McClatchy buys two hyperlocal citizens’ media sites in California. FresnoFamous will continue to operate independently. It’s a smart move for McClatchy that also recognizes the value of these enterprises. It’s nice to see that a founder got an exit but that’s not the only way to work together; I say that big media can work with small media in other ways, such as becoming an ad sales agent.
Dr. Michael Maier, founder of Netzeitung, the 7-year-old online-only newspaper serving Germany, is leaving to come over here for a Shorenstein fellowship at Harvard, I’m glad to report (for our sake). On the way out, Maier is buying the networked journalism project he started there, Readers-Edition.de, as a platform for German-language citizen journalism (BÃ¼rgerjournalismus) and the flagship for a new venture, Blogform Publishing, bringing Web 2.0 to journalism. Maier is a accomplished journalist — former editor of the Berliner Zeitung, Stern, and Vienna’s Presse — and an experienced entrepreneur, so I look forward to seeing what evolves. (Here‘s my Guardian column about Maier, Netzeitung, and Readers-Edition.) He sent an email to Readers-Edition writers (if I get the translation right) saying: “I believe that Readers Edition has great potential. . . . This changes the journalism fundamentally and it changes the society fundamentally.” Interesting that in the comments on the announcement at Readers-Edition, there was much discussion of payments. Which leads me to this. . . .
I found this checking out links at Medienlese, where I also saw a link to Thomas KnÃ¼wer, Handelsblatt journalist and blogger, talking about VCs supporting new journalism ventures (auf Deutsch). Which leads me to this. . . .
I wonder whether we will, indeed, start seeing more venture investment in not just media but specifically in journalistic projects. Some have said that the moguls thinking of spending billions to buy hunks of Tribune Company or the New York Times Company would be better off just starting new ventures that are not dragged down by the tremendous costs of old media’s infrastructure. There is money to be made in news and I do think it will be made a lot faster creating new ventures rather than trying to reform old ones.
A few weeks ago, the BBC’s premier news program, Newsnight, invited its audience to make short films with the promise that the best would make it to air. (I contrasted the effort then to CBS News’ closed and now all-but-closed-down “free speech” segments.)
Their OhMyNewsnight competition has just concluded and the winners are mostly quite good. Some of the finalists are rather sophomoric or simplistic. But Newsnight Editor Peter Barron — responding to an Observer curmudgeon who growled that “Vodcasts and blogs are to the noughties what graffiti was to the Seventies: mindless scrawls reading: ‘I woz ere.’ It says: ‘I’m a moron, but worship me anyway’ ” as well as to one of his own presenter‘s sneers — concluded: “As far as I can see there’s not a funny animal or a moron among them.” He added later:
I’m bewildered that anyone could seriously suggest that allowing our viewers ten
minutes out of the hundreds of hours of airtime Newsnight produces each year to tell us what they think is important is somehow a negative development. At the very least we’ve had a great debate about the value of user-generated content, which has surely been the media story of 2006.
Peter Barron’s personal favorite was a shortened version of a riveting film about how cocaine is made.
This finalist makes a simple statement about multicultural London; this one a rather dutiful statement about being nice to people on the dole; this one tells one woman’s story as a hurricane approaches Cuba. I watched all the semifinalists. This one, about the evil of ID cards, was simply silly. This one, about the carbon neutralization industry, was interesting. Here’s a good interview with a homeless man who, because he doesn’t have problems (drugs, alcohol), he has a bigg problem: no help. This interview with a newsstand operator could be the start of a good series of first-person tales.
I only wish that Newsnight had had contributors tag their submissions on YouTube et al, for then we could have watched them all. I went searching and found a report about cross-race adoption and an effort at parody that was overtaken by Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman’s own.
Is any of this up to Newsnight’s par? Of course, not. That’s not the point. So what is? Well, not all cameras in the hands of amateurs are cultural weapons meant to feed the home page of YouTube and TV blooper shows. Give the people a camera and they can give us reports or perspectives we otherwise may not have seen.
I’m spending the weekend watching and grading similar videos made by my students at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Some of them are even rougher. But as I told the students after we screened their first efforts: There, now you’ve made TV. Now you can make it better. And that is the moral to the story of Oh My Newsnight.
Nicholas Kristof makes an amazing offer to his readers: ‘Remix me’:
Stories can be told in countless ways and understood in countless forms. Here’s an invitation to try your hand at a little interactive journalism.
Here’s a link to a collection of columns, videos, and photographs from my recent trip to Chad to covering the spread of the genocide in Darfur. Take a look at the material and, if you’re interested, I’d like to see how you would’ve told the story. Use some of the quotes, the stories, the facts and weave together your own column, essay, article — or some other kind of quilt. I can imagine someone writing a poem, a song, a map, video or audio slide show. Don’t let convention get in the way of your storytelling. And don’t feel as if it needs to be long; hey, a haiku is sometimes more effective than an epic.
I’m eager to see how you’d approach things – what you’d do differently. I hope you do better – these stories are too important to be told only once.
The only drawback is that it’s behind the TimesSelect pay wall. My CUNY colleague Sandeep Junnarkar had the great idea to turn our students onto this but they can’t get behind the wall. For this project and this subject, I suggest taking down the wall. It’s a good cause.
Apart from that, this is an important moment, for here is a journalist recognizing that his reporting will get seen by more people from more perspectives by allowing it to be remixed, by putting itself into the conversation.
Although he is an old media reporter, Bass finds that journalism on the Web is “definitely” more efficient than print journalism. For starters, the Independent doesn’t have an office. “Our reporters are out reporting all the time instead of talking in the newsroom,” explained Bass. If he meets with his staff to discuss stories, they do so in a local coffee shop. Secondly, Bass doesn’t have to wait until stories go to press; as soon as an article is ready, it is posted on the Independent’s site.
In what is perhaps the most efficient characteristic of Internet reporting, Bass and his staff have their stories proofread and fact-checked by readers. The Independent has even started a contest through which the reader who catches the most typos wins Independent paraphernalia.