Friday, September 28, 2007

Collaboration between De Standaard en Luc Tuymans (few remarks)

Yesterday, Luc Tuymans (famous Belgian painter) worked at the print paper of De Standaard. His task was to select and provide pictures to illustrate the news stories. The result is great, as we can see in today's newspaper.
This visit got a lot of attention on the Standaard Online, the digital newspaper of De Standaard. It is nice to see that the online journalists have provided a photo-tray, some audio fragments, a discussion forum about the special print paper, and so on.
There are, however, two things I don't fully understand:

The first question I have is why De Standaard Online uses Youtube to present some video fragments. Due to the limited storage capacities of the Youtube server, the quality is not fantastic. Not a problem for most of the video stories as we are all happy to see some action, the quality is of secondary importance. But since Luc Tuymans was at the editorial office and since someone of De Standaard should have filmed the movie, then why not uploading the video without using Youtube in order to have better quality? Why not using flash-movies or integrated movies like on

Secondly, I don't understand why Luc's pictures only were used for the print edition of the paper and not for the online counterpart. Probably because one could fear that if the pictures were already used during the day on the digital paper, less people would buy the print paper the day after. Personally, I think that this type of cannibalism is overestimated, especially with regard to pictures.

Thirdly, Luc Tuymans state that he's using online news media for foreign news, but that he prefers to read print papers when looking for national news, since print papers 'provides more space for nuances and complex theories'. Since one of the key features of the online news and the internet in general is the unlimited space for publication and the possibility to link different kinds of information by the use of internal and external hyperlinks, I think this stereotype of 'the online news as shallow and limited with regard to complex information' is remarkable. There can be two reasons for this stereotype: it can be that the internet is not fully making use of the potentialities of the digital environment and that the online journalists are putting limited information online. Or, news readers do make limited use of the potentialities of the internet, not making fully use of all the online sub-media like links, discussion fora, news blogs and other that are related to a news story.
To illustrate this with the Luc Tuymans story itself: online news consumers can read, listen, see and even discuss the collaboration between De Standaard and Luc Tuymans. There's online much more to consume than in the print paper about Luc Tuymans, with even links to other works of this Belgian painter. In my opinion, most of the digital news papers in Belgium are providing enough links, media, and communication possibilities to consume the news in a non-limited or non-shallow way. Things can only be better, but if I need some background, I can be satisfied with the information I can found online. We just need to get rid of these kinds of non-nuanced and non-complex stereotypes as if the online news is shallow and limited, perhaps by learning the authors of these expressions to use the online news in an appropriate way.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Website about Freedom of Information in Europe

In turn for all the good work 'Fonds Pascal Decroos' does for young, investigative students and journalists, I'm happy to advertise for their press conference in Brussels next week about the start of their website about the Freedom of Information Act in Europe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

First in print, then online

Interesting quote today in this article on The journalist note that these specific stories about a trip to Russia appear first in the print paper and will be afterwards published online.

Few remarks:

1) Why not publishing the news on the same day as the print edition? Will there be less buyers of the print paper when these specific stories also appear online (cannibalism)?
2) If so, why not focussing on both the print and online version. It seems like the business model based on advertising is becoming more profitable; the New York Times for example realised that it can earn more money by making the content free, or as a director of a media research firm stated after the news was made public:

The business model for advertising revenue, versus subscriber revenue, is so much more attractive,” he said. “The hybrid model has some potential, but in the long run, the advertising side will dominate.

3) More or less, these articles have the same content, same pictures, same (sub)titles, same structure, same layout as the offline counterparts. Why not adjusting these features to the online environment? In some way, we can speak of shovelware, a term which defines the information that is dumped onto the website without changed content or enhanced content.

Farcasting the news

Since februari 2007, and are experimenting with Farcast, a mobile service/platform that reporters can use to send text, pictures and videos from location to the digital news site. They can also send their gps coordinates so that the news site can show a map with the exact location of action. This example whows how great farscast can be in regional reporting.

The site of Farcast stresses that "with the introduction of the Farcast application, and are now, more than ever, the absolute frontrunner in fast, accurate, multimedia news. With Farcast, ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ and ‘Het belang van Limburg’ have taken an important step in the further development of their websites."

I think it is indeed a great step towards a fully multimedia coverage of news items.
Knowing that has this hard- and software at his disposal, one could wonder why the site is still using unclear and simplistic maps like this one when they have farcast.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The power of Youtube-news

Telling that Youtube movies are very popular is nothing new. Also I can loose myself for few hours in watching some stupid, funny, intelligent youtube-movies on the platform. Yet it is remarkable how fast a youtube-movie circulates around the web and how fast digital news media implement that same video on their website.

A Youtube movie which shows a presenter who throws up live during the show was presented today on at least 5 Flemish digital newspapers: Standaard Online,, and

Wonder how this goes ... suppose that copies that video from an international newspaper or directly from Youtube ... a journalist from sees that ... decides to copy the movie on their site ... journalist of sees the movie on both sites and thinks he/she are missing lots of potential online visitors and as a consequence decides to copy the movie. Hope this copy-behavior does not happen with important political/cultural/economical/environmental news ... in print, I'm sure it is not the case, but what with online news where copying is soooo easy? I don't know, maybe some online journalist can ease my mind.

Timelines in Flash (2)

Two weeks ago, I discussed the use of animated timelines on Standaard Online. Today, Reinout Bossuyt of Standaard Oline told me that more than a year ago already, Standaard Online made use of timelines in Flash. Only negative point is that this testcase-timeline was hidden behind a link or pop-up. Standaard Online realised quickly that such graphical infoelements should be implemented in the regular pages. Ironically, the timeline also covered the story about missing children (Stacy and Nathalie). Reinout noted that it seems like was inspired by the use of Flash timelines and started using one few days ago. Again, great example of multimedia journalism! I hope this won't be a one-day trick.

If anyone knows other examples of animated timelines (in flash) used in Flemish news media, please let me know!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Invest more in eduction for online journalists (Henk van Ess)

In a movie that summarizes a study of the NVJ and Radboud University about the use of internet by journalists, Henk van Ess (Investigative journalist and online reporter, see argues that media companies and journalist should invest more in eduction so that journalists can make fully advantage of the possibilities of the web.

I agree with Henk. I'm very proud to have the courses online journalism and online research (CARR) included in the Master Program of the Lessius University College. In my opinion, this kind of education is essential for future journalist, and as a consequence for courses in journalism. Not only the online tricks and tools are useful, but also, and maybe more important, the knowledge and belief that better journalism is possible when being creative and innovative with the internet and in general new media.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Google maps in online news

Among today's stories on, one receives my attention. In this article, the journalist inserted a google map feature (although made by somebody else) to illustrate a news story (an overview of different politicians who commited fraud). Although it is in fact a basic feature, this deserves a big applause.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whiter shade of pale

Thursday, I'll welcome the students of the Master of Journalism on their first day of an intensive year that will be the finishing touch in their strive to become a professional journalist. I plan to start with some quotes of this essay written by Mark Deuze about the future of professional journalists. I wonder how many of the students' faces will turn a 'whiter shade of pale'.

Distinct types of multimedia features

In this article on the Online Journalism Review, different types of multimedia are highlighted:
1) animated infographics (how does that plain crash happened?)
2) infotoys (applications that let you play with data)
3) narratives (slideshow of pictures and voice)
4) you are there (detailed information based on consumer's choice)
5) bop's (big old packages, a complex story presented by the use of different modalities)

Three remarks:
1) So far I know, these kinds of multimedia-applications are not common in Flemish online news media. I'll try to motivate the students of my course to develop these new forms of telling a story, or at least be aware of the possibilities and the benefits it brings for the news consumer. As the article concludes: "the real winners are the news audience".
2) Is it? Are the online news consumers the real winners? Do they just appear to have a nicer 'surfing behavior'? Or do they learn better from these multimedia packages? In the spring of 2008, I'll try to include some multimedia packages in my learning experiments to find out whether there are some differences in learning outcome between a static and multimedia story.
3) The description of animated infographics touches a great issue of defining multimedia. The author makes the difference between a static graphic for print publication and the animated storytelling picture. What's in fact the difference between these two, apart from the fact that the latter is non-static? Pictures are not multimedia, moving pictures are multimedia? So the moving thing is essential? And what if the static picture was combined with a narrative voice-over? Should we label that static picture + voice as multimedia? I'll try to answer these questions in a paper/article I've been working on during the last few weeks in which I propose a redefinition of the concept of multimedia, a concept until today defined as the combination of text, pictures and sound but which deserves a better definition in this digital age.

Friday, September 14, 2007

User-news agenda differs from mainstream news agenda

A new PEJ-study reveals that the agenda of user-news sites like Digg, Reddit and differs from that of mainstream media. However I think it is difficult to define this kinds of user-generated of user-centered media as news media (many of the topics are not 'real news' but entertainment, advertisments, reviews, ...), this study confirms that citizens and journalists are driven by other personal, economical and organisational factors. One thing is clear: the existance of user-news and mainstream news is good for everybody, leading to a more pluriform and diverse news agenda.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Using maps online: what difference does it make?

An earthquake has struck Sumatra, one of the Southern Islands of Indonesia. To localise the region of disaster, online news media often use maps. Good idea ... if the map is clear. In the article of, only a small region is showed, so that it is impossible to understand the big picture, for example the distance between the epicenter and the threatened cities. The maps of CNN and BBC are better, but still not making fully use of the online possibilities like interactive maps with informational texts, maps with associated distances or maps with integrated picture-option.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Timelines in flash

De Standaard Online gives a great overview of the most important events during the political negociations in Belgium in the form of a timeline in flash. Today, I was analysing the online news site of and saw somewhat the same feature: a timeline which summarised the Maddie-history. Great type of journalism, especially for long-running news items!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Social Bookmarking for dummies

For dummies, but yet interesting!

Chapter in press

Few weeks ago, I received great news that my chapter for the Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication is accepted for publication. The title is "Divergent News Media in Computer Mediated News Communication" and will appear in the spring of 2008. In this article, I question 'the internet as one medium', discuss the results of a content analysis of online news about the Belgian elections of 2006-2007 and propose a typlogy of divergent online news media.

Neuroscience and new media

In the end of June, I visited the Aberdeen University to give a presentation about the classificiation of interactivity at the information:interactions and impact conference. There was a keynote speaker, dr. Martin Westwell of this institute, who was really great. He told us about the relationship between new media possibilities and neuroscience, in a way dealing with the stuff I'm working on. Things like cognitive overload and structural isomorphism (which I study in relationship with online news features) have more or less to do with the capacities and limitations of the human brain and associated neurons. I'll try to get his presentation and ask him permission to put it on this blog.
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