful event, so a great subject to exploit with as much visual material as possible.
BBC News seems uncharacteristically sparse on Chelsea coverage, although the main BBC gardening section is pleasantly verdant. I got sidetracked looking at pictures of the world's largest flower which bloomed last week at Kew.
Apparently it smells like rotting corpses, but then you can't have everything.
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