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Welcome! – Joe Murphy

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Welcome to Joe Think. I’m Joe, an online news web developer (and former producer) at a daily newspaper in Denver. I think a lot.

In the course of this blog I plan to start conversations about online news processes and practice (because I’d like to think I’m good at what I do) and online news ‘theory’ (because I like to think).

I’m going to write about how online news organizations (mostly newspapers, but some of this applies to television and radio) can make local information relevant to its readers in new and awesome ways, and about other ways that local online storytelling rocks / will rock.

Here are some details on what I will write about in this blog:
Practice: Strategy for successful online news content that I’ve seen work. Some nitty-gritty on what I like, what’s good and what could get better in the day-to-day production work of an online news site. There’s a lot of workflow stuff newspapers don’t get yet, which hurts the product and wastes time and cash.

Theory: What online news is, where it’s going, and ideas about how we get there. I’m going to write about storytelling and how it’s evolving, technology, what information architecture means to journalists, and the many levels of participation possible on local news sites. Here are a few ideas to kick it off with.

  • Journalism is community storytelling.
  • Good storytelling invites participation.
  • News shares the events and ideas relevant (and entertaining) to a community.
  • Blogs are not the big fix (though they are part of the plan), and if newspapers don’t get their act together their blogs will be looked at as just another in a series of semi-blind trendjumps.
  • Local newspapers and their online news operations are sitting on a goldmine.

The idea behind this site is that these conversations will refine and move ideas forward, and probably stimulate new thoughts as well. There’s plenty worth discussing on the topics of relevance, local, journalism, storytelling, and the internet. I don’t think many people would disagree that news web sites have leagues to go before they figure out the internet.

So, welcome. Got a question? A thought? Fire away.

Posted in Site Stuff.

8 Responses

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  1. tom said

    hey joe-good design,though i’m iffy about the blue (purple?) over there—–>
    also, what news sites do you think do their job the best…and which are the worst? are the best ones the ones that stray the most from the print format?
    i really like the bbcnews site. each article has relevant news articles linked, a history of articles on the same or similar subject and some decent external links (though too many links to official government pages, especially in stories related to commonwealth countries).
    i guess i’m an anachronism-i still read two paper newspapers every day (NYT, Tribune) in addition to the 5 or 6 sites i check. i hope that print isn’t dying; even though a newspaper is static and doesn’t accurately reflect what is happening at this exact minute, it does give the reader time to think about a situation and form an view based on a set amount of information, which is even more important now. if one doesn’t know what to think about something and is constantly being barraged with new information via the intarweb or something, the opinion they have will be totally skewed. maybe it all boils down to this: online news, as it exists today, is too impermanent to exist on its own.

  2. Tom hey,

    Which news sites do it best? I haven’t seen any sites that are doing revolutionary work. NPR.org does a good job or organizing relevant material on their story pages. It looks like they took a look at their content and put some thought into the best way to deploy it online. The San Francisco student paper has a good site: http://xpress.sfsu.edu/

    The worst though … not sure that’s a fair question. If you’re interested though, it’s a list I’m willing to publish :). Just pick up a free list on trackslife.com (or devote a del.icio.us tag) to the idea and I’ll sidebar it.

  3. Indeed, journalism is community storytelling. You do not need to search too deep to find that rings true. On weekly conversations with my 93-year-old grandmother I constantly see direct links to the daily news incorporating itself into her modes of relating and bridging ties within her direct network of community members.

    Yet, if good storytelling invites participation; who becomes the participatory parties?

    I found it extremely difficult to find a 20-something that was willing to engage in a conversation today on topic of Rumsfield resigning in relation to the recent onset of the democratic majority. However, there are a slew of my friends, and more than one of my fellow-journalists, (*cringe*) who were more than willing to divulge in the inner workings of the K-fed/Brittany Spears break-up, instead.

    How will the new face of journalism combat with the celebrity crazed generation of 2006? Will it sacrifice integrity in the hopes of gaining legions of loyal readers? Will technology prove to break away to a new wave of sensationalism?

    Simply listing a few thoughts among many regarding the new area of online journalism. I’m sure that this will prove to be the first of many discussions on this topic. I’m glad that you are providing such a forum for such conversations to exist.

    And by the way Joe, it’s me Heather, and I’m one of your first allies in these forsaken Rocky Mountains.

    (I know merely simple html- but would have to disgree with Tom on the colour scheme.)

  4. Hey Joe! Greetings from Winston-Salem! As an avid thinker, I’m really glad to see this website up and running. I really like the idea of showcasing new ways to display information (as referenced on Joe, Write). I have seen some really cool examples, but in diverse and sometimes remote, even arbitrary places on the internet, usually involving Flash.

    I’m a graphic designer schooled in advertising, in training as an engineer, so the subjects you mentioned are interesting to me from those standpoints.

    As you wrote, journalism is community storytelling.
    I think online journalism may be quantum storytelling because the community becomes no longer a locality, but many points in space (and time).

    As an example of new ways of storytelling, I recently heard about “E-Prime,” a way of self-expression in English without using the word “is.” I’ve been trying to do this more and more, and I’ve found that it allows me to express my thoughts more accurately, even more scientifically than otherwise…

    Cool brain graphics!

  5. Heather, I figure that anyone can participate. When I but a ticket and go to a rock show, I’m participating. If the band’s fun and I start dancing, that’s a stronger level of participation. When someone buys a newspaper or visits a web site, they’re participating.

    As far as news and sensationalism go, newspapers have to overhaul their product if they want to change young people’s media consumption habits. There’s so much local information that flows through a newspaper daily, and so little of it is used to its potential online. Everybody lives somewhere, and spends most of their waking hours in that place. Newspapers have the capability to reflect and engage people’s day-to-day lives in some fascinating ways, they just need to organize their information to its potential and harness the power of the people that read them.

  6. Daniel, hey, yeah — “is” is a weak verb, the less you can use it the more meaning you can create.

    As far as what “community” means, yeah, the internet has blown that definition wide open. Newspapers are still stuck on the immediate / immediate-future information needs of a community, but that isn’t all that’s out there. Think of if online news sites had a section for information relevant to people who used to live in the area? You could create and target content for that audience, I’m sure there’s some online tools that are ex-resident specific too.

    And about the whole “new ways to display information” topic … I want to lead by example, but WordPress isn’t the best platform for adding different types of info. Right now my major attempt at addressing that is in the sidebar, but there’s way more I could do. A JoeThink wiki is in the works, but there’s more beyond that, too.

  7. Where’s the feed? Thanks, and keep thinking.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. howardowens.com: media blog » Blog Archive » Joe Murphy’s new blog linked to this post on November 19, 2006

    [...] Joe Murphy, a content developer for the Denver Post, has started a blog, and for the right reasons for a journalist — practice and learning. [...]

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