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Sunday, December 2, 2007

25 Paths to an Insanely Popular Blog

25 Paths to an Insanely Popular Blog

1. The social media runaway train. Perhaps the most sought after (and least frequently attained) route to a popular blog is rapid ‘growth from above’ resulting from huge traffic spikes, most frequently originating from Digg. This route was traveled by blogs like Zen Habits (did you know Zen Habits has been on the Digg front page more than 80 times?) and The Art of Manliness.

Getting started on this path:
Why You’ve Got to Digg Digg to Get Dugg
The One True Cause of Rapid-fire Growth

2. Grassroots growth. The most common form of blog growth occurs at the grassroots, where blogs and bloggers at similar levels of development collaborate from the ground up. The central idea here is that a lot of little links are just as powerful as one big, top-down growth event. This is one of the most community-based approaches, though growth yielded through this route tends to be consistent and slow-burn.

Getting started on this path:
Hansel and Gretel Link-building

3. The networker’s model. This route captures the human element of collaboration and mutually beneficial relationships. This kind of collaboration can be used to encourage links, trade favors, advice, social media votes and make friends. Collaboration has been very important in the growth of Dosh Dosh, for example.

Getting started on this path:
On Getting Noticed
5 Habits of Highly Ineffective Networkers

4. The advertiser. This model involves kick-starting the path towards building a popular blog by investing in the future. Bloggers who favor the advertising model have keen eyes for ways to get maximum exposure at minimum cost.

Getting started on this path:
3 Surefire Ways to Advertise Your Blog on a Shoestring

5. The preview model. My favored strategies in the early days of Skelliewag’s growth, the preview model involves sharing your work with new audiences through guest-posting. It functions on the assumption that anyone who clicks through your byline probably liked your post, and will therefore probably like the rest of your stuff, too!

Getting started on this path:
How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest-posting

6. The leverager. A blogger following this route is an expert at using existing ventures to pour support into new ventures. The impressive thing about this model is that, when done well, it can propel a blog or website forward faster than even the biggest of social media spikes. A recent example of powerful leveraging was Leo Babauta’s launch of Write to Done, which seemed to reach 3,000+ subscribers almost immediately on the back of his support at Zen Habits and in the freelancing/web working community.

Getting started on this path:
Spinning Plates: How to Succeed With Multiple Projects
5 Hard Questions You Should Ask Before Starting a New Project

7. The inward model. This content-focused strategy centers around producing quality content and making it easy for your existing audience to propagate your content to new audiences. Your content becomes more important than ever before, and this model makes it essential that you write content designed to be easy to link to and vote for.

Getting started on this path:
The Web’s Best Content Has One Thing in Common
How to Value-add Everything (Even the Little Stuff)
How to Avoid Fool’s Gold and Create Value-packed Content
Who Are You Writing For?

8. The Matrix model. Blogs following this model become popular blogs because they seem like popular blogs — they’re value-packed with an active community, and they put care into professional-level presentation. Over time, the statistics beneath the surface begin to fall in line with perception.

Getting started on this path:
The Matrix Model: Why Perception is Everything

9. The scientific model. Bloggers who like to quantify things are often capable of following some complex formulas when it comes to blog growth: they work out exactly what kind of benefits are yielded by certain actions, keep detailed records and break down statistics to see what works and what doesn’t. While it seems geeky, these bloggers have an intimate understanding of where the real rewards lie, and how to best get at them. Tim Ferris is one blogger who tends to quantify everything, and it’s one of the factors behind his success.

Getting started on this path:
Dig Into Your Blog’s Statistics

10. The ‘in spite of’ model. Some bloggers are utter mavericks — they break every rule and do everything bloggers shouldn’t do, and still experience roaring success. They might insult their audience, go on an extended hiatus, stir up controversy for fun, or write for themselves rather than an audience — and still succeed in spite of all of that, usually because the strength of their ideas shine through regardless (whether you agree with them or not!).

11. Marching ever onwards. Some bloggers shepherd a blog towards popularity through sheer tenacity alone. They’ll continue to blog through hardship, through creative burn-out, through criticism, through plateaus, and through a lack of motivation. They aren’t always brilliant, but they never give up, and they never take their foot off the accelerator.

Getting started on this path:
What to Do When Your Blog Plateaus

12. The strategist model. Some bloggers spend more time with a whiteboard or notepad than they do actually writing content, and dedicate more words to outline a growth strategy than they do to actually writing content! Some of the world’s most popular blogs are the result of detailed planning and clever strategies. They mapped out a route towards popularity, and only had to put on foot in front of the other.

Getting started on this path:
A Guide to Breaking Into the Technorati 100
The Secret to Building a Popular Blog and Getting Tons of Readers

13. The learner model. Some of the world’s best bloggers, now teachers, were once voracious learners. They succeeded because of a depth of knowledge nobody else has, usually gleaned from extensive experience. is a fine example of this method: nobody in the world knows more about blog monetization than Darren Rowse, so it really wouldn’t matter if he didn’t have the other pieces of the puzzle in place (even though he does).

14. The experimenter model. Some blogs are propelled to great heights by fearlessness: the bravery required to experiment with content types, to throw out what doesn’t work and embrace what does, to admit when they’re wrong and be proud when they are right. Such blogs often re-invent themselves multiple times, but take a loyal audience with them all the way. One worthy example of popularity through fearless experimentation and soul-searching is Ars Technica.

15. The innovator model. An innovative concept that strikes a chord seems to turn a blog into something more than that — it becomes viral. A new, fresh and interesting idea can propel a blog into the stratosphere, even if the execution isn’t stellar. There are countless examples, but one making waves recently is Stuff White People Like.

Getting started on this path:
110+ Resources for Creative Minds

16. The audacious model. Audacious bloggers approach popularity as inevitable — they’re not afraid to reach out and claim it. They’ll ask for things, expect favors, and put themselves out there in order to get noticed. This route is fueled by confidence. Audacious bloggers try things other people assume to be impossible, and often succeed.

Getting started on this path:
Audacious Blogging

17. The cult of personality model. Some bloggers are propelled to popularity, in whole or in part, because people adore them. They’ll support anything they do, read anything they write, and look for opportunities to give something back. Readers who adore you will go out of their way to share your content with others. A prerequisite is usually a lot of hard work on behalf of the blogger: being insanely useful is the best way to get people to like you.

Getting started on this path:
Creating Passionate Readers

18. Who you are. Some bloggers seem to succeed wholly on the: “Whoa, that person has a blog?” factor. While there’s surely a reason Zach Braff averages 1,000+ comments on each post he writes, I suspect it’s not because of his value-packed content. That people like Robert Scoble and Seth Godin have followings is almost inevitable: who they are and where they’re positioned makes them worth watching. Unfortunately, this is a path most of us can’t hope to take.

19. The prolific model. Gawker blogs (you know — same theme in different colors, a new post every few minutes) will produce content that is mainly — but not all — irrelevant for individual readers. Of 24 Lifehacker posts, you might find one incredibly useful and throw out the rest — but you stay subscribed because of that occasional ability to strike gold. What is gold to you is another reader’s lump o’ coal, and vice versa. These blogs operate on the assumption that if you throw out enough content, some of it has to be good — and judging by their success, Gawker readers agree!

20. The outsourced model. The top 10 most popular blogs in the world (according to Technorati) are all outsourcing experts. Big media overlords pay good writers not very much money to produce an endless stream of fresh content and pocket up to a million dollars in advertising profit. This model is one of the fastest growing of them all. While I think some of the most popular blogs using this method don’t pay their writers enough, I can vouch from experience that Freelance Switch is an example of this model working really well (and fairly) for everyone involved. If your blog takes off, you could essentially sit back and let your blog run itself while you pocket the left-over revenue, minus the costs of hosting and paying writers.

Getting started with this model:
On Hiring People to Write for You

21. Being the first. Some blogs are propelled forwards at great speed simply by being the first to cater to the needs of an under-served niche. As time goes on, the number and size of under-searched niches decreases, but if you do manage to colonize one the rewards will be considerable.

Getting started with this model:
Surviving and Thriving in an Under-served Niche

22. Breaking news. Social media tends to reward the original source of news. If a story is broken on a particular blog, that’s the blog likely to go popular with the story, rather than those following in the footsteps of news-breakers. Having industry connections and a network of sources tends to be one of the reasons why news-breaking blogs tend to get popular and stay there. Gizmodo has at times been the most popular blogs in the world, and it also breaks news on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this model is another difficult route for the average blogger to take. Without established networks you’ll almost always be beaten to the punch.

23. The talkative model. Some bloggers are like the popular kids at school: they enchant people simply by paying attention to them. This is the favored strategy of prolific commenters and those who build their blog on the back of a well-respected forum profile. They use their words to rouse curiosity and encourage click-throughs to their blog. These bloggers tend to be voracious readers in a constant effort to bring their perspective to new audiences. Caroline Middlebrook does a lot to evangelize this model.

Getting started with this model:
How to: Leave Quality Comments
Find New Readers in Forums

24. The giving model. Some blogs march along the route to popularity by giving, giving, giving: free eBooks, free services, free advice, free goodies, free promotion, and so on. While it’s good karma, nothing is more popular online than free stuff people actually want.

Getting started with this model:
On Giving Yourself Away

25. The sculptor model. Some blogs are like works of art: every element, every word and every link is there for a reason. Each post seems as if it must have taken hours to create, that it must have been checked a dozen times for imperfections, and each one promptly ironed out. Engaging with something created with the utmost care and attention is a unique experience — one that’s difficult to avoid being captivated by. Coding Horror is an example of every element being carefully crafted to great effect.

Become a shooting star on the net

Desperate for your 15 minutes of fame? Kavita Kukday gives you a crash course in the art of making home videos and getting the best possible publicity for them online. Where others have succeeded, why shouldn’t you?

LonelyGirl15 is undeniably a legend as far as home videos go. The breakout web hit, shot at home by amateures, drew a massive cult following internationally and eventually brought lead actress Jessica Rose and the rest of the crew to fame in Hollywood. It is now inspiring young wannabe actors and directors. Internationally, there have been plenty of such homegrown video series that tried to emulate the success of LonelyGirl15, but slowly the bug seems to have bitten creative young minds in India too.
Gyatri Dutta, who recently passed out from an acting school in Mumbai, admits to walking in the footsteps of LonelyGirl15.
“And why not? It’s an amazing example of how you can find runaway success with the bare minimum investment,” says Dutta.
If Rose can make it big in Hollywood with just a webcam and a one-room studio, what’s stopping creative minds from shooting to fame on the internet? With umpteen video hosting sites and dirt cheap video cameras, truly, the world is your stage.
So, if you think you can direct like Karan Johar, here’s a two step process that can turn you into a celebrity overnight.
Step 1: Shoot well
Lets face it. No matter how cute you think your baby videos are, there is no way these will land you a plum project in Bollywood, let alone Hollywood. Creativity and content is the key if you plan to attract any kind of viewership. Here is a rundown of ‘must haves’ for your masterpiece.
Pick your weapon
First off, get this straight: You don’t need a high-end camera to shoot a video for the internet. LonelyGirl15, for instance, used normal web cameras that come for about Rs 1,000. A slightly better picture quality won’t hurt, however, so it’s a good idea to invest in a miniDV camera that captures 720 x 480-pixel footage.
Storyline is a must
Endless inane shots of you lounging by the seaside might be good for your holiday videos but if you are planning to create a webseries, then make sure you have a tidy story idea in place.
It’s not necessary you create your own stories or rope in high profile script writers to do the job. You can very well pick stories from books, magazines or real life—just make sure you give proper credit to the source (sometimes authors prefer that you take prior permission, check for cases like this).
Get clear shots
The quickest way to lose your viewers is through jarring, blurred shots, so if you want people to follow your show, keep it steady. Creative angles now and then are OK but shake too much and you’ll shake off your audience too. A tripod is definitely in order. If you don’t have one, find a flat surface to rest your camera on.
In cases where it’s imperative you lift the camera in your hand, lean against a wall or tree to stabilize yourself.
It’s also a good idea to get as many shots as you can from as many directions as possible. This is called coverage, and it makes your film more visually appealing.
Audio has to be crystal clear
Audio is another important ingredient, and no, the built-in mike on your videocam won’t do! Get yourself a tie-clip type of mike and tag it on your actors while you shoot, or pick one of those external variety and hang it near the crew.
For scenes that don’t have any dialogues, dubbing music is a good idea.
Light your subjects
Imagination just doesn’t cut with viewers, so if they can’t see your cast it’s a quick goodbye. Indoor shoots have big problems with backlighting and shadows, so shoot outside as much as possible. While shooting inside, use white thermacoal sheets to bounce off light to fill in shadows on faces, if need be. Put up extra pair of table lamps and place them depending on the camera angle for extra effect.
Chop them to size
Lastly, editing your video to a crisp size is a definite make or break.
Use free programs like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to splice the best takes into a final video. And yes, remember you are living in the world of instant gratification, so keep your show under 10 minutes—that’s the max your viewers can stand.
Step 2: Share it right
OK, so you got your film in the box, now comes the next big part of actually airing the show and luring viewers. Here are a few checks to make your show is air-worthy.
Check for size
Size is very important if you are looking at uploading the video. Save your video in a web-friendly size and format—MPEG-4 is a good option, while size should be just under 40 to 50 MB.
Pick a host
There are options galore. While you pick a host, keep in mind the size limits and the kind of viewership the host site flaunts.
Spread the word
Finally, it’s most important to spread the word about what a great video you have made. To do this, put links of your video in your blogs, email your friends and ask them to pass it on.
Submit your film to as many directory websites as possible. Some good places to start off with are iFilm (www.iflim. com), Google Video ( and Revver (www.revver .com).
Another good idea is to add your RSS feed to video podcast directories at the IdiotVox, Yahoo! Podcasts, PodNova and such. Most of these sites also let you review and rate the show.
It’s a good idea to tell your friends and relatives to vote. And lastly, monitor your viewer comments regularly. Be responsive to suggestions and incorporate changes if and when you can. Remember, a good word on the internet spreads fast.


Why we are all reporters now

By Dan Gillmor

DeLay has been accused of laundering corporate contributions
In the autumn of 2004, Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to neuter a rule that had required members holding leadership positions to step down if indicted.

The ballot, held in secret, was aimed at helping Tom DeLay, a Texas representative and majority leader who was indicted last year.

By then, however, the Republicans had overturned their rule change, and Mr DeLay was obliged to leave his leadership post. This week, he said he was resigning from the House outright.

The Republicans' change of heart was not, in my view, entirely motivated by concern for public integrity.

A relentless focus on their original rule change, spurred by a prominent journalistic weblog, surely had something to do with the shift.

Joshua Micah Marshall, creator of a blog called Talking Points Memo, asked his readers who lived in districts represented by Republicans to call their representatives' offices and ask how they voted on what had become known as the "DeLay rule."

Then Mr Marshall and another blogger reported the tally. They kept up the pressure on the House Republicans, who must have wondered why people cared about their action.

Power of the crowd

The process, asking readers to help report the story, fit into a category I have been calling "distributed journalism." Mr Marshall was one of the first to see the potential.

Citizen journalism and professional journalism are not mutually exclusive concepts

Send us your comments
If they are smart, journalists at major media organisations will recognise that their readers can be major contributors to tomorrow's journalism.

The idea isn't entirely new, of course. Traditional journalism organisations have used photographs from freelancers for decades and, more recently, have been soliciting pictures and videos from their audiences.

Typically such images have come from breaking news events where a passer-by with a camera captured the scene, most famously in the immediate aftermath of last July's London bombings.

The moves to involve citizens in journalism come amid a perverse backlash against citizen journalism by some in the traditional, professional media.

The latest attack appeared last week on the CBS News Public Eye blog, where one of America's most prominent journalism organisations discusses how the news is made.

A journalism professor and New York Times education columnist Samuel Freedman blasted citizen journalists as, among other things, mere producers of raw material rather than finished product, and opinion-givers in an echo chamber of like-minded amateurs.

Enormous opportunity

Citizen journalism and professional journalism are not mutually exclusive concepts.

We're actually heading toward an ecosystem that will support a variety of journalistic endeavours. As author and blogger Doc Searls has said, the logic we should adopt is "and", rather than "or."

Striking images of the 7 July bombings were taken by amateurs
When professional journalists ask their audiences for pictures, they are taking a useful step.

They can, and should, go considerably deeper, however, by giving audiences the tools to participate more fully in the emergent global conversation of which journalism is a vital part.

Local publishers and broadcasters should be aiming to help their communities engage in that conversation, via blogs, podcasts, discussion boards and all of the other conversational tools.

They can also emulate the Talking Points Memo method. Find a topic where thousands of people can ask a single question and report the answer back to a central person or database. The results become journalism.

Traditional journalism organisations could easily do such things. Not every investigative journalism project needs to be conducted in secret.

For example, the rebuilding of America's Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is far too big a story for any professional media company to cover in a thorough way.

They should be asking the citizens of the affected communities for help, but as far as I can tell they aren't even making the attempt, and are thereby missing an enormous opportunity.

Win-win situation

Professional journalists should also be helping citizen journalists, with education and training.

Most people don't care to be journalists, but many of us can and will occasionally commit an act of journalism, and it would be useful for people to understand some of the principles that have served the professionals, and their audiences, so well for so long.

Citizen journalism won't replace the professionals, at least I hope not. We need the best of what the pros do.

Let me say that I'm not addressing the business issues here that are undermining the pros' business models. That's a separate but important topic, which I'll be addressing in an upcoming column.

But we are going to have to all recognise that the old systems are expanding. We are learning new ways to gather, sift and recombine what we know and learn together.

We can all win in that game.

(source: bbc)

Major Trends
By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

In 2006, we see six new trends emerging that deserve highlighting and that add to the underlying trends transforming journalism we have noted in earlier reports. This year:

The new paradox of journalism is more outlets covering fewer stories. As the number of places delivering news proliferates, the audience for each tends to shrink and the number of journalists in each organization is reduced. At the national level, those organizations still have to cover the big events. Thus we tend to see more accounts of the same handful of stories each day. And when big stories break, they are often covered in a similar fashion by general-assignment reporters working with a limited list of sources and a tight time-frame. Such concentration of personnel around a few stories, in turn, has aided the efforts of newsmakers to control what the public knows. One of the first things to happen is that the authorities quickly corral the growing throng of correspondents, crews and paparazzi into press areas away from the news. One of the reasons coverage of Katrina stood out to Americans in 2005 was officials were unable to do that, though some efforts, including one incident of holding journalists at gunpoint, were reported. For the most part, the public — and the government — were learning from journalists who were discovering things for themselves.

The species of newspaper that may be most threatened is the big-city metro paper that came to dominate in the latter part of the 20th century. The top three national newspapers in the U.S. suffered no circulation losses in 2005. The losses at smaller newspapers, in turn, appeared to be modest. It was the big-city metros that suffered the biggest circulation drops and imposed the largest cutbacks in staff. Those big papers are trying to cover far-flung suburbs and national and regional news all at the same time — trying to be one-stop news outlets for large audiences. In part, they are being supplanted by niche publications serving smaller communities and targeted audiences. Yet our content studies suggest the big metros are the news organizations most likely to have the resources and aspirations to act as watchdogs over state, regional and urban institutions, to identify trends, and to define the larger community public square. It is unlikely that small suburban dailies or weeklies will take up that challenge. Moreover, while we see growth in alternative weeklies and the ethnic press, many small suburban dailies have shrunk.

At many old-media companies, though not all, the decades-long battle at the top between idealists and accountants is now over. The idealists have lost. The troubles of 2005, especially in print, dealt a further blow to the fight for journalism in the public interest. “If you argue about public trust today, you will be dismissed as an obstructionist and a romantic,” the editor of one of the country’s major papers told us privately. An executive at one of the three broadcast networks told senior staff members in a meeting last year that “the ethical anvil has been lifted,” meaning the producers could dispense with traditional notions of journalistic propriety. One of the most celebrated editors in the country, John Carroll of the Los Angeles Times, stepped down in frustration in 2005, but only after taking weeks to persuade his successor not to join him. The most celebrated journalist still at ABC, Ted Koppel, left for cable, but only after announcing that neither cable news nor network news was amenable to the long-form work to which he aspired. The most cogent explanation for why journalism in the public interest has lost leverage was probably offered by Polk Laffoon IV, the corporate spokesman of Knight Ridder. “I wish there were an identifiable and strong correlation between quality journalism … and newspaper sales,” he said. “It isn’t …that simple.” From here on, at many companies, the fight on behalf of the public interest will come from the rank and file of the newsroom, with the news executive as mediator with the boardroom. There are some notable exceptions, and journalists who work in those situations today consider themselves lucky. Meanwhile, at many new-media companies, it is not clear if advocates for the public interest are present at all.

That said, traditional media do appear to be moving toward technological innovation — finally . In earlier reports, the real investment and creativity in new technology appeared to be coming mostly from non-news organizations like Google. Traditional news outfits, in practice if not in rhetoric, treated the Internet as a platform to repurpose old material. While the evidence is sketchy and the efforts are frustrated by newsroom cutbacks, in 2005 we saw signs that the pattern was beginning to change. A big reason was that much of the revenue growth in these companies is now coming from online (and from niche products such as youth newspapers). In network television, for instance, viewers of ABC News can now watch an evening newscast from that network online three and a half hours before one is broadcast on television. In print, various papers announced reorganizations of online operations. An internal memo at the Los Angeles Times was fairly typical, calling for “a different kind of online news operation, one that recognizes the changing expectations of readers.” In that transition, several big questions remain unanswered. One is whether younger audiences care anything about these traditional news brands. Another is, even if these legacy media do finally try to move online seriously, can they change their culture, or will they succumb to the natural tendency to favor their traditional platforms?

The new challengers to the old media, the aggregators, are also playing with limited time. When it comes to news, what companies like Google and Yahoo are aggregating and selling is the work of others — the very same old media they are taking revenue away from. The more they succeed, the faster they erode the product they are selling, unless the economic model is radically changed. Already there are rumblings. One thing to watch for in 2006 is whether old-media content producers demand that Google News begin to pay them for content. Another option for the aggregators is to begin to produce their own news, and already we are seeing baby steps; in 2005, Yahoo announced it would hire some journalists, but the effort is still minimal. Can the new rivals become more than technology companies? And if they do, will they have more than rhetorical allegiance to the values of public-interest journalism?

The central economic question in journalism continues to be how long it will take online journalism to become a major economic engine, and if it will ever be as big as print or television. If the online revenues at newspapers continue to grow at the current rate — an improbable 33% a year — they won’t reach levels equivalent with print until 2017 (assuming print grows just 3% a year). Realistically, even with the lower delivery costs online, it will be years before the Internet rivals old media economics, if it ever does. Fledgling efforts to get consumers to pay for online content edged forward in 2005, but only marginally. All this only adds to the likelihood that the next battleground will be producers of old media challenging Internet providers and Internet aggregators to begin compensating them for content, the model that exists in cable.

Those trends are in addition to others we have identified in earlier years. Among them: that the traditional model of journalism — the press as verifier — is giving way to other models that are faster, looser and cheaper; to adapt, journalism must move in the direction of making its work more transparent and more expert and widening the scope of its searchlight; those who would manipulate the press and the public are gaining leverage over the journalists who cover them; convergence is more inevitable and less threatening the more one looks at audience data; the notion that people are gravitating to a partisan press model, or red news and blue news, is exaggerated

News style
News style (also journalistic style or news writing) is the particular prose style used for news reporting (ie. in newspapers) as well as in news items that air on radio and television. News style encompasses not only vocabulary and sentence structure, but also the way in which stories present the information in terms of relative importance, tone, and intended audience.

News writing attempts to answer all the basic questions about any particular event in the first two or three paragraphs: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? and occasionally How? (ie. "5 W's"). This form of structure is sometimes called the "inverted pyramid," to refer to decreased importance of information as it progresses.

Already Chewed News
What my beloved newspaper has been reduced to serving.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007, at 7:21 PM ET
The more I graze the Web for news, the less compelling I find the four daily newspapers that land on my doorstep.

Like you, I visit various news sites during the workday for breaking stories. "Visit" understates the case. I live on news sites during the work day. I monitor my e-mail for news alerts from,, and and follow the links. The drill continues when I go home, as I ignore my fatherly duties to sneak peeks at my computer. Blessed with insomnia, I rejoice when I wake up at 12:30 a.m. because I know that the complete Page Ones for the New York Times and the Washington Post will be awaiting me when I sneak downstairs.

I noodle around on those pages, check for the baseball scores and Associated Press write-up of that night's Detroit Tigers game, flip over to for the left coast's take on events, and after saying goodnight to the BBC, the Washington Times, BoingBoing, the Guardian,, and a couple of blogs, I tiptoe back to bed.


Upon waking, I'm delighted to desack the morning papers, discard the never-read sections—classified, food, home, travel, real estate, health—and arrange the buffet before me. But even if all I've pre-read from the Web are the Page One headlines, the print stories don't really pop out at me unless they're packaged with a terrific photo I haven't seen before. Horrible as it may sound, on many days the newsprint front page tastes of already chewed gum.

I'm not the average reader, but anecdotes convince me that the average reader is becoming more like me every day—reading tomorrow's news today. This time-shift is as historically significant as the great migration of newspaper readers from afternoon to morning dailies, or the adoption of AM news radio by sequestered commuters. Where the newspaper was once considered the day's complete news, it's now just all-the-news-that-fits. The genuine news enthusiast trolls the AP wire, foreign news sites, and the usual aggregators for the biggest picture.

Who can blame him? Some newspaper arts and feature sections go to bed at 10 a.m. the day before they're published, making them seem dated by the time they reach readers. Breaking news doesn't fare a lot better. A late Thursday evening plane crash, mining disaster, or tsunami can't be reported in any depth—and sometimes not at all—until the Saturday editions of newspapers, making it not yesterday's news but the day before yesterday's news. This may be newspaperdom's great secret—that for years it's gotten away with publishing days-old stories and still called it news.

As readers have rejected newspaper rhythms and culture, so, too, have many newspaper newsrooms surrendered primacy to the Web. Not long ago, newspaper editors generally resisted scooping their print editions by first posting big stories on the Web. Veterans of newspaper Web sites complain of being forced to go to war with newspaper newsrooms to win their cooperation. As recently as 2005, newspapers would hoard their breaking stories, investigative projects, and big features until the last minute. But no more—newspapers now play nice with their Web siblings, seeing in Web success their own success and the future of their franchise.

Newspapers once had a one-way relationship with their Web sites, shoveling content to their dot-com versions while rarely accepting Web-produced stories. That's a thing of the past now, as tons of quality Web content ends up in print. Examples: The Wall Street Journal publishes a weekly "Best of the Law Blog" from its daily blog on; the Washington Post sports section excerpts Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Bog on; the bylines of stars Chris Cillizza and Brian Krebs routinely appear in the Post pages atop the day's best stories; and the New York Times repurposes stories from its busy blog, The Caucus.

Newspapers once dominated the talk-radio agenda. Now, radio hosts are more likely to talk about what Matt Drudge or some hot blogger has posted than they are to cite a newspaper story. And forget the broadcast networks' evening news programs, long venues for rechewed morning newspaper stories. Thanks to the Web, much of what you see on the CBS Evening News and its companion programs has been chewed twice and made a first passage through the journalistic digestive tract before reaching your eyes and ears.

Formerly considered the back end of news distribution, the Web has become the front end, the place where news originates. The newsweeklies have finally woken up to this fact, and I hope not too late. Whatever problems Web supremacy poses for newspapers, they're tiny compared to the problems Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report must now face.

Obviously newspapers are dying, but—as I've written before—they've been dying their long Spenglerian death since the 1920s, what with the advent of radio, talkies, TV, FM, cable, videocassette, satellite radio, and all the rest. But they always reinvent a place for themselves in the media ecology. So, what are newspapers to do? Newspapers aren't dying because people aren't interested in news and reporting any longer. They're dying because people are hungrier for news than ever and are spending more time consuming it elsewhere.

As my friend William Powers puts it in his recent study, "Hamlet's Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal" (PDF), "digital reading has become a part of everyday life, yet for most people it hasn't replaced reading on paper." Paper allows what one researcher calls "flow-style reading," which is worlds apart from the intense foraging we do on our computers. The Web is a great place to look for things we're interested in, but it's still not the best place to have found them.

As good as the Web is at keeping apace with the current, it isn't very good at telling me when my news tank is full. The final editions of well-edited newspapers still do a better job of conveying the most vital news than does a browsing of the Web. It gives readers a yardstick with which to measure the news before they dive in. If I had just 10 minutes to catch up on what's happening, I'd rather fan through the paper pages of the Times and Post than click my favorite sites. For decades, the Wall Street Journal has kept its busy readers abreast of the day's most important stories with its Page One "What's News" column. The idea is ripe for adaptation by other newspapers. (Sidebar: I really like the way the Times Reader measures news consumption.)

Following Powers' logic, I'd like to see newspapers do a better job signaling via text or layout whether pieces contain new news, terrific insight and interpretation, or just more of the same old bollocks that I can get elsewhere, presumably the Web. The Financial Times imposes rigid discipline in reporters by prohibiting any stories—even those on Page One—to jump to another page. The paper assumes that you're up to speed on the news and don't require the complete back story every time it publishes a story. It's a perfect use of print.

In the Web era, I find myself spending more time with the inside pages of newspapers, probably because I've not tainted my consciousness by previewing many of them on the Web. Those inside pages tend to have a magazine feel to them because of their greater independence from breaking news. In recent months, I've noticed the Washington Post place heavier emphasis on graphics to illustrate the inside news, taking advantage of big pages whose acreage dwarves that of the average computer monitor. All to the good.

Powers writes that "the public exodus from newspapers is not a rejection of paper, but an objection to using it for hard news and other utilitarian, quick-read content … that gains little or nothing from arriving in that format." Ceding supremacy to the Web has been an important first step in the daily newspaper's evolution to its next state. The newspaper is dead. Long live the newspaper.


The Web is dead, too, but that's the subject of a future column. Send birth, death, and bar mitzvah announcements to (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Online Journalism News
feed e-news syndicate digg it stumble
Blogging: the new journalism?
Posted: 25/03/03 By: Jody Raynsford
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They are opinionated, ranting, often incoherent and frequently biased with little regard for accuracy or balance. They are also compellingly addictive and threatening to emerge as a new brand of journalism.

Web logging, or blogging, is the new kid on the media block, complete with its own, unique lexicon. The verb is to blog and the participant in blogging is a blogger. If you are part of the blogging community, you are also part of the blogosphere - presumably with its own weather system.

A blog is simply a series of updated posts on a web page in the form of a diary or journal, often including commentary on, and hypertext links to, other web sites. Posts are in chronological order and can contain anything from simple text, to music, images and even streamed video.

Blogs tend to be highly personalised - an online stream of consciousness. Nothing particularly unusual about that when you consider the rise of the personal home page, for example. But the phenomenon is that so many people are interested in what bloggers have to say.

Perhaps one attraction of blogging lies in its unmediated and dynamic quality. Without an agenda, editorial stance or pedantic sub-editor standing between the writer and reader, blogging can provide reportage in a raw and exciting form.

"Readers are flocking to online news sites by the millions for the latest news about the war in Iraq," JD Lasica, senior editor of the Online Journalism Review, told dotJournalism. "But the story doesn't end there.

"They are also streaming to weblogs for sceptical analysis, critical commentary, alternative perspectives rarely seen in mainstream media, [such as] the views of foreigners, and the occasional first-person account. A handful of reporters in the Gulf region are maintaining weblogs to provide fuller, more personal and colourful reporting of what they are witnessing first-hand."

The 9/11 terrorist attacks fuelled the public's appetite for information, analysis and news, if only to make sense of the tragedy. Bloggers rose to prominence by feeding this desire.

Unlike the large media organisations, bloggers were unhindered by the normal journalistic standards of objectivity, balance and accuracy. This amateur output was raw, subjective and honest as people sought emotions, not detachment - finding solace and expression in the words of the thousands of blogs that sprang up. took advantage by providing the basic tools needed for anyone to record their thoughts, feelings and views online. Easier than building a web site, these simple web publishing tools promised to democratise the web, allowing anyone with internet access to have a voice online.

Then blogging went mainstream. Established print journalists from outlets such as MSNBC and Guardian Unlimited started to create their own weblogs to sit alongside news and features, blurring the distinction between journalism and blogging still further. And the tools to build blogs became more widespread with internet service providers such as AOL offering blogging tools to their users and receiving a financial boost from its acquisition by the search engine company Google.

But while some bloggers believe that a new brand of journalism is emerging, some new media pundits remain sceptical.

"It's like all stuff on the web," Mike Smartt, editor of BBC News Online, told dotJournalism. "Dissemination of information is great, but how much of it is trustworthy? They are an interesting phenomenon, but I don't think they will be as talked about in a year's time.

"Web logs provide a very good service at pointing people at other trusted web sites by filtering the news in a way - you might be interested in this, because you are interested in that. Some of the personal ones are quite good."

Lloyd Shepherd, chief producer for Guardian Unlimited, feels weblogs have a role alongside the usual news output, but are not journalism: "Blogging is not structured in the way journalism is. People are putting their views out in a relatively unprocessed manner.

"The two main things that separate blogging from journalism are the personalisation of the voice of the blogger and the lack of the subbing workflow you would expect to see for any print or online publication.

"For instance, is the Drudge Report journalism? I would contend it is not journalism. It is unprocessed."

The question is why so many readers of online content have chosen to eschew traditional sources of news in favour of weblogs. Looking at the content blogs provide, such as alternative perspective, first-person experiences and interactivity, one might conclude that readers want either a balanced or more personal angle to their news.

At the heart of this may also be a growing dissatisfaction or distrust of news provided by large media conglomerates.

Robert L Belichick, a health care organisation worker from Chicago, is a regular reader of blogs. "The main reason for going to the blogs is for information that will never see the light of day in the print or TV media realm," he told dotJournalism.

"I am not sure if blogging is journalism, but I do believe it is more responsible than the media. Remember the bloggers are not sponsored or beholden to the six major companies that own the media in the US.

"For one example, not one major media outlet in the US reported that the US excised over 8,000 pages from the Iraq declaration since it contained information about the US companies that supplied all of the biological and chemical 'weapons' to [Saddam]."

If journalism is by definition the reporting of news in a fair, balanced and accurate way, then blogging is not journalism. But if the truth is that not all journalists and media outlets adhere to these principles, the distinction is less clear.

"While people from journalism backgrounds tend to say they aspire to the high ideals of truth, fairness, and accuracy, I don't think the output of most newspapers comes close to that," Matt Haughey, creator of, told dotJournalism. "When I'm reading a blog that features reportage or fact-checking, I can determine myself if the author is being factual because they'll reveal their sources in links, and I can read up on them to determine how impartial they are being.

"If they're not sticking to standards, it'll be noticed by readers and other webloggers, who will take the author to task for the impropriety. The community acts as the editors."

A corollary of the debate over blogging has highlighted the feeling that many big news and media organisations have lost sight of the fact that no publication or source can automatically command the trust of the reader.

But journalists are not the only ones who know how to speak the truth, according to JD Lasica: "Bloggers are increasingly engaging in random acts of journalism whenever they report on events they witness first-hand or when they offer analysis, background or commentary on a newsworthy topic. Those who publish rumour and present it as fact will be burned fairly quickly."

The weblogs that have gained huge followings have done so on the basis of becoming an authority on a particular subject, or breaking news that has subsequently proved true. Authors of blogs are given authoritative status by the very readers who have trusted them over time or share the same perspective.

"Individuals build up brands and track records just as media organisations do," said Mr Lasica. "Not all bloggers go the extra mile, but many are now taking the extra step of trying to verify a report by sending an email, picking up the phone or checking with a hoax site before publishing a report that may or may not be true.

"For those who don't bother to check their facts, reputation filters and circles of trust in the blogosphere help weed out the nonsense. We all need to do a better job of fine-tuning our bull[shit] meters."

As journalist-blogger Ken Layne once said of the blogging masses: "We can fact-check your ass."

The reaction towards blogging as a medium recalls that to the New Journalism movement, pioneered by writers such as Hunter S Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. The New Journalism movement transformed the conventional wisdom of news writing by presenting stories as features with greater colour, vibrancy and permeated with the personal experiences of the writer. The sense of detachment between the writer and reader disappeared.

At the time of the movement the sound of guffaws and sneers from news writers and real journalists resonated just as loudly as they do today towards blogging.

Like them or not, they are here to stay and are now an integral part of an online news gatherer's tool box.

Mike Smartt believes weblogs can usefully supplement news features: "During the election we had some of our journalists writing their thoughts each day in a sort of sideways glance at things rather than the primary information, which people consider as news.

"It's not primary news but it gives a reader a greater insight into what's happening on the ground. We don't do it as a matter of course, but during special events it gives an extra layer of information."

Matt Haughey ( is more sceptical of the ability of conventional media outlets to effectively use weblogs: "There are lots of print outlets attempting to do weblogs, but few of them are interesting enough to get any sort of following. The only ones that will succeed will be the ones that maintain their personality."

Lloyd Shepherd says the Guardian Unlimited's weblog is also struggling to find an identity: "At the moment it is a collection of links of stories breaking around the world, more like a dynamic bookmarks file. But this is only half of what blogging is about.

"The other half of what blogging is about is the personal voice and now we are trying to decide, how can we bring personality into what we've done already?"

Of course, personality can get you into trouble as a journalist. US journalist, Steve Olafson, lost his job for criticising local politicians (see The trick may be to balance informed opinion with fact, and to keep the two obviously distinct.

If this balance can be achieved, there is great potential for publishers, claimed Mr Lasica: "The vast majority of media companies have missed the boat so far, and readers are turning to expert amateurs, people with a deep knowledge about a niche subject, and others with a flair for writing or interesting stories to tell - hundreds of thousands of bloggers who have become part of the media ecosystem.

"If the news media chooses to ignore it, it'll continue to lose a chance to connect with readers on an intimate daily basis. And they'll become a bit less relevant with each passing day."


The real value of news
By Roland Hachmann in Blogs, RSS & Co., Digital Culture, Trends, Web 2.0 0 comments

Over at Dave Weinbergers blog is a short excerpt from a Q&A at an Edelman/PR Week Summit.

It’s about the way the WSJ sees their own new role in he whole news biz:

Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, described how the Journal had rethought its role as a newspaper. Rather than trying to present the first view of news, the Journal assumes its readers got the news the day before on line. Instead, 80% of the articles aim at helping readers understand the news they already have.

I agree, I think the future of printed media is in the detailed, well researched and very long analysis or report of things. At least until someone develops a screen that is as comfortable for reading long texts as if they’re printed on paper.

Dave replied, that he can get a lot of expert background information on the web, through emailing lists, etc. on the things he needs.:

I can get more focused analysis on the Web. E.g., the mailing lists I’m on about Internet regulation issues gives me far more coverage and analysis than any newspaper devotes to the topic, and the mailing lists include people with great expertise; newspapers can’t compete with that.

I think we’re mixing two different objectives here. The stuff Dave reads through his lists are probably not the things newspapers want to get into in the first place.

There is a scale of depth of information. Online will be best to cover the fast, but rather shallow bits of news, newspapers/magazines will cover more detailed background information (aimed at the interested amateur), and mailing lists, forums and (printed) literature will be perfect for expert knowledge.

The dangers of a "microchunk web culture"

Propaganda, Truth and the Mass Media
Szandor Blestman

Szandor Blestman was born the 6th of 8 children to a high school English teacher and a certified financial planner. He attended the University of Illinois and earned a Bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1984 with minors in Math and Geology. He took some time off school to raise a family. He has five wonderful children, three of which have grown to adulthood. He achieved a Master's of Science in IT from the University of Maryland University College in Dec. 2004.

Tired of the propaganda yet? I know I am. Watch the news on TV. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, it doesn’t matter. They’re all broadcasting propaganda. They all have their agenda to fill. I’m tired of reading and hearing how the “liberal left” own the media. When I watch TV news, especially Fox, I see and hear nothing but the neo-conservative viewpoint and agenda. It’s the same with reading the papers. Everything seems so one sided. One really has to work in order to find the many sides of a story these days. Once you do find the different sides, it’s difficult to figure out who to believe, and sometimes you may need to believe more than one point of view.

“How can one determine what is propaganda and what is truth?” one may ask.

Although I am no expert and do not claim to be, I have a few ways to tell what is propaganda and what is fact. These things, in my opinion, have more to do with common sense than anything else.

First, watch out for emotion. I don’t mean to say that anything emotional is automatically propaganda, but if someone feels very emotional one way or another on a given issue, they are more likely to accept, believe and/or repeat propaganda that supports their position. This seems especially true if the emotion spewing forth is hate. Anyone taking a hateful stance against any kind of specific ethnicity or religious group is likely to spew propaganda. Be especially careful and double check any kind of “fact” given if someone is labeling any group (political, ethnic, religious or other) of people with hateful names or epithets. Someone who is calm and cites statistics or other types of scientific studies and is part of the group may still be spouting propaganda, but is more likely to be telling the truth. Still, the facts should be double checked and validated before taking such facts at face value.

Beware of anyone taking such a stance as to be immovable in their opinion. These advocates will not change their stance no matter what evidence is presented to them to the contrary. This seems especially true of political parties and defenders of the government. Such statements as “The government is always right and can always be trusted,” and “Anyone who questions authority must be a traitor,” may be uttered by such people. These types of reporters, journalists or public personalities are oft times expressing their own personal beliefs and not simply facts. If they do report facts, they will often “spin” these facts to fit in with their worldview. Spin in and of itself is a type of propaganda. So are op-ed pieces like this one. This article is actually propaganda against propaganda. But I digress. The professional propagandist who is paid by networks and mass media outlets will not think twice about using facts out of context or misrepresenting facts to support their point of view. This uncertainty makes it necessary to check up on the facts presented and make sure they are framed in their proper context.

One thing that is disturbing to me, and I see this quite often, is when an anchor person or news host on TV, commonly known as a talking head, refuses to let a guest fully explain his or her point of view if that point of view is divergent from the host’s. If you are watching a show where someone is presenting a point of view or stating factual information and that person is cut off in the middle of an explanation and then the whole thing breaks down into a shouting match, you are not watching news, you are watching propaganda. You are not seeing two divergent points of view being expressed; you are watching one point of view trying to bully the other into submission.

Another tactic used to try to drive home the propaganda is to not allow the guest to speak on the aspect of the issue he wishes to present. This is usually cleverly disguised by allowing a person to come onto a program to talk about a specific issue, then the host, or a team of hosts and other guests, will turn on him or her and ask questions that may appear to have significance but in effect have nothing to do with the heart of the matter. I have often found myself shouting at the TV to let someone express his point of view only to be frustrated as the host continues to block the guest from saying what needs to be said and will change the channel or turn off the TV in disgust.

It has been my experience that catching a story at the beginning will usually give one an accurate picture of what really happened. I remember more than one occasion where I’ve seen reports on major disasters where a reporter will interview an eye witness who will say something and then that aspect of the story will not be mentioned again. After the first few minutes or hours, the spin masters get a hold of the story and they won’t allow any reporting that goes contrary to their worldview or party line. If you find this happening, as I have, then you may begin to understand that someone behind the scenes in these media conglomerates want your worldview to be the same as their worldview. Whether this is done as a way to sensationalize a story or is done for more nefarious reasons is a matter for debate, but there is no denying that it is a practice that should not be accepted by a society that wishes to remain objective and informed.

I have spoken about several ways to determine what propaganda is, but what about being able to tell if something is truth? Much is obvious and much is subtle. One way I use to determine if a story is true is to take note if the readers/viewers are invited to check the facts for themselves. The journalist reporting the truth will not be afraid of the facts. He may say something to the effect of “Don’t take my word for it, look up the facts for yourself.” The propagandist, on the other hand, will insist that his view is the truth even in the face of contradicting facts. He may say something to the effect of “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about,” or some such thing. He is counting on you not checking the facts or looking further into the details of the issue or story.

One other thing to consider when trying to determine the truth of a story is to look at who benefits from a given event. Even ancient man realized that someone who benefits from a given event is more likely to try to make that event happen. This can be especially true if a lot of blinding emotion can be attached to the event.

I grew up with television. I watched a war on the nightly news at a tender, pre-teen age. I grew up believing the media could be trusted. We were told the truth. It was the Russians, the Cubans and the Chinese people with their communist systems who were lied to, who believed the propaganda their governments told them. It was their state owned media that lied. I came to find out years later how wrong I was. Talking to colleagues from former communist states, I have come to discover it is I who had believed propaganda all those years ago. We were lied to all those years back and we continue to be lied to. Our own government documents and admissions prove this. The mass media has been complicit in this. It is sad to say that I no longer trust any news without documentation, and I especially do not trust the mass media conglomerates. I never take a story at its surface. Even though it takes time, I dig and read many sources in an effort to evaluate and determine for myself what the truth is. I don’t always like what I find, but I feel it is worth it if the story is important. After all, the truth will set you free, and propaganda was created to enslave.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pick of the Photos ; Photojournalism

Adriana Lima


Bend it like Becham (
Photojournalism (spicy couple)

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, and in some cases to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (such as documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by the qualities of:
• Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a published chronological record of events.
• Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict.
• Narrative — the images combine with other news elements, to inform and give insight to the viewer or reader

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


central park picture
There are a host of new and emerging Challenges and Opportunities at the work-place. Obsolescence and change have a significant effect on both the decline of some professions and emergence of others. The new generation of employees has characteristics which are distinct from those of the earlier generation. Many employers attach great importance to Atitude, Emotion and work ethics. In fact they base their decisions of recruitment and promotion on the possession of these skills by job-seekers. There is considerable wisdom and advice, 'of successful professionals available for the benefit of all students or job seekers.

We live in a knowledge society. There is tremendous diversity in the matter of careers covering conventional as well as emerging fields.

The Goals of Education

There are several distinct Goals or Aims of Education:

● Individual Goal: to contribute to the development of the Individual, to make him/her self­-reliant.

● Social Goals: to provide education for: Citizenship, Social Efficiency and Social Service.

● Knowledge Goal: is related to acquisition of relevant knowledge.

● Moral Goal: is related to character formation.

● Vocational Goal: deals with the preparation of individuals for contributing to economic development and national wealth through productive employment.

A reciprocal relationship exists between education and employment - between educational planning and manpower planning. There ought to be a match between the knowledge and skills required by the different employment sectors; and the structure, content and Teaching-Learning processes provided by the education sectors. Any mismatch results in under-or unemployment, and frustrations and social unrest. It is necessary to provide feedback loops, and bridge the gap between education and employment through occupational training.

In the classical tradition, Education was not only for preparation for employment. In the post ­industrial era; formal education is a pre-requisite for employment. Educated and trained manpower is one of the major inputs for economic and social development. The employment sector is where an individual spends most of his adult life. The employment sector consists of different sub-sectors: Agrarian, Manufacturing, Business, Financial, Social and Public Services, etc. An efficient labour market must meet the requirements of both employers and employees. The employment sector must pride both opportunities and incentives to encourage the adaptability of the work force.

The Future of Work

The idea of restricting the concept of work to paid employment started about 200 years ago, and actually took off only after the industrial revolution. All other forms of work, especially housework and family work were looked down upon, and are not covered by statistics as indicators of prosperity and growth. In the long run, it is believed that the foundations of a society will emerge in which people’s work is divided in three ways: paid work, self-work and civic work.

Social scientist Imhoff predicts that in future, paid employment will only take up about 6% of people’s lives; they will be spending more time in education; paid working hours will shorten; and life expectancy will be longer. A 100 years ago, people spent 35% of their lives in gainful employment. Today, this figure has fallen to just under 13% - and is expected to drop to only 6% in future. It is asserted that Education should be regarded as an activity and as educational work.

In summary, society will recognize 5 types of work: paid employment; self-work; citizen to citizen work; community work; and educational work. This “work portfolio” could be linked to an equivalent “income portfolio”, with money-earning and money-saving component.

The number of self-employed people continues to grow; middle management is disappearing; many businesses are folding due to out-sourcing or down-sizing to core activities; opportunities for arbitrage are on the rise; and the international movement of labor and business continues to pick up speed. A consequence of all these will be the unassailability of full employment in the major old industrial countries”.

Job watch for the future

The following advice is given to prospective employees and job seekers, in a recent news report:

Hiring: Potential employers may reject you if you show any of the following qualities:

● You want very clear job descriptions and very clear lines of authority.

● You have experience in only one single function.

● Your work experience has all been in a single industry sector.

● You have worked in big firms; you haven’t experienced turbulent situations.

● You want permanent employment and not a contract.

Compensation: Your employer will be averse your asking for the following:

● A salary where the fixed component is high, the performance-linked part low.

● A package which has the firm taking care of issues like housing.

● The taxable component is low and the tax-free component is high.

● A salary structure with a minimum fixed increment every year.

Redundancy: You could end up losing your job even if you are doing well because:

● Your company is merging with another company.

● Your firm is moving into a new business, and your department doesn’t fit in.

● Your firm has dropped its plans for a new business and doesn’t need you.

● The work your department does can be outsourced.

● Internal restructuring to reduce the duplication in your company.

The right choice: In this report in Mid Day–September 6, 2001, four factors affecting Career Choice have been identified:

Talent: Two questions need to be asked:

● What are my strengths and weaknesses?

● How can I focus on my strengths and manage my weaknesses ?

Most people don’t choose their career, their career chose them. They got into a line of work, because they had to certain job, or somebody told them they’d be good at a certain job. For a fulfilling career, one must make sure that he/she is doing what he/she is good at. That way, one will enjoy doing it.

Purpose: Talents develop best in the context of interest. Choosing one’s work is the chance to do something meaningful and relevant.

Environment: It is necessary to figure out what work environment best suit one’s style, temperament and values.

Vision: Talent, purpose and environment are all about work style and work choice. Vision describes how work fits into the rest of life.

Emerging career options

Options on completion of UG degree: The following options present themselves to a Graduate:

● Job: In private sector, public sector, government (central/state), teaching, R&D.

● Self-employment; as an entrepreneurs.

● Training (Apprentice).

● Further Studies: In India or abroad (external brain drain); In Technology or Management or Business (internal brain drain). For most post-graduate admissions, an entrance examination has to be cleared (GATE, CAT, GRE, GMAT…).

The major measures of success are related to job satisfaction; money, prestige; reputation; image (as perceived by peers, society); leisure activities; ambition and its fulfillment; travel (particularly foreign travel); independence; (success of children).

Job Trends

News magazines undertake surveys and predictions of the hot job trends almost annually. Two such reports are summarized here.

Hot Jobs

The India Today – Millennium Series Vol. 3 – came up with the list of “10 hottest jobs”:

● Tissue Engineers (dealing with man-made skin; artificial cartilage; liver, heart, kidney tissue).

● Gene Programmers (dealing with digital genome maps that will allow technicians to create customized prescriptions; gene therapy; prevention of diseases, including certain cancers).

● ‘Pharmers’ (dealing with therapeutic proteins vaccine-carrying vegetables; drug-laden milk from cows).

● Frankenfood Monitors (dealing with fast-growing fish; freeze-resistant fruits).

● Data Miners (dealing with extraction of useful tidbits from mountains of data, pinpointing behavior patterns for marketers and epidemiologists).

● Hot-line Handymen (providing remote diagnostics to handle home electronics).

● Virtual-reality Actors (allowing these pros to interact with viewers in cyberspace dramas).

● Narrow casters–as compared to Broadcasters (enabling the current broadcasting industry to become increasingly personalized, working with advertisers to create customized contact).

● Turing Testers (enabling computer engineers to measure their efforts to mimic human intelligence, as suggested by Alan Turing).

● Knowledge Engineers (who are essentially AI brokers who will translate your expertise into software – and then downsize you!).

It is interesting to note that the first four relate to Biotechnology, while the rest relate to IT.

The same report also predicted that in the long run the following jobs will disappear:

● Stockbrokers, Auto Dealers, Mail Carriers, and Insurance and Real Estate Agents: The Internet will eradicate middleman by the millions.

The Hot Job Tracks Report of 2001 was based on The Week – TN Sofres Mode Feedback Survey on “Emerging Career Options 2001”. In this Survey, over 70 emerging career tracks were identified.

Some of the conclusions arrived at are:

● New technology is significan-tly affecting our lives.

● There is life beyond IT; and beyond traditional main-stream careers.

● For a creative, hardworking, enthusiastic person, the world is the oyster today.

The Survey identified the following 12 ‘hot job tracks’:

Design: with a scope encompas-sing: strategic corporate identity design; graphics; textiles; fashion design; industrial design; packaging; signage; environment design; media – print: film; internet and other digital interfaces; animation; web design; jewellery design.

Entertainment: animation; cable, satellite; film; FM radio; music; event management. Insurance: both life, and non-life insurance, with the scope including: marketing/sales executives; surveyor, loss assessor.

Healthcare: counseling (stress management, fitness); manager – hospital administration.

Infotech: career options in: network programming; installation management; internet applications; e-commerce; web security; IT-enabled services; CRM; data digitization; GIS; DSP; IT marketing; Technical writing.

Direct Sales – Consumer goods

Law: Modern law grads are joining the corporate sector as legal executives or legal officers, after specializing in corporate and international law.

Leisure: Customer Relations Executive: Travel and Tour Executive; Marketing Executives.

Media: Print, TV, online sources, with career options as: Online Editor, Content Specialist, Web executive; TV journalists.

Public Relations: Public Relations Officer/Guest Relations Officer; PR Executive.

Market Research: Marketing Executive; Research Executive.

Telecom: Marketing/Sales/Franchise Executive.

The new generation of employees

In their book: “Managing by Design”, R. Glaser and C. Glaser in the following characteristics of the ‘New Value of Employees’:

● Better educated, more sophisticated.

● More mobile, less loyal.

● Respect authority and establishing, time-honoured institutions and traditions.

● Choose a balanced life: allot equal time to work, leisure and family (personal relationships).

● Except psychic + monetary rewards from job.

● Assume entitlement to a middle-class life-style and above.

● Seek more open, authentic relationships at work.

● Insist on personal uniqueness.

● Want meaningful, relevant work.

● Strongly desire participation in the decision-making process.

● Understand and will pursue legal rights.

● Prefer not to defer gratification of personal needs.

● Are more autonomous, less dependent.

Job and Career Opportunities for Women

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, says the proverb. But over the last couple of decades, that hand has stretched beyond the cradle to reach out and grab the world. More and more women have not only stepped out of their cradle-rocking roles to slip into the world of work, but have silently made sizeable inroads into the traditional male bastion.

Economic liberalization and the new freedom mantra has thrown open a new world of market opportunities for women. There is virtually no field of enterprise that women cannot enter, and fewer restrictions and pressures. Today like never before women in India can do any job they set their minds to.

Prof. (Dr) P.K. Dutta
richest in the world

Effective Writing tips

In our society, the study of language and literature is the domain of poets, novelists, and literary critics. Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting.

But is this an accurate assessment of value?

Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority.In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. No wonder it’s hard to make sense of anything!

This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable. By following Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing, you’ll distinguish yourself from competitors and clearly communicate your ideas.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.

For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.

When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand:

The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)The dog bit the man. (active).The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread right?

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense.These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. Although I’ve edited this piece a dozen times I’m sure it contains imperfections. But trust me, it’s much better now than it was initially. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think.

I hope you find these rules helpful, and through their application we’re able to understand each other a little bit better. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read Orwell’s original essay. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.

American investor Warren Buffett has been named by Forbes as the world's richest man with a wealth of $63bn (£31bn)

Mexian telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu took second spot. He's worth $60bn

Bill Gates ($58bn) fell from the No 1 spot to third place

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal was fourth


Fellow Indians Mukesh (right) and Anil (left) Ambani of Reliance Industries were fifith and sixth

Russia's Oleg Deripaska appears in the top 10 for the first time thanks to mergers creating aluminium giant UC Rusal

Mainland China's richest person is Yang Huiyan (right), just 26 years old

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 23, is the youngest billionaire on the list

South African mining magnate Patrice Motsepe is one of three black Africans to appear on the list for the first time

The Duke of Westminster (46th) is Britain's richest man. His property portfolio is worth $14bn

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

FHM's Top 20 Hottest Women Alive

Angelina Jolie

Anna Kournikova


Carmen Electra


Megan Fox
FHM's Top 20 Hottest Women Alive
1. Megan Fox
2. Jessica Alba
3. Keeley Hazell
4. Elisha Cuthbert
5. Hayden Panettiere
6. Scarlett Johansson
7. Cheryl Cole
8. Hilary Duff
9. Angelina Jolie
10. Keira Knightley
11. Rihanna
12. Kate Beckinsale
13. Jessica Biel
14. Eva Longoria
15. Alessandra Ambrosio
16. Rachel Bilson
17. Beyonce Knowles
18. Gemma Atkinson
19. Jennifer Love Hewitt
20. Christina Aguilera


How to be happy

daily mantras—keys to contentment—that will change your life.

Happiness, like baking, is something I’ve always been good at. And that puzzles me: I don’t live in a glass house by the sea. I’m not rich or beautiful. I’ve endured grief and battled depression. It’s true that I’ve been lucky in love—I have a great husband. But I came to him happy. Yet some people who seem to have all the raw materials for happiness—looks, money, success, and love—seem perpetually glum. So what is it that really makes us happy?

The answer is not good fortune. Psychologists have known for decades that even winning the lottery won’t make a person happier over the long haul. People simply adapt
Think of what happened when you got your last raise: odds are, you felt great for the first few pay checks but soon adjusted to it, and now you may be back to feeling underpaid. Such observations have led researchers to conclude that each of us has a set point for happiness— a level of contentment that stays constant through changing circumstances, such as the loss of loved ones or winning big bucks.

If this all sounds a bit depressing, take heart. Recent breakthrough research shows we can make ourselves happier—and how to do it.

The science of happiness

Some of the most exciting research in psychology is in a field called positive psychology, a discipline that aims not just to relieve suffering but also to increase happiness. For the past few years, Martin E P Seligman, PhD, and his colleagues, have been working to unlock the secrets of living the good life. Seligman, founding director of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness, has found that the key to happiness appears to lie in our internal qualities and character strengths, not in external events. What’s more, he says, we can use these qualities—work with them and enhance them—to make ourselves happier over the long run.

Habits that will make us happy

A couple of years ago, Seligman’s group described and classifi ed the 24 character strengths that make people thrive, including creativity, curiosity, bravery, and kindness. But all these traits aren’t equal when it comes to producing satisfaction.

Combing through questionnaire responses from more than 5000 study participants, the researchers found that happiness was most strongly associated with a core subset of the character-trait list that they labelled heart strengths: gratitude, hope, zest, and the ability to love and be loved.

Topping the charts was love, says Nansook Park, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island and a study author. “Relationships with other people are what make us the happiest,” she says. (Learn what your character strengths are at authentichappiness. org)

Seligman’s team made a list of 100 ‘interventions’ that people through the ages have suggested as routes to contentment—culling ideas proposed by Buddha and self-improvement gurus alike—and set out to test them. It was, Seligman says, the most ambitious, controlled study of happiness ever done. The results of the team’s efforts were published in American Psychologist.

Habit 1 Focus on what’s right

As it turned out, all the exercises, including that of the control group, temporarily bumped up happiness levels. But some interventions proved to have a much bigger, more lasting effect than others. For example, the group that spent a few minutes each night writing about what had gone well that day felt happier for the full 6 months of the study.

“Most of us focus on our weaknesses and on what we don’t have,” says Carol Kauffman, PhD, a life coach and an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “By listing good things, you’re training yourself to reverse your focus from what you did wrong to what you did right. You’re emphasising your strengths,” and that seems to change the way you feel. Kauffman uses the what-went-well-today intervention with her patients—and does it every night herself.

Three roads to happiness

When positive psychologists talk about happiness, what they mean is a sense of deep contentment. There are 3 routes to achieving it, Martin E P Seligman, PhD, has found, and the most satisfi ed people pursue all three.

1. Pleasant life Full of pleasure, joy, and good times.

2. Engaged life In which you lose yourself to some passion or activity, experiencing what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, calls flow.

3. Meaningful life It may not have many high moments or blissful immersions, but it is packed with purpose “The notion of three pathways is important,” says psychologist Karen Reivich, PhD. “We all know people who aren’t smiley-faced, so we may say this person isn’t happy. But what Seligman is saying is, ‘Hey, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great life.’ These broader conceptions of happiness are more liberating.”

Seligman’s team made a list of 100 ‘interventions’ that people through the ages have suggested as routes to contentment—culling ideas proposed by Buddha and self-improvement gurus alike—and set out to test them. It was, Seligman says, the most ambitious, controlled study of happiness ever done. The results of the team’s efforts were published in American Psychologist.

Habit 1 Focus on what’s right

As it turned out, all the exercises, including that of the control group, temporarily bumped up happiness levels. But some interventions proved to have a much bigger, more lasting effect than others. For
Habit 2 Feel grateful, say ‘thank you’

The ‘gratitude visit’, which focussed on building one of the four heart strengths, also produced a lift in happiness scores. In fact, “The exercise decreased depression and increased happiness more than any other intervention,” says Park.

“Gratitude is an affirmation of the goodness in one’s life and the recognition that the sources of this goodness lie at least partly outside the self,” says Robert A Emmons, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of California. “It’s a very social experience, and it’s restorative in times of stress.”

Seligman’s study did show, though, that a single gratitude visit went only so far: the happiness boost lasted a month and then dissipated. But some people took the initiative to pay gratitude visits to additional people—and their happiness scores stayed high even after 6 months.

“There’s no quick fix,” says Christopher Peterson, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and Seligman’s frequent collaborator. “The only way to become grateful is to act like a grateful person over and over.”

Habit 3. “What’s in that box?”

Be curious

In the study, one other intervention proved effective—and this one suggests that it’s not essential to have those major heart strengths, so long as you play to one of your character strengths. The last group of participants identifi ed their top 5 strengths and then used one of them in a new way every day for a week.

A person who wanted to exercise her curiosity, for instance, might have read a book on an unfamiliar subject one day, researched her family tree on another, visited a museum on a third, and so on. That, too, lifted spirits for at least 6 months in those who continued the exercise.

For the study, the researchers enlisted more than 500 visitors to Seligman’s website. The adults completed online questionnaires to assess their level of happiness; then each volunteer was assigned to do 1 of 6 exercises for a week.

Some wrote and personally delivered a gratitude letter to an individual who had been particularly kind to them but whom they had never adequately thanked, for instance; others recorded 3 things that had gone well each day.

People in a control group wrote about their early memories every night for a week—an exercise that wasn’t expected to have much of an impact on their moods. Every few weeks for the next 6 months, the volunteers fi lled out questionnaires measuring their happiness and depression
Play on your strengths, get happy

Using your character strengths helps compensate for weaknesses or vulnerabilities that otherwise can interfere with happiness, says Karen Reivich, PhD, a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania and coauthor of The Resilience Factor. She sees herself as a recovering pessimist: “part of my brain is always scanning the horizon for danger.” Instead of telling herself that her concerns are unwarranted, Reivich exercises a strength that comes naturally, drawing on her creativity to counter the dour, gloomy part of her personality. “I’ve created an ‘awe wall’ covered with poems, my children’s photos, a picture of a lavender farm. And every day I work on it a bit.”

“I may add a cartoon that made me laugh and a picture drawn by my young son,” she says. “It’s hard to be basking in all these reminders of wonder and simultaneously be filled with dread.”
Reivich and other researchers say that strategies like these, used consistently over time, lead to long-lasting change.

Her pessimistic habits are starting to atrophy, says Reivich. “At fi rst the change happens at the surface, in a conscious change in behaviour; then it begins to take place more deeply, becoming almost effortless.

That’s because I’m repeating the exercise until it becomes a new habit. If I focus my attention on noticing good and thinking about the things I can control, I’m using my attention and energy to build optimism and happiness rather than to deepen worry and sadness.”

All of this begins to explain my own pleasure in life. I took Seligman’s questionnaire and answered how closely 245 statements described me. I fi nd the world a very interesting place: yes, I certainly do. I always keep my promises: yes—or I feel terrible.

According to my responses, one of my signature strengths is curiosity. That rings true. During even a quick trip to the store, within minutes I’m discussing how to grind wheat with the baker or what the fi shing’s like with the fi sh man.

My husband has learned to get a cup of coffee and wait me out. It’s the exchange that makes me happy, as well as learning something new.

So, by Seligman’s measure, my happiness is less and less surprising. After all, I make my living by asking people questions about themselves and their occupations. I’ve found a way to use my natural strengths in my work.

Even if your job isn’t a perfect match, the research on happiness suggests that you can still find ways to play to your strengths.

For example, if you know that one of them is gratitude, try starting a staff meeting about a troubled project in a new way: instead of discussing what went south, ask everyone to talk about one thing that is going well, and then thank each of them for their contribution. “That’s a very different way to start a meeting,” says Reivich. “And the team’s reaction will feed your own sense of happiness.”

Tone up your happiness muscles

Such conclusions are heartening.

If satisfaction can be learned and practised, if contentment is a muscle anyone can learn to flex, then there’s hope for all of us, even those with unfair burdens or dour dispositions. It doesn’t matter that none of us live fairy-tale lives. We can still live happily ever after.


Vishwanathan Anand is World No. 1 and world cham pion in chess. Many of us know that the Chennai star can move the chess pieces expertly. In an off-beat interview to this newspaper, Anand fields a variety of questions, many of them not related to the mind game.
Earliest sporting memory: The first event I played when I was six. I remember losing my first three games and won the fourth game because my rival didn't turn up!
Other sports he watches on TV: Football and tennis.
Life without chess: Don't know. Would have tried to get good at it, perhaps.
Memorable sporting moment: A game against Tkachiev when around 2,000 people at the Kremlin started applauding. It was a honour for a non-Russian.
Worst sporting moment: Have long forgotten.
Sporting heroes: (Mikhail) Tal and (Boby) Fischer.
Favourite venue: Mainz.
Event he would pay to see: Viswanathan Anand play rapid chess. I have been told that it is the fastest action.
Most frequent question: ‘What is your favourite chess piece?' If they saw all my answers they would be confused.
His choice for one change in chess: Fair rules for all. Do away with privileges for a select few.
Sporting motto: Just play your chess.
Favourite dinner guest, and why: U2. Apart from that, Bono has interesting views about the world.
Best teacher: My mistakes.
Most admired player: Tal.
Favourite holiday spot: Tough to choose one. Current favourite is SA.
Other interests in life: Astronomy, reading and music.
Advice to youngsters: Take all the opportunities and challenges that come your way. You have to enjoy whatever you do.
Pet name:
Should I really answer this? OK, Simba.
Biggest extravaganza: My telescopes.
What he never leaves home without: My laptop.
Craziest thing he has ever done: Once the car I was travelling in broke down a few minutes before my game. As we were in Moscow I had no idea what the driver was saying but he wouldn't allow us to open the door. The driver gesticulated that the car would be repaired.
At some point it became comical as we were right in the middle of traffic. Concerned that I would be late for the game, I flung the door open and started running through the traffic. The poor driver gave me a chase and stopped me by the red light. Thankfully, I reached the venue in time and managed to win.
Best trait: My intuition.
And worst: I think too quickly. Well, that's what makes me a good chess player but at times gets me in trouble.
One bad habit he wishes to get rid of: It always comes back. Sometimes I play too fast and can't control it.
Worst nightmare: Preparing for the wrong opponent and I have already done it!
First game at international level: I remember seeing all the Soviet players and think "Wow, those guys must know everything."
What is the routine for evening games: Usually I wake up just in time to catch breakfast. Then, I do some work for a hour or two. Have lunch by about 2 pm and sleep for an hour. Get ready for the game and go over my notes. Sometimes, I like to listen to music just before a game. In the night, I analyse how I played that evening. Then I may go to the gym. Have a relaxed dinner and then quickly decide what I should play the next day. I really like to watch a movie or some comedy shows before I go to sleep.
His best present, and why: Aruna got me a telescope for my birthday. I remember telling her how cool it would be to have such a nice one. I never realised that she already bought it. We met up in Berlin for my birthday and she had even managed to bake a cake and bring the telescope all the way from Madrid to surprise me. The funny thing was I arrived early and Aruna refused to let me in to keep the present as a surprise.
Favourite author: I like reading a variety of books. I enjoyed the Dan Brown series. William Dalrymple is also very enjoyable. His Last Mughal was a very good read.
Childhood ambitions: To trick my opponent at blitz. Each win meant one comic book and one ice cream. My parents would buy me Tintin and Obelix.
Greatest influence on his life: I don't think anyone has influenced me greatly. I tend to learn from others but do my own thing.
Bottomline: Someone who made playing chess look so easy.