Posts about journalism

In Media Guardian

A second personal announcement: I am now a regular, every-other-week columnist for Media Guardian.

I’m delighted and honored to be there because I’ve long admired the Guardian’s media section and because I think the Guardian is the best-written newspaper in the world (in English, at least). And note that I’m there not thanks to my resume but thanks to my blog. In fact, they say they want me to write for print on themes I’ve explored here — how shall we say this? — for screen.

It’s also cool to be in the first edition of the new, medium-sized, Berliner-format Guardian.

Today’s column reiterates and polishes up some of what I’ve written about news media and Katrina. The Reader’s Digest version, just the lead and the kicker:

In less than a day, Hurricane Katrina rendered worthless the printing presses and broadcast towers that made big media big. And that will change news forever….

But journalism’s rediscovered courage and newly discovered fallibility are, I will contend, less profound changes than the one brought on by the flooding of presses and the toppling of towers. For at that moment, news was freed from the shackles of media. Now he who controls distribution no longer controls news. And news is no longer shaped by the pipe that carries it. That is what Katrina did to the news.

Rex Hammock, a magazine publisher and fellow blogger at, wrote that the Times-Picayune and deserve a Pulitzer for their news blogs. I second that. It doesn’t matter whether the work came rolling off a press or a blog: it is journalism of the highest calibre and greatest service. The Pulitzer committee would serve journalism well by separating the content from the container, the medium from the message, and recognising great reporting wherever and however and from whomever it comes, with or without a press.

Sharing know-how

I’ve been remiss in not linking to J-Lab’s new J-Learning center, with lots of helpful advice and instruction helping anyone and everyone do journalism online.

Times change

I happen to have The Mean Season on the TV right now. Kurt Russell, playing a reporter at a Miami paper, is recording conversations with a murderer. Today, reporters in Miami get fired for less.

Follow the money

Cyberjournalist reports on a survey that finds that online workers fresh out of college are getting higher salaries than their print and TV cousins.

The survey found that the media online publishing salary in 2004 was $32,000. By comparison, the median salary for TV was $23,492; for cable TV was $30,000; for daily newspapers was $26,000; for weekly newspapers was $24,000; for radio was $23,000; and for consumer magazines was $27,000.

Since I wrote the new-media curriculum for the City University of New York’s new Graduate School of Journalism, I consider that good news.

But the real question is what an independent online writer (aka blogger) will be able to make soon, from a company a la Gawker Media or WeblogsInc or from advertising at Blogads et al. Where will the best and brightest of journalism’s future go? [via Lost Remote]

I unlearned everything I learned in kindergarten in j-school

Jay Rosen, back from a journalism educators’ confab, writes about what he used to teach but doesn’t now. A few of his bullets:

* I used to teach it implicitly: journalism is a profession. Now I think it’s a practice, in which pros and amateurs both participate. There were good things about the professional model, and we should retain them. But it’s the strength of the social practice that counts, not the health of any so-called profession. That is what J-schools should teach and stand for, I believe. I don’t care if they’re called professional schools. They should equip the American people to practice journalism by teaching the students who show up, and others out there who may want help.

Yes, and so we need to rethink how we look at the schools and their mission just as we look at the news organizations and their missions. More on this soon.

* I used to teach that the ethics of journalism, American-style, could be found in the codes, practices and rule-governed behavior that our press lived by. Now I think you have to start further back, with beliefs way more fundamental than: “avoid conflicts of interest in reporting the news.” If you teach journalism ethics too near the surface of the practice, you end up with superficial journalists.

* The ethics of journalism begin with propositions like: the world is basically intelligible if we have accurate reports about it; public opinion exists and ought to be listened to; through the observation of events we can grasp patterns and causes underneath them; the circle of people who know how things work should be enlarged; there is something called “the public record” and news adds itself meaningfully to it; more information is good for it leads to greater awareness, which is also good; stories about strangers have morals and we need to hear them, and so on. These are the ethics I would teach first….

* Alas, I used to teach that the world needs more critics; but it was an unexamined thing. Today I would say that the world has a limited tolerance for critics, and while it always needs more do-ers, it does not always need more chroniclers, pundits, or pencil-heads.