Online journalism and the First amendment.

I’m speaking tonight at the Green Arcade in San Francisco (1680 Market St. @ Gough, 7pm) together with Karl Olson, an attorney with Levy, Ram & Olson who specializes in media law. The topic of our talk is online journalism and the first amendment.

Here are some notes for what I’d like to talk about.

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Online journalism: We’re making it up as we go along. Wired.com has explicitly and enthusiastically embraced blogs as the medium through which we publish. The majority of our traffic is now through our blogs. But we’re organized like a traditional newsroom and we think (and try to work) like newspaper journalists.

What’s the same: Sourcing, the hunt for scoops, serving the reader (not the subjects you cover or your advertisers), sourcing, attention-getting headlines, ledes that grab you, nut grafs that give context, picking up the phone, getting “on the ground” with and among the people we cover. Did I mention sourcing?

What’s new:

Speed of publishing
Reader engagement and community. We could be doing this a lot better
Multimedia opportunities – photos, audio, video, Flash animations
Linking
Photo usage opportunities (and risks — pay close attention to copyright & Creative Commons licenses)

Some stories/examples:

Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone
Very popular story – went popular on Digg, Reddit, Slashdot. Then went popular *again* on the same sites later in the weekend, after readers pointed out problems with one of the quotes. We corrected the problem but not clearly enough, or early enough, to forestall a firestorm. Also, AppleInsider attacked the story with a 3,000-word diatribe.
Tip: Make it crystal clear when you’re making a correction, and say exactly what you’re changing.


Gadget Lab Video: Running OS X on a Netbook

Video pulled in response to a complaint from Apple.
Tip: Don’t advocate — or admit to committing — a crime or civil violation in a video report.
Linking to torrents / violating tools is also verboten.

Wired.com’s iPhone 3G Survey Reveals Network Weaknesses
Excellent example of computational journalism: We collected data from thousands of iPhone users and assembled everything into an interactive map, plus drew conclusions from the data. The report was widely cited (and was even mentioned in a class action lawsuit against Apple and AT&T). Tools used: TestMyiPhone.com and Zeemaps

HD DVD Battle Stakes Digg Against Futility of DRM
Code to help you circumvent the copy protection on HD DVD and Blu-Ray discs got posted to Digg. Digg initially took it down in response to C&D letters, but then got overwhelmed by community members posting it to the site and voting it up. Eventually the entire homepage of Digg was nothing but the code. Live by the community, die by the community.
We covered this and even ran a gallery of the HD DVD code.

Request for Urban Street Sightings: Submit and Vote on the Best Urban Images Captured by New Google Maps Tool
More reader mobilization: In May 2007, we asked readers to submit images they found in the then-new Google Street View. We used a tool developed by sister company Reddit, which lets readers submit photos and then vote them up or down. Works very well for collecting user submissions and ranking them — though much moderation is required!

Online journalism and the First amendment.

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