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Remembering Deep Throat and the man in the shadows

January 17, 2009 at 2:35 a.m.

Friends, family and admirers of W. Mark Felt, better known to the public as Deep Throat, remembered the late FBI agent today as a man who lived his fundamental beliefs of "truth, justice and service."

"Action is character," former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward (now an editor there) said of his late friend and mentor.

This was a memorial for the man known as Deep Throat, the G-man who arranged secret meetings at an underground parking garage with Woodward as the Watergate cover up unfolded, much more than it was for Mark Felt, who died at 95 in his daughter ...

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New tools for new news

December 30, 2008 at 3:28 a.m.

Journalists need new tools to work online. In the last year, I've used more that I can count, most of them free, to find and tell better stories on the Web.

Back in October, I started building an online database of such tools as a personal project, just a way to keep track of everything I was using. It has since grown into something I think others will find useful, so I'm releasing it into the wild.

Tools for News

The site is in public beta for now. Eventually, I hope to move it to its own domain ...

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Finding a local news feed

December 20, 2008 at 4:20 a.m.

My next little side project is going to involve parsing feeds. I'm tired of wading through hideous newspaper.coms trying to find a certain story, or stories about a certain area, without having to avoid national news I've read elsewhere, or bits about towns I'll never visit.

Andrew Meyer has been having the same problem:

When I visit PressDemocrat.com, I go for one thing: Sonoma County news. Someone in Mendocino County might visit the site for Mendo County news, which is great, but not the reason I visit. Ok, with that said, how do I locate ...

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Easy to find. Easy to share.

October 31, 2008 at 1:06 a.m.

I come back to this thought again and again in my head:

I don't need more video, or more multimedia of any kind, or even databases or forums or yet another social network. All I want, as a reader, is news that is easy to find and easy to share. It's what I want in the sites I build and the newsrooms I work for, too.

Is this too much to ask?

Most days, I practically live in Google Reader. I have become so addicted to RSS, to the plain but well-structured layout of the feed, that anything ...

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There's no 'I' in team, but there sure is in China

August 30, 2008 at 2:13 a.m.

China won gold at more events than any other country in the Olympics, but it didn't take home the most gold medals, as Duke University political scientist Michael Allen Gillespie points out (via Tim Johnson). The reason: Americans dominated the team events, while Chinese athletes excelled in individual sports.

If one looks over all of the Olympic sports, Americans took home 118 gold medals, 99 silver medals and 76 bronze medals, while the Chinese took home 76 gold, 35 silver and 38 bronze medals. That is 293 total medals for the USA to 149 for China.

The point here ...

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The harder questions

August 29, 2008 at 8:55 p.m.

What Ted said:

Politics lends itself to facile issues, to facile answers. The problem is you've got the rhetoric and you've got the reality. The rhetoric is, you've got candidates talk about bringing all those jobs back and not giving tax breaks to companies that send jobs overseas. The problem with that is that it only tells half the story. One of the reasons America has been able to keep inflation down is precisely because WalMart imports all that stuff out of China, and Vietnam and Bangladesh and all the other places. What I really want to ...

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Did Bush get it right on China?

August 28, 2008 at 12:57 a.m.

Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek seems to think so. While he's no fan of the current president, Zakaria gives him credit for engaging the People's Republic in last week's cover story, What Bush Got Right:

The bilateral relationship between China and America will be the most significant one in the 21st century. Bush began his term poorly on the subject. During the campaign, when asked by Larry King for the single most important area where he would depart from Clinton foreign policy, he cited China. "The current president has called the relationship with China a strategic partnership," Bush ...

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We'll watch how we want to

August 10, 2008 at 8:02 a.m.

I'm watching the Olympics right now. I've been watching since early Friday morning, on TV and online, with and without the help of NBC.

The network has been the sole broadcaster of the Olympics as long as I've been watching television, but that monopoly is clearly ebbing. Yesterday morning, while I was sitting through an insufferable pre-taped Today show (summary: Isn't China weird?!?), my friends back in China were watching the opening ceremonies in Beijing live and telling me all about it over Twitter. Meanwhile, others were doing whatever they could to get around NBC's ...

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Help me write about California, cement and global warming

July 30, 2008 at 1:05 a.m.

BadgeI have an ongoing fascination with issues that are, to most people, boring as hell. I'm fascinated with school reform, demographics, infrastructure, and in all cases, data.

The problem with such stories, from a freelance perspective, is that they're tough (for me) to make interesting enough to sell, even if they're really important.

Fortunately, I met up with David Cohn at CopyCamp in San Jose last month, and he encouraged me to put a pitch up on Spot.us, his new project to crowdfund local investigative reporting (more info here). Here's what I want to write ...

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CopyCamp

June 29, 2008 at 7:06 a.m.

First, people in the video:

Quick recap of Saturday. CopyCamp was awesome. No other word for it. Anytime a newspaper opens its doors and lets its readers say what could be done better, that's a good thing, and the Mercury News reporters and editors who came can't be thanked enough. I don't know if I could have after ending the week the way they did.

Much as the discussion was haunted by the latest round of job cuts, there was, I think, still a feeling of optimism, if not from within ...

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On getting out of the way

June 10, 2008 at 4:26 a.m.

My Saturday gig sent me to Tennyson High School this week where alumni celebrated the school's 50th anniversary. I was tasked with adding unspecified multimedia to an already-written print story. I went, grabbed photos, audio and nachos, and built a slide show that I'm in no way happy with.

Here's where I think I went wrong: I tried to tell a linear story, and I fell all over myself doing it.

First, Soundslides was the wrong tool. It was wrong because, for the most part, it is a tool for telling stories that go from beginning to ...

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Product, not Process

June 1, 2008 at 1:41 a.m.

Journalism, like so many crafts, is often about the process more than the product. A good story will show the trail of reporting and let the reader in on the oblique conventions of policy or public happenings.

Online, too, there is a need for engagement, for openness, not just by those we cover, but by us, the journalists.

But in many ways, the process of getting newspapers from ink on paper to text and multimedia online is getting bogged down by process, when more people really ought to be thinking about the product.

I spoke to a reporter yesterday who ...

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Everything and nothing

May 26, 2008 at 3:02 a.m.

Ryan Sholin asks in this month's Carnival of Journalism:

What should news organizations stop doing, today, immediately, to make more time for innovation?

A scene from the Grey's Anatomy season finale I saw last night comes to mind:

A young man is trapped in quick-dry concrete, which he jumped into because he thought it would impress a girl. While he's moaning in ER--the cement is leaching water from his body, burning his skin, crushing him slowly--the team of doctors, who are all highly gifted and well-trained, is arguing over what has to be done first.

Finally, the ...

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Making multimedia a habit

May 17, 2008 at 1:27 a.m.

I'm a freelancer.

In a given week, I write for at least three publications, both in print and online (plus this much-neglected blog). Because I'm pretty much at the bottom of each respective totem poll, I tend to get assignments that are, well, befitting that altitude.

I did this at my last newspaper, too, those unglamorous bits and pieces, but since I had a regular beat there, it wasn't all I did. I had stories that developed over time, that had new angles, and that weren't just things we covered every year.

So let's make ...

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Lessons from Everyblock

May 16, 2008 at 7:54 p.m.

Adrian Holovaty, founder of ChicagoCrime.org and Everyblock.com, spoke at O'Reilly Media's Where2.0 conference. Video of the entire event is at Blip.tv. Here's a breakdown of what Holovaty says we can learn from Everyblock:

1: Take advantage of existing data

Plenty of sites start out by asking for contributions. Everyblock doesn't. Its first mission is to make data that's already floating around the internet and locked in government file cabinets available and easy to access. Tips for getting data:
  • Be nice: People will help you out if you're polite. Duh.
  • Governments ...

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