RSS readers reviewed

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 23:19 - by

After talking to beat reporters about how they use RSS to research and report their beats, it seemed appropriate to go a step further and look at some of the technical how.

No, I’m not going to try to explain how a feed is tracked in terms my mother would understand. Instead, let’s look at some different RSS readers and some more recent players in RSS-land.

The Original?


Perhaps one of the first RSS readers came from one of the fathers of RSS: Dave Winer. He wrote it in 1999 and called it News River. This year, he started working on a new version, which would “incorporate all that we had learned about RSS aggregation in the last ten years, and combine it with several technologies that had gotten established since we began,” as described on the River2 website.

Winer’s reader is based on the concept of the “River of News.”

He describes this style of news reading on one of his websites, ReallySimpleSyndication:

Instead of having to hunt for new stories by clicking on the titles of feeds, you just view the page of new stuff and scroll through it. It’s like sitting on the bank of a river, watching the boats go by. If you miss one, no big deal. You can even make the river flow backward by moving the scollbar up. To me, this more approximates the way I read a print newspaper, actually it’s the way I wish I could read a print newspaper — instead of having to go to the stories, they come to me. This makes it easier for me to use my brain’s powerful scanning mechanism. It’s faster, I can subscribe to more, and my fingers do less work.

Sounds like Twitter to me.

River2 doesn’t have most of the features we see in other feed readers. You can’t River2 makes it easy to share a link on Twitter, see news items in reverse-chronological order, add new feeds and reading lists (more on reading lists in a minute), download podcasts or force a scan of your feeds.

One thing River2 does that most other readers do not is reading lists. To put it in simple terms, subscribing to a reading list (just an OPML file) is like following someone’s list on Twitter. You are not following the individual people on that list, but the list itself, so that any changes the author makes will be reflected in what you see.

This struck me as immediately useful for journalists, especially beat reporting. A reporter covering fashion in Los Angeles could share reading lists with a counterpart in New York City. Instead of sharing individual articles, you share everything that you add to the list.

Another feature that River2 provides is support for RSSCloud. RSSCloud is an addition to RSS that means that if you are subscribed to feeds that are Cloud-enabled (recently, WordPress plugins have been released to do this, and all WordPress.com RSS feeds are Cloud-enabled) you will receive updates from those feeds in almost real-time. Very few other readers are supporting RSSCloud, and I’ll go into that a little more later.

River2 runs on a local server on your computer or can be set up on Amazon’s EC2 servers.

I wanted to interview Winer about RSS and River2, but he told me he doesn’t do interviews. Instead, I emailed him some questions and he was kind enough to respond in a mini-podcast.

Listen to his comments (about seven minutes).

Tried and True

Google Reader

(Full disclosure: I use Google Reader myself)

Google Reader is a free, Web-based RSS reader.

One of the most powerful aspects of Google Reader is the search capability. Find new sites to follow or search your own archives for an older article.

The service integrates nicely with other Google services, which makes its sharing features especially robust: anyone in your Gmail address book who uses Google Reader can share and comment on articles with you. If you want to share outside of Google, you can also share to most social media sites or create your own public page of shared items.

Reader has also been popular among geeks, resulting in a lot of Firefox extensions and scripts that extend or modify function and appearance.

Away from your computer, Google Reader has been optimized for any Web-enabled phone.

We have a screencast from earlier this year on using RSS and Google Reader.


Bloglines has been around for what seems like forever and was one of the first popular RSS readers.

It may not be as feature-filled as Google Reader, but sometimes simple is better.

Features include:

  • Mobile version
  • Custom Startpage
  • Manage e-mail subscriptions
  • Saved searches deliver future articles matching your key words and phrases
  • Most popular lists show the days hot topics

New Kids


A new RSS reader, Fever is a Web-based application that you host on your own server. It costs $30 to download, so I asked Andrew Spittle, a journalist who mentioned Fever to me on Twitter, to give me the run-down.

Fever main appeal seems to be the “personalized recommendation engine.” If you subscribe to a lot of feeds that only have worthwhile articles now and then, you can mark these feeds as “Sparks.” The Sparks are then used to create a Hot List – Fever analyzes the links within the posts you’re subscribed to and builds a listing of the most popular links in the last day, two days, three days, week, etc.

The Hot lists is created by analyzing links, not content, which poses “interesting ramifications for large news sites that mostly don’t link at all within their posts,” Spittle said. “Tech blogs are great to power the recommendation engine (lots of links within post) mass media sites, not so much.”


LazyFeed is not as RSS reader or aggregator. Instead of subscribing to RSS feeds, users enter topics of interest. LazyFeed tracks blog posts by topic and notifies users in real time when new posts are available. The updates are handled really elegantly, especially for something that updates so constantly!


PostRank is a ranking system that uses social engagement to rank any kind of online content.
Engagement is measured by “analyzing the types and frequency of an audience’s interaction with online content.”

One of the ways PostRank can be really useful is helping to cut down on that “information overload.” Say you subscribe to an RSS feed from Google News for the Bronx, in New York City. Some of the articles in that feed will be completely useless and uninteresting. PostRank can help you filter those out based on how people engage with the information.


Feedly is a Firefox extension that organizes your RSS feeds from Google Reader into a magazine format. You can browse through categories and have all your read items sync back to Reader. You can also get tabs for your Twitter friends and customized layout, item sharing, and other features. Feedly is a free download, works wherever Firefox does.


Collected helps you gather feeds and other sources of information into collections that you can share with others (reading lists!). You can export these collections to other feed readers or keep track on the Collected website.

For more about what’s new in RSS-land, check out ReadWriteWeb’s “Top 10 RSS & Syndication Technologies of 2009.

Most Popular

When I set out to write this, I spent hours looking for some recent data to evaluate the most popular RSS readers. These three articles were the best I could dig up:

A 2005 article using data from FeedBurner (now owned by Google, FeedBurner helps standardize feeds and adds some pretty useful features and statistics), to look at the high fragmentation of feed readers (no one reader had more than 20% of the total number of feeds).

A 2007 article, again using data from FeedBurner, which showed how Google Reader had taken the lead.

LifeHacker, a popular productivity blog, did a poll last year which also showed preference for Google Reader.

Subtle, huh?

So I ran the question by Twitter and Facebook (yeah, I know, real scientific). I asked journalists what feed reader they used and why. The results (out of 20 responses) were overwhelmingly in favor of Google Reader.

The most frequent reasons for using Google Reader were portability, cost and sharing features.

BeatBlogging.Org is out of funding

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 10:57 - by

Our funding has officially run out, which is why things have been quiet on here lately.

I still have some more content coming and some house keeping to take care of. We are looking for new partners (particularly academic institutions), and are working on some things behind the scenes. It could be awhile before we have funding or backers again, but in the meantime, I’ll try to keep the light on here.

The site itself and all its content will remain up indefinitely, and there will be new content appearing here, just on a slower time frame.

Thanks for everyone who read the site and helped us report. BeatBlogging.Org has been a great success because of you.

BeatBlogging.Org’s funding runs out Sept. 1

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 18:09 - by


I regret to inform you that BeatBlogging.Org’s funding will be running out in about two months.

It has been a great ride. We’ve chronicled a lot innovative beat reporters and news organizations and have helped highlight best practices. I hope through the work that we have done that we have helped journalists learn how harness the power of social media, blogging and other Web tools to help improve beat reporting.

BeatBlogging.Org will not, however, be disappearing. There is still work to be done and innovation to be chronicled. BeatBlogging.Org is too strong of a brand to let die.

Unless a journalism non-profit or university steps up to bring BeatBlogging.Org in house, this project will most likely be going volunteer only. If it is the latter, I’ll obviously have a new day job, and if that is the case, I’ll need assistance in carrying out BeatBlogging.Org’s mission.

I’m asking for all of you to help me brainstorm what to do next with BeatBlogging.Org and the best way to move forward. Collectively we can figure out how to not only have BeatBlogging.Org survive but also thrive.

NYU’s Jay Rosen especially deserves a big thank you for coming up with the idea of BeatBlogging.Org and for also securing funding for the project. Rosen is one of the most innovative and forward thinking journalism professors around, and I’m eager to see what comes out of his new Studio 20 program.

As for me, I don’t know what I’ll be doing once BeatBlogging.Org’s funding runs out. Obviously, this a tough job market, but I hope to remain in journalism. Ideally, I’d love to remain focused on journalism next and helping to push journalism forward.

Even if that is not possible, rest assured that I will still be active within the journalism community through posts on BeatBlogging.Org, at Wired Journalists, my personal site and within the larger journalism community on the Web.

Thank you for all your help and support with this project. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to working on the Leaderboard.


Patrick Thornton
Editor of BeatBlogging.Org

Nominate beatbloggers to be profiled by BeatBlogging.Org

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 14:22 - by

Help us discover new beatbloggers to check out and help us test out Publish2’s new tip form feature.

Write for us

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 12:46 - by

Do you have good ideas about beatblogging, social media, link journalism or user interaction on the Web? Do want to tap into a large niche audience of people interested in social media and journalism? Are you a journalism student who wants to add more clips to your portfolio? Are you an experienced journalist looking to showcase your new media skills and knowledge?

Consider becoming a BeatBlogging.Org guest writer.

We’re looking for journalists who want to share their stories and experiences with blogging, social media, link journalism and other new forms of journalism on the Web. We’re also looking for people who understand social media and user interaction and want to share tips and tricks.

Guest writer guidelines:

  • Posts must be original pieces written for BeatBlogging.Org
  • Writers can write a short bio/by-line, complete with links that go before each guest post. This is a fantastic opportunity to build brand identity on the Web. See this post for a sample bio.
  • Guest posts are unpaid.
  • Guest posts cannot be republished in their entirety. You are welcome, however, to publish excerpts of your guest posts on your personal or professional blogs.

Please send pitches to connect [at] patthorntonfiles [dot] com. You can also send 140-character pitches to me (@jiconoclast) on Twitter. @MsBeat will also be accepting pitches.


Friday, March 13, 2009 15:19 - by

Who we follow

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 14:14 - by

Here is a list of beat reporters pushing the practice of beat reporting with social media, blogs and other Web tools.

Alexander Russo | District 299


Brian Krebs | Security Fix


Brian Stelter | TV Decoder


Daniel Bassill | Tutor Mentor Connection


Daniel Victor | The Patriot-News



Alexander Russo | District 299

  • Blog: District 299 is a blog covering the Chicago school district. It’s main goal is to foster a conversation. Russo refers to District 299 as a “gathering place” for news about the school district.
  • Beat: Education in Chicago
  • Bio: Russo is a Spencer Fellow at Columbia University. He not affiliated with a mainstream media organization and both of his blogs are independent. He also runs the This Week in Education blog.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Education, education policy, Chicago, District 299
  • Social networks: Twitter

Brian Krebs | Security Fix

  • Blog: Security Fix is a Washington Post internet security blog aimed at the Average Joe computer user who is struggling to keep up with everything they need to know to remain relatively safe online. Many of its readers are quite knowledgeable, however, and contribute a lot to the conversation in the comments after each post.
  • Beat: Computer security and IT
  • Bio: Krebs joined The Washington Post Company in 1995 and has been writing about technology and computer security since 2000. A graduate of George Mason University, he lives in Annandale with his wife Jennifer. In his spare time, Krebs tinkers with five computers and dozens of other chirping, blinking devices.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Tech policy, security, internet, computers
  • Social networks: LinkedIn

Brian Stelter | TV Decoder

  • Blog: TV Decoder is a New York Times guide to television blog about what’s on, who’s watching and why it matters. The blog covers the day’s on-screen and behind-the-scenes developments, with insights into Nielsen ratings and the machinations of the TV industry.
  • Beat: Television and Media Industry
  • Bio: Stelter, 23, is a media reporter for the New York Times and the former editor of the news-related blog TVNewser.com. Stelter graduated from Towson University in May 2007 and joined The New York Times as a media reporter in July.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Television, news, media
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter | Website

Daniel Bassill | Tutor Mentor Connection

  • Blog: The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) seeks to connect people who from around the world with information and networks that help support the growth of comprehensive, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs.
  • Beat: Education and school reform
  • Bio: Bassill has led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program for more than 30 years. It is called Cabrini Connections. He helps inner city kids connect with adults who help them out of poverty by helping them stay in school. He launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1994 to help programs like Cabrini Connections grow in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Tutoring, mentoring, activism, volunteer, non-profit, education, reform, schools, children, poverty, Chicago, charity, philanthropy, social justice, youth development
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Publish2

Daniel Victor | The Patriot-News

  • Blog: Victor created a Ning community for Hershey, PA (Hershey Home) where he monitors conversations and uses them to add context and background to his local beat reporting. He’s intent on there being a future for journalism, and on him being around for it.
  • Beat: Mobile journalist, local
  • Bio: Victor, 24, is a reporter for The (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News. He previously wrote for the Centre Daily Times while attending Penn State, and also enjoyed a summer internship at The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. He’s now trying his hand at mobile journalism, and he’s convinced that community-building and crowdsourcing are the two biggest keys to journalism’s future.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Beatblogging, mobile journalism, Hershey, Pennsylvania, politics, new media, social media, crowdsourcing, campaign reporting, liveblogging
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter | Website

Dave Levinthal | Dallas City Hall Blog

  • Blog: The Dallas City Hall Blog (Dallas Morning News) is a haven for political and government news junkies. It’s the place to go for both in-depth features and up-to-the-second tidbits about Dallas city news and Dallas political news.
  • Beat: Local government
  • Bio: Levinthal is a reporter for the Dallas Morning news. Coverage areas include Dallas City Hall and Texas politics. Previously, he covered aviation security and safety issues. Levinthal was also a New Hampshire Statehouse and political reporter at The Eagle-Tribune and The Tonawanda News.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Dallas City Hall, Texas, politics, government, aviation security, safety, Dallas city council, metro
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Eric Berger | SciGuy

  • Blog: Sci Guy is a Houston Chronicle science blog that proved its value during Hurricane Rita, when it was accessed more than 50,000 times daily. Based upon feedback from readers, many found it a valuable place to find answers to questions and links to Web resources.
  • Beat: Science
  • Bio: Berger is a science beat reporter and blogger at the Houston Chronicle who has successfully managed to build a community and interact with the readers of his blog, SciGuy. Berger has been a reporter at the Chron since 1997. His two goals with the SciGuy blog: to become the place to talk about science and research happening in Houston, including input from local scientists, and to a lesser extent Texas; secondly, he wants to engage more people by providing interesting little insights about science, hopefully drawing them into an exciting, but perhaps an imposing topic.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: atmosphere, climate, science, cosmos, space, evolution, astronomy, biology, chemistry, energy, environment, genetics, health, hurricanes, medicine, nanotechology, sociology, the future, weather
  • Social networks: LinkedIN | Twitter

Etan Horowitz | Etan on Tech

  • Blog: Etan on Tech is an Orlando Sentinel blog that covers technology with an emphasis on providing tips and tricks for the average user. Etan writes a weekly item called How 2 as well as stories about the local tech scene.
  • Beat: Technology & gadgets
  • Bio: Horowitz, 26, has been the technology columnist and reporter at the Orlando Sentinel since June 2007. He covers technology culture, trends and local companies and also writes a weekly personal technology column called “User’s Guide” as well as a weekly feature called “How 2.” Both items appear each Sunday in the “Tech & Money” section. He shoots, edits and appears in videos for the newspaper’s website and writes a technology blog called Etan on Tech. He grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and graduated from the University of Maryland. Horowitz lives in Orlando with his wife, Sentinel reporter Daphne Sashin.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Technology, gadgets, cell phones, computer culture, electronics, Facebook, Google, Orlando, GPS, internet safety, iPhone, local tech community, Microsoft, social networking, wi-fi, web 2.0
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Gene Sloan | Cruise Log Blog

  • Blog: Cruise Log is a USA Today blog that posts the latest news, reviews, and deals from the Cruise Ship industry to people around the world.
  • Beat: Cruises & Travel
  • Bio: Gene Sloan is the cruise editor for USA Today. He liveblogs from events around the world and each week Sloan asks readers to send in tips on a cruise-related issue.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Cruise, travel, vacation, adventure cruising, Caribbean, family, world cruises
  • Social networks: Twitter

Jon Ortiz | The State Worker

  • Blog: The State Worker is a The Sacramento Bee blog about civil-service life, workplace and labor issues for California state workers. This blog posts continuous updates and articles on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs.
  • Beat: State government & workers
  • Bio: Ortiz has been a member of The Bee’s business staff since 2003. He uses his blog to crowd source opinions on what it’s like to be back after a day of being furloughed. Due to the budget crisis in California, it’s mandatory for state workers to take several furlough days. Ortiz wants to know what morale is like now that furloughs have officially begun.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: California, government, state work, civil service, labor, pensions, jobs, benefits, contracts, furloughs, lawsuits, layoffs, legislature, SEIU, unions, elected state workers, workplace
  • Social networks: LinkedIN | Publish2

Kent Fischer | DISD Blog

  • Blog: Dallas ISD is a blog for Dallas Morning News coverage of the Dallas Independent School District.
  • Beat: Education
  • Bio: Fischer has covered the Dallas city schools for the Dallas Morning News since 2003. In January ’08, he joined the beatblogging.org project and launched a Dallas schools blog, where he now blogs his beat while still contributing to the paper. Fischer has also covered education over the years for the St. Pete Times, Lexington Herald-Leader and the Concord Monitor in NH.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Dallas, politics, educations, schools, Texas, administration, board of trustees, crime, reform, student achievement, student life, teaching, classroom
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Mary Louise Schumacher | Art City

  • Blog: Art City is a blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Art and architecture critic Mary Louise Schumacher explores Milwaukee’s creative endeavors.
  • Beat: Art
  • Bio: Schumacher writes about art, architecture and urban design. Art City is a multi-platform feature that includes a newspaper column, a blog, video podcasts, a weekly e-mail newsletter and many forms of multimedia. Schumacher levereged social networking tools to build an audience around my beat, to bring readers’ points of view into the publication and to become a better reporter.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Visual art, visual culture, art, architecture, urban design, contemporary culture, art history, arts journalism, new media, the Midwest, Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Matt Neznanski | Between the Lines | Green City

  • Blog: Between the Lines is a Corvallis Gazette Times blog that covers local news bits, links and questions for Corvallis, Oregon. It’s a “conversation with people around Corvallis and Benton County who’ve got information they want to share.” Also, Green City is local blog about green living in Oregon. This blog looks for local people doing inspiring things to foster sustainability.
  • Beat: Local, green living
  • Bio: Neznanski is a journalist and a strategist. He is particularly interested in working to return news organizations to vital, profitable businesses through innovation and relevance. As a reporter for the Corvallis Gazette Times, Matt Neznanski covers local government in Corvallis, OR and is tightly focused on figuring out how to open up the beat and the coverage to the Web.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Government, campaign, entertainment, schools, GA, blogging, hyperlocal, practical solutions, strategies, green living, Corvallis, Benton Country, Oregon, city, metro, local business
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Melissa Coulter | Quadsville

  • Blog: Quadsville is a Quad-City Times blog/social network. It’s is an online community for people, groups and businesses in the Quad-Cities area of Iowa and Illinois. Quadsville is a civic social network for people, groups and businesses located in the Quad-Cities area of Iowa and Illinois.
  • Beat: Community engagement
  • Bio: Melissa Coulter is the Mayor of Quadsville. She is the mayor, instead of editor or producer or whatever because Quadsville is based around a civic model. She is not so much trying to steer content or conversations as much as she is trying to make people want to interact more. At Quadsville, Melissa Coulter aims to foster a local community dedicated to discussion and expression. The site is dedicated to the stories and thoughts that happen around or adjacent to those events. At Quadsville, every person has a personal blog, photo gallery, video gallery, and a profile.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Illinois, Quadsville, Quad city, social networking, hyperlocal, community, sharing, crowdsourcing, new media
  • Social networks: Facebook | Twitter

Monica Guzman | The Big Blog

  • Blog: The Big Blog is a Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog. Inspired by the city beats of Seattlest, Metroblogging Seattle, and, most famously, the Slog, the Big Blog takes a more conversational, informal and fun look at the news and culture that makes this city what it is.
  • Beat: Seattle
  • Bio: Guzman joined the P-I in January 2007 as a Hearst Newspapers Fellow, coering the culture of technology in a weekly column and a blog, Net Native. She took on the P-I’s Big Blog last July. She’s also what you might call an online news evangelist — giving talks about the future of journalism like this speedy guide she gave at Ignite Seattle on how to be an awesome news story commenter. On Big Blog, Guzman invites her readers to submit tips, connect on social networks, submit “news pics” and meet for weekly hangouts.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Seattle, news, arts, culture, talk, local, metro, citizen, news, conversation, journalism
  • Social networks: Twitter

Multiple authors | Child Welfare Issues

  • News org: News-Press
  • Beat: Child welfare

John C. Abell & Multiple authors | Epicenter

  • Blog: Epicenter is a Wired.com blog. “Wired’s take on the business of tech and social media.”
  • Beat: Business & technology
  • Bio: John Abell is the New York City Bureau Chief for Wired.com and he directs their tech biz coverage. Previously, Abell worked at Reuters where he built the Internet’s first real-time news feed, created Reuters’ multimedia desk and was the founding editor of Reuters.com.
  • Buzz words: Business, technology, social media, Google, broadband, browsers, AT&T, AOL, conferences, Copyright, Current Affairs, Deals, e-Bay, Facebook, Funding, hardware, hype, legal, media, Microsoft, mobile, search, television, venture, web/tech, web apps, Yahoo, YouTube
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter | Website

Ron Sylvester | What the Judge Ate for Breakfast

  • Blog: What the Judge Ate for Breakfast is a Wichita Eagle blog about the news from inside Wichita’s courts.
  • Beat: Courts & legal reporting
  • Bio: Sylvester has covered courts and legal affairs for the Wichita Eagle since 2000. His past coverage has included the Carr Brothers’ murder trial, court confession of Dennis Rader as the BTK serial killer and other stories that give him, and his readers, nightmares. During a journalism career spanning three decades, Ron has covered beats ranging from sports to arts and entertainment, interviewing personalities such as George Brett and Johnny Cash along the way.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Courts, judicial, government, criminal, law, politics, trial, Wichita, local
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter | Website

Stephanie DePasquale | Out and About

  • Blog: Out and About is a Quad-City Times blog about local entertainment in the Quad-Cities from Entertainment Reporter Stephanie De Pasquale.
  • Beat: Entertainment
  • Bio: Stephanie DePasquale is an entertainment reporter for the Quad-City Times. She also blogs about dogs at To The Dogs.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Quadsville, clubs, nightclubs, bars, jazz, nightlife, music, movies, teens, books, restaurants, benefit, art, television, comedy, entertainment, media, local
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN

Tannette Johnson-Elie | Journal Sentinel

  • Blog: Connections is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s business blog.
  • Beat: Business
  • Bio: Johnson-Elie is a business columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She has extensive knowledge on issues and topics related to minority business, diversity and race and economics. At the Journal Sentinel she is responsible for writing a weekly column called Connections that explores how small businesses and start-ups are using networking and business associations to tap the expertise needed to grow.
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Small business, entrepreneur, branding, networking, markets, connections
  • Social networks: Facebook | LinkedIN | Twitter

Tawnell Hobbs | DISD Blog

  • Blog: Dallas ISD is a blog for Dallas Morning News coverage of the Dallas Independent School District.
  • Beat: Education
  • BeatBlogging.Org content: Leaderboard nominations and other content
  • Buzz words: Dallas, politics, educations, schools, Texas, administration, board of trustees, crime, reform, student achievement, student life, teaching, classroom


Apologies for the late Leaderboad this week

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 3:09 - by

We’re having some difficulties with BeatBlogging.Org, and that is why the Leaderboard will be a bit late this week.

It will be up ASAP today. We had a finished draft that we were editing for publication, but our site/server had an issue, needed some repairs and ultimately deleted the post.

After doing some MySQL repairs, it appears everything is back to normal.

Congratulations David Cohn for launching Spot.Us

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 13:12 - by

On behalf of BeatBlogging.Org, we’d like to congratulate David Cohn for launching his new community-funded journalism project, Spot.Us.

David was the original editor of BeatBlogging.Org, and without him this project wouldn’t be where it is today. While we were sad to see David go, he moved on for a good reason. He received a generous grant from the Knight Foundation to tackle a new kind of journalism.

His pioneering project will help journalism find new ways to fund itself. Funding is the key issue facing journalism right now. Here is how the about page of Spot.Us describes the project.

Spot.Us is a nonprofit project of the Center for Media Change. We are an open source project, to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Through Spot.Us the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. All donations are tax deductible and if a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content, your donation will be reimbursed. Otherwise, all content is made available to all through a Creative Commons license. It’s a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organizations can come together and collaborate.

We wish David the best of luck, and we hope that Spot.Us is a tremendous success.

Rosen: Don’t join social networks without a plan

Monday, October 27, 2008 0:29 - by

NYU’s PressThinker Jay Rosen, in a BusinessJournalism.org podcast, cautioned journalists and news organizations against joining social networks without first forming a plan.

You need a very strong idea, and only that can tell you which of the networking tools, sites and technologies might be right. Otherwise you have technology driven projects. A company decides to go with Ning, or they’re encouraging us to use Facebook or the editor wants us to be on Twitter. Whenever I hear things like that I actually feel innovation failing at those organizations.

Rosen advises that journalists and news organizations should first figure out what they want to do with a given social network. There is a big difference between merely joining Twitter to get a presence on the social network and joining Twitter because you want to use it to send out live updates from court room trials, for instance.

A lot of news organizations invariably join Twitter and immediately turn their feed into an RSS feed. Those news organizations have completely missed what Twitter is about and will not be able to attract a strong following on Twitter.

But then there are other news organizations who use Twitter to do something unique. Some news organizations might use Twitter as a sort of public Page 1 meeting, while others might send out interesting links. Individual journalists might use Twitter to help find sources or to help report live events.

We’ve found at Beat Blogging that different social networks work better for different news organizations, beats and journalists. Ron Sylvester can’t really use Twitter for source development because not enough people in Wichita, Kansas are on Twitter. Sylvester can still use it, however, to help report.

Etan Horowitz, on the other hand, can use Twitter to find sources for stories because his beat is on technology. Twitter is filled with people in the tech industry and people who like technology. Sylvester and Horowitz are both successful using Twitter because they have a very specific idea of what they want Twitter to help them with.

Most of the beat reporters I have spoken with have found little use for Facebook. Yet, it’s a huge tool for Khristopher Brooks. Brooks, a higher education reporter, specifically uses it to find student sources for his stories.

About BeatBlogging.Org

BeatBlogging.org was a grant-funded journalism project that studied how journalists used social media and other Web tools to improve beat reporting. It ran for about two years, ending in the fall of 2009.

New content is occasionally produced here by the this project's former editor Patrick Thornton. The site is still up and will remain so because many journalists and professors still use and link to the content. BeatBlogging.org offers a fascinating glimpse into the former stages of journalism and social media. Today it's expected that journalists and journalism organization use social media, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case.