A remarkable example of digital journalism

I’ll have much more to say about the Boston Globe’s remarkable “68 Blocks” series on life and death in the city’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood.

For now, I just want to lay down a marker. Not only is “68 Blocks” a tremendous exercise in narrative journalism, but it’s likely to stand as a landmark in its use of multiple technological storytelling tools: mapping, data visualization and crowdsourced video and photography.

If you’ve been reading it on paper, do yourself a favor. Put it down and turn on your computer. You’re only getting half the story.

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A bit more on why I keep visiting New Haven

I’m heading to New Haven in a little while for another round of interviews. I’ll be back Friday night. I’m also taking advantage of a hiatus at “Beat the Press” to visit an old friend at the Providence Journal on Friday afternoon. So it should be a good trip. It’s not likely I’ll be blogging, but since I can approve comments via BlackBerry, go ahead and have at it.

It’s also time to dip my toe in the water regarding the book that I’m working on. It’s hardly top-secret, but at the same time I want to be discreet. Anyway: A couple of months ago I signed a contract with UMass Press to write a book about the New Haven Independent and the rise of non-profit community news sites. (Working title: “The Wired City.”) The idea is that low-cost, online projects can at least partly offset the decline of for-profit newspapers — a decline that is far more advanced in Connecticut than it is here in Greater Boston.

The Independent is one of a handful of non-profits that are doing real community journalism. Though not as well known as Voice of San Diego, MinnPost or the Texas Tribune, it is nevertheless a viable, growing news organization that employs four full-time journalists plus another two at a satellite site in the suburbs. The Independent not only covers the big stories in New Haven, but also regularly publishes articles about the minutia in New Haven’s neighborhoods that the dominant daily, the New Haven Register, can’t touch.

I figure my book will be about 60 percent to 80 percent about the Independent, with the rest focusing on changing business models for journalism as well as on some other sites worthy of note — including a couple of for-profits I’ve visited, the Batavian, in western New York, and Baristanet, in Montclair, N.J.

I’d like to do a little bit of crowdsourcing; at the same time, I want to avoid writing my book in public. I’d welcome any ideas for people I should interview (in New Haven and elsewhere) and books and articles I should read.

I’ll have more to say as my project progresses.

Crowdsource my class mapping project

Sometime next month, my students in Reinventing the News will be doing a Google map project. The last time I taught the course, I had everyone visit a coffee shop near campus, take a picture, plot it on a map and link to their own blogs for more. Here’s how it turned out.

It was OK, and we might do it again. But I’d be curious to know if anyone had something meatier to suggest. For instance, what if I sent each of them (there are 18) to a different MBTA station? What would you have them do once they got there?