Disruptive innovation and journalism

The idea is broadly misunderstood, said Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. Disruptive innovation isn’t just about being new, different or radical.

Disruptive innovation is transforming “something that used to be complicated and expensive so that only the rich and people with a lot of skill had access to it and could use it” and making it “so much more affordable, simple and accessible that a whole new population of people has ready access to it.”

Christensen is the authority on disruptive innovation and wrote “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a book that was said to have deeply influenced Steve Jobs, the epitome of a tech innovator.

Last year, Christensen, along with Nieman fellow David Skok and James Allworth collaborated on researching disruptive innovation in journalism. That paper became “Breaking News,” which you can download as an e-book.

David Skok, Clay Christensen and Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski during their discussion disruptive innovation and journalism. (Screen grab from NiemanLab website)

David Skok, Clay Christensen and Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski during their discussion disruptive innovation and journalism. (Screengrab from NiemanLab website)

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The sky isn’t falling

(Here’s my closing remarks at the Online Campus Journalism Seminar and Workshop held by Smart for campus journalists in Cebu.)

Twelve years ago, a group of journalists, writers and artists in Cebu decided to form a cooperative and publish a different type of community newspaper. The Independent Post was a paper that was to be owned by its readers, who were to have a big influence on how the paper was run.

We set on in that quixotic enterprise with a couple of millions, big dreams and a lot of hard work.

But, it was the height of the Asian economic crisis. We burned through whatever funding we had but still tried to hold on to that grand dream of blazing a journalism trail, working hard for little or no pay.

In two years, the paper folded. Big dreams, instant noodles and hard, hard, hard work were not enough.

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Do you have a complaint against a Cebu newspaper? File it online

And here’s the link to the complaint form.

Our editor-in-chief, one of the driving forces behind the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC), asked me to build the council’s website in time for the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration in September.

CCPC website CCPC WEBSITE, as featured in a recent issue of Philippine Journalism Reports. Click on image to enlarge.

The requirements for the site were simple: the ability to post articles and reports and an easy facility to get feedback–features easily managed by my favorite open source blogging platform, WordPress.

I briefly considered using another content management system (CMS) with more advance portal features, some form of document tracking or online file repository but the person tasked with updating the site said these aren’t needed. Complaints, she said, will be handled offline.

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Paying bloggers to write about products, services

(Note: This post is not part of the ReviewMe program). I got an e-mail early this morning from the people behind Text Link Ads (referral link). The e-mail said this site was pre-approved for their newly launched ReviewMe advertising program.

I was intrigued because I never signed up for the program. I was set to just ignore it and continue playing with Drupal but I found that Abe Olandres, one of the country’s top bloggers, signed up for it. In his blog post, people were discussing the rates for their blogs and I got curious how much ReviewMe will be charging for reviews in this site.

ReviewMe REVIEWME VALUATION. My blog’s rate for ReviewMe when I signed up to check the service. I’ve since signed out as I only wanted to know my blog’s rate. Click on image to enlarge.

I signed up to check their service and found that if I join the program, advertisers will have to pay $100 for reviews in this blog, half of it will go to ReviewMe and I get to collect the other half. It was ego-boosting to note that I had the same valuation as Abe’s blog and even Pinoy Tech Blog, the country’s top technology group blog.

I signed out of the program after getting screen grabs of my blog’s valuation. The program isn’t for me.

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Invitation to a virtual press conference

I was forwarded an interesting e-mail today. It was an invitation to a “virtual press conference” with officials of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. The press conference will tackle the scheduled unveiling later this month of The Philippines 2030 Roadmap and the Public Governance System. The press conference will be held at the “Presscon Room” of Yehey.com.

Using teleconferencing facilities for press conferences is nothing new. Many government officials do it when they are out of the country. Corporate officials do it. But many of these teleconferencing setups are controlled, reporters are still gathered in a room and the organizers typically use a high-capacity line to make sure the teleconference goes smoothly.

The coming virtual press conference, however, will be decentralized. I don’t know how Yehey! will be doing it as the room is still being set up. I don’t know if they’ll be doing it “chat” style or via a message board. This is a great idea. It allows us in the “provincial media” to attend press conferences, albeit virtual, that would otherwise had been limited to Manila reporters. And why limit it to reporters in the first place? If I were ISA, I’d invite bloggers who discuss governance issues in their sites.

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How to use WordPress to run a magazine, news website

WordPress is a great tool for online writers. It’s simple and yet is such a pleasure to use. Yes, there are things that need to be improved but WordPress being an open source software, you can expect continuous improvements on it by the community.

The ease by which sites can be created and run through blogging software like WordPress allow writers previously without publishers to print their works online. The problem with using a blogging software to manage your website, however, is that the tool defines the character of your site.

Once in a while, I see blogs that seem better off presented as online magazines or news websites rather than as blogs.

WordPress, however, is an extensible website content management system that can be used to run magazine-type websites. Here are steps I took to turn this online magazine on Cebu from a blog into its current presentation. I’m still working on it, though, so you might encounter issues. (Update Jan. 9, 2008: I have redesigned the site. It’s now using an even better theme that I’m still working on. I will be releasing this theme soon.)

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A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

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BBC releases blogging guidelines for employees

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has released a guideline for its employees who maintain weblogs or websites. The guidelines, which can be downloaded as a Word document here but I’ve also reprinted it below, are noteworthy in that the BBC accepts that employees who blog “discuss their BBC work in ways that benefit the BBC.”

Employee blogs, for the most part, benefit the organization they work for and companies would do well to embrace blogging as one way to communicate with the public they are serving.

The BBC went as far as stating in the guidelines: “You are allowed to update your personal blog from a BBC computer at work, under the BBC’s Acceptable Use Policy.”

I’ve never encountered problems at work with my blogging. I sought my editors’ permission before I started this blog and consult with them when I’m unsure of the propriety of a blog post. Blogging helps me work on my writing skills and Sun.Star benefits (I hope) from the improvement in my skills. I also get to experiment with scripts, programs and even firmware and get feedback from readers. What I learn from my experiments I write about in the special section that I edit and the weekly column that I write.

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FEAC2006: technical notes

Since last year, I have been actively moving files that I need to access anywhere online, in an experiment to “make the network my computer.” This served me well during the recent Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference in Manila.

The greatest benefit is that the files I needed for things I was working on was accessible whichever computer I was using. I host all my files with Box.net, the best online drive I’ve tried so far. Streamload is a close second and I use it for backup.

I used one of the newsroom’s laptops in the conference and it was a plain vanilla installation. In a few steps, however, I turned it’s Firefox into the browser that I use at home and at the office. When I used one of the laptops set up by the organizers at the conference hall, I was also able to turn it into my familiar Firefox installation (after they installed Firefox): with the same bookmarks and bookmarks toolbar. I did this using Foxmarks, a Firefox bookmarks synchronizer. Foxmarks synchronizes all your bookmarks into a central server, so you essentially have the same set of bookmarks and bookmarks toolbar for each browser that uses your account.

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Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference: personal notes

Last week’s conference organized by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) in cooperation with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) with the support of the Berkman Center Center for Internet and Society offered me a chance to meet bloggers and journalists from all over Asia.

With Sheila Coronel
Time flew so fast for the conference–an indication that I found it very interesting–that I found myself back at the airport in what appeared to be merely a day after stepping out of it.

I met Portnoy, a blogger from Taiwan, who asked for advice in choosing which Lucky Me instant cup noodle to bring back to his girlfriend. I picked my favorites: La Paz Batchoy and Palabok. He couldn’t have found a more knowledgeable conference delegate as instant noodles and sandwiches are common blogging and writing food for me–these are efficient to eat and the simplest to prepare especially if you’�re chasing a tight deadline.

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