Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fighting weight

My news organization is looking at right-sizing the newsprint paper for the staff it has to produce it, weighed against the hungry demands of the web, an additional effort. I think this is wise. My impulse is to simply say: "Give us the car, let us drive it, we'll adjust as we go." That means that I see this smaller newspaper as a prototype that we will change as we see what works, what doesn't. I took design thinking at Stanford and their problem-solving principles are relevant to the state newspapers are in. There is no guaranteed success. There IS the challenge to try, listen and then adjust. So the commitment that goes into thinking about the new version must be there after it is launched, to listen and adjust and remake the prototype. Fail early and often is what they used to say in that class when encouraging us to throw together rough prototypes and get feedback on them so the next version would be that much better. So, newspapers, how about it?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just another day, and then your mind get's blown

That sounds so....1960ish.
Here's how my mind got blown today.
First, a small piece of background, just a moment, really, in a normal newsroom meeting. A colleague who has been away is back, and we're talking about how to cover the final three weeks of the prep football playoffs. One thing we know readers like is the ability to post their own game photos on our site, in galleries. But instead of galleries by school, they want galleries by game.

At our meeting about the playoffs, we talk about organizing photos by game. I suggest our professional shots and our reader-submitted shots could both go in the same game gallery. I hit a nerve with my colleague, who referred to reader-generated photos as crap that would not be combined with professional staff work.

I get the point. And I think it's wrong. I was still mulling this over when I came home and read the Poynter site about a professor working to create a process for multi-thread storytelling using multimedia. This interests me right away, because I don't see multi-thread storytelling happening at my paper. I see linear storytelling, using the bells and whistles of multimedia. We are still selecting the entry point for readers.

A comment on the professor's blog directs readers to some new technology that hyperlinks photographs by content. The link is to a short talk at the TED conference. Suddenly, the world's photos -- professional and amateur alike -- come together to create a new fuller view of the world. Suddenly, the relationship between pro and am is not one of superiority and inferiority, but of collaboration. Watch for the composite of Notre Dame cathedral about 2/3rds in.