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Author Topic:   Blogs
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Posts: 2781
From:La Canada
Registered: Jun 2000

posted May 27, 2004 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hollywood Mystery Man 'Rance' Has Internet Abuzz

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He skewers Hollywood and the cult of celebrity on an anonymous Web log that has spawned a cult following. He claims to be an A-list actor, writing under a pseudonym, but admits he may not be believed.

Who, exactly, is "Rance?"

Could he really be, as some believe, Owen Wilson (news), Ben Affleck (news), Jim Carrey (news) or even George Clooney (news)?

The answer may perhaps be found somewhere in the entries on his Weblog -- or "blog" -- which applies a trenchant wit and jaundiced insider's eye in chronicling the life of a Hollywood celebrity. Then again, it could all be a hoax.

Though Rance granted an interview with Reuters, he responded to questions only via email, using pseudonymous dead-end accounts for both himself and the reporter and never offering a glimpse into his real identity.

Asked if he was, in fact, a well-known actor, he responded: "Or a well-known actress perhaps. Just not Donald Trump."

In the blog's first-ever post last December, Rance introduced himself this way: "Suffice it to say I know what its like to see your picture on the magazine rack every now and again when you pay for groceries."

Rance's blog has since spawned a furious guessing game on the Internet and beyond, becoming a regular topic at Hollywood parties.

Xeni Jardin, a writer on the "Boing-Boing" blog, recently told her readers that Rance was rumored to be "Starsky and Hutch" star Owen Wilson, a claim that the actor's publicist has denied.


The anonymous editor of Hollywood gossip site Defamer suggests it could be Ben Affleck -- a conjecture built around the supposed link between a cryptic quiz on Rance's blog and an Affleck tattoo.

Others have surmised that Rance is Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Benicio Del Toro (news) or Luke Wilson (news), Owen's brother. And one of Rance's readers recently sent him a comment that read simply: "You are, in fact, Matthew Perry (news). Game on?"

Meanwhile, a Defamer reader tried to unmask Rance by researching the term "Captain Hoof," which appears in the Web address. She came to the conclusion that he was a San Francisco man who worked at an ad agency and once ran a Web site with a similar name -- possibly dedicated to an imaginary horse.

The man, who no longer works for the agency, could not be contacted for this story.

For his part, Rance offers the electronic equivalent of a shrug to the endless chatter about his identity, saying that it was never his intention to play hide-and-seek with the world.

"The guessing game distracts from any message I might have," he told Reuters. "Then again, I'm not yet sure I have a message and in any case the amusement makes it all worth it. More than once I've seen items that upon first glance suggested the game might be up and I felt my stomach plummet."

Rance said he set up the Web site on a whim with help from a computer-savvy friend, seeing it as a "really good way to bitch about my job" without suffering any career repercussions. He chose the name "Rance" as a pun on "rants."

The diverse themes of the Web log revolve around pitch meetings and parties, the machinations of Hollywood at work and play and its fascination with sex and celebrity.

Rance loves shrimp and logic puzzles. He's tolerant of paparazzi but tough on gossips. He's bored by Shakespeare and the summer blockbuster "Troy" but admires Joan Rivers.

And through it all he's amused by life in Los Angeles -- the way a birthday party in the suburbs can turn into an unexpected meeting with a dominatrix and a late-night nude dip in the Chateau Marmont pool can be interrupted by an SUV crash on Sunset Boulevard.

"It is tough in L.," Rance says of the city. "The good news is there are Fatburgers."

Though he has received two "serious" proposals from people in publishing to turn his blog into a book, Rance said he has not yet pursued that idea, content for now to communicate to the outside world through the Internet.

"With no disrespect intended, media in general seldom if ever permits a person, be he actor or President, to present himself the way he would like -- and certainly not to the degree a blog does," Rance said.

"Still, there's a megabyte or two's worth of irony in my situation," he said.


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From:Brentwood, CA
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posted June 28, 2004 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TypewriterMonkey   Click Here to Email TypewriterMonkey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last week's Time magazine had a good story on the history and the current most popular blogs. I'm sure it's archived by now.


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From:Santa Monica
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posted September 14, 2004 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jason Calacanis announced each of the more than 50 Weblogs in his network has been redesigned to include three advertising slots. Ads will take up, at most, about 20 percent of the screen, he wrote on his own blog. Further, he wrote, "Every blogger in the Weblogs Inc. network took home a check. And in 2005, I'd like to see some of our bloggers be able to make a living from their blogs."


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posted September 20, 2004 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now comes the Blog backlash

By Frank Barnako,

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- The graybeards of the blogosphere are warning their fellow "citizen journalists" not to get carried away with their supposed impact on CBS News and what's come to be known as the "Rather memos."

While doubts about their authenticity were raised online within hours of the "60 Minutes" broadcast, Dan Gillmor, technology journalist and blogger at the Mercury News, is urging restraint. "Some of the self-congratulatory chest-thumping is overdone," he wrote in a column.. Traditional media would not have ignored the issue, he said.

Jeff Jarvis, an executive with, raised the same flag in a piece published Sunday in the New York Post. "I just hope that bloggers aren't seduced by the scoop and the gotcha as Big Media has been," he wrote.

While bloggers revel in what some would call second-guessing and sniping, Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, says partnership is preferable to one-ups-manship. "Citizens' media complements Big Media with fact-checking and challenges, and with new sources of news, information and diverse viewpoints," he wrote in a companion piece in the Post. "Together, they will improve news."


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posted October 27, 2004 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Meeker sees money in blogs

By Frank Barnako,

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- Morgan Stanley's Internet analyst says the hottest things on the Web now are RSS, blogs and Yahoo.

In a new research report, Mary Meeker writes that the inclusion of syndicated news feeds -- known as RSS, as in "rich site summary" or "really simple syndication" -- in Yahoo's My Yahoo page is playing a key role in driving blog readership and RSS usage. More readers translate into more advertising revenue opportunities, she reasons.

Ultimately, Meeker wonders whether Yahoo could "accept smaller payments for access to certain content" and split the fees with blog publishers. Inserting ads into syndicated news feeds, as Weblogs Inc. has begun doing with Engadget, is another option, she said. You can download the Meeker report in Adobe Acrobat format at

Yahoo increased its support for RSS on Wednesday by adding feeds of its news searches in the syndication format. Jacob Rosenberg, writing on Yahoo's Search blog, adds some tips on creating searches to "make very focused queries, (and) you can do some really cool stuff." Read it at

Weblogs Inc. adds top execs

Touting itself now as "the world's largest blog publisher," Weblogs Inc. announced it has hired an editorial director and a vice president of sales and marketing. Judith Meskill, a communications consultant who writes a blog about social networking, will oversee the editorial side of the company. "We're going to have 100 blogs by the end of this year (50 at present), and 300 in 2005. Judith's ability to create systems for managing growth is going to be invaluable," said Brian Alvey, a co-founder of Weblogs Inc. Also, Shawn Gold, former president of eUniverse -- which used the Web and e-mail to distribute online greetings, games, cartoons, jokes and contests -- signed on to head up business and content strategy, the company said.


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From:Redmond, WA
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posted November 30, 2004 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Publisher: 'Blog' No. 1 word of the year

BOSTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- A four-letter term that came to symbolize the difference between old and new media during this year's presidential campaign tops U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster's list of the 10 words of the year.

Merriam-Webster Inc. said on Tuesday that blog, defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks," was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year.

Eight entries on the publisher's top-10 list related to major news events, from the presidential election -- represented by words such as incumbent and partisan -- to natural phenomena such as hurricane and cicada.

Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster compiles the list each year by taking the most researched words on its Web sites and then excluding perennials such as affect/effect and profanity.

The company said most online dictionary queries were for uncommon terms, but people also turned to its Web sites for words in news headlines.

"That is what occurred in this year's election cycle ... with voluminous hits for words like 'incumbent,' 'electoral,' 'partisan,' and, of course, our number one Word of the Year, 'blog,"' Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said in a statement.

Americans called up blogs in droves for information and laughs ahead of the November 2 presidential election.

Freed from the constraints that govern traditional print and broadcast news organizations, blogs spread gossip while also serving as an outlet for people increasingly disenchanted with mainstream media.

Blog clout
It was mainly on blogs that readers first encountered speculation that U.S. President George W. Bush wore a listening device during his first debate against Democrat John Kerry. The White House, forced to respond, called it a laughable, left-wing conspiracy theory.

Bloggers also were among the first to cast doubt on a CBS television news report that challenged Bush's military service.

CBS later admitted it had been duped into using questionable documents for the report. Last week CBS anchor Dan Rather said he would step down in March, although the network said the move was unconnected to the scandal.

A Merriam-Webster spokesman said it was not possible to say how many times blog had been looked up on its Web sites but that from July onward, the word received tens of thousands of hits per month.

Blog will be a new entry in the 2005 version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The complete list of words of the year is available at http:/


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posted December 02, 2004 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
MSN Launches Blog Service

Elizabeth Millard,

MSN has introduced a new Weblog service that joins blogging with the company's popular instant messaging tools and Hotmail e-mail service.

Called MSN Spaces, the blogging service allows Internet users to create their own personal places on the Web, according to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - news). It is also intended to integrate MSN's other services into a whole, which will give consumers greater options for communications, Microsoft believes.

"The investments MSN is making in MSN Spaces, MSN Messenger and MSN Hotmail are designed to break down some of the barriers between the services," says MSN's Blake Irving in a statement.

Blog Plus

MSN Spaces will be available in a beta version in 14 languages and 26 markets worldwide.

In addition to providing blogging tools, the service is a "dynamic online scrapbook," Microsoft notes, where consumers can share items like music lists and photo albums.

MSN is also highlighting a feature called "contact cards" that provide contact information and blog summaries, and can be used in Messenger and Hotmail contact lists.

Blogging Kind of World

MSN's service puts Microsoft in direct competition with rival Google, which owns the popular service Blogger.

The two are not alone in trying to capture blogger attention. Several smaller companies exist, including Six Apart and

Portals have also been looking more closely at the space. Lycos launched a blogging tool earlier this year, and America Online (NYSE: AOL - news) has its own service, called AOL Journals.

Tying It Together

In trying to trounce the competition, Microsoft may benefit from blending its communication services.

Bringing its instant messaging and e-mail services into closer alignment with blogging is typical of Microsoft's strategy, said Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio.

Not only will it give Microsoft greater reach in the still-emerging blog tools market, but it could bring the company considerable appeal in the mass market.

"Microsoft is not that far away from the antitrust lawsuit of days past," DiDio told NewsFactor. "They were bruised by that. So now they're embarking on strategies like this to show that they'll do what it takes to get customers."


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posted February 08, 2005 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ask Jeeves Buys Bloglines in New Push

By Michael Liedtke, AP Business Writer

Ask Jeeves Buys Leading Internet News Outlet Bloglines in Bid to Boost Search Engine Traffic

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Underdog online search engine Ask Jeeves Inc. has bought Bloglines, a Web log index and Internet news funnel popular with serious readers of online journals, in its latest bid to gain ground on heavyweight rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.
Oakland-based Ask Jeeves completed the acquisition last week, but announced it Tuesday, though many of the online sites tracked by Bloglines spent the weekend debating the pros and cons of the combination. Ask Jeeves officials said the sales price won't be disclosed.

Ask Jeeves' shares fell 42 cents to close at $24.01 in Tuesday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The acquisition stems from a widening interest in Web logs, or "blogs" -- a term used to describe the online journals that have morphed from mundane personal diaries into increasingly influential hubs of news and commentary.

Redwood City-based Bloglines, formed in 2003, has established itself as an important player in the field with a searchable index of nearly 285 million articles posted on blogs.

Bloglines offers another advantage: it's a leader in "Really Simple Syndication," or RSS -- a system that plucks fresh information from designated sites and then distributes the summaries and links to the user.

Ask Jeeves plans to maintain Bloglines' service and brand, and keep the startup's founder, Mark Fletcher.

Much of Bloglines' technology will be melded into Ask Jeeves' existing network of Web sites, which include,, and

"Everyone has been licking their chops, waiting to get their hands on (Bloglines)," said Jim Lanzone, Ask Jeeves' senior vice president of search properties.

Ask Jeeves is counting on Bloglines to become a significant drawing card. The company has been trying to lure traffic from the Internet's search engine leaders, Google and Yahoo, as well as two of the Web's other biggest drawing cards, Microsoft Corp.'s and Time Warner Inc.'s

Google expanded into blogging two years ago with the acquisition of Blogger, which primarily provides publishing tools. Bloglines appeals mostly to blog readers -- a distinction "that definitely gives (Ask Jeeves) a first mover advantage," said search industry analyst Gary Stein of Jupiter Research. "They will get a lot of credibility from this deal."

As it bounced back from the dot-com bust, Ask Jeeves has rolled out one product improvement after another, only to be overshadowed by the search engine industry's leaders. Through November, Ask Jeeves ranked as the fifth-largest Internet search engine, with a 5.5 percent share -- far behind first-place Google's 34.4 percent share and second-place Yahoo's 31.8 percent share, according to comScore Networks, a research firm.

The quest for more traffic motivated Ask Jeeves' to buy iWon, Excite, Myway and several other related Web sites for $395 million last year.

More than bragging rights are at stake for Ask Jeeves. Search engines have become big money makers because of the text-based advertising links that appear alongside the main search results. Businesses pay commissions when their ad links are clicked, so search engine profits generally rise when Web site traffic increases.

While Ask Jeeves' profits have improved, the company's earnings growth hasn't been keeping pace with Google's and Yahoo's -- a factor that has hurt its standing with investors. Google's stock has more than doubled since its initial public offering last summer while Yahoo's has climbed by more than 20 percent. Ask Jeeves' stock has dropped by 6 percent during the same time.


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posted March 02, 2005 09:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blog spot: Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) Chief Executive Terry Semel has a new direction for the world's most popular Web site, but he's not planning a foray into movies or TV for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company. One alternative? The current rage for blogs, the online personal journals that discuss major events and create opinion threads. But Semel declared that Yahoo!'s content needed to be "more unique and hopefully more clever" than mass media. Rather than cobbling together material from other sources for its needs, there will be an emphasis on original material for the site, he told a media conference. Speculation about Yahoo!'s plans reached fever pitch in late January with its leasing of a office for around 1,000 workers in the southern California city of Santa Monica, near Hollywood. (Semel, of course, was a long-time exec at Time Warner's (nyse: TWX - news - people ) Warner Brothers studio.) Semel also predicted Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) will form its own ad network to compete with Yahoo! and Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ). But he was ever magnanimous: "I welcome that," Semel said. "It's good to have good competition."


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posted April 14, 2005 12:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Borderless blogs vs. Canada press ban

The Internet has perhaps rendered publication bans futile.

By Rondi Adamson

TORONTO - A Canadian publication ban and an American blogger clashed last week. The court-ordered ban did not survive the impact. The blogger was overwhelmed with visitors.

And what had been Canada's own private scandal - so private Canadians had been prevented from hearing about it in full - fast traveled the borderless blogosphere.

Publication bans prevent anyone from publishing or broadcasting evidence given or motions made during the course of a trial. Publication bans are not common in Canada, but when imposed they are meant to ensure that a jury pool, or a sitting jury, is not tainted. (One can be forgiven for wondering what the point of jury selection is, if a judge can't feel confident those selected are unable to look solely at evidence presented.) In this instance, however, the ban was imposed on a public inquiry into possible government fraud and conspiracy, involving taxpayer dollars. The word "counterintuitive" comes to mind.

"Adscam" has been making headlines in Canada for nearly two years. It involves an attempt by the federal government - under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Liberal Party - to "sell Canada" in Quebec, a province that has twice held (unsuccessful) referendums on the question of independence. Advertising agencies in Quebec were hired - at a cost of more than $200 million (US) - to promote federalism. But allegations surfaced that $81 million of those funds had been funneled back to Liberal Party loyalists. Paul Martin, shortly after becoming prime minister in late 2003, set up an inquiry headed by Justice John Gomery.

On March 29, Justice Gomery issued a publication ban on the testimony of three witnesses. This was done, he said, in order to assure the witnesses receive fair treatment when they face a criminal trial - relating to Adscam - later this year. In his ruling, Gomery stated that the ban included the Internet. With testimony under lock, everyone wondered about its relative explosiveness. A suggestion that the Liberal Party would be forced to call an election due to the hidden information made the rounds - causing Canadians to envision the absurd scenario that we would go to the polls based in part on something we weren't allowed to hear, or talk about.

Enter American blogger Ed Morrissey, or Captain Ed, to his readers. On April 2, in his Captain's Quarters blog, he posted some of the testimony. In the following days, Mr. Morrissey posted more, telling readers that some of the revelations came from a single source, some were corroborated by a second.

It didn't take long for a Canadian site, NealeNews, to link to the captain, though without printing any of the testimony. Still, officials at the Gomery Inquiry said they were considering citing the owner of NealeNews with contempt. American bloggers - including Michelle Malkin and Instapundit - picked up the story. Any Canadian with access to a computer could get the dirt. Morrissey wrote that his blog had been "swarmed with tens of thousands" of hits. He kindly warned Canadian visitors that they may "receive a summons" from their government.

Where a publication ban used to be fairly simple to understand, if not necessarily approve, new questions were being asked. Questions like: If I link to a site with a link to Captain's Quarters, will the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) show up at my house? Or, if I already had a link to Captain's Quarters before it carried the testimony, do I now have to remove it? Are the RCMP going to hire an army of new staff to hunt for untoward links?

A friend sent me an e-mail with the subject line, "The man on the ship," deferring jokingly (I assumed) to the publication ban, by referring to Captain Ed in code.

Canadian networks and newspapers found themselves tiptoeing through this new minefield, trying to report about the blog without mentioning blog names or web addresses. One television network removed a story that contained the blog's name from their website. The Globe and Mail mentioned Morrissey, but not his blog, by name. While some Canadian bloggers defied the ban, mainstream media appeared to lack similar moxie. Coming days after details of the rape, torture, and murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi were revealed (she was arrested and murdered in Iran in 2003, for taking photographs of a demonstration), such gyrations seemed feeble.

One Canadian blogger who linked to Captain's Quarters, Angry in the Great White North, says he did so because he does not want his children growing up in a country "where public testimony can be known by government officials and by the media, but by no one else." And Gomery reacted as well, lifting most of the ban last Thursday. Some testimony is still muzzled ... but not for American bloggers or Canadians who can Google, if sources keep talking.

Gomery said he lifted the ban because "it is in the public interest that this evidence with few exceptions be made available to the public." But it is hard to believe the blogosphere didn't play a powerful role in bringing about his epiphany.

The Internet has perhaps rendered publication bans futile. Whether that is a good thing can be debated. Freedom should not be mistaken for license. But given the level of alleged corruption exposed by the secret testimony, first at Captain's Quarters, and now all over mainstream Canadian media, it is difficult to argue that Canadians shouldn't be grateful for this clash of the blog and the ban.


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posted April 20, 2005 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blogger bounced from Disneyland

NEW BOSTON, New Hampshire (AP) -- Jim Hill has been expelled from the Happiest Place on Earth. And that makes him ... well, unhappy.

Hill, a 46-year-old New Hampshire man, is a Disney fan -- though one who looks at Mickey Mouse's domain with a critical eye. He writes a blog on Disney, and for the past few years, he has offered guided but unauthorized tours of Disneyland, charging $25 per person.

Then, on March 20, Uncle Walt put his foot down -- in a typically smooth Disney way.

"They were being so serious, so Disney, so polite and professional -- but at the same time treating it as if it was a nuclear bomb threat in their park. It was laughable," he said, recalling his encounter with park security in Anaheim, California.

As Hill describes it on his blog -- -- Disney officials shut down his venture after three women who signed up for an official tour inadvertently ended up in his group. The women reported him after park staff gave them trouble about rescheduling their original tour, Hill said.

That's when the Mouse cracked down.

"In the 25 years that I have been writing & telling stories about the Walt Disney Co., this is the first time ever that Mickey has made an effort to gag me. And -- to be honest -- it wasn't a very pleasant experience," Hill wrote.

Disneyland spokesman Bob Tucker responded in a statement: "Only qualified Disneyland Resort cast members are authorized to provide tours of Disneyland. Since Mr. Hill's tour was not authorized he was asked to leave the property."

Another spokesman likened Hill's tours to trespassing.

"This is private property and he's not allowed to do that. It's just like we would not allow someone to come in and set up a T-shirt shop," said Rob Doughty.

Hill said his blog is read by Disney insiders, and that his tour isn't particularly racy, but includes tidbits of history that don't fit with The Walt Disney Co.'s carefully groomed image.

Such as the fact that Walt Disney occasionally enjoyed a cocktail after a long day at work. Or salty tales gleaned from Hill's interviews with old-time Imagineers and animators.

"You'd be amazed at some of the stories out there," Hill said, but "they want their nice, edited, polished version of history."

The tour also discusses C.V. Wood, the instrumental, now rarely mentioned, first president of Disneyland who helped find the site for the park. Wood left the company after a falling out with Walt Disney but went on to help create many other theme parks, Hill said.

"He was a huge impact on the industry, but for Disney he disappeared," he said. "There's a lot of people who helped make the Happiest Place on Earth, and those are the people I talk about on my tour."

Hill butted heads with the multimedia giant once before, at the 2004 shareholders' meeting in Philadelphia. Hill, who had been covering the leadership battle between Disney chief executive Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article accompanied by a sketch of him.

"There's my big fat face in woodblock on the cover of the Wall Street Journal," he recalled.

When he arrived at the meeting, Hill said company officials pulled his credentials. The incident happened in front of the press corps and he was on cable news the next day. Then as now, Hill's blog saw a Space Mountain-size spike in hits.

Hill hopes to continue the tours even if he can't do them in person. He and a partner plan to have an audio program for tourists to listen to on a Walkman or iPod available by mid-May -- shortly after the celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary kicks off on May 5.

"I can do it now from the comfort of my home in the woods," said Hill, who lives off an unpaved road in a log house overflowing with Disney paraphernalia.

Hill also gives tours of other U.S. Disney parks but isn't sure whether he's banned from them. He remains a Disney fan regardless and won't stop visiting the parks privately.

"I may end up with a discreet Disney escort for a while," he speculated. "Hell, if the guy wants to go on Small World with me, we'll be fine."


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posted May 03, 2005 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH SUMMER INTERN   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH SUMMER INTERN     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Media chiefs heed a tale of how the press was stopped

A short film foretells the triumph of online news over traditional print media in the coming decade


3 May 2005

Financial Times

London Ed1

Page 14

Sometimes, a piece of science fiction can turn out to be more than just a bit of crazy speculation.

A short online film* about the future of newspapers - produced six months ago by two Fellows at The Poynter Institute, a US journalism school - remains mostly pure fantasy. It predicts that the press will lose the race for online readers over the next 10 years after failing to make rapid changes needed to attract consumers who prefer to catch up with the news on the internet.

Yet, for all its speculation, the film's core message has started looking less fantastical since it began capturing the imagination of figures in the media world. Not least of these is Rupert Murdoch - who recently warned that he and his fellow newspaper proprietors risked being "relegated to the status of also-rans" if they did not overhaul their internet strategies. Mr Murdoch is understood to have seen the film and taken notice.

Charting the evolution of the media between 1984 and 2014, Epic tells the story of the creation of a single source of media content that contains everything that anyone could possibly ever want to know. The "Evolving Personalised Information Construct" springs from the rapid mergers of today's most powerful technology companies - among them,

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Tivo. Eventually, they form Googlezon, which unleashes Epic.

"Everyone contributes now - from blog entries, to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations," the film's narrator says. Users pay freelance editors to filter news for them. Eventually, "computer editors" splice together individually tailored news reports from various sources according to each user's needs and preferences. The twist in the tale is this: in 2014, The New York Times goes offline after losing a legal battle to prevent the pilfering of its content by computer editors. It is left publishing a print edition only for intellectuals and the elderly who still prefer their news in paper form.

The story is gripping. But equally dramatic predictions have been made about the effect of new technology on existing industries, and many have proved to be completely wrong. Television was supposed to make radio obsolete, videos were supposed to wipe out film theatres. Forecasts made about the internet's impact five years ago, just before the bubble burst, were mostly wrong.

But, as Mr Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, the international media giant, told US newspaper editors in his recent speech, the internet has changed the way people use and obtain information. "Today, the newspaper is just a paper. Tomorrow, it can be a destination. Today, to the extent that anyone is a destination, it's the internet portals: the Yahoos, Googles and MSNs," Mr Murdoch said.

He is not alone in this realisation. The rapid growth in the popularity of search engines has changed the competitive landscape. "Two years ago search engines were not viewed as much of a threat," says John Sturm, executive director at the Newspaper Association of America. "Over the last year, newspapers have recognised their effect."

Two factors are concentrating minds. First is the growth of online advertising. Although the total spent online is still much smaller than that spent in print, the trend is for growth on the internet. A recent study by Borrell Associates, a media research and consulting group, found that online sites represented about 3 per cent of North American newspaper revenues but 45 per cent of growth.

Second, viewers, particularly young ones who are prized by advertisers, are moving online for everything - including news. In March, the news site of Yahoo, which largely compiles news from third-party sources using computers as editors, displaced as the most-visited US news site. "The future course of news is being altered by technology-savvy young people no longer wedded to traditional news outlets or even accessing news in traditional ways," says Merrill Brown, author of a Carnegie Corporation of New York report on media consumption, which highlighted the move away from newspapers and national TV for news.

There are a number of important questions for newspapers, most of which now have some kind of online presence. One is whether to charge subscriptions. On the whole, newspapers are adopting a free model, although some, including the Financial Times, do charge for some content. In the US, of 1,456 dailies, only one national paper, The Wall Street Journal, and about 40 small dailies charge for access, according to CSFB.

Another debate concerns content and the extent to which the rapid growth in blogs and interactive messaging should somehow be incorporated. This raises quality issues - even if content is not generated by newspapers, once it is on their sites it is often considered part of the product.

"These are no longer newspaper companies, but information companies that have to deliver that information in whatever form readers want it - print, online, cellphones," says James DePonte, partner at PwC, the professional services group.

Even once a strategy has been mapped out, it can be difficult for institutions, many with years of history behind them, to made radical changes. As Mr Murdoch said: "I fear technology - and our response to it is by no means our only challenge. What I worry about much more is our ability to make the necessary cultural changes."

*View the film by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson at


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posted May 09, 2005 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a huge blog site...


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posted July 08, 2005 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
History's New First Draft
More than ever before, citizen journalists provided some of the best coverage on Thursday's London bombings.

By Brian Braiker

July 8 - Even as the last shockwaves of Thursday’s horrible bomb blasts ripped through London, the first photographs and eyewitness accounts had begun to circulate. But it wasn’t through the mainstream media that many of these stories and pictures first gained traction. Through photo sharing Web sites like and individual and group blogs, the citizen journalist played as vital a role in disseminating information this week as any brand-name media outlet.

Take, as a case study, the most instantly iconic photo to emerge from the bombings: a hazy picture of a man in a crowded, eerily lit subway tunnel, holding a handkerchief to his mouth. That picture was taken on a camera phone by Adam Stacey, by no means a professional photographer, who happened to be on the subway train that was hit in a tunnel outside the Kings Cross tube station. Stacey instantly beamed the image to his friend Alfie Dennen, who runs Dennen published the snapshot with a Creative Commons license permitting anybody to reprint it provided Stacey received credit for the photo. From there the image was picked up by and then Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is edited by its readers, followed by Sky News, the Associated Press and finally the BBC and the Guardian newspaper. It has since been everywhere.

In the days before blogging and Wikipedia, says Dennen, “it would have circulated solely through e-mail, from person to person. It might have eventually made its way to Sky News.” But with the advent of blogs, which have thrived especially in Europe and Asia along with the proliferation of cell-phone cameras, the image was immediately ubiquitous. And that’s just one photograph. The photo-sharing site, which its cofounder Caterina Fake says doubled its traffic yesterday, allows users to attach a keyword, or “tag,” to their pictures. The current list of the hottest tags reads like a collection of wire service story slugs: bombings, londonbombblast, aftermath, july7, terrorism, mourning, unionjack, londres and kingscross. Hundreds of snapshots by Londoners on the scene and well-wishers, who took pictures of Union Jacks and written messages of condolence, were posted in the first hours as the grim realization of what had happened slowly came to light for the rest of the world. Others used blogs in an effort to locate friends or loved ones.

London is a cell-phone saturated city, and what may be most remarkable about the instant proliferation of snapshots by average Joes is how unremarkable it was viewed by the blogging community, says technology journalist Xeni Jardin. Of course cell-phone images proliferated; of course citizen journalism played a significant role in the day’s terrible events. More interesting than widely circulating cell-phone pictures, she says, is the fact that Thursday may have been the first time cell-phone video footage was used so extensively by high-profile media outlets. The first video footage of the event that appeared on CNN, after all, was videophone footage from inside one of the damaged trains. Ever since, broadcast networks and wire services have been actively soliciting amateur video footage and photographs.

Jardin coedits the popular Web site, which was one among many group blogs that aggregated and linked to the blogosphere’s most interesting and illuminating posts throughout the day. Early on she linked to Tom Reynolds’s personal site, Random Acts of Reality. Reynolds is an ambulance driver who covers much of the turf affected by the bomb blasts. He was, he tells NEWSWEEK, off duty when terror struck, but began blogging immediately. “I [figured I] should get the news out to people who might not be watching the television or listening to radio,” he says, adding that his traffic spiked by five times its normal daily rate to around 50,000 visitors. “There’ve been lots and lots of people commenting, wishing us luck, praying for us.”, a normally snarky and cheeky pop-culture and politics blog, turned very serious when it found it had become a hub for surfers searching for information. “It became obvious very early on that people were coming to us not just for advice, but for news,” says Londonist contributor Mike Atherton. Normally the fifth- or sixth-ranked blog by the British blog aggregator, Londonist’s traffic landed it in the second most-viewed slot yesterday (behind the always excellent Europhobia group blog). Yesterday’s running post on the bombing drew more than 100 comments by readers offering condolences or additional information. Today’s postings began with a personal account of commuting to work on the morning after, offering an intimate voice that is seldom heard in mainstream media: “Walking past all the shiny glass buildings on Euston Road, everyone’s pace seemed to quicken. Not a good spot to linger. I popped into Euston Station ... All trains seemed to be running as normal and, apart from a few extra police officers, the scene could have been anytime.”, a site that monitors what is going on in the world of blogs, created a page to track the latest news, conversation and firsthand reports from London. The site reports that "As of 4:30 p.m. on July 7, 2005, Technorati measured a 30 percent increase in blog posting over the normal level. And nine out of 10 Top Searches were about the bombings." Sean Bonner, the founder of, may be a little biased when it comes to blogs, but in an Internet Relay Chat on Thursday he marveled at the quality of real-time information in the blogosphere. “It's insane how many people are online looking to blogs for info. Insane in a good way, mind you,” he writes. “Blogs are quicker than the BBC, arguably better, in some cases.” To be fair, the BBC must fact-check and edit its content before publishing anything online and it did post a page of first-person accounts to its Web site. And the blog of the British newspaper the Guardian was a truly excellent resource for people throughout the day.

But perhaps the biggest story on Thursday was Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that Internet users around the world freely add to and edit. Yesterday’s entry on the London bombings was amended, edited and updated by hundreds of readers no fewer than 2,800 times throughout the day. “It’s very different than what you get on CNN,” explains Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. “You get background. On TV you see images of blown-up buses, but you don’t have information on the different tube stops.” The entry has photographs, detailed timelines, contact numbers, a complete translated statement by the jihadist group claiming responsibility for the attacks and links to other Wikipedia entries offering context on everything from the London Underground to British Summer Time.

What happened Thursday is not done happening yet, nor will it be for a very long time. But one lesson that may already be gleaned is this: it is no longer newspapers, as the old maxim goes, that write the first draft of history. Cable news may offer instant images, but it has always been the role of the written word, meaning newspapers, to capture fleeting events and distill them into historical record. But by the time the first editions of print newspapers hit newsstands Friday morning, citizen journalists had already written that first draft, and in some respects the second and third draft, online. Factoring in Wikipedia’s coverage of Thursday’s terror, you might even say today’s papers are finally getting around to offering history’s 2,801st draft.


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posted August 02, 2005 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some MySpace Users Skittish About Fox By MARY PAPENFUSS, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 2, 8:31 AM ET

There's a Fox in MySpace, and bloggers are squawking.

Nervous members of the wildly popular online social networking spot are blasting its purchase by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., expressing dark fears about the powerful billionaire's alleged motives and the possibility of privacy breaches, monitoring, censorship — and access fees.

"It's something we're very concerned about," said Scott Swiecki, 34, of Tempe Ariz., who's a member of the MySpace group "Faux News" as well as another group that combines the Murdoch name with an expletive. "There are a lot of counterculture people on MySpace. My concern is Fox will add fees and censor content."

News Corp. purchased Intermix Media Inc., the owner of MySpace, for $580 million last month, mainly so that Fox Interactive Media can reach the site's 22 million registered users.

MySpace, which launched just two years ago, is currently the most popular social networking site in the world. It makes it easy for people to customize their home pages with personal photos, art, color and music, along with market-revealing lists of favorite activities, books, music and films. Users can get site-wide bulletins, but they mostly communicate with friends or intriguing strangers they've expressly allowed into a network. Bands often use the site to debut their music.

The only automatic "friend" for everyone who joins the site is MySpace's co-founder, Tom Anderson. He has his own profile — single, 29, Santa Monica — and a list of 18 interests, 24 favorite bands, and 12 heroes, including "my mom" and author George Orwell.

After the sale was announced, spoofers added a profile for Murdoch, too: straight, married, 74 — which says he has joined the site for "networking" and lists his occupation as "world domination."

Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based MySpace, told The Associated Press that the News Corp. acquisition will change nothing about the site — other than to extend MySpace's international reach.

But some of the hipsters in the online hangout fear their freewheeling ways, celebrated in naughty notes, brash blogs and provocative photos, won't mesh with the values of Murdoch's media outlets, like Fox News, which they believe are right-wing mouthpieces for the Bush administration.

"I'm opposed to what Rupert Murdoch has done to the media, and I don't want him involved in MySpace," said user Nathan Hall, 26, of Milwaukee.

News Corp. spokeswoman Teri Everett said the company has "no intention of imposing any sensibilities on MySpace," and that none of the anti-Murdoch messages will be deleted.


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