Posts about jschool

Group hug: The big cooperation

Very good posting for a position at the City University of London: for a doctoral student to work with Sky News and an army of citizen journalists. Now that’s bringing worlds together.

This project affords excellent opportunities to explore concepts around citizen journalism in the mainstream news media, using a case study approach and participant observation.

For the first year of their PhD the appointee will work closely with Sky News on an innovative project to recruit several hundred “citizen journalists” to report on the next UK general election campaign. The project aims to allow contributors to do more than simply give their opinion; instead they will be expected to write stories, take pictures and possibly record video.

The appointee’s role would be to work closely with Sky News to recruit suitable contributors, mentor them and guide them in creating the right sort of content, and manage their contributions. The appointee will be responsible for ensuring that there is a broad mix of contributors in terms of party affiliation, background and expertise. The successful candidate will also be involved in the development of the website to best support the project and ensure that the material is used to its best advantage. The role requires editorial initiative, a nose for news, an understanding of what makes compelling online content and familiarity with the social networking community.

(Full disclosure: I’ve been consulting with SkyNews.)

Class dismissed

Neil McIntosh has damned good advice for journalism students, following up on a report about the state of j-schools and technology, below:

Again, for those at the back: if you think you want to be a journalist, I now don’t think there’s any excuse not to have a blog. The closer you get to looking around for jobs, the better it should be maintained. If you enter the jobs market without one, no matter how good your degree, you’re increasingly likely to lose out to people who better present all they can do, and have the experience of creating and curating their own site.

Back to the future

Still catching up on my RSS reading, I see this disturbing report from the journalism educators’ conference on the state of new media art in j-school and college papers. You’d think that they’d be way ahead of the industry, right? The young people live and breath this stuff, or so we’re told; soon we won’t even need to train them in multimedia because they’ll come in growing up omnimedia. Not so fast:

About 91 percent of college newspapers had online presences in 2007, but the percentages are much lower for other forms of college media — 36.3 percent for radio stations, 20.9 percent for television stations, 18.1 percent for magazines and 6 percent for yearbooks. There were, however, “appreciable gains” in the proportion of college media outlets using multimedia technologies in 2007 compared to 2006: For instance, in 2006, 20.9 percent used podcasts, versus 38.4 percent in 2007. The use of Weblogs increased from 19.8 to 35.8 percent, RSS feeds from 23.5 to 35.1 percent, streaming video from 16.6 to 30.5 percent, embedded video (including YouTube) from 9.6 to 42.4 percent and comments features from 39.6 to 57 percent.

It’s good news that only a third of college papers use blogs and RSS? Ouch. This isn’t just about being cool. It’s about jobs:

Meanwhile, even the smallest commercial newspapers, with 10,000 readers or fewer, are looking for reporting candidates with experience writing for the Web and uploading stories to the Internet, according to a survey of newspaper managing editors conducted by Wendelken and Toni B. Mehling of James Madison University. Of nine respondents in the “large daily newspaper” category (those with a circulation of 44,000 and above), eight required reporters to have skills in capturing audio while four required audio editing skills. Five required reporters to have skills in capturing video, while one required video editing expertise. Major newspapers, said Wendelken, “are looking at reporters to do these things from the start.”

When discussing barriers to new media education, panelists and audience members cited costs (although Murley stressed that many of the technologies can be used fairly cheaply), in addition to resistance from some faculty who lack multimedia skills themselves or otherwise don’t see the need to instruct undergraduates in the emerging platforms. But they also cited resistance from journalism students themselves.

“A lot of college students select their medium in high school. When they come onto campus, they’re already a TV person or a radio person or a newspaper person,” said Wendelken.

“I’m a print journalist,” he continued, imitating the attitude of many aspiring journalists. “Why do I need to learn video?”

There is no such thing as a print journalist anymore. There are journalists who now can work in any medium for any media company.

Pay no attention

Pete Hamill made an outrageous ruling on blogs and journalistic education on Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC yesterday. Ready, aim, flame:

You know blogging, the blogosphere. When I teach at NYU I try to tell these young potential journalists: don’t waste your time with blogs because you need to be somewhere where there are editors, where you are getting paid. A blog might be useful therapy, but it’s not, at this stage of its development, journalism. I think that is a big mistake to be doing that kind of stuff.

I think I’ll just let that sit there.

Lehrer and Hamill were talking about local reporters:

LEHRER: When I think about newspaper columnists, it seems to me there’s a lost generation. That the entire art has changed. There were people like you and Jimmy Breslin, Murray Kempton and others. Who were going out to neighborhood bars, writing about individuals. Or writing about policy through the story of individuals. Now there are lots of policy columnists today and some very good ones, even in the present day New York tabloids. But I don’t think there’s the same emphasis on the individual story. And very much the individual immigrant story. Do you think?

HAMILL: I agree with you. I think one reason for it is the overdependence on the internet: to sit in a building and call up all the statements from politician x y or z or think tank a b or c is not the same as going to 116th street and seeing the change over from Puerto Rican culture to Mexican culture.

So the internet and blogs are bad for journalism. Or is that just bad for columnists? Or Hamill? Or journalism students?

Here’s the audio:

I spoke later with Lehrer producer Jim Colgan. We didn’t bother with that blog bigotry. But I said that there is now more reporting going on at least in some neighborhoods and towns thanks to local bloggers. Lehrer is having one of them, Bob Guskind, who blogs at Gowanus Lounge and is the Brooklyn editor of Curbed, on the show today at 11a to talk about this. But I also pointed out that blogs also give us the voice of the people directly; they need not go through the filters of columnists and editors to be heard. If you want to listen. Which is what I thought journalists were supposed to do.

Journalism students: I wouldn’t waste your time with this advice about blogs.

The problem with ‘only’

A journalism class at NYU surveyed students there and found that 44 percent read blogs. Interesting fact. What does it mean?

In the press release they put out and the story about it in the school paper, the instructor, department chair Brooke Kroeger, expresses surprise. Quoting the story:

The press release said blogs are targeted at today’s youth but “the fry aren’t taking the bait.” Kroeger said she didn’t expect only 44 percent of the “hip, urban, connected, downtown” crowd to read blogs.

So that’s how this news is presented: “only” 44 percent.

The student reporter emailed me and this is what I say in the story:

Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and creator of the blog BuzzMachine, disagreed.

“It’s not a surprising finding to me,” Jarvis said.

He referred to a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research group, which found that “Eight million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58 percent in 2004 and now stands at 27 percent of internet users.”

“That would mean that students compared to the population as a whole are heavy users of blogs,” Jarvis said.

And there’s the problem with “only.” That word reports only the expectation of the speaker; it says the fact was less than her prediction. It’s a dangerous word. Reporters use it all the time and all too often: The candidate got “only” n percent of the vote (that is, less than the writer thought he should get. In college, I wrote a paper on how Ed Muskie won the New Hampshire primary but got less than the reporter thought he should get and so he was declared a loser).

So who says that 44 percent is small? Who says that’s surprising? Who is to judge that the fry aren’t taking the bait? What other comparisons can be made? For example, how many of those students read newspapers? How many watch the evening network news?