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Archives: September 2008

3 Ways to save the 10,000-word story

Let’s face it. No one — save for shut-ins and the Pulitzer Prize committee — wants to read a story that spreads over several pages of a newspaper. Pictures and graphics are not gonna help and putting on the net only exacerbates the problem. So what is a long-winded journalist to do? Here are some ways to make the long story more palatable:

Break it up

Newspapers ought to take a cue from DailyLit, a forward-thinking site that makes classic literature like Dickens and Dumas, as well as newly released books, available for online reading through installments. Users can select a book they want to read and receive daily chunks of it either through email or RSS.

RSS itself is a great way to encourage readers to follow a long with a particular story. Instead of making an excessively long story available online in one piece, deliver different sections of the story through RSS over the course of a few days to ensure the reader digests more of the story.

The same idea could be applied to Twitter: instead of sending a portion of the story through RSS, simply send a link to Twitter followers/readers.

Let the story stand alone

GOOD Magazine, which, along with the Las Vegas Sun, is at the forefront of new media innovation, makes a free 6×6 inch, mini-newspaper available in select Starbucks locations that concentrates on a single story. This week’s story is on carbon emissions and is made up of a large and detailed graph of how greenhouse gases affect the world. The first fold-out page is a full-sized ad that the reader sees before reading the story (ad revenue!). Not only is this a genius way of putting a story in front of readers who will likely have a few minutes to spare, it is also a great way to promote brand identity.

More pics: Front cover, Inside ad, Full-page story

Go mobile

Now that more Kindles are finding their way into consumers’ hands and the iPhone and BlackBerry have made reading on a cell phone less of a chore, it’s time to adapt long investigative pieces or feature stories for reading on mobile devices. If people are willing to read books on a Kindle, they are likely willing to read the newspaper. And now that news sites are being optimized for the web, it’s time to optimize the stories themselves.

Whichever way the story is presented, it must reflect the growing segment of the population who don’t have time to read long pages of text. After all, what good is a story if no one reads it?

Top 10 blogging tips from around the web

“Blog posts are written, not defecated. They show some level of craft, thinking, and continuity beyond the word count mandated by the Owner of Your Plantation. If a blog has fixed limits on post minimums and maximums? It’s not a blog: it’s a website that hires writers. Which is fine. But, it’s not really a blog.”

What Makes for a Good Blog?

“Stats are a good barometer for some things. Especially if you have a clear-thinking mind. Or if you’re approaching your blog experimentally and viewing your stats with a marketer’s mindset. But if you’re mindlessly checking stats all the time, looking at your affiliate earnings every hour, then it’s time to step AWAY from the computer. Go play with your dog.”

18 Stupid Mistakes Bloggers Make in their First Year

“Instead of writing entire posts, write down titles. If time permits put down your initial thoughts and build on it later, from wherever you are. Face it you will check your email at least once a day, if you have your title and initial write up ready your blog post can be done in a few minutes.”

No Hurries, No Worries – Your Blog Will Survive

“There are only a handful of default Blogger templates available to use. Since Blogger has millions of active users around the world, you can be sure that hundreds (at least) will be using these same templates as the visual basis of their blogs. To make sure your blog stands out from the crowd, you need to ensure your design is in some way unique.”

7 Reader Friendly Methods of Improving your Blogger Blog

“While the functionality of tag clouds is arguable helpful, unfortunately most tag clouds appear as nothing more than a jumbled mess. So messy in some cases that they are actually too hard to disassemble in a reasonable amount of time, and are just avoided by users.”

The Seven Most Commonly Made Bad Blog Design Choices

“Writing a home-run post on a Saturday afternoon will probably happen from time to time. However, does your blog have good traffic on Saturdays? Analyzing your blog’s stats to determine when it naturally has the most traffic can get more eyes on a great post, which will translate to more social votes and more links. If you have created the post of your life, wait for a good day to publish – it will cost you about 1 minute on a later date to put it up.”

10 Ways to Improve Blog Traffic in 30 Minutes or Less

“The lack of an “About Me” page– or a simple name to attach to the author’s writing — is unforgivable. But it’s still a problem today. Every time a reader encounters a blog with no name in the byline, no background on the author, and no simple way to click through to find out anything about the author, it strains credulity to the breaking point. It devalues not only the author’s writing, but the credibility of blogging in general.”

Thirteen Blog Clichés

“Time is valuable for blogging, if you don’t have it your blog can suffer. Time management is a huge key for a lot of bloggers. If you stretch yourself, your time, and resources too thin you may come up with many unfinished projects. Several of my blogs could do a lot better, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to them.”

23 Things I’ve Learned Blogging

“If you shut off commenting because you were drowning in a sea of comment spam, using Akismet and Bad Behavior for WordPress will allow you to turn it back on by eliminating 99% of your spam for free. If you’re simply afraid that people will say something that might detract from your totally awesome post, then maybe your post isn’t that awesome after all. Come out from under your bed in that giant ivory tower and let people love or hate your posts. Eliminate barriers. Get some feedback. Make a couple of friends. Communicate.”

How To Piss Me Off With Your Blog

“Terrible things are happening in one of the following: the world, the web or a television show you really like. Make a blog post about it! People will comment about how much they agree with you. Then they’ll make their own blog posts about the subject, and other people will comment about how much they agree with them. If we all work together we’ll learn that we can make a real impact on our pageviews.”

Secrets of the 7 Basic Blog Posts

15 Ways to follow the 2008 election online

The power of the net to provide more innovative political coverage than what is possible in traditional forms of media has never been more evidenced than in this political season. Major news organizations and citizen journalists alike have harnessed the power of the web to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the US presidential election than has ever been possible. Here are some of the best ways to follow the political landscape online:

1. perspctv

If there weren’t 14 other sites on this list then perspctv would be the one stop for any election news seeker. The site culls the latest news, blog posts and tweets and provides insightful charts and maps as well as an embeddable widget for keeping track of it all.

2. Patchwork Nation

We know the candidates are campaigning all over the country, but who are they campaigning in front of? The Christian Science Monitor has the answer. The site’s analysis shows both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama spent a good chunk of their time in wealthy suburbs and big cities.

3. Election ’08 Twitter Chatter

Everyone knows Twitter is abuzz with political views, skews and insights, including the observations of Twitter stars FakeSarahPalin and CNN’s Rick Sanchez. Twitter Chatter is one way to wrangle these conversations as well as to see on a map where they are coming from.

4. is the dream of any political statistics hound. The site has the latest polls, the latest news, the latest charts, graphs, statistics, hypotheticals…the latest everything. It’s like a political rabbit hole…check it out only if you have time to spare.

5. Map of 2008 Presidential Contributions

“Show me the money!” Okay it’s 2008, not 1996, but if you’re curious to know where the campaign money is coming from, Political Base has you covered with a well-designed Google map as well as a list of big name contributors and a handy search form.

6. Tube the Vote!

Tube the Vote strives to provide a balanced view of issues that are affecting this year’s presidential election by scouring the web for video, blog posts, Flickr photos and more that celebrate or repudiate either side.

7. Candidates’ life journeys

Get to know the presidential and vice presidential candidates a little better by following the milestones of their lives on a Google Map. Anyone can follow the journey of John McCain, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin or Joe Biden.

8. PolitiFact’s The Attack Files

Voters tired of the spin and searching for the truth will appreciate PolitiFact’s analysis of recent campaign assertions. Was Sen. Obama referring to Sarah Palin when he mentioned “lipstick on a pig?” No way, says PolitiFact. Does Sen. McCain support tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas? Not that simple, according to the site.

9. Election 08

iPhone users will be glad to know that they don’t have to be at a computer to track the latest on the 2008 presidential race. The iPhone application is a great source for tracking the latest polls as long as you don’t check to often — Election 08 is sometimes behind in its updates.

10. McCainPedia/Obamapedia

To say these two wikis are unbiased would be a big misstatement — the former is run by the DNC, the other is populated by Obama fans. Still, using modern technology to encourage citizen participation is never a bad thing.

11. What Would You Say to the President?

This genius bit of citizen participation encourages everyone to not only speak their mind to President Bush, but to presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama as well. Recent responses — which are themselves wholly interesting and telling — are displayed on each page.

12. Google Maps (campaign trail)

This Google map knows where the candidates will be and when and makes that information at the click of a button. Campaign appearances for both candidates are listed in reverse chronological order as well as marked on a map.

13. Google Maps (video)

Video of campaign speeches from both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain are tracked and mapped on these map mashups that incorporate video from YouTube.

14. Everymoment Now

Everymoment Now uses a unique graph to chart the number of times a candidate was mentioned on any particular day since August of this year. Clicking on a bar in the chart reveals news stories that were published that day as well as more detailed charts and graphs.

15. ABC News’ Match-o-Matic

If you plan on voting in the upcoming US election, but still don’t know which can
didate to vote for, the Match-o-Matic is sure to help. The humorous, interactive quiz gives the user two quotes — one from Sen. Obama and one from Sen. McCain — and the user selects which one they agree with most without knowing who said it. The final tally reveals which presidential candidate’s platform the user is more likely to side with.

DVD design: Great menus are great inspiration (Part III)

The design of a DVD menu can sometimes outshine the movie itself and is often similar to web or interactive design. I ransacked my DVD collection to find some of the best designed menus and here they are:

Back to School

Forrest Gump

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



Old School

Also on 10,000 Words

DVD design: Great menus are great inspiration (Part I)
DVD design: Great menus are great inspiration (Part II)
What is design?

Reporters gone wild!

This is what happens when TV reporters when they’ve been in the newsroom too long. We’ve all been there.

Rapping reporter


Reporter exacts her revenge

Crank that Soulja Boy

Can’t stop laughing

Anchor v. Reporter