Paul Wilson

Paul is a regional sales manager for TownNews.com. He previously worked at three daily newspapers and was managing editor of the hyperlocal site EveryBlock.com. You can follow him on Twitter, @pwilson03.


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How high-frequency journalism is like high-frequency trading

In two very different industries — the news media and the financial sector — once unfathomable technology is feeding intense competition in ways that have prompted serious soul searching and some very troubling mistakes.

For the world’s financial markets, questions are being asked about high-frequency trading (HFT) where complex algorithms analyze markets and execute orders at incredibly quick speeds, often competing over milliseconds.

For journalism, there is no comparable term — though “high-frequency journalism” might be appropriate. Tools like Twitter have removed built-in, age-old safeguards (notably, time) that many reporters used to double-check information, amping up competition and lowering the bar for verification before publication.

This summer could be a case study in what can now go wrong in both industries.

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Cubs player learned about pending trade just an hour before reporter tweeted about it

Cubs President Theo Epstein weighed in Wednesday on the controversy leading up to the trade of popular pitcher Ryan Dempster, saying one factor in the nine-day drama was how quickly news spread through social media.

Early last week, Epstein worked out a deal to send Dempster to the Atlanta Braves. The news was leaked and MLB.com reporter Mark Bowman reported that the deal was “confirmed.”

But Dempster hadn’t approved the trade, which players of his seniority level have the right to do. Dempster decided to hold out for a deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Braves decided not to wait.

The affair set off a firestorm among some fans and in the blogosphere, as some turned on Dempster for costing the Cubs valuable pitching prospect Randall Delgado.… Read more

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Premature tweets about Chicago Cubs trade may have changed outcome for 4 teams

People who aren’t baseball fans probably didn’t notice, but the continuing saga of the trade that nearly sent Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Atlanta Braves shows how different the media landscape is than just a few years ago.

Up-to-the-second reporting became part of the story, possibly affecting the trade and tarnishing, at least temporarily, Dempster’s strong popularity in Chicago.

Dempster has played on two playoff teams and been the team’s Opening Day starter twice since coming to Chicago in 2004. Since the Cubs are not in contention for the playoffs, Dempster is an attractive possible addition to teams still hoping to be playing baseball in October. All trades that don’t involve the more tricky process of sending players through waivers must be completed by 4 p.m.… Read more

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