Getting started: Journalism 2.0

Welcome to fall term! It was great to have a full house in class today, and I’m looking forward to a great semester—especially with so many experienced seniors in multimedia among us.

As I mentioned in class, a Version 2.0 of the syllabus is coming soon, once we get a few scheduling issues ironed out. In that second version, I’ll spell out more clearly what we’ll read between now and the innovation project, at the least. That’s when the bulk of the reading comes in, during September and October—so, plan accordingly! (Syllabus 1.0 is available on Blackboard, as well as here.)

Meanwhile, in Week 2 (Sept. 1 and 3) we’re going to tackle the crucial background of the Web: how we got it, how it works, and why that matters for understanding current issues in media, journalism, and society at large.

In Tuesday’s class, we’re going to cover the basics of new technology in journalism: what are blogs? what is RSS? etc. Nuts-and-bolts kind of stuff. A good starter for that is to read Mark Briggs’ Journalism 2.0, the free PDF of which can be found here. I’ll admit: the text is starting to feel a little stale, which says something about the speed with which the new and unfamiliar can become old hat so quickly in our fast-paced era. But it’s still a very useful starting point for answering basic questions about how the Web works and what that means for journalism—the very bedrock of this class.

I’d like you to read pages 1-68. Focus particularly on chapters 1 (on RSS) … 2 (on Web 2.0) … and 5 (on how to blog). For some of you, this may feel redundant; just skim along and focus on the parts that are new for you. Then, as we discussed in class, please respond to the readings in the comments section of this post. What to write? Well, you might tell us what you learned, what surprised you, what questions you still have … or focus on the “so what” at stake: Why does any of this stuff matter for the future of journalism?

Reminder: Please respond by Monday at 8 p.m. Thanks!

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17 Responses to “Getting started: Journalism 2.0”


  1. 1 Lonny.A August 31, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I learned that web 1.0 was basically a one-sided deal, not allowing feedback from the readers while web 2.0 is more interactive with the readers allowing them to comment and to upload things themselves. Youtube and Ebay are a couple examples of 2.0; not sure of any examples from 1.0. I downloaded Trillian. That was pretty cool.

  2. 2 Samantha Borger August 31, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Two things I found interesting about the reading;
    1) In the Tools and Toys chapter, it was weird to see that the iPhone was not mentioned. Then I remembered that the book was written in 2006, and the iPhone was not available until the following summer. It’s hard to believe the iPhone has only been around for 2.5 years. I don’t own one, but it seems like half of my friends do, and it’s strange to think about a time when wireless internet was not available on the average cell phone.

    2) I also liked the idea of every reporter having a blog. This concept reminds me of the special features on a DVD. It has deleted scenes, extra interviews and information that would not fit in the normal length movie. A blog to supplement a story can provide extra quotes and behind the scenes information that shrinking newspapers cannot fit on their pages. I also agree with the idea that a blogger should be passionate about their subject. I think the best blog posts are interesting because their writers chose to dig deeper into the subject because they, themselves, found it interesting. A blog post is boring if you can tell it was assigned.

  3. 3 Jennifer August 31, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I thought Chapter 5: How to Blog was the most interesting chapter in Journalism 2.0, maybe because I love to read blogs or maybe because this chapter was filled with lots of really valuable information.
    I agree with most of Briggs’ points in the chapter, especially that every journalist should have a blog they are passionate about. I personally would much rather read a blog than a newspaper article lately. Some of the best writing I’ve read has been in blogs.
    And while informal writing is probably one of the benefits of a reading blog, I found that I partly disagree with Briggs’ advice that blogs should be written like e-mail.
    “Think e-mail: One way to get your mind around the idea of blogging is to think of it as an e-mail to someone you know. They know you’re “in the know” on this subject so you don’t have to work to prove your worth. You can be economical with your words but much more conversational than you’d be in a news story. Think about that long-winded e-mail you receive — that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid” (Briggs 57).
    I think that if journalists are trying to encourage people who are unfamiliar with reading the news online and uncomfortable with new media technology altogether, then the approach should not be to write as if they are “in the know.” I do think writing should be conversational because that is what will eventually keep readers coming back to the blog but I can see how for someone who knows nothing about the blogosphere how intimidating that type of writing might initially seem. These types of news readers already feel out of place without their newspaper in front of them – why make them feel completely out of the loop? The point is to encourage readers who feel uncomfortable with new media, not send them away. I agree with Briggs in that when writing a blog the language should be conversational but maybe that should be done with a bit of caution.
    I also really enjoyed Briggs’ thoughts on blog comments. Briggs said on page 59, “Second, you should embrace comments as a valuable reporting tool and not disdain them as many traditional journalists do.” I’ve read and heard so many complaints from journalists that blogs and their ensuing comments detract from journalism but by taking Briggs’ point of view it is easy to see the how valuable a comment is. I like the idea of the blog being a running dialogue and posts creating a new community. I think this is one of the most valuable points Briggs makes for journalism in the future (or present).

  4. 4 jfritz07 August 31, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I first read Web 2.0 last fall. A year later I am struck by how my news/information consumption has changed since applying some of the basic Web tools described in the reading. For me, the use of tools like RSS readers, Twitter, Google Maps, APIs, and so on has made it much easier to make the Web work for me. That being said, it can also be an overload when you have so much information indexed and waited to be viewed.
    The part of the reading that stuck out most this go around is when Briggs writes, “It’s all about open — open-source software allowing users control and flexibility, open standards to allow new creation.” We can see these open standards being applied all over the place. One of my favorite examples of openness is the fact that sites like the New York Times, NPR, and Open Secerets.org, to name a few, have opened up their APIs (basically libraries of information) for people to use and customize in creative ways. This type of openness has truly allowed people an enormous amount of control over the way they interact with the Web. I guess one challenge in this vein is to find a business model that allows all of this free/openness to continue.

  5. 5 msherfield August 31, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I learned an embarrassing amount about blogs and internet content, in large part because I haven’t gone out of my way previously to learn about them, so that was quite good. I could say I’ve gained a lot more respect for the idea of journalism and reporting through these new mediums, even Twitter although it wasn’t mentioned, and am actually looking forward to venturing into them for the first time.
    I also took a couple of Briggs’ ideas and examples to heart, specifically about sharing information and using these new technologies, and am planning to incorporate that into my coverage of the UT football team for the Daily Texan this semester, so stay tuned.
    The RSS stuff was also a helpful and informative way to track all the information floating about the internet and in conjunction with our other assignment, I’m making it a point to follow this stuff a lot more than I have done in the past.
    All in all, I would say this was a very useful introduction into the wide world of internet journalism and all of the potential advantages it could offer with the right approach and a little creativity.
    Now I’m off to learn how to love my blog.

  6. 6 Tiffany Tso August 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    This reading proved to be pretty useful — obviously.

    I learned about the background information for programs and applications I had been currently using, and about a few new things. I suppose I have been living under a rock. For example, I have used Google Reader for a good amount of time, but I did not know what an RSS feed was or that there were standalone programs that could do the same thing. Further, I did not know what RSS stood for, which was kind of a funny fact. Another great example is the creation and use of Web 2.0. The Web pages the book gave as examples were ones I was very familiar with, but I did not realize the social and journalistic undertones that came with the uses of these pages. Well, yes, I realized they helped me stay much more in tune with millions of other users and that they were different than your usual Web site (like the information page for a recycling center, or an Nsync fan page with only photos of the band and commentation, etc.), but I did not realize that they were such a revolution when it came to inter-connectivity and the journalism field. I did not realize they were Web pages necessary to harness the skills behind modern day journalism. It seems that many little internet and computer tools I had been aware of previously can come in handy in this fast-developing journalism world.

  7. 7 Katherine August 31, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I have to admit I know absolutely nothing about computers. I know how to check e-mail, use facebook and work on assignments using Word. I have only recently started reading blogs. The first chapter seemed pretty helpful with the breakdown of everything involving the internet, but I feel chapter 2 was very interesting. Chapter 2 mentions the Digg Effect, which I never even considered. The Digg Effect is the first time people can comment on stories instantly instead of writing to an editor and hoping they publish the comment in the next issue. I think that’s ultimately why receiving news on the internet is successful. The author states, “news is a conversation, not a lecture” (p. 36). Times are changing and people don’t want to be lectured to anymore. People want to agree/disagree with the writer and share their own opinion.

  8. 8 Adam Aldrete August 31, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    This reading assignment provided some useful guidance for utilizing the new tools we journalists have at our disposal. Although I have heard about RSS feeds, I did not really know what they were and how they could be applied to a news audience. The ability of news consumers to consolidate and select their news with such ease is good motivation for journalists to evolve. Facilitating dialogue and involving readers in the conversations seems to be the new way of processing the news. 67 of the 80 major newspapers with at least one blogger open the blog up for comments from the general public according to a 2006 study by the Bivings Group found in chapter four. This is a huge change from the “Letter to the editor” section in the paper.
    Also, the book provided a good list of blog lingo (post, permalink, trackback, blogroll, linkblog, vlog, and moblog), most of which I did not know. Interestingly, Microsoft Word 2008 claims that these words are misspelled. This is a testimony to the speed at which Web 2.0 and Journalism 2.0 are developing.

  9. 9 timgarlitz August 31, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I must admit that I had never known what digg and rss feeds actually were prior to taking this course. It was interesting to find out what they are actually used for and who uses them. I didn’t see very many mentions of facebook despite the fact that I thought it was as popular as Myspace back in 2007. Twitter was mostly still unknown at the time, but I could have sworn that Facebook was much more prominent than Myspace by the end of 2006.

    By adding applications and updates like the fan pages and the ability to post so much information, I feel like Facebook and Twitter could soon make RSS feeds obsolete. If all of your blogs are linked into your social networking site, it seems that it could become redundant to also have to visit your Google Reader in the future. Bur I could be wrong.

  10. 10 austintries5 August 31, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I usually get one of two responses when I tell people I am pursing a degree in journalism. There is the minority who react with excitement and admiration, showering compliments that I must be a talented writer. And then there is the majority, the reality that respond with questions and remarks expressing concern for my future in a measly one-bedroom apartment, living paycheck to paycheck. That is of course if I am lucky enough to actually find a job upon graduation.

    It is no secret that because of the Internet and the ability for anyone to start a blog or find news for free, journalism is in a timid state; however, I optimistically, perhaps foolishly, cling to the words of Fluffy Cash, “the world will always need story tellers.” The exciting news is with the rise in Internet news and user-generated content, I believe journalism is one of the few professions that will be re-written by journalists in my generation, and it starts with learning about using the Internet, blogs and social networking sites.

    Admittedly, before yesterday, I did not have a subscription to Google reader and I rarely read blogs. Not because I lack the will to learn and read more, but because I felt I lacked the knowledge of how to find credible sources to read. With the millions of blogs to sift through we are now facing the problem of information overload and have to decide what is credible and worthy of reading. That is a skill I hope to gain from this class and from personal exploration.

    Another topic I found interesting in these first 68 pages was how much technology has changed since this publication. At some point they were talking of 3G as the future and they did not even mention the iPhone and the technological crater it left on the gadget world. With the iPhone, searching the Internet on a mobile device is simple and as enthralling as looking at a web page from a laptop. Also, there was no mention of Twitter and Facebook was only talked about once.

    Technology will continue to change and evolve from year to year and I think the most desirable trait rookie journalists can have is the ability to adapt and change in order to appeal to a greater audience. So if my future is that one-bedroom apartment, my response is — bring it on.

  11. 11 Erin Harris August 31, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    The whole blogging phenomenon is fairly new to me. I’ve never blogged, and I don’t regularly read blogs. The closest I’ve come to reading a blog is Perez Hilton for a few weeks a couple years ago, but I now rely on my Perez addicts to keep me posted. Pardon my lack of blog knowledge. I plan to learn a lot about blogs over the semester so that I can start a blog of my own. One of my goals is to develop a voice and personality online, and this seems to be the perfect place to begin – writing for peers and a professor… not future employers just yet!

    Of the blogs I read for this assignment, Ryan Sholin’s “There is no newspapers” caught, and kept, my attention. He made me realize something I should have caught onto before: statements beginning with “newspapers are/should/can’t/have to” are entirely over generalized. It’s true – there is no single type of newspaper. Therefore, what will keep one newspaper successful doesn’t necessarily help another. Yes, newspaper circulation is plummeting and yes, people in our field are being laid off at an incredible rate, but the business of journalism is not dying out any time soon. That’s what it begins to sound like when we lump all newspapers together.

    Journalism will morph and evolve, and we will learn the best way to disseminate information to our audiences whether they are local, national, online, international, daily, monthly, hourly, etc. audiences. We are at a critical time in journalism and it’s up to our generation of journalists and citizens to make sure everyone stays informed.

  12. 12 Leigh. August 31, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    i consider myself fairly computer-literate, but this was still really interesting (tiffany — i didn’t know what ‘rss’ stood for either.)
    i can mostly echo the sentiments expressed by the others. a lot of the information seemed pretty outdated. i guess it’s a testament for things like online readers since by the time things get published and circulated widely enough, they’re old news.
    i love blogging and reading blogs — my google reader is out of control. HOWEVER, i have to admit that at points during the reading i thought it was a little blog-centric. there is only so much you can read, and i am much more pro-aggregate than pro-every reporter blogging his or her take on things. if this could function like google wave hopefully will, then awesome. but if not, it seems kind of like information overload.

    also, sorry i’m 13 minutes late!

  13. 13 frankie marin August 31, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I’m late to the party, I know. I apologize.

    I liked the reading — I have to agree with some of the comments on here that pointed out the dated information in some paragraphs, but for the most part, it was refreshing to see a consolidated guide for beginning bloggers.

    I had a Google Reader prior to this class, as well as my own blogs, and I’m ashamed to say I started following piracy blogs to find albums months before they had been released to the general public. I wonder how many avid bloggers out there got that same illicit start.

    At the same time, I think blogging has a lot to offer besides album leaks and rumor-mongering that’s more suited for supermarket tabloids. Crowdsourcing seemed like an interesting concept to me — strength in numbers, group accuracy — but, like Wikipedia, it seems that aggregating biased blogs is subject to the ‘tragedy of the commons’. I’m still nevertheless excited to see how technology and journalism can be effectively reconciled.

  14. 15 billbowmanut September 1, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I have actually read portions of this before. Upon rereading it, despite the somewhat dated references, I found several interesting points.

    Kevin Cullen made a point at the start of Chapter 5 about the readability of blogs vs. newspaper pieces. He claimed that the web version was better because it allowed for more information.

    I think that the web 2.0’s main asset for users is the breadth of knowledge that can be learned about a topic. Previously, you read an article in a magazine, newspaper or even on “web 1.0” and you would have to search out more sources. Now, with the variety of mediums and perspectives available, there are infinite amounts of further information available.

    This presents journalists and the public with some advantages and problems. The credibility of information found on the web can be questionable. I recently read that wikipedia for example is changing the actual text color to relate to writer credibility. Citizen journalists not affiliated with larger organization could have laxer standards of verifiability. This is one problem with the proliferation of web journalism vis a vi journalistic standards. On the other side of the coin, maybe the public will turn out to be smarter than the organization and the truth will win out.

  15. 16 grantderigo September 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I have studied and used RSS feeds in different classes, but had not continued to use them in my personal life. I always saw them as just another way to bog you down with media, instead of going and living your life. I felt like I had a hard enough time keeping on top of current events reading the paper and watching morning news, why should I bog myself down reading all these stupid RSS feeds! However after reading the excerpt from Journalism 2.0, I realized that RSS feeds actually helped to fix the problems that I had perceived them creating. I can see how it saves time looking for relevant information, as long as you trust what sites you are subscribing to. I had always been amazed at people who wrote blogs commenting on current events and thought that they must have no lives and sit in front of the computer each day. I can see how skimming Google Reader a couple times a day can really help keep one up to date, especially if they are only interested in particular topics and don’t have time to sift through other content. I’m still a bit shaky on how Twitter works, but I’m starting to realize it has an actual purpose and is not the beginning of civilizations demise.

  16. 17 Cassandra H September 1, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I really like reading this first part of this book as a refresher for the terminology we use freely as journalists, especially in the multimedia section. Books such as these, even as dated as they are, make me feel inspired by the innovation that has come before us and what we are going to contribute to with our Knight News Challenge. It seems kind of daunting as well but I think once ideas start flowing and we get more in the swing of things it will be better.

    I really enjoyed the ideas and backgrounds of the RSS feeds, Youtube, Myspace, how Google started making a profit. I feel like these are the little things give some sort of light at the end of the tunnel that all of the good ideas are not taken. We are not wasting time doing these things that are fun and interesting to us, because millions of other people will enjoy and be entertained by these ideas as well.

    Just as other people have mentioned the lack of the iphone, twitter and other applications that we seem to not be able to live without today are not mentioned in this article also shows me that we are not lost. I feel like I came into this year with a chip on my shoulder that I am graduating in May and did not really understand what I had been doing with myself for the past three years, but parts of this book give me hope that innovation is possible and there IS light at the end of the tunnel.


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