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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Search engine optimization for journalists

“This Boring Headline is Written for Google,” that’s the headline of a New York Times article on how news organizations are starting to practice search engine optimization in the writing of headlines.

The article says that news organizations increasingly see the need to optimize their site for search engine crawlers as search engine traffic accounts for at least 30 percent of news website traffic.

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The glass cannot be half-full

Either there is press freedom or not, according to Sun.Stars pooled editorial.

The editorial points out the danger of making police the evaluators of media.

Why do cops make poor evaluators? They dont know the craft and its nuances. Their mind-set is that of victims, whipped frequently by media for lapses and offenses.

The paper (disclosure: I work for Sun.Star Cebu) says “The Government cannot claim to be free and democratic when it gags media by threats of takeover or shutdown.”

Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency in the country has been described as a harmless weapon that should not instill fear among the law-abiding.

We disagree. It is a lethal weapon in the hands of those who exceed or abuse the power–out of ignorance, spite, or meanness.

Read the full article here.

Busted: Newspaper photo reveals married man’s affair

It was a picture of domestic bliss-a couple taking their child to a picnic in a public park in Cebu. The pair was laughing and appeared to enjoy an afternoon away from the demands of work and pressure of urban life.

The problem was the man wasn’t having a picnic with his legal family, he was spending time with his mistress. When his wife saw the photo in Sun.Star she had a heart attack (she’s okay or so the man says). The man called up the photographer to ask why he printed it when it was “obvious” that the woman was too young to be his wife. He also said he and his mistress had been able to hide the affair from the wife for so long “pwerte namong tago ani” (we really tried to keep this a secret).

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Listing of top Philippine news sites

The government-owned Philippine News Agency listed yesterday the top mainstream Philippine news websites based on Netcraft ranking. The data is taken from browsing habits of users of the Netcraft toolbar. I don’t know how big and representative that user base is.

I also don’t know how PNA compiled the list, I tried looking for a listing of the top Philippine sites in Netcraft but couldn’t find one. There’s a listing of the most visited websites with site rank scores but this isn’t grouped by countries and there isn’t even a link to succeeding pages. You can also get the site ranking when you do a web server query in Netcraft. I don’t know if you can access the list if you have the Netcraft toolbar, which I don’t (I hate toolbars-except for the web developer toolbar for Firefox).
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Socialists and winos: the year in media errors and corrections

Regret The Error has published its annual roundup of top media errors and corrections. Its top correction of the year went to Denver Daily News’ apology for calling New Jersey ‘Jew Jersey.’

The typo of the year went to Reuters for reporting the recall of 94,400 pounds of ground beef panties.

First runner-up is Dallas Morning News for this correction:

Norma Adams-Wade’s June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.

Second runner up was the Liverpool Daily News for the replacement of WNO (Welsh National Opera) with winos, because of an error in the use of a spell checker.

In pope-related errors, the Daily Press in Virginia had to apologize for quoting then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as saying during Pope John Paul II’s funeral: “Today we bury his remains in the earth as a seed of immorality.”

Check out the full listing of top media errors and corrections by clicking this link.

Domain of Cebu-based newspaper expires

TheFreeman.com is no more. The domain name of the newspaper I used to work for expired and is now just a landing page. The Freeman, however, no longer uses the domain and for months the pages there were no longer updated.

TheFreeman.com has a Google page rank of 5 and when I checked the domain sale details, the page said that the minimum bid for the domain was $3,000.

The Freeman is now part of the Philippine Star Group of Publications and its online version is now hosted at the Philstar.com portal. The problem with its Philstar.com hosting, however, is that it does not have a fixed URL that you can promote in the paper. The link to The Freeman website changes everyday-it is an html page with a date-based filename.

Blast from the past: a comment I posted in 1997

What’s your oldest online posting that is still accessible? Mine was written in 1997. It’s a guest book entry in The Slot, a site that contains a lot of tips for copy editors. I wrote the guestbook entry when I was still with The Freeman. The entry is so old I even signed it as “Max Sherwin Limpag.” Bill Walsh started The Slot in 1995. He now updates his blog more often than he writes new tips for The Slot.

The future of newspapers

The Washington Post recently interviewed Russ Wilcox, the chief executive of E Ink Corp., a company that “has created a paper-thin video screen that combines the ease of reading words on paper with the Internet’s access to information.”

Wilcox told the Post that we’ll see by 2015 the introduction of newspapers similar to that depicted in the movie “Minority Report”: paper thin video screens that can be folded or rolled. Wilcox says newspapers would be buying these gadgets in bulk and hand these out to readers.

Wilcox told the Post in the interview published Oct. 12: “It’s going to be free and the reason is that newspapers are spending $150 per year per reader on making the paper. (Figuring in cost of newsprint.) Within 2 or 3 years you’ve built up $300 to $500 of budget per reader so you can give it away for free because the device itself will cost less than $300.”

The technology, however, may be available even earlier.

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“The page one pope”

Sun.Star Cebu‘s page one story on the death of Pope John Paul II is included in a book reprinting the front pages of newspapers from around the world. The collection, according to Amazon‘s book description edited by Poynter, “includes 144 reproductions of front pages from newspapers in the United States plus major newspapers from around the world…presented without comment as each newspaper remembers the pope in its own way.”

Poynter has an online gallery of some of the pages included in the collection. Check out Roy Peter Clark’s The Page One Pope: A Legacy of Questions.
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