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Friday, June 20, 2008

Cell phone directory, news research and interpreting the news, and politics

Some more interesting thoughts on news research and other topics...

In the Wall Street Journal by Jason Fry, The Case of the Missing White Pages (link fixed). It explores the question of whether there is a directory of cell phone numbers (a question that comes up on NewsLib about once a year). A few years back there was news one was coming, but according to this story, Intelius gave up on it. Cell phone users don't want strangers getting their numbers, end of story. But it raises some interesting thoughts:
That will arouse uneasy feelings that technology has once again done away with something we assumed was eternal...Those of us who remember looking ourselves up in the white pages and thinking that now we belong to a place may lament -- not for the first time -- that our real-world communities are becoming more fragmented as people spend time in online communities of their own choosing instead.
(Via Resourceshelf.)

Mentioned in Derek Willis' report on some sessions he attended at the SLA conference, the TimesArchive, in which the UK paper pulls great stories out of their historical archives and makes them available by topic or by browsing a timeline. Actually, the archive includes every page of The Times from 1785 to 1995, and searching and viewing all those pages is free for now as long as you register. Fantastic!

I may have mentioned Newser before, but didn't include it the other day when I linked to several new sites for getting the news. And I didn't know that it was created by High Beam Research, which I use, and that it was inspired by Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff.
I explored it some today and find that it's a great tool for doing something that's not always easy with online news sites: finding related stories. When I looked at this report on Tribune Company's financial troubles, for example, I found lots of stories, including pay archives from Highbeam, directly connected to the topic.
There's also a feature that lets you browse New York Times stories.
I think I'll be looking at Newser more often.


From Paula Hane at Information Today, a posting on a talk about factchecking by Brooks Jackson of Factcheck.org: Coping in a world of disinformation. There's a link to Hane's good rundown of political factchecking sites, too.

Also interesting today, in Time: The Beltway-Blog Battle
....the old media, under pressure to work fast, sharpen their voices and cut costs, are increasingly making news blog-style, through argument and controversy.
...Oh, wait: there was one debate question that sparked an ongoing policy discussion (on Obama's willingness to meet with hostile foreign leaders). It was asked at a CNN debate. By a YouTube user.


Another South Florida reference, including another new blog focusing on investigative/analytic journalism, and South Florida papers: Journalism Bull.

On a wider topic, Miami CBS4's Jim deFede sets straight all the confusing reporting and political posturing on oil drilling off the Florida coast: Separating Fact from Fiction on Offshore Drilling. Getting the facts straight on this topic is critical now, as Americans fed up with oil prices clamor for more drilling. Yesterday a new poll reported more Floridians are willing to allow offshore rigs, and will vote for McCain if he supports it.
Will oil price backlash destroy any hope for environmental advances from now on?

On another political topic, I haven't seen much in the traditional media about what the Obama decision to refuse public financing means. Some say it means there will be less attack ads from 527 political organizations, in fact TPM reports that MoveOn.org is dropping its organization. But only a few days ago, New Republic was warning, Let the attack ads begin!

And then there's this, from David Brooks at the New York Times: The two Obamas. I think it summarizes this election pretty well:
...Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson.
...All I know for sure is that this guy is no liberal goo-goo. Republicans keep calling him naïve. But naïve is the last word I’d use to describe Barack Obama. He’s the most effectively political creature we’ve seen in decades. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t smart enough to succeed in politics by pretending to renounce politics.

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