Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Apple's big announcements

Steve Jobs made some big announcements at the MacWorld Expo. Perhaps the biggest is the introduction of a new notebook computer. It looks like the current Powerbook G4, but it has dual Intel chips and has been renamed the MacBook Pro. My Powerbook isn't up for replacement for another year, so the announcements that had more immediate consequences for me were those concerning the software updates: iLife 06 and iWork 06.

iLife 06 has some incremental (but nice) updates to iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband and iDVD. Potentially the most important for me is iPhoto's ability to handle 250,000 photos and Garageband's new podcast authoring capabilities. The most drastic change is the addition of a new web authoring application, iWeb. The application can be used to author web pages, blogs, podcasts, etc. In a bit of a surprise to .Mac users, iWeb replaces Homepage. Any sites authored with Homepage remain, but gone is the ability to edit them unless users spring for a copy of iLife.

iWork 06 appears to have less dramatic changes. However, the enhancements to Keynote 3 and Pages 2 are significant enough for me to want this software immediately, as I use Keynote in the classroom everyday.

Related: See Steve Jobs' Keynote address

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Podcasts in the classroom

My good friend Al Stavitsky at the University of Oregon is profiled in that school's newspaper, the Emerald for his podcasting experiment. Al attended the convergence conference at BYU last fall and since then has been offering the "Al Pod" to his Mass Media and Society class. He posts the podcasts to his Blackboard site. Al is a former broadcaster, so he says it was easy to put together a 20 minute "stream-of-consciousness" podcast that bridges the readings to the lectures.

Related: Scott Lunt's "Podcast Your Heart Out" (presented at BYU Convergence Conference)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Critic unimpressed with WNT anchors

New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley writes that ABC's new team is adequate, but lacking the "voice of God" status of their predecessors. Stanley writes that Vargas seemed to be taking steps to appear the anchor in charge and concludes that "sparks are unlikely to fly" as a result of the new pairing.

Meanwhile, the Times reports on how WNT is moving ahead without Peter Jennings.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Historic newspapers

Historians, rejoice -- today's Deseret Morning News reports the University of Utah's Digital Newspaper project has nearly completed posting all editions of the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune. You can get them online at:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Honey, they ruined the Treo!

David Pogue of the New York Times informs us of a new version of the Treo smart phone, unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And, based on his description, its quite clear that Palm has ruined it. The Treo 700W runs on Windows! I wouldn't care if that was the extent of it, but as a result of the change much of the functionality in my Treo 600 (or my wife's 650) disappears in the new version. So much for looking forward to upgrading!

Pogue reports that Verizon will be the first provider out of the gates with the 700W, charging $400 with a two year contract.

Times to be indicted?

Via Romenesko: The Boston Phoenix examines the possibility that the New York Times may be indicted for publishing its exposé of the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping operation. Drawing parallels to the Nixon era, the article suggests prosecutors may use "from the Espionage Act on down."

Meanwhile, TV Newser reports on some behind the scene developments regarding NBC's coverage that the feds may have been spying on CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


Wonkette no more

Ana Marie Cox, the saucy blogger known as the "Wonkette" has quit her day job. The blog carries on without her. Ms. Cox became well known outside the blogosphere by late 2004, giving interviews on CNN and appearing on NBC for its election coverage.

The ex-Wonkette has a new novel coming out this week about -- what else -- blogging a Washington scandal. It's loosely based on the Washingtonienne, the Senate aide who wrote online in 2004 about her sex life. She talks with the New York Times today about quitting the blog and writing the book.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"New" WNT debut

ABC debuted its new version of World News Tonight last evening. So far, it looks pretty much like what they've been doing. Bob Woodruff anchored from Iran and Elizabeth Vargas from the set in New York. The graphics package is different, the set is the same.

What's really cool is the daily webcast ABC has added, called "World News Now."

"Quiet debut" (Boston Globe)
"Strong Start" (Baltimore Sun)
"Vargas Nervous" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Unremarkable (Broadcasting and Cable)

Earlier:ABC names new anchors

Koppel goes to cable

Howard Kurtz is reporting that Ted Koppel has agreed to a deal with the Discovery network, which has agreed to hire nine members of his Nightline staff, including executive producer Tom Bettag. Koppel left Nightline in November, the program he debuted in 1980.

Koppel was reportedly close to signing a deal with HBO, but was lured to Discovery to produce documentaries and town hall meetings.

Earlier: New Nightline debuts


Embarrassing journalism

This morning's reporting of the coal mining tragedy in West Virginia is nothing short of a journalistic embarrassment. Media outlets across the board reported early this morning that 12 miners were found alive and were being sent to the hospital. Naturally, their families rejoiced. The truth, which the mining company waited three hours to share with the families and the public, was that the bodies of 12 miners had been found. They were all dead (except a 13th miner who was found alive earlier and is in critical condition).

Of course, the mining company screwed up, but so did news outlets which unquestioningly passed on the news. They forgot the old maxim, "Trust your mother loves you, but check it out."

Luckily, broadcast and web outlets had the opportunity to correct the error before most of us woke up this morning. Print journalism wasn't so lucky. How embarrassing for Salt Lake's Deseret Morning News which chose to downplay the Abramoff story and even the murder of two Mormon missionaries and instead lead with the mining "miracle."

Update: Deseret News explains how it reacted to late news

Denver Post: Use of 'miracle' a journalistic travesty
Anderson Cooper explains CNN coverage
Poynter: Stopping the presses and getting it right
USA Today on what went wrong
New York Times: "Stop the Presses!"
LA Times: West coast papers benefit from time zone

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

George Gerbner dies

Communications professor and media critic George Gerbner died this week of cancer. He was 86.

Gerbner was the dean emeritus of the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Cultivation Theory, which suggests that long term exposure to media such as television has small but measurable effects on viewers.

I-Man dishes

The next Vanity Fair looks like a good one, as it promises a profile on Don Imus. Acccording to the New York Post, Imus has lots of nasty things to say about some of his MSNBC colleagues (Tucker Carlson is a "twit" and Chris Matthews is an "idiot"). And Imus apparently torqued the VF writer, as he is reportedly described as a manevolent old man who looks well beyond his years.

O'Reilly now making lunatic threats

Bill O'Reilly has declared war on the New York Times for daring to report on the Bush administration's secret and illegal wiretapping operation. Not just your regular blame the media war -- this is personal. O'Reilly is threatening to go after columnist Frank Rich and editor Bill Keller and "get into their personal lives." He says he's the only one who can do it because everyone else is afraid of the Times.

Talk about glass houses -- O'Reilly has some skeletons of his own.

Earlier: Times withheld story

Update: Letterman tells O'Reilly he's 60% crap (Real Media file)

Monday, January 02, 2006

News Flash: Experience not required

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the "shocking" news that not all journalism professors have journalism experience. This has been a matter of debate within the academy for some time, as universities require professors to have PhDs. And how many working journalists have PhDs? (For that matter, some of the best journalists I know didn't even finish school for a B.A.)

We've been lucky at our school, where we've been able to hire some excellent professionals without the advanced degrees. However, most programs are not friendly to such an arrangement, which is why my family went into debt for me to go back and get "piled higher and deeper."

New Web design for NBC O&Os

WMAQ, NBC's O&O in Chicago, is testing out a new web design. If you want a preview the station is asking you to provide your email address and a password. Lost Remote reports that WMAQ is test driving the new design before it is picked up by NBC's other owned and operated stations.

Earlier: KUTV first CBS O&O with web redesign (June 28, 2005)

So far, podcasting is for guys

A new study out says that podcasting is mainly a "guy thing." According to MediaWeek, only about a third of web users have even heard the term "podcasting" and of those only about a third have actually listened to a podcast -- and 78 percent of those were men.

Don't know what podcasting is? Want to know how to podcast? For complete and easy directions, check out Scott Lunt's Podcasting Your Heart Out.

Bloggers changing journalism

The New York Times reports this morning on the effects blogging is having on the practice of journalism. Increasingly, sources are no longer passive in the reporting process: many are posting e-mail exchanges with reporters and their own transcripts of interviews to give. Although bloggers don't have the reach of traditional media, the article points out that blogs remain in cyberspace indefinitely.

Jay Rosen tells the Times we used to know media consumers as the audience, but no longer:
"In this new world, the audience and sources are publishers," Mr. Rosen said. "They are now saying to journalists, 'We are producers, too. So the interview lies midpoint between us. You produce things from it, and we do, too.' From now on, in a potentially hostile interview situation, this will be the norm."
Bloggers and media consumers would applaud this development, but the Times article points out an unintended consequence -- that of demonizing the media and all but eliminating civil discourse.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

NY1 and the rise of one-man-bands

The New York Times profiles Time-Warner cable news outlet NY1. Over the last decade the Manhattan-based operation has been known for its use of "one-man bands" (reporter who operates his or her own camera in the field) and other low-cost newsgathering methods. The article notes that a joke among New York reporters was the NY1 logo meant the station was run by one person. It's not, as the article points out. The station has grown and cut a niche for itself in the New York market.

Related: NY1 History

Happy 2006

We rang in the New Year in Utah this year, starting with Provo's First Night celebration. It was really slow, thanks in part to intermitent rain and partly because it wasn't real exciting. Then the rain really came down and lightning strikes (!) knocked out the power to the band's sound system. So we went to a friend's place to watch television coverage of the Times Square celebration, where Dick Clark, still recovering from the effects of a stroke several years ago, made an appearance. He no longer looks young -- but then, we're home ringing in the new year on television, so we're not teens anymore, either. Happy New Year!

Related: TV Newser reviews 2005 media news
The opinions stated here are my own and in no way reflect those of Brigham Young University, its students, faculty, or sponsoring institution.