Monday, March 03, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N9): New newsroom practices. Artificial intelligence, Amazon bad for Books?

A look at the (new) local newsroom from CJR:
One reason the record can devote itself entirely to local news is because its parent company operates something called Thunderdome. In 2012, Digital First opened a newsroom on the 25th floor of a Wall Street office building where about 50 journalists produce most of the non-local content for each of its newspapers. They create national and foreign reports; package videos that populate each paper’s site; write food, health, and tech features; and jump on big breaking stories.

Unlike a traditional chain’s national bureau, Thunderdome doesn’t have beat reporters out covering major news events. Thunderdome is an artifact of the digital definition of journalism. It mainly aggregates and repackages material from wires, other content partners, and local papers. “If we get a story from The Washington Post, we’re not reediting it,” says Mike Topel, the news editor. “We’re looking for what digital enhancements we can do.” Thunderdome producers also jump on breaking stories and memes so all of Digital First’s sites around the country can reflect what’s happening in the moment.

Digital First’s editor in chief, Jim Brady, says he built Thunderdome in part to help his newsrooms remake themselves as places where the face-off between print and digital could become irrelevant. The room is populated largely with veterans of print newsrooms and Brady’s plan is for them to marry print traditions of completeness, verification, and authority with the digital imperatives for speed and connection with the audience’s interests. “The battles are still there,” he says, “but they’ve receded, as digital people have moved into leadership roles, and as everyone learned that aggregation can only take you so far, and as people from both backgrounds learn that it’s better to be second than wrong.”
On the Friday I spent at Thunderdome, I had a story back at my own paper that was being edited for that Sunday’s Washington Post. After I spoke to Prieto, I checked my messages to find that five levels of editors had questions or thoughts about my story—my assignment editor, a copy editor, the section editor, another section editor, and the Sunday editor. That multi-layered approach—unusually dense because this piece was going A1 on Sunday—comforts the writer, but is no guarantee of perfection. Within four hours after the story appeared on the Web, one of the main characters complained that I had endangered his family by providing too much detail about where he lived—a decision that had generated zero discussion among the six of us who read the piece closely before publication.

The dawn of artificial intelligence (Atlantic)
In addition to powerful and useful AI, the other recent development that promises to further accelerate the second machine age is the digital interconnection of the planet’s people. There is no better resource for improving the world and bettering the state of humanity than the world’s humans—all 7.1 billion of us. Our good ideas and innovations will address the challenges that arise, improve the quality of our lives, allow us to live more lightly on the planet, and help us take better care of one another. It is a remarkable and unmistakable fact that, with the exception of climate change, virtually all environmental, social, and individual indicators of health have improved over time, even as human population has increased.
This improvement is not a lucky coincidence; it is cause and effect. Things have gotten better because there are more people, who in total have more good ideas that improve our overall lot. The economist Julian Simon was one of the first to make this optimistic argument, and he advanced it repeatedly and forcefully throughout his career. He wrote, “It is your mind that matters economically, as much or more than your mouth or hands. In the long run, the most important economic effect of population size and growth is the contribution of additional people to our stock of useful knowledge. And this contribution is large enough in the long run to overcome all the costs of population growth.”

Is Amazon bad for books (NewYorker?
Publishers weren’t troubled that Amazon sold their books at dramatic discounts. They all wanted to collaborate with the Seattle upstart, and they used Amazon as an information resource; it was a vast improvement over the old green-bound copies of “Books in Print.” A New York marketing executive told me, “When Amazon came into the picture, metadata”—code numbers, Library of Congress categories, search keywords—“became an integral part of books.” A few farsighted publishers wondered if Amazon would eventually control so much of the market that it would stop selling books at cost and raise prices to become more profitable.
By 1997, when the company went public, Amazon’s book inventory could have filled six football fields. But someone who read Bezos’s year-end letter to shareholders might well have thought that Amazon’s eight-hundred-and-thirty-eight-per-cent sales growth had been in shoes, since he barely mentioned books. In the letter, Bezos noted tersely, “We are planning to add music to our product offering.” (Unlike Jobs, Bezos wasn’t a passionate listener: he once agreed to be interviewed for a program about the Beatles, and when employees, prepping the boss, asked him to name a favorite Beatles tune, Bezos chose “America,” by Simon & Garfunkel.) Soon after music came DVDs and consumer electronics. A New York literary agent told me that books were Amazon’s version of “a gateway drug.”
From Twitter;
Lossius to step down at Publishing Technology | The Bookseller  
University of Central Lancashire to offer 'self-publishing' MA (From Lancashire Telegraph)
Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
Pearson Plunges as Earnings Drop on Education in North America  

No comments: