Posts about guardian

NewBizNews: The podcast

The latest edition of the Guardian MediaTalkUSA podcast, which I present, features the work of CUNY’s New Business Models for News Project and discussion with two folks who know hyperlocal: Deb Galant, founder of Baristanet, whom I crowned the queen of hyperlocal; and Jim Willse, editor of the Star-Ledger (who begins the podcast confessing that he began his day reading papers … online).

What’s fascinating is that Galant and Willse extend the idea of local networks.
* Galant wished for a local associated press that would enable news organizations and local blogs to share content and distribute each other.
* Galant at first resisted the idea of ad networks because, to date, they devalue sites and she’s already getting national and regional ads – but then, when asked whether she’d want a piece of advertising that would be up for grabs if a metro paper dies, she relented. The problem is that we need a new word and reputation for networks.
* Willse proposed a co-op apartment model in which the members of the ecosystem/network (call it what you will) engage others – a super – to perform mutual tasks (that’s the role of the framework in our NewBizNews models; it’s what Mark Potts’ Growthspur hopes to provide as a service).
* Galant and Willse also liked the idea of collaborating on journalism, doing more as a group than any of its members could do alone. That’ll be the subject of their next lunch.

It is gratifying to see these people who work in the heart of local adopting and extending some of the ideas we discussed at the Aspen Institute.

By the way, we will hold another meeting in New York to discuss the models, sometime in early November (as soon as I’m sure I’ll be back in full fettle). In the meantime, please take a listen:

The public life

The Guardian asked me to write a column about the transparent life and my writing about my prostate cancer. Here it is:

* * *

In the company of nudists, no one is naked and there is nowhere to hide. In this space and on my blog, I have been arguing that with the internet, we are entering an age of publicness when we need to live, do business and govern in the open. So I was left with little choice when I learned I had prostate cancer. I had to blog it.

So far, no regrets. Oh, one troll tweeted that in my blog post, I had merely used my cancer to plug my book (which, by the way, is entitled What Would Google Do?). But my Twitter friends beat him up on my behalf. I got emails pushing nutty cures on me – yes, there is cancer spam – but Gmail’s filters killed them for me. And I have had to be mindful not to bring my family into my glass house; my transparency shouldn’t necessarily be theirs.

But it has all been good. On my blog, on others’, in Twitter, and in email, I received an instant and lasting shower of good wishes and some good advice about my choice of surgery. My brothers in malignancy have shared their experiences with generous candour. I even inspired a few of them to blog their own stories. They joined me in urging men to have the PSA blood test that revealed my cancer.

After my blog post sharing the diagnosis was republished last week in the Guardian, I heard from Emma Halls, chairman of the UK Prostate Cancer Research Foundation, who said the disease affects almost as many men as breast cancer does women, but it gets less funding and little attention.

That stands to reason. We men don’t like talking about penises – certainly not when they malfunction. Discussing one’s incontinence and impotence post-surgery – both temporary, we hope – well, it doesn’t get much more transparent than that. It’s one matter for me to disclose my business relationships, politics, religion, and stock ownership on my blog’s “about” page; it’s another to do this.

So I think I’ve become about as transparent as a man can. I am living the public life. There are dangers here. I risk becoming merely a medical and emotional exhibitionist. And I know I have violated my own privacy to an extreme.

But I think we need to shift the discussion in this era of openness from the dangers to privacy to the benefits of publicness. It’s not privacy that concerns me, but control. I must have the right and means to keep my disease secret if I choose.

By revealing my cancer, I realise benefits, and so can society: if one man’s story motivates just one more who has the disease to get tested and discover it, then it is worth the price of embarrassment. If many people who have a condition can now share information about their lifestyles and experience, then perhaps the sum of their data can add up to new medical knowledge. I predict a day when to keep such information private will be seen by society as being selfish.

Collectively, we will use the internet’s ability to gather, share and analyse what we know to build greater value than we could on our own. That is the principle of transparency that I want companies and governments to heed: that openness in their information and actions must become their default, that holding secrets only breeds mistrust and robs them and us of the value that comes from sharing.

I believe this openness at the source will become a critical element in a new, linked ecosystem of news, as institutions and individuals will be expected to provide maximal information on the web. Such open intelligence also allows an unlimited number of watchdogs on those in power, helping to bring about a new, collaborative – and ultimately, I hope, more effective and efficient – system of journalism.

So for me, transparency is a necessary ethic of the age. That is why I used my medium, my blog, to share my prostate cancer. If I believe in the value of publicness, how could I not?

Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts

I have two podcasts to plug this week:

* The latest Guardian Media Talk USA podcast is up. David Folkenflik, NPR correspondent, and John Temple, ex editor of the Rocky Mountain News and now a damned fine media blogger, and I talk about the AP, the TechCrunch/Twitter affair, and news as charity. I also interview Josh Cohen, product manager of Google News.

* Leo Laporte, Gina Trapani, and I recorded the inaugural edition of This Week in Google (TWiG). You can watch it in video here and listen to the podcast here. We discuss all kinds of things: Apple (AT&T) blocking Google Voice; the importance of Google Wave and the live web; the AP (again); Gmail getting rid of that damned “on behalf of”; Microsoft Office (finally) going into the cloud. Great fun.

I wish I could embed both of them here (hint, hint) but go take a listen and please subscribe.

Guardian column: Charity v. collaboration

My Guardian column this week expands on an idea I discussed here, about viewing charity to news organizations as collaboration in the news ecosystem. The kicker: “Charity is likely to be a contributor to the future of news. So will volunteer labour in the form of bloggers and crowdsourcing. But we still need a business model for news. News still needs to be profitable to survive. It’s not a church.”

Government by the people

In the midst of the UK’s MP expenses scandal – and as Gordon Brown’s government teeters, with nudges over the edge from The Guardian itself – the paper asked its columnists and then its readers to reform, even reinvent government. The results are in and are fascinating.

Tom Clark’s writeup in today’s paper service is quick to point out that this is a survey of Guardian readers with their baggage in their left hands. But that makes it even more surprising that, for example, 70% say they do not support demographic quotas as a means to configure Parliament. They want to change voting and the structure of Parliament and they want a constitution. May I recommend a First Amendment?

What’s exciting about this is that it turns the usual discourse around, shifting from complaining about government to doing something about it, taking responsibility. After the destructive comes the constructive.

: Speaking of…. See also Kevin Anderson’s report from the Deutsche Welle conference on the need for journalists to focus more on solutions than problems. More here.

: And see Lloyd Shepard’s tweet: “sheesh. when voting is a process of elimination, you know democracy’s in trouble. this is how people end up supporting arsenal”

No gadget savior

My Guardian column this week reports on my weeks’ experiment of reading The New York Times and Wall Street Journal only on my Kindle. I’m still reading The Times that way, though I think I prefer the iPhone for that and will likely switch. When the Journal raised its price from $9.99 to $14.99, I canceled. Snippet:

…The reader works wonderfully for books. But it also tries to turn a newspaper into a book, starting us on the first page of the first story and nudging us through its awkward user interface to proceed a page-turn at a time through the entire product, as we used to on paper. The digital among us, however, no longer read news in this way. Online, we search and link and flit and explore. We are in control of the experience, not some editor somewhere.

Online, news has been freed from its packaging. Indeed, that is a key architectural underpinning of the web itself: content is separated from presentation. The same text and media can be fed into a web page, or into an iPhone app or an RSS feed. Substance parts company with style. . . .

We care less about the form of news and more about the information it imparts. That is the key strategic problem for editors and publishers hoping to charge us online: once news is known, it is knowledge that can be spread through conversation, which means it can no longer be controlled behind a pay wall. News is spread in the speed of a tweet. The half-life of a scoop’s value is lessened but the value of links grows. . . .

But in news, neither the device nor the form matters nearly as much as the information and its timing. This requires that publishers unleash their news on every device possible. But no single gadget will be their saviour. None will bring back the good old days – if they were that – of news and the world delivered in neat little packages we paid for.

MediaTalkUSA podcast is up

The second edition of the Guardian MediaTalkUSA podcast is up, with On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone and The New York Times’ David Carr having at it, plus interviews with Craig Newmark and Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman, plus news from PaidContent. Enjoy (I hope).

The premier of Media Talk USA

The Guardian’s first American podcast, Media Talk USA, just debuted. Warning: I’m the host. In the first monthly episode, I interview Arianna Huffington and I’m joined in the studio for a spirited discussion with Jay Rosen of NYU and Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal. Plus, Paid Content reports on U.S. media news. Here’s what I said about it at the Guardian site:

We need it on this side of the water because American media do not get the depth of coverage that UK media enjoy (or don’t) from Media Guardian and its competitors. CNN’s Reliable Sources concentrates mostly on politics and media. Public radio’s On the Media is quite good but tends not to worry about the latest news. I blogged sometime ago that I wished OtM would take on more current news but its cohost, Brooke Gladstone, told me that wasn’t what they were about. “If that’s what you want, start your own show, Jeff,” she said. So here we are.

And there is more than enough news about the news to cover and dissect. Listeners in the UK might be wise to look at the wave of destruction overtaking US newspapers as the canary in the coal mine. Over-leveraged news companies are going bankrupt; huge swathes of newsrooms are being wiped out; newspapers are starting to die and more will follow. TV and radio stations will find themselves in similar straits. Advertising is in for more upheaval than they dare to imagine. But on the other hand, entrepreneurs and investors across the country and popping up with new businesses and new business models for news and media. At Media Talk USA, we will jump off the news to examine the state and fate of media with a variety of provocative guests.

Please give a listen.