posts about or somewhat related to ‘online journalism’

In the good old days, the journalism business was subsidized by all of the other things a newspaper contained apart from the news. This included classified ads, obviously, but also horoscopes, gardening columns, the comic page and other add-ons that had little or nothing to do with news or journalism. Gradually the internet has taken most of these pillars away, and left newspapers with just the hard news — in other words, the only thing no one wants to pay for.

Mathew Ingram, paidContent: The unfortunate fact is that online journalism can’t survive without a wealthy benefactor or cat GIFS, 

FJP: A sad but true summary of how news was subsidized in the past, and what its options are today.

There is no other exciting time to be in journalism, from a technology standpoint, than now. (Although the fear of layoffs does not sit well.). To witness newsrooms transition to mobile, social media and digital-first platforms, and be there on the frontlines of it all, is exactly where agents of change need to be. We are part of history. Not looking in from the outside. Not being critical of the news media 24-7, although I do this quite regularly. But in it. Making decisions that stick or fail. I get goose bumps just thinking about this.

Amy Zerba, amyzerba.com. Difference Between Tenure-Track Professor and a Journalist.

She just left her job teaching to join the Times. Sounds like she can justify that decision.

Global Voices and the Power of We →

See Global Voices, a citizen journalism site that does an incredible job of providing passionate people with a place to coordinate and research, write, translate and distribute online news. Above is a case study of a land grab in Brazil, and follows the story from idea to Italian, among other languages.

For Students: a New Multimedia Storytelling Competition
From the multimedia magazine the Atavist. Beginning January 1, 2013, students are invited to participate in the above competition by submitting a long-form, nonfiction story that isn’t just writing — the judges want to see photography, video, narration and illustrations. Whatever’s appropriate and fits into the Atavist’s editorial platform.
There are openings for high school, college and grad students. Enter here, and good luck.

For Students: a New Multimedia Storytelling Competition

From the multimedia magazine the Atavist. Beginning January 1, 2013, students are invited to participate in the above competition by submitting a long-form, nonfiction story that isn’t just writing — the judges want to see photography, video, narration and illustrations. Whatever’s appropriate and fits into the Atavist’s editorial platform.

There are openings for high school, college and grad students. Enter here, and good luck.

Journals aren’t going to stop giving us stories, because stories are the main attraction. But lists are the service. They are also the frontier, because journals on the whole suck at lists. That’s what we’ve been learning over and over and over again, every time something Too Big happens. (Sandy, Katrina, the Arab Spring, the financial meltdown, yada yada.) We get plenty of stories, but not enough lists. Or, not the lists we need if we’re affected by the event.

Doc Searls, Doc Searls Weblog. Journalism is Outlining.

Scholar Doc Searls, continuing Jeff Jarvis’ recent sentiment that reporters didn’t give us enough useable information during and immediately after Hurricane Sandy, considers the difference between telling stories and compiling information.

Human interest pieces on those who lost their homes are important for society. But so are lists of what subway lines are down and what countries closed their schools, as both Searls and Jarvis point out. 

Here’s Jarvis:

I wanted lists of what streets were closed. I wanted lists of what streets the power company was finally working on. Oh, the utility, JCP&L, gave my town, Bernards Township, lists of streets, but they were bald-faced lies (I know because my street was on that list but their crews weren’t on my street). The town and our local media outlets only passed on these lists as fact without verifying. I wanted journalists to add value to those lists, going out to verify whether there were crews working on those streets. In a word: report.

Doc, who liveblogged the storm from Cambridge, MA, kept the Weather Channel on for much of the evening. Looking back on his work that night as well as that of other journalists, Doc that the one-man-band movement can work here. He considers the two approaches to coverage — storytelling and information gathering — too much for a single journalist to do well.

In the appendum to his piece, Doc explains his position further:

Giving somebody a story when they need a list is a bit like giving somebody who’s fallen overboard a meal rather than a life preserver. It’s best to give both, at the right time and place. One of my points above is that no one journal, or journalist, should have to do it all. A related point I didn’t make is that pulling together lists, and linking lists together, is less thankful work than writing stories.

So they don’t hate stories! They just want stories and information. They, and all of us, want to know how to get to work after a storm like Sandy comes through. We all want to be informed. 

Doc, one of the co-writers of the seminal Cluetrain Manifesto, can leave us with this, which sums things up quite well (also from the appendum):

Built into the Web’s DNA, however, is a simple call to be useful. That too is a call of journalism. It is a more essential calling than the one to be interesting, or provocative, or award-worthy, or any of the other qualities we like to see in stories. A dictionary is poor literature, but a highly useful document. It is also a list. A bookshelf with several dictionaries on it is an outline. So is a library.

When I got that journalism degree back in 1974 newspapers were heading toward near-monopoly status and network news divisions thought of themselves as public trusts more than businesses. For the individual editor and reporter, the profession was a calling and finding the scoop was all that mattered. Today’s students seem to be realists. They get that journalism is a business. They understand that the who, what, when, where and why of their careers is as much about an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit as it is about the story. Industry veterans, far too many still stuck in an old mindset, would do well to spend a little time in the classroom.

Lewis Dvorkin, Chief Products Officer at Forbes, visited my class at NYU earlier this week. He told us stories about start-ups and running Forbes online, and we asked him questions about everything. He’s summarized the Q&A here.

Very useful for young journalists. -Blake

Mitchell Stephens on Living in an Amateur Society

NYU Professor Mitchell Stephens is convinced that the steady rise of non-professionals creating journalism content is a very good thing for news. We asked him to explain.

His reasons are several: to begin with, our general public is better educated today than ever before, the cost and expertise required to edit video and publish writing have dropped. And, he says, we online users, being such a large and diverse group, have a good handle on what makes good content and what doesn’t. We don’t need to teach media literacy, Stephens believes, because the competition among those making journalism sorts the good from the bad, and people know good content when they see it.

For more information, see his books A History of News and The Rise of the Image the Fall of the Word. We’ll upload more of what he had to say over the next few weeks.

FJP: See here for more of our interview with Mitchell Stephens.

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.

The future of content on the web – content that gets discovered, creates value, and builds audiences – is not cheap text cranked out by content farms. It’s high quality, editorial and entertainment created by experienced journalists and passionate bloggers. The future is a social media world, where humans are the arbiters of quality, and search algorithms reward sharing and human readability.

The Internet means publishers should no longer be confined to the limits of in-office staff, nor should they be forced to burn fuel to put reporters on the ground around the world. Creative talent lives everywhere; it can and should work from wherever it lives. And any quality publisher should have access to it. Though we may live far apart, the web can bring freelancers together into a community whose value far exceeds the sum of its members. This is the freelance revolution.

The delineation between “media company” and any other enterprise is no longer relevant; we embrace the notion that any entity – brand, nonprofit, news organization, or individual – can be a quality publisher. We believe the business model that “saves journalism” is myriad: Commerce, sponsorship, paid content, and philanthropy will sustain the craft and maintain journalistic integrity, so long as motives and authors are transparent.

— From the Contently company manifesto.

Ask Clay Shirky a question
Internet scholar, author and NYU professor Clay Shirky is sitting online right now, answering questions at the Guardian website for their Battle for the Internet series. Ask away!

Ask Clay Shirky a question

Internet scholar, author and NYU professor Clay Shirky is sitting online right now, answering questions at the Guardian website for their Battle for the Internet series. Ask away!