Archive for October, 2008

A visual history of 11 successful blogs

… including some that you profiled for your midterm paper! Check it out.

Photos, fair use, and blogging

From today’s class … download the PowerPoint to get access to the links.

The future of financing journalism?

Yesterday the School of Journalism at CUNY held a summit on envisioning new business models for news. Here is the slideshow from CUNY professor and BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis (a familiar name for this class, he of “networked journalism” and “do what you do best and link to the rest,” among other ideas):

Uh, do these elements go together?

Yes, the perils of newspaper design. “Is this what the bailout looks like?” a reader suggests at Boing Boing.

Al Jazeera on citizen journalism

Too often we consider the concepts of this class within the scope of the United States only, but how is something like citizen journalism perceived and practiced beyond our borders?

Here’s a take from Al Jazeera English. While the piece discusses some U.S. elements—such as the Mayhill Fowler incident you read about in my book chapter on the future of citizen journalism—it has more of a global feel to it.

There are two parts to the program; both are below:

Ethic of the link, revisited

Well, it was about time. From the New York Times on Monday:

“Thou shalt not link to outside sites” — a long-held commandment of many newsrooms — is eroding.

Embracing the hyperlink ethos of the Web to a degree not seen before, news organizations are becoming more comfortable linking to competitors — acting in effect like aggregators. The Washington Post recently introduced a political Web site that recommends rival sites. This week NBC will begin introducing Web sites for its local TV stations with links to local newspapers, radio stations, online videos and other sources. And The New York Times will soon offer its online readers an alternative home page with links to competitors.

These experiments exemplify “link journalism,” an idea that is gaining traction in other newsrooms across the country. 

This brings us back to the “ethic of the link,”  a concept first expressed by Jeff Jarvis and repeated by him often as one of the central tenets of the new architecture for news online:

The link layer on news

Add that together and we end up with a new link layer atop the news: links to original reporting; links to complementary reporting; links to sources (not to mention links to and from discussions). It’s part of the new architecture of news that I wrote and doodled about here. Upendra Shardanand, the founder of Daylife (where I am a partner), wrote about it here, arguing that the key to the new architecturer is superior navigation to news.

And I believe that it will become important for us to link to our sources and influences — as well as transcripts and additional reporting — to show readers how we arrived where we have in a story. When I was last in London, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger called this footnoting a story. He’s better educated than I; I’ll call it linkboxing.

This ethic of the link will become all the more important as news organizations pare down to their essence. I’ve said often that they will have to do what they do best and link to the rest.

This leads to a new Golden Rule of Links in journalism — link unto others’ good stuff as you would have them link unto your good stuff. This emerges from blogging etiquette but is exactly contrary to the old, competitive ways of news organizations: wasting now-precious resources matching competitors’ stories so you could say you’d done it yourself. That must change.

In the ecosystem of links and the new architecture of news that it spawns, I believe it is vital that we as an industry find ways to point to and give credit to original reporting. That is how original journalism will be supported, in the end: by monetizing the audience that comes to it, whether through advertising or contributions.

More from Jeff Jarvis on this subject here and more on links generally here.


You might also remember that we watched this video in which Jay Rosen explains the ethic of the link. As Scott Karp—another big proponent of linking in journalism—put it so well in introducing this clip:

As Jay Rosen explains in this video, understanding the value of links, and how they connect content, ideas, and people, is fundamental to understanding the value of the web. And understanding the value of the web is the key to unlocking the new business models that journalism needs to survive and thrive in the digital age:

See Karp’s post: How Newsrooms Throw Away Value By Not Linking To Sources On The Web

Citizen journalism in 20 seconds

Catching up here on some things we’ve already covered this semester. Remember this quote by Jay Rosen?

When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.

Here’s the full post on the matter: A Most Useful Definition of Citizen Journalism. It’s packed with interesting links, so check it out and go deep.

(p.s. I’ll soon post my PowerPoint on the subject.)

My PowerPoint on hyperlocal news

Download a copy of the PowerPoint here so you can follow the links inside. We didn’t get to the final part on future directions for journalism, so I highly recommend that you give this a closer look.

Also, since these ideas came up in our discussion, here are links to Chris Anderson’s 2004 article on the Long Tail and his more recent piece on the “economics of free” — as well as his blog, which sheds new light on both. We might come back to these ideas after the midterm; they’re too good and important to ignore.

The cult of Rob Curley (or, another look at hyperlocal)

For Monday, now that we have some time before the midterm is due, let’s revisit hyperlocal journalism, which is perhaps one of the most central concepts of this course. We need to understand what uber-local news is, how it’s done, and when it succeeds … and when it doesn’t.

There’s quite a bit of reading here, but it’s worth it. Ready?

Start with the basics. This entire Nieman Reports issue (see the “is local news the answer?” collection of articles) is a great resource on the subject, but don’t worry—just pick one or two of these pieces that looks most interesting to you, to whet your appetite.

Next, let’s consider the case of Rob Curley. First, read this rather breathless profile of him from 2006 (and catch examples of his work); then, catch up with this postmortem of hyperlocal’s “flop” at the Washington Post. Curley and many of his friends are now at the Las Vegas Sun, where almost overnight they’re turning a little-known news org into a flagship example of really cool online journalism.

Finally … as we consider the struggles of Curley, Backfence (see my post earlier this week), and others, we need to understand how and why hyperlocal, for all its promise and potential for “saving” newspapers, so far has failed to develop a sustainable business model (but, then, what has in online journalism!?). As this American Journalism Review piece noted:

The failure of Backfence may offer no greater lesson than the old one about pioneers being the ones with arrows in their backs. New ventures fail all the time. But it could also sound a cautionary note about the present–and immediate future–of hyperlocal news sites. As big-media companies and entrepreneurs alike rush into the hyperlocal arena (see “Really Local,” April/May), it’s worth pausing and asking: Is there a real business in this kind of business? So far–and admittedly it’s still very early –the answer is no.

I know this is a lot of information here … so let’s synthesize it. For Monday, please respond with your take on hyperlocal journalism, focusing particularly on the lessons learned for making it more successful and sustainable in the future.

Crowdsourcing journalism

Again, here’s the “trailer” for Jeff Howe’s new book that we watched in class today:

And the PowerPoint I shared:

(By the way, I’d suggest you download the full PowerPoint so you can follow the many links I threw in there to examples and such. Might be a good resource for you.)

For more on crowdsourcing, check out Jeff Howe’s blog … OJR’s guide to crowdsourcing journalism … and, perhaps best of all is this excellent “spotlight” from Louse Thomas that culls many of the best links on this subject. This series on crowdsourcing and journalism also is an invaluable resource. Check ’em out!

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October 2008

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