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The Media Technology

Saving Journalism With Flash and Java 206

Posted by kdawson
from the looking-forward-and-looking-back dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York magazine has a story about some of the flashy new ideas that are coming out of the labs of the New York Times. The piece prompted Peter Wayner to dig up some of the old Java applets he wrote to explore whether more promiscuity really stops AIDS and whether baseball can do anything to speed up the games. He notes that these took a great deal of work to produce and it's not possible to do them on a daily basis. Furthermore, they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java. Are cool, interactive features the future of journalism on the web? Or will simple ASCII text continue to be the most efficient way for us to mingle our thoughts, especially when ASCII text won't generate a classloading error?"
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Saving Journalism With Flash and Java

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  • Isn't this a rather obvious question?

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#26439437) Journal

      Only if you're looking at the title alone.

      I actually work tech at a big media organization, so this is something I think about constantly, and the article is a perfect example of the media missing the goddamn point.

      The way to persist is to deliver a better product. Print journalism is by far the most prolific news medium in existence, and traditional print newspapers are still the biggest providers of that content...right now.

      But increasingly they're cutting jobs and reducing the quality of their physical product in order to try and retain their profitability, and, magically, it's not helping their product.

      At the same time they're investing in ideas like the ones described in the article, which are 100% substance-free, cute little web 2.0 widgets that may occupy a few minutes of someone's time, but don't add any lasting value to the product, and don't pull the new users they need (people like us), but instead appeal primarily to the same technophobes who are their core market already.

      What they need to do is push an actual, meaningful, web presence, one with persistence, where content lasts longer than a week or so, and where the web content is clear, clean, and accessible to aggregators and search engines, so they can take advantage of the long tail.

      It's inevitable that the print product is going to get superceded by a web product. The industry is dragging its feet, however, on really dealing out a first class web product, and so they're basically guaranteeing that when the first really savvy web-based news organization comes along, that they're going to get their marketshare ripped away.

      • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:29PM (#26439633) Homepage Journal

        I work for a newspaper company. We haven't cut the quality of our physical product, and we're still quite profitable. Then again, we're in the midwest and people here still like physical papers.

        That being said, I think the big keys is to have exclusive stories that people want to read.

        I read the baseball story linked in the article. The Java app allowed users to see the numbers for themselves, but I didn't feel it was necessary. What really turned me off was how poorly the article itself was written. I think a well written article could have made the case without the need for the java app.

        I still think on principle, technology if well utilized will help journalism.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

          Yea, we're still making a 20% margin, so we're profitable as well...Damn profitable. If I could invest my savings at 20% today, I'd retire.

          But 10 years ago it was a 35% margin and our circulation was 25% larger. What's yer parent company, just out of curiosity?

          Don't kid yourself that the industry is going to do an amazing rebound. The demographics suck, the paper and ink costs are steadily increasing, and the internet is eating up a big chunk of the ad pool.

          The thing that bothers me is that the applications

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Enderandrew (866215)

            I work for the Omaha World-Herald. We own most of the papers in Nebraska and Iowa. We just had the second best year of the company (second only to 2007). Ink costs are much higher. Paper costs are much higher. We've installed ink saving software. I really think we could cut down on paper waste.

            We also have Omaha.com and we're pushing our web presence more and more.

            What makes the print product work is that our advertisers still greatly prefer a physical insert over a web ad.

            Circulation is down a bit, b

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

              Meh, I googled you and the first editor and publisher article was how you cut 12,000 circ this year [editorandpublisher.com]. Even for a big paper like the OWH, that's a hefty chunk, and that sort of measure really kicks your upbeatness in the fork. Not half as bad as the AJC though; those jokers cut almost 6 times that recently.

              Nice that you're not corporate owned though. Corporate ownership is the suck. Our profits are eaten up to support larger, less profitable papers, and to pay fat corporate salaries.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nsayer (86181) *

          I read the baseball story linked in the article. The Java app allowed users to see the numbers for themselves,

          No it didn't. It allowed me to see the BBOD and force-quit Safari is all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by squidfood (149212)

          That being said, I think the big keys is to have exclusive stories that people want to read.

          The problem is, you all (the "traditionals", at least in the decisionmaking rooms it seems) are defining "exclusive" as "first" and that becomes "rushed and shallow." You know what aggregaters have taught me? That a huge percentage of newspapers' "front pages" are the same story, in the same words regurgitated, as the wire stories. Those aren't the ones I come back to or spread around... the ones I come back to (and share) are those with considered analysis and thought. First to market "scoops" just do

      • The point of a newspaper is to read.

        Any self-respecting news site should do as a paper does and offer only text with a supporting picture or two. The site should be fully functional with AdBlock and NoScript.

        If video is offered then a link the text version of the scoop should be offered as well(I mention this because CNN.com will have an interesting-looking story with no way to read it because it links to that obnoxious media player, and still we have to sit through commercials to watch the video, and s
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

          I'm right there with you. Who wants to watch 10 minutes of video instead of an article that could be consumed in 90 seconds? (30 seconds for CNN)

          I have no problem with video being made available as an extra...If you've got a journalist somewhere, have 'em shoot a little tape while they're there, then post it online with their story, and use that to drive traffic to your website.

          But taking away the text article and replacing it with flash or video? That sucks.

        • The site should be fully functional with AdBlock and NoScript.

          Yes on the latter, a resounding "no" on the first.

          Why? Because they're making their money off the advertisements. I know you want everything for free RIGHT GOD DAMN NOW, but people still have to make money. And the way most companies on the web make money (if they do at all) is via those advertisements. I host and operate a web-based browser game, and I have exactly three advertisements (a skyscraper ad on the right side of the login page, a banner ad at the bottom of every page, out of the way of all relev

          • by kencurry (471519) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:13PM (#26442305)
            I pay for wsj.com; have for several years now. I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of the journalism, with a concomitant rise in ads, "movies", etc. I just want a reliable news source that I can read anywhere, including my iphone. I will pay for it - is that so hard?

            But for the love of god, I do not want annoying prompts to update java or flash. ever. period.

        • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:48PM (#26439917) Homepage Journal

          Except consumers want video. Our web site was going down the tube, and another local site was getting more hits than us. Video was the #1 reason. Now we produce our own video.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cjb658 (1235986)

      It can, but it doesn't always do that. Sometimes it makes it worse by adding more fluff, like the flashy touchscreens and "holograms" on CNN.

      • People often don't know how to utilize technology, but big media has somewhat embraced bloggers, crowd-sourcing, etc. I think technology enables the media to discover new revenue sources and new outlets. Technology enables the media to better push immediate, breaking news. And technology enables the media to get more immediate feedback from their users to better track what users want.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by flyingsquid (813711)
      I think the answer can be found in the way the question is being asked: in plain text.

      We're being presented a summary of a story in text. The linked articles are all blocks of text with some images, and a few links to the aforementioned interactive features. I read about these interactive features. The text makes them sound really interesting. But ironically, since the text told me exactly what I was going to find when I played with the interactive simulations, I didn't feel any particular need to actually

  • Flash is evil... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#26439037) Homepage Journal
    and must die [slashdot.org]!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      How dare people try to display information other then forms that can be represented with keys on the typewritter keyboard.

      Flash Won... Deal with it. Faster and Fancier then JavaApplets. They try to play nice across platforms. Hey all those flash adds makes them that much easier to detect and disable.

      • Flash wins [googlefight.com], though I imagine its biased because googlefights is Flash based :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cjb658 (1235986)

        That saddens me. Flash video is very slow, gives me very high CPU usage, and doesn't support overlay.

        As usual, the product with the most bling (flashiest, if you will) beats the one with the best functionality.

  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#26439041) Homepage Journal

    I welcome our new ASCII overlords, wait, it's New York Magazaine, I welcome our new AXCII overlords.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:46PM (#26439053)

    So far the media's use of flash and java has been a major reason for the development and wide-spread use of browser plug-ins to disable those technologies. I reject your reality and substitute my own.

    • Agreed. When I want information I want straight-up text and regular picture and diagrams, maybe a video if it is necessary, but none of this animation nonsense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by prockcore (543967)

      So far the media's use of flash and java has been a major reason for the development and wide-spread use of browser plug-ins to disable those technologies.

      Yo dawg, we heard you like blocking plugins so we made a plugin-blocker plugin so you can block plugins while you plugin.

    • Agreed, the only advantage for using flash is so you have an embedded video player that can play a relevant clip. As far as interactivity goes, posting feedbacks/discussions can generally be done without the use of applets or flash and is the only thing that adds any value.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mugnyte (203225)

      I disagree. The web's capabilities with dynamic content was great during the US elections, during war reporting of changing borders, or in anything with charts that allow collective/isolated comparisons.

      I think the use of the tools can be annoying: when it's flashy and overly attention-grabbing, stuff unrelated to story content or when it's the only way to get the information presented - text should always be available.

      The use of any dynamic content, video or not, is - i think - sticking t

      • I think the use of the tools can be annoying: when it's flashy and overly attention-grabbing, stuff unrelated to story content or when it's the only way to get the information presented - text should always be available.

        Like those horrible "top/bottom 10 cities for X" with slides showing 'distinguishing' images of sidewalks, grey buildings and streetlights.

        On the other hand, I've seen a great Java graphic application which explained mortgage amortization really well. I've seen a gif animation which demonstrated housing bubble's tendency to create "donut cities" and I'd love to see or write an applet which demonstrates money, tax and labor flow/counter flows in an economy, property values over time [papereconomy.com], the tendency for bub

    • by British (51765)

      Flash and Java: Two things that can save print journalism for sure. When's the last time a physical newspaper had 8000 popup ads, browser incompatabilities and trying to load & play entire videos for no reason?

    • Even with such plugins, I've finally given up on the load of shit at CNN.com. When a misclick on a trackpad sent me to a bare list of 25 things it was OK to lie about in a relationship, I was pushed over the edge. To link an oprah-inspired, content-less list from the main page is the height of stupidity.

      BBC news, my local (crappy) newspaper, and NPR are my online news sources now. The only thing that will save journalism is when news organizations stop fucking around, and start doing their god damn job. C
  • We have different strengths in understanding idea. Reading is only one way of doing this. However for many people reading doesn't create a picture in the minds eye (myself included). Pictures do help set the minds eye about the information to help get the settings in correctly. But interactive methods of displaying ideas could really help portrait information. Playing a game to show a theory or method for a few minutes, can help get a better understanding of abstract concepts then trying to read them.

  • Wrong question. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xzvf (924443) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:50PM (#26439109)
    The question should be: Does a move away from traditional ways of serving news, mean the end of journalism? This is more hand wringing by print media about their waning fortunes. In fact TV, newspapers and news magazines didn't realize we were in a recession, because their revenue stream (advertising) was enhanced by the high spending presidential election. More and more stories are broken outside traditional media. The real story is how do journalists continue to do their job without the structure of a newspaper or wire service.
    • Re:Wrong question. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GPLDAN (732269) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:09PM (#26439375)
      The answer to your question is that investigative journalism is still a needed skill, and still worth paying for. Presentation is entirely secondary to journalism, again going back to your assertion that the entire question is wrong: it is.

      In fact, it fails to distinguish between being a publisher and being a journalist. Publishers can use Java applets to teach or illustrate educational points, and again - this has nothing to do with journalism as a profession.

      We conflate these ideas because so many people who call themselves "journalists" are nothing of the sort. They are tv reporters who make phone calls. Most local news is just taken off the AP wire, or maybe culled from the web. It's broadcasting, it's bullshit, and more and more, it's infotainment.

      Newspaper reporters, real reporting simply needs to migrate from printed paper to online. Most of the beat reporters, the guys and gals who dig up stories, chase leads, do the Woodward and Bernstein shtick - they still have a place - a valuable place - in society. For them, the web is even better, as they can mix media. Use an applet to make a map during an invasion, drill down into local reports, even get into designing news user interfaces, something that cnn.com likes to do.

      The real problem in the United States is that investigative reporting, digging around, doing follow-up, attributing sources, getting people to go on record - is hard work and nobody wants to do it. The fluffers of news need to find other work. The Bush administration cowed most hardline journalists. 60 Minutes and Frontline are just as home on the web as they are on tv, even more so. But now they compete in an arena where they don't have a monopoly, so they must be worth something independent of CBS or PBS - and they still need REAL journalists.

      What we are seeing now is that there are too many newspapers in the world, and so it's just consolidation to the best ones. When I moved to Denver I never read anything local, it was all shit. I read the NYT online. Denver is a shit town for journalism.
      • by nbauman (624611)

        The real problem in the United States is that investigative reporting, digging around, doing follow-up, attributing sources, getting people to go on record - is hard work and nobody wants to do it.

        There are lots of people who want to do it. The problem is that they can't earn enough to live on while they do it.

      • Re:Wrong question. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:38PM (#26441271)

        Investigative journalism will certainly still be a "needed skill" and "useful to society" if all the papers die. That's the whole issue. See, right now, those papers and magazines provide most of the infrastructure and career opportunities for journalists. Want to be the next Woodward? Well, you go to journalism school, then get a job at whatever paper will take you and (hopefully) work your way up to the NY Times or whatever prestigious news organization.

        You need print media, and not just a few "elite" papers but a whole bunch of options, if you want journalism to remain even a semi-viable choice of profession for smart and motivated individuals. (And "semi-viable" is generous; most of the journalists I know are lucky to stay above the poverty line.)

    • People always say this, and I never know what they mean.

      No more journalists? Seriously? No more people who go find out news and then write about it? The demand for that content is obscene, and the web is only increasing that demand.

      Print media is hindered primarily by their physical capital. Maintaining the zillion dollar presses, delivering the paper, creating the paper, the gigantic circulation infrastructure, the accounting infrastructure.

      That stuff accounts for more of the costs than the circulation rev

      • by Catiline (186878)

        People always say this, and I never know what they mean.

        No more journalists? Seriously? No more people who go find out news and then write about it?

        No, that's not what the grandparent said. He said jouralism "outside the structure of traditional media" -- ie. journalists who do not work for a news station or paper directly.

        Think of it as 10,000 Clark Kents and Lois Lanes, typing away on their blog (rather than at their cubicle in the Daily Planet), and the "headlines" being the articles selected by s

        • Oh I understand the concept. I just think he's underestimating the amount of actual skill and work it takes to create a significant story, as well as the amount of financial backing that is required to support a journalist who is working on investigative stories that can take months.

          There is also the issue of legal backing; protecting them from the inevitable people who choose to sue on flimsy pretexts because something made them look bad...Or alternately, providing those legal resources to prosecute lawsui

  • by Jahf (21968) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:51PM (#26439123) Journal

    Display Applications are for web sites.

    Research applications are for research.

    Content is for journalism.

    Journalism receives data from research.

    Journalism provides raw materials to the web.

    The web presents them to us.

    IT and developers create that web and hence its doodads.

    Journalists (and other creators) then populate that web and doodad with content. ...

    The point being: No, java / flash / doodads won't save journalism. And journalism isn't dying. It still exists but has a WEALTH of new contributors, which leaves demand for the few highly trained contributors low enough that many are leaving the field. Yet we still get our news.

    I don't like doodads. When I want news I want content. Not buttons. Not animations (unless they are truly pertinent).

    Journalists that create doodads are trying to salvage their career by doing something that is not PART of their career. Just like Developers who try to create content.

    So ... long answer given the short answer is: No, doodads won't save journalism. But journalism is evolving, not dying.

    • Ah,

      the time cubed theory

      anti-godism doodad careers. We,

      MOM & DAD & I concur.

    • And journalism isn't dying. It still exists but has a WEALTH of new contributors

      That's a myth... can't find the source right now (truthfully, can't be bothered to search for it :)), but it turns out that most of the "new contributors" you mention don't meet the modern definition of journalist; they also don't contribute any new information. Most, instead, rehash others' stories. Even the big orgs mostly just use newswire feeds.

      Rigorous investigative journalism is dying, because it simply costs too much t

  • yes, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by owlnation (858981) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:57PM (#26439213)
    Technology can help illustrate a good story, of course.

    However, the story is the key. What we need much more of, what the real savior of newspapers will be, it hard-hitting, in-depth investigations, and scoops. This worked for Hearst, among others. And the World really needs critical, trained, intelligent people examining what our corporations, our governments and their agents are up to, now more than ever in history.

    Any blogger can paraphrase an AP feed, it doesn't take brains. This is what newspapers have been concentrating on in the past few years, while ignoring actual journalism.

    Also, there's plenty examples of how technology is misused in TV media. Bugs, hyperbole-laced graphics, and skewed graphs. Let's not replicate that either. Let's not see powerpoint presentation news. By all means illustrate the facts, but make sure you have the facts too.
  • ebooks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:58PM (#26439243) Homepage

    Really, they should partner with Amazon to get their papers delivered to the Kindle automatically for a subscription fee.

    Also, Amazon should release an ebook reader designed for netbooks.

    Both would go a long way toward getting revenue for their publications.

  • by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:02PM (#26439267)
    ...but I really prefer my news to be reported in text and pictures. The occasional Flash apps that BBC sometimes uses to explore stories feel slow and clunky. Information osmosis time is limited to the speed and pace of the program, whereas reading a text article is limited only by the user's ability to scan through it, which can be done at their leisure.

    I feel like I am in the majority when I say that most of my news-reading comes during work during the few minutes I get every hour or so when waiting on something (like a compile). I don't really have the time to tinker around with a simulation exploring the possibilities. And even if I did, my patience will likely wear thin unless the simulation is either really exciting (not the case in the article) or something I'm really interested in (also not the case in the article).

    Yes, it's kinda cool. But changing the face of modern journalism? I think not.
  • by Teckla (630646) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:03PM (#26439301)

    Dear Java Hating Slashdot Editors,

    Java is not responsible for "generating class loader errors", any more than Perl is responsible for all the HTML errors on the Slashdot front page.

    Here's the link to the W3C HTML Validator [w3.org], go get yourself a clue.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by H0p313ss (811249)

      Dear Java Hating Slashdot Editors,

      Java is not responsible for "generating class loader errors", any more than Perl is responsible for all the HTML errors on the Slashdot front page.

      Here's the link to the W3C HTML Validator [w3.org], go get yourself a clue.

      You are correct. However Java applets are an incredibly brittle technology for provisioning software services.

      I would go so far as to argue that Suns initial attempts to introduce Java as a technology for creating dynamic web content has been the single greatest thing working against the adoption of Java in the industry.

      Java is a very powerful language and it definitely has its place in my tool-belt, but it certainly ain't for client-side applets.

      • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:11PM (#26440223)
        No offense, but your knowledge is dated. This old Java applet bugaboo has been hanging around just as long as the "Java is slow" urban myth. The truth is that applets arrived in a period of time when there were NO rich internet application and were far head of their time. There are tons of applets out there today that are fast, robust and useful. Also I'm not sure why you think Java has not been adopted by industry - it is the #1 language used in corporate environments, hands down. No language has ever had a more popular usage in industry.
    • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:05PM (#26440121)
      Java is cranky and fragile? I guess that is why it is used for backend trading applications and banks across the world. 100's of trillions of dollars is just fine to be handled by a cranky and fragile language. Thank god for perl and their fans for such a robust language that it can be used sometimes for partially stable webpages.
  • Useless. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:06PM (#26439345) Homepage Journal

    The linked articles are exactly what's wrong with newspaper sites.

    Called the Word Train, it asked a simple question: What one word describes your current state of mind? Readers could enter an adjective or select from a menu of options. They could specify whether they supported McCain or Obama. Below, the results appeared in six rows of adjectives, scrolling left to right, coded red or blue, descending in size of font. The larger the word, the more people felt that way.

    I go to the newspaper for two things: become informed about current events, and laugh at the horoscopes. I have no use for silly little games and whatnot.

    If newspapers want to become relevant, they need to expand their NEWS horizons and print news that matters to ME. A fire across town is NOT news; it's gossip about people I don't know. If said fire concens you, you're going to know about it before the newspaper does.

    The Governor getting impeached is news, as is the reasons for his iompeachment. The Libertarians' and Greens' Presidential candidates' stances on the issues was news, and it wasn't even covered.

    They have become marginalized because what they print is largely worthless.

    Now, computer simulations in the other link are a different story altogether. IF it's not just done for show. Unfortunately most of them are just for show.

    • What bothers me is, just as you sketched already, what is considered news today. The prez getting impeached is news. The opinions of some party leaders, even if it's minor parties, is news. You may put the "lesser important" party opinions onto a linked page if you don't feel that the majority of your readers may be interested in it, but it is news and maybe relevant to see where other parties stand. How about interviewing a few congresspeople or senators and ask for their opinion? Could we get a few words

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I go to the newspaper for two things: become informed about current events, and laugh at the horoscopes. I have no use for silly little games and whatnot.

      You don't think that how people feel is relevant to current events?

      If newspapers want to become relevant, they need to expand their NEWS horizons and print news that matters to ME. A fire across town is NOT news; it's gossip about people I don't know.

      I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your expectations are not normal.
      Most of us actually care about what goes on in our community.
      Maybe you should stop reading your local paper and subscribe to a national paper.

  • Whoa there! (Score:4, Informative)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:12PM (#26439391) Journal

    Or will simple ASCII text continue to be the most efficient way for us to mingle our thoughts, especially when ASCII text won't generate a classloading error?

    If you think plain ASCII text can't cause a system failure on loading, you need to spend some time grading undergraduate essays. Or reading corporate memos. Or, for that mater, some of the more egregious /. article summaries.

    -- MarkusQ

    P.S. If you think plane ASC 2 text can't on loading cause failure off your system, need too spend sometime grading undergraduate written by essays. Ore reading corporate-memos. Ore, four that matter, sum of teh more eggreigious article sumaries on this cite.

  • Form over facts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:17PM (#26439455)

    Bluntly? If your news page is filled with flash and java, I'll close the browser never to return. If you have no content and have to mask it with flashy graphics, I don't want to hear your story.

    It's the same with news networks. Ever watched the news recently? It's flashy "breaking news" jingles and enough FX to make the average hollywood movie drop its jaw in awe (which, btw, also rely more and more on flashy explosions and FX to hide that the script is thin enough to fit in a standard envelope), but where's the beef?

    JibJab [youtube.com] summed it up quite nicely.

    Gimme news! Gimme information! And keep your flashy crap!

  • There has always been an inverse relationship between substance and style in print journalism. The more pictures a newspaper has almost always means the less substance a newspaper has. I've seen the same with Web sites. The less educated will not have the knowledge to realize that flash and scripting blockers are available.

  • by Ilyakub (1200029) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:26PM (#26439575)

    I've seen very helpful Flash visualizations on news websites that helped understand the story better.

    For example, this interactive map [latimes.com] of drug war related deaths in Mexico is very well done. It doesn't just clarify the conflict, but encourages the reader to analyze and research the topic independently in addition to linearly reading the text of an article.

    Just reading an article, listening to the radio or watching a news program often gives the illusion of learning and understanding new information, whereas in reality very little is retained.

    Innovative and interactive ways of presenting information solve this problem.

    • Yes, it can be right. Just like good FX can spice up a good movie to make it great.

      But FX is a bit like MSG. Yes, it can enhance the flavor of your food. But it's just so tempting to use it differently, to mask that there is no flavor and just toss it in to make it taste like there is any.

      The same applies to visual enhancement tools like flash. More often than not, you see it used to mask the fact that there is too little content and the whole graphics overload should distract you from that.

  • The most important thing I learned in journalism was that you have to figure out how to give your readers information that's useful to them.

    For example, if somebody has cancer, he's very interested in a story about a new treatment for cancer. The more reliable, the better.

    Nothing else counts. If flash and blinking lights will help do that, fine. If not, kill the lights.

    If you don't give them useful information, it doesn't matter how much lipstick you put on it, they won't read it.

  • by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:33PM (#26439691)

    The article focused on a hypothetical heterosexual world in which all the men but only a few of the women were promiscuous. In this situation, the promiscuous women quickly caught the virus and became a sort of viral clearinghouse, spreading HIV to every man with whom they had contact. The men, in turn, brought it home to their wives. If the number of promiscuous women increased, the Landsburg-Kremer model posited, each man would be less likely to find an infected woman in his nightly wanderings, and the spread of HIV would slow.

    Not sure of the link to flash (only skimmed TFA), but flash has apperantly cured AIDS AND made women more willing to sleep with me. Either one really would have made up for all the annoyances, both together? Can we declare Flash a saint?

  • As a journalist, I always want to know: What kind of information do my readers want to know?

    What do you want from your newspaper?

    When's the last time you saw a good story that was worth reading? That would have even been worth paying for?

    What would you like to know about that you're not getting?

    Trolls are OK. I'm willing to sort out the bad jokes from the useful answers. I do that all day anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thyrsus (13292)

      I subscribe to a traditional print paper, so I do pay something for news. If there's government corruption or incompetency, I want to read about it. If there's a war going on, I want to read about it. I want to read about major - or even minor - crime and accidents, depending on how close to home they occur. I want to read about changes in law that affect me. I want to read about major economic and business stories (e.g., "IBM terminates several hundred contractors"; "UNC drops effort to open airport")

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by N3Roaster (888781)

      What kind of information do my readers want to know?

      If you get a serious answer to that question, please do your readers a favor and ignore it.

      I had a discussion about this a few years ago with someone who worked at the local paper. I had remarked that the World section had gone from being a full section of the paper to taking up an area about the size of a postcard buried part way through the front section on a page that was otherwise completely filled with advertisements. It was very easy to miss that it

  • Web semantics 101 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CHJacobsen (1183809)

    For most web applications, a developer should think of three layers:

    1. Semantic information (Mostly HTML/XHTML, although other semantic content such as movies or games work as well)
    2. Basic layout (CSS, non-semantic images)
    3. Interactive/Dynamic features(JavaScript, Flash, Applets, and anything else strictly used to dynamically enhance the user experience)

    This ensures graceful degradation and flexibility. In general, the larger the percentage of web applications using this model, the better.

    If you're able

  • Journalism suffers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by greg_barton (5551) <(greg_barton) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:45PM (#26439869) Homepage Journal

    Furthermore, they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java.

    Perhaps journalism is suffering because unsubstantiated lies are repeated so often people think they're true.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Or because they are repeated so often that nobody believes anything they say any more. Or a mix of the 2.

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:51PM (#26439953)
    Why is it that any bozo coder who himself codes mistakes into his apps, is then hot and ready to blame the language? Dude, Java does not write itself. If you wrote it in a fragile way, then it is your fault--not the language. All that said, I'm delighted to see the NYTimes trying new things.
  • 4022 journalists saved.

    No survivors.

  • by colfer (619105) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#26440833)

    Here's a pretty well-funded, all-Flash newsmagazine published by real journalists: http://www.flypmedia.com/ [flypmedia.com]

  • by Black Sabbath (118110) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#26440835) Homepage

    and that's reporting subjects with some real research and analysis, without fear or favour, not beholden to corporate or government interests and without being biased by the prevailing memes.

    In my opinion, people are moving away from "traditional" journalism not so much because of the format or media but because they are sick of recycled, verbatimly quoted press-releases and propaganda pieces being constantly repeated with almost no variation by every media outlet.
    The attractiveness of "alternative" media seems to be the increased variety of opinion available.

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