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Since Sunday night the biggest news in the world has been the death of Bin Laden. Online media has been buzzing loudly with the details about the incident. It’s no surprise at all to see the number of hits online new media outlets have been receiving during the past couple of days. reports totaled 88 million global page views from the time news of Bin Laden’s death broke Sunday night through 1 p.m. ET Monday, 217 percent higher than the average for the same time period over the previous four weeks. The site also announced 13.8 million total global video starts (live and video-on-demand), up 725 percent versus the prior four-week average, and 2.6 million live video views, more than 100 times normal levels.

CNN Mobile also received huge attention during the release of information on Bin Laden’s death.CNN Mobile tallied 7.7 million global page views Sunday, 153 percent above the same-day average from the previous four weeks. Through 10 a.m. Monday, its global page view total was 5.1 million, up 146 percent versus the prior four Mondays. CNN Mobile’s 26,700 domestic video starts Sunday were 23 percent higher than the Sunday average for the past four weeks, and its 56,400 Monday through 10 a.m. were up 146 percent from the prior four Mondays, according to

In the days, weeks and months to come to demand for online news on the topic is sure to continue to get attention as long as their is more information to be distributed. The media attention from online viewers has already surpassed the first day of coverage for the earthquake in Japan for certain sites such as iReport that has had a 35 percent increase.

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Journalism Professor, Ronals Yaros

Journalism Professor, Ronals Yaros

In the seemingly ever-changing world of online journalism, one university professor is trying to keep up with the fast-paced industry by researching how this generation consumes its news and what publications can do to best engage audiences.

In his second study of online media, journalism professor Ronald Yaros explored the way links in online articles affected readers’ enjoyment and understanding of a story. Ultimately, Yaros found journalists need to utilize links in a specific manner for different types of stories.

For example, Yaros said, audiences will best comprehend a complex story about science, health or technology if it includes short, specific links that open in a separate window and give the reader a brief definition or explanation. In contrast, a basic story that readers can easily understand should link to various websites that will enhance the article’s content.

“We were able to show how writing a news story differently made a big difference,” Yaros said. “For basic news stories, if you try to explain it more, people will learn less.”

Yaros performed this study using New York Times articles about breast cancer and nanotechnology and more than 300 online readers in a controlled lab environment. The study accounted for how readers typically “scan” a news story when they first access a page and considered whether the use of links ultimately improved or worsened the story’s overall content.

Yaros also found that when complex articles, such as the ones his research participants read, were written in a basic, self-explanatory way, readers not only understood the story better but also enjoyed it more.

“Regardless of what the topic is, if you find the information easy to understand, it will be more interesting to you,” Yaros said.

He said this research could have big implications for how university professors teach students about the use of links in online news stories. But he doesn’t plan to stop with just links — Yaros said he plans to look next at how different multimedia and social media components affect readers’ interactions with news.

“What I’m studying is the whole way people approach the Web and mobile devices to read news,” Yaros said. “We have to conduct research that gives us more information on how people think. Online, most people are scanners, so just giving them a full page of text or a long video just doesn’t work anymore.”

Yaros said he felt it was especially important to impart this research on young reporters, including his students in JOUR 479Q: Understanding Online News Audiences.

Matt Ford, a senior journalism major in Yaros’ class, said he was interested in the possible implications the research could have for both young reporters in online journalism and readers in general.

“I think Professor Yaros is really aware of how to make news online accessible and readable,” Ford said. “He is very focused on that when he teaches and always reminds us to keep the possibilities of the Internet in mind.”

Senior journalism major Allison Lyons said Yaros’ research is especially valuable to journalism students, who are taught to consider the field from a multi-platform approach, focusing on print, multimedia and online skills.

“It is important to research online journalism because it is a whole new medium that really changes the game,” Lyons said. “For instance, we need to know where on the screen a reader is going to look so that we can put the best possible information there.”

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* Myth No. 1: The traditional news media are losing their audience.

Many predicted that the rise of the Internet and online publishing meant that mainstream media organizations would lose their readers and viewers, with technology breaking their oligarchic control over news. But that’s not the overall picture.

Yes, people are migrating online. In 2010, the Internet passed newspapers for the first time as the platform where Americans “regularly” get news, according to survey data from the Pew Research Center. Forty-six percent of adults say they go online for news at least three times a week, as opposed to 40 percent who read newspapers that often. Only local television news is a more popular destination, at 50 percent.

But online news consumers are heading primarily to traditional sources. Of the 25 most popular U.S. news websites, for instance, all but two are “legacy” media sources, such as the New York Times or CNN, or aggregators of traditional media, such as Yahoo or Google News. Of the roughly 200 news sites with the highest traffic, 81 percent are traditional media or aggregators of it. And some old media are seeing their overall audience — in print and on the Web — grow.

The crisis facing traditional media is about revenue, not audience. And in that crisis, newspapers have been hardest hit: Ad revenue for U.S. newspapers fell 48 percent from 2006 to 2010.

* Myth No. 2: Online news will be fine as soon as the advertising revenue catches up.

Such hopes are misplaced. In 2010, Web advertising in the United States surpassed print advertising for the first time, reaching $26 billion. But only a small fraction of that, perhaps less than a fifth, went to news organizations. The largest share, roughly half, went to search engines, primarily Google. The newspaper industry illustrates the problem. Even though about half the audience may now be accessing papers online, the newspaper industry took in $22.8 billion last year in print ad revenue but only $3 billion in Web-based revenue.

Journalism thrived in decades past because news media were the primary means by which industry reached customers. In the new media landscape, there are many ways to reach the audience, and news represents only a small share.

* Myth No. 3: Content will always be king.

The syllogism that helped journalism prosper in the 20th century was simple: Produce the journalism (or “content”) that people want, and you will succeed. But that may no longer be enough.

The key to media in the 21st century may be who has the most knowledge of audience behavior, not who produces the most popular content. Understanding what sites people visit, what content they view, what products they buy and even their geographic coordinates will allow advertisers to better target individual consumers. And more of that knowledge will reside with technology companies than with content producers.

Google, for instance, will know much more about each user than will the proprietor of any one news site. It can track users’ online behavior through its Droid software on mobile phones, its Google Chrome Web browser, its search engine and its new tablet software.

The ability to target users is why Apple wants to control the audience data that goes through the iPad. And the company that may come to know the most about you is Facebook, with which users freely share what they like, where they go and who their friends are.

* Myth No. 4: Newspapers around the world are on the decline.

Actually, print circulation worldwide was up more than 5 percent in the past five years, and the number of newspapers is growing. In general, print media are thriving in the developing world and suffering in rich nations. Print newspaper ad revenue, for instance, rose by 13 percent in India and by 10 percent in Egypt and Lebanon in the last year for which data is available. But it fell by 8 percent in France and 20 percent in Japan.

The forces tied to a thriving print newspaper industry include growing literacy, expanding population, economic development and low broadband penetration. In India, for example, the population is growing and becoming more literate, but a substantial portion is not yet online.

By and large, American newspapers are suffering the most. Roughly 75 percent of their revenue comes from advertising versus 30 or 40 percent in many other countries, where papers live and die by circulation. That means the collapse of advertising is not hitting papers elsewhere as hard as it is hitting them here. It also suggests that the need to charge for online access may be even more important abroad.

* Myth No. 5: The solution for media organizations is to focus on local news.

Going “hyper-local” was the war cry of Wall Street to the news industry five years ago. The reasoning was simple: In the Internet age, when users can access content from anywhere, it didn’t make sense for local operations to compete with the big national news providers.

The problem is that hyper-local content, by definition, has limited appeal. To amass an audience large enough to generate significant ad revenue, you have to produce a large volume of content from different places, and that is expensive. On top of that, many hyper-local advertisers are not yet online, limiting the ad dollars.

Now we are entering what might be called Hyper-local 2.0, and the market is still up for grabs. Google, which garners two-thirds of all search advertising dollars nationally, doesn’t exert similar control over local advertising. Locally, display ads — all those banners and pop-ups — are a bigger share of the market than search ads.

But how to produce local content remains a mystery. Can you put pay walls around it? Can you build a “pro-am” model, in which professional journalists work with low-paid amateurs to produce a comprehensive report? Or will the winner be something like AOL’s Patch, in which hundreds of hyper-local sites are owned by a single company that can connect those readers with major advertisers?

So far, no one has really cracked the code for producing profitable local news online.
Read more:

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Scinet Chart - Data Visualization

Image via Wikipedia

On Tuesday, the British website launched a new visualization of the Italian government’s annual budget, as it has already done for the British, German, and American governments, among others.

The new visualization makes it easy to understand that the Italian government spends the largest single portion of its annual budget on pension and wage subsidies, at 285 billion euros ($377 billion) for the most recent year that data is available, 2008.

Over the past few years “data journalism” has become one of the latest buzzwords in newsrooms and blogging circles. In simple terms, data journalism is a combination of journalism, design and computer science where stories are conveyed through graphic and sometimes animated visualizations of data.

At last week’s Re:publica conference in Berlin, which focuses on the German-speaking Internet, many European developers highlighted the new insights gained by data visualization and explored how newsrooms and other online media sites might be able to figure out how to make money from this kind of data.

Increased Transparency

While much simpler data visualizations, like pie-charts and bar graphs have illustrated data before, online data visualizations allow much more creativity and flexibility in terms of being able to understand the scope and scale of a particular data set, like a national budget.

In recent months, media organizations around Europe, like the British newspaper The Guardian also publish their raw data sets and invite the public to comment and create their own visual interpretations.

“People like me can make their own visualizations and/or check the visualizations,” said Gregor Aisch, a German freelance information visualizer, who works for the German newspaper Die Zeit and has also worked under contract for Deutsche Welle. He appreciates this kind of transparency from The Guardian, as well as the opportunity to work with the data sets himself.

“[I can ask]: ‘Does the size of the circles exactly correlate with the numbers in the data set?’ and [know if] this is the right way to go,” he told Deutsche Welle at the Re:publica conference last week.

By advocating transparency, The Guardian increases its own credibility behind its reporting and its own data visualizations.

But Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of data journalism at, a Paris-based, innovative online media firm, warned that like any form of journalism, data visualizations can also be used to push a particular agenda.

“There is a project by [Russian news agency] Itar-Tass in Russia that was very criticized, where they mapped all the religious places in Russia,” he told Deutsche Welle. “And they apparently purposefully put mosques in there that were no longer in use, so as to convey the idea that Muslims were invading Russia.

Experts say that’s why as more and more of these data visualization projects become easier and easier to do, it’s important for the public to think critically about where that data comes from.

“How much can we trust a visualization, and how much can we trust also the data?” said Boris Müller, professor for interface and interaction design at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam.

“They are very, very important questions. And I think that really a citizen needs to know how visualizations work in order to really evaluate the quality of the data and the quality of the evaluation.”

From data sets to business models

But it’s not just media agencies visualizing data. In fact, with these new tools, the boundaries between art, design and journalism, can sometimes get a little blurry.

Kayser-Bril explained how digital cartographer, Eric Fischer, creates maps using geotagging in photo databases like Flickr to highlight different aspects of society.

In one series of maps, Fischer used blue dots to represent photos taken by locals and red dots for tourists. On the Berlin map, some interesting patterns emerged – most locals tend to stay in the same neighborhoods and don’t go to West Berlin or to the outskirts of the city.

“Its extremely interesting to see that the two populations don’t mix,” he said. “So from the visualization you can also build stories and see how the society’s going. You can make sense out of the data and I think that’s the role of the journalist. ”

Using the Berlin map as an example, Kayser-Bril suggested that soon, the key will be to work out how particular data can be useful for government, business or specific interests. In fact, data designers might be able to partner with companies as well.

How and whether new business models evolve remains to be seen, but this French designer envisions that in the new media landscape data journalists will take on the role of project managers. He predicts that they will in a sense ‘curate’ or edit the data working with developers, statisticians and designers in newsrooms.

“If you have all the locations where the tourists are on a very fine level of granularity, where you can see street by street where they are,” Kayser-Bril noted. “You can then sell this for instance to businessmen who want to open a shop in Berlin for tourists, and telling them where to go and where not to go.”

Author: Cinnamon Nippard, Berlin
Editor: Cyrus Farivar


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It’s heartwarming to see hardworking journalists being awarded for breakthrough stories that embody citizen journalism and “the watchdog” mentality.

The Media Network of Central Ohio and The News-Messenger won three Best of Gannett honors for 2010, including national first-place honors in two of eight categories, the Gannett Co. announced this week.

MNCO, which includes nine other daily newspapers and websites, won first-place honors in digital journalism for its continuing online and mobile coverage of breaking weather stories and high school sports scores using live feeds of updated information at and

“These approaches clearly have helped central Ohio residents stay informed about severe weather and get the latest on high schools sports,” judges wrote.

Enterprise and data reporter Russ Zimmer won the top honor for beat reporting for database journalism on topics such as an analysis of anticipated tax increases, progress on bridge inspections in the state and ticketing trends on speeders driving 100 mph or more.

“It is clear that Russ Zimmer knows how to use database work to bring readers and online users extensive information on various topics,” judges wrote. “His stories were clearly written, understandable, interesting and informative.”

MNCO placed second in the Public Service and Watchdog Journalism category for articles examining the pension systems in local governments and school districts in Ohio. The systems’ policies result in some public employers paying all or most of their employees’ retirement contributions, a practice that pads employees’ pensions at taxpayers’ expense. Reporters from all 10 MNCO sites contributed to the project researched by enterprise and data reporter Jessica Alaimo.

“The central Ohio newspapers did a terrific job of taking a complex pension issue and showing how taxpayers were footing extra dollars, in many cases resulting in no retirement contribution payments by employers,” the judges wrote. “The articles were strengthened by helpful graphics and excellent localization and online supplements.”

MNCO’s honors were in Division III for Gannett’s smaller community sites. The contest is judged by non-Gannett editors and journalists.

MNCO Online and Audience Development Editor Len LaCara, who played a key role in all of the Best of Gannett honors, was recognized recently as a Gannett News MVP for his work in 2010, including assisting in the development of new websites. LaCara supervises Zimmer and Alaimo’s work, along with content on MNCO’s websites.


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Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — I saw someone at the airport the other day who really caught my eye.

Her beautiful, long blond hair was braided back a la Bo Derek in the movie “10” (or for the younger set, Christina Aguilera during her “Xtina” phase). Her lips were pink and shiny from the gloss, and her earrings dangled playfully from her lobes.

You can tell she had been vacationing somewhere warm, because you could see her deep tan around her midriff thanks to the halter top and the tight sweatpants that rested just a little low on her waist. The icing on the cake? The word “Juicy” was written on her backside.

Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see alright. … I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she’s not even in middle school yet.

Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire this spring for introducing the “Ashley,” a push-up bra for girls who normally are too young to have anything to push up. Originally it was marketed for girls as young as 7, but after public outcry, it raised its intended audience to the wise old age of 12. I wonder how do people initiate a conversation in the office about the undeveloped chest of elementary school girls without someone nearby thinking they’re pedophiles?

I mean, that is the purpose of a push-up bra, right? To enhance sex appeal by lifting up, pushing together and basically showcasing the wearer’s breasts. Now, thanks to AF Kids, girls don’t have to wait until high school to feel self-conscious about their, uhm, girls. They can start almost as soon as they’re potty trained. Maybe this fall the retailer should consider keeping a plastic surgeon on site for free consultations.

We’ve been here with Abercrombie before — if you recall, about 10 years ago they sold thongs for 10-year-olds — but they’re hardly alone in pitching inappropriate clothing to young girls. Four years ago the popular “Bratz” franchise introduced padded bras called “bralettes” for girls as young as six. That was also around the time the good folks at Wal-Mart rolled out a pair of pink panties in its junior department with the phrase “Who Needs Credit Cards” printed on the front.

I guess I’ve been out-of-the-loop and didn’t realize there’s been an ongoing stampede of 10-year-old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel.

What’s that you say? Ten-year-olds can’t drive? They don’t have money, either? Well, how else are they getting ahold of these push-up bras and whore-friendly panties?

Their parents?

Noooo, couldn’t be.

What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with high self-esteem would even consider purchasing such items? What parent is looking at their sweet, little girl thinking, “She would be perfect if she just had a little bit more up top.”

And then I remember the little girl at the airport. And the girls we’ve all seen at the mall. And the kiddie beauty pageants.

And then I realize as creepy as it is to think a store like Abercrombie is offering something like the “Ashley”, the fact remains that sex only sells because people are buying it. No successful retailer would consider introducing an item like a padded bikini top for kindergarteners if they didn’t think people would buy it.

If they didn’t think parents would buy it, which begs the question: What in the hell is wrong with us?

It’s easy to blast companies for introducing the sexy wear, but our ire really should be directed at the parents who think low rise jeans for a second grader is cute. They are the ones who are spending the money to fuel this budding trend. They are the ones who are suppose to decide what’s appropriate for their young children to wear, not executives looking to brew up controversy or turn a profit.

I get it, Rihanna’s really popular. But that’s a pretty weak reason for someone to dress their little girl like her.

I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.

Friends bow to peer pressure. Parents say, “No, and that’s the end of it.”

The way I see it, my son can go to therapy later if my strict rules have scarred him. But I have peace knowing he’ll be able to afford therapy as an adult because I didn’t allow him to wear or do whatever he wanted as a kid.

Maybe I’m a Tiger Dad.

Maybe I should mind my own business.

Or maybe I’m just a concerned parent worried about little girls like the one I saw at the airport.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There’s nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?

A line needs to be drawn, but not by Abercrombie. Not by Britney Spears. And not by these little girls who don’t know better and desperately need their parents to be parents and not 40-year-old BFFs.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

Link: Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps (

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Thursday May 5, 2011 Say What Online Magazine is hosting an open house. We invite potential new editors, contributors, teachers interested in implementing Say What into teaching lessons, parents, artists and anyone else excited about viewing the launch of Say What Online Magazine!

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Young Chicago Authors

Refreshments will be served. Tour of the website, Q & A session of the publication and interactive writing exercises will take place during the open house. Be sure to RSVP by email.

As difficult as it may be to hone an audience and generate content for a print publication, it is just as difficult for an online publication as well. Say What has worked out most of the kinks, a few may still be there but come April 1, 2011 Say What will launch online! Stay tuned for the release of the url of my blog.

This week, I will post past issues. Take a look at  an previous issue of the print publication from Say What magazine and feel free to comment on what you like, what you don’t, what you would like to see more of and even what you’d like to contribute.