Tag Archives: eBay

Honolulu Civil Beat: “A new approach to journalism,” says editor

Honolulu Civil Beat will have ‘reporter-hosts’, ‘peer news’ and is designed as a ‘civic square’ for Hawaii; what’s more it has soft-launched without any stories.

It has also introduced a payment plan from the start: $19.99 per month for full access to articles, although currently reduced to $4.99.

Oh, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is its CEO and publisher.

It launches proper on 4 May.

Its editor John Temple says, to first users:

How will we do this to best serve you? First, you’ll be part of the process. You might have noticed that we’ve opened the doors to this new civic square without putting up any news articles. That’s different – a news service without news, at least initially. It’s intentional. We want to begin by talking with you about what we’re doing, to hear what you want from us and what you think we should be asking. We believe conversation and civil debate with our reporter-hosts and with other members is central to what will make Civil Beat valuable. And we want you to see that the core of our service isn’t the article itself. Of course, incisive news reporting soon will be an important part of what we offer. But at the heart of our service are pages dedicated to providing you context and understanding about the issues you need to know about. These “topic pages” are living pages. They’ll grow over time, with your help. We know you’re busy and that our job is to help make it easy for you to learn about and truly understand what’s going on, and what you might be able to do about it. With our approach, you should be able to find the background you need when you want it, without having to surf thousands of pages of documents or make numerous phone calls to unearth what should be readily available to you.

Full post at this link…

Successful German blog Basicthinking.de sold on eBay

Basicthinking.de, one of the most-visited German blogs discussing IT and hardware topics, was sold on eBay last week for nearly €47,000, Medienlese has reported.

Robert Basic, IT expert, owner and only author of the popular forum, said in a post that he had put the blog on eBay, because it was ‘time for a change and to build up something new’. At time of writing, Basic’s last entry had received 444 comments.

Some critics accused Basic of linkbaiting, suggesting that he would not go through with the sale of the blog.

He will continue to write for multi-language blog buzzriders, but not basicthinking. The blog is now in the hands of serverloft, a German server company.

MySociety ‘retreat’ places up for auction on eBay

MySociety, the democracy website, which turned five in October, has put two places for its annual retreat up for auction on eBay.

MySociety says on its blog:

“This is only the third such retreat in five years, and it is a super-rare occasion when all the various people who make mySociety tick get together. On these retreats we meet to set our agenda for the next year and try to reassess what we’ve done and what we’re about. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet many of the most talented developers and thinkers in the field of the internet and democracy, people you’d otherwise rarely be able to catch. And it’s a great moment to catch them, pausing for a moment to discuss what we’re about and where we could go next.”

Tom Steinberg, the director and founder of mySociety, told Journalism.co.uk that the retreat will be held January 9-11 2009, and that the location is still to be decided (somewhere in the north-west).

“The purpose of the retreat is to get together and do all those things that it’s impossible for a fully virtual organisation to do just
online,” he said.

This includes:

  • Reassessing  priorities
  • Coming up with new ideas for services and tools
  • Discussing financial position and how to improve it
  • Coding side-by-side
  • People getting to know each other

Election day newspapers sold on eBay

Following reports that the print editions of certain US newspapers sold out after Barack Obama was declared President elect, some ‘collector’s copies’ have appeared on eBay.

How about $80 for this edition of the New York Times from yesterday? You get a ‘resealable plastic envelope’ too.

Not a fan of the Times? Well, why not snap up these eight papers from the Chicago area for just $500. No bids as yet, so if you’re quick…

A new online revenue stream for the traditional printed paper perhaps?

Innovations in Journalism – Newsvetter – taking the pain out of press releases

Screenshot of Newsvetter logo

In our Innovations in Journalism series we give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are developing.

Today’s candidate is Newsvetter – a site that wants to build better connections between journalists and PRs, starting with more targeted press releases.

Founder Andrew Fowler tells us more:

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
I’m a former PR practitioner who worked in the profession for about eight years. I cut my teeth at a big PR agency and then after a couple of years started consulting for smaller companies and organizations as a solo practitioner.

I have spent the bulk of my career pitching ‘news’ to journalists – a core PR function that now more than ever is being equated with spam.

Why is this happening? Quality has given way to quantity. With the aid of press release distribution services and social networks, journalists are receiving record numbers of poor quality and irrelevant material from PR people.

In November 2007, I launched the online news vetting and delivery service Newsvetter. Based in Portland, Oregon USA, Newsvetter is designed to discourage mass pitching and help journalists extract higher quality information from companies and PR agencies.

Instead of sending press releases and cut-and-paste pitches, PR people go through a vetting Q&A process on the site made up of key questions commonly asked by journalists. Follow this link for an example of a completed Q&A.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
The vetting process provides answers to key questions which then allows journalists to quickly evaluate a story idea’s potential and verify its accuracy. Journalists can also register, create a public profile on the site which allows them to provide details about their beat, publication, current interests, recent stories, and when and how they like to get contacted. Journalists can share their profile URL with the PR people they work with. To see an example profile of a journalist on Newsvetter use this link.

After viewing a journalist’s profile, PR people email them news ideas, but only after they complete the vetting process.

To encourage quality, journalists can rate and comment on the work submitted by PR people. Comments and ratings become part of a PR person’s public record on Newsvetter (one that can be viewed by journalists, peers, employer, client etc.). One goal of mine is to create a system similar to eBay’s “feedback score” for sellers which will reward those who submit quality story ideas.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
The site is currently in beta. Under development are some changes to the user interface, which will make the site easier to understand and use, as well as some features that will make the service more attractive for PR people.

4) Why are you doing this?
I’m hearing loud and clear from journalists that the quality of news pitches to them is substandard (and largely irrelevant). Rather than talk (more) about it, I’ve created a working tool that addresses this issue head on.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Newsvetter will always be a free service for journalists. It is also currently free to PR people. In the coming months, Newsvetter will offer a set of premium features, which companies and PR agencies can pay to access.

6) How will you make it pay?
The pay-off is that journalists associate Newsvetter with quality and will thoughtfully review PR submissions that come through the site (rather than simply delete them ). PR people will see Newsvetter as a service that can help build relationships with journalists and increase quality coverage for their company or client.

Twitter round-up: Twitter for sale and twittering for freedom

Andrew Baron, founder of videoblog site Rocketboom, put his Twitter account on Ebay (thanks to WinExtra for flagging this up). If you think that’s weird, it gets stranger – the bids apparently rose to $1,550 before Baron pulled the auction.

Not sure what’s worse: the potential that this was all a publicity stunt (I realise I’m giving it more) or that people were willing to bid so much. Baron wrote on the auction site:

I really love my Twitter account but I feel like I haven’t been using it the way I want to. Quite honestly, I feel sorry for all of my followers because they wind up with my tweets in their timelines and I haven’t been able to utilize the medium the way I want to. I also participate in another Twitter account over on Rocketboom so I’m thinking I’ll post more over there and start up a new account to do what I want to do next.

It would be silly to just delete this account I have here, especially if there is someone out there that had like interests and had something to say or wanted to get involved in some relevant conversations. In terms of monetary value, I have no expectations or needs at all so I decided not to put a minimum bid on this. Whatever will be, will be.

It seems to have worked publicity-wise: Baron’s followers have jumped from 1397 when he started the auction to 1,755 at last count.

Elsewhere, a Californian grad student used the microblogging service as a get out of jail card.

The site InsideBayArea reports on student James Karl Buck, a former multimedia intern for US newspaper the Oakland Tribune, who when arrested by Egyptian police used Twitter to send a message that he had been arrested to his network.

His contacts just happened to contain several anti-government bloggers – it’s part of a project for his graduate course – and helped him then secure a lawyer, contact the US Embassy and alert international media. Not bad for a tweet.

Tribune resorts to ‘joke’ press release for latest appointment

Those guys at Tribune know how to have a laugh don’t they? Take this ‘hilarious’ press release I received today about the US media group’s latest appointment:

Surely You Can’t Be Serious? Marc Chase – President Of Tribune Interactive!

Randy Michaels’ run of acquiring radio-management stars
came to a screeching halt today with Chase’s appointment

CHICAGO, April 7, 2008 — Another freaking Clear Channel
Communications executive on the payroll and this one’s been
named President of Tribune Interactive.

Tribune Broadcasting’s Randy Michaels’ past finally caught
up with him when Marc Chase obviously blackmailed his way
into a position he is not remotely qualified to hold.
Insiders are irate. Chase is a fraud. A source inside
Tribune HR, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out that
Marc Chase’s resume (below) was obviously fabricated. First
of all, his name isn’t even Marc Chase–it’s Mark Thompson.
The whole thing is a sham.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC 20500 202-456-1111


Vocabulary Advisorist for George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
Washington DC, 2004-present

President of Buying Crap
San Jose, California 2003-2004

Executive Vice President of Finding Crap Anywhere
Mountain View, California 2001-2002

Senior Executive Vice President of Technology and Stuff
Seattle, Washington, 2000-2001

CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX Television
Vice President of Watching TV A Lot
Los Angeles, California 1999-2000

Harvard University
Dean of School of Internetology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998


Nearly Graduated with Honers
School of Alabama in Atlanta Georgia 1985


400 Hours (reduced from 600)
Judge gave time off for good behavior

Chase was quoted as saying, “Timing and infrared photography
are everything. I couldn’t be happier! I know Randy is
relieved to finally have me on Sam’s payroll.”

Tribune has undergone major changes in the past year, with
billionaire Sam Zell acquiring the company last April in a
complex deal that left it with $13 billion in debt. Since
then, Zell has brought in new executives to fill key roles.
This one takes the cake.

Last December, Zell hired Michaels — who helped Zell to
build Clear Channel into a radio behemoth that he could then
sell — to oversee Tribune’s broadcast and Internet
divisions. It is obvious Michaels has lost his mind with
this hire.

–By Hugh Jass – A Reputable Media Source

© 2008, Bogus Information, a division of Dewey, Cheatum, and
Howe. All Rights Reserved.

While you’re sewing you sides back together (and trying to make sense of the whole thing), you have to ask why? As Gawker points out Marc Chase has been hired – that’s about all you can determine from the message – but is it appropriate to send out a spoof release as the Tribune company faces mass redundancies?

The Scotsman’s new website – will it be the destination Scotland needs?

Last week we were treated to a brief glimpse of screen grabs of the new version of Scotman.com.

Present version:

Old Scotsman

New beta version:

New Beta Scotsman

It’s worth a look again now that it’s nearing the end of its beta development phase and especially as it is now sending email out to its subscribers about its improvements, changes and impending launch.

The redesign has placed greater emphasis on multimedia – more video upfront although not much more than that- and expanded the level of navigation from the homepage by increasing the number of tabs across the top.

The paper has also introduced a most popular stories feature to the revamp.

The left side of the page is now ad-heavy with the great number of links directly below that as eyeballs seem to be endlessly attracted to the left side of web pages.

There are also significantly more links on the page, yet is seems less cluttered as the site has adopted a wider format.

The front-page video opens in a pop up box, rather than playing in the page. Often an annoyance to users and not conducive to viewing, as test at the BBC found out.

On the news pages the comments system seems to have disappeared from the bottom of news stories, replaced by a series of book marking tools that allows the user to easily share through Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Reddit and Stumble Upon.

The new site will ask all users to register before they are able to leave comments on this and other JP sites.

Registering will also open up a user’s ability to personalise their home page (so the site blurb claims).

However, none of that functionality seems to exist on the site yet, most likely because it’s still in the beta phase.

The Scotsman has also added enhanced site search where none was immediately apparent previously. The search offer up a tabbed selection of results of news, web and blog results – promising you’d think.

But all the blogs currently listed are from Johnston Press’s own Blogstoday.co.uk platform, which can best be described as clunky and limited.

Web search returns a series of what looks like sponsored ads, no links to stories, when generic terms like ‘football’ are used. The term ‘Rangers’ again brings up adds for eBay, Ask and credit cards.

My name as a phrase “Oliver Luft” brought no results, a final search for “Kenny Miller” brings an odd set of websites as results, very few weighed in favour of the Scottish international footballer, as you’d perhaps expect.

Again, these may be just teething problems ahead of the full launch (although other JP sites seem to run the same search system with similar results).

If all the missing and frankly odd elements are just teething problems then why show it off to the readership at this stage?

For a newly redeveloped site, it seems a little old fashioned. The level of interactivity on offer and how the site sits with the broader web seems a little basic.

Where is the linking to other sources from news stories, and fostering of online communities? Why does that PA ticker on the home page still have UK-wide news?

Not being a Scotsman I consulted with those living and having lived North of the boarder to gauge opinions.

The general consensus is that if this is more-or-less the finished product then the Scotsman seems to have missed a trick to really turn itself into the natural dedicated Scottish online news destination.

The fact that users still have to subscribe for near £30 a year to get the sites premium content, also still rankles with some.

The BBC offers relatively little online that is Scottish-focused; treating it like more like an English region on the web than a separate country, and The Herald seems to have been through turmoil which has stunted its ambitions online.

Against that backdrop the Scotsman could have really made a big splash with this relaunch. It still may do yet if it builds on these new incremental improvements.