Wednesday, April 29, 2009
You have to wonder whether these guys came up with this nonsense on their own -- or if they are echoing right-wing talking points courtesy of email blasts. What we can only hope is that their ridiculous racist rants do not go viral.
Sick and twisted that at a time when real journalists are hanging on to their jobs by a thread, these right wing bloviators -- whose job is to do nothing but spin -- are thriving. Even more disturbing is the fact that the junk these nutbags spew is considered news by a sizable percentage of the population. bk
Monday, April 27, 2009
What I wonder is why there needs to be any distinction at all between print and digital when it comes to recognizing excellence. The awards are for the reporting, not the means of delivery, right? That should put sites like fivethirtyeight.com and Talking Points Memo clearly in the running.
From his op-ed:
Last December, the Pulitzer organization sought a desperately needed boost – in part, perhaps, to spare the awards from becoming an anachronism amid the growth of Twitter, the blogosphere, and other channels for news unknown just a few years ago. It decided to allow entries in all 14 journalism categories from web-only news organizations. (The ruling exempted the work of websites operated by print magazines and broadcasters, even though that work competes with newspaper sites for readers.)
Of the 1,028 total journalism submissions from around the country, there were 65 entries from online enterprises. Thirty-seven online-only news organizations entered. But only one was mentioned by name in the Pulitzer results: Politico (and it has a limited print version), whose editorial cartoonist was a finalist.
From the article:
Last October, Portfolio’s frequency was cut from 12 times a year to 10 and its Web site, Portfolio.com, laid off the majority of its staff. The magazine was designed as an upscale business publication and won a National Magazine Award in 2008 for its “Briefs” section, but it failed to make significant inroads in the crowded business magazine market, which includes BusinessWeek, Fortune and Forbes.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Read it here.
Here's a taste:
We drove around the city for hours, looking at places where journalism had had an impact. At police headquarters, [Bronstein] told of The Chronicle’s coverage of police brutality that forced the department to create a database tracking misbehaving officers. He talked about the paper’s AIDS coverage as we drove through the Castro and past San Francisco General Hospital, where the AIDS wards once overflowed. Parked outside the Giants’ ballpark, he praised the paper’s reporting on Barry Bonds and the steroids scandal, noting that “there are far fewer fly balls going out in the bay.”His tour ended with cold comfort, as he observed that longer life expectancies may keep us on life support. “For people who still love print, who like to hold it, feel it, rustle it, tear stuff out, do their I. F. Stone thing, it’s important to remember that people are living longer,” he said. “That’s the most hopeful thing you can say about print journalism, that old people are living longer.”
The first is a longform ode to the land from the Santa Barbara Independent that gives us a full-on sense of place: we roam the land and get to know it -- and the endangered species who call it home -- before we are hit with the current conflict that may compromise its pristine beauty.
The second is a straight-up news story for Time.com that focuses on the current battle over the land between the environmentalists who want to preserve it -- and the companies fighting to make use of the land as a massive solar power farm.
Note the difference in style, voice and focus. In the first piece, the current conflict is the newshook. In the second, it's the story. Note also the way Matt brought out the competing interests, and the difficulties in sorting out priorities, when it comes to land management -- and going green. bk
Here's just a taste:
What I bemoan is the cheapening of the exclamation mark in all forms of written communication. For the past half century, Strunk and White's classic little primer, "The Elements of Style," has provided students with a north star to clear writing. In its simple, straightforward, scolding tone, it admonishes writers to reserve exclamation marks for use after "true exclamations or commands." Or, as many an editor has reminded me over the years in calling for restraint in punctuation or typography: "We have to save something for the Second Coming."
Today, the exclamation mark has become so common that its power has been lost. In fact, it has become so expected in e-mail, texts, Facebook and 140-character Twitter communications that its absence is considered a statement in itself.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
What I find interesting is the fact that this kind of discussion never really took place when it should have -- ten years ago -- when "new media" actually was new. I also find it interesting that my intro j. kids -- "the architects of the change" -- have come up with as many, or more creative solutions after only four weeks on the job, er, in the class. Makes you wonder: where were the smart guys when we needed them?
While he encouraged the new generation of journalists to be creative, to find their own way to dig and deliver the news, he didn't say much about that other essential -- their paychecks.
From his speech (why i cannot get rid of the italics, i have no clue):
Not surprisingly, we're now in the midst of an industry-wide debate over what all this means for the future of news. Virtually everyone with a stake in journalism has weighed in. Some fear that journalism will vanish if papers no longer hit the doorstep. Others say that the delivery medium is meaningless; they don't care if news is printed, or not, as long as quality content remains. But the future of journalism is not dependent upon the future of newspapers and as all this is debated back and forth that's very important to remember.
The news business now faces real practical questions, such as how to pay for digital content and how to preserve standards online. But beyond these logistical challenges, we have to ask whether printed newspapers can remain relevant, or whether they're becoming anachronisms like paper checks and fax machines. And if digital news is the future, how much of the old system can we -- or should we -- preserve?
The reality is, in short, that newspapers followed their longtime customers down the rabbit hole and lost track of their future readers. They are scrambling to adapt, and everyone has a different idea about how to fix the problem.
I know for sure that no one idea is perfect, and no single idea will work instantly. This will be a difficult process that newspapers should have started for real years ago. That said, it's still doable if newspaper owners move away from their legacy business model, and if they follow what their consumers have come to want and expect from the Internet.
As a starting point, I think that online newspapers need to think of themselves as technology companies, as much as media companies. They need to recognize that new technologies have changed the culture of news, and that online readers want engagement instead of passive delivery. There is also the Internet culture and economy of linking online, a culture that newspapers need to accept (and see as an opportunity). And also, as a friend of mine at MTV said to me a few years ago, ubiquity is the new exclusivity. That means that news outlets need to get their content out there in as many places as they can.
And remember ubiquity is the new exclusivity. The way for newspapers to be somewhere is to be everywhere.
I want to stress again what I said to the student in Michael Shapiro's class many months ago. Journalism has a great future. It isn't going anywhere. Nothing could ever replace the invaluable role that journalists play in our society. And as the Internet grows, news will only improve... so become part of the future and jump in. The impact you can make today vs. just a few short years ago -- by breaking a story online, by creating a blog that will make a difference, by starting a site from scratch and being able to build a brand in one year is what it's all about. Sometimes I'm very jealous I'm not you 25 all over again. But just sometimes.
Finally, here's a post on the speech from Portfolio.com's Alexandra Fenwick, who was there. A student at the J-School, she has a slightly different take on what Lerer had to say.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
What may be a surprise, however, are these indicators that online-onlies may not provide enough cash to save daily journalism, at least not yet: The article cites Scarborough Research, which found that the number of adults who read newspapers only on the web was a meager 4 percent.
What's even more of a surprise was the fact that the traffic to the website for the Seattle Post Intelligencer -- which recently killed its print edition -- fell off the list completely, down 23 percent over the past year.
Could it be, posits Jennifer Saba, the article's author, that it takes print to drive people online? Scary thought, especially as newspapers continue to shut down -- or threaten to do so.
Or could it be that when we go looking for for online-onlies, we're looking for sites such as HuffPo and Talking Points Memo that provide a whole new model?
No answers -- but you have to think that, maybe, that London study got it right. bk
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
From the piece on sfgate.com, the online version the SF Chron:
"No candidate has ever used all of these tools at once - and it had to happen with a candidate from the Bay Area. This is the capital of new media," said Newsom's political consultant Eric Jaye, who noted that San Francisco-based Twitter, Palo Alto-based Facebook and San Bruno-based YouTube, now a subsidiary of Google, are all located in the region.
Jaye said the mayor has amassed some 270,000 followers on Twitter - second only to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - as well as 40,000 on Facebook, 150,000 names on his campaign e-mail lists, and reaches thousands of others with his regular blogs on the Huffington Post and Daily Kos, two progressive Web sites.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Ana Marie Cox in the WaPo on the Washington Press briefing room as the place "where news goes to die."
Jack Shafer on Slate re Steve Brill's plan to charge for news content -- and why it won't work.
Something interesting in Seattle: Just as the Seattle PI went all-digital (at 12 percent capacity) several of the former staffers came online with the Seattle PostGlobe, with many of the former PI staffers volunteering their time and expertise in collaboration with both a local TV station and an alt-weekly . What I find cool is not only the entrepreneurial spirit, but also the drive to keep news from the riverbanks alive and well.
Here's a note from one of the writers. I'd post the link, but damn. I can' find it anymore.
By Kery Murakami
The last you saw of us, we had the stunned look of many people in this economy -- suddenly jobless, our futures and our careers uncertain.
Many of us were in tears.
We became the subject of news ourselves, on TV, in the papers, in the blogosphere, as the pages of the died.
It's been almost a month. But we haven't left.
Today, we -- former P-I journalists -- are embarking on a new stage in our careers, hoping to fulfill our life's mission in a different way. We want to keep letting you know what's really going on in this city.
At first, we're doing this as volunteers. But what you'll find on this Web site is a story much larger than ours.
As in Denver, where the journalists of the now-defunct also are starting their own news site, we're forging on because we believe newspaper-quality journalism needs to continue even as newspapers close.
We're relying on you -- the community -- to keep us going.The possibilities are exciting, because we're resurfacing with new friends: KCTS public television and the .
We'll begin by bringing the work of former P-I journalists to our site. We're planning next to work with public television, and possibly public radio journalists, on stories and special projects, combining the best of our approaches.
Ultimately, we're exploring creating a combined news organization based on the idea that distributing information should be not just for profit.
Our venture with the Weekly means we'll be able to bring to you the longer-form journalism and daily posts from its site. From a business standpoint, the Weekly's national ad staff will be selling advertising for this site.
And of course, we'll offer some of the best journalists of the old P-I you miss.
Kathy Mulady will be going back to patrolling the corridors of City Hall. editorial board, and Larry Johnson, a veteran P-I foreign correspondent, will bring you commentary on Seattle and the world. And our site will have the professional photojournalism of former P-I photographers Grant Haller, Mike Kane and others. will return to the city's streets to tell you the stories only he can. Art Thiel will write for this site as well as others. Joe Copeland, who wrote for the P-I
Please bear with us because this is just the beginning. Coming soon will be a way to comment on our stories. Hopefully, as our colleagues pick themselves up, more of them will be back with us doing their jobs.
Yes, the P-I we knew is gone. But we're still here with our notebooks and computers.
Now it's up to you.
We'd especially like to thank KCTS President and CEO Moss Bresnahan for his support, and Rennie Sawade, of WashTech, and former P-I designer Elana Winsberg for putting in countless hours to develop our Web site.
The magazine began its irreverent life in San Francisco some 42 years ago, and quickly became the chronicle of the counter-culture. Within a few years, it became a pivotal voice for everything from rock and roll to politics, boosting the careers of Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Ben Fong-Torres and a host of others who were attracted by the ability to write long, take chances and create their own style.
Go here for a quick backgrounder on a glimpse of why the mag mattered and what we lost when the book went mainstream. bk
Here's the backstory: Apparently, Morrissey blew off a concert at the Paramount in Oakland Saturday claiming illness -- a day after cutting short a concert at Coachella because the odor of cooking meat wafted his way -- but then was seen at the very same time he was supposed to be up on stage across the Bay, watching another show at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.
None of which is all that interesting if you're not a Morrissey fan ((FTR: I am not. I refer to a friend who once characterized his music thus: "hide the knives -- I'm feeling depressed"). What IS interesting, however, is the source of the reporting -- tweets, blogs, and cell phone pix -- and the questions that arise because of it. WAS Morrissey at the ? DID he cut short his concert at Coachella because of burnt meat? Can you trust this reporting? Should reporters report on it? How do you verify it? Is any or all of it true?
If, as Gordie posits, the story illustrates the freakish and somewhat disturbing power of twitter, you have to wonder: why is it that, when reporters' credibility is often on the line, we are so quick to trust Susie from Ohio in 140 characters or fewer?
It's all true. There are youtube links showing him walk off the stage and making the meat comments. (There are also press reports covering the Coachella show). Kristeen Young, who was performing at DNA, has commented publicly on Morrissey's presence. And there are photos of Morrissey at DNA from the various Susie's. Now who knows exactly why he canceled the show. It was officially because of "illness."
I thought this was very interesting for the very reason you stated. By journalism standards, this is all strangely sourced. Can you trust a youtube video that says it's of Morrissey at Coachella? On the other hand, can you trust a reporter for the NY Times using unnamed sources, especially if it's ? I'm not endorsing either/or, but it is fascinating to see what a confusing time this is for journalists and the concept of the verifiable truth. And a blogger alerting fans via twitter and someone actually responding and going to DNA and confronting Morrissey is very weird.
I also think it would be interesting to speculate on how easy it would be to fake elements of this story. Then again, when newspapers dutifully reprint official statements from presidents that they know aren't true...well...that's fake news as well, right?
Again, not taking sides, but very interesting and confusing issues. Too bad this wasn't about a story that really mattered.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Many are including classes on the business of journalism. (long overdue?) All are addressing multiple platforms. Most still focusing on the underlying principles of good journalism -- “' it’s the soup and not the bowl that provides the nourishment we need,” as Tom Fiedler, the dean of the College of Communication at Boston University, he is quoted in the Times piece. “We want to teach our students to make a great soup. What they serve it in matters little.”
Obviously, the bowl matters too. Which is why almost all J. schools are including classes in multi-media in their curriculum.
And which is why I teach our students, from day one of class one, that their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to be the architects of the change.
You'll find a long line of posts on this issue here on jlinx, especially over the past month. Search for journalism school in the search box. bk
Friday, April 17, 2009
Does anyone know how that percentage compares to the job cuts in other industries? Might be a way to gauge how much of the newspaper deathwatch is due to a failed business model -- and how much is due to a tanking economy.
If the scale dips in favor of the latter, maybe there is a chance that TK's optimistic prediction (er, false hope?) that five years from now the newspaper industry will be back on its feet, will come to pass.
Seems like a question Jack could answer.
2. Of the many of the online news sources that have sprung up to fill the watchdog void on the local level, most have not begun to address what ELSE we lose with the demise of local newspapers: coverage of the local culture and the arts -- the riverbanks stuff. Or sports. Or even reporter-writen obits. Clearly, with limited resources, the investigative imperative trumps the rest. But we need other stuff, too. It is, in fact, where local reporting and writing often shine, and where you get a sense of your own community.
Is anyone addressing this? On a professional level? Just asking.
btw, check out the post below this one. much better. bk
Thursday, April 16, 2009
And with most print products still making at least minimal profits, you have to wonder: why the rush?
The study focused on Europe's first online-only, the Finnish financial newspaper Taloussanomat, which went from print to digital in December 2007. The aftermath? Costs fell by 50 percent, but readership declined by 22 percent and revenues dropped by more than 75 percent.
Whether or not the findings will apply to other online-onlies, especially in the U.S. -- too early to tell. But according to Neil Thurman, one of the study's authors, there are a couple of issues that might be relevant:
You can read the whole study here. bk
"Just having the print product out there on news stands does promote the website. They also cut their newsroom staff, and so the quality of content did suffer.
"But probably the most important factor is that it's a different medium that is used in a different way. You might spend one and a half minutes a day with the brand online, instead of half an hour a day with a printed product."
Doing good work, but on a shoestring. From the story:
Jay Weiner is one of MinnPost's star reporters. A former sportswriter, his relentless coverage of the Norm Coleman-Al Franken recount case at MinnPost won him the Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award for excellence in breaking news. The 54-year-old Weiner, who has been a full-time daily journalist for 31 years, took a buyout from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in June of 2007. At the newspaper, he made $80,000 a year with a pension, health insurance, vacations and overtime. Weiner, who has two kids in college, now makes $700 a week, working as many as 60 hours a week with no vacations, no overtime, no healthcare and no pension, on contract for MinnPost.
"Now I have to work 52 weeks a year to make $35,000 and pay for my own Internet access, phone, notebooks and pens," he says. Yet even as he wonders how long he can continue to afford to do this gig, he revels in the excitement of working at a start-up news organization, not a shrinking newspaper.
"I am so happy to not be at the newspaper," he says. "We're growing, there is freedom, we're all involved in a product that we really want to make as good as possible. Everybody has a certain amount of optimism that this can be something great." For the moment, Weiner cobbles together other freelance projects on the side to supplement his income from MinnPost.
He also has a prediction about the fourth value the digital bosses may soon use to measure the worth of individual news stories. Could be chilling: all celebs, all the time?
From his column:
In the old days -- way back in the late 20th century, before the Internet took hold -- a newspaper could celebrate a scoop for 24 hours. No more. Today, it lasts as long as it takes for an editor in another newsroom to press the "send" button, immediately matching the exclusive.Then there is the business consideration. For many newsrooms, the process of getting a scoop may no longer be cost-effective. On the Web, a scoop may not be the most widely read piece on a site. That matters, as we move more toward a world of accountability. Often, media bosses determine an online story's success by how many clicks it attracted.The Internet makes it possible for publishers and editors to measure a story's worth according to three criteria: most read, most emailed and most reader comments generated.As if this new reality of digital publishing isn't unsettling enough for a reporter or a columnist to ponder, coming soon to a Web site near you: The powers-that-be will clamor to add a fourth variable. They'll be measuring precisely how much time readers/consumers are spending on each individual story.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The future of journalism may well be up to them.
Figuring it all out -- or trying to -- can be scary or thrilling, depending on your point of view. (Or, I guess, whether or not you have some means of support.) King Kaufman, writing today in Salon, sees it as the latter. Read what he has to say here.
Like his attitude. bk
Monday, April 13, 2009
Brian Stolis writes on TechCrunch that maybe we should look to social media to learn how to save good journalism. Some plausible points, but I wish he wouldn't use "journalist" and "content provider" in the same graf.
He also doesn't address the issue of the paycheck: Reporting costs money, no matter where the "content" ends up. Finding a new means of distribution may make sense, but will it make enough money to pay people to get out of the building?
I do like the term "statusphere", however. And yet.
Apparently some of the cutting edge folks want out of the loop. Go here to read a piece by AP reporter Martha Irvine on social network fatigue: the growing numbers of twenty- and thirty-somethings who find that tweets, apparently, are for the birds. bk
Friday, April 10, 2009
From the post:
Journalism schools are like foot-binding. They force you into a style that a bunch of dinosaurs all agreed was acceptable a zillion years ago. So in an age of blogging, you have no voice. In fact, if I were in J-school now, I’d have my knuckles rapped for using the rhetorical “you” in those last two sentences.Really?!
Lacy hits some good targets, but basically misses the point. J. School isn't about newspapers or how news get delivered or any particular style. Never was. It's about journalism (Journalism School: not just a clever name) Inverted pyramids, blog posts, sound slides, 90-second videos, tweets, blah and blah -- who cares? With the probable exception of literary and literate magazine writing, just about anyone can learn any of the forms in no time flat. Learning to report, however, learning what matters and why, and how to make the myriad decisions that underlie good journalism, that's a whole different story.
And whether or not you have the freedom to write the word "you" when you're on the job ... It's really not the reason to blow off j. school.
I agree that you might be able to learn just as much on the job -- if you have a good editor -- as you will in a classroom, but there's this: how are you going to get that job in the first place?
I did like the photo of Ed Asner, aka "Lou Grant". bk
p.s. (go here to see who New York Magazine considers the dinosaurs now.)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
.... As many have pointed out, more people are spending more time reading news and analysis than ever before. They're just doing it online. For centuries people valued the content of newspapers enough to pay what it cost to produce them (either directly or by patronizing advertisers). We're in a transition, destination uncertain. Arianna Huffington may wake up some morning to find The Washington Post gone forever and the nakedness of her ripoff exposed to the world. Or she may be producing all her own news long before then. Who knows? But there is no reason to suppose that when the dust has settled, people will have lost their appetite for serious news when the only fundamental change is that producing and delivering that news has become cheaper.
Maybe the newspaper of the future will be more or less like the one of the past, only not on paper. More likely it will be something more casual in tone, more opinionated, more reader-participatory. Or it will be a list of favorite Web sites rather than any single entity. Who knows? Who knows what mix of advertising and reader fees will support it? And who knows which, if any, of today's newspaper companies will survive the transition?
... and remaining independent..
Go here for the transcript of the above video -- a Bill Moyers Journal interview between Moyers and Independent Media Izzy Award (named for I.F. Stone) winners Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman.
Moyers once wrote that "the greatest moments in press history came not when journalists made common cause with the state, but when they stood fearlessly independent of it." In this interview, the two alt-media heavyweights talk specifically with Moyers about political reporting and how so many Washington-based news media elites spend way too much time chatting up the powers that be. The result: too many voices -- and opinions -- left out off the radar.
From the transcript:
AMY GOODMAN: I think the way the media works is they show the spectrum of opinion between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington. Often that is very narrow. You look at the lead up to the invasion in Iraq, the core, the major Democrats joined with the Republicans in enabling that. And you look at now with health care, the same thing. But the fact is, the majority of Americans fall outside of that opinion. And it's our role in the media not just to bring you that spectrum, but to, well, provide — I see the media as a huge kitchen table that we all sit around and debate and discuss these critical issues. To open up. That's what the American people want. And it's our responsibility to do it.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink
• Newspaper to be available only on messaging serviceMy favorite graf:
• Experts say any story can be told in 140 characters
A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper's archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include "1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!"; "OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see tinyurl.com/b5x6e for more"; and "JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?"And second best:
At a time of unprecedented challenge for all print media, many publications have rushed to embrace social networking technologies. Most now offer Twitter feeds of major breaking news headlines, while the Daily Mail recently pioneered an iPhone application providing users with a one-click facility for reporting suspicious behaviour by migrants or gays. "In the new media environment, readers want short and punchy coverage, while the interactive possibilities of Twitter promise to transform th," the online media guru Jeff Jarvis said in a tweet yesterday, before reaching his 140-character limit, which includes spaces. According to subsequent reports, he is thinking about going to the theatre tonight, but it is raining :(.Happy April Fools Day! bk