Posts about cuny

Who does what

Richard Sambrook, the visionary director of global news at the BBC, blogs about the role of citizen journalism but, more interesting to me, he codifies what professional journalists do in a distributed world:

So if information is commodotised, and the public can tell their own stories, what’s the role for the journalist? I came up with three things – verification (testing rumour and clearing fog), explanation (context and background) and analysis (a Google search won’t provide judgement). And journalists still have the resources to go places and uncover things that might otherwise remain hidden. Citizens can do all of those things, but not consistently, and with even less accountability than the media. Brand still matters.

I would add that the professionals also have to add a few new roles, both of which require a new level of openness and generosity: They need to share their knowhow with citizen journalists (I dare not say “train” them but rather let their reader-colleagues know how to avoid libel or get access to records or doublecheck a source). And they need to share trust (that is, find out who knows their stuff and link to them, since the professional journalist can no longer pretend to cover everything). [via David Weinberger]

Tear up the tracks and the business cards

Paul Conley goes to a confab of college media advisers (which, unfortunately, I couldn’t attend) and writes a frightening report on the attitude of some journalism students today who want to maintain the old and obsolete distinctions among media. I have been arguing that people in newsrooms must tear up their business cards, getting rid of their job descriptions as print or broadcast or new media. All media are new today. Conley makes it apparent that the same thing must happen in schools; we have to tear up the tracks:

Perhaps the strangest thing I’ve run into is what I’ve come to think of as the silo student. Kids keep handing me resumes that look like they were written 20 years ago. They mention the student newspaper, the yearbook and the college literary magazine. But they don’t mention Web sites, blogs, email newsletters, podcasts, html skills, citizen journalism projects, video, etc. And when I ask the students about their online experience, I get these weird responses. Lots of them tell me “I only want to work for a newspaper.” Lots of them say things like “I’m going to be a writer, not anything else.” Some seem genuinely perplexed and ask me if I think “most newspapers have Web sites?” or if “reporters need to do things on the Web?”

When I asked teachers what they thought about this, I found that they were as upset as I was by their students’ disconnect from the realities of media today. Teachers told me over and over again that their students were adamantly opposed to converging news operations at their schools. The print kids don’t like the TV kids; the Web kids don’t like the print kids, etc. The “cultures” don’t mix, so the products don’t mix and the students don’t develop multimedia skills. Remarkably, as one teacher pointed out, few print students actually “lived” in the world of old media. They all owned iPods. They snap photos with cell phones, communicate with Instant Messenger and join social-networking sites. Yet they expect to work in some sort of old-fashioned land of ink and paper. A number of teachers blamed the disconnect on their peers in college journalism programs. Many programs are dominated by older, established teachers who haven’t worked in the press for decades and have an open contempt for newer forms of media. And no doubt such elitist dinosaurs are helping to create a new generation of unemployable followers.

With gravy

Jay Rosen’s NYU blogging class produces a Blue Plate Special exhaustively reviewing big newspapers’ blogs, charting the state of the art, and interviewing USA Today’s Kinsey Wilson. I’ve been playing with the idea of having journalism students review media — wondering whether it was too meta — but I think this proves it works.

Class

Here’s a good nuts-and-bolts interview with my next boss, Steve Shepard, about the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

But ask Mr. Shepard why he is here, and the first answer out of his mouth is something else. “There needs to be a publicly funded graduate school of journalism in this part of the world,” says Mr. Shepard, who took up his CUNY post last April. “There’s not one in the entire Northeast, which means if you don’t have $35,000, you’re out of luck. And that just doesn’t seem right.”

And then he segues into his diversity talk, a frequent theme: “People complain all the time that the profession isn’t diverse enough. And I don’t mean diversity just in the sense of racial and ethnic diversity, but I mean in class terms, too. Working-class people, immigrants, people who have served in the military. The press in this country is not very representative.”

School’s open

I just spent two days teaching the light tools of new media for the future faculty of CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism with Will Richardson (whose book is coming out soon), Saul Spicer of CUNY TV, and my son, Jake. It was exhausting, challenging, and fun. The faculty was eager, curious, and tolerant of my learning about teaching while teaching.

Here’s an outline of what we covered. We didn’t concentrate on the tools that allow news sites to add bells and whistles — the usual definition of new media — but, instead, on the tools that allow anyone to report, edit, add to, challenge, and organize news across media. The most important message I wanted to leave with the group — the headline of the PowerPoint overview at the start — was that these tools really are as simple as they look; that’s why so many are using them. The question is how we take advantage of this to expand and improve journalism and journalism education. What was best about all this was the discussion of the new opportunities made possible by these new tools — and no small debate about the dangers, which is where I always find journalists, in the classroom or the newsroom, approaching this phenomenon. A year ago, those fearing danger drowned out those seeing opportunity; today, everywhere, that tide has turned.

I think this sort of session would work well in newsrooms to bring out creative ideas for using these tools to find new ways to gather and share news: Get the bloggers to show everyone how to blog, the podcasters podcasting. Turn the newsroom into a classroom.

: Here’s Will Richardson’s take on the day. I’ll know I’ll have succeeded in corrupting our world when I can also point to 20 faculty blogs with their takes.