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Dougherty

Daily News editor Geoff Dougherty blabs about journalism, the Daily News and assorted other subjects


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The end of hyperlocal?


There's been a lot of talk lately about the travails of LoudounExtra.com, the Washington Post's cutting-edge hyperlocal news experiment in suburban Virginia.

The site's resident tech genius, Rob Curley, is leaving the building and taking his team of code wizards with him.

And the Post admits traffic hasn't been as strong as hoped.

Some have said this spells the end of LoudounExtra.com, and illustrates that hyperlocal ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Not so fast.

The departure of a few geeks (albeit some of the most talented ones in...more












And now, all the way from Columbia, Missouri...


One of the things that I most enjoy about my job at the Daily News is the chance to bring talented people into the organization.

It's especially fun -- and humbling -- to realize that there are wonderful people interested in offering us their expertise despite our dismal pay and irascible management.

One of those wonderful folks is Jacqui Banaszynski, who joined our board of directors last week.

Jacqui spent 18 years as a newspaper reporter, won a Pulitzer Prize for her series on AIDS in the heartland, and recently served as...more








A high-pressure situation


Work for newspapers long enough and you'll face some high-pressure, do-or-die situations.

In my 16-year career as a reporter, I have:

  • Been trapped in the midst of a violent confrontation on a Teamsters picket line
  • Been threatened with hasty death by the brother of a serial cop killer
  • Buried my rental car engine-deep in a Mexican swamp while racing a tight deadline
  • Reported a series of stories documenting that the sitting president of the United States was not the man voters had selected for the job
  • Been informed by a source (calling from her car) that she was...more



Death ledes


One of the biggest challenges in news writing is pulling together the first sentence of the story -- the lede.

It's got to encompass what happened and why it matters. And it's got to make the reader want to keep reading.

I've often thought that writing the lede on an obituary of a well-known person is an especially tough job, because you're summing up the societal impact of someone's life, as well as giving the reader some clues as to why the dead guy might have been interesting.

Here's a couple of ledes on Bo Diddley's death,...more








New: Cheap subscriptions


We're rolling out a great new way to support the Daily News today.

For $5 per month, you can experience all of the bliss that comes with being a Daily News subscriber.

We use the money to recruit volunteers, run our training program, and provide you with Chicago's best hyperlocal news coverage.

It's cheaper than a beer and you won't wake up with a nasty hangover. And if you sign up now, we'll send you a free t-shirt.










Old vs. new


I continue to watch in amazement as former Gawker writer turned NYT Magazine martyr Emily Gould gets flogged and abused for the article she wrote about her stint as a high-profile blogger.

Despite the hundreds of comments to the contrary, the article isn't badly written. Nor is it overly long. I read the whole thing in one easy sitting, with interest.

I've always wondered what it would be like to work for an outfit like Gawker, and I can't be alone.

As the newspaper world implodes and online upstarts...more








No news today


The Daily News is taking the day off for Memorial Day, as all good Americans should.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow, after I've finished installing that ceiling fan.





The wave of the future


The Trib's Steve Johnson stopped by the citizen journalist academy we organized with the Society of Professional Journalists last weekend.

The resulting article is an interesting look at where citizen journalism stands these days in terms of gaining acceptance and credibility.





Grant #2


We recently received word from the Chicago Headline Club that we've been awarded $5,000 from the club's Watchdog Fund to pursue a series of stories on police misconduct.

Needless to say, any grant is a good grant. But this one is particularly good, because it allows us to spend some time and effort on a subject that's vitally important to our city.

And it's a first step in what we hope will be a long partnership with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, which provides the financial backing for the Watchdog Fund, as well as many...more






What would you buy?


We're going to be purchasing a couple of point-and-shoot cameras and a camcorder for the newsroom in the next few days.

What would you buy if you were us?

The camcorder needs to have a tripod mount and an microphone jack.

Cameras should be easy to use, small, durable, less than $200.









Comments working... again


We've been wrestling for the last month or so with our comment system, which has been sometimes working, sometimes not.

Looks like we've won the wrestling match at this point, so feel free to comment to your heart's content.

And we also made some repairs to the "I forgot my password" system, so if you've been dying to reset your password, today's the day.







How to annoy a news editor


Memo to the PR community: If you're hoping journalists will cover the release of your new candy, don't send us an e-mail headlined "Toxic Waste Detected at McCormick Place."

I saw the subject line and started looking around the office for a police reporter to stuff into a hazmat suit and send over to McCormick Place.

Not the most enjoyable part of my day, by a long shot.










Timing is everything


The Knight Foundation, one of our wonderful funders, announced its second round of News Challenge winners today.

Looking at the list of lucky winners, which includes Internet god Tim Berners-Lee, I'm amazed at the breath and ambition of what they're proposing to do.

And I'm relieved that we applied last year, because I don't know we could have kept up with the competition this time around.







Driving forward, Toyota style


When Toyota first began to rise to prominence in this country, the company's cars were known as cheap, plasticky, not-to-be trusted imports.

Now Toyota is on pace to unseat GM as the world's auto sales leader, and is regarded as one of the most innovative companies around.

A New Yorker article by James Surowiecki gives a quick rundown on how that happened.

At Toyota, "the goal is not to make huge, sudden leaps, but, rather, to make things better on a daily basis ... Instead of trying to throw long touchdown passes,...more








Riding the death spiral


Los Angeles magazine is running an insightful article about the demise of the L.A. Times, told through the eyes of the half-dozen men who have edited the paper in recent years.

By ordering the accounts from oldest to most recent, the article allows you to ride along the death spiral. Things go from rosy ("Best paper in the world") through years of myopic management, to their current state (clueless flailing, mindless cost-cutting).

The one guy who seems to have a good fix on a way out of the problem is Jim O'Shea, the export from Chicago...more






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