Alistair Cooke R.I.P. (1908-2004)

The Guardian in the UK and The New York Times were among many English-language newspapers today publishing obituaries of Alistair Cooke. A cultural bridge across the Atlantic, he lucidly wrote for one and perceptively read the other. The Guardian‘s Media section today published a variety of tributes and the Times’ Editorial page published a special ‘Appreciation’ (as does Times columnist William Safire). Worldwide audiences of the BBC knew Cooke for his weekly Letter from America radio commentary (13-minute narratives that was originally supposed to air for 13 week in 1946 but were so popular that the BBC had Cooke continue […]

The Onion Almost a Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Editor & Publisher features a story about Pulitzer Prize juror and Philadelphia Daily News Editor Zack Stalberg and how he was so impressed with the post-9/11 coverage of The Onion satirical week that he almost made it a Pulitzer Prize finalist. I’d missed that edition of The Onion. It actually is quite good — if entirely fiction. Take a look.

Concensus in the Trenches

Azeem Azhar pointed me to Terry Eagleton‘s essay about the importance of theory, which the Guardian published on Tuesday. Azhar writes: “… it’s a brilliant criticism of the critics of thinking, reason and principle. During my time working for large organisations there was little room for thinking and principle, at least at the levels at which I operated, and a stronger emphasis on consensus and doing. But is it always better to all agree (and do the wrong thing, the wrong way) or to challenge held views, to tease out the underlying principles for behaviour, and to come to a […]

News Industry a 'No Show' at Wireless Show

Many Many North American media companies plans to deliver news via mobile phones, yet none are exhibiting or on the presentations program at CTIA Wireless 2004> in Atlanta, which with more than 70,000 attendees claims to be ‘the world’s largest conference of the wireless industry’ (despite being only one-third the size of a similar conference held earlier this year in Cannes). Hollywood entertainment companies are well represented, both as presenters and exhibitors, here at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’s annual conference. They know better than to wait for the wireless industry to court them. Yet only Stats, Inc., a […]

'Follow, Don't Lead' Nor Help The Kamikazes

Here is a bad way in which the news media industry is different than other industries: It rejects innovations from a sector that so ably aids other major industries and moreover has conditioned that sector to be reticent to it. This ignored sector is academia. Consider how other major industries ably utilize academia: The innovative ideas of law professors are quickly put into practice by the legal industry. Innovative practices developed at medical schools are quickly adopted by the medical industry. The innovative ideas of finance professors (ideas such as hedge funds and derivatives) are readily adopted by the financial […]

Schedule: Syracuse, Atlanta, but not Hershey

Ross Castle, Killarney, Ireland (Click to enlarge) © Vin Crosbie, 2002. I’ll be lecturing to — conversing with, is more accurate — a New Media masters class at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Friday and then be at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’s annual conference on Monday and Tuesday in Atlanta. I regret that schedule means I won’t be able to attend the NewMediaWorld presentations at the annual America East regional newspaper conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday, where many people who I respect will be speaking

When Did You Last Build a Car?

Many techies have told me that media companies would be wasting their time to produce a customized edition for each reader, that search engines or RSS already make this unnecessary. That amuses me. What they’re saying is ‘There’s no market for pre-built cars because people can assemble cars themselves.’ What those techies forget are that: Unlike themselves, most people (the vast majority of humanity) aren’t technies who are fluent in the use of search engines and RSS. Most people don’t want the time and work of searching for each item of interest. Instead, the vast majority want it all packaged […]

Phillips Demonstrates Fluid, Non-Mechanical Lenses

Although it doesn’t have a direct bearing upon online publishing, here is a revolutionary technology worth noting by media companies that use imagery or that report about technology: Philips Research has developed lenses that focus without mechanical moving parts. These lenses operate just like human eyes, using internal fluids to change shape and focus. Phillips demonstrated the technology earlier this month during the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany. It plans to begin manufacturing these lenses in large volumes in coming years. Digital Photo Review has the full story. (Photos courtesy of Phillips)

Camera Phones Catalyzing MMS Usage in the U.K.

Camera phonesare revolutionizing is public adoption of Multimedia Message Systems (MMS) in the U.K. The Enpocket Mobile Media Monitor found that during the the past 3 months the number of consumers using MMS surged by 40%. That surge was driven by 18 to 24 year olds of whom 37 percent are now using MMS. Moreover, 18 percent of all mobile phone owners in the UK now have a camera phone, including 47 percent of those aged 18 to 24.

'You've Got Mail' For Only 117 More Months

Afer studying long-term declines in newspaper circulation, Philip Meyer, the eminent professor of journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a few years ago calculated that the last American newspaper will be read in September 2043. Using that type of math, Tig Tillinghast, editor of, last year calculated that America Online will lose its last subscriber on August 17, 2013. But based upon AOL’s latest net losses of subscriptions, he yesterday recalculated that to 2:15 p.m. on January 14, 2014. Tillinghast remarked: At that point, it is supposed, the AOL advertising reps will begin returning the […]

Shovelware Online Newspaper Design

Steve Outing has a good story today about most online newspapers’ woefully rigid and cluttered graphical user interfaces, the design equivalent of shovelware. He quotes Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute (as is Outing) and the Digital Futurist consultancy and Nik Wilets of Morris Digital Works; but mainly quotes graphical designer Alan Jacobson of Brass Tacks Design. I agree with almost all of the story. My sole concern is its recommendation to use dynamic HTML (DHTML) to make navigation links visible only when the user’s mouse rolls over them. That solution will work only when people are browsing from desktop […]

Crawling for Local News

Last week, I wrote about, which spiders more than 3,000 other local news sites, then lets users enter their local ZIP codes and see a page showing all local news from all local media. The San Jose Mercury News quoted me: Vin Crosbie, a Connecticut media consultant, said his tests of Topix often produced more interesting lists of stories than local newspaper Web sites, in part because it gathers news from so many sources. “I think there would be an interest in this, ”Crosbie said, “and I think if you can provide somebody with a quick one-screen view of […]