Posts tagged with ‘Journalism’

Open Journalism on GitHub
Time to explore.
Image: Screenshot, Open Journalism Showcase on GitHub.
H/T: ONA Issues. 

Open Journalism on GitHub

Time to explore.

Image: Screenshot, Open Journalism Showcase on GitHub.

H/T: ONA Issues

Instead, being a journalism incubator means spending time and money developing writers who then take their readership to other publications, then starting to develop new voices, new beats and new audiences all over again.

In an interesting take on the magazine-as-incubator, Alyssa Rosenberg reacts to the recent news that the (very-loved liberal policy magazine) American Prospect is cutting down its staff and scaling back to a quarterly publishing schedule. Rosenberg points to the long list of all-star journalists who started their writing careers at the Prospect and how—though their careers were essentially incubated at the magazine—their growth did nothing to save the Prospect itself: co-founders Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias may be among the most prominent Prospect alumni, but they are hardly alone. Former Prospect editor Ann Friedman (who gave me my start in culture criticism with an assignment about movie superheroines) is now a columnist for New York magazine. Education journalist Dana Goldstein, Alaska Public Media  reporter Alexandra Gutierrez, MSNBC’s Adam Serwer, Slate writer Jamelle Bouie, UN Dispatch’s Mark Goldberg and the Huffington Post’s Kate Sheppard are just some of the many, many journalists who have done stints there.

As wonderful as that roster is, being an incubator publication is a difficult place to occupy in the journalism ecosystem. Unlike Silicon Valley incubators, which stake young developers for a share of their future profits, the Prospect does not get part of what its alumni earn in the future. An excellent reputation and ongoing goodwill do not necessarily translate into piles of cash.

But we can also come at this argument from a long-term and slightly more optimistic view of the value of incubating young writers as Ezra Klein does in his reflection on his own career that began the Prospect’s blog, Tapped

The combination of TAP’s culture and Tapped’s medium created a place where young journalists could go and experiment with policy journalism on the web. And some of those experiments worked. It turned out health-care policy could really appeal to readers. It turned out the internet loved charts. It turned out that policy writing could be short, or even just a link. It turned out that a conversational tone didn’t destroy the writer’s authority. It turned out that blogs benefitted at least as much from diligent reporting as magazine articles. Those experiments now inform journalism in places ranging from the Washington Post and the New York Times to Buzzfeed and Business Insider. Tapped’s style of policy journalism is everywhere now.

As for Vox, well, two of the three founders are Tapped alumnus. Without Tapped, there would certainly be no Vox.

And in so doing, we realize that when journalism is viewed as a community of public informants (rather than a battle between publishers) the legacy of one publication can and does lead to incredible value.

The Better-Than-Starter Video Kit →

For all those who have Q’d us about where to start with gear, here’s an excellent set of tools recommended by the Director of Digital Media at Columbia J-School.


My video students at Columbia Journalism School are trained on the Canon C100.  It is a great camera, but the $5K+ price tag makes it impossible for most to purchase one for themselves.  Also, that figure does not include microphones, tripods, and other accessories necessary to produce professional-quality video.

With some compromises in ergonomics and picture quality, the list of gear below should be an affordable alternative for any video student or recent grad.  This gear will give you high-quality visuals, clean sound, and reliable stabilization.  I hesitate to call this a starter kit, as you can shoot a feature documentary with this set up.

Camera:  The conventional wisdom with video gear is to invest in lenses and peripherals.  These items will last you years, while cameras get updated and replaced constantly.  I still recommend DSLRs for video journalists starting out.  They are cheap.  Their sensors are big, the low-light performance is fantastic, and they double as great stills cameras (ironically, an often overlooked benefit).  I have years of experience with Canon gear, so I recommend their products.  But Sony, Panasonic, and others all offer up great solutions.  Shop around.  This is a great time to buy.

I recommend two entry-level DSLRs to my students.  The Canon T5i w/ EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 w/  EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.  The T5i has a flip-out screen, but the SL1 is smaller.  In terms of image quality, they are the same.  My SL1 is so small that I can comfortably carry it with me everywhere I go.

If you can afford it, I recommend getting the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens.  This is my go-to lens for all my documentary work.  It is pricey, but it is a great investment.  You will grow with this lens.  If you do purchase the 24-105, be sure to get the Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera (Body Only) or Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera (Body Only) to save some money.

Do not forget to buy some extra batteries for your shoots.  You can go for the more expensive Canon option or save some money going with a third-party brand.  And be sure to get protective filters for your lenses:  the Tiffen 58mm UV Protector Filter for the kit lens or the Tiffen 77mm UV Protector Filter for the 24-105 lens.

Audio:  The most important part of producing great video is getting great audio.  Audio gear can be very expensive and there are many options on the market.  But the gear below was specifically designed to work with DSLRs.  This set up will transform your DSLR into a fully-functioning video camera:  

Your mics go into the DR-60D and then that signal is fed into the camera.  Or, when you really want to just go small and stealth, the Rode VideoMic Pro can plug directly into your DSLR (as pictured above).  Also, the Tascam DR-60D can be used alone as a great field audio recorder.

My most expensive audio recommendation is the Sony ECM-77B - Lavalier Microphone.  This is the microphone I use for all my interviews.  It plugs directly into the DR-60D.  There are much cheaper lav mics available, but IMHO, the low audio quality is not worth the savings.

Support:  You need a good tripod and monopod to get steady shots.  Tripods go from super cheap to insanely expensive.  I recommend spending a little more now for gear that will last you years.  I always shoot with the Manfrotto Fluid Monopod with 500 Series Head and Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head & 755XB Tripod.  They are not the cheapest options, but you will have them for years.

Accessories:  Be sure to get enough memory cards for your shoots.  And invest in the Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case to store your precious footage.

I hope this list helps.

Happy shooting,


Journalists on the Big Screen

Vice News and Nitehawk Cinema (in Williamsburg, BK for all you New Yorkers) present Journalists in Film, six films over six months that: “feature journalists as noble truth-seekers, catalysts for change, hustlers, and friends through rich cinematic storytelling.” Check them out here.

And you can order food at your seats.

Bonus: For those who have already seen every movie starring a journalist out there, try this out: A short doc that flips the equation and profiles a dynamic, self-made, hustling source: Greg Packer, aka the most quoted man in news, who has been a source in so many stories that the AP banned its reporters from interviewing him.

Iranian Spies Pose as Reporters to Target Lawmakers, Defense Contractors →

Via Wired:

Iranian spies appear to be engaged in their most elaborate and persistent effort yet to dupe lawmakers, journalists and defense contractors into revealing email addresses, network logins and other information that could be used to collect intelligence.

A three-year espionage campaign, believed to have originated in Iran, has used an elaborate scheme involving a fabricated news agency, fake social media accounts and bogus journalist identities to trick victims in the United States, Israel and elsewhere, according to iSight Partners, the company that uncovered the campaign.

Using fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, the attackers have built an elaborate universe of fake personas bolstered by secondary accounts all for the purpose of garnering the trust of their targets, according to a report issued by the company.

“We’ve never seen a cyber espionage campaign from the Iranians as complex, broad reaching and persistent as this one,” says Tiffany Jones, senior vice president of client services at iSight “The dozen or so primary fictitious personas have done a pretty successful job over the last few years in gleaning thousands of connections and ultimately targeting legitimate individuals through their social media networks.”

The spies also created a fake news organization,, owned and operated by a fake media mogul named Joseph Nillson, whom they illustrated using a photo of Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The news site is populated with articles ripped off from CNN and the BBC appearing beneath the names of NewsOnAir “reporters.” Once those stories are published, Twitter and other social media accounts associated with the fake identities link to them, making the operation appear legitimate.

So, journalism as spycraft. Targets, according to Wired, included “the U.S. military, Congress and various think tanks, along with journalists, defense contractors in the United States and Israel and members of U.S. and Israeli lobbying groups. They also targeted victims in Saudi, Arabia, Iraq and the United Kingdom.”

Instead of having an adversarial stance toward those with power, journalists are friends (sometimes with benefits) of those who wield it. That’s always been the case to some extent, but now there isn’t even the pretense of trying to be an outsider. “Objectivity” has come to mean uncritically regurgitating quotes from a couple of “sources” or “unnamed officials” the reporter has relationships with and leaving it to the reader to figure out who’s up to no good.

Charles Davis, VICE, Survey Says: Journalists are Old White Cowards.

Researchers Lars Willnat and David H. Weaver from Indiana University recently published their findings in the report "The American Journalist in the Digital Age" based on interviews with over 1,000 American journalists working in all different fields. The results, including how they feel about controversial reporting practices, their job autonomy, and job satisfaction, are quite surprising when compared to survey results from 10 and even 30 years ago. 

Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism →

Conor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic released a comprehensive list of his favorite reads from 2013 and categorized them by topic: “Man Vs. Nature,” “War and Peace,” “Science and Beyond.”

Going through the list is quite possibly the best way to lose track of several hours of your day today. 

FJP: Some of my own favorites in this list of favorites include Learning about Humanity on Public Transportation by Chris Gethard, The Only Black Guy at the Indie Rock Show by Martin Douglas, and A Pickpocket’s Tale by Adam Green. Hopefully you’ll see some of your favorite pieces on the list and discover many more to add to your own reading list. —Mariana

1:00 P.M.

“Let’s see what’s in the paper today.” He reaches across the table for Tadeo Martínez’s newspaper. “Is there a story we could go out and cover?” he asks. He studies the front page and shakes his head in disapproval. “Incredible,” he says. “This is a local paper and not one story about Cartagena on the front page. Tell your boss, Tadeo, that a local paper should have local front-page news.

“Nothing here,” he mumbles as he turns the pages. “Let’s see, something here. Stove for sale, unused, unassembled stove. Must sell. Call Gloria Bedoya, 660-1127, extension 113. This could be a story. Should we call? I bet there’s something here. Why is this woman selling a stove, why is the stove unassembled? What do we know from this about this woman? Could be interesting.” He pauses, waiting for us to get excited. But no one seems to be interested in finding out why a woman is selling an unassembled stove, especially when we can keep listening to him.

Gabo sees stories everywhere. During the next three days he says “eso es un reportaje” (that’s a story) constantly. I realize that Gabo is full of nostalgia. He misses being a reporter. “Journalism is not a job, it’s a gland, “ he says.

Silvana Paternostro in her 1996 piece for The Paris Review on taking a journalism workshop with Gabriel García Márquez. 

Digging Through the Archives
That’s quite the memory you have. I think you’re referring to this post:

A recent question in our inbox asked, “What is it about journalism that you love? Why did you become a journalist?”
I began replying, looked at what I was writing, decided it was pretty dull and cast my net on Twitter where I asked #whyJournalism and linked to a simple Google form for people to answer.
Above is a collection of some of the answers we received. Some interesting replies not shown here include people motivated by specific events. For example, NBC’s Craig Kanalley points to 9/11 and his inspiration about how the press covered it.

FJP: Survey Says! #whyJournalism — Michael.

Digging Through the Archives

That’s quite the memory you have. I think you’re referring to this post:

A recent question in our inbox asked, “What is it about journalism that you love? Why did you become a journalist?”

I began replying, looked at what I was writing, decided it was pretty dull and cast my net on Twitter where I asked #whyJournalism and linked to a simple Google form for people to answer.

Above is a collection of some of the answers we received. Some interesting replies not shown here include people motivated by specific events. For example, NBC’s Craig Kanalley points to 9/11 and his inspiration about how the press covered it.

FJP: Survey Says! #whyJournalismMichael.

Journalists my age and younger (I’ve been in the business since 2005—right around the time digital media emerged as a plausible career option) have never operated under the illusion that a staff job at The New Yorker or a New York Times column was in our future. But nearly a decade into the digital-media revolution, another shift has occurred. It’s not just that journalists understand former “prestige” jobs will be nearly impossible to get. Now we don’t even want them.

— Ann Friedman, The New Dream Job, Columbia Journalism Review

Well, Project X may now be called Vox, but the great VC-backed media blitz of 2014 is staffed up and soft-launching, and it looks a lot more like Projects XY. Indeed, it’s impossible not to notice that in the Bitcoin rush to revolutionize journalism, the protagonists are almost exclusively – and increasingly – male and white.

To be sure, the internet has presented journalists with an extraordinary opportunity to remake their own profession. And the rhetoric of the new wave of creativity in journalism is spattered with words that denote transformation. But the new micro-institutions of journalism already bear the hallmarks of the restrictive heritage they abandoned with such glee. At the risk of being the old bat in the back, allow me to quote Faye Dunaway’s character from Network: “Look, all I’m saying is if you’re going to hustle, at least do it right.”

The way I rose in journalism was, well, first, I leapt at the opportunity to do an internship at ABC News, but that could have been anywhere. The more important thing is that once I got there, I always brought ideas to the table. Diane Sawyer met with all the interns at the beginning of the summer and said, if you have ideas, send them to me. So I would go online and look at what was going on in the world and send her my ideas. I emailed her very politely and very gratefully and said, “Thank you so much for meeting with us. Here are five ideas.” She wrote back and said, “Thank you. These don’t really work.” So I tried again and sent other ideas, and after a while some of them started to get on TV! That was pretty cool.

So eventually when I applied for a job at ABC, they all remembered me as the girl who had all these great ideas and got them on TV, you know? I got recognized just for trying to make something out of nothing and putting myself out there and really respectfully and politely writing emails to a lot of people and sending them my ideas.

Lara Setrakian, founder of Syria Deeply, in an excellent interview with Rookie Magazine’s Anaheed Alani. Good reading for all you aspiring journos.

Bonus: Advice & answers to readers from the FJP archives.

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.

Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.

Jason Kottke, Nieman Journalism Lab. The blog is dead, long live the blog.

Jason’s article is part of a series of Nieman predictions for journalism in 2014.

How Do I Get Started in Journalism?

I’m an aspiring journalist. That’s what I want to do with my life. However, I’m not sure where to start. Could you help me?raetschi

May we direct you to our QA Tag where you’ll find FJP deep thinking on subjects such as:

I hope these links help.

One item perhaps not mentioned in the above though is this: Ask every journalist you know (and even those you don’t) how you can break in, who you might be able to talk to and if, of course, they know of any openings you might be able to pursue.

Have other questions? Ask away. — Michael