April 26, 2009

Those at Bar Camp News Innovation pass along thoughts on Web ninjas, other topics

A bunch of folks gathered in Philadelphia on Saturday to discuss innovations in news at BarCamp Philly.

Many shared what was happening via Twitter, live streaming and live blogging. Some folks put together videos. And I'm sure once they catch up on sleep, we'll see more posts like this one from Karl Martino.

I've started collecting links to over at Publish2, using the tags #BCNIPhilly and news innovation. (#BCNIPhilly was the hash tag over on Twitter.)

And I hope to pull together some of those thoughts for ideas I'm most interested in - like the Web Ninjas, "a rapid development team focused on creating innovative ways to present news and information." The ninjas shared some of what they are doing at the Washington Post.

Steve King'spresentation is online and Greg Linch liveblogged the session.

Joining King, the "editor of innovations," were Dan Berko, a developer new to the team, and Jesse Foltz, interface developer.

The presentation included King showing off TimeSpace, (see illustration and check out a MediaShift post for an idea of the power of ) the interactive map showing news by location. CKrewson tweeted "TimeSpace sold for the first half of the year for just under $1M - the work of 3 full-time staffers. "

King also talked about the new version On Being series. how it works with the newsroom and web operation being separate and working with the business team/advertisers.

Another tweet from @ckrewson: Visual comments around @washingtonpost.com's OnBeing videos - this feels like the new Web grammar. #bcniphilly (VERY cool also).

I "heard" from several places that folks liked hearing that removed comments are still seen by commenter and only the person who put the comment up. Definitely worth checking out.

One person noted that the feature is using django for comments. Not sure if this tweet from @ckrewson is related to that topic, but I hope so as commenting is so important to building community. Chris Krewson reported that King said "We build in a way that's a re-usable framework - so we can scale to our other sites,' but then maybe franchise out."

@howardweaver tweeted: "WaPo ninja mission = do cool stuff and make it pay."

The web team, which is separate from the newsroom, works closely with the sales staff. It was reported out that the "Washington Post team sells cool techie projects to advertisers together. Journalism/developers show off, sales closes the deal." That attitude is explained more in a Cujo's Byte post on the relationship between editors and advertisers.

The team does try to let sales know what's going on as the projects are developed, so that sponsorship might be possible before launch.

A tweet from @ckrewson: "New firewall - 'Advertising knows I don't need to be in the room when they cut that deal. So I'm protected.

Several folks said they noticed the money angle of the news business came up more throughout the day than it has at other news/journalism events. But I think @etanowitz summed it up nicely: "as journalists, we all need to think about revenue even though it freaks lots of us out. no way around it."

It's not all $$ at the Washington Post, though.

King is quoted as saying that "if one of five projects doesn't sell, that's OK; still do cool stuff, not just make stuff to bring $.

King also talked about integrating with the newsroom and how the relationship is changing. If he needs something, he walks around newsroom to ask. Also, they have monthly presentations to show something cool on Web, which they might not even get to, and then something they could do really easily. Finally, they show something they've built -- in the middle.

King also is quoted as saying non-web reporters have been doing a lot more Web stuff ... there's a lot of shaky video, which can sometimes be used to complement piece ... they rarely provide the kind of video their Web team videojournalists typically do.

Sounds interesting. But then the whole BarCamp does. A big thank you to the folks who took the time to go and the time to share. I enjoyed earning another credit at the college of change.


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