Online Journalism: Fall 2010


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Readings + Reactions for 9.17.10

Be sure to post your reactions in the comments!!

The New Rules of News: A list of 22 ideas for how to rethink, reinvent, and recast the news.
Life After Newspapers: an opinion piece that asks some good questions.
NPR’s hour-by-hour audience by platform. A great transparent look at the shifting needs of audience for NPR’s content.
Don’t look for a TV in Television’s Future A great piece that looks at how Social Media and streaming video are transforming the way we watch.

Diego Rodriguez’s “innovation principles” are indispensable. For this week, read the first two:
Experience the world instead of talking about experiencing the world
See and hear with the mind of a child

Plus–and this branches between Design Thinking & Online Journalism–a note from the creator of the Pulitzer-Winning Politifact about the design process: Demos, Not Memos


Filed under: Readings + Reactions

6 Responses

  1. Online Journalism response
    The articles relating to online journalism sound like stuff my teachers have been prompting us to read for the past two years. The futures of newspapers, radio and TV as we know them are changing and will change. Even though this seems like “old news” by now for us journalism students, articles like these are always impacting the way I think about my career as a student and my future career as a journalist. Gilmor’s article was probably the most different from other pieces I’ve read about the future of journalism. His ideas were fresh and honest and his concept of the perfect publication utilized the new social media tools that all publications should be using by now. He also talked about moving towards a more honest, reader-driven publication. By admitting mistakes and encouraging readers to be skeptics, he is not only using the growing advances in technology but he is applying forward thinking to match these developments. Kinsley puts Gilmor’s ideas into perspective by discussing the ongoing debate over paper vs. screens. He urges all of us, but mostly older generations, to think progressively about newspapers. I like that he reassures those of us in the media business that there will always be room for news and journalists as long as there are customers, but the outlet for that news will certainly change. My favorite part of his piece is the last line, “If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars, and if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.”
    Furthermore, Bilton’s piece and the NPR article show that it’s not only print journalism that’s being affected by the internet. I believe, however, that radio might have the safest position of the three branches. As the NPR study showed, people are still listening to the radio during the morning and evening commute. A car is one of the only places people don’t, or shouldn’t be, accessing the internet. I’m sure this will change someday, but for now it’s much easier to use the internet in place of a television. And like Bilton says, in four years the amazing technology we have now will be obsolete. It’s hard to imagine but it should make us, as journalists, even more willing to open ourselves up to change and technology.

    Design Thinking response
    I love these 3 pieces on design. They are insightful and fresh and really made me think about how I, as a journalist, go about my work. It’s hard to admit, but a lot of the time I would love to take the easy way out. Having piles of homework and work on top of that makes it easy to use a memo, or a Google search to finish an assignment. And as Rodriguez says, so brilliantly, these methods don’t cut it if you really want to be a designer. As journalists we are designers. We craft our stories into a piece of art that entertains readers and objectively tells the news. And with the internet we have to be even more intuitive with our ideas because there are so many social tools available. We need to know which ones to use and how to use them to the advantage of our work. But at the same time, while the internet has become a tool no person can live without (I can’t even imagine being in J school without it), it has also become an obstacle on the way to true creativity. As Rodriguez says, the most innovative outcomes are from people who go out and experience the world. We need to go out, meet people, see things in order to truly express to our readers the meaning of the story. If we haven’t experienced it ourselves, how will the readers understand? I’ve met many journalism students who won’t even make phone calls anymore. They do all their interviews through e-mail and I actually talked to a girl who had to find another source because her first one didn’t respond to any e-mails. This is what Rodriguez is trying to tell us; that while the internet is the most important tool we have, we can’t sit behind it and effectively do our work. We need to be curios, shed our judgement and go out into the world. This is obviously easier said than done, but something which I will strive for with every piece I work on.

  2. Lisa Guillen says:

    I think ‘Don’t look for TV in Television’s Future’ is dead on. Both my roommate and I are avid television watchers, we have a tv in our living room and we both had tvs in our rooms but we don’t have cable and the television in our living room is the only one that has an antenna and converter box. We don’t need cable because we’re getting everything we would need from our computers, phones, dvds and sometimes even bumming off our friends with cable. As I type this right now I am reading tweets coming in about the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia which is currently airing, someone even posted a link to a live stream of it. The basic model of television and how people view it is clearly changing and changing quickly. It will be interesting to see what the next move is from the networks and cable providers.

    I absolutely love the “Experience the World” piece. I think that the only way that people can change the world and fix problems is if they see the world and see those problems first hand. What their doing at the d-school is something I think is going to be an important thing for every business person to learn in the future in order to keep their product and company relevant in the changing world, especially as we become more and more connected. I think the brainstorming that we did last week proved that these type of activities work and that great ideas can come from them.

  3. Kit Sesterhenn says:

    The New Rules of News
    1). I agree with this first rule. Unless the anniversary is an important event in American History or is culturally important, I think that anniversary stories are trite and over-done. The exception? If someone found a way to breathe new life into an anniversary piece with a fresh angle. Then, I’m all for it.

    5). I love this idea! I think getting the community more involved with the news will result in better stories and an overall healthier, more creative, and more productive environment.

    7). Absolutely! I hate when I have a decent quote, but the source has misused some element of language. I don’t use it for fear of making my source look unintelligent, but paraphrasing is a much better idea. Save the direct quotes for well-thought out quotes with correct usage.

    9). Fantastic idea! I always hate when I wanted to reference something for school or look up an article for my own personal interest, but couldn’t access it because archives aren’t freely available. This recently happened to me with a summer course; Lexus-Nexus showed a magazine that had what sounded like a great article to support a paper I was writing, but the magazine website did not archive their material for the public far back enough in order for me to access it.

    14). Grammar snob that I am, this is a “must”.

    18). This makes complete sense. There are so many times when I’m new to a topic I’m reading about and wind-up having to google the subject or source to find out more info. Providing examples of where the reader can find specific references/information about common people/topics instead of making them dig on their own (which they may decide isn’t worth it) is a great idea. I bet it would encourage people to read later articles about these people/topics in the future if they had working common knowledge of the subject at hand.

    19). Also makes complete sense. This encourages the reader to support the issue/person/topic/event they’ve just read about. Providing the information where they can find out how to help (instead of requiring them to look on their own by leaving the reader hanging) would most likely cause more results.

    Life After Newspapers
    Yes, if The New York Times disappears, there will still be news, as Kingsley states. However, a world where all of our information comes from blogs is not a world I want to live in (and I hope this does not become the norm). I, for one, like reading the newspaper over breakfast or on the train, and don’t mind the ink stains on my fingertips. It means I’ve spent the time gathering information about the world around me (yes, I could find this info on-line, but I hate carrying my laptop everywhere and starring at a screen for so long makes my regular headaches even worse than normal). I fear that this will someday become reality.

    NPR’s Hour-By-Hour Audience By Platform
    Unfortunately, I must admit, I’m one of those people that doesn’t listen to NPR. However, I have toured the NPR studios when I lived in D.C. and own the book, The Way We Talk Now, by Geoffrey Nunberg from “Fresh Air,” which I thoroughly enjoyed. Does that count?

    Don’t Look For a TV in Television’s Future
    I would have to agree with the author. I seem to find myself watching programs on Hulu more often than I do on the actual television screen (so much so that my last year at my old university, I cancelled my cable at my apartment). However, there are times when I’m fed up with the frequent times that CBS’ videos don’t work on my mac. Maybe I should keep my cable just for Survivor and The Amazing Race.

    Metacool 1: Experience The World
    I agree with the author, Diego Rodriguez, on this topic. It is much more valuable to talk to people and do things for yourself than to rely on second hand information. For one journalism course, I was writing an article about International Scrabble competitions. I interviewed the director of the Canadian National Championships and he invited me to the tournament in Toronto that weekend. I was living in Des Moines at the time, but my roommate and I decided to take a roadtrip. I got so much more out of the experience of being there and seeing the action with my own eyes instead of from the documentary I watched, books I read, and interviews I conducted. I wound up completely changing the focus of my article and got some great anecdotes that I would not have had if I hadn’t gone. However, this isn’t always practical and a 24 hour trip to Toronto made me quite sleepy for my 8 o’clock class the following morning!

    Metacool 2: See and Hear With The Mind of a Child
    Great journalists are those who become curious about a topic, dig until they find out all they can about the topic, and then, if appropriate, write an article (or series of articles) about the topic to inform the world. Expressing and finding out about that which intrigues me is one of the things I love most about journalism.

    The Key Lesson
    Great advice! If you can show a person rather than telling a person, more often than not it is easier to get that particular person on your side or at least get them thinking more about a topic or issue. Words to live by, I think.

  4. Susanne says:

    Online Journalism
    These links offered me a deeper look into what we as journalist students already know – print is dying, and the Internet is taking over.
    Dan Gillmor illustrates some of the major issues we have already experienced with online journalism – how to get fair and balanced news, utilizing blogging, etc.
    Reading through his list of online jounrnalism “fixes” he gives the reader the vision of an online world where readers and journalists actually interact in an efficient and productive manner. The news we receive would be a result not only of good journalism but of an attentive community with active participation. This is not a far-fetched dream. As Michael Kingsley points out in his article, even if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news. What we are looking at here is a major reorganization of our media outlets. Maybe all publications as we know them will disappear – but new ones will appear. There will always be news and those who seek the news through fair and objective sources. Those who take action and utilize the web instead of cowering from it will be the most profitable in the realm of online journalism.

    Design Thinking
    These articles on design thinking were very insightful on how we function as a society. The first two pieces by Diego Rodriguez really made an impact – we love to talk about our world experiences and curiosities that interest us – but we make no real effort to actually visit these places or delve into these new ideas. Especially for those of us who are pursuing journalism, we must put aside the “idea” of our stories and go out and experience our stories. For example, just talking to a source doesn’t give us a first hand understanding of the situation – instead, we should live a day in the life of a source. We should understand what goes into our stories, not just the ideas surrounding our stories.
    “Demos, not memos” also shares in this idea of active participation. Brainstorming and ideas are always brewing in our heads – so why not save time and take it to the next level by actually demonstrating your ideas.

  5. Laura Nalin says:

    Online Journalism:

    I thought these articles were pretty interesting. I especially liked the one where the man listed 22 things he would change. I think my favorite was when he said the editor’s notes would be done in a blog format. I think that really spoke out to show just how reader-participatory online journalism has become/the potential to become.

    I really liked the NPR article because although I still do listen to NPR when I get the chance, most of the time I listen to podcasts or go to because it is more convenient. If i worked a 9-5 and had to drive to work daily I would most definitely listen to it in my car, but clearly the records show that listeners want to listen to the shows when it fits their schedules.

    I liked the third article “Don’t look for TV in Television” because this really displayed how online journalism has taken off in that this blog had so many links to other posts. I find myself on some blogs being confused about some topics and I always love that they will directly link to the subject that I am questioning. I also loved that it was mostly about watching sports on the Internet because as a previous Chronicle employee I would often find myself streaming Pittsburgh Penguins games while I was waiting for my edits. Also, when I don’t get the chance to watch a Steelers game (At this point if you couldn’t tell I’m from Pittsburgh) at a bar/don’t feel like being in that atmosphere I can watch my team in the comfort of my own home thanks to the Internet.


    I loved reading the line “To truly start living as a design thinker, experience the world instead of talking about experiencing the world.” I don’t know if this is along the same lines, but I am an architecture fanatic as well as a travel freak so I completely understand where this guy was coming from. I have found in so many of my stories (I love to mostly work with the homeless) that I have gained such a greater perspective as a writer actually hanging out with them and learning what life is like, not to the point where I am biased by any means, but I gain a better understanding whereas if I was just writing about the subject I wouldn’t fully grasp it. I also liked that quote because so many people love to talk about their huge life plans but never fully go along with it, but talk as though they have an understanding of situations (what ever they may be). I liked that he was saying we need to be ACTIVE within the field.

    I also loved reading the quote, “Without the mind of a child, one can’t see or act deeply. We must see and hear with the mind of a child.” I am an artist as well, and I was literally just showing some pieces that I drew through the “eyes of a child.” I think when we tap into that part of our brains that we had when younger (completely creative and less literal) the best parts of creativity come out, especially when it comes to something such as advertising.

  6. J stories:
    The stories about the changes in the journalism industry offered a slightly different insight to the problem than what is typically said. A lot of great ideas were brought up in the New Rules of Journalism involving the industry becoming more user-friendly and open to its audience, rather than being above the reader. I like this piece the best, and think it had the widest range of examples of where journalism is failing now, and how it has the potential to be better in the future. Life After Newspapers didn’t seem very helpful, rather just a complaint, but it offered information about the financial side of the industry, which was interesting to know.
    One thing that is great to hear, and that was brought up in multiple articles like the NPR piece and the TV piece is that regardless of medium, people genuinely like to watch/listen/read their news and are willing to try new ways to get it.

    Design Stories:
    Thinking if our stories in a multimedia format is almost essential in journalism now, and these design articles offered a lot of great ideas on how to do that. The most valuable thing most of the pieces emphasized is to do not just think. We need to make sure everything works outside of our head, and more than just works, but is exactly what our audience needs, wants, and can easily use also. There is no use in a beautiful but complicated design in journalism. Everything needs to be user friendly, but that doesn’t have to compromise its greatness either. There is a way to have both.
    As journalists in the midst of this change, if we have an idea on how to help it – we need to try it out right away, rather than sit around waiting for something to fix it for us.

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