Archive for the ‘news’ category

Time.com’s ‘The Page’: Like a Blog, But Better

17, September, 2008

There are more things wrong with Time.com’s renovated website than befits a multimedia news-and-content monolith. Maybe that’s due to the lingering toxicities of that whole nearly fatal AOL infection. But those flaws are a subject for another day.

Today I’d like to call attention to really smart evolution of the blog and into a successful new format: The Page, Mark Halperin’s daily dose of high-quality political news scrapery.

[Sorry for the lousy cut-n-paste. Those two images should read seamlessly, as one.]

There’s so much I like about this:

The items are essentially links to the full content on Time.com and elsewhere. This makes the blog an easy scan of current relevant news items, with one-click access to the full versions.

It’s all very visual, using big images, varied typographic textures and white space to make The Page highly scannable. Essentially The Page is a compelling front end for the news.

It’s built on WordPress!

Below the big entries of the moment, the bottom of The Page is a more conventional gathering of news items, but notice again how each is presented with scannable typography and written as if the blurber actually understands the content.

The Page is also pushed out as a daily e-mail.

The Page is an excellent evolution that combines blog, well-crafted blurbified news and next-gen e-mail. It’s one of the most usable products of this type I’ve come across.

The real value-add, as they say on the business side of the operation, is not the content, but Halperin’s brain. Instead of rewriting the news, he selects and presents it.

Flaws? Halperin should be more ecumenical in his item choices, so the product remains a gateway to the political news of the day, not Time.com’s news reporting of same.

Oh, and this: Is the title “The Page” ironic, retro-cool or, for all of the product’s digital virtues, an artifact of the creators’ ink-and-paper-centric worldview?

Conflict of interest note: In a moment of weakness, Time.com several months ago declared this humble blog a Top 25 blog.


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Rick Sanchez Debuts Twitter on TV

8, September, 2008

Today at 3 p.m. EST, CNN’s promiscuous social media adopter Rick Sanchez debuts a TV show called Rick Sanchez Direct.

This may be of some cultural significance, in that that the program appears to be about/from/in/around [insert your favorite preposition] Twitter.

It’s hard to imagine the details of this first-of-its-kind broadcast. But in a Twitter message, Sanchez announced that it would indeed be “a Twitter show.”

Sanchez and other CNN anchors have been putting Twitter on camera as they report the news over the last week or so. Sanchez apparently had great sport with Twitter during Hurricane Gustav. I caught some of it, and it gave the news a sort incoherent, populist je ne sais quois I sort of admired. [See this Mashable entry for some details on CNN’s adventures in social media.]

Sanchez follows 4,607 people as of this writing. He has 8,766 followers. This appears to have generated some anxiety at Twitter’s San Francisco HQ, where the troops have been struggling mightily to keep the Fail Whale in its enclosure.

Sanchez’s producer Tweeted the following: **from Rick’s producer** working out a “follow limit” issue with Twitter. Stuck right now, unable to follow new folks.

Whether Sanchez will generate an entire show out of people’s messages to him, I have no idea. It’s hard to imagine how a Twitter feed from 4,607 users might behave live. The mind swims at the possibilities.

In his sign-off message Sunday night, just a little bit before I published this blog item, Sanchez Tweeted thusly:

heading out, c ya tomorrow THREE PM EAST, NOON for u california peeps, and everything in between. dvr, dvr, dvr,

Which is to say: Sanchez is asking us peeps to use our DVRs so we can time-shift a broadcast of his program that features Twitter. Talk about “appointment TV”!

As you can imagine, some see this as yet another sign that Da Man is appropriating social media in its evil plan to generate economic activity. You’ll find evidence of this on the blog Clips & Comment, in a post entitled  “Can Someone Shove CNN’s Twitter Screen Up Rick Sanchez’s A**?”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Code Blue!

* * * *

Note: The following added at 6:09 p.m.: For a review of the debut, see the next post.


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DNC Exposes a Gap in the New Media Ecosystem

27, August, 2008

As part of my utterly ineffectual campaign to embarrass the journalism establishment until it capitulates to my irresistible wisdom, I’m doing my best to boycott mainstream media coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

There are 15,000 journalists in Denver. There are 4,000 delegates.

At a time when news leaders face the urgent need to reinvent themselves around crushing economic changes, they’re squandering precious journalistic resources earnestly covering an event that’s part infomercial, part pep rally and part goofball Americana parade. All right now, let’s listen to State Sen. Rhubarb Buttwhistle’s intro to Gov. Louis Meander’s tribute to Adlai Stevenson! Tough questions, you say? Tell me, Mdme. Janie, is this convention hat really from 1956?

Yo, journalists: Is this what you went to school for? Isn’t there a meth lab in a house jointly owned by a city councilman and a corrupt contractor catching fire back home or something?

So anyway, I figure this is a great time to check out the emerging media. You know, those bold, independent voices unfettered by the groupthink of corporate media and resistant to the virus of party politics.

I went looking for a source that pulled together an eclectic mix of the best independent voices from non-mainstream, non-corporate media. Certainly some new media visionary was at this task right now, mining the indie datastream for precious nuggets, producing a truly fresh, truly independent, crisply edited feed representing news and opinions spanning the spectrum of politics, age, gender, lifestyle, social class and headwear preferences.

Um, no.

I found four varieties of DNC blog aggregation going on.

Big Brands (Washington Post, The New Republic, Politico) These mainstream outlets simply have their staff use blogging software to get their content on the screen faster. Also saves money on copy editors. Independent? Not so much.

Digital Algorithmic Aggregators (DayLife, Topix) These wrap a skin of a harried producer’s choices around an armature of machine-generated content, usually from mainstream sources. Curated? Not so much.

Lefty Blogs (Huffington Post) and Righty Blogs (RedState). Interesting for three or four clicks. Then, very quickly, thin and stifling.

I spent well over an hour searching for a dispassionate curator who undertook the task of presenting an eclectic mix of high-value content representing a range of views, avoiding both mainstream news and an ideological filter. I searched in vain.

I guess it makes sense. Big media brands are invested in promoting their own folks. Lefties and Righties want to ventilate only the viewpoints their benefactors embrace. The machine aggregators just want to assemble eyeballs at the lowest costs.

All of this exposes an interesting gap in the new media marketplace. Lots of great independent content is being created from and about the convention. Nobody I could locate is making an intellectually honest attempt to select the highest quality stuff and make it accessible in a single place with a single RSS feed. If it included multiple media–pix, Tweets, videos, etc.–so much the better.

I know there’s an audience for this. I know there are people capable of producing this.

And yet. . .there it isn’t.

The digital media marketplace being what it is, I wonder if this task isn’t best suited to a journalistic foundation or university program. [This isn’t a grant proposal, honest.]

Of course, it’s entirely possible that there is a politically independent, journalistically sound effort to curate the best non-MSM content produced by a variety of sources coming out of the DNC in something like real time.

If so, I’d love to hear about it.

It would make my pitiful solo boycott of MSM DNC coverage so much more satisfying.

Online Journalism Awards and The Audacity of Hope

6, August, 2008

When I first saw the list of the finalists for the 2008 Online Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Online News Association, my response was despair: Almost 100 finalists in 23 categories. My carpal tunnels began to swell shut just at the thought. This smelled to me of those contests where every entrant is declared a finalist in order to pack the awards dinner.

Well, questions of motivation aside, the list is full of spectacular stuff. I use the word “spectacular” to describe online journalism very rarely. But I clicked into the list with dread and came away surprised and delighted–and feeling something like hope–more often than not.

I won’t critique the list or pick my favorites, but offer just a few observations:

When a major news organization dedicates itself to telling a story with multiple media, it can create a thing of beauty and power. True to the claims of those who insist there is a future for capital J Journalism in the digital age, the projects often provide a deeper and richer and fuller journalistic experience than projects whose toolkit is limited to 26 letters. Just two examples: Reuters on 5 years in Iraq, Dallas Morning News on Unequal Justice, which investigates a scary pattern in Texas of murderers who are given probation.

Political commentary done digitally can be as incisive as the kind using words alone. Example: Beliefnet’s God-O-Meter, which does regular visual news reports on the spiritual tweakings and tinkerings of Barack Obama and John McCain:

At least some journalism students due to replace the legions of buyoutees in Ameica’s digital news operations are ready to take over. Witness South of Here, a collaboration between the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Facultad de Comunicación at the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago, Chile. These kids have chops their parents often don’t.

On Digital Jouralism Worst Practices

Of course, I can’t let this opportunity pass without at least a brief mention of persistent Worst Practices in Digital Journalism.They are also frequently evident among Online Journalism Award finalists.

Segregating “video” from other parts of a package, or even labeling it as video. Media of all types should be integrated into a whole package. Calling out “video” rings of an anachronistic brag: “Hey, lookit, we did some video, too!” I demand this practice be stopped immediately.

Layering a show-offey Flash entry page above the package. Flash pages waste time, bandwidth and user patience. They add no value. They impress nobody other than their own designers. Stop it, I tell you, stop it!

Placing the whole 3-part, 120-inch wordroll at the center of a digital package. Long blocks of text work okay on paper. They deliver a lousy experience online. Keeping those wayback-style reports at the center of digital packages tells me the newspaper folks are still in control of the website, fighting the future, defending the interests of their print reporters and slowing the new organization’s transition to a financially stable future. In fact, how about this: Instead of sticking “videos” in the sidebar of an article, how about putting “articles” in the sidebar of a visually-driven presentation. [“Hey, lookit, we wrote an article about this too!”] Editors who take offense at that suggested inversion, I submit, may want to consider that next buyout offer very seriously.

Visualizing the Iraq War, and the Scary Future of Journalism

9, July, 2008

I’m not sure how I missed this wonderful act of journalism-by-data visualization produced by Mother Jones magazine.

Titled “Lie by Lie,” it’s the wayleft publication’s “history of the Iraq War.” The project was undertaken, the editors state, “to create a resource we hope will help resolve open questions of the Bush era. What did our leaders know and when did they know it? And, perhaps just as important, what red flags did we miss, and how could we have missed them?”

Why I love this work of journalism [my own political inclinations notwithstanding]:

1. It’s nothing fancy, hardly a data visualization at all. It’s essentially a timeline navigation of information on the Iraq War. The only visual grace note is the roulettey spin of the date slider as you move it around. But the tool is functional: It permits navigation of the same data by topic, tags or search. It engages and it works.

2. It is an aggregation of content reported by others. This is a great example of curation, of journalism by assembly. Clearly, smart people knowledgeable about public affairs paid close attention to a huge amount of information, made careful selections and used available digital technology to make it accessible and flexible in a way no print publication could.

3. It proves you can advance a political agenda with digital journalism just as easily as you can in the analog world. Edit, select, tweak, ignore. . .and you can assemble your own version of history, just as certainly as the wingnuts at The Washington Times or the pinkos at the New York Times.

4. By virtue of its form, it surfaces new understandings that a reader of the original reports would not achieve. For instance, noodle around with the “Dick Cheney” taq and you’ll discover, right at the top, this entry dated . . . over 15 years ago:

Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, speaking to the Discovery Institute in Seattle, says the first President Bush was right not to invade Baghdad: “The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that…we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”–Aug. 14, 1992

But even as it offers a great example of digital journalism, “Lie By Lie” raises troubling questions about same.

Most of the information is drawn from reports that appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Knight-Ridder, the New Yorker and many more. Yes, some bloggers made significant contributions. But it’s hard to imagine there would be much of a record of events to assemble without mainstream journalism’s (eventual! shame-faced!) commitment to digging for facts about the runup to Iraq.

The rub: This original reporting cost a fortune. It was produced under the old, dying model of journalism, wherein investigative reporting is funded by advertisements for cell phones, new subdivisions, mattress-chain mega-sales, designer clothing, and so on.

It’s important to remember that for all their swashbuckling highbrow bravado, the authors of New Yorker articles write on the back of designer vodka ads.

As Mother Jones has shown, people who are passionate about telling a story have powerful new tools at their disposal to do so. But without high-quality content–difficult, time-consuming, intellectually demanding, butt-numbing, sometimes actually dangerous reporting–the tools are just toys.

And who will pay for that reporting as we glide forward into the age of paper-free journalism?

Pour yourself a designer vodka and think about that one.

Journalism: It. . .Lives!

8, July, 2008

In the midst of a deep trough of bad news about the news business–the L.A. Times newsroom prepping for about 150 going-away parties, 60 folks heading for the emergency exits at the Baltimore Sun, 140 [40 percent of the news staff!?!] left stranded on Palm Beach–I received a link in my e-mail box that made me feel something like hope.

The Online News Association has relaunched something it calls Interactive Narratives. It’s essentially an gallery of good multimedia journalism, posted wiki-style by members of the Online News Association [conflict of interest note: I attended one of their parties once, but only coughed up membership dues a few weeks ago].

Even though it’s just launched, it’s already full of interesting stuff that demonstrates that at least some journalists have quit whining and are learning to tell stories with something other than 26 letters.

But this effort doesn’t suffer from the precious self-love of a juried competititon. These aren’t proclaimed the best of anything (though some have won various awards). Many are just pretty good examples that show what multimedia journalists are producing these days.

Take, for instance, Strange Genius: Tesla + New York, by the public radio station WNYC. It arranges on a Google map a collection of photos and sound clips that describe the electricity pioneer’s adventures around Manhattan. This is not prize-worthy stuff, but that’s the point. It’s workmanlike multimedia journalism, the digital eqiuvalent of the not-bad 45-inch feature story.

On the other hand, some stuff is so outre it’s hard to describe with mere words.

Take The Whale Hunt, for instance. It appears to be a week-in-the-life gallery over over 3,000 photos documenting a whale hunt. But it presents one of the most dynamic and intellectually demanding navigations I’ve seen. The photography is world-class. The design is remarkable. But the framework is so high-concept that you nearly get a nosebleed just trying to find a picture of a stinkin’ whale.

Perfect work? Once again, no. But a striking example of what happens when interesting minds interact with something other than words and paper.

Is the Andina [of Peru] multimedia package a winner? Hard for me to tell, since it’s in Spanish. But just clicking around, I’m guessing it’s a more culturally sophisticated and richly nuanced tribute to the potato than you’ll find in your daily paper.

Anyway, as the bad news mounts about pulp-and-petroleum journalism, it’s bracing to see the creative approaches to story-telling that are taking shape elsewhere.

Meantime, with so many journalists newly on the job market, it’s worth noting that the Online News Association is hiring.

Coincidence?

Live Blog: Yahoo News at Digital Media Conference

26, June, 2008

Alam Warms, head of Yahoo News

Election ’08 news: 50 percent of public getting info online, end of 3-network, major media election. Candidates working on SEO, comment moderation, etc.

“Credible aggregation” is key to draw audience. [Yahoo has biggest online news audience? Note to self: Fact-check later]

Question: Blogs have no fact-checking, little credibility. A: Blogs *can* do important work, fact-checking, etc. Blogs exposed CBS/MSM misreport on GWBush military service.

There is a role for editorial decision at Yahoo News: We have pulled down non-credible stories, make editorial judgments. [Note to self fact-check that one too.]

Yahoo plan–multimedia aggregation with multiple, quality partners. We do lots of A/B testing, usability, simplicity of use. We don’t believe in video ghettos, says Warms.

We can include exclusive content where we think there are gaps.

Did a web-exclusive interview with sitting President, in partnership with Politico, in May.

Good Morning Yahoo, sponsored by Dunkin Donuts, every day. An aggregation of morning content.

No audience quetions? What’s up with that?

Web 2.D’oh! Roundup

16, June, 2008

The Weekly Print ‘n’ Read Feature

Last week I introduced a new feature, the Web 2.Oh. . .Really? Print ‘n’ Read (sm). Each week I highlight one piece of journalism so worthy of extended attention that it’s actually worth printing out and reading later on, away from the computer.

So fire up the ol’ inkjet and click “print” for Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

This selection is either incredibly on-point or ironic, depending on the state of your particular neural network.

Carr’s story offers the rather obvious conclusions that: (1) adult brains can be remapped through repeated activity; and (2) this includes activities like the constant click-and-dive of typical web use. Ergo: Web use makes our brains more acclimated to skimming wide rather than reading deep.

But, as Carr points out, forever has it been thus. When Neitzsche shifted from writing longhand to writing with a typewriter, it changed the way he thought:

“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler, Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”

Which is to say, printing out and reading this article about the effect of web use on your brain may help preserve your current style of brainwork. My small contribution to the status quo.

n.b. Do not miss digital journalism bodhisattva Scott Karp’s response to Carr’s article. Karp’s determined, mapcap journey through the world of analog and digital journalism to track down the magazine, the article, the quote attributed to him, and the proper context for that quote is likely to remap your prefrontal cortex  all by itself. I’d tell you to print it out too, but I’m afraid your printer may pull a HAL.

Great Moments in Digital Journalism History, Cont’d

A blog entry last week in which I gave positive reviews to The Washington Times’ renovated website provoked a response from a reader whose confession may mark a key moment in newspaper history: A reader who canceled a subscription to the print edition because she thinks the website stinks.

I am not making this up. Witnesseth:

Karen LH Says:
9, June, 2008 at 9:38 pm

The Washington Times redesign is a disaster. We actually cancelled our subscription over it. . .

[A moment of silence, please, while we all ponder the baffling implications of this.]

Who says newspaper advertising is dead?

On Wednesday, CMS launched a national advertising campaign to promote its Hospital Compare Web site, which provides data on the quality of care in hospitals across the U.S., USA Today reports.–From California Healthline

And finally: A solution to social network overload

Know a candidate for this job? Growing company now hiring a Facebook Secretary

Tim Russert, Perfectly 1.0

14, June, 2008

It’s hard to imagine who will be unlucky enough to follow Tim Russert as host of Meet the Press.

But his departure will likely — prediction here — trigger top management to “rethink what Sunday talk shows can be” in an era of emerging media. This will inevitably lead to the integration of new technologies–funky technomaps, digital clips, YouTube snippets, bloggers coming on the show, wisdom-of-the-voice-of-the-people-network-powered-crowdsourcing hoohas.

The move is inevitable, and probably wise: Content has to reflect the culture from which it emerges. It’s how the media behaves, and must behave to reach people. Life goes on.

Consequently the new host will not be larger than life, like Russert, but just about life-sized. He (or she: Katie?) will become, like Wolf Blitzer of CNN, a moderator and curator of digital data streams, remote interactive liver feeds and public discussion. A 2.0 website will be kitted out. The competition will follow.

This may sound horrible, and it may be.

But the worst mistake would be to try to find “another Tim Russert.” He could resist technology–the whiteboard remained his preferred method of explaining the political world even as real-time data visualization tools crept in elsewhere–only because of his powerful personality and irresistible joi de vivre let him stay strong while others capitulated to fads. There will not be another who can do old-school in the new media marketplace.

There are some people who are powerful enough to transcend the medium that delivers them to the world, to resist the fundamental change. I think of Terry Gross of “Fresh Air,” who has perfected the old-school conversational interview on public radio. In print I think of Thomas Friedman, whose major platform remains a newspaper column (and books), not a blog. And David Broder, blog-free and the master of MSM political wisdom amidst the digital chatter that closed in around him.

Those of us of more modest talents work in the media of the moment, do our best with what we’re given, think our way through the best ways to use it. The tools at our disposal shape us, and our perceptions.

But Russert 1.0 was perfect, even as the media world changed around him. He was big and steadfast and old school and absolutely in command of the national political conversation.

I imagine a certain upcoming night in November and the dim gloom I’ll feel watching the folks on CNN clustered around technopanels, Blitzer and Brown turning to multiple tiers of carefully diverse commentators who most resemble game show contestants, and doing the best they can. Life will be okay. Democracy will survive.

But Russert’s 1.0ness will not.

One of the best tributes to Russert at the inevitable memorial accumulating in front of NBC’s Washington headquarters was a small whiteboard reading “Tim, we’ll miss you.”

In the end, the medium is the message.

Two News”paper” Site Re-do’s: Washington Times, SFGate

4, June, 2008

Two major news-related websites have debuted redesigns.

One of them serves the most sophisticated, affluent digital market in the country and is backed by a strong, tenured publishing brand.

The other is funded by a company controlled by a mephistophelian international cult leader that serves second-rate content to one of the most blockheaded audiences in the nation.

You can guess which has debuted the better site.

It’s the Washington Times, funded by the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and the sweetly obedient house organ of the Bush administration and those who feed off it. If ever you’ve wondered who those 23 percent of American are who think Bush is going a good job, the answer is “people who read the Washington Times.”

The new Washington Times homepage is far superior to the updated sfgate.com, the site operated by the Hearst Corporation and serving the San Francisco and greater Silicon Valley area.

The Washington Times homepage is — I use this word carefully and rarely — groundbreaking in its presentation of information, at least in a popular medium like news. More than any newspaper-born site I have seen, it has disposed of the idea that a news written for a daily newspaper should be presented facefirst on the web. The project leaders seem to have started with a slate clean of many of the assumptions that have held back newspaper sites for over a decade.

Have a look:

New Washington Times Website

A quick glance reveals how different this is from most news”paper” sites (I may punctuate it that way from now on). One big story given billboard play, a big headline and enough text to let you know whether you want to click in or not. The two bigger stories topping the second column attract more attention and top a column of crisp headlines.

This is all smart and satisfying stuff. But the money shot here is the semitransparent Dig Deeper thingbat that lies over the main image. Click on it and the entire main image flips over like a playing card. On the “other side” you’ll find either related media (pictures, videos), themes (topics) or stories.

Washington Times DigDeeper feature

Sure, lots of news sites do that sort of layered aggregation. And the Washington Times isn’t doing a very good job curating or automating the content so far. (The site almost operates as a beta at this point. Bully for them launching it anyway, I say. Meeker minds would have left it aging in the shop until it was “ready.”)

But the Dig Deeper tool itself is a joy — once again, a term I use rarely and carefully. When you flop back and forth the WT square spins like a die, and the whole flip-over motion provides the sort of brainpie satisfaction you get from any inherently entertaining interface, like the endless procession of currently viewed videos rising over the horizon on YouTube.

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, the folks at Hearst have debuted an iteration of the news”paper”‘s (ok, last time, I’m tired of that already) home page. SFGate.com renovation

It manages to integrate just about every commodity-level news web design feature that has appeared over the past three years. I couldn’t find anything I hadn’t seen done many times, and better: you’ve got your blogsphotogalleriesyourcommentsmostreadtopicpagesmashupssocialmediasortastuff, in all their tepid familiarity.

News editor Vlae Kershner’s announcement has a bit of the involuntary cringe familiar to all editors who introduce changes that some readers are certain to hate. [“Our talented staff of online editors is still learning the new programming tools and figuring out where to best place content, so please bear with us.”]

Even the site’s “annotated tour” seems to have a hard time mustering much enthusiasm for itself.

To be plain, there’s nothing bad about the renovated sfgate homepage. It’s just the newspaper of the leading technology community in the nation catching up to, oh, mid-2007. (In its previous re-do, last year, sfgate.com had essentially updated to 2005, in my estimation.)

The current re-do will do nothing to forestall the paper’s death or expedite its transformation. It’s just keeping pace with what the other folks do, though without much energy. Which is what newspapers have done for decades. Why start innovating now?

Which brings us back to our friends at The Washington Times. Why indeed start innovating now?

The paper has just undergone another of its major upheavals. [The history of the Times is a comic operetta of steadfastly conservative editors denying the Unification Church has any influence, and ultimately being ousted or quitting due to excessive church influence. In the background, a solemn chorus of Washington conservatives weeps, rends it garments and gnashes its teeth over the fact that the nation’s capital doesn’t have a legitimate answer to the Pinko Post. Like the Fantastiks in New York, it’s a Washington show that plays for decades.]

A site redesign cannot solve the fundamental problem of the Washington Times–that it is, politely put, rotten at the core.

But the folks who redid the Washington Times site were able somehow to engage with one fundamental problem of web news presentation by disposing of the “paper” and working directly with the news and how users interact with it. They ignored their peers’ habits. Along the way they’ve brought some new energy and ideas to web news design.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if a San Francisco news source took up a similar challenge?