Monthly Archives: January 2009

Settlement details are now online

I’m getting ready for class, and so will not be able to comment in any detail on the settlement terms reached between GateHouse Media and the New York Times Co. And it’s hard to know what the agreement (PDF) is going to look like in practice.

But my gut tells me that, by agreeing not to aggregate GateHouse content automatically for its Boston.com Your Town sites, the Times Co. will shift more to a blogging model, compiled by actual human beings, rather than robotically posting headlines and ledes from GateHouse’s Wicked Local sites.

“To put it in the language of online-journalism theory, they have to shift a bit from raw aggregation to something closer to curation,” writes Josh Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab. I agree — I think that’s exactly what we’re going to see.

One interesting aspect of the agreement is that the Times Co. says it will not interfere with any technological fix GateHouse attempts to implement in order to stop it from “scraping” its content.

“Gatehouse had not previously established a barrier to prevent such scraping of its stories,” writes Robert Weisman of the Boston Globe.

But in GateHouse’s legal complaint, the company charges that it “implemented certain electronic security measures” last November, which were quickly defeated by Boston.com.

More to come, I’m sure.

GateHouse and New York Times Co. settle (II)

Since it appears that GateHouse Media and the New York Times Co. are still working out the details of their proposed settlement, I’m thinking we’re not going to hear anything for a bit. Perhaps the two sides will put out a joint statement, but I’ve seen nothing yet.

The Boston Globe has a brief story here, and GateHouse, with an assist from the Associated Press, runs an account here.

GateHouse and New York Times Co. settle

As I had been hoping, GateHouse Media and the New York Times Co. have settled a lawsuit GateHouse brought over Boston.com’s Your Town sites, which, GateHouse alleged, violate its copyright by lifting headlines and ledes en masse from its Wicked Local sites.

No details yet.

Instant update: It might be more accurate to say that the two sides are moving toward a settlement. The case has been dismissed, and thus the trial, scheduled to begin today in U.S. District Court, has been canceled.

But here’s what Judge William Young has to say in his written order: “IT IS ORDERED that this action is hereby dismissed without cost and without prejudice to the right of any party, upon good cause shown, to reopen the action within thirty (30) days if settlement is not consummated.”

So it’s possible that this isn’t over yet.

Jack Driscoll, citizen journalist

Henry Jenkins of MIT interviews retired Boston Globe editor Jack Driscoll, who’s been editor-in-residence at the MIT Media Lab since 1995. When it comes to technology and change, Driscoll is an early adopter. I recall his being a significant presence at a digital-media seminar I attended at Columbia University during the early 1990s.

So what’s Driscoll up to now? He’s a founder of Rye Reflections, a citizen-journalism site in his adopted community of Rye, N.H. (check out his story on a leash-law proposal), and the author of “Couch Potatoes Sprout: The Rise of Online Community Journalism.” Here’s what he tells Jenkins about the impetus behind projects such Rye Reflections and similar sites:

[T]here seems to be a feeling that their communities are not being covered in the media. Newspaper staff cutbacks have exacerbated the problem. It’s not just the institutional news, but the stories about the fabric of the community, the personalities, the achievements of groups of individuals, the problems, the culture.

Sounds like Driscoll has done more during his retirement than most of us manage to do during our careers.

A wistful farewell to Sal DiMasi

Many of you will miss Sal DiMasi before too long. Not me. I miss him already.

Mr. Speaker, as Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham notes while kicking him to the side of the curb, saved us from casino gambling, pushed the idea of a higher gas tax as an alternative to toll hikes, was a stalwart on preserving same-sex marriage and much more.

We are almost certainly going to get less good government with DiMasi’s successor, whoever that may be. Do you really think we’re going to get cleaner government? Please.

Look — the Globe did terrific work on exposing DiMasi’s less-than-wonderful side, and prosecutors can hardly ignore the possibility of criminal wrongdoing. I understand that. But we are going to miss him.

More: The casino forces are celebrating already, as you can see from this post at Casino Gambling Web. It begins with a falsehood — “Governor Duval [sic] Patrick ran for office in Massachusetts on a platform of expanded casino gambling” — and ends with this:

Lobbyists who have already been working hard to have casino legislation are relieved that a major roadblock is now out of their way. When DiMasi won re-election, casino proponents felt deflated, but now that door has swung wide open.

Look out below.

Still more: Jon Keller has similar thoughts.

Gov. Patrick’s weird putdown

I was appalled yesterday when I read Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser’s account of how Gov. Deval Patrick had publicly put down Worcester Mayor Konstantina Lukes at a speech before the Massachusetts Muncipal Association on Friday. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

At one point, the governor had a frosty exchange with Worcester Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes, after she appeared to smirk while the governor answered her question.

“Before you make a face, mayor, let me finish my answer, all right?” Patrick snapped.

Once he finished his response, he glanced over at her again and said, “Is that clear? OK. Now you can make your face.”

Later, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) posted video of the exchange. And though Viser got Patrick’s words right, I’m not sure about “frosty” — it seems more light-hearted than that. As Jon Keller suggests, it’s hard to know what to make of it.

Given that Patrick was announcing a $128 million cut in local aid, maybe the governor ought to work on his timing if he had intended his remarks as a joke.

Fun with math

New York Times columnist David Brooks used phony numbers yesterday to raise questions about the proposed stimulus package. “A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that less than half of the money for infrastructure and discretionary programs would be spent by Oct. 1, 2010,” he wrote.

Trouble is, Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post learned that the study Brooks cites does not exist. (Via Talking Points Memo.)

Social networking and the news

On Thursday I had a chance to take part in a panel on “Getting Started with Social Media: Lessons from the Front Lines,” sponsored by the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

It was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot from the other panelists — Perry Allison of EONS.com, Pam Johnston of Gather.com and Brian Halligan of HubSpot. The moderator was Debi Kleiman of Communispace in Watertown, whose Fenway Park-theme meeting room was where we held our presentation.

I’ve posted the slideshow that accompanied my talk. Slideshare appeared to choke on embedded links, so I’ve listed them below in case you’d like to check any of them out.