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Adrian Holovaty, Cover Boy

August 17, 2008

Adrian Holovaty

Chicago Tribune Magazine on “Holovaty’s twin passions – reporting and problem-solving – the unexpected intersection of journalism and computer code.” Here.

Passages, Part II

August 14, 2008

+ RealCities, which until the Yahoo Corsortium was the largest and oldest online news site affiliate network (yeah, mostly McClatchy-nee-Knight-Ridder sites, but some outsiders as well), has been bought by Chicago-based ad buying/selling outfit Centro. Press release, here.

+ Squared’s web host is pulling the plug on some history, telling subscribers it is shutting down access to FrontPage extensions and telnet in the near term. FrontPage was the WYSIWIG entree to web publishing for many of us in the earliest days while telnet, before that, was one of the geeky ways we crawled around the pre-HTML Internet. Eclipsed they are now, both. Onward, to WordPress, SSH et al. For now.

To Maggie

August 14, 2008

Maggie Mills was an inspiration and the absolute embodiment of a hyperlocal journalist long, long before that became a throw-away label for very local online content.

Maggie masterfully practiced her hyperlocal skills for more than half a century in another medium — print — in Squared’s hometown and was one of the inspirations for Squared to get into, and stay in, journalism.

Maggie Mills died a few days ago at 91, only four years out of the newsroom.  Nobody before, or since, so  lovingly, passionately and devotedly chronicled the comings, goings, doings and, now and again, shenanigans in close-knit little Plymouth, Mass.

“Community journalism, itself, is stronger for her participation,” Tamson Burgess, now the editor of Maggie’s Old Colony Memorial, wrote in a masterful column this week.  “[W]hen she became the eyes and ears and voice of the community, she stood tall before the powerful and still bent to offer a hand to the powerless. She could command the attention and respect of paupers and princes, not to mention all of those she mentored.”

A few more grafs from Burgess give you the feel for what an amazing practitioner of local journalism Maggie was.

If you lived in Plymouth or Carver from the ’50s to the ’90s, you probably knew Maggie, too. She was not just a reporter for the Old Colony Memorial, she was the Old Colony Memorial. If your Scout troop held an event to earn a badge, Maggie was there to write about it. If you made the honor roll, Maggie made sure it was printed in the paper. When your baby was born or your parent died, when your grandmother’s church guild held a tag sale, your husband got promoted – or any one of them misstepped and perhaps got into a bit of trouble – Maggie knew about it and wrote about it.

Over the years, she covered just about every beat in town. . . .  She reported on the antics of town government back in the days when the selectmen’s meeting started in town hall, but the real business was conducted after it adjourned, around the corner in the Amvets club above the old South Street fire station. And, of course, Maggie was there, too.

She was for years a central part of the landscape of downtown Plymouth, walking up and down Main Street dropping in at shops and businesses, talking to anyone and everyone on the street, piecing together the everyday news that made Plymouth Plymouth.

If it was on fire, Maggie was there. If there was a crime or a trial, Maggie shared the news. If it happened anywhere in town, she somehow knew about it. And when she told the story we listened, because her every sentence and word exuded not just information but passion.

Maggie Mills cared. She gave life to the life of her community, not just because she could turn a pretty phrase or knew where to use a comma, but because the stories mattered, information mattered, knowledge mattered, this town and its people all mattered to her and she made them matter to her readers.

Maggie, of ink and paper and grit and clacking manual typewriters and boy scout jamborees and schoolmarming selectmen and walking the beat in downtown, was precisely and perfectly what the Old Colony and its GateHouse Media sibling web sites now call themselves and want to be master of today: Wicked Local.

Thanks for what we all learned from you, Maggie. Be at peace.

-30-

The Colonel, Social Animal

August 14, 2008

Colonel Robert R. McCormick spends most of his time these days spinning like a nuclear rotisserie in his grave at Cantigny over what befell his once grand, powerful and well-respected company, but takes time out now and again to do some social networking on behalf of the flasghip. Here is a HuffPost piece, giving a bit of publicity at last for something the online staff at chicagotribune.com and their colleague ColonelTribune have been tinkering with for some time now. (Tangentally related, a bit about HuffPost’s firest-ever local site, set to lauch in Chicago).

Newspaper Consortium Picks First-Ever Leader

August 4, 2008

An alliance of 30 newspaper companies affiliated with Yahoo has picked digital media pioneer and longtime Squared colleague (including, a couple times, boss) Michael Silver of Chicago as its first executive director.

Silver will “begin developing new opportunities for the Consortium across the digital media landscape, as well as to grow the Consortium’s existing relationship with Yahoo! across content and advertising,” a release today says.  “Silver will act in an advisory capacity to help member companies maximize revenue and take on the role of public spokesperson and representative for the Newspaper Consortium. Silver will also be responsible for the management and oversight of the agreements between the Newspaper Consortium’s member companies and Yahoo! and serve as the central point of contact with Yahoo! for members regarding the operation of these agreements.”

Belo, Cox, Lee, McClatchy and MediaNews are among the largest members of the consortium. The Consortium has a challenge or two, obviously, as does embattled Yahoo, the major glue holding it together.

Mike is a great pick for the role. He’s an extraordinarly well-connected, sharp strategic thinker and a great peace-maker with an innate feel for the business, particularly a knack for peering out toward the horizon to see what’s ahead.  While working for TRB corporate development in the early ’90s, he discovered — and steered senior management toward — a little Virginia company named Quantum.  It became AOL.  And the very low millions investment that resulted from Mike’s work made the old Mama T north of $1 billion over time.