Posts tagged with ‘cw anderson’

We need, in short, to pay attention to the materiality of algorithmic processes. By that, I do not simply mean the materiality of the algorithmic processing (the circuits, server farms, internet cables, super-computers, and so on) but to the materiality of the procedural inputs. To the stuff that the algorithm mashes up, rearranges, and spits out.

CW Anderson, Culture Daily. The Materiality of Algorithms.

In what reads like a starting point for more posts on the subject, CUNY Prof Chris Anderson discusses what documents journalists may want to design algorithms for, and just how hard that task will be.

Algorithms doing magic inside massive data sets and search engines, while not mathematically simple, are generally easy to conceptualize — algorithms and their data are sitting in the computer, the algorithm sifts through the excel sheet in the background and bam! you have something.

But if you’re working with poorly organized documents, it’s difficult to simply plug them in.

Chris writes that the work required to include any document in a set will shape the algorithm that makes sense of the whole bunch. This will be a problem for journalists who want to examine any documents made without much forethought, which is to say: government documents, phone records from different companies and countries, eye witness reports, police sketches, mugshots, bank statements, tax forms, and hundreds of other things worth investigating.

Chris quotes Jonathan Stray’s trouble preparing 4500 docs on Iraqi security contractors:

The recovered text [from these documents] is a mess, because these documents are just about the worse possible case for OCR [optical character recognition]: many of these documents are forms with a complex layout, and the pages have been photocopied multiple times, redacted, scribbled on, stamped and smudged. But large blocks of text come through pretty well, and this command extracts what text there is into one file per page.

To read the rest of Stray’s account, see his Overview Project.

And to see more with Chris Anderson, see our recent video interviews with him.

The Economic Lives of 3 Digital Newsrooms
In this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, CW Anderson wrote a field guide detailing the economic lives of three digital-first newsrooms — three promising and well-funded organizations that have either (in two cases) failed or, in the last, succeeded impressively.
The Bay Citizen, the Chicago News Cooperative, and the Texas Tribune were founded within ten months of each other (beginning in August, 2009). Each signed big-deal contracts with the Times and each had a lot of people funding and rooting for them.
In the time since, the CNC collapsed, the Bay Citizen folded into the Center of Investigative Reporting (despite it having received by far the most funding), and the Texas Tribune became, for reasons detailed below, a thriving operation.
So why did Chicago and California fail where Texas succeeded?
CW Anderson offers several reasons. One is a difference in focus. TT only covers public-interest stories — no sports, no entertainment. CNC proudly covered everything, and the BC tried to pick up the slack that failed newspapers left when they disappeared.
Another is competition. The problem with Chicago and California’s approach is that they covered the same thing as their print rivals, so they had many more competitors. In that numbers game, TT won — no one else was covering public-interest. The San Francisco Bay Area, by contrast, already had The San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, and East Bay Express before BC came along.
And then there’s attitude — TT is a digital-first newsroom in the sense that it actually writes, reports and creates content for online consumption. It posts searchable apps and databases, and gives people interactives like this one. There are videos, podcasts, and all sorts of non-paper related material. CNC and BC did not do this — they pretended they were writing for print.
Anderson includes funding and overwhelming partnerships as other reasons why the other two failed — CNC folded after losing a grant, and BC cited its obligations to the Times as too time consuming.
FJP: For an illustration of what can happen when you don’t adopt a truly digital-first mindset, see when the Bay Citizen forgot to renew its domain name.
CW Anderson is featured in a number of FJP videos, where he talks about entrepreneurial journalism and journalism education, as well as alternative funding and, by god, why journalists should link already.

The Economic Lives of 3 Digital Newsrooms

In this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, CW Anderson wrote a field guide detailing the economic lives of three digital-first newsrooms — three promising and well-funded organizations that have either (in two cases) failed or, in the last, succeeded impressively.

The Bay Citizen, the Chicago News Cooperative, and the Texas Tribune were founded within ten months of each other (beginning in August, 2009). Each signed big-deal contracts with the Times and each had a lot of people funding and rooting for them.

In the time since, the CNC collapsed, the Bay Citizen folded into the Center of Investigative Reporting (despite it having received by far the most funding), and the Texas Tribune became, for reasons detailed below, a thriving operation.

So why did Chicago and California fail where Texas succeeded?

CW Anderson offers several reasons. One is a difference in focus. TT only covers public-interest stories — no sports, no entertainment. CNC proudly covered everything, and the BC tried to pick up the slack that failed newspapers left when they disappeared.

Another is competition. The problem with Chicago and California’s approach is that they covered the same thing as their print rivals, so they had many more competitors. In that numbers game, TT won — no one else was covering public-interest. The San Francisco Bay Area, by contrast, already had The San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, and East Bay Express before BC came along.

And then there’s attitude — TT is a digital-first newsroom in the sense that it actually writes, reports and creates content for online consumption. It posts searchable apps and databases, and gives people interactives like this one. There are videos, podcasts, and all sorts of non-paper related material. CNC and BC did not do this — they pretended they were writing for print.

Anderson includes funding and overwhelming partnerships as other reasons why the other two failed — CNC folded after losing a grant, and BC cited its obligations to the Times as too time consuming.

FJP: For an illustration of what can happen when you don’t adopt a truly digital-first mindset, see when the Bay Citizen forgot to renew its domain name.

CW Anderson is featured in a number of FJP videos, where he talks about entrepreneurial journalism and journalism education, as well as alternative funding and, by god, why journalists should link already.

Journalists and Linking

Linking: it’s a simple concept, sure, but it’s also a controversial one. Why don’t more traditional newsrooms link out to their sources and to other sites? It’s the best way to remain transparent. It’s the immediate bibliography and lifeblood of the net.

In this video, CUNY Professor CW Anderson offers a few guesses as to why news sites are so hesitant. He also suggests that our appreciation of online content may be shifting, and that the lines between our online and physical lives are blurring.

For more additional videos and topics with Chris, see here.

Alternative Funding for New Journalism

In this video, CUNY professor CW Anderson talks about two alternative ways to fund journalism, stressing that help can come from all different directions. His first suggestion is government funding — there’s no reason to be hesitant about it, he says, so long as monetary allocation is transparent.

The second is through foundation processes. Anderson cites the Knight Foundation, a major supporter of journalism innovation, as a good example of his vision. But private funding on a national scale is not enough — local foundations should support newsrooms and new projects in their communities and cities.

For more of Chris’s good ideas, see his other videos.

Teaching Entrepreneurial Journalism

Thinking about j-school? This video is a good example of what the more progressive programs are beginning to teach.

Here, CUNY Professor CW Anderson tells us about his Entrepreneurial Journalism course, where his students study new (and theoretical) business models, meet industry people, and then pitch then their own “journalism business.” The first class was a mixed bunch, he told us, just like any handful of people would be — some were excited by the challenge, others found it off-putting. But almost all of them, he said, had to grapple with the realization that getting a job at a daily might not be the best out-of-college move anymore.

For more from Chris, see these FJP videos and look for his book, Networking the News: The Struggle to Rebuild Metropolitan Journalism, 1997-2011 later this year from Temple University Press.

Journalism and Democracy

In this video, CUNY Professor CW Anderson imagines the future of journalism and its changing place in democracy. Partisan reporting, Anderson says, will thrive alongside some big names from today – like, say, the New York Times – to serve as news for the educated and the upper class. Will this reflect itself the democracy we live in? Anderson conjures up images of old torchlight parades and globalization, the Clinton impeachment and political apathy to remind us that democracy isn’t unchanging but is influenced by its press, its time, and what its citizens think of themselves.

FJP: Heavy stuff! See our first video with Chris here, and expect more from our interview with him soon.

CW Anderson on new ways of reporting (hint: cite gadflies)

In this video, CUNY Professor CW Anderson tells us why reporters need to change the way they see themselves and their work. In the past, he says, reporting was a fairly routine job — you knew who knew what, and you were the one who broke the story. But anyone working in a newsroom today, he says, has to consider the gadflies. We’ll upload more videos on this topic and others from our talk with Chris over the next few days.

CW Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Media Culture at CUNY, where he teaches Entrepreneurial Journalism and covers topics such as journalism’s place in culture and changing definitions of the “audience.” He regularly blogs for Nieman Lab and The Atlantic, and his book Networking the News: The Struggle to Rebuild Metropolitan Journalism, 1997-2011 will be released later this year by Temple University Press.