The future of journalism is in safe hands

A talented practicum student we had at the Knoxville News Sentinel during the University of Tennessee’s spring semester has created an interesting new Web site called

Franck Tabouring, who came to the U.S. from Luxembourg to go to college, received a bachelor’s degree in journalism this year from the University of Tennessee and moved on to  study film in San Francisco.

As a practicum student on the online staff, he did a variety of maintenance tasks and site updating, but he also had time to do several videos that show his sense of humor.

Tabouring has been doing an excellent movie review blog since late 2007 called the Screening Log that has frequent posts so I found it interesting he was taking on another project while still in school.

In an email, this is what he said about

Yes, I decided to start a small cultural online video magazine that focuses on San Francisco and the Bay area. I plan on posting photos, raw footage and more detailed short documentaries about and surrounding people and all kinds of events here. I will also shoot what I call SF Spots, short clips highlighting wonderful viewpoints and other nice spots in an around the city. I will share all videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and use embedding for the site. That way, I won’t need to spend tons of money on large storage online.

I’m only starting now (and slowly) with the Pride Parade, but hopefully I will get through all my Final Cut manuals soon and get to work on bigger videos for the site.

Knowingly or unknowingly, he appears to be among a growing number of journalists who are fashioning a new model of developing content and brands beyond the realm of a traditional media.

Here’s what the about says about the site:

Welcome to, a cultural online video magazine that focuses on San Francisco and the Bay area. Essentially, what you find on here are several categories of short documentaries and video clips about all kinds of events that have taken place in SF. We also focus on local businesses and profile interesting SF people who have a compelling story to tell and would like to share their ideas, concepts or events with online users.

Unlike the regular television newscasts, we don’t simply cover an event, but we try to focus more on the people who put their energy and passion into organizing them. We want to figure out who these people are, and we give them the opportunity to share their adventures on camera. If you would like us to come and document your event or you want to spread the word about your SF-based business, please get in touch with us.

He’s looking for feedback on the site so if give him a shout. I think all the sky-is-falling pundits who worry about where journalism is going just need to look to the Franck Tabourings coming along.

Birds at the beach

birds at Chincoteague

Birds at Chincoteague

These photos were shot at dusk from the porch of the condo where we’re staying in Chincoteague Island, Va. On a nearby pier is a bar where a guy is playing guitar and singing Steve Miler’s “The Joker.”

Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun.
I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I get my loving on the run Wooo Woooo

Anonymity is not a guarantee for online commenters

Federal prosecutors who had made a broad request for user information of commenters on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Web site backed down a bit, but an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing four anonymous commenters on the newspaper Web site says it’s still an important, precedent-setting case.

(Maggie) McLetchie said that this case is an important one because it sets a dangerous precedent that would send a message that “if you go on the internet and you criticize the government, the government might start a criminal investigation about you, and we think that’s extremely problematic.”

Simon Owens, who interviewed McLetchie, notes the publicity about the Nevada case may make give pause to anonymous commenters on news stories because “the cloak of anonymity is not always everlasting.”

The newspaper fought a far-reaching information request, but is not fighting a request for the machine addresses, or IP addresses, of two commenters whose comements could be construed as threatening jurors or prosecutors.

“I’d hate to be the guy who refused to tell the feds Timothy McVeigh was buying fertilizer,” Journal-Review Editor Thomas Mitchell has said in explaining the newspaper’s decision. MeVeigh was responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building.

The ACLU, who contends its clients feel threatened by the government subpoenas received by the newspaper, is also trying to get the judge thrown off the case.


Running the numbers

Tom Chester VCCWe journalist types typically eschew focus groups and market research about news coverage, saying we know what a news story is and we don’t need no stinkin’ survey to figure it out. But we are learning to measure … and are finding it useful even if we put away our pica poles long ago.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book Journalism Next, Mark Briggs has this about the News Sentinel’s Tom Chester:

Tom Chester, news operations manager at the News-Sentinel, begins each weekday with a stand-up meeting in the newsroom. The first item on the agenda is a detailed report of content published and traffic generated the previous day. “We track updates on all platforms: web, mobile, email,” Chester said. “We started with almost nothing and now we’re up to about 500 updates per week.”

If newsroom leaders had simply announced at a staff meeting the need to learn new skills and publish more frequently to more platforms, little progress would have been made. Instead, the formerly print-centric newsroom – which has also published 3,000 videos since 2006 – has the structure in place to measure and manage the new content, the newsroom was able to show significant progress and build upon its successes.

Briggs succinctly calls this: “Track. Measure. Adapt.”

Measuring has become both a significant part of our newsroom culture and a significant driver for effecting change.

(News Sentinel photo by J. Miles Cary of Tom Chester putting up stats on our Visual Communication Center.)