Thursday, September 30, 2010

will journalism become more socialized?

Mashable suggests that the future of social media in journalism is that one will blend into the other, with reports from "citizen journalists and bloggers" on social media becoming news source as well as news consumers.

From the article:
... these social tools are inspiring readers to become citizen journalists by enabling them to easily publish and share information on a greater scale. The future journalist will be more embedded with the community than ever, and news outlets will build their newsrooms to focus on utilizing the community and enabling its members to be enrolled as correspondents. Bloggers will no longer be just bloggers, but be relied upon as more credible sources.

...Reporting has always in some ways been a collaborative process between journalists and their sources. But increasingly, there’s a merger between the source and the content producer. As a result, more journalism will happen through collaborative reporting, where the witness of the news becomes the reporter, says David Clinch, editorial director for Storyful and a consultant for Skype (). Journalists, Clinch says, must be able to pivot quickly between the idea of using the community as a source of news and as the audience for news, because they are both.

This requires a shift in the mindset of journalists, who are used to deciding what news is and how it is covered, produced and distributed, said Alfred Hermida, professor of integrated journalism at the University of British Columbia. “Social media by its very definition is a participatory medium,” Hermida said. “There is a potential for greater engagement and connection with the community, but only if journalists are open to ceding a degree of editorial control to the community.”

All well and good to have up to the minute information coming in by the minute, especially when disaster strikes, but who's going to make sure it's true? That the context is right? And can you really trust anyone who uses the term "content producer" when it comes to news? bk

the reports of its demise: greatly exaggerated

Internet entrepreneur Patricia Handschiegel spoke to the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association a couple of weeks ago. Here's what she had to say about the reputed demise of print, in general, and journalism in particular.

A group of newspaper publishers heard what I hoped to share with the industry, that 1. Google and other internet companies have no business telling anybody how to do content business, given that the majority have no real experience in it. 2. That newspapers (and all print media companies) have just as much opportunity and chance for success online, if not more, as anybody. And, 3. That print is not "dead" because platforms never truly die (hello, radio) -- and that anybody who says otherwise is inexperienced or they'd know better. If anything, the future opens more opportunity, not less, for those in the print media business.

Good ideas. More on her site, linked above. Hit "like". bk

Thursday, September 23, 2010

this and that

Odds, ends and linx:

First, go here for information about Santa Clara University's high school journalism competition. Now edging into its third year.

Go here for the latest Pew Center report on American's increasing hunger for the news -- and how they get.

Finally, go here for a rumination on whether writing for Facebook may someday be a staple of the college curriculum. Silly? Or not so much...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the curious case of ines sainz

From our other blog: Unnecessary rudeness, in which Shannon goes into the ugly truth about sexual harassment of female sportscasters. She also wonders, for that matter, why anyone has to -- or wants to -- set foot in a locker room with a bunch of naked sweaty men:

Well, from a journalist’s perspective, you have to have equal access to do your job. If male reporters get (have?) to report from the sweaty, naked bowels of the locker room, then women do, too. Period. (For the record, any sports reporter will tell you, there is no more disgusting place on earth. No one wants to be there. And, sorry, but while we can all appreciate the value of a scoop, we’re not exactly talking about matters of national security here. Why can’t everyone just have another hot wing, and wait the three minutes it might take for whoever the game’s big storymaker is to throw on some clothes–or even a towel, for the love–and take it outside?)
There's more, much more. What's your take? bk

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

crash blossoms

What better way to gear up for a new year of teaching journalism than to point out what goes wrong with it.

In this case: crash blossoms, or the goofy headlines that result when words go missing or turn up in the wrong place. Wonder where the term itself came from? The New York Times Magazine's Ben Zimmer explained it all:

For years, there was no good name for these double-take headlines. Last August, however, one emerged in the Testy Copy Editors online discussion forum. Mike O’Connell, an American editor based in Sapporo, Japan, spotted the headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” and wondered, “What’s a crash blossom?” (The article, from the newspaper Japan Today, described the successful musical career of Diana Yukawa, whose father died in a 1985 Japan Airlines plane crash.) Another participant in the forum, Dan Bloom, suggested that “crash blossoms” could be used as a label for such infelicitous headlines that encourage alternate readings, and news of the neologism quickly spread.
According to Zimmer, once he blogged about crash blossoms on a linguistics blog, examples came pouring in. Let's check:

One of my favorite crash blossoms is this gem from the Associated Press, first noted by the Yale linguistics professor Stephen R. Anderson last September: “McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers.” If you take “fries” as a verb instead of a noun, you’re left wondering why a fast-food chain is cooking up sacred vessels. Or consider this headline, spotted earlier this month by Rick Rubenstein on the Total Telecom Web site: “Google Fans Phone Expectations by Scheduling Android Event.” Here, if you read “fans” as a plural noun, then you might think “phone” is a verb, and you’ve been led down a path where Google devotees are calling in their hopes.

Nouns that can be misconstrued as verbs and vice versa are, in fact, the hallmarks of the crash blossom. Take this headline, often attributed to The Guardian: “British Left Waffles on Falklands.” In the correct reading, “left” is a noun and “waffles” is a verb, but it’s much more entertaining to reverse the two, conjuring the image of breakfast food hastily abandoned in the South Atlantic. Similarly, crossword enthusiasts laughed nervously at a May 2006 headline on AOL News, “Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts.”

Much of the silliness results when headline writers leave out articles and such in an effort to save space, a trick that may have originated with the telegraph, which leads us again, back to Zimmer:

One clever (though possibly apocryphal) example once appeared in the pages of Time magazine: Cary Grant received a telegram from an editor inquiring, “HOW OLD CARY GRANT?” — to which he responded: “OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?”
All of which would seem pretty archaic until, you know, you think of Twitter. bk

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a distinction with a difference

What's the difference between online journalism and journalism online? A lot, writes The Online Journalism Review's Robert Hernandez, who is on the faculty of USC's Annenberg School of Communication.

The latter is merely print journalism transferred to screen format. Not bad, not good, not really different. The former, however, is a different bird entirely, that takes all the web has to offer and uses it to both report -- and present. Let's let Hernandez tell it:

Journalism Online is what we use to lovingly call "shovelware," which is taking existing "legacy" content and posting it on the Web. We know that there is immeasurable value in having the paper's articles, radio show's podcast and TV show's newscasts available on the Web.

Text alone is perhaps the most powerful form of journalism on the Web.

But that is still Journalism Online.

What I do.... what I identify with... what I live and breathe is Online Journalism.

So, what is that exactly?

Well, it's hard to explain but I look at the latest technology and opportunities only available on the Internet and try to harness them for the advancement and distribution of storytelling and journalism.

I look at FourSquare and see how we can use that to find eye-witness sources in breaking news events. I look at photo gallery widget by TripAdvisor, meant for vacation snapshots, and see how it could enrich our coverage of, say, the World Cup.

I work with engineers and see how our crafts can work together and create new experiences. Like when we took RSS feeds from around the globe and mapped them for a Seattle Times project. It was based on the addicting, but somewhat pointless Twittervision.

As we've said before, and need to keep repeating: journalism is evolving, changing. And the internet -- not an end in itself, but merely a tool -- is helping that evolution take place. So long as we use it wisely. bk

Thursday, September 9, 2010

immersion in iraq

Check this interview with journalist David Finkel on KQED-FM, San Francisco's NPR station. Finkel, a Pullitzer-winner from the Washington Post, and one of my favorite magazine writers, talks about his 13 month immersion with a battalian of soldiers in Iraq. The result? His book, "The Good soldiers", gives a searing account of the price of war from the soldier's perspective.

All of which points to the value of both immersion journalism -- and going into a story with an open mind.

Magazine students might remember him as the author of "TV Without Guilt" and "The Last Housewife in America," both immersion projects that took the reader inside what could have been touchy subjects -- without agenda or judgement.

When he was awarded the Pullitzer for feature writing some years back, he said something like this in his acceptance speech: Start with an idea, but wait for the story. Love it. bk

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

who defines what's news?

You do.

A recent dust-up between the New York Times and it's partnery, the, and online news non-rofit in the San Francisco Bay area that supplies local news stories to the NYT twice a week. The issue at hand? A column written by the editor of the Bay Citizen appeared to straddle the line between news, gray lady style, and editorial. All of which points to the ways in which digital journalism is changing the definition of the news as we know it.

Here's the cheat sheet for you. First, a column about the brouhaha from the Bay Citizen from the guy who wrote the column in question. Second, the NYT column about said column, written by the public editor. And finally, the Times' own Readers Guide to help readers distinguish fact from, um, opinion.

All of which calls for a little more sophistication o the part of the reader, if not the reporter. So here's the question: as we move away from the old school definition of he said/she said journalistic objectivity, as we appreciate the validity of point of view journalism (even though these changes require more work on the part of the reader) what does this mean in terms of an informed citizenry? Thumbs up? Down? No clue?

It's complicated. But whatever you think, it's kind of exciting, our here on the sidelines, watching it all evolve. bk