Cyber-Journalism Marches On

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By: Steve Outing

A number of important news items showed up in my information queue in the last week. As these are developments I'd like you to be aware of, I'll devote today's column to several items worthy of your consideration.

Cyber-savvy journalists

A new study by Columbia University professor Steven Ross and PR firm Middleberg & Associates indicates that journalists are relying more on the Internet as an information and reporting tool. More than one-third of 600 newspaper and magazine editors polled said they or their staffs went online daily -- up 23% from one year ago. Internet access by journalists is becoming universal, with only 13% of the study's respondents saying they did not have Internet access.

Ross says that journalists use the Internet primarily for research and reference, and for finding sources and e-mail. An increasing number now prefer to receive press releases online: 29% this year, compared to 20% last year and 17% in 1994. Paper remains the preferred method of just over half the respondents to receive press releases and photos, down from 60% a year ago, and 66% in 1994.

Canada's budget provides Web news opportunity

Robin Rowland of CBC Newsworld Online in Canada outlined his organization's reporting of the Canadian government budget (presented earlier this week) in a post to the online-news Internet discussion list. CBC's online coverage was an interesting example of how the Internet differs as a news reporting and delivery medium. I urge you to take a look at his description of the process by clicking the link in this paragraph.

N.Y. Times expands relationship with AOL

This week the New York Times announced that it has broadened its relationship with America Online, becoming a greater news anchor for the proprietary online service. The Times area is one of the most popular on AOL. The expanded relationship between the two companies will include the development of original programming, including: an expanded Science Times section; a new People area; crossword chat rooms; a monthly AOL-only themed crossword puzzle; expanded message boards; etc.

As newspapers generally have placed their efforts on the World Wide Web rather than with the proprietary online services, the Times remains one of the few newspapers to maintain a significant presence on AOL in addition to running an ambitious Web service, The New York Times on the Web. Newspapers like the the San Jose Mercury News, one of the first AOL newspaper partners, dropped out last year.

For many publishers, maintaining two online ventures -- and having to produce content in two formats -- is not worth the effort. Nor is it a wise use of resources for a regional newspaper publisher to maintain a major presence on the national online service. Numerous regional and local publishers are making the move to working rather with AOL spin-off Digital City Inc., the online city guide company that is partly owned by The Tribune Co.

Are you using IAB banner sizes yet?

Web publishers are starting to feel the pressure to support standardized ad banner sizes, and a big incentive -- some would say, threat -- is coming from Microsoft's interactive ad agency of record. Agency Anderson & Lembke says it will begin using the standard banner sizes recommended by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) beginning on March 1. Sites that do not accept IAB standard sizes "will be at a significant disadvantage in the selection process when evaluated against sites who have adopted the standards," according to the agency. But, "this is not an ultimatum," and the agency is not saying that it will always snub sites that don't adhere to the standards.

Microsoft is believed to be the largest advertiser on the Web, so it's likely to convince Web publishers to toe the line. Still, online publishing discussion groups on the Internet have been active, with numerous complaints about Microsoft "strong-arming" the Web publishing community.

While attending the Interactive Newspapers conference in Houston last week, I heard from a number of news site managers that they have redesigned or are planning to redesign their sites to accommodate the IAB banner sizes. It should be noted that the IAB standards do not have to stifle creativity in how a site presents its advertisers. Site designers are encouraged to accommodate special campaigns from advertisers who may want unusual ad sizes or presentations in order to stand out from the crowd.

IAB standard banner sizes are (in pixels): 468x60; 392x72; 234x60; 125x125; 120x90; 120x60; 88x31; and 120x240.

Booklet for advertisers promotes Web

Journal Square Interactive has come up with an interesting, low-tech concept for helping local publisher convince local businesses to advertise on the Web and boost banner ad revenues. JSI, an affiliate of Advance Publications Internet, has published a 24-page booklet that offers advice about how to effectively advertise using the Web. It's designed to be used by local publishers, who send out the booklets to ad prospects. JSI publishes the booklets, and adds a customized cover for the publisher so that it looks like a locally published print piece, including an ad for the local publisher.

For further information, contact Deborah Gallant.

Top news sites list

Interactive Week magazine has named its top 10 news sites on the World Wide Web, and several newspapers placed well. The top site is CNNFN (The Financial Network), followed by CNN Interactive. USA Today Online comes in third, followed by The Detroit News, New Jersey Online, WashingtonPost.com, the Press Association (a British news wire service), the Charlotte Observer, The Gate (San Francisco Chronicle), and C|Net.

Steve

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This column is written by Steve Outing exclusively for Editor & Publisher Interactive three days a week. News, tips, and other communications may be sent to Mr. Outing at steve@planetarynews.com

The views expressed in the above column do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor & Publisher company































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