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How can technology drive better journalism? (Chuck Taylor--convener) Recorder: Michael Bradbury

Those present:Chuck Taylor, Chris Norred, Pamela Kilborn-Miller, Michael Anderson, John DeRosa, Brad DeGraf, Case Haakenson, Matt Rosenberg, Ross Reynolds, Matt Stadler, Michael McCarthy, Jonathan Lawson, Peter Rineman, Herng, Charlie Hamilton, Stewart Tilger

Chuck Technology has largely failed journalism—by enabling Craigs List and other criminals. (kidding)

There isn’t much more than blogging software for journalists. We are working with crap because big media didn’t embrace software and because little guys don’t have the clout or know what they need.

We spend more time monkeying with html code than editing a story. That’s wrong. The toolbox isn’t very good for even big news outlets. It took Seattle Times forever to get comments going because of their

John DeRosa and Chuck are dabbling with a content management system to support crowdsourcing social newstools and traditional CMS. No one has integrated it into a product that serves all those things well and offers granular editing and version tracking. Things WP does but only after customization.

If you want to do anything else you hire a developer.

It’ll be fun to make a list of the annoying things we deal with in news gathering and dissemination where we wish tech would do better. Then a blue sky list of stuff we dream of down the road.

Chris I’d like to add monetization tools to the list.

John Data interchange and format change. The data is yours but it’s easy for data to become hostage of distribution or publication system. Moving it in and out of cloud or from server to server can be painful.

Me Story of RS losing contact with iTunes last January.

Chuck How can we as journalists make technology our bitch?

I was trying to cobble together info from 120 sources and I used Google reader and other methods but most people can’t figure it out.

I want to know why the market isn’t being addressed for journalism or media.

Brad What about Ning?

John Expression Engine—above blog platform

Chuck As tech is allowing everyone to form two-person news outlet they don’t have the resources of a traditional newsroom

Peter Explanation of Ning—it’s crazy because you don’t own your users

Brad Is there a turnkey solution out there like Ning for journalism

Chuck We’re looking for a turnkey solution that integrates crowdsourcing. If I was the Seattle Times I want a mechanism to allow readers to upload photos themselves.

Chris Is anyone doing journalism on a 3rd party service without owning your own structure? (no one is)

John Has anyone been flummoxed by IT issues and had to hire someone to fix. One thing to look at is Salesforce.com. They have great customer relationship management system. But they have 3rd party developer group that’s building apps. The software is a service.

Peter Salesforce is also launching a social network component.

Chuck That’s a pet peeve of mine. E-mail management. We don’t want to manage that ourselves b/c it’s really complicated. I want to start a NE Seattle blog and go online and create an account and have my URL forward to that acct. Have ad and e-mail and social media tools integrated.

Charlie If you spend time with people who do this we can build a package for you.

Chuck How much?

Charlie We’re fairly cheap. Salesforce has all-in-one package and so does Costco. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach. We can pull together modules depending on what you want.

Chuck If I wanted to replicate the West Seattle blog but make it look better how much?

Charlie I’d say a few thousand dollars.

Brad Are you talking about individuals or groups?

Chuck When PI closed the reporters wanted to start web sites but they had to beg, borrow and steal to get what they needed.

Brad Examples: World Changing and RealitySandwich. They amortized the price for starting by spreading the cost over several groups.

Jonathan Start with off the shelf and then customize it. I agree with Charlie about value of getting local expert help to match journalism with tech to match you with right CMS. Drupal has modules to do different things. The Knight Foundation has been working with them.

Chuck I’ve gone through process of hiring people to do that…

Kim Chuck will you clarify why we’re here?

Chuck What tech tools do you need to be a journalist?

Peter You fail to take advantage of change when you lock yourself into one system. Find a group of people and jointly create a spec you need and share the cost but make sure it does what you want.

Chuck Drupal and WP don’t accommodate an editing process very gracefully. A small operation should have that capability.

Jonathan Talk to the Tyee people. Their developer is in South America and they’ve done custom content management systems.

Brad Civic Action is the outfit that has done Reality Sandwich. Drupal would make a journalism service if we asked.

Ross What are advantages/disadvantages to using outside sources like Flickr and YouTube?

Chuck You have to have accounts and aggregate them.

Kim It’s a disjointed user experience.

Chuck There are bits and pieces that do it really well. But many require so much customization.

Chris You pointed out editing flow platform. Comm journalism uses the publish first edit second model.

Charlie Coming up with a group spec is a really good one

Chuck The platforms were created by techies but aren’t great for journalists. Corrections in the news biz are complicated. You can update and explain, change it and say nothing are the choices. But there is no metadata there. Hooks like that would benefit professional journalists. Or for example the headline I want to write aren’t good for SEO. Systems don’t address that. How do you keep the good headline without losing the SEO?

Charlie That’s why the planning aspect is so important. The barriers to entry are very low. But they are so low that people are jumping in without thinking how to build to scale.

Chuck In the ideal world I don’t want to think about where it heads

Peter Revenue stream is meager so people do it for the love of it. What kind of financial relationship do you envision for those who would build on top of your system?

Chuck Pay walls and revenue modeling in tech is not trivial. You have to pay people to do that. Ideal platform will solve the problem for you. Allow you to decide which posts are free or behind pay wall.

Peter How do you benefit the user community? You have to have a lot of customers and have common experience for all of them so they don’t have to customize your system.

Chuck It’s every neighborhood on the planet.

Kim It’s a good idea. Services pay determined by scale.

Chuck Scaling is an issue of managing more data and more traffic simultaneously. It’s harder to do with Drupal. It happens when you have a lot of traffic.

At Crosscut we modified the site based on Jango. Sarah Palin’s friend letter story. We had to put that in the Amazon cloud to accommodate the traffic. Things happen quickly and it would be nice not to have to worry about that.

Chris Who has examples?

Me Story of UGC branding, OSF blog network

Kim Encyclopedia of Life is doing that.

Chuck That’s like Propublica—tracking the stimulus money. That’s the kind of thing the platform should do

Charlie You should do a survey to biggest audience of potential clients. Then ask them what they want, what they want for free, what they will pay for.

Chuck We want to throw a switch to let a story become a wiki. Let’s say Tracy at WS Blog gets tip from reader. Throw a switch and people can contribute details to the story. Open it up for short period to gather news details. She created West Seattle 101, stuff about living in West Seattle. That should be a wiki or some of it should.

Bill Send letter to Romenesko and see where it goes

How do you figure out the cost to share?

John Lots of ways, features, etc.

Charlie Bandwidth and storage

Chuck When I go to Square Space (oriented toward small biz) they have 4 price points and you get certain features at price points.

Charlie The tech is solvable. What’s the management structure? That’ll be a lot of work. How do you price it? Who’s going to do technical support? That gets expensive quickly.

Charlie Michael is exactly right. Let’s come up with a braintrust to come up with a wish list. The feature set is made by people who aren’t users. This is your opp as journalists as users to build the dream system.

Peter You want a process to give you your dream product.

Charlie You do modules and pieces.

Kim, What are diff scenarios

Chuck There is a huge gap between determining quality content. There is still a big gap between the tech world and journalism of a certain caliber. Technologists need to be more mindful.

Peter Intersect meets some of the needs for journalism. If anyone is interested in the beta. Peter@intersect.com. Closed beta. It’s about intersecting storylines, aspects of a social network. Imagine what Twitter could be if storytelling were involved. 8 software developers have spent 2 years.

Bill What about class A dummies?

Peter It’s meant for everyone.