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?
I recently joined the Spot.us group on Facebook. I’ve met David Cohn and heard him talk about Spot.us as well as following his blog for quite some time now. His idea is intriguing, and I’ve been pretty excited to see how things might work out for him.
From his message to the group, here are three successfully funded stories:
The second example is ongoing: The SF Election Truthiness Campaign. We raised $2,500 from 74 small donations (average $33) to fact-check political advertisements for the upcoming SF Election.
Just today PBS’ MediaShift blog wrote about it.
He wanted to know if I was interested in discussion content management system options for college media. After my time as online managing editor at The Independent Florida Alligator, struggling with a CMS that liked to fight dirty, I’ve daydreamed of building a modular open-source system myself.
College Publisher is an inappropriate platform for student newspapers
but most newspapers don’t have the resources to custom roll their own
The Alligator uses TownNews, but the idea is the same.
Daniel started a wiki, College News Press, as well as a mailing group to keep track of ideas and coordinate discussion. The wiki includes tasks, benchmarks and platform comparisons.
To create an easy to deploy, simple to use (open source?) content management system (CMS) with varying levels of sophistication that is specifically geared towards the student newspaper and local news market.
To provide abundant knowledge resources to student newspapers interested in switching platforms that have minimal IT manpower.
Daniel is even submitting an application for the Knight News Challenge!
I’m really excited to work on this, even though I’m no longer a member of the college media sector. The two biggest problems with newspaper Web sites are site design and CMS limitations. Hacking a CMS should not be among the things we have to do to be innovative.
The goal, according to Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news, is to “make the NYT programmable. Everything we produce should be organized data.”
More details, if they can be called that:
Once the API is complete, the Times’ internal developers will use it to build platforms to organize all the structured data such as events listings, restaurants reviews, recipes, etc. They will offer a key to programmers, developers and others who are interested in mashing-up various data sets on the site. “The plan is definitely to open [the code] up,” Frons said. “How far we don’t know.”
I haven’t heard anything since then, although the article mentioned that something would be ready “in a matter of weeks.”
That’s right, NPR has an API. (mmm, I love my alphabet soup.)
NPR’s API provides a flexible, powerful way to access your favorite NPR content, including audio from most NPR programs dating back to 1995 as well as text, images and other web-only content from NPR and NPR member stations. This archive consists of over 250,000 stories that are grouped into more than 5,000 different aggregations.
Now, I’m a bit of an NPR junkie, so I’m thinking of ways to access all this information for my personal use. And I can see how it could be useful as an internal product for NPR.
But how would another news organization use this? Oh wait, they can’t:
The API is for personal, non-commercial use, or for noncommercial online use by a nonprofit corporation which is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
This one doesn’t make sense either:
Content from the API must be used for non-promotional, internet-based purposes only. Uses can include desktop gadgets, blog posts and widgets, but must not include e-newsletters.
And way down at the bottom of the page is a huge block of text describing excluded content. Boooo.
Check out these blog posts from Inside NPR.org, where they explain some of their decisions.
I think this was a great first step, but if you’re gonna jump on the bandwagon, make sure you don’t miss and land on the hitch.
Further, really understand what purpose this bandwagon has. If you’re going to free your data, free it! Let people and news organizations use it (always with a link back) for all kinds of crazy things. Remember kids, sharing is caring!
This morning I met with my IRE mentor, Steve Doig, who is a CAR teacher at the University of Arizona. We talked about some of the work I’d done, people in the industry to learn from, and ways to stay on top of projects at different newspapers.
I love mentorship programs because I get a basically captive audience for my pro-online and data visualization ranting. I guess it’s also a networking shortcut.
I spent a frustrating hour and a half tracking down an internet connection so I could clear out the ::gasp:: 1000+ items that have accumulated in Google Reader after 3 days of neglect.
Then I went to a session called Cutting Edge Digital Journalism from Around the World.
The session was led by Rosental Alves, University of Texas; Sandra Crucianelli, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; and Fernando Rodriguez, Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism.
One of the things that surprised me was the idea that in Central/South America, CAR/investigative reporting/databases are viewed as â€œas a gringo thing.â€
Rodriguez showed off a database he worked on of politicians in Brazil, called â€œ25,000 politicians and their personal assets.â€ Politicians have to submit a certain amount of information in order to run for office, including a listing of assets. It took 2 years to track down all this information because the records were not organized and were available only in hard format. Eventually, the database could provide a view of who the politicians were.
The database was published online and stories were written for the newspaper (Folha) as well. Readers started to call in and report inconsistencies. Other newspapers started to use the database for their own stories.
Crucianelli presented a way to monitor government documents online in 4 different countries. (El Salvador, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua) All 4 countries had recently changed their access laws for public information.
She found that Panama had the best online access to government documents. El Salvador had the worst access.
At noon, Matt Waite presented PolitiFact. Sexy, sexy Politifact. He gave a tour of all the features of the site as well as showing us a little of the back-end: the Django admin setup.
I followed Matt and Aron to a session with Knight grant winner David Cohn, talking about Spot.Us.
Spot.Us is supposed to be an answer to the question: How will we fund reporting that keeps communities informed?
The answer is based on the premise of citizen journalism. Writing is not the only means of participation.
On Spot.Us, anyone can create a story idea. Reporters can pitch stories based on contributed ideas to their communities. People in the community commit money for pitches. Then the reporters cover the stories. Some of the money goes to pay editors. The stories can be republished for free or published exclusively if the original donor is refunded.
And that’s it for me today. I’ll be in for some afternoon sessions tomorrow.
On Friday I set out down Prenzlauer Allee toward Alexanderplatz to find a subject for my class project. I figured that if I walked all the way the the Brandenburg Gate and couldn’t find a subject somewhere along the way, I need to go back to school.
I’m not sure how Germans view newspapers and journalists, but it can’t be good. There was a guy in Alexanderplatz holding a sign and talking to people about the vegan lifestyle. He got all excited when he found out I was American, because his group gets all their statistics and facts from American vegan groups. After about 30 mins I tried to get him to be my subject, and he sorta freaked out. Time to move on.
My next attempt was down by St. Marienkirsch. A bunch of tough-looking punks were gathered around a black van with their dogs. I walked up and sorta hung around until someone spoke to me in English. Turns out the van is owned by a group that brings food to Berlin’s homeless. The woman in charge didn’t want to do an interview either.
I actually did have to walk all the way to the Gate. The horse-drawn carriage drivers didn’t speak enough English, the performance artists were, well, performing.
Then I saw a bright pink sign. It said “Bad Portraits.” Not even thinking about my project, I started talking to Neb, the man behind the sign. About an hour later, he agreed to let me come back the next day and take photos.
I met up with Michelle and Robyn later to do sunset shots of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.
Most of Saturday I spent shooting. Neb was a great subject; acted like I wasn’t there.
Yesterday I went to a huge flea market. It looked like 50 people had emptied their attics out onto tables. There was a guy selling only masking tape. Another table was filled with screwdrivers.
Hopefully today will be a shopping day. I still need to find a German army jacket. I finished my project and other work for the class this morning.
We’ve had a lot more free time lately, which has been nice. I took some time to recover from the past few days of walking and biking to edit photos and think about a subject for my project.
Having just come away from 4 years of sleeping 2-4 hours a night, 8 hours is such a luxury! I crash out around midnight and wake up around 8 a.m. This is great for this trip since I have plenty of good light time.
Yesterday we went to a meeting with Andrew Purvis of the TIME magazine Berlin bureau. He talked about how to break into international reporting and some of the risks involved in reporting in places like Africa.
He and intern Laura Laabs also talked about the unique personality of Berlin as a city. It’s certainly like no place I’ve ever been, and is becoming one of my favorite cities.
Next was a trip to Mercedes World. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this one – I can’t tell one car from another and don’t particularly care for the luxury ideals promoted by brands like Mercedes. I took the opportunity to take a load off and sat around waiting for everyone else.
The last “group activity” was supposed to be a visit to the Helmut Newton museum. But, FAIL, the museum was closed.
The zoo was really depressing. I’ve never seen so many bars and cages. In the bird house, a lot of birds were plucking themselves, and the water in most of the tanks looked like lime Kool Aid.
We went to the erotica museum hoping for some giggles, but it seemed pretty tame. Old Asian drawings and sculptures dominated, along with homoerotic sketches, a gold penis the size of a 7-year-old, and a sex store. I was unimpressed.
By now our feet were aching and we needed food. We headed to Hackescher-Markt for dinner. A street cafe called Rocco was the nearest source of seating and sustenance. Sadly, the food was bland and the service awful, especially considering the prices!
Today I’m planning to go solo and get my project done, or at least started. I’ve been uploading dozens of photos to my Flickr account, so check ’em out!
The days are starting to melt together. Was it yesterday or the day before that we had a walking tour through former East Berlin? When did we go to the Allied Museum? Were those chicks or dudes making out on the bus? Did those break dancers really just try to charge for taking photos in a public plaza? How many times can we get on the wrong bus going in the wrong direction?
The pressure is on: our projects are due in one week. I have a few subject ideas, but nothing concrete yet. We’re going to have a lot more free time from now on, so I’m planning on going back to some cool places and re-shooting.
I’m really tired of trying to get my shots with 15 other people trying to get the same shot or otherwise getting in my way.
After the tour, Professor Freeman told us about a carnival that was taking place in a different neighborhood of the city. There was some discussion within a faction of the group about ditching the carnival and going after hot showers instead. But we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Points for adventurousness began to melt away as we were led through a park whose occupants looked to be selling happiness in powder, pill or plant form.
When we emerged from the trail of drug dealers, there was a clearing of pathetic little rides and bored carnies. And mud. And soon, rain. The most depressing carnival on earth.