Poynter is hosting another conference in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Journalism That Matters: Adapting Journalism to the New News Ecology
The conference will take place March 1 – 4, 2009.
The New News Ecology means new jobs, new tools, new relationships, new
But journalism’s very survival — at least its values and functions — depends
on the ability of news organizations — and citizens — to adapt to a
dramatically evolving landscape.
Where, now, does the news industry end, and begin? As some newsrooms shrink and
morph, what — and where — are the new roles for journalists — and journalism —
in a broader civic sphere? How do we match journalism with the work of
non-profit organizations, government, civic and even advocacy groups . . .
without abandoning its core values and functions to democracy? Is it time for a
national journalism service corp?
Somehow, not being in school anymore just makes me more interested in the evolution of curriculum at journalism schools.
No, it’s not a subconscious desire to teach. I’ve not the temperament for that.
But I’ve been collecting information about what’s being taught, perhaps in the hopes that they’ll teach something I don’t know, thereby giving me an excuse to go back to school.
My, that sounds arrogant. But I only mean that I’ve been through the traditional journalism curriculum, took some online media courses and taught myself a hell of a lot in my spare time.
Bryan Murley updated his syllabus for the multimedia course he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.
Most of the syllabus is the same as it was during the last semester, however, I’m spending much more time on audio and video, with lots of repetition and building upon core concepts.
Also, I should note that we’re using Final Cut Express this semester instead of iMovie. I’m done with iMovie until it is more stable and edits audio easier.
Andrew Dunn reports changes to the curriculum at the University of North Carolina, which now requires a class called “Audio-Video Information Gathering.” The UNC curriculum includes specializations choices of Multimedia and Electronic Communication (whatever that is).
This course is a primer on the study of online social networks. We will explore the theory, methods and findings of a growing literature on the topic. We will also explore applications and use cases, particularly in the context of education and library/information services. While online social networks are but a subset of social software, this course should provide you a strong set of fundamentals for exploring the multiple facets of our pervasive online sociality.
I remember Bush’s inauguration as a bad day, because my family disagrees with his beliefs and policies. I don’t remember Clinton’s. And before that, I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than my skinned knees.
But I’ve asked around, and no other inauguration has been compared to Woodstock.
Even though I graduated from college in May, I have trouble with the concept of not being in school. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I love school, and I miss all the things that come with it: being a part of a community, constantly learning new things, the surety of having something to work toward for the next few years.
Obviously, these are all part of living in the real world as well, but they seem harder and less tangible. I’ve lived in the Bronx for three months now, and I still only know the building super and the guy at the convenience store down the street. I’m so busy trying to make rent that I’m not learning the way I was in school. Sure, I learn new things on the job, but it’s very different. As for goals to work toward, instead of aiming for a degree I know I can get, I’m working toward a career in an industry that’s too busy trying to land on its feet to notice my efforts.
There’s no despair in this. Just readjustment. And resolutions.
I don’t need to be in school or have my dream job to learn new things or to be a journalist. I just have to carve out the time to do what needs doing.
So here’s a list of things I want to learn or do, regardless of jobs.
Write. I recently signed up at BrightHub, a science and technology site. I’d like to write at least one article a week. In addition, I want to try some pitching for publications. I think that my deficiency in published writing (due to a proficiency in multimedia and programming) has been detrimental to my career goals.
Produce multimedia and web development projects. I want to keep my skills fresh, even if I’m not using them in day-to-day work. So each month I’ll come up some sort of project to work on, be it video, photography, data analysis…just something to keep me from getting rusty.
Find a way to participate in my new community. I’ve been poking around community boards for the Bronx, and have also found some interesting groups in Manhattan. I want to get involved. There are also a few online communities that I’m a part of that I’d like to be more involved in.
I think these are good ways to be a journalist without the benefits of working for a publication. I’m still busting my butt to get a job in news, but until then, this is a good simulation.
What else can I do to be a journalist without the framework? What tips or advice can you give me for fulfilling these resolutions?
I submitted this for my entry to Publish2’s â€œI Am the Future of Journalismâ€ Contest:
I have the will and the adaptability to be the future of journalism.
It’s not that I know how to write stories, use a video camera and write code.
Those are secondary qualities.
I am passionate about news. Passionate enough to learn new skills, to experiment with technology, to challenge myself to tell stories in multiple dimensions.
The power of news is change. It’s a cliche, but knowledge really is power, and journalists are the disseminators of information.
In journalism school they say “Show, don’t tell.” Somewhat ironically, print stories are limited in this capacity. Radio and television are better at showing.
But the mediums are merging. The buzzword is “convergence,” but what it means is that the media is catching up with technology.
A story is no longer a block of text. It is more than the sum of it’s parts; it includes video, links, databases, infographics and audio. A story is an experience. And when forced to acknowledge wrongness on such a level, how can people but work to change it?
Journalism makes an idealist out of me.
I’ve worked in a cramped college newsroom and a spacious metro daily. But the job was the same: What is the best way to make this information meaningful?
To that end, I’ve used Flash, Twitter, maps, video, podcasts. I’m learning more programming languages, exploring social media and experimenting with the possibilities introduced by the Internet.
Abraham Maslow, a psychologist in the early 20th century, said “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” The more tools we have, the better our stories become, because there isn’t just one way to do it.
I’m going to need a ginormous toolbox.
I don’t dream of working in a smoke-filled newsroom, surrounded by press hats and old coffee. I dream of the day when the world is my newsroom. I’ll work from the streets or my living room, and the physical state of the newsroom will be a server.
(Note: I wrote this a few months ago and forgot about it. I found it while cleaning off my hard drive today. Oops!)
I got a Blackberry Pearl about a year ago, and while I have access to Google Reader and Twitter, (my main sources of news) I just haven’t gotten out of the habit of reading off the larger screen of my laptop.
Many media outlets are pursuing the possibilities of mobile news, having learned from their mistake with the Internet. As mobile phones get more advanced and more people use them, there is an opportunity to capture an audience.
One issue to address when setting out to get news on mobile phones is the variation in technologies used by different phones. Many phones can play video or view websites. All phones can receive text messages, but that can be costly to the user.
Viewing websites on a non-iPhone is a ghastly business. Tiny screens, poor rendering of CSS, graphic-heavy or Flash-based websites, they all make information harder to get at. One solution here is to create a mobile stylesheet that the phone browser will detect.
Another problem is content. Just as people don’t read off a computer screen the way they read a print product, no one wants to read a lengthy feature article on a 2-inch screen.
What kind of content might one want to see on a phone?
Weather and traffic alerts, events, and big, huge, breaking news. Seriously, the feature article can wait till I get home. But if a criminal is running around my neighborhood with a gun, I’d like to know, ASAP.
What about multimedia? I don’t see myself using my phone to go through a complex multimedia package. A video or slideshow, maybe, if I’m really interested. But phones are about “right now” communication. That should be reflected in how news companies approach them.
It may be that the only real solution for phones is better phone software. It doesn’t have to be iPhone quality, but the ability to add “news” to your basic menu would change everything. You could do any kind of feed you want then, while not having to go three steps in just to open a browser.
The Associated Press launched the Mobile News Network. The view on a phone is pretty nice, with a top news home screen, categorized story feeds (you can pick the general topics, and a “saved” category for custom searches). You can set preferences for location and the types of news you want to see. They also do video pretty well, providing various formats. They have applications for Blackberry/iPhone/iPod Touch users.
CNN’s mobile offerings include a Java application, SMS alerts, live TV (for certain providers), and downloadable videos.
The BBC actually explains how they set up several different versions of their mobile site and let your browser choose the best one.
The New York Times offers a mobile site where you can read the NYT blogs, see most e-mailed articles, get alerts for topics or keywords, and browse real estate listings, stocks and weather forecasts. You can also choose to have news sent to your phone via text message. Customers of certain providers can also get access to crossword puzzles.
Fox News provides live video, streaming video clips, the requisite mobile site, and text alerts. Something a little different: they also offer an audio version of FNC, for a monthly fee.
Real World Use
The people most likely to have a compulsion to check the news every few hours, no matter where they are, are journalists. So I rounded up a few and asked about their mobile news habits.
Greg Linch sent me an e-mail after I asked for responses on Twitter.
I check Gmail on my smart phone (an AT&T Tilt), where I might have a New York Times, Washington Post or Miami Herald breaking news e-mail. After checking Gmail, I look at Twitter for other news and any interesting conversations. I also get Miami Herald breaking news text alerts, which include big national and local news.
If I’m away from the computer for an extended period of time — or if I’m bored somewhere — I’ll check Google Reader on my phone. If I just want a quick peek at the latest headlines, I’ll go to the mobile version of a site such as CNN, NYT or the Herald.
Kyle Mitchell is a music writer. He carries an iPod Touch. In an IM conversation, Kyle told me about his news habits.
NYT is one that keeps going down all the time. AP Mobile News is absolutely fantastic: runs fast as hell and top news never contains any bullshit like celebrity news. I check that a few times a day. Google News has a similar setup, but it’s much more clunky.
On my phone, I consume the news via Google Reader and Twitter.
Brett volunteered some advice to media outlets:
I’ll tell you what news organizations should pay attention to: location-based web apps. I click ‘restaurants’ or ‘bars’ and it shows me what’s in my area without me having to input where I am. I guess I’d say try to take advantage of the platform in some way and not just show the latest headlines.
Lyndsey Lewis has an older Nokia, but checks the news on her iPod Touch.
I don’t use my phone, because I have a shitty Nokia phone and it’s hard to read stuff on it. But, I also own an iPod Touch, which I bring with me everywhere and use for news. I have the New York Times app on it and use that almost every day.
So what applications are you using to get the news on your phone? What do you think media outlets should be doing to get people’s attention? What can manufacturers do to make phones easier to use in this context?
Newspapers and other media outlets use wire photos to add art to text stories. But have you noticed how small these photos usually are? Even online, where the spatial limitations of a print product don’t apply, old media outlets persist in shrinking pictures.
As newspapers struggle to figure out how to tell their stories online, many make the mistake of transfering print rules to the web. This results in the small photos and low-quality videos that frustrate so many users.
The Big Picture has created a way to display powerful images in a user-friendly manner.
The MediaShift Innovation Spotlight will run every other week. Please let me know of any innovative projects you are working on or have seen lately. It doesn’t have to be from a major newspaper; it just has to be an innovative blend of journalism and technology. Please e-mail me at mtaylor[at]megantaylor[dot]org to submit a Spotlight recommendation.