Posts about cuny

Media under microscope

Francis Beckett in The Guardian says that British academics and news professionals sniff at media studies. But the truth is that we need to study media now more than ever for media are in upheaval and it’s a great time to watch.

However genteel the language, what Cambridge has effectively done is stick a flashing neon sign saying “Mickey Mouse subject” over the door of the media studies department in every school, college and university in Britain. . . .

Maybe Feldman has hit on the subtext behind journalists’ contempt for the subject. They are not at all sure they like people responding to the media. Media studies students examine the actions of editors and journalists, and sometimes find them wanting. Media folk, as a class, are not used to being examined. If there is to be examination, they prefer it to be done by their own kind, hence the explosion of “media commentators” in the newspapers, the majority of them former editors.

Guilty.

Entrepreneurial journalism

In the middle of Mark Glaser’s good consideration of the Carnegie-Knight News 21 project, a year into it, he makes this intriguing suggestion:

So why not take the $6 million and create real new-media incubator businesses? Stanford University helped create Yahoo and Google, but those companies didn’t come from the journalism school. Perhaps the journalism schools could team with computer programming departments to create hybrid sites that combine the best technology of sites such as Digg or YouTube with the editorial standards that come from journalism.

We need that kind of innovation and daring in the industry — and it’s not coming from the industry.

This is why I added a course/lab in entrepreneurial interactive journalism into the CUNY curriculum; I’ll be teaching it next fall. The idea is that students will come up with and flesh out ideas for new businesses or products. I’m hoping that some of them may even come to life. But I’d like suggestions from you all on how to make this work, how to make it more than just prototypes, which journalism schools pump out regularly. What can bring the kind of entrepreneurial drive to journalism and media that Mark notes at Stanford around technology and media?

Mark’s story continues:

Ford, a fellow at Northwestern, told me he thinks journalism schools should be a place for innovation and experimentation as they live outside the commercial media world.

“In many industries, universities are the breeding ground for the cutting edge,” he said. “Whether it be science, industry, business or engineering, often university research can foster new development in a given industry. This has not always been the case in journalism schools. More often than not, students in J-schools are being trained on outdated equipment, with outdated technology, with the ultimate focus on theory and basic skills. This training can produce good, even great journalists — an admirable goal — but it does little to move journalism forward in innovation.

“Few are the media organizations with the resources and time to commit to experimenting with new ways of reporting and disseminating content. News21 is an experiment in itself, a chance for the time and resources to be committed for the sole purpose of trying something new. Whether our work resonates or not will be evident in coming weeks. In the end, it was a daring experiment, and will be worth its effort in lessons learned, if nothing else.”

I should add that there are elements of this at the Northwestern Medill program. I worked with Rich Gordon and the students there on the GoSkokie hyperlocal project at the same time that they created new sections for the Lee newspapers. Both projects, are sadly, history and I think that may be because they depended on big, old media companies to nurture them. That is no longer necessary. And I’d say it’s also not desirable, for big new ideas — Yahoo, Google, MySpace, Flickr, About, YouTube, Wikipedia… — could grow bigger faster on their own.

For the first time since William Randolph Hearst, journalists can think and act independently and entrepreneurially. So how do we help them do that?

LATER: Two minutes after posting this, Rich Gordon gave me the good news that I am wrong about the continuing life of those two projects: But your post is wrong that both projects are history. Lee killed the print property but kept it alive online. And it’s really great news that, as Rich says, “the Skokie Library took the GoSkokie ball and ran with it” at SkokieTalk, crediting the Medill project as the inspiration.

: AND: Terry Heaton and I seize on the same paragraph.

Converge

Catching up, I see this report on the Washington Post now outfitting correspondents with video cameras to feed the web not just with words but with action.

Blog or perish

Prof. Susan Crawford wonders whether blogging is a professorial endeavor — that is, whether it should count for the final exam of the teaching set: tenure. In an interview with fellow profs, she said:

I took a “law professors are people too” approach to the questions we were asked. I see scholarship and blogging as separate endeavors, and I enjoy getting the chance to speak here without footnotes. I feel as if I’m part of an enormous collaborative and creative endeavor online. I don’t expect for a moment that my colleagues will consider my posts when I’m up for tenure.

Ah, but isn’t the link the new and improved footnote? Doesn’t Technorati provide a new and open form of peer review? And isn’t it wonderful to get a professorial perspective in a timely manner? I was grateful the other day when I could go to Prof. Jack Balkin’s blog soon after the Supreme Court’s whistlestopping decision and get his learned analysis.

No — surprise — I am not suggesting that blogging should replace traditional scholarship and publishing; there is, of course, a need for research, consideration, review, and publishing (digitally, too!). But I’ll argue here — as I do in the discussion about books and in the discussion about journalists blogging — that we are better off with both. Now that the internet gives us this new opportunity to talk with and listen to the public from our perches, why wouldn’t we grab it?

If professors blog as professors, they bring their scholarship and perspective to a larger world. That is good for their scholarship — conversation yields learning as people question and challenge and add to what you say — and, presumably, it is good for the world if they contribute knowledge and perspective to the public discussion. Professors need to come down from the tower and peek through the ivy; they need to return to the public square, just as my blogging friend and teacher Prof. Jay Rosen says that journalists should end the separation they put between themselves and the public they serve. In fact, I will argue that when the restructuring that is coming to every other profession thanks to the internet inevitably comes to the academe — when people will find the learning they want in more places and the role of universities and their faculties goes through upheaval just like the role of journalists and newspapers — then the academics and the institutions that are open to the world will be in a better position to survive and prosper and matter. So MIT is right to put its curriculum online. And professors are right to blog.

I’ve been thinking about this not only in the context of journalists who blog but academics who blog because I’ll soon be — or will attempt to be — both, when I start teaching at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism in September. My own blog will continue to be me — that is, a mix of blatherings about media and journalism but also rants about Dell and personal notes about 9/11 and Howard Stern moments like the post directly below. Think of it as my end of a college cocktail party: some collegial debate about professional topics and some personal chatter, the more of the latter the later the night gets. I would not require students to read my blog (though I suppose that’s not much different from making them buy your own book for a class). But I will be aware that they may see what I say here and if they do, I hope they challenge me on it. I’ll also be aware that fellow faculty may read it and may have cause to argue with it. I’d relish that, and I’d bet the students would … if that were a discussion via links among mutual blogs.

So, yes, I think that journalists should blog because it is good for them to open the process of journalism, to meet and respond to the public they serve, and to invite that public into that process to improve it.

And I think that professors should blog — should take advantage of this new form of publication, that is, if it’s appropriate to their specialties and styles — because they should be generous with their knowledge and they would benefit from the conversation and because their institutions would benefit from building a new relationship with the public. So, yes, I think that blogging can and should count toward tenure, if universities are smart.

And I say that not just because I despair at finding the time to write one of those old-fashioned things called books.

: LATER: See, too, Ryan Sholin.

Teaching the teachers

Jonathan Last has lots of suggestions for J-schools.

Time to break some rules

Adrian Holovaty, the most creative and the most creatively productive guy we still have in the news biz in this country, gives the commencement speech at his j-school alma mater:

…But, most of all, the foundation is important because you need to understand the rules before you can break them. And now, more than ever, this industry needs to break some rules….

Graduates, the fire should be burning under each and every one of you. You should be yearning — aching — to bring this industry into a new age. Your generation — our generation — is going to be the one to do it. You’re going to be the people breaking the rules. You’re going to be the people inventing new ones….

Guardian column: Zeyad

My latest Guardian column is about Zeyad and his birth as a journalist — and war correspondent — as a tale about what the tools of citizens’ media can help create.

So witness the power of the humble tools of citizens’ media. A citizen dentist used them to become a journalist. He used them to give the world a unique and human perspective on a story where too much is unreported. He gained an appreciative and supportive audience around the world. He helped give birth to a new medium. And journalism is all the better for it.

(Nonregistration version here.)

Help Zeyad come to America

We all need to help Zeyad, the pioneering Iraqi blogger and journalist, come to America, where he will attend CUNY’s new Graduate School of Journalism. To get his student visa, he must show support for the year and a half that he will be here and that means raising at least $45,000. We are reaching out to foundations and individuals and working on scholarships and Zeyad is working to raise money. But that won’t do it all. We will. All of you inspired Zeyad to blog and give his invaluable perspective on Iraq. That inspired him to give up his career as a dentist and report for his blog as well as for NYTimes.com, the Washington Post, and the Guardian. So now I hope we will all show what the blogosphere can do and raise the funds one of our own needs to come to America to study. You have two means to give.

On Zeyad’s site, click on the CONTRIBUTE button and give a donation directly to him via PayPal or credit card.

Or you can give a tax-deductible contribution to CUNY earmarked for Zeyad’s scholarship. Send your check made out to “Cuny Graduate School of Journalism” to:
Dean Steve Shepard
CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
535 E. 80th St.
New York, NY 10021
Make sure to note that this is for the “Zeyad Scholarship.”

And please spread the word on all your blogs. Zeyad is one of us and we help our own.

Over the years, many of you kind souls have offered to contribute to a tip jar on my site. Do this instead, please.

Thank you.