But we do have much more work to do building the Web Press…
Connecting the Dots
by Glynn Wilson
We aren’t going to have George W. Bush to kick around anymore after Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. So what’s a liberal-tarian blogger to do?
In our case, that’s an easy question to answer. We will be right here continuing to develop the next evolution in the Web Press and building the infrastructure to replace newspapers as the primary information source for a democratic nation.
It’s probably true that half of our blog archive involves Bush bashing, but it’s also true that it contains a wealth of information about what went down in The Bush Years, and shows how we were on the story warning people long before Bush’s corrupt incompetence led to an implosion of the Republican Party and the historic election of Obama.
Like Obama, we are focused on moving forward, politically and technologically. We will be here for every policy fight we must face to transform this country into something that is sustainable into the future. We recognize that the problems are great and the challenges daunting.
But we are not quite ready just yet to completely let the Bush administration off the hook for the problems they created, most notably on the environmental front — and in the system of justice this country must depend upon to be conducted impartially, if we are to succeed and excel as a free nation. There are people still who should be required to face justice, chief among them Bush’s former political adviser Karl Rove.
At the same time, we are committed to moving this technology ahead by thinking about and building the Web Press of the future, the next iteration in our evolution, so to speak. Call it LocustFork.Net 2.7.
While some newspaper companies have made strides in moving to the Web to replace their nearly obsolete printing presses, many of the old newspaper corporations have just not fostered the culture to ensure we have A PRESS in the future. Make no mistake. There can be no American democracy without a free press.
And it has to be called The Press, not a blog, not only because that is what we are all conditioned to follow, but for legal purposes.
Every legal case that establishes and extends our rights of free speech and press refer to “the press,” which was granted special rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The press does not have to mean — it cannot mean much longer — a printing press using ink and paper.
Our legal structures are not yet fully established to extend our freedoms to the Web Press, which just means that there are many fights ahead before we fully protect these rights.
For starters, the lawyers in the Library of Congress copyright office still have not figured out how to protect a Web publication from theft by print publishers. We often hear about theft from copyrighted print publications by those on the Web, but what about the other way around?
If I break a story here and a newspaper reporter or book publisher takes my reports like they would a wire story and integrate that into what they know and write for print, but fail to give me proper credit and/or compensation, should I not share the same right to sue that they enjoy? Obviously from my experience in the Kitty Kelly lawsuit, that is not the case, yet.
The written word is no longer something that has to be printed out to have value and power. We’ve seen it time and again since the first Web publishers and bloggers came online, but rarely do we see an educated, intelligent conversation about all these changes taking place and how to regulate and deal with them.
That is as much a part of our mission as criticizing George W. Bush. It’s been a fun, if tragic, ride. But now things must change. The world is changing fast.
This juncture in our political history is a perfect time to announce our latest redesign. You will notice a few changes to the news page with more in the works. We removed some of the lineage that made it look old fashioned. We’ve reorganized the links a bit to make things easier to understand and follow, and we’ve made a significant change on the banner. I’ve been calling this site The Locust Fork News-Journal in my e-mail signature for a while now, because in fact, that’s what it has evolved into.
When I first bought the domain name LocustFork.Net in 2005 and put the site up on a computer server for $10 a month, it was designed strictly as a Web site commonly referred to as a “headline page.” Like Drudge. It was a tool I used myself to keep up with the news online. I made that tool available to the public as an aide to following the big news of the day in the fastest and most free and tasteful way possible. In fact, one of the first uses was to help editors at The New York Times keep up with local coverage of the trial of HealthSouth’s Richard Scrushy in Birmingham.
Quite a number of people have discovered the site and now use it on a regular basis for that purpose. You still have to sign up and give personal information to read some of the stories in the New York Times and Washington Post, for example, although you can get to all of the wire stories and most magazine stories for free.
In the spring of 2005, while I was still free-lancing in Washington, D.C., part of the time, we got our hands on some blogging software and started the journal part of this site. It now contains a useful, free archive that documents the past three and a half years in time in a way that is fully searchable.
Many newspaper Websites still try to charge for their archives, and create all kinds of dead links on the Web for search engines by taking their content down after a few days. If that’s the way they insist on playing it, even though they make money by selling their text to databases such as Lexis-Nexis anyway, then we will be right here for anyone who searches the Web for information. Researchers will still be able to pay for that information in a database, but what if our reporting is just as valuable or even better in some instances?
We think our coverage of the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is more accurate and complete than any newspaper archive anyway. We ran into one researcher in Atlanta recently who had printed the entire thing out and organized it into a binder for his research on a book. He did that without the need for an over programmed “print” link on our stories or a social networking “share” link to a site like Twitter.
We’ve got to be smart about how we spend our online time. Like all mediums of communications, there are always going to be trendy fads like Facebook. No matter. There will still be a need for a reporter on the ground when big news breaks.
The old school news managers like to think and say that blogs can’t replace newspapers, because it’s newspapers that pay reporters to actually cover stories that make up the news, even most of what appears on TV news. While that may be true about the average diary blogger or political blog site, there are those of us with much experience in the news business and a passion for the Web Press who can take on the papers — and even beat them, online.
One of the interesting things about a site like this, I just happened to notice the other day enough to articulate it, involves the news cycle itself. While we can get more stories out faster by far then print, or even a newspaper Web site because of their bureaucratic constraints, there is a slower portion to the news cycle here as well. We not only get some things up faster than the search engines even, we also leave some big stories up longer, giving people more time to get around to them. It allows people to keep up at their own pace. It’s truly a daily, a weekly and a monthly publication all in one, free online.
In order to pay for this new Web Press, of course, we have to spend some time thinking about and developing the economy for it. With a small company like this one, that sometimes means trade offs. When I am involved in technical or promotional work, that takes me away from chasing headlines and producing original stories and pictures.
But this need to pay for it is why we early on teamed up with a new company, BogAds.com, which had just started up in DC about the time the blog part of this site went live online. We have been working together since that time to provide a mechanism for people on one hand who want to publish and make money doing it, and for those who have something to sell or promote who wish to reach out to the growing Web audience.
To try and explain that further, we just re-worked our advertising section and now the pitch is more about sponsoring our work on the Web Press than it is about selling products. For law firms and non-profit groups, for example, there has to be a further evolution in how people get information about them and what they are working on.
For that to happen, somebody with some professional competence and training has to write it down and publish it somewhere, and it has to be promoted. The where is the Web, but just putting up a Web site and waiting is not enough.
There are many addresses to turn to on this new Web Press, many choices for people as more and more fall in love with Web surfing as a way to get information and yes entertainment.
We thank you for choosing LocustFork.Net.
To read more, check out this post:
© 2009 – 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.