A group of German publishers is lobbying for a law that would require search engines to pay copyright fees to websites that are indexed. The general Internet cognoscenti reaction is "cut them off and let those arrogant fossils doom themselves," but it begs the question: How important is search traffic to news sites, anyway?
I didn't actually intend to take such a long vacation from blogging, but it happened. Perhaps it was a good thing to spare the world from hearing me repeat myself. I took a real-world vacation, too, and spent a couple of weeks in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand, with my youngest daughter, now a high school senior. But the summer is over, the kids are back in school, and I intend to return to the keyboard.
I was on Facebook. It was the day after it went public and everybody on the inside became gazillionaires. I saw this "trending" story:
I muttered something under my breath and clicked "cancel."
Holy crap. So I went to Google News. Nothing about a plane crash.
So I ran a search.
I remember the first time I saw one of those Flash-based "page turning" interfaces. I was sitting in a conference room in Minneapolis and an excited sales guy was pitching his company's tool, which could take newspaper pages and put them online as a print replica, saving us from all that messy Web stuff. He was so earnest and proud.
I was horrified. The Web isn't print. The Internet is a new medium with unique strengths. The whole idea was just ... sacrilege.
I've changed my point of view somewhat over the years, for several reasons:
The Harvard guys have been telling us that failing forward can be a good thing -- learning, adapting, all that innovation stuff. But there's another kind of failure: failing backward. Here's a how-to guide:
In the past week we've seen an uprising of angry people, mostly women, offended by the Susan G. Komen Foundation cutting off funding for breast cancer exams at Planned Parenthood clinics. It's just the latest example of how the global news conversation is in the hands of people, not just "the media." And it's what I had in mind over a dozen years ago when I talked about the rise of a new kind of people's journalism.
I was looking at a couple of recent job postings at our newspapers and it occurs to me that the baseline skill set has quietly shifted. Students and veterans alike should take notice:
Be prepared to work in multiple media, simultaneously. We're digital-first, but we still print.
Be prepared to blog and interact with the public. As a writer, this means you need to develop a distinct voice, and know when and how to use it. Not everybody gets a blog at first, but you should want one -- and know why you want one.