Thursday, October 18, 2007

jack and leah's bikeblog

check it

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Poynter/Romanesko: Want a Well-Designed Newspaper? Go to Europe.

I read an interview from the Columbia Journalism Review with Scott Goldman, the head of the Society of News Design. Every year SND hands out awards to the world's best designed newspapers. This year, for the first time no American paper was on its' top five list. There wasn't even an English speaking paper among them.
Goldman says American papers are falling behind because they are being to conservative with their graphics. Papers in other country's and especially smaller papers have adapted more quickly to the growing demand for graphically rich news and have had more confidence in producing complex design.
It makes sense that the older institutions in the U.S. would be resistant to giving up print space in favor of graphics. As news moves more and more to the web though I think it will be imperative for news organizations to be able to present their stories graphically. When you look at the winners of the SND competition their front pages almost all look like website front pages. The stories contain a headline and a lead paragraph and then are jumped to another space in the paper. It seems like a sort of reverse engineering where first the websites were built to look like the front page and now the front page is being modeled after the web page. Our brains are being rewired by the internet and our papers are going to have to fight to keep up.

Beat Blog #2

The Amazon Community garden is beginning to see more activity as the winter is coming to an end. On late Tuesday afternoon the garden was full of people churning dormant soil, mixing in composts and organic fertilizers in hopes of raising a productive summer crop. Chris Hope,a gardener for the last four years, is planning to grow mostly lettuce, "because it's easy," but also plans to make his first attempt at peppers later in the season.
"I do it mostly for fun," he says. "It's a good way to meet people and you get to stick your hands in the dirt."
Gardeners here also produce corn, onions, garlic, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, zuchini and squash to name a few. Plots are in high demand and are awarded a via a lottery system. To enter you must register by completing an application by March 16th and delivering it to the City parks and Open Spaces Department. Forms can be downloaded from the department's website here.

Eugene City Government Picks a Developer for Downtown

Members of the Eugene City Council voted to work with a Portland based developer this week in their project to rejuvenate downtown. They plan to add "more than one million square feet of new development consisting of retail, housing, cinema, a grocery store, a hotel and parking." I think this is a mistake. I don't think final numbers have been proposed but the project will cost the city millions and in the end I don't think it will work.

The commision seems dead set on turning downtown Eugene into a smaller version of NW 23rd in Portland. But Eugene doesn't have the economy or the will to support their plans. The project to bring Whole Foods in was controversial to begin with and eventually fizzled when Whole Foods became aware of the opposition they were up against. Contrary to what the commission believes downtown is not a dead spot. There's the weekly Saturday Market, the Hult Center, McDonald Theatre, WOW Hall, the Library, a number of small restaurant, bars and cafes. There's also a thriving art scene which benefits from the area's low lease rates. If development plans continue not only are many of the last remaining historical building in downtown going to be demolished but the few businesses and arts organizations that breathe life into the area today would likely be pushed out by increases in rent.

While our downtown isn't as polished as in parts of Portland it's rough edges don't mean that its dead. Artists usually flock to areas where they can live and find studio space cheaply. If the city commission wants the city to live up to its claim as "the world's greatest city for the arts and outdoors" it should consider the impact the development they're planning will have on our creative community.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Beat Blog #1 Slow Saturday at Southtowne Shopping Mall and Surrounding Area

The loudest sounds that could be heard at Southtowne Shopping Mall today were the muted footsteps of two young girls hiding from their enfuriated grandmother. Holding an extended index finger over her lips, one of the girls ,eight years old by my guess, quietly gestured a "be quiet," to several tables of onlookers. Grandma, a heavyset sixtysomething rounded the corner outside the dance studio and sent the girls scatterring like pollen in the wind. With a flabergasted huff, grandma walked to a bench, dropped her bags and pulled a magazine from her oversized purse.
Clouds were begginging to darken overhead but the heat and the calm promised the approach of spring. Geriatric shoppers in too-bright-for-anytime-of-year-clothes smiled broadly and complained about the service at Barry's.
A short time later the two girls were at grandma's feet, begging for home and a late winter ice-cream cone.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Poynter:Romenesko: Online Revenue

I read two articles on the Poynter site dealing with online revenue. One was about the New York Times company and its rising web revenue. The company's digital revenue now accounts for 8% of its total, double the share from 2004. It also expects to save $65 to $75 million this year in staff reductions, lower newsprint costs and greater productivity.
The other article was about Glen Falls New York's Post-Star, which has made the decision to stop charging a subscription fee for web content.
It's clear that news is moving to the web. It makes a lot of sense for everyone, it cuts down costs, saves paper, and makes news more accesible. But I'm still not convinced that its a good thing.
It's an open format which is good. It offers the ability to provide video, illustration, short articles, in depth articles etc. But I worry that like television, the power of the format will be neglected in favor of sensationalism, gossip, soundbites and generally poor reporting. If news organizations are shrinking and attention spans are becoming shorter will there be any organizations financially well off enough to do quality, in-depth work? My guess is that there will always be some examples of good work just as there are in broadcast journalism. But will there be enough people interested enough, or capable of focusing for long enough for it to make an impact?

Narcissism Rising?

I read an article this week about narcissism in college students. A study conducted by San Diego State University studied 16,000 students between 1982 and 2006 and concluded, "far from being civically oriented, young people born after 1982 are the most narcissistic generation in recent history." Narcissists, "lack empathy for others, are aggressive when insulted, seek public glory and favor self enhancement over helping others look good." They are also, "more likely to be materialistic and to seek attention and fame."

Based on what I see around campus I'm inclined to believe what the study says is true. It's sort of ironic that for all the "global village" talk surrounding the internet what we seem to be creating is a network of shallow, self-obsessed vacuums.

I wonder if this will last. It seems like a big part of the charge that we get out of creating our own web page or posting a video on YouTube stems from the fact that we grew up in world where being on TV or in the newspaper was a rarity and caried some actual weight. Will there be a big letdown as we begin to realize that these things aren't actually unique. Or maybe things will keep going as they are, marketers constantly learning to target consumers more, reinforcing their notions of self-importance. Maybe, in the future, instead of everyone being famous for 15 minutes, we all get to be famous forever because the only world we live in is the one we create in our own heads.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


One of the first things I learned about writing was to consider your audience. What makes blogging akward is that the audience is amorphous. Some blogs have thousands of readers and some have none. I don't expect to be winning a national audience here so I'll try to write about things I'm interested in rather than things other people are writing about.
I also think it's important to stick to what you know, or at least not try to claim more authority on a subject than you actually have. You need to have an awareness of what you do and don't know, so I'll try to write about things I feel confident I could argue with someone over face-to-face. In cases where I couldn't do this I'll not try to overcompensate with big words.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Journal Entry: Poynter articles on student journalism and unnamed sources

Student Journalism:
The case provided here was clearly an example of a poor decision on the part of opinion editor John Petroski and his editors. The article is in bad taste to begin with and is further muddled but its poor execution of satire. His article deserves scorn but its such an easy target and one so many of us can agree on, that I don't think it merits the reaction its recieved. Petroski should be fired and forgotten. His editors should learn to scrutinize editorialists more. What bothers me about stories like these is that I sometimes think they get in the way of us talking about more controversial, more complex media issues. The case here is so cut and dry, so overwhelmingly condemned that it shouldn't take this long to work through the situation.

The Role of Unnamed sources:
It's hard for me to judge this article. I think the writer's idea to track the number of unnamed sources is a good one but I doubt that any news organization would voluntarily provide its audience with this tool. It would most likely have to be conducted by a separate entity. It would also need to take into account the environment in which a reporter works. Clearly a source with a name is better than one without but I think that the environment in which a Washington reporter works is entirely different from the one in which a city government reporter works is entirely different from the one in which a Hollywood reported works. The power, and money that flows in Washington has to have an effect on how people deal with the media. Every word a politician says is managed, scripted or shaped in someway. I'd imagine it's almost impossible to get anyone to say anything straight-forwardly if they know that they're name is going to appear next to it. We need names wherever possible but we also need unnamed sources if they are our only means to knowing what is going on in Washington.