Newspaper News From Around the World (a.k.a., Cleaning Out My Mailbox)

By: Steve Outing

Today, I’m cleaning out my mailbox. Some interesting stuff has appeared in there in recent days, so read on.

San Francisco newspapers’ content development grants

The Gate, the Web service of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, has developed an innovative grants program to encourage outside content development. Jan Calvert reports, “This could be anything from a Bay Area mountain bike trail map/resource to a way of indexing all the microbrewery beers. (It’s) sort of a localized National Endowment for the Arts.”

Initial applications are due September 1; from those, several promising entries will be asked to prepare a prototype (for which The Gate will pay). From the prototypes, finalists will be selected as grant recipients to fully develop their ideas. The amount of the grants has not yet been finalized.

Jan Calvert, jan@sfgate.com

More news from Scotland’s No. 1 tabloid

Online editor David Mill of Glasgow’s Daily Record and Sunday Mail was interviewed in a column here last week. He sent in an update:

“Since your interview with me, the British soccer season has indeed begun. We’ve seen hits up some 40-50% since we introduced a results, reports, pictures, fixtures and leagues service. It looks like sport is, indeed, a winner (online).

“Also, it might interest your readers that we recently ‘broadcast’ a major music festival onto our Web site. Me with a Macintosh and a phone line, a reporter and a photographer with a digital camera … publishing a newspaper from a tent! And it worked well.

“At the same time we had a few other Macs set up so visitors to the festival could explore the Internet for themselves. Hundreds took the opportunity and, interesting to me, probably 90 percent had done it before.

“They were all younger people but anyone who is concerned about the young not buying traditional newspapers would have had their eyes opened to the potential of electronic versions and their future appeal.”

David Mill, dmill@record-mail.co.uk

More contests from Washington Post’s Digital Ink

Following my column last week about online contests run by newspapers, Jason Seiken of the Washington Post’s Digital Ink wrote in:

“We run frequent contests on Digital Ink. Some examples: Pick the Oscar winners, pick the Tony winners, etc. We’ve also started a Fantasy Football league for Digital Ink subscribers. The top ‘coaches’ will get nifty prizes at the end of the season. So far, it’s been pretty popular.”

Jason Seiken, Jason@washpost.com

Movin’ On

Mindy McAdams has left the staff of the Washington Post’s Digital Ink to become an online newspaper consultant in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. McAdams was with Digital Ink since March 1994 and saw through development of the newspaper’s online service on the Interchange platform. She reports: “I now intend to put my broad experience to work in consulting for online newspapers, Web projects, new media and information design.” McAdams has 2 works online worth checking out: an article about online newspapers, and a piece about starting Digital Ink. (For the latter, use ftp to connect to GUVM.CCF.GEORGETOWN.EDU, use the log-in IPCT-J and password GUEST, then GET MCADAMS.IPCTV3N3 )

A number of veteran staff members have left Digital Ink in recent months, including Mark Potts, Linton Weeks and Sara Fitzgerald.

Quotable

Some interesting quotes culled recently from the online-news Internet list, which I operate (published here with permission):

“I think that the Web creates a new paradigm and a new way of storytelling that journalists have yet to study or master. Multi-threaded storytelling follows neither inverted pyramid nor narrative, but instead braids both together with a third element — interaction.
“When we’re trying to explain it to writers in the newsroom, we tell them it’s sort of like telling a story to your mom on the phone — but only if your mom’s mind wanders and she interrupts a lot.”
— Leah Gentry, online editor, The Orange County Register

“I’ve been trying to teach new technology to newsrooms since the early ’70s, and I have found editorial employees — with the notable expection here and there — to be uniformly uninterested. (Exceptions, of course, to art departments.)”
— Paul Harral, news director, StarText, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“As Penthouse, Playboy, and all the sex sites have shown, if you make (an online) site compelling you can charge; how to do that without sex is the challenge and the fun.”
— Mike Cassidy, production director, Conde Nast Traveler

Steve

Got a tip? Let me know about it

If you have a newsworthy item about the newspaper new media business, please send me a note at steve@planetarynews.com.

This column is written by Steve Outing and underwritten by Editor & Publisher magazine. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at steve@planetarynews.com

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