Sunday, July 03, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 27): ProPublica's Newspaper Apps, Hemingway, EMI + More

Very interesting article from Nieman Journalism Lab about the way ProPublica's newest news app uses educational data and how the effort is a view on the way newspapers can provide both more depth and engagement (social aspects) for their readers. Well worth reading for the lessons academic publishers might take away (Nieman):

ProPublica leads the field in developing news apps; each one demands a unique strategy for determining how users will actually navigate — and benefit from — the app’s interface. With this one, “we were focusing a lot more on what behaviors we wanted to encourage,” says Scott Klein, ProPublica’s editor of news applications. ProPublica is constantly thinking about how to organize reporters, both within and outside of its newsroom, around its stories, notes Amanda Michel, ProPublica’s director of distributed reporting. “Here, we wanted to take it one step further.”

With that in mind, the app invites both macro and micro analysis, with an implicit focus on personal relevance: You can parse the data by state, or you can drill down to individual schools and districts — the high school you went to, or the one that’s in your neighborhood. And then, even more intriguingly, you can compare schools according to geographical proximity and/or the relative wealth and poverty of their student bodies. (Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, just down the street from the Lab, has 1,585 students, 38 percent of whom receive a free or reduced-price lunch; Medfield Senior High, a few miles southwest of Cambridge, has 920 students and a 1-percent free/reduced lunch rate. Twenty-four percent of Rindge and Latin’s students are enrolled in advanced math courses; for Medfield High, the rate is 42 percent. Compare that to Health and Human Services High School in Lawrence, which has 89 percent of its students on free or reduced-price lunch — and an advanced-math-enrollee rate of 4 percent.)

“It really is an auto-story generator,” Umansky says.

This week the NYTimes review A World of Fire by Amanda Foreman which takes a view of the American Civil War from the British perspective. I haven't read this yet but I did get it in the UK in December mainly because the US publisher wasn't releasing it until the summer (now). NYT

Now that Americans are taught that the war was a noble conflict waged by Lincoln and the forces of light against misguided and contumacious Southerners, it’s especially valuable to be reminded that this was far from how all the English saw it at the time. To be sure, almost no Englishman defended slavery, long since abolished in the British Empire. The British edition of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had sold an astonishing million copies, three times its American sales, and the Royal Navy waged a long campaign against the slave trade: on his first visit to Downing Street, President Obama was presented with a pen holder carved from the wood of one of the ships that conducted that campaign.

But while some English politicians, like the radical John Bright and the Whig Duke of Argyll, ardently supported the North, plenty sided with the Confederacy. They even included W. E. Gladstone, on his long journey from youthful Tory to “the people’s William,” adored by the masses in his later years. Apart from sympathy with the underdog, many Englishmen believed that the South had a just claim of national self-determination.

Turn on Fingerprint File by The Stones and dwell on the idea that the FBI drove Hemingway to suicide (Observer):

Writing in the New York Times on the 50th anniversary of Hemingway's death, AE Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World, said he believed that the FBI's surveillance "substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide", adding that he had "regretfully misjudged" his friend's fear of the organisation.

The reassessment is significant as it was precisely because of Papa Hemingway that the writer's fear of being bugged and followed by the FBI first surfaced. Hotchner's belated change of heart casts a new light on the last few months of Hemingway's life and two incidents in particular.

In November 1960, Hotchner writes, he had gone to visit Hemingway and Mary in Ketchum, Idaho, for an annual pheasant shoot. Hemingway was behaving oddly, Hotchner recalls: "When Ernest and our friend Duke MacMullen met my train at Shoshone, Idaho, for the drive to Ketchum, we did not stop at the bar opposite the station as we usually did because Ernest was anxious to get on the road. I asked why the hurry. 'The Feds.'

Here is the Hotchner piece from the NYTimes. EMI has dumped ASCAP the music tracking and collecting agency (NPR):

Leigh and other analysts say that EMI may be the first big publisher to cut ASCAP out of digital rights negotiations, but it won't be the last. TuneCore's Price says that in an age of shrinking profits, companies like EMI want to eliminate the fees they have to pay to ASCAP. EMI might be especially concerned with short-term cost-efficiency at this particular moment, since it recently put itself up for sale.

"They want their balance sheet up," Price says. "That's why EMI is rushing around doing this, because they're trying to get bought by Russian billionaires."

The interests of EMI's publishing arm may not necessarily be those of the songwriters it represents. As it is now, ASCAP takes a fee from payments it collects, then distributes the rest of the money equally between songwriter and publisher. Casey Rae Hunter, of the nonprofit advocacy group Future of Music Coalition, says the big music publishers don't have the same obligations to songwriters that ASCAP does to those same people, its members.

In sport; Barca aren't just invincible on the field they also do good business (Economist) Short week this week. From the Twitter: A Spectacle of Dust: The Autobiography by Pete Postlethwaite: review - Richard III: Kevin Spacey, the king with the common touch - ALA Annual 2011: Top Tech Trends: Apps on the Upswing:

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