Archive for February, 2009

Citizen vs. traditional journalism, in stop motion

Blogs and Journalism

Next week, right before the midterm, we take up a basic question loaded with baggage—but one that’s so essential to this course that it almost forms the unconscious subtext to our class-to-class activities:

Is blogging a form of journalism?

(or, perhaps better put: Under what conditions is it journalism?)

To get you started thinking in that direction, please read the following (by the way—hint, hint—these pieces and the ideas they present likely will fit into your midterm next week) and respond by Tuesday:

First, take a look at Jay Rosen’s “classic” piece, “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over,” which he wrote four years ago (that seems like forever in Web years, no?). It captures the essence of this debate. Then, read his 2008 update — “If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn’t. So Let’s Get a Clue” — which focuses on ethics, trust, and the open-vs.-closed distinctions of blogging vs. journalism. Next, read this piece from the Columbia Journalism Review, which is subtitled, “Forget Who is a journalist; the important question is, What is journalism?”

Redesigning the newspaper online


Check out the New York Times’ prototype for an article skimmer. As this blog post explains—and judging by the reactions of most commenters—with this skimmer The Times has moved that much closer to replicating the best feature of the print newspaper: the ability to scan the display type for a wide range of articles.

One of the key challenges of the newspaper online is that you often get very little context or textual/visual “hooks” to draw you into the story beyond the hyperlinked headline, as Ethan Zuckerman notes (and as Cass Sunstein laments in describing the lack of an “architecture of serendipity” in online news media). Quoting Zuckerman: Continue reading ‘Redesigning the newspaper online’

Monday musings

Some links for the day…

James Rainey of the LA Times notes that the nonprofit news venture Voice of San Diego “shows how investigative journalism can be done for relatively cheap. They’re even having fun.”

David Cohn, a prototypical 20-something journalist who started Spot.Us (and who also gave this class a nice endorsement last semester), has a new idea for newspapers: how about a newsroom cafe to encourage public input? “Aside from being a revenue stream (coffee, bagels, etc) it would create a deeper connection between the news organization and the public. Could story tips be garnered this way? Perhaps it would be a great way to meet and encourage citizen journalism partners.”

— From the U.K., a story on how Washington journos are using Twitter. Some good links in there if you’re looking to follow some big-name reporters.

Learning to use WordPress

For your weekend assignment, I’d like you to get familiar with so you have the technical stuff down when we begin our group blog projects in a few weeks. To do that, I’d like you to …

1. Set up a blog around a topic (any topic) that really captures your interest. Bear in mind, though, that this is more of a “beat” than a diary. Pick a current issue/topic that’s relevant beyond you personally.

(Note: Ultimately, successful bloggers get that way in large part because they’re hugely passionate about their subject. So, picking something you think about—all the time—is key if you’re looking to build a long-term blog. But, this is just a little assignment, so don’t feel pressure to come up with THE blog for your future. Just something interesting to get you started. If you can’t think of an idea, try this idea.)

Continue reading ‘Learning to use WordPress’

Talking about Citizen Journalism

On Thursday we move from discussing the pro-am hybrid of networked journalism to the more purely user-generated content of citizen journalism. In truth, the distinctions between the two concepts are somewhat fuzzy—the former being a new way of thinking and reporting on the part of professional journalists … and the latter, well, also representing a novel way of doing news, but more from the end-user side of the equation.

But let’s not get bogged down by semantics. The goal is to deepen our understanding of an ongoing but still unpredictable movement in the media toward a more participatory, open-source news paradigm.

You’re set to read my forthcoming book chapter (still a work in progress, so I welcome your feedback) and the oldie-but-goodie “11 Layers of Citizen Journalism” by Steve Outing. (And lest those readings paint a too-rosy picture of citizen journalism, be aware that early examples of the form have struggled, for reasons Jay Rosen can explain.)

As you think about the book chapter especially, some questions worth considering: What exactly is “citizen journalism” (and is that the right name for it)? Why should we care about the motivations, methods, and momentum behind this phenomenon? Regarding the last section of the chapter (p. 11 on)—how would you add to (or subtract from) the outline of trends in convergence, concentration, and conversation? What would you change? In short, what do you envision as the future for particpatory news? … Bottom line: Let’s explore the “so what” of citizen journalism.

Networked Journalism

Post your responses to the SuperMedia chapters here (by noon Tuesday). Focus particularly on chapter 2, but also discuss which of the book’s remaining chapters you chose to read—and provide a summary/analysis of it, for the benefit of those who read other chapters.

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