Friday, August 31, 2007

SEO brings old news to light -- unfairly?

Poynter's E-media TidBits column today explores some of the unintended consequences of "search engine optimization" -- the process whereby ads (or, in this case, related stories) are "summoned" to a Web page because of keywords in a story or story element (headlines, cutlines, behind-the-scenes coding, etc.)
In a nutshell, the Times recently implemented a search optimization strategy that increased traffic to its site -- especially to its voluminous archives. This meant that stories from decades past suddenly appeared quite prominently in current search-engine results.
So an important question arises: is this journalistically and ethically sound practice? Can we shrug our editing shoulders and say, "Well, it's an AD or a REVENUE SOURCE, after all. I have no control over that..." In the case of The NYT, the instant sidebar material could be seen as a reporting tool, no?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Problem

To echo Ben's comments about seemingly being ignorant of events in the Pac-10, one of their college football writers, Mark Schlabach, wrote a story about Sam Keller a few days ago. Keller, who began the 2005 football season as ASU's starting QB before an injury ended his season, transferred to Nebraska at the beginning of last season after he was named the ASU starter for 2006 by then-coach Dirk Koetter and then replaced just two days later in favor of Rudy Carpenter. It was a major story here and, in some ways, haunted ASU throughout last season.

Keller is now going to be the starter at Nebraska this year, and Schlabach writes this story portraying Keller to be the wronged man in the ASU story. The problem is, he never attempts to get any ASU perspective in the story. He mentions off-hand how many ASU players went to Koetter after he named Keller the starter and said they felt that Carpenter was the better choice to lead the team, but it seems he made no attempt to talk to any of those players. Also, Keller's dad is quoted in the article saying that Carpenter didn't have what it took to be "the guy" on a football team, but again, there are no comments from Carpenter in the story. He does say in the story that Koetter could not be reached for comment, but even if had talked to Koetter, that does not get an ASU perspective in the story, as Koetter was fired by ASU and now works as an NFL assistant. Finally, he mentions the RUMORS (not substantiated facts by any means) that Carpenter threatened to transfer, which led to Koetter changing his mind. However, he does not at all address the many rumors that have circulated around ASU about Keller and his off-field behavior. Overall, I just found it to be a very irresponsible story that basically read like a press release for Keller, making him the fallen hero and everyone at ASU (Koetter and Carpenter in particular) the villains. Sorry to go on and on, but this story just frustrates me as an ASU football fan because many outside Tempe will read this and believe they are getting the whole story when they are not.

No firm definition for "quote"

Deborah Howell, ombudsman for the Washington Post, captured several lines of reasoning over how quotes should be treated: literal? Cleaned up? Should their highest purpose be to convey the essence of what was meant? See how your thoughts match up with some of your journalism colleagues.

Pac-10 Basketball Preview

I know that it is one of my major journalistic pet peeves, but I cannot stand when basic facts are wrong in articles. is running off-season previews of college basketball right now and the Pac-10 preview calls Arizona State guard Jerren Shipp a "frosh Pac-10 legacy." He is a sophomore. That is not something ESPN is unaware of; his name is hyperlinked to his college stats and it lists him as a sophomore. He played in 30 games last season and averaged 30 minutes per game. During the season, he played against his brother, Josh (a guard/forward for UCLA), and the television commentators (from Fox Sports Net, if memory serves) frequently mentioned that Jerren was the third Shipp brother to play in the Pac-10. The third brother, Joe, played at California.

It really hurts the credibility of the article when the basic facts are incorrect. The expert predictions and commentaries must be taken with a grain of salt because they clearly are not too familiar with the Pac-10.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LL World Series

Well, my understanding of this blog is that we are supposed to post on any journalistic/editing concerns we encounter, so hopefully I am on the right track. Anyway, I was just reading AZ Central and I saw an article about the Chandler National baseball team that is playing in the Little League World Series. Now, this is certainly a great accomplishment for those children and their coaches, but should this really be covered in the news? I would say that putting these kids on national TV (the games are on ESPN and I think the final is on ABC) and making them front-page news in the papers only leads to the development of an arrogant attitude that many people criticize in today's pro athletes.

Of course, young athletes having a sense of entitlement is more than just a journalistic issue. Society often builds up these talented youngsters to the point where people like LeBron James or Michelle Wie become household names before they even reach adulthood. However, I do think the media plays a big role in that. If young kids didn't see their names in the paper or faces on TV for playing a sport, they may have an easier time staying humble. Don't misunderstand me, I love sports and I certainly think they are newsworthy, but I'm just not sure that Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, etc. with 10- or 11-year old kids should be in the newspapers or on television. That's just my opinion on the issue, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone agrees or disagrees.

Fun with geography

Can you pass third grade? This is the interactive quiz we played with in class today. Warning: Addictive. But effective. Great way to prep for the Dow Jones exam.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Really, jackhammers?

Hey guys! I wasn't really sure of the terms of posting on rimrats yet, but my dad sent me this image this morning, and I really wanted to share it with you all.

Beyond the fact that this photo (and particularly the caption) are initially pretty funny, I thought it kind of brings up some important questions.

Should The Roanoke Times, or any newspaper, publish a photo that makes a person look this bad? I know from the photo class that I took that asking her to put out her cigarette would have taken away from the reality of the photo, but it seems that this just makes her look bad, and maybe even makes the paper look bad for failing to acknowledge it.

Not sure... but I thought it was interesting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Welcome to a new semester

Greetings! A new group of talented rimrats joins the blog this morning as the fall semester begins at the Cronkite School. This term's 413 class is the first in many years to have a 9:40-11:30 schedule on both Mondays and Wednesdays (in the past, it was an hour longer on Wednesdays). We'll also be doing far more multimedia editing than ever before, exploring SEO and the use of keywords, importing content into Dreamweaver templates, creating audio slideshows, writing narrative cutlines, venturing into the basics of audio editing. It's exciting times for copy editors and there's no reason we shouldn't be out in front having fun. Let it begin.