Why we have laws about business practices

I was poking around in the Library of Congress photo database and ran across these Lewis Hine photos of children who worked at the cotton mills in Augusta, Ga.


A doffer boy in the Globe Cotton Mill, January 1909

Algorithmic layout: Another thing the visual journalists are going to hate

Ever since we began using computers to handle news -- which is probably a lot longer than you think -- there has been a notion of automating the processes of laying out pages. Long before InDesign, long before Quark, long before Pagemaker there were attempts to apply algorithms to news, to sort and arrange and place items on pages without humans driving every detail of the process.

Don't drink the mind poison, and don't believe Fox

There was a time when American journalism was the gold standard of the world. We created the world's first journalism school. Newspapers and, later, broadcasters all over the world looked up and tried to emulate our practices. But no longer.

I've traveled the world quite a lot in the last 10-15 years. I've read local newspapers and watched TV news in places where journalism once was illegal -- Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague, the former East Germany. Around the world I've seen the influence of the American tradition, and it is a powerful force for good.

Beware the black swans

When I put together my ten good-enough predictions, I didn't toss in any flying cars or Mr. Fusion generators. Everything I mentioned already exists; I'm just making reasonable guesses about adoption.

Ten good-enough predictions about tech, media and news

One wall of my office is covered with notes and diagrams trying to divine the future. Nobody can get it right, so I'm actually not worried about that. What's important is to generate views that are useful and helpful in planning. In that spirit, I thought I should share a few "predictions" and see what you all think. I'm thinking of the period 2015-2018. It's close enough to be real, but far enough to give the imagination some running room.

Revolutions are made by rule-breakers

Engadget's Darren Murph has a tale of how ESPN's newsroom adopts technology:

"The iPad has been out for just over two months, yet somehow ESPN -- a massive corporation that should technically have all sorts of red tape bogging down this type of forward thinking -- has managed to not only get a setup working in its labs, but actually get the new setup working and onto shows that we're enjoying each and every day. "

A whack on the head from Maslow's hammer

I thought we were beyond this, but no: it seems that quite a number of people who are old enough to know better are making silly pronouncements to the effect that Tablet Is The New Print.

This calls for a mind-expanding whack on the side of the head, preferably applied with Maslow's hammer. Abraham Maslow was the psychologist famous for his "hierarchy of needs." He also was famous for saying "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." That's called Maslow's hammer, or sometimes "the law of the instrument."

Four do's and three don'ts about story commenting for reporters

Here are some tips for reporters about how to deal with story commenting.

Do:

Engage. Online behavior always improves when responsible adults are present.
Answer. Respond to genuine questions.
Listen. Keep an eye out for story ideas. Discover whether your reporting is informing or confusing people.
Clarify and correct. When people are confused or misinformed, post clear and accurate information. Link to authoritative sources whenever possible.

Don't:

One eyewitness account of Bangkok burning

Thirteen hours of Twittering by Austrian businessman @freakingcat tells an eyewitness tale of Bangkok burning in detail that generally has escaped conventional/professional journalism. I grabbed a snapshot of his posts from a long and painful Wednesday in Thailand's capital. You might wish to scroll to the bottom, and read up.

Its getting night! Tomorrow the sun will rise again! Thailand will be changed forever!
37 minutes ago via Twitterrific

Commenting: An ounce of leadership is worth a pound of management

There's been a conversation under way this afternoon on Twitter about anonymous commenting and comment management. I didn't join in -- I was at a dance performance with family, and besides, I've written plenty about that topic in the past. You can Google the details.

What strikes me is that it's the wrong conversation.