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New giraffe profile: David Mastio

I just finished and posted a new profile, this one on David Mastio of  It includes an audio of my recent phone interview with him, along with links for more information.  Mastio is trying to create versions of Technorati for local newspapers, and talks about the frustrations and occasional successes of this endeavor.

GrowthSpur: new business to help local sites

Media giraffe Mark Potts (along with other known names in media, including Jeff Jarvis) has started a new company to help local sites earn money.  Mark Potts once ran Backfence, a collection of local sites, but it failed for financial reasons.  He's now coming back with GrowthSpur, which offers a host of services to try to help the kind of sites he originally intended to start up.  You can read more on the GrowthSpur website, or in this Business Week article.

Meet MGP's new student intern

This summer, Umass student Jeffrey Engmann will be interning for the MGP. He'll be writing Giraffe Profiles, helping update the website, and sharing his thoughts on his MGP blog. You can read his first post here.

Jeffrey is a journalism major going into his last year at Umass. He writes for Umass' school paper The Daily Collegian and the citizen-journalism sports site He's also interested in sociology, and multi-cultural education.

Take the Hyperlocal Survey

If you run a local website, consider taking ten minutes to fill out this survey.  It's a CUNY/ Knight Foundation initiative. Here's some information about it, from Jeff Jarvis:

"As a professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, I’m heading the New Business Models for News project, funded by the Knight Foundation. We are reaching out to local websites like yours to gather information and innovative ideas from across the country. We want to bring facts, figures, and business analysis to the debate over the future of journalism"

David Mastio interviewed about BlogNetNews, June 2009

Here, David Mastio talks about BlogNetNews, the blog aggregator that he founded.  This fifteen-minute interview was conducted by MGP's Sara Majka.  Talk focuses on his efforts to get newspapers to have a section for local blogs.  He feels it's a natural partnership---and he's invested retirement money in trying to get it off the ground---but he's had trouble getting newspapers to warm to the idea.  A few weeks ago his partnership with the Miami Herald got off the ground, and he hopes interest will increase.

Save the Date: "Rebooting Rockwell's America" conference

A new conference has been announced:

Multimedia web and mobile platforms are advancing new approaches to news, journalism and social engagement at a near-incomprehensible pace. But how does all this innovation link to and affect civic engagement in tangible, face-to-face venues -- like schools, libraries, coffee shops, museums and public spaces?

Help us find out. The Norman Rockwell Museum, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, and other co-covenors invite you to:

Netflix could be awarding $1 Million soon

About a year ago I read a Wired story about a Netflix contest with a million dollar prize attached.  The contest was to try to improve their recommendation system, and I was interested in the crowd-sourced and intelligent-search implications.  For anyone who's been following it, it looks like this week there might be a winner, barring any competing teams being able to outdo their result (a recommendation improvement of 10.05%) over

Why Journalism Matters

We've added a new MGP video to our archive (watch it above, or click here to see it full-sized). When some 100 journalists, technologists, academics and citizens gathered March 1-4, 2009 at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg,

UPDATE: Role of Twitter in Iran

In response to the media's focus on the role of Twitter in Iran (see post below), both Slate and Salon had stories today downplaying its role:

"Doubting Twitter:  Let's not get carried away about its role in Iran's demonstration."  (Slate)
"Twitter won't bring down Ahmadinejad."  (Salon)

NYT covers role of social networking sites in Iran

According to today's New York Times, a presidential aide asked Twitter if they could postpone scheduled maintenance that would have temporarily shut down the site, underscoring the role Twitter has been playing in the Iranian protests.  The article talks about how Twitter has been used by those protesting, but also about Twitter's (and YouTube's) value for US diplomacy and for the media, where Iranians have been able to release videos and pictures---information that is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists to obtain.

Knight Foundation committed to new models for investigative journalism

Yesterday, The Knight Foundation announced $15 million in funding for models that support online investigative reporting (read the full press release here).  Some of this money goes to projects already committed to, but they also announced new grants for ProPublica, Sunlight Foundation, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.  All three are giraffe prospects---we interviewed Paul Steiger from ProPublica last month, and you can listen to that interview from his profile.

New giraffe profile: Denise Lockwood starts up "Know More"

We've put up a new giraffe profile:  Denise Lockwood who started a local Wisconsin news site called Know More.  She recast her career to go independent and online after being laid off of her newspaper job.  You can click below to listen to her talk about the site with Bill Densmore and Matt Thompson when it was in its planning stage in 2008.  And view her profile to read more, including written excerpts of the interview and links.


New report ranks top Chicago websites

With support from the Chicago Community Trust, the Community Media Workshop released "the New news: Journalism We Want and Need." This 36-page report is co-authored by giraffe prospect Thom Clark and includes a ranking of their top sixty news websites in Chicago, topping the list is the Chi-Town Daily News.

Read More:
Giraffe profile for Thom Clark.
Giraffe profile for Chi-Town Daily News.
Columbia Journalism Review article on the report.

Literary world weighs in on newspapers

Dave Eggers announced that the next issue of McSweeney's, the literary journal he founded, would be in newspaper format.  He said they wanted to show that the newspaper was viable if done in an interesting, colorful fashion.  One imagines the next issue, then, will be a full, hands-on display of this potential.   Read More.

Twin Cities Daily Planet wins web award

The Twin Cities Daily Planet (directed by giraffe prospect Jeremy Iggers) won best independent news website in the annual Page One competition of the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. You can read the full list of winners at the SPJ website (scroll down for a link to the Word document). In their press release, the Daily Planet wrote: