Posts Tagged ‘journalism’
[Adapted from my remarks at "Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond: Citizen Journalism and Grassroots Media" sponsored by Cambridge Community TV.]
In moments of profound change and transition we tend to reach back to old clichés and familiar metaphors to help make sense of the tumultuous world around us. Debates about the future of journalism are no different.
I’ve heard this moment described as trying to leap between two moving trains, as one slows down and the other one speeds away. This is journalism as a leap of faith.
I’ve heard this moment described as trying to move out of one house and into another, as the old house falls apart and the new one still isn’t finished being built. This is journalism as a fix-it upper.
And I’ve heard it described as the dying of an industry and the rebirth of a network. This is journalism as a Phoenix, rising from the ashes.
Each of these metaphors capture a piece of the incredible change we are witnessing in our media, but none quite does it for me. All of these descriptions portray the changes in journalism as something happening to us, a force outside our control – moving trains, collapsing houses, engulfing fire. We are left with no agency and no responsibility to create the future of media in these scenarios. Read the rest of this entry »
When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 they arrested more than 10 journalists and threatened or harassed many others. However, they also destroyed an enormous amount of equipment that local journalists had been using to livestream from Occupy Wall Street.
In a settlement released this week, New York City agreed to pay the livestream collective Global Revolution TV $75,000 for damage done to their equipment and an additional nearly $50,000 to cover the livestreamers legal fees. (Notably, the settlement also calls for NYC to pay $47,000 for books that were destroyed when police dismantled “the people’s library” in Zuccotti Park.)
Global Revolution TV was one of the most active livestream groups covering Occupy Wall Street and found themselves targeted by police on more than one occasion. Just a month and a half after the Zuccotti raid, Global Revolution TV’s Brooklyn studio space was also raided. Six members of the Global Revolution TV team were arrested at the time for refusing the vacate the building they were using as studio space.
While livestreaming has been an important part of protests and movements for at least half a decade, Occupy Wall Street took livestreaming mainstream. Over the last two years with the rise and spread of Internet connected phones and cameras, more and more people have taken up livestreaming from sporting events to political rallies. Read the rest of this entry »
Drones have been in the news a lot this month, but that coverage hasn’t always been easy given the incredible secrecy around the drone program. While hearings on Capitol Hill and leaked memos shed some much needed light on the program, there is still a lot more we don’t know.
Over at the Huffington Post, Michael Calderone has a good piece on where journalists are turning for details and in-depth information on drones. Calderone’s article focuses on the work of Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal and his work tracking drone statistics, but the story is part of a larger trend of individuals bearing witness and becoming sources for newsrooms that increasingly have less capacity for the long, sustained work of tracking these kinds of details:
“While the use of drones is perhaps the most controversial foreign policy issue of President Obama’s second term, major media outlets have been outsourcing the collection of strike data to three lesser-known news-gathering entities. The covert U.S. drone war in Pakistan and Yemen has been notoriously difficult to track over the years, making The Long War Journal’s statistics -– along with those compiled by theNew America Foundation and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism -– essential for news organizations that haven’t been independently tracking each strike or number of suspected militants and civilians killed.”
In October of 2011 I began tracking journalist arrests at Occupy Wall Street protests when New York Times journalist, Natasha Leonard, was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. By the end of the month ten journalists had been arrested, and a month later that number was over thirty. Police interference with press around the US became a major story for much of 2011 and the first half of 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
Three new funding opportunities for journalists and media makers shine a spotlight on the role of media in community engagement and civic health. This comes at a critical moment when, across the journalism landscape we are finally seeing deep reciprocal collaborations between journalists and technologists. Journalism schools are combining forces with computer science programs, the Knight Mozilla fellows just placed their third round of developers in newsrooms and every week there seems to be another hack-a-thon for journalists.
Journalists and technologists working together is a good thing for journalism, but also for local communities. It is notable that this era of collaboration is coming as trends are pushing both professions deeper into the public. Borrowing a phrase from Rich Harwood, they are “turning outward,” a process that emphasizes “making the community and the people the reference point for getting things done.”
In journalism this is embodied by the rise of community engagement efforts within newsrooms. It is part of a growing recognition that journalism will rise and fall with its community. Whether it is a paywalled newspaper that depends on subscriptions or a public broadcaster who depends on memberships, building community around the news on and offline is one of the critical challenges facing journalists today.
At the same time in technology we’ve seen incredible and inventive projects that focus on how technology can be brought to bear on community issues. This civic innovation takes many forms, from public health hack-a-thons to crisis mapping. Pair this with a rise in Gov 2.0 and transparency efforts and we see people working inside and outside government to better connect technology to civic life. Read the rest of this entry »
The Federal Communications Commission is pushing a plan to gut its 30-year-old newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban. This proposal would allow one company to own a local paper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in a single market. Advocates of more media consolidation argue that allowing TV stations and newspapers to merge is critical to cutting costs and saving local journalism.
This is the same argument the Bush FCC used to try to push through the same bad rules in 2007. Back then, the Senate voted the rules down and the courts later threw them out. It’s time to put this argument to bed for good: More media consolidation won’t save journalism. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not one to make predictions about the future of our media. I’m much more interested in prescriptions. Rather than talking about what we think might happen, let’s discuss what we agree needs to happen and how we might get there. The media isn’t just something that happens to us — it is something we can and must be part of creating and reshaping ourselves. Here are three critical issues we must tackle in the coming year. Read the rest of this entry »
In a recent post, John Robinson, the former editor of the News and Record in North Carolina, compared newspapers to grocery stores. He writes:
Newspapers once proudly said they were like a supermarket — they offered aisles upon aisles of choices. […] Rather than a grocery store, the paper should be more like one of those specialty shops with fewer choices but only the finest items that you’re not going to find elsewhere.
I’ve long been interested in the parallels between the rise of the local food movement and the debates about the future of local news. There are important lessons to be learned for how advocates for local food have built new infrastructure and economies around local products.
Robinson’s comparison got me thinking – what is the right analogy for news? If the metaphors we use help shape our understanding of what is possible, then how might models and metaphors from food production and distribution help us understand what’s working, or not working, in the news?
Below are some initial thoughts: Read the rest of this entry »
I took advantage of my holiday time off to catch up on my Instapaper read later list. As I read I try to tweet out the best articles, or key ideas I’m grappling with, but some pieces demand more than a tweet (but less than a full blog post). Here are three articles whose ideas I’m still mulling over and that I think deserve more attention.
Washington Post – Stop guessing whether a bill will work. Instead, test it.
Political reporter Dylan Matthews proposes a federal agency dedicated to running experiments on public policy proposals before legislation is adopted. The idea here is to test what will and won’t work in the real world and bring that research to bear on political debates. While I like Matthews’ idea of testing legislation, I also wonder how this might be built into solutions journalism that would be dedicated to helping us address wiked problems. This idea also seems like a powerful way to counteract the trend of hindsight journalism. It may not be an either/or, I’d like to see both governments and news organizations taking up some of these ideas and challenges and adopting a model of creating legislation that looks a bit more like agile development and participatory community planning.
Reporters’ Lab – Creating a newsroom ‘answer machine’
I’ve long been deeply interested in how news organizations can better leverage their archives to help serve the public, add context to current events, and drive new traffic to their site. Tyler Dukes’ proposal for using news organizations’ archives to help create a newsroom “answer machine” is superb, while not without its challenges. He focuses on how this type of project could help improve reporting but I can see wonderful applications of this kind of app in politics and education as well. For another great project focused on better using media archives be sure to check out the recently launched Pop Up Radio Archive.
Designing for Diversity – Designing Creative Technology Playgrounds for Families
I have been thinking about the role of play in my own work as well as in the lives of my two sons. My life has been animated by a healthy tension between my fascination with technology and my affinity for wilderness and the outdoors. Where these two passions intersect is in the realm of play and exploration. Whether it was dismantling kitchen appliances and putting them back together or building wilderness shelters and treehouses, I loved to make things and engage actively in the world – both natural and manmade. I want to nurture that same passion in my sons, regardless of what their interests are – music or machines, art or airplanes, trees or technology – I hope they’ll approach it all with playfulness and a sense of wonder. This post, a summary of a discussion at MozFest in London, touches on some of those themes.
This post is more of a provocation than an actual end of year “best-of” list. So I’m relying on you to help me fill in the gaps.
Inspired by the New York Times’ recent Snow Fall project, I asked my followers on Twitter to send me examples of the best multimedia journalism of 2012. I was looking for the kind of stories that could really only be told online because they brought together a diverse range of elements including some mix of text, video, audio, data and interactivity all in one package.
Here are the stories I’ve collected so far (in no particular order), but I know there are others. Add your favorite examples to the comments section.
New York Times – Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek
Stunning for both its design and how the elements worked together - text amplifying images and video, and video bringing life and depth to the narrative. Here is a great post about how they made Snow Fall.
Symbolia – A Newly Launched iPad Magazine of Graphics Journalism
Symbolia combines illustrated works of journalism with interactivity, audio and more. CJR described it as combining “the rugged hand-drawn texture of a 90’s zine with the investigative vigor and left-leaning politics of Mother Jones.”
Frontline – A Perfect Terrorist: David Coleman Headley’s Web of Betrayal
Made possible using new video editing and interactive technology from Mozilla, called Popcorn, Frontline took the documentary to the next level.
California Watch – In Jennifer’s Room
Poynter described this multimedia, living graphic novel as a powerful way to address tell a challenging and emotional story of abuse.
(CIR’s Cole Goins also recommended their mapped report on wait-times at veterans offices: http://cironline.org/reports/map-where-veterans-backlog-worst-3792)
NPR StateImpact – Boomtown
Boomtown is like an audio slideshow on steroids. The StateImpact team creating an engaging report that didn’t end at one website but branched out across a range of platforms and partners.
BBC – Superstorm USA: Caught on Camera
Made almost entirely of crowdsourced cell phone footage, this stunning documentary was a huge undertaking in combining critical journalism with massively distributed user generated video.
Cartoon Movement / Susie Cagle – Down in Smoke
Cagle’s cartoons are layers of journalism stacked and juxtaposed, creating powerful accounts of moments in time. Cagle uses Thinglink to layer audio over her images.
Today I’m part of an incredible team launching a new project focused on strengthening nonprofit news and accountability journalism.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation is unique in its scope, its substance and its style. The Foundation is rooted in the idea that, while the structures of journalism are changing, the critical role of journalism in our democracy is not. It will fund critical and cutting edge work by nonprofit journalism organizations, transparency and watchdog groups and independent journalists.
This project builds on some of the key threads I’ve been working on and writing about for years and addresses three key problems head on: Read the rest of this entry »
Today on Twitter I asked “What would a journalism dedicated to helping communities solve complex social and political issues look like? Who is already doing it?”
What would a journalism dedicated to helping communities solve complex social and political issues look like? Who is already doing it?
— Josh Stearns (@jcstearns) December 16, 2012
This, to me, is the question we face as the nation tries to not only come to terms with the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, but also look ahead at how we can respond. Already we are seeing demands for a national conversation about gun violence, for new gun control legislation, even for a repeal of the second amendment. On the surface all of these seem like simple solutions, but in reality they are composed of a complex and interwoven web of policy, beliefs, and culture.
In a post from a year ago Jonathan Stray asked a similar question about journalism and problem solving. He observed that “The modern world is built on a series of vast systems, intricate combinations of people and machines, but our journalism isn’t really built to help us understand them. It’s not a journalism for the people who will put together the next generation of civic institutions.”
At the time he was writing about the global financial crisis, but the quote above could just as easily apply to violence in America. His post sparked a conversation about solutions journalism, a theme he returned to earlier this year. “I see the solution journalist as responsible for the process of public discussion by which problems are defined and turned into plans for the future. This is the moderator’s role.”
At times like this, we need good moderators of public debate, we need caring facilitators of challenging conversations, and we need newsrooms that can create space for communities to talk to each other. I’m not talking about online comments on newspaper websites, I’m talking about a much deeper form of community engagement. Read the rest of this entry »
If you believe in nonprofit journalism, it is time to support it. And if you support nonprofit journalism it’s time to go public with that support.
I’ll choose two of my favorite responses and will donate to those newsrooms as well. Plus I’ll give those two people subscriptions to one of two great nonprofit journalism magazines – Orion Magazine and Mother Jones.
(Also, please consider a donation to a group that fights for press freedom – more on that below)
We are at an exciting moment when it is now possible to imagine nonprofit journalism becoming a much more prominent part of America’s media ecosystem. But to make the leap from start-up to sustainability we need to step up our support for nonprofit news and encourage others to do the same.
Other than donating to their public broadcasting stations, for the most part people are not used to donating to support the journalism they get in their inbox or their mailbox, in their Twitter stream or via their Facebook wall. That has to change.
Nonprofit journalism comes in all shapes and sizes: all-volunteer local community radio stations, data driven government watchdogs, big investigative newsrooms, online streaming operations and more. What they all share is that they can’t survive on grants alone.
Foundations have helped to jump start nonprofit journalism but communities are going to be what sustains it over the long haul. Let’s start now.
(Nonprofit journalism also faces a range of threats – from first amendment battles to jumping through hoops at the IRS – if you want to fund the fight to defend and expand nonprofit media consider a donation to Free Press. At Free Press we work every day to fight for the public’s rights, for policies that support quality journalism, and to ensure all people have access to an open and free Internet.)
Use this link to tweet now: Tweet Your Giving
Research, both scholarly and anecdotal, suggests that newspaper endorsements make little difference in the minds of readers. This fact led Edward Morrissey at The Week to argue that “Newspaper endorsements are at best meaningless anachronisms, and at worst damaging to the newspapers themselves.” Given this, Morrissey asks, why do it?
However, what if, instead of scraping the newspaper endorsement we re-imagined it? Could we make it work better?
Over the past week the New York Times endorsed President Obama for a second term and the Des Moines Register endorsed Governor Romney, the first time they have endorsed a Republican since Nixon. The endorsements were very different in tone and style, but they had one thing in common: There were no links in the web version of either editorial.
While the reticence of some newspapers to link, especially to articles outside their own archives, has been well documented I think the lack of links in most, if not all, newspaper endorsements is a missed opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »