Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Saving Journalism With Flash and Java

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the looking-forward-and-looking-back dept.

The Media 206

An anonymous reader writes "New York magazine has a story about some of the flashy new ideas that are coming out of the labs of the New York Times. The piece prompted Peter Wayner to dig up some of the old Java applets he wrote to explore whether more promiscuity really stops AIDS and whether baseball can do anything to speed up the games. He notes that these took a great deal of work to produce and it's not possible to do them on a daily basis. Furthermore, they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java. Are cool, interactive features the future of journalism on the web? Or will simple ASCII text continue to be the most efficient way for us to mingle our thoughts, especially when ASCII text won't generate a classloading error?"

cancel ×

206 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Short answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26438981)

Yes.

Re:Short answer: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439503)

ASCII and ye shall receive!

Re:Short answer: (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439741)

Very astute first post. I fail to see how those two questions are mutually exclusive. I would expect that both will be in the future of journalism on the web. Personally, though, I prefer the text.

Re:Short answer: (5, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439925)

With the power of Java applets, we will discover a brand new dimension of "breaking news".

Short Answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26438989)

No.

Can technology aid journalism? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26438999)

Isn't this a rather obvious question?

Your mother thinks Bush is just dandy! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439023)

You're one o' them "transgender" jobbies, ain't you?

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (5, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439437)

Only if you're looking at the title alone.

I actually work tech at a big media organization, so this is something I think about constantly, and the article is a perfect example of the media missing the goddamn point.

The way to persist is to deliver a better product. Print journalism is by far the most prolific news medium in existence, and traditional print newspapers are still the biggest providers of that content...right now.

But increasingly they're cutting jobs and reducing the quality of their physical product in order to try and retain their profitability, and, magically, it's not helping their product.

At the same time they're investing in ideas like the ones described in the article, which are 100% substance-free, cute little web 2.0 widgets that may occupy a few minutes of someone's time, but don't add any lasting value to the product, and don't pull the new users they need (people like us), but instead appeal primarily to the same technophobes who are their core market already.

What they need to do is push an actual, meaningful, web presence, one with persistence, where content lasts longer than a week or so, and where the web content is clear, clean, and accessible to aggregators and search engines, so they can take advantage of the long tail.

It's inevitable that the print product is going to get superceded by a web product. The industry is dragging its feet, however, on really dealing out a first class web product, and so they're basically guaranteeing that when the first really savvy web-based news organization comes along, that they're going to get their marketshare ripped away.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439625)

The way to persist is to deliver a better product.

Don't you know anything? The proper way to run a corporation is to run it into the ground, get a bailout, the retire to Dubai.

n00b.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439633)

I work for a newspaper company. We haven't cut the quality of our physical product, and we're still quite profitable. Then again, we're in the midwest and people here still like physical papers.

That being said, I think the big keys is to have exclusive stories that people want to read.

I read the baseball story linked in the article. The Java app allowed users to see the numbers for themselves, but I didn't feel it was necessary. What really turned me off was how poorly the article itself was written. I think a well written article could have made the case without the need for the java app.

I still think on principle, technology if well utilized will help journalism.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439733)

Yea, we're still making a 20% margin, so we're profitable as well...Damn profitable. If I could invest my savings at 20% today, I'd retire.

But 10 years ago it was a 35% margin and our circulation was 25% larger. What's yer parent company, just out of curiosity?

Don't kid yourself that the industry is going to do an amazing rebound. The demographics suck, the paper and ink costs are steadily increasing, and the internet is eating up a big chunk of the ad pool.

The thing that bothers me is that the applications of technology suck. Making a widget to view scores is fine, but it's pointless without a top notch web presence, and very few sites have that.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439899)

I work for the Omaha World-Herald. We own most of the papers in Nebraska and Iowa. We just had the second best year of the company (second only to 2007). Ink costs are much higher. Paper costs are much higher. We've installed ink saving software. I really think we could cut down on paper waste.

We also have Omaha.com and we're pushing our web presence more and more.

What makes the print product work is that our advertisers still greatly prefer a physical insert over a web ad.

Circulation is down a bit, but we don't make money directly by circulation. We make money off advertising.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440081)

Meh, I googled you and the first editor and publisher article was how you cut 12,000 circ this year [editorandpublisher.com] . Even for a big paper like the OWH, that's a hefty chunk, and that sort of measure really kicks your upbeatness in the fork. Not half as bad as the AJC though; those jokers cut almost 6 times that recently.

Nice that you're not corporate owned though. Corporate ownership is the suck. Our profits are eaten up to support larger, less profitable papers, and to pay fat corporate salaries.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439653)

The point of a newspaper is to read.

Any self-respecting news site should do as a paper does and offer only text with a supporting picture or two. The site should be fully functional with AdBlock and NoScript.

If video is offered then a link the text version of the scoop should be offered as well(I mention this because CNN.com will have an interesting-looking story with no way to read it because it links to that obnoxious media player, and still we have to sit through commercials to watch the video, and some sites include code which pauses the video when the window is obscured/minimized so that you're forced to watch the ad!). To CNN.com and others' credit, they allow decent customization and even localization.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439837)

I'm right there with you. Who wants to watch 10 minutes of video instead of an article that could be consumed in 90 seconds? (30 seconds for CNN)

I have no problem with video being made available as an extra...If you've got a journalist somewhere, have 'em shoot a little tape while they're there, then post it online with their story, and use that to drive traffic to your website.

But taking away the text article and replacing it with flash or video? That sucks.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439891)

The site should be fully functional with AdBlock and NoScript.

Yes on the latter, a resounding "no" on the first.

Why? Because they're making their money off the advertisements. I know you want everything for free RIGHT GOD DAMN NOW, but people still have to make money. And the way most companies on the web make money (if they do at all) is via those advertisements. I host and operate a web-based browser game, and I have exactly three advertisements (a skyscraper ad on the right side of the login page, a banner ad at the bottom of every page, out of the way of all relevant game information, and a 300x250 rectangle ad on the logout page. All are screened for obnoxiousness and I don't allow Flash or Java advertisements; JPG/PNG/GIF (no animation) only. 70% of my players block them. That's 70% less CPM and turns something that could be profitable into something that doesn't quite pay for the hosting cost of the game. I've been thinking about closing it down because of it.

(Now, if you'd like to subscribe to a website, of course there should be no advertisements and AdBlock should be unnecessary. If I offered a subscription service for the game, it's a no-brainer that I'd strip out all advertisements as well as kick in whatever goodies I could think of. But very few people actually do that sort of subscription in the browser game world.)

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440053)

I agree with you: in fact, I don't use Adblock, only Flashblock. But maybe you could serve text ads instead of banners? Some people still use slow connections and may be annoyed if they have to load bandwidth consuming ads to view the content.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (4, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439917)

Except consumers want video. Our web site was going down the tube, and another local site was getting more hits than us. Video was the #1 reason. Now we produce our own video.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (2, Insightful)

cjb658 (1235986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439593)

It can, but it doesn't always do that. Sometimes it makes it worse by adding more fluff, like the flashy touchscreens and "holograms" on CNN.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439681)

People often don't know how to utilize technology, but big media has somewhat embraced bloggers, crowd-sourcing, etc. I think technology enables the media to discover new revenue sources and new outlets. Technology enables the media to better push immediate, breaking news. And technology enables the media to get more immediate feedback from their users to better track what users want.

Re:Can technology aid journalism? (1, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440005)

I think the answer can be found in the way the question is being asked: in plain text.

We're being presented a summary of a story in text. The linked articles are all blocks of text with some images, and a few links to the aforementioned interactive features. I read about these interactive features. The text makes them sound really interesting. But ironically, since the text told me exactly what I was going to find when I played with the interactive simulations, I didn't feel any particular need to actually play with the simulations themselves. Now we're going to sit around and argue, insult each other, and make references to tired internet memes... all using blocks of text.

The basic model used by newspapers and magazines- large blocks of text, sometimes with embedded pictures, and a place for readers to leave comments (in the olden, bygone days, these were the Letters to the Editor, today it's online forums)- it still works really well in terms of conveying information. I think that additional features [links to other web pages and videos, interactive content, the ability to update stories within moments of recieving new information] all add a huge amount value to more the traditional content, and provide for a richer means of communication. But they are by no means necessary for good journalism. And they are certainly not a substitute for good journalism. People still have to find the important stories, talk to the sources, figure out what's going on, and then present it. Interactive web pages aren't going to tell you whether the White House is exaggerating the evidence on WMD, whether Sarah Palin is capable of assuming control of the country, or what kind of leader Barack Obama will really be.

It's true that newspapers are facing something of a crisis due to declining advertising revenue. But if anything, I probably spend as much or more time reading stories than I did before. That suggests to me that it's their advertising model that is hopelessly outdated, not the journalism.

It all make sense! (0, Troll)

malkir (1031750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439017)

So if I stick my peen in MORE girls it LESSENS my chances of finding one with AIDS? SWEET.

Re:It all make sense! (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439327)

So if I stick my peen in MORE girls it LESSENS my chances of finding one with AIDS?

No. Obviously not. The idea is based on a fictional, purely heterosexual world. The point was if there were MORE promiscuous women, your chances of getting AIDS from any one of them is much lower than if there were fewer promiscous women. But the converse is not true. Not matter how many promiscuous women there are, no matter what percentage of promiscuous women have AIDS, your chances of finding one with AIDS will always increase with the number you 'stick your peen into,' young padawhan.

That's the whole point of Java-based visual model -- it helps to eliminate erroneous perceptions such as yours.

Re:It all make sense! (2, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439993)

Unless the kind of man who sticks his peen into multiple women, tends to find different partners than those who don't...

What's most noteworthy is that there are two settings for male behavior in the simulator. Each of them is totally unrealistic, and they give completely different results. ... So, what am I supposed to learn here?

Not to mention that there's nothing too new about the results, and somehow people in the 60s understood them without a java applet. Basically what happens is that promiscuous women implicitly quarantine the men who find them. It just so happens, if I understand correctly, that there is a portion of the phase-space, where increasing the rate of promiscuity in women serves to reduce the overall rate of disease by concentrating the disease among the promiscuous while keeping men from sleeping with the unpromiscuous women.

Now, if that sounds like a realistic description of the world to you...

Flash is evil... (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439037)

and must die [slashdot.org] !

Re:Flash is evil... (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439195)

How dare people try to display information other then forms that can be represented with keys on the typewritter keyboard.

Flash Won... Deal with it. Faster and Fancier then JavaApplets. They try to play nice across platforms. Hey all those flash adds makes them that much easier to detect and disable.

Re:Flash is evil... (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439323)

Flash wins [googlefight.com] , though I imagine its biased because googlefights is Flash based :P

Re:Flash is evil... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439411)

Is it Flash-based? My plug-ins are disabled yet it displays the two graph bars.

Re:Flash is evil... (2, Insightful)

cjb658 (1235986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439643)

That saddens me. Flash video is very slow, gives me very high CPU usage, and doesn't support overlay.

As usual, the product with the most bling (flashiest, if you will) beats the one with the best functionality.

Re:Flash is evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439845)

Isn't this like saving haemophiliacs with leeches?

i for one... (3, Funny)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439041)

I welcome our new ASCII overlords, wait, it's New York Magazaine, I welcome our new AXCII overlords.

Re:i for one... (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439247)

Isn't it time we dumped ASCII and moved over to Unicode? Preferably UTF-8, which is all nicely backwards compatible and stuff?

ASCII sucks!

Re:i for one... (2, Interesting)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439339)

No one as used ASCII in years, really. And UTF-8 is only backwards compatible if all your needs were covered by ASCII.

It is the way forward, though.

Re:i for one... (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439577)

No one as used ASCII in years,

At least ASCII has the letter "h".

Re:i for one... (4, Funny)

cjb658 (1235986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439705)

Isn't it time we dumped ASCII and moved over to Unicode?

Nay, it's time we dump all other languages and move over to English!

saving is not the right adjective (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439053)

So far the media's use of flash and java has been a major reason for the development and wide-spread use of browser plug-ins to disable those technologies. I reject your reality and substitute my own.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (2)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439115)

Agreed. When I want information I want straight-up text and regular picture and diagrams, maybe a video if it is necessary, but none of this animation nonsense.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439235)

Dang right and some times it would be Ok if the video was interactive a little bit so we can try different methods to understand a point... Oh wait never mind.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439321)

Straight up text and regular pictures or video even isn't appropriate for everything.

They can be abused just as much as Flash or Java can be.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439397)

Straight up text and regular pictures or video even isn't appropriate for everything. They can be abused just as much as Flash or Java can be.

Yes, but not nearly so annoyingly.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439619)

Clearly you've never been to a Geocities site circa 1996.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439833)

Or slashdot circa 2008.

Oh wait...

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439941)

That's not a fair comparison at all.

They didn't even have rounded corners back then.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440059)

It's real progress when many web developers don't know about the BLINK tag anymore. Oh god... it still haunts my dreams.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (2, Funny)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439139)

So far the media's use of flash and java has been a major reason for the development and wide-spread use of browser plug-ins to disable those technologies.

Yo dawg, we heard you like blocking plugins so we made a plugin-blocker plugin so you can block plugins while you plugin.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439155)

Agreed, the only advantage for using flash is so you have an embedded video player that can play a relevant clip. As far as interactivity goes, posting feedbacks/discussions can generally be done without the use of applets or flash and is the only thing that adds any value.

Re:saving is not the right adjective (2, Insightful)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439463)

I disagree. The web's capabilities with dynamic content was great during the US elections, during war reporting of changing borders, or in anything with charts that allow collective/isolated comparisons.

  I think the use of the tools can be annoying: when it's flashy and overly attention-grabbing, stuff unrelated to story content or when it's the only way to get the information presented - text should always be available.

  The use of any dynamic content, video or not, is - i think - sticking to the conventions of the web: Present the user with the option to view the information in the format. For the most part, people expect to read text in a static layout. Stick to a certain page size (possibly the entire article), use linkable photos for larger versions, don't play video or sound or flash without asking.

  Oh, and realize that your ads are going to be probably ripped out if they are flash, javascript or remote embeds. You should possible just mention at the end of each story which merchants have supported your site's continuation, and a request to use them for shopping if the viewer wants to see the site continue.

 

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439839)

I think the use of the tools can be annoying: when it's flashy and overly attention-grabbing, stuff unrelated to story content or when it's the only way to get the information presented - text should always be available.

Like those horrible "top/bottom 10 cities for X" with slides showing 'distinguishing' images of sidewalks, grey buildings and streetlights.

On the other hand, I've seen a great Java graphic application which explained mortgage amortization really well. I've seen a gif animation which demonstrated housing bubble's tendency to create "donut cities" and I'd love to see or write an applet which demonstrates money, tax and labor flow/counter flows in an economy, property values over time [papereconomy.com] , the tendency for bubbles to spread regionally and globally. So far, amateur blogs do a much better job of data visualization than NYT, CNN or USAtoday

Re:saving is not the right adjective (1)

British (51765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439641)

Flash and Java: Two things that can save print journalism for sure. When's the last time a physical newspaper had 8000 popup ads, browser incompatabilities and trying to load & play entire videos for no reason?

Defferent ways of perception. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439079)

We have different strengths in understanding idea. Reading is only one way of doing this. However for many people reading doesn't create a picture in the minds eye (myself included). Pictures do help set the minds eye about the information to help get the settings in correctly. But interactive methods of displaying ideas could really help portrait information. Playing a game to show a theory or method for a few minutes, can help get a better understanding of abstract concepts then trying to read them.

saving journalism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439085)

The only thing that could possibly save journalism would be for them to report the news in an unbiased and objective form. Since most journalists have already sold their souls to the Democrat Party - and to socialism in general that will never happen. They will not be missed.

Re:saving journalism (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439157)

The only thing that could possibly save journalism would be for them to report the news in an unbiased and objective form

Eh, if that's what you wanna see then get your news from sources that actually manage to do that. PBS and NPR do a better job than most at this, IMHO -- as evidenced by the fact that you'll find people on both the left and the right attacking them ;)

Re:saving journalism (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439409)

I'd add John Stewart to that list.

Seriously.

That's from someone who subscribes to multiple newspapers, and whose idea of a fun afternoon is re-reading articles in The New Yorker and Harper's Magazine. Assuming there's nothing on CSPAN, of course.

Re:saving journalism (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439511)

I'd add John Stewart to that list.

I enjoyed him more when he spent more time lambasting the traditional (particularly cable) news media for their stupidity and less time pontificating his own political views. Still, he's pretty amusing to watch. Glad they put up full episodes online for those of us who don't have cable.

I actually got to go see a taping of TDS back in January. We learned that John Edwards had dropped out when Jon Stewart asked the audience what they thought about it. Still waiting to get a chance to see a Colbert taping....

Re:saving journalism (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439529)

I'd add John Stewart to that list.

The Green Lantern? Seriously?

Seriously.

Wow.

That's from someone who subscribes to multiple newspapers, and whose idea of a fun afternoon is re-reading articles in The New Yorker and Harper's Magazine.

But apparently not reading the titles of TV shows nor their credits.

Assuming there's nothing on CSPAN, of course.

Or Boomerang.

always blame java... (2, Insightful)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439095)

"they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java"

Of course... blame Java once again. It's Java fault if developers do cranky and fragile apps...

Re:always blame java... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439215)

I thought they were talking about the developers...

Re:always blame java... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439287)

Of course... blame Java once again. It's Java fault if developers do cranky and fragile apps...

Glad you caught on. Every language needs a paint-by-numbers framework that can make web developers feel better about themselves AND needs to have come into prominence in the past year or two. That way, the language is much less fragile.

Just remember, the way Java was when it was new on hardware available back then is the way it will always be, obviously. Just like modern RealPlayer (*cough* sorry, I mean "ReaBuffering..." because I'M SO DAMNED FUNNY AND WITTY!!11!1). I mean, all the stubborn Slashdotters will it to be that way, so you're quite clearly a cranky and fragile fringe developer, at least until Java On Rails comes out. Then Java will be stable, scalability be damned!

Wrong question. (4, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439109)

The question should be: Does a move away from traditional ways of serving news, mean the end of journalism? This is more hand wringing by print media about their waning fortunes. In fact TV, newspapers and news magazines didn't realize we were in a recession, because their revenue stream (advertising) was enhanced by the high spending presidential election. More and more stories are broken outside traditional media. The real story is how do journalists continue to do their job without the structure of a newspaper or wire service.

Re:Wrong question. (4, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439375)

The answer to your question is that investigative journalism is still a needed skill, and still worth paying for. Presentation is entirely secondary to journalism, again going back to your assertion that the entire question is wrong: it is.

In fact, it fails to distinguish between being a publisher and being a journalist. Publishers can use Java applets to teach or illustrate educational points, and again - this has nothing to do with journalism as a profession.

We conflate these ideas because so many people who call themselves "journalists" are nothing of the sort. They are tv reporters who make phone calls. Most local news is just taken off the AP wire, or maybe culled from the web. It's broadcasting, it's bullshit, and more and more, it's infotainment.

Newspaper reporters, real reporting simply needs to migrate from printed paper to online. Most of the beat reporters, the guys and gals who dig up stories, chase leads, do the Woodward and Bernstein shtick - they still have a place - a valuable place - in society. For them, the web is even better, as they can mix media. Use an applet to make a map during an invasion, drill down into local reports, even get into designing news user interfaces, something that cnn.com likes to do.

The real problem in the United States is that investigative reporting, digging around, doing follow-up, attributing sources, getting people to go on record - is hard work and nobody wants to do it. The fluffers of news need to find other work. The Bush administration cowed most hardline journalists. 60 Minutes and Frontline are just as home on the web as they are on tv, even more so. But now they compete in an arena where they don't have a monopoly, so they must be worth something independent of CBS or PBS - and they still need REAL journalists.

What we are seeing now is that there are too many newspapers in the world, and so it's just consolidation to the best ones. When I moved to Denver I never read anything local, it was all shit. I read the NYT online. Denver is a shit town for journalism.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439541)

The real problem in the United States is that investigative reporting, digging around, doing follow-up, attributing sources, getting people to go on record - is hard work and nobody wants to do it.

There are lots of people who want to do it. The problem is that they can't earn enough to live on while they do it.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439547)

People always say this, and I never know what they mean.

No more journalists? Seriously? No more people who go find out news and then write about it? The demand for that content is obscene, and the web is only increasing that demand.

Print media is hindered primarily by their physical capital. Maintaining the zillion dollar presses, delivering the paper, creating the paper, the gigantic circulation infrastructure, the accounting infrastructure.

That stuff accounts for more of the costs than the circulation revenue covers, which is why loss of ad revenue hurts traditional print journalism so badly.

But cut out the physical product, and you could support plenty of journalists on pure ads revenue. Where I'm working the journalists account for less than 10% of the staff, where ads account for almost 25% of the revenue.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

Catiline (186878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439885)

People always say this, and I never know what they mean.

No more journalists? Seriously? No more people who go find out news and then write about it?

No, that's not what the grandparent said. He said jouralism "outside the structure of traditional media" -- ie. journalists who do not work for a news station or paper directly.

Think of it as 10,000 Clark Kents and Lois Lanes, typing away on their blog (rather than at their cubicle in the Daily Planet), and the "headlines" being the articles selected by some sort of Google News style aggregator.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439981)

Oh I understand the concept. I just think he's underestimating the amount of actual skill and work it takes to create a significant story, as well as the amount of financial backing that is required to support a journalist who is working on investigative stories that can take months.

There is also the issue of legal backing; protecting them from the inevitable people who choose to sue on flimsy pretexts because something made them look bad...Or alternately, providing those legal resources to prosecute lawsuits against government entities who are denying legitimate FOIA requests.

Without those resources, you're not able to do anything but extremely shallow journalism.

Right answer, Wrong question. (5, Insightful)

Jahf (21968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439123)

Display Applications are for web sites.

Research applications are for research.

Content is for journalism.

Journalism receives data from research.

Journalism provides raw materials to the web.

The web presents them to us.

IT and developers create that web and hence its doodads.

Journalists (and other creators) then populate that web and doodad with content. ...

The point being: No, java / flash / doodads won't save journalism. And journalism isn't dying. It still exists but has a WEALTH of new contributors, which leaves demand for the few highly trained contributors low enough that many are leaving the field. Yet we still get our news.

I don't like doodads. When I want news I want content. Not buttons. Not animations (unless they are truly pertinent).

Journalists that create doodads are trying to salvage their career by doing something that is not PART of their career. Just like Developers who try to create content.

So ... long answer given the short answer is: No, doodads won't save journalism. But journalism is evolving, not dying.

Re:Right answer, Wrong question. (1)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439363)

Ah,

the time cubed theory

anti-godism doodad careers. We,

MOM & DAD & I concur.

Re:Right answer, Wrong question. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439551)

And journalism isn't dying. It still exists but has a WEALTH of new contributors

That's a myth... can't find the source right now (truthfully, can't be bothered to search for it :)), but it turns out that most of the "new contributors" you mention don't meet the modern definition of journalist; they also don't contribute any new information. Most, instead, rehash others' stories. Even the big orgs mostly just use newswire feeds.

Rigorous investigative journalism is dying, because it simply costs too much to do, when weighed against the income to be made from it.

As you rightly point out, good journalists are leaving the field because it is too hard to compete with the hundreds of thousands of hack journalists ("bloggers") out there... and the badsis for competition isn't quality of work, it's clicks.

Information, especially "news" information, has gotten so cheap that there is little profit to be made from quality journalism.

yes, but... (4, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439213)

Technology can help illustrate a good story, of course.

However, the story is the key. What we need much more of, what the real savior of newspapers will be, it hard-hitting, in-depth investigations, and scoops. This worked for Hearst, among others. And the World really needs critical, trained, intelligent people examining what our corporations, our governments and their agents are up to, now more than ever in history.

Any blogger can paraphrase an AP feed, it doesn't take brains. This is what newspapers have been concentrating on in the past few years, while ignoring actual journalism.

Also, there's plenty examples of how technology is misused in TV media. Bugs, hyperbole-laced graphics, and skewed graphs. Let's not replicate that either. Let's not see powerpoint presentation news. By all means illustrate the facts, but make sure you have the facts too.

ebooks (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439243)

Really, they should partner with Amazon to get their papers delivered to the Kindle automatically for a subscription fee.

Also, Amazon should release an ebook reader designed for netbooks.

Both would go a long way toward getting revenue for their publications.

Call me old fashioned... (5, Insightful)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439267)

...but I really prefer my news to be reported in text and pictures. The occasional Flash apps that BBC sometimes uses to explore stories feel slow and clunky. Information osmosis time is limited to the speed and pace of the program, whereas reading a text article is limited only by the user's ability to scan through it, which can be done at their leisure.

I feel like I am in the majority when I say that most of my news-reading comes during work during the few minutes I get every hour or so when waiting on something (like a compile). I don't really have the time to tinker around with a simulation exploring the possibilities. And even if I did, my patience will likely wear thin unless the simulation is either really exciting (not the case in the article) or something I'm really interested in (also not the case in the article).

Yes, it's kinda cool. But changing the face of modern journalism? I think not.

Re:Call me old fashioned... (1)

JorgeSchmt (905156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439609)

Games can change the face of journalism while still giving you your text and images. You can use the medium to make the news more informative and give broader perspectives while keeping all the information inline. While I agree we dont have a lot of time to spend reading the news, the deeper part of news is what gets lost in our RSS feed reading, sensational headline, bit story culture. I work for a company that does interactive news. We try to report real facts in a videogame vocabulary because we think it gives you a better and deeper understanding faster. http://www.playthenewsgame.com/ [playthenewsgame.com]

Re:Call me old fashioned... (2, Interesting)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439805)

I just played your company's game on the Gaza situation. Very neat and interesting, although I found myself wishing it were -more- interactive. I read through all of the Points of Interest and Leading Roles because I felt like it was part of some kind of RPG that I was about to influence. Well done.

When the choice came to "Select a Role," I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when I was asked on how to proceed. "I wonder what the consequences of my actions will be..."

But then the game ended and I was suddenly looking at a poll result. I realized that I had just influenced the poll myself, by ordering what I thought were 'my' virtual Hamas troops to engage the IDF with maximum violence. And instead of seeing the results of my actions, now one more percentile of your poll shows that someone thinks the Hamas should indiscriminately attack Israel.

Just thought you'd appreciate the feedback. :)

Re:Call me old fashioned... (1)

JorgeSchmt (905156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440073)

I think that is the best feature of using interactivity in presenting the news. You can show multiple sides of a story in a way that is very difficult to do in traditional journalism. Make sure you check out the 'advisors' when you submit an opinion. While the core of the game is presented as neutrally as possible, they get to be nice and biased :)

By the way, we are the company that did the PeaceMaker game http://www.peacemakergame.com/ [peacemakergame.com] where you get to play as the Palestinian President and the Israeli Prime Minister and work to find a peaceful solution. There's a demo there if you are interested.

Re:Call me old fashioned... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439671)

You are old fashioned.

Cranky and fragile, due to Java? (5, Insightful)

Teckla (630646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439301)

Dear Java Hating Slashdot Editors,

Java is not responsible for "generating class loader errors", any more than Perl is responsible for all the HTML errors on the Slashdot front page.

Here's the link to the W3C HTML Validator [w3.org] , go get yourself a clue.

Re:Cranky and fragile, due to Java? (1, Flamebait)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439441)

Dear Java Hating Slashdot Editors,

Java is not responsible for "generating class loader errors", any more than Perl is responsible for all the HTML errors on the Slashdot front page.

Here's the link to the W3C HTML Validator [w3.org] , go get yourself a clue.

You are correct. However Java applets are an incredibly brittle technology for provisioning software services.

I would go so far as to argue that Suns initial attempts to introduce Java as a technology for creating dynamic web content has been the single greatest thing working against the adoption of Java in the industry.

Java is a very powerful language and it definitely has its place in my tool-belt, but it certainly ain't for client-side applets.

Re:Cranky and fragile, due to Java? (1)

Cow_woC (174453) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439959)

Modern applets are not any more brittle than AJAX websites, and at least they're easier to debug.

Re:Cranky and fragile, due to Java? (4, Informative)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440121)

Java is cranky and fragile? I guess that is why it is used for backend trading applications and banks across the world. 100's of trillions of dollars is just fine to be handled by a cranky and fragile language. Thank god for perl and their fans for such a robust language that it can be used sometimes for partially stable webpages.

Useless. (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439345)

The linked articles are exactly what's wrong with newspaper sites.

Called the Word Train, it asked a simple question: What one word describes your current state of mind? Readers could enter an adjective or select from a menu of options. They could specify whether they supported McCain or Obama. Below, the results appeared in six rows of adjectives, scrolling left to right, coded red or blue, descending in size of font. The larger the word, the more people felt that way.

I go to the newspaper for two things: become informed about current events, and laugh at the horoscopes. I have no use for silly little games and whatnot.

If newspapers want to become relevant, they need to expand their NEWS horizons and print news that matters to ME. A fire across town is NOT news; it's gossip about people I don't know. If said fire concens you, you're going to know about it before the newspaper does.

The Governor getting impeached is news, as is the reasons for his iompeachment. The Libertarians' and Greens' Presidential candidates' stances on the issues was news, and it wasn't even covered.

They have become marginalized because what they print is largely worthless.

Now, computer simulations in the other link are a different story altogether. IF it's not just done for show. Unfortunately most of them are just for show.

Re:Useless. (0)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439675)

The governor getting impeaches is also gossip about someone you don't know, it just happens to be something you're interested in.

Re:Useless. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439717)

What bothers me is, just as you sketched already, what is considered news today. The prez getting impeached is news. The opinions of some party leaders, even if it's minor parties, is news. You may put the "lesser important" party opinions onto a linked page if you don't feel that the majority of your readers may be interested in it, but it is news and maybe relevant to see where other parties stand. How about interviewing a few congresspeople or senators and ask for their opinion? Could we get a few words from a lawyer who knows a bit about the relevant field and whether it is justified? Hell, do a survey of your readers and ask them for their opinion, people love being asked for their opinion.

Instead we see "news" about celebs shitting on the sidewalk and someone finding Jesus in his oatmeal. That's news? How? Care to tell me how this could possibly be considered relevant to anyone's life?

Re:Useless. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439775)

I go to the newspaper for two things: become informed about current events, and laugh at the horoscopes. I have no use for silly little games and whatnot.

You don't think that how people feel is relevant to current events?

If newspapers want to become relevant, they need to expand their NEWS horizons and print news that matters to ME. A fire across town is NOT news; it's gossip about people I don't know.

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your expectations are not normal.
Most of us actually care about what goes on in our community.
Maybe you should stop reading your local paper and subscribe to a national paper.

Whoa there! (3, Informative)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439391)

Or will simple ASCII text continue to be the most efficient way for us to mingle our thoughts, especially when ASCII text won't generate a classloading error?

If you think plain ASCII text can't cause a system failure on loading, you need to spend some time grading undergraduate essays. Or reading corporate memos. Or, for that mater, some of the more egregious /. article summaries.

-- MarkusQ

P.S. If you think plane ASC 2 text can't on loading cause failure off your system, need too spend sometime grading undergraduate written by essays. Ore reading corporate-memos. Ore, four that matter, sum of teh more eggreigious article sumaries on this cite.

journalism (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439429)

Is not about 'cool', its about 'facts'.

If there is not content, you cant make it up by tossing bandwidth ( and PC resources ) eating noise.

New York Times: R.I.P. +1, Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26439439)

The New York Times has Labs? Amazing. However, such an entity is somewhat orthogonal to the New York Times loss in readership. Most of your readers will, in five years, be mostly Asians and Europeans; the U.S.ians having migrated to Russia or Canada or South America to escape the collapse of the Gulag.

Yours In Communism,
Kilgore Trout [exiledonline.com]

Form over facts (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439455)

Bluntly? If your news page is filled with flash and java, I'll close the browser never to return. If you have no content and have to mask it with flashy graphics, I don't want to hear your story.

It's the same with news networks. Ever watched the news recently? It's flashy "breaking news" jingles and enough FX to make the average hollywood movie drop its jaw in awe (which, btw, also rely more and more on flashy explosions and FX to hide that the script is thin enough to fit in a standard envelope), but where's the beef?

JibJab [youtube.com] summed it up quite nicely.

Gimme news! Gimme information! And keep your flashy crap!

Style versus substance. (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439573)

There has always been an inverse relationship between substance and style in print journalism. The more pictures a newspaper has almost always means the less substance a newspaper has. I've seen the same with Web sites. The less educated will not have the knowledge to realize that flash and scripting blockers are available.

It can be done right. (4, Informative)

Ilyakub (1200029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439575)

I've seen very helpful Flash visualizations on news websites that helped understand the story better.

For example, this interactive map [latimes.com] of drug war related deaths in Mexico is very well done. It doesn't just clarify the conflict, but encourages the reader to analyze and research the topic independently in addition to linearly reading the text of an article.

Just reading an article, listening to the radio or watching a news program often gives the illusion of learning and understanding new information, whereas in reality very little is retained.

Innovative and interactive ways of presenting information solve this problem.

Re:It can be done right. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440021)

Yes, it can be right. Just like good FX can spice up a good movie to make it great.

But FX is a bit like MSG. Yes, it can enhance the flavor of your food. But it's just so tempting to use it differently, to mask that there is no flavor and just toss it in to make it taste like there is any.

The same applies to visual enhancement tools like flash. More often than not, you see it used to mask the fact that there is too little content and the whole graphics overload should distract you from that.

Solution: Give people information they need (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439647)

The most important thing I learned in journalism was that you have to figure out how to give your readers information that's useful to them.

For example, if somebody has cancer, he's very interested in a story about a new treatment for cancer. The more reliable, the better.

Nothing else counts. If flash and blinking lights will help do that, fine. If not, kill the lights.

If you don't give them useful information, it doesn't matter how much lipstick you put on it, they won't read it.

AIDS, promiscuity, and flash (4, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439691)

The article focused on a hypothetical heterosexual world in which all the men but only a few of the women were promiscuous. In this situation, the promiscuous women quickly caught the virus and became a sort of viral clearinghouse, spreading HIV to every man with whom they had contact. The men, in turn, brought it home to their wives. If the number of promiscuous women increased, the Landsburg-Kremer model posited, each man would be less likely to find an infected woman in his nightly wanderings, and the spread of HIV would slow.

Not sure of the link to flash (only skimmed TFA), but flash has apperantly cured AIDS AND made women more willing to sleep with me. Either one really would have made up for all the annoyances, both together? Can we declare Flash a saint?

Question from journalist for /. readers (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439739)

As a journalist, I always want to know: What kind of information do my readers want to know?

What do you want from your newspaper?

When's the last time you saw a good story that was worth reading? That would have even been worth paying for?

What would you like to know about that you're not getting?

Trolls are OK. I'm willing to sort out the bad jokes from the useful answers. I do that all day anyway.

Web semantics 101 (2, Interesting)

CHJacobsen (1183809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439863)

For most web applications, a developer should think of three layers:

1. Semantic information (Mostly HTML/XHTML, although other semantic content such as movies or games work as well)
2. Basic layout (CSS, non-semantic images)
3. Interactive/Dynamic features(JavaScript, Flash, Applets, and anything else strictly used to dynamically enhance the user experience)

This ensures graceful degradation and flexibility. In general, the larger the percentage of web applications using this model, the better.

If you're able to use Flash/Java without breaking the model, fine by me. Just don't expect me to actually utilize those features.

Journalism suffers (3, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439869)

Furthermore, they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java.

Perhaps journalism is suffering because unsubstantiated lies are repeated so often people think they're true.

Re:Journalism suffers (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440007)

Or because they are repeated so often that nobody believes anything they say any more. Or a mix of the 2.

Phrased wrong? (1)

DevVar8++ (744671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439887)

No, I don't think Flash would harm journalism, because the usage of Flash has nothing to do with journalism by definition. Perhaps you phrased the question wrong. I'm going to vote the opposite of what this community is always ranting on about and say no Flash will not ruin the web any more than a concert on DVD or comics made into movies. Its only delivery and sometimes the artist is trying to tell the story as well. Now journalists doing Flash is another story. You don't ask a shoe salesmen to write an inventory software at a shoe store.

Enough Java Bashing (3, Insightful)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26439953)

Why is it that any bozo coder who himself codes mistakes into his apps, is then hot and ready to blame the language? Dude, Java does not write itself. If you wrote it in a fragile way, then it is your fault--not the language. All that said, I'm delighted to see the NYTimes trying new things.

_Saving_ journalism? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26440101)

There's one thing that lost journalism: ethics and objectivity.

Most "journalists" won't go to the trouble of turning on an AM radio to hear what Limbaugh says for themselves, they follow a narrative and call him fat. (Hasn't been fat for a decade)

Recently "journalists" ignored *multiple* trips to Iraq on the part of John McCain, but nearly fought each other to take the trip with Obama. It was embarrassing. That's neither ethical, nor objective.

Remember all the stories about Haditha and other claims of horrible mutilation that the reporters were more than happy to cover, but none of them were true? Real journalists would have published a retaction YEARS AGO. Once Watergate permitted a reporter to take down a president, journalism schools turned into the Democrat Party's presidential character assassins.

Proper journalists would have permitted you to know:

Lives lost in Afganistan/Iraq:
  - include bus-wrecks in Seattle, not just hostile fire
  - Are a fraction of every other war we've had, except Grenada
  - About 1/4 of the murders that happen in NYC every year

WMDs in Iraq:
  - Include 'hot rodded' (long range) missiles built for sending biological payloads to Israel outlawed by the UN.
  - Include nearly 8T of yellowcake uranium that Wilson said was never there. Outlawed by the UN
  - The much-tracked and much feared biologicals and such went to Syria, and are documented by a colonel who oversaw the project. Outlawed by the UN, too.

And for some reason the TV would have you think there was no reason to go back to Iraq; 492 times Saddam tried to shoot down our aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones. We could have gone back the first time, but Clinton didn't want to rock the boat.

So the way the war came off, with the media in the pocket of the DNC, was a very different one than on the television: ask any vet that was there.

No amount of jazzy, flashy web pages will solve their core problems.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>