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Press Here

This news media blog explores the nexus between the press, the public and technology with two missions. One, to engage citizens in an online conversation about the role of the news media in their lives, in the hope that they will use and critique the media more effectively. And secondly to explore how the press can remain relevant, essential and accountable to citizens and communities.

Mike Fancher is Editor at Large of The Seattle Times.

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April 30, 2008 10:00 PM

-- 30 --

Posted by Mike Fancher

I'd like to sign off Press Here by thanking the people of Greater Seattle for the opportunity to be a part of your lives for the past 30 years. It has been inspiring to be a journalist in a community where people care deeply about the quality of life and about each other.

I close with something that one of my daughters wrote to me in a note about my retirement: "Long live true journalism."

Best wishes and so long.

Comments (0) | Category: none |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 29, 2008 2:20 PM

It's time for Press Here to press on

Posted by Mike Fancher

I am retiring from the Seattle Times tomorrow. Press Here to check out a report from Editor & Publisher.

Or Here for a brief interview on KUOW's "The Conversation," toward the end of the segment.

I'll post some farewell thoughts tomorrow.

Comments (0) | Category: News industry developments |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 25, 2008 3:55 PM

A "welcome ad"? I don't think so.

Posted by Mike Fancher

In their hunt for revenue, news sites have tried a variety of intrusive gimmicks, most of which really tick off readers. AdvertisingAge reported the New York Times this week "for the first time allowed a full-page ad to interrupt people trying to reach NYTimes.com for their initial visits of the day -- before they could view even one headline."

AdAge quotes Todd Haskell, Times VP-digital sales and operations:

We have been doing full-page interstitials for years. This is just a different placement in the user session.

We collaborate with customers to provide ad units that help them meet their marketing needs, and clients have been asking for a "welcome ad" placement for some time.

Interstitial ads are the ones that creep around on a web page, covering up the other content. My edition of Webster's defines "interstitial" as "of, forming, or occurring in interstices," and "interstice" as "a small or narrow space between things or parts; crevice; chink; crack."

I guess this ad occurs in the space between me and the front page.

In earlier days, the New York Times moved farther and faster than just about any newspaper in allowing advertising to clutter its Web site, including the home page. Commercial messages often were hard to distinguish from news content. It has evolved to be much more orderly and in keeping with the newspaper's brand, although it still has ads that aren't clearly labeled and can be mistaken for news.

Newspapers won't survive without growing their online advertising franchise, but my hope is that they will conclude that an ad covering the entire front page is unwelcome.

Comments (0) | Category: News industry developments |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 18, 2008 11:30 AM

Technical fouls in the Sonics fan forum

Posted by Mike Fancher

The Seattle Times is more circumspect than most newspapers when it comes to letting readers turn its Internet site into a free-for-all. The most recent example was locking down the Sonics Fan Forum, after name-calling flame wars broke out between fans here and in Oklahoma City.

The Times doesn't allow inflammatory or objectionable comments, comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or obscene language. Some will deride the newspaper's desire to maintain civility, but so be it. They can work out their aggression elsewhere on the Internet, but not in our house.

At the request of readers who want a respectful dialogue, The Times has restored the forum with this request and warning:

But PLEASE, PLEASE try to keep the discussions civil. Do not attack or denigrate other posters - on the other hand, feel free to dispute their comments with your own informed and mature comments.


We understand that this is a stressful time in this team's history, and that passions run hot. But that doesn't mean this is the Wild West, where anything goes. Children read these boards too....

And we'll be operating on a zero tolerance policy. If you're posting solely to agitate people, you're gone. End of story.

Comments (0) | Category: Journalism ethics |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 15, 2008 4:10 PM

Citizen journalism may be a bitter pill for some

Posted by Mike Fancher

However you feel about the political firestorm over Barack Obama's comments about bitter people, it is noteworthy that the controversy began with a blog posting by a citizen journalist.

Ironically, the citizen reporter, Mayhill Fowler, is an Obama supporter, which is why she was invited to attend the closed-door session at which the candidate made his comments. Press Here to see her original blog posting on a citizen-journalism portion of the Huffington Post called OffTheBus, which is described as "ground level coverage of campaign '08":

There are many different ways to participate -- you can blog, you can contribute to our group journalism projects, you can monitor local campaign events, or, if you're an expert in a particular subject area, you can make yourself available to OffTheBus contributors for interviews. It's important that you tell us where you're located so that we can notify you of state and local journalism opportunities.

Initial mainstream news coverage of Obama's comments ignored Fowler's role, according to Jay Rosen, who helped create OffTheBus. Rosen explains the back story to Fowler's reporting:

When Arianna Huffington and I conceived of OffTheBus in March of 2007, we talked about this possibility: A contributor of ours gets invited to a fundraiser and tells us what the candidate said there. We knew it was likely because we would be opening OffTheBus to people who were active in politics. We decided that if we trusted the writer, we would probably run the piece, after doing what was necessary to verify the words of the candidate. If the campaigns wanted to try to ban from every gathering of supporters those supporters who had a blog, or a diary at a site like Daily Kos or TPM Cafe, or an affiliation with a project like ours -- well, that didn't seem very practical to us.


We knew there could be problems with this approach, and possible disputes with the campaigns. But we also felt that participants in politics had a right to report on what they saw and heard themselves, not as journalists claiming no attachments but as citizens with attachments who were relinquishing none of their rights. We talked about it, but we never anticipated anything this big, or wave-like.

Rosen said Fowler's post drew 250,000 page views and over 5,000 comments in 48 hours. It also got widespread attention in mainstream media and in the blogosphere, not to mention from the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

This incident reinforces how thoroughly the media landscape is changing. (For example, no meeting is closed if anyone in the room is blogging.) Rosen says citizen journalism is uncharted territory, and responses to his posting suggest many readers will evaluate it based on whether they like the story that is reported.

This one created a frenzy that tells us we are just beginning to see how complicated the future of journalism will be.

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April 11, 2008 3:50 PM

Enough is enough, says longtime observer of newspapers

Posted by Mike Fancher

John Morton, one of the newspaper industry's senior analysts, says newspapers that are cutting costs to maintain high profits are wrongheaded and threaten their own futures.

Morton's comments come in an article entitled, "Enough is enough," in the American Journalism Review.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments (0) | Category: Journalism trends , Media ownership , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 10, 2008 11:45 AM

Secrecy spreads like fire in the Santa Ana winds

Posted by Mike Fancher

Press Here
for a cautionary tale about abuse of public records secrecy in the OC.

The Orange County Register discovered there are 996,716 vehicles registered to California motorists who are affiliated with 1,800 state and local agencies and who are allowed to hide their home addresses under a Confidential Records Program. The Register said its investigation "has found that the program, designed 30 years ago to protect police from criminals, has been expanded to cover hundreds of thousands of public employees - from police dispatchers to museum guards - who face little threat from the public. Their spouses and children can get the plates, too."

Continue reading this post ...


Comments (0) | Category: Open government |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 10, 2008 8:35 AM

Debating local versus corporate ownership of newspapers

Posted by Mike Fancher

Press Here for a discussion about newspaper ownership that includes Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen and Phil Bronstein, a veteran editor for the Hearst Corp.

Comments (0) | Category: Journalism trends , Media consolidation , Media ownership , Media reform , News industry developments , The future of journalism |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

More from this blog

Recent entries

Apr 30, 08 - 10:00 PM
-- 30 --

Apr 29, 08 - 02:20 PM
It's time for Press Here to press on

Apr 25, 08 - 03:55 PM
A "welcome ad"? I don't think so.

Apr 18, 08 - 11:30 AM
Technical fouls in the Sonics fan forum

Apr 15, 08 - 04:10 PM
Citizen journalism may be a bitter pill for some

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