Archive for the 'media' Category

Packer & Bilton, on Twitter

It’s been fun following the debate between the Times Bits blogger Nick Bilton, and New Yorker staff writer George Packer, on whether Twitter is a godsend, or a harbinger of doom.

Packer opened with a declaration that he’s old school:

I don’t have a BlackBerry, or an iPhone, or a Google phone, and I don’t intend to get an iPad. I’ve been careful not to mention this to sources in Washington, where conversation consists of two people occasionally glancing up from their BlackBerries and saying, ‘I’m listening.’

After pointing out recent news stories that Twitter had a hand in breaking—Iran, Haiti, Obama’s Election—Bilton fires back:

…when trains were a new technology 150 years ago, some journalists and intellectuals worried about the destruction that the railroads would bring to society…

I wonder if, 150 years ago, Mr. Packer would be riding the train at all, or if he would have stayed home, afraid to engage in an evolving society and demanding that the trains be stopped.

Ouch. One gets the sense that there is some kind of generational clash going on here. Packer tries again:

If a Luddite is someone who fears and hates all technological change, a Biltonite is someone who celebrates all technological change: because we can, we must.

George is asking the right questions, but it’s hard to disagree with Bilton’s point—by refusing to participate in social media, he’s missing part of the story… you can’t bury your head in the sand and expect to keep up.

Mediaite Launch

Rex Sorgatz on the design of Mediaite, Dan Abrams’s new media website:

…‘horizontal sites’ build a new kind of importance hierarchy. Designers don’t realize it, but unaligned vertical stacks are a remnant of the way that newspapers were designed—in columns, up and down. These new layouts are more like movie screens and wide monitors, with action moving left and right.

A very simple, but potentially evolutionary step in our understanding of how readers can best scan and make sense of content.

The Times Wins 5 Pulitzer Prizes

NY Times newsroom, Pulitzer announcement
Photo by Soraya.

The New York Times, my employer, won 5 Pulitzer Prizes today, “for work on subjects as varied as America’s wars in Asia, the sudden downfall of a political titan, art from ancient to modern, and a history-making presidential campaign.”

The interesting one, from my point of view, is the award for breaking the Gov. Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. No, not because it’s salacious or bawdy, but because the exclusive wasn’t held for the next morning’s paper – it was put up online, on NYTimes.com, in the middle of the day. I think that this will be an important milestone in the evolution of quality journalism.

The Nieman Lab points to a funny anecdote that ran in the NY Observer last year:

Back in the day — you know, five years ago — when a big news story had been written, edited, fact-checked, vetted, proofread, and anguished over one last time, an adrenaline-pumped editor would cry out, “Run it!” As in, the presses.

When The New York Times was ready to report that Eliot Spitzer, then governor of New York, had been implicated in a prostitution ring, managing editor Jill Abramson yelled 20 feet across the newsroom, “O.K., hit it!” As in, the button to publish the story on NYTimes.com.

I love that. Congrats to my colleagues in the news room, and let’s keep it up!

The Crash of Flight 3407

Flight 3407 – Reuters
CREDIT: Gary Wiepert, Reuters [via]

Last night, Continental Flight 3407 crashed in route from Newark to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, just a few miles from its scheduled destination. The crash site is just five or six miles from where I grew up, in a suburb of Buffalo, NY.

The Buffalo News has a living topic page dedicated to coverage of the event, which they are updating with articles, photos, video and other resources, as they are put up. They also started live blogging the story, and linking to outside resources provided by citizen journalists.

CNN is carrying live video from the local NBC affliate.

My heart goes out to the victims, their families and the nearby communities. It’s important to remember that these things rarely happen, but when they do, especially so close to home, it’s impossible not to feel sad.

NY Magazine on Innovation at the Times

Renegades
Aron Pilhofer, Andrew DeVigal, Steve Duenes, Matthew Ericson, and Gabriel Dance.
Photo courtesy NY Mag / Mike McGregor
Election Day Word Train »
Faces of the Dead »
Pogue-o-matic »

Sure there’s been a lot of recent bad news about the New York Times Company, and newspapers coast-to-coast are pulling back coverage, filing for bankruptcy and closing. But there is also another story to tell.

New York Magazine has a piece in this week’s issue on the Times Multimedia, Graphics, Interactive Tech and R&D groups, titled The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady. It details some of the organizational steps taken by the Times, in order to position itself for the day when the online product eclipses the print edition in reach, revenue and relevance.

Continue reading ‘NY Magazine on Innovation at the Times’

Saving Buffalo’s Untold Beauty

Downtown Buffalo

Photo Credit: Tony Cenicola/The New York TimesA photo of downtown Buffalo.

The Times had a great piece yesterday on Buffalo’s architectural legacy, and recent attempts to save historic buildings:

Buffalo is home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with major architects like Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright building marvels here. Together they shaped one of the grandest early visions of the democratic American city.

Yet Buffalo is more commonly identified with the crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes and dwindling jobs that have defined the Rust Belt for the past 50 years. And for decades its architecture has seemed strangely frozen in time.

There is also an accompanying slide show, from which the photo above was taken.

Full disclosure: I’m originally from Buffalo.

Newsweek’s “Hackers and Spending Sprees”

Newsweek.com has some interesting tidbits about the recently completed presidential election between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin:

  • Palin’s “rogue” shopping spree was greater than the earlier reported $150,000.
  • Obama didn’t choose Hillary Clinton for the VP slot mostly because of her husband.
  • Palin appeared with nothing on save for a towel, when McCain aides and strategists came to her hotel room to brief her at the Republican Convention.
  • Obama thinks some debate questions are stupid.

More will be released on Newsweek.com in the coming days.

Who Said Print is Dead?

OBAMA
Today’s edition of the New York Times.

I count myself lucky today, for scoring a copy of the paper before they ran out. Apparently, the situation is the same throughout the city, (though I’ve heard rumors of another 50,000 copy run).

In fact, there are a hundred or so people standing on line outside the Times headquarters, waiting for a fresh delivery of news, printed on dead trees.

Print Isn’t Dead

A hundred or so people, waiting on line for today’s paper, in front of the Times headquarters in midtown.

From Gawker:

Everybody wants a souvenir of Obama’s victory, and you know what makes a great souvenir? That’s right, a newspaper. This is a photo of a line outside the NYT building on 40th Street of people waiting—for a newspaper!

I hope that people still come to the Times for more than just a souvenir.

Time.com Redesign

New Time.com
New design for the homepage of time.com, the website of Time Magazine.

Time Magazine started rolling out a redesign of time.com yesterday – it was designed by my friend and former colleague Sean Villafranca, who left our group at the Times earlier this year to become the Design Director for time.com.

It strikes me as a welcome departure from its previous CNN-esque iteration, and a little more faithful to the print design. I like the use of Arial Black, and the daring use of the TIME wordmark on the white background. (Daring because it would’ve been far more predictable to use the wordmark reversed on a red background.)

They seem to have only rolled-out the home page and the article pages at this point – section fronts still show the legacy design. But on the whole, it’s a very good improvement to a very good news resource – just in time for the general election season.

ALSO – A few birdies tell me to expect some major design changes to wsj.com today or tuesday, coming hot-off-the-heels of their magazine launch this month. Yes, we’ve heard this before, but there are some preview screenshots out there. Stay Tuned!

What Could Possibly Make Someone Want to Leave New York and Move to Buffalo?

Buffalo #1
Lisa’s tattoo confirms that Buffalo is indeed #1.

New York magazine has an interesting feature on New Yorkers moving to Buffalo, NY, the very city that Lisa and I were raised in and subsequently couldn’t wait to leave from after high school.

Some people will read this as a story of defeat. They will look at Herbeck and Cloyd and think, They came; they couldn’t cut it; good riddance. That’s also a familiar New York narrative, one that’s especially comforting to those of us who stay and stick it out. Because, sure, stained glass and spare bedrooms are nice and all, but no one moves to New York because they think they’re going to get a great bargain on an apartment. You move here because you want to live in New York City.

The writer then goes on to say that this is not a story of defeat, but rather an opportunity:

But New York, for all its mythology, is no longer a frontier. Buffalo is a frontier. And when you think of the actual frontier, you’ll recall that no one ever packed up and moved West to a gold-rush town because they heard it had really good local theater.

Um, okay… Truth is, I know more former 716 area coders that are now in 212 or 718. But, it’s a provoking premise for a city famous for little more than snow and four consecutive failed Superbowl bids.

The Macktivist

macktivist
Illustration by Shira Golding

My friend of some 15+ years, R. Alvarez, just launched a sex column for The Indypendent, New York City’s leading social justice newspaper. It’s called The Macktivist, and she intends to make the column a “sex-positive, educational, kink-, vanilla-, homo-, hetero-, bi-, trans-friendly, smart go-to for the discerning reader.”

Not only is Ms. Alvarez a dear friend, but she also happens to be an entertaining and gifted writer. Go read her column now, leave her a comment, and send in your questions!

nytimes.com Outage

Graham

Reaction from Twitter user Graham Mudd, on the nytimes.com outage this afternoon.

Nytimes.com has been down for about an hour, and thankfully it wasn’t my turn to watch it. I haven’t heard of any explanation yet, but it could be anything from problems with DNS or our CDN. Who knows? I’m just a designer here.

It seems like just yesterday, when everyone was complaining about recent downtime troubles at Twitter and Amazon, including us.

Adrienne
Despite Adrienne Shaffer’s tweet, we’re housebroken, I swear!

Hopefully this is just a temporary blip. But, I had a good time reading people’s tweets.

6:27 pm UPDATE: The site is mostly up, but some functionality is not working, such as Search.

The Big Picture

NYTimes.com isn’t the only NYT property that’s doing interesting things with blogs these days – Boston.com launched a different kind of photo blog earlier this month, The Big Picture. With its oversized photos, minimal ads, and hardly a promo to other site content, the presentation is clear and striking – and praise is pouring in.

California Fires

Firefighters work to contain the Humboldt fire which started Wednesday, had grown to 19,000 acres and threatened more than 5,000 structures. (AP Photo/Jason Halley – Chico Enterprise-Record)

Another interesting facet about the blog is that it not written by a Globe photographer or photo editor, but by one of their website developers. Andy Baio posted a great interview with the blog’s creator and author, Alan Taylor, where he discusses his inspiration, methodology, and what it’s like being a web developer working in a journalist’s world. When asked why more newspaper sites haven’t done this before, he replied:

“Even some of my favorite photo sites are often limited to ‘Photo of the Day’ or ‘24 Hours in Pictures’ features. That’s interesting, and you can find some mind-blowing images there, but I always felt like it lacked context, depth, story.”

Iowa Floods

Brandon Smith carries his two cats, Fry and Bender, to dry land from their flooded and evacuated home on June 12, 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

As we move to an age where motion graphics and video regularly enhance our traditional news presentation, it’s interesting to take a step back and consider the power still photography has to tell a story. And working online without the space constraint of print, news organizations have an opportunity to bring more depth and context to readers, through excellent photojournalism.

Infographics

I completed a three-day intensive newsroom orientation last week, in which the new faces at the Times are trained on policies, practices, and quirks of the paper. It’s an onboarding procedure the likes of which I’ve never gone through in my career, and I think it’s a credit to the organization that they care so much about its traditions and culture to invest so much time and energy welcoming new people.

In addition to the seminars on sourcing, ethics and background, it was especially interesting to meet all of the Desk Editors and learn how they run their teams both online and in print. One-by-one, they filed in from National, Style, Travel, Foreign, the Magazines… it was a whirlwind 3 days.

infographic
Deadly Rampage at Virginia Tech, updated April 23, 2007

One of the most interesting half-hours was presented by Archie Tse, a Graphics editor. Archie explained how the Times Graphics Desk is really unique among news organizations, in that they go out and do reporting before sitting down at their computer.

When you consider that newspapers are cutting back on coverage of everything these days, this is remarkable.

Continue reading ‘Infographics’

Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring

The Times broke a huge story today, concerning New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s involvement with a prostitution ring:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation.

There are a lot of unanswered questions at the moment, but that pretty much says it all.

Slate points out the irony that Spitzer’s was brought down by the same investigation tactics he pioneered as a prosecutor. And, the Smoking Gun pulls an interesting tidbit out of the complaint:

…the affidavit notes that after her appointment with Client-9 ended, “Kristen” spoke with a Emperors Club booker, who said that she had been told that Client-9 “would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe…” “Kristen” responded by saying, essentially, that she could handle guys like that.

Wow, let’s hope those details never come out.

Subway Love

Lisa’s photo on Gothamist!Another Valentine’s Day related post – Lisa’s snapshot of this note in the Carroll MTA station made it to a post on Gothamist!

The original is available in her Flickr photostream.

She is kind of a big deal, ’round these parts.

New Hampshire

It’s New Hampshire Primary Day, (already?!), but I’m not going to make any predictions. Hillary? Obama? McCain? Huckabee? The polls have swung dramatically in the past week or so, in both parties. And, it seems that the country is coming to one of those cultural tipping points that only occur once or twice per generation.

Some have compared this cycle to the election years of 1992, 1980, 1960… But, perhaps it’s more like the first months of 1968, before the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. derailed all hope, as well as the campaign of Eugene McCarthy. We find ourselves in an unpopular war that nobody knows how to get out of, saddled with an lame duck President with low approval ratings, and no sitting Vice President in the race, and we’re facing some economic uncertainty ahead. Still, there is hope on both sides of the aisle.

Is it a generational tipping point? Are we as a nation heading toward a year much like that annus horribilis of 1968? Nobody knows at this point, but maybe it’s best not to look back for comparisons – everyone across the political spectrum is eager to move forward.

Continue reading ‘New Hampshire’

Village Academies/Esquire Event

We attended a fundraiser for Lisa’s work last night, honoring Bill Cosby and others. It was held in Esquire’s swank Esquire North penthouse on Central Park North, and the magazine is also featuring Village Academies founder Deborah Kenny in this month’s issue:

In six years, Kenny’s vision has grown into a trio of charter schools under the rubric of Village Academies, located in New York precincts where a muscular poverty has thrived for generations. The numbers alone tell a compelling story. Locally, passing rates for seventh-grade math hover around 30 percent. At HVA, the rate is a stunning 96 percent.

Cast members from Gossip Girl showed up, and Tyler Hilton played a few songs, (who played Elvis in Walk the Line Johnny Cash movie).

midtown office + loved ones

At least the ladies look good – Matt and I have taken better pictures.

More photos below the fold.

Continue reading ‘Village Academies/Esquire Event’

Business Week Redesign

Business Week redesignI saw that over at Brand New today, that Business Week magazine has done an interesting rebranding and redesign.

Nothing major on the logotype – gone are the serifs. But, between the covers is the real treat:

It’s inside that the magazine feels more relevant with a clean design and consistent typographic treatments that sway you from beginning to end. Simple size shifts from front of the book to feature stories to back of the book are enough indicators that you are changing sections without resorting to extra fancy opening spreads for the feature stories.

It has a very crisp and modern look, reminding me a bit of CNN International’s on-screen design. I wish other American publications and media would take this approach. The worst offenders are sport broadcasters, who use tickers, graphics, and picture-in-picture interviews to do everything but show you the game.

UPDATE: David Sleight takes a look at the typography behind the redesign.

ICA Boston

IMG_2306

Photo, originally uploaded by droush16.

It looks like the new ICA on the South Boston waterfront has to delay it’s September opening:

In interviews yesterday, ICA officials, architect Ricardo Scofidio, and construction company manager John Macomber said that the remaining work was not major. Among the pending tasks—termed “minutiae” by one ICA trustee—was the need to test the building’s ticket counter and climate control system.

[via]

Weekly Dig Redesign

Weekly Dig LogoI look forward to picking up the new Dig every Wednesday morning while I’m in line for coffee at Herrell’s. It’s the only readable “alt” weekly I’ve ever come across – anywhere.

And finally, the Dig has a new website to match their print offering. There is a daily blog, my favorite column Media Farm, a round-up of local events in the right column. Also, you may subscribe via a variety of RSS feeds.

The New NYTimes.com

The New York Times launched a modest redesign over the weekend, and it does a great job of presenting large amounts of information in a coherent, organized way.

new NYTimes.com

The new homepage of NYTimes.com.

Khoi has the details on his weblog:

I think it’s a sterling piece of work, a great example of how to evolve a user experience rather than reinvent it: the best reaction it could receive from readers (those not among that vanishingly small subset of the general populace who can be called “design savvy”) would be something along the lines of “The new design looks just like the old design.” That would suit me fine, because it would signal a continuity that I think is completely appropriate for such a closely watched site like The New York Times’, and besides, I know for a fact that it’s more elegant and more useful than it was before.

And though Khoi says that he is not responsible for the design, it’s clear to me that whoever is was heavily influenced by his work – especially the recent re-launch of The Onion. Bravo!

Waitin’ Tables

Can’t help but pass along this Remainder from Jason Kottke – NY Times food critic Frank Bruni spends a week “undercover” as a waiter at a [Cambridge] restaurant. In the end, he realizes the hell that is being a waiter:

trying to be fluent in the menu and the food, calm in the face of chaos, patient in the presence of rudeness, available when diners want that, invisible when they don’t. It’s a lot, and I should remember that.

Does this realization dampen his dining expectations? Nope:

I’d still like frequent water refills. And a martini from hell. Straight up.

It reminds me of the polite little arguments Presley & I have on whether or not to leave 20%, even when receiving shitty service. Though I never advocate leaving less than 15%, I also think that the bonus tip should be reserved for competent, polite servers. What’s wrong with that?

“Underground Man” update

Thanks to Mint, I noticed that a few visitors were referred here looking for the text of a New Yorker article writted in February 2004 titled, Underground Man: Can the former C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s subway get the Tube back on track?. I had scanned the text a while back, but my directory security settings on my server were tightened, and the scans were no longer available.

So, if you’re looking for the article, it’s is now properly linked in the orginal post.

I still wish I had a way of extracting the text via OCR…

Scooterist killed in Boston

I am shocked and horrified by a report in the Globe today, that a Scooterist was killed last night in a collision with a truck:

Police were searching last night for the driver of a tractor trailer suspected of striking, dragging, and killing an 18-year-old man riding a motor scooter at the Massachusetts Avenue onramp to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

After the impact, the truck continued down the ramp, taking the scooter and its rider with it, police said. Both were found at the bottom of the ramp, which was closed for several hours after the accident, police said.

Even more disturbing that this, the driver either didn’t know the collision occured, or fled the scene:

After hitting the teenager, the driver of the 18-wheeler stopped momentarily on the Turnpike to look at a tire that was on fire, said Boston police spokesman David Estrada. He refused the help of several Turnpike workers and drove off with the tire ablaze, police said.

We don’t know much about the victim yet, but this incident should serve as an important reminder that motor scooters are not toys — they are motorcycles. Too many people just buy a new twist-n-go Vespa, without much experience riding, or knowledge of safe riding habits. We frequently see Vespa riders in shorts and t-shirts, with no helmets or gloves, ducking in and out of busy city traffic. This is simply insane.

Do yourself a favor — take a motorcycle safety course. It’s well worth the $200, and you get a discount on your insurance.