Journalists versus bloggers: the difference is fact checking?
I had the pleasure of being involved with a seminar on “Ethics in cyberspace — how to do bloggin’ right" cosponsored by The Society of Professional Journalists and the Denver Press Club. Bloggers in attendance include Rebecca Blood, Amy Gahran, David Thomas, Chris Cobler from the Greeley Tribune and my pal Gil Asakawa from the Denver Post. The discussion was interesting and engaging, but what most struck me was the distinction that journalists made between bloggers and journalists.
Specifically, us bloggers are writing opinion pieces, basically, subjective op-ed type of works, while journalists are trained professionals and one of the distinct differentiators is that real journalists do fact checking. Specifically, Rebecca shared her belief that bloggers don't want to be journalists because journalists need verifiable facts and reproducible results. Note: I originally had the last seven words in quotes, erroneously indicating that it was a directly quote from Rebecca. Read the comments to see how two incorrectly used punctuation marks can set off a firestorm of discussion and debate.
Which is why the last two days of reporting in our local Scripps paper, The Daily Camera, have been so darn amusing...
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Review of "The E-Myth Revisited", by Michael Gerber
As someone who has been involved with startups and entrepreneurial businesses for the last decade, if not longer, I knew it was time for me to listen to Michael Gerber's phenomenally popular book The E-Myth when twice in the same week I heard people make reference to it.
But I didn't immediately grab a copy of the book.
In fact, rather a while passed before I bumped into the audible.com download of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to Do About It (Unabridged). With their various discounts this audio book ended up costing me about $12 for an 8 hour audio title. Seemed quite a reasonable price for me to gain some insight into the myth of entrepreneurship...
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Ads in RSS feeds? Corrupting the idea of information syndication
It was inevitable, I suppose, but I'm still upset about this change in the blogosphere: One of the new announcements from Google's AdSense program is that they're beginning to support adding targeted advertising in RSS feeds.
What's an RSS feed? Different people are going to give you different answers, but my view is that it's an information syndication and communication channel that lets me use tools to track changes and updates to lots of Web sites with a single unified application. So, for example, instead of visiting newswire Web sites or popping over to weblogs from my colleagues and friends, I just use a delightful tool called NewsGator and easily keep track of almost 150 different Web sites and RSS feeds simultaneously.
Until this week, RSS has all been ad free, and one of the truly great things about using an RSS aggregator, as they're called, is that I've been able to focus on the content, not the presentation: even the most funky Web design produces a simple text-only RSS feed.
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The challenge of blogging about good news: Boeing
In the last few days, there has been a flurry of media news about Boeing, including today's story from the Wall Street Journal that Air India places 50 jet order from Boeing, value $6 billion [sub required] and yesterday's similar news in the WSJ that Boeing beats Airbus for crucial job: 96 jets ordered by Air Canada [sub required].
The challenge of writing about this turn of events also revolves around the first test flight of the much lauded Airbus A380 tomorrow. The BBC reports, in Airbus A380 to fly on Wednesday, that:
"European aircraft maker Airbus has scheduled the maiden flight of its giant A380 jumbo jet, the world's largest passenger plane, for Wednesday. The first flight of the twin-deck aircraft has been keenly anticipated since it was unveiled at a glamorous and high profile ceremony in January. Airbus has invested heavily in the A380 and hopes it will defend its position as the leading passenger plane maker."
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How to influence new customers in 50 minutes!
A group of colleagues have been talking about Dr. Robert Cialdini's book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, raving about how it contains lots of insight into what motivates people to behave in certain ways. But with a backlog of books that includes The Art of the Start and Freakonomics, among others, I don't have the time to read the entire book, recommendations or not.
Fortunately, I was grabbing a new audio book from Audible.com this morning -- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It I'll be reviewing it in a week or so -- and noticed that they had a Cialdini talk from Stanford University available for download for a mere $2.95. So I downloaded it and...
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Smart ways to identify the best candidate for a job
It's been a while since I've been on the "receiving end" of a traditional interview, but I still find myself part of the hiring team on interviews, and still have painful memories of dotcom jobs and the resulting cascade of grossly unqualified resumes we received every week.
I've experienced cover letters with misspellings, cover letters that are obviously and embarrassingly form letters ('like Dear __hiring manager___"), missing cover letters, resumes with typos or formatting glitches, pointers to online work where the URLs don't work, and much, much worse.
But they're not the most annoying part of the process. The most frustrating, time-wasting part of hiring is one-on-one interviewing. You can easily waste 20-30 minutes per candidate, even by phone, and an aggressive culling can still produce a dozen or more apparently qualified candidates.
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Exemplary business blogging: Boeing Compliments SWA
I read a lot of business blogs written by executives of medium to large companies, including General Motors, Boeing and Sun Microsystems. Rarely, though, do I see an executive post a non-insular article, an entry where they talk about something else going on in the industry or blogosphere, something that's just interesting and worthy of note, without adding any sort of advert or product plug.
That's why I'd like to compliment Boeing VP of Marketing Randy Baseler for his posting today.
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Of Silent Spring and Earth Day
"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birth set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings."
"Along the roads, laurel, viburnum and alder, great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler's eye through much of the year. Even in winter the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow..."
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Can we influence the future, or is it pre-determined?
I've been getting more involved with The da Vinci Institute (they're a sponsor for my upcoming Blog Smart! Business Blogging Workshop) and last night I had dinner with Thomas Frey, the head of the Institute. We had a fascinating and quite compelling discussion about how what we do today can influence the future, and I've been thinking about that ever since.
I believe that our society promotes a sort of helpless inevitability about the future, particularly with technology and innovation, a sort of "ceaseless march of progress" that's embodied in Bill Joy's famous dictum that "privacy is dead. deal with it." I'll call this the Inevitable Future. Whatever's going to happen is going to happen, be it human cloning, dirty nukes, global outbreaks of avian flu, home abortion kits or whatever, and all we can do is hold on for the ride.
But some reflection reveals that we're not helpless at all, and that we can individually and as groups influence the future quite a bit...
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Colorado Rated #1 in Entrepreneurship by SBA
A study released today from the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Edward Lowe Foundation ranked Colorado as #1 in both innovation and entrepreneurship.
The research summary states: "This research addresses the needs of local policymakers to understand the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in creating an environment where local economic growth can thrive."
Obviously, this is a great bit of news to hear, confirming my belief in the thriving local business community, but it also raises the question of why, as an active entrepreneur, I don't see any signs of innovation or entrepreneurial assistance from our State agencies?
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Interesting software job at a cool new startup
I rarely bump into job listings that are good enough to blog about -- in fact, this is the very first -- but my friend and colleague Dave McClure, formerly with Paypal, helped launch a very interesting new Internet company called Simply Hired and they're looking for some world-class search geeks to join their Silicon Valley venture.
You can read the job listing at LinkedIn (and, yes, I find it interesting that a company focused on job search uses LinkedIn as its own classified listing spot when it has the pick of almost any venue online) or you can read it here.
But before we get there, you'll enjoy the note that Dave sent me about this position, I'm sure...
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Blog Smart event and the Boulder County Business Report
I'm presenting a half-day business blogging workshop on May 5th here in Boulder, Colorado with the catchy name of Blog Smart!. If you're a business person then you need to find out from an expert what all this "blogging" stuff is about and how it can help you:
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NewWest brings a much needed professional networking venue to Colorado
I attended the NewWest launch party Thursday night at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and was thrilled to finally be at a good, popular professional event that had lots of interesting and well-connected people present.
Local business folk who appeared include Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital (he's a blogger too), Thomas Frey and Kevin Johansen from the da Vinci Institute, Greg Berry from Think Tank West, Usher Leiberman of The Usher Group, Dan Murray of Ravenwood Marketing, Liz Ryan of WorldWIT, Derek Scruggs of Escalan and many more. I'd guess there were over 100 people in attendance overall. Plus food, drinks, live music, and a great venue.
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My next book to be published: Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger
Since everyone is buzzing about Tiger, the newest version of Apple's powerful Mac OS X system, I thought it was time to share that in addition to being a business and communications strategist, I'm also a secret tech guy. Part of being a geek is that I'm among a team of very sharp Mac writers who collectively keep O'Reilly in the forefront of Macintosh publishing with our books. This morning team leader Chuck Toporek publicly announced our new books, including my book Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger.
Here's what Chuck had to say...
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Wall Street Journal: Online more profitable than Print
The New York Post is reporting that the Wall Street Journal earned more money with its online Web site than its print publication. Predictably, though, the Post spins it all wrong: instead of talking about the success of the online arm, it talks about the failure of the print side and about how WSJ publisher Peter Kann, could be "sweating over his job again".
Rhetoric aside, the numbers are very interesting: The Wall Street Journal Online has 731,000 paid subscribers, up 5.2% from the previous quarter, at $84/year. Yes, that's a $61.4 million annual revenue stream. (disclaimer: I am a paid WSJ subscriber too and would never think of switching to the print publication)
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Change your business model and kill your business? Meetup.com
In the beginning was a great idea: let's create a Web site that makes it easy for people with similar interests to find each other and coordinate face-to-face meetings. And so Meetup.com was born, and grew, and grew. Along the way it became part of the massive, amorphous "social networking" set of companies (which includes LinkedIn, Orkut, Ryze and most famously Friendster.
All of these companies now face the same challenge that hit thousands of dotcom experiments squarely between the eyes just a few years ago: how do you monetize your customer base without producing a mass exodus?
Today Meetup.com announced that their free service was going to a fee-based model. And they're not going to survive the transition.
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Come listen to me talk at the "Ethics in Cyberspace" conference!
I'm pleased to have been invited by the Society of Professional Journalists to speak at their upcoming Ethics in Cyberspace: How To Do Bloggin' Right conference. The conference is happening April 30th at the Denver Press Club.
Cool bloggers who will be there include Rebecca Blood (author of The Weblog Handbook), Gil Asakawa, Chris Cobler, David Thomas, Erin Yoshimura and Ric Soulen. I'll be on a general blogging panel and our topic of discussion is described thusly...
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Ultimately, history is written by the historians
Though it's getting almost no coverage here in the United States, there's an interesting and troubling dispute occurring between China and Japan over events from World War II. For the last few days, protesters in China have been staging marches and pelting the Japanese Embassy in Beijing with bottles and rocks, protesting a new Japanese history textbook that significantly downplays Japanese wartime atrocities during World War II. Predictably, the Japanese deny it and accuse the Chinese government of orchestrating the protests.
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General Motors miffed at LA Times review, pulls all advertising
Breezing through today's news wires, I was surprised and disturbed to see an article at the Beeb entitled GM Stops Advertising in LA Times. According to the report, Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times automotive writer, had an article published in which he called for the ouster of GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, and now General Motors is refusing to run any adverts in the Times.
Earlier this week, General Motors announced that the same Rick Wagoner had been promoted to run the entire North America operation, a move that generated some controversy in the industry and even produced a bland posting by VP Bob Lutz over at the GM Fastlane Blog.
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Conference on World Affairs: Seven Million Bloggers Can't Be Wrong?
I'm here at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado, and am attending a session called Seven Million Bloggers Can't Be Wrong but it's sure the case that the five panelists can miss the importance of their panel subject.
The panelists for this session are Matt Richtel who writes for the New York Times, Martha Baer, a freelance writer who previously worked for WIRED, Craig Newmark, creator of Craigslist, and Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times technology columnist and Mac pundit. The moderator is David Parker, online editor for the Daily Camera, a local newspaper. What do these panelists all have in common? With the exception of Andy (who not only has been blogging since '95, but wrote his own blogging software), none of them are serious bloggers. They all identify something else as their reason for being on the panel and almost all of them have what I felt was an overt pro-journalism bias.
As I tried to record the discussion, I also added my own two cents, observations and analysis. In this article, my thoughts are represented in italics and should not be construed as the words of any particular panelist.
Predictably, the first question everyone addressed was the de rigeur question "What's a blog?"
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When Accounting collides with Customer Service
A few months ago I received an offer from Wired Magazine to renew my subscription and simultaneously sign up a friend for a free "gift" subscription. Since I enjoy Wired anyway, I took the bait, signed up a colleague, and didn't think anything of it.
Then about six weeks later I received a bill for my Wired renewal, which I paid. A week passed and I received a bill for my gift subscription.
"That's odd," I thought, "I thought the gift subscription was free. Why would they be billing me?"
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Kudos to Softland for its smart marketing approach
If you work with a company that sells software, odds are that your approach to marketing and public relations is the same as it's been for years: press releases, calls to magazine editors and reviewers, and perhaps a customer newsletter that announces updates and improvements.
But we're in the 21st century now, and savvy companies with sharp marketing teams are realizing that the industry has changed and that visibility is more about identifying and engaging the opinion leaders, not the Media Establishment. Ask yourself this question: would it mean more to you if a half-dozen of your peers said "hey, this is very cool" or if some unknown flack or journalist for a major publication said "this is very cool"? I know your answer, and that's why I spend more time reading blogs and news sites than reading traditional print publications.
Public relations and marketing has always been about influencing public opinion, and it's the same as it ever was, with apologies to David Byrne: influence the opinion leaders and you'll influence the market.
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Talk about the impact of blogging on public relations
I'm looking forward to helping organize the upcoming Global PR Blog Week 2.0 online conference event, and would like to extend an invitation for others interested in talking about the future of public relations to get involved too. And while I'm talking about blogging events, do pop over and learn more about my upcoming Blog Smart! business blogging workshop too.
Here's the scoop: "Global PR Blog Week 2.0 is an online conference on how new media technologies are changing the practice of public relations and corporate communications. We're talking weblogs and participatory journalism, wikis, podcasting, and RSS - but the list of topics is open. Global PR Blog Week 2.0 will follow the success of last year's ground-breaking first such event."
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The University of Phoenix reinvents the week. Again.
I occasionally teach courses for the University of Phoenix Online, typically geeky Unix or Web related classes. While it's not a great paying gig, I find it very interesting to be on the inside of one of the largest and most successful private educational organizations in the world. The University of Phoenix is actually owned by a for-profit company called The Apollo Group, which last year reported net income of $277 million against total revenue of $1.7 billion. Total enrolled student body: 107,497 students on physical campuses and 132,709 through their online program.
One very interesting change that the University of Phoenix has made to its course programs is that it defined a school week as Wednesday to the following Thursday, rather than Sunday to Saturday as every other school does. But that's changing, according to the following memo...
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Pope John Paul II, Papal Elections and The Teaching Company
My kudos - again - to college lecture distributor The Teaching Company for their ever-savvy marketing. This time they're offering two free to download lectures on the history and workings of papal elections: “How to Elect a Pope” and “Papal Elections: Then and Now.” As they put it in their email promotion, The Teaching Company offers free lectures to their customers "as part of our goal to provide a lifelong learning experience." (and, I might add, to keep you engaged as a customer. Very smart. Their cost is essentially zero).
Fortunately, they encourage us to share the links so that anyone can download the lectures, both of which are presented by Professor Thomas F. X. Noble of the University of Notre Dame. They were recorded less than a year ago, too.
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