Archive for June, 2009

News in a New Way Podcast

We’re not much for talking products but found an exception today. Our podcast guest was Martin Langeveld, long-time newspaper publisher and principal of CircLabs. His group aims to increase online effectiveness of news organizations, beginning with newspapers.

Their browser add-on software will go into beta soon. Circulate aims to alert us users to news we are likely to want to see through an always-visible bar at the top of a browser window.

Google kind of does this on searches and in blog ads. However, Circulate will not just pick some keywords and throw the closest related ad before you. It will work when media such as local newspapers and the AP link their content while the bar’s engine sees where you like to get your news and about what, and then provides meaningful related items.

It’s an ambitious project with powerful goals. Another principal, Bill Densmore has been championing moving media into effective use of the internet. He spent the past year on an even more ambitious Information Valet Project at the University of Missouri’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. While media types, particularly newspaper editors and publishers have seemed overwhelmed at the challenges of keeping readers and monetizing net ads and access, Densmore plunged right into this. His project was the catalyst for CircLabs.

Listen to Langeveld describe what they are about and what’s next. You should also check his own blog on the larger topic at News after Newspapers.

icon for podpress  News Gathering Futures [42:58m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Paying for News-Gathering Podcast

newsboy.jpgIt’s on beyond hand wringing for newspapers. Our guest on Tuesday, June 30th, describes an aggressive program to test and prove ways to keep news gathering alive. Martin Langeveld is one of the four founders of CircLabs heading this project.

Mild disclaimer: I attended high school with Langeveld and the woman he would marry. We have no business dealings and I am not associated with CircLabs.

This system is a result of The Information Valet Project led by Media Giraffe guru Bill Densmore. His phone interview on the possibilities of monetizing news is here.

While CircLabs’ Circulate will be in beta this summer and full release this year, how it will balance satisfying users with micropayments and targeted ads is to be determined. Perhaps most meaningful is that while only a few newspapers are trying their own systems to support the costs of news-gathering, this new effort means to dive headfirst into the mess to see what works and act as a proving ground.

You can listen live at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on June 30th here. That same URL will return to a player. The show will be available here on Left Ahead! or on iTunes later that afternoon.



Boston Mayor Ready for Anything

Boston City HallToday’s podcast guest, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, doesn’t seem to shy from tough topics. He does, however, have the skills to turn his answers to his main theme — this year’s race should be exclusively about advancing the city and not any past problems or policies.

I have to admit that I was unsure what to expect. His reputation had been of someone hypersensitive to anything resembling criticism and loath to admit to problems in Beantown.  That’s not whom Ryan and I heard today.

Timing note: The Mayor come on at 10 minutes and 39 seconds into the show.

We spoke on a range of topics, including the trigger ones of crime, schools, home rule, homeless families, stalled developments, and even teachers’ unions.

Menino faces his hardest and most diverse challengers this election. Two City Councilors and a construction company owner/civic activist are gunning for the job, as the Mayor looks for years 17 through 20 in office.

Challenger podcasts: We previously have had his three challengers in this election on. Catch those here:

With only two pre-primary and one pre-general election debates scheduled,  Menino’s positions in our podcast may foretell his approach. Listen in to hear him speak to how he perceives the advances he led in each major area of the city. He doesn’t accept the charge that the schools worsened under his rule, even when he got the right to appoint the previously elected school committee. He lists the accomplishments of the schools, but admits where he sees problems, problems he says he can correct.

Likewise, he points to a loss of $94 million in state funding, but sees money coming from federal sources as well as more equitable payments from colleges and universities, as well as a meals tax. He thinks Boston will see growth in revenue from its four sustaining sources — academic, biotech, medical and tourism.

He admits to looming and continuing fights. Those include teachers’ unions where he wants longer school days and other work-rule changes and the legislature in giving Boston the power to generate revenue.

The Mayor is sanguine about Boston’s future, but not irrationally so. He’d be a tough debate.


icon for podpress  Mayor Tom Menino [56:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Dem Chairman Podcast

John Walsh spoke with us today in his role as Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman. We covered a range of topics, but expanded considerably on the party-platform process and the community organizing program. He even spoke of the danger of letting Republicans harp on their platform points without responding clearly and repeatedly with our own.

Listen in to hear how the platform sausage was made, after about 70 hearings, lots of comments, and the convention floor skirmishes. He’s ready to do more and hopes that the next issues convention will further refine the planks and whole platform.

John is particularly keen on what he foresees as an exciting and meaningful activism. The Community Organizer’s Initiative aims to help existing progressive activists and create a whole new set of them.

After a quick signup, you get a custom aPebble interface. You agree to organize at least 50 people over the next two years around an issue you really care about. The software enables networking and related communications around your effort.

John urges going to and clicking the Participate button beside Recruit and build your personal list. Type in an email address and respond to the sign-up messages with password, name and address, and you’re in business.

Under John’s leadership, the party wants more Dems to do more, centered on their passions.

Listen in for the details and conversation on other organizing efforts.

icon for podpress  MA Dem Party Chair [58:11m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Boston’s Mayor Joins Our Podcast

Mayor MeninoBoston’s longest serving Mayor, Thomas Menino will be live on our podcast on Tuesday, June 23rd at 2:30 p.m. He promises a half hour to tell us what he wants to accomplish with four more years.

If you can listen live, load up the show here.  Afterward, it will be available at that URL, on this Left Ahead! site and on iTunes.

This is his most contested mayoral race ever. We previously spoke with challengers:

This show will be just the Mayor, no surprise guests. He’ll have his say and you can have your listen.


Dem Party Head Joins Us

The loquacious John Walsh, chair of the MA Democratic Party, is next week’s guest on our podcast. It’s kind of a follow-up to Ryan’s video from the convention and my grousing about the watered-down platform.

John’s not shy and contacted me right away, by email and then by phone. We chatted about our differing perceptions of the platform and our expectations for it.

He’ll be on largely to talk futures now that the convention splattered the platform with progressive addenda. We agreed to start with how the party will use community organizing for its goals.

You can catch him live Tuesday, June 16th at 2:30 p.m. Eastern here. Afterward, the show will be there, on Left Ahead! to listen to or download, or on iTunes.



McCrea Ready for Boston Shake-Up

Big ideas from aligning the Boston Mayor’s race with the Presidential one and maybe doubling voters came from Kevin McCrea today. He’s the most reform-minded of the candidates, in many ways.

He is a construction-company owner who lives in the South End. He’s best known for being a gadfly at public meetings and particularly for suing for open meetings.

Among his plans if elected are:

  • Eliminating the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and getting the Council involved in planning
  • Putting all public transactions and routine records online, including meeting minutes
  • Attacking crime with more police, but also with jobs for those at risk if they are unemployed
  • Applying the new 1% meals tax to offset the ever higher residential property taxes

Listen in for a whole, detailed set of proposals. McCrea envisions a different form of Boston methods and procedures for its problems.

icon for podpress  Kevin McCrea [61:28m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Dumbed Down Dem Platform

The bland and smiley faced draft platform for this weekend’s MA Democratic Party convention befuddles us and today’s guest. Blogger and political activist Brian (a.k.a. Sabutai at Blue Mass Group) has been strong in his criticism.

At numerous caucuses and party hearings, Dems spoke up for their crucial issues. Understandably, they have been amazed at what did not appear in this broad-brush draft.

We speak a bit to what disappeared.

Brian saw two possibilities for Saturday:

  1. Reversion.  Enough delegates will collect sigs to force a vote to revert to last year’s much more specific platform.
  2. Revision.  A much more time-consuming and even more contentious process of amending and augmenting individual planks.

While it’s possible the delegates could vote for the non-specific draft, we all hope that they don’t. We’d much rather end up with a document that Dems can hold up and say, “This is what I believe in and want!”

Listen in as Brian leads through the issues and process.

icon for podpress  MA Dem Party Platform 2009 [40:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Flaherty’s Hunger to be Mayor

Michael Flaherty joined us today for a beefy podcast with both big ideas and details. Use the player below or download the file.

Earlier today, he had done a show with Blue Mass Group. We recommend listening to that one here.  Flaherty has no problem thinking on his feet and isn’t flustered by any question. LA and BMG are bookends to his work.

To return to the theme before any interviews and that arose in the Sam Yoon show,  this race calls for more debates and forums than the three Mayor Tom Menino has agreed to attend. Today, Flaherty called for civic groups and even blogs to schedule their own and invite the candidates, at least the three of them, plus South End businessman Kevin McCrea.

Plug Time: Click in next Tuesday, June 9th at 2:30 Eastern for the live stream of McCrea’s say.

Flaherty has big goals and big ideas. Listen below to get his take on government inefficiency, poor education and high crime. He’s put his specific programs and solutions on his website’s issues area as well.  We urge you to hear him talk to these in today’s show.

icon for podpress  Mayoral Candidate Michael Flaherty [60:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Dem Platform Podcast

We have a special podcast time and day this week…and a special guest too. Thursday, June 4th at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Sabutai joins us to analyze the state Democratic Party platform. Whether you will attend this weekend’s party convention, catch him in the live stream or return to that URL or here for an on-demand listen.

Blogger and party activist Sabutai seems to know what’s new, what’s certain to be in the platform and what may cause a dust-up.

The call-in number is the usual, 718-664-6966. Note this is a NY area code and not our local 781. Use your cell-phone minutes.