Archive for September 22nd, 2009

Networks and the news process

As the nature of news-making changes in the digital era—becoming more of a dynamic process than creating a static product, more fluid than fixed—we need to get a grasp on what all of this means for the two key players here: the journalists, and the people formerly known as the audience (TPFKATA). As the models for creating and funding journalism change, new roles and responsibilities are emerging for both groups.

In class today, we discussed TPFKATA, primarily in terms of citizen journalism and crowdsourcing. Thursday, we try to see things from the perspective of the journalist. By that I mean something particular: We’re going to look at how journalists need to recast their role in the context of networks. Social networks. Information networks. Digital networks.

The Web, of course, is one big network; it’s a horizontal, non-linear form of communication, as opposed to the vertical, linear, hierarchical production process of the 20th century mass media model. And so to do journalism on the Web implies thinking about journalism in a fundamentally different way. Put another way, to replicate the one-way flow of journalism via a medium that, by nature, is a multi-way mode of communication … well, that is to invite all sorts of incongruities and awkwardness—which, in fact, we see with many online news sites today.

So, Thursday’s topic begins with networked journalism (related resources here, here and here). Let’s learn the basics of this concept: What is it, and why is it “new” to journalism? How does it propose to make the process of journalism better, more adaptive, better suited for the digital age? Looking ahead, can this kind of journalism work financially? How would it get funded? Give us your take on this new mode of newswork in the comments section (by classtime Thursday), and come prepared to discuss it.

Please read the Intro and chapters 1-2 of “SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save the World,” by Charlie Beckett. You can find PDFs for each of those chapters under “Table of Contents.”

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