Posts about networkedjournalism

Neworked journalism: Analyzing data

Glenn Reynolds points to another instance of networked journalism in the AOL data story:

The Washington Post is relying on bloggers!! “The Washington Post did not review the full 439-megabyte data set but contacted bloggers who had looked at it.”

Networked journalism: Lensemen for hire

Another example of networked journalism: Spy Media has set up a system to allow you to ask someone to shoot and then pay for photos. You are the assignment desk and the world is your freelance pool. [via Springwise]

I will count to 10 to give someone time to fret that this will turn all your friends and neighbors into seething, stop-at-nothing paparazzi, giving more people more cause to stalk Tom Cruise to get a picture of that darned baby. But I’ll argue that the market for such photos is clearly already there; this won’t change that.

But this is a method that not only Spy but any media company could use. Why have staff photographers to go out and shoot a McDonald’s for the 100th time when you want to illustrate a story about fast food? Why not ask your community, now armed with lenses, to do it for you? And pay for the best one. It makes perfect sense.

Some of the requested photos at Spy so far include:
* $200 for a streaker at the Techcrunch party (has Web 2.0 gotten that wild and that retro at the same time?)
* $75 for hot girls on MySpace (you’d think Playboy could pay more)
* $100 for a Starbucks contest: “Most Creative Photo with a Starbucks Cup in It” (I have no idea whether that’s official… but that shows this is a pretty damned good idea for marketers, too)
* $100 Red Bull Contest: “The Photo with the Prettiest Girl and a Red Bull” (ditto)
* $250 for “Hezbollah Rocket Launchers in Civilian Area of Lebanon” (now that’s journalism; I know of a recently unemployed photographer over there)

Take that!

After feeling the back of the hand of Nick Lemann in The New Yorker, Baristanet’s Deb Galant comes back swinging with her reporter’s pencil after reporting on power outages on her street and beat yesterday:

I offer yesterday’s coverage to Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, who wrote the New Yorker piece, as an example of what he missed.

Here’s what you saw last night on the Montclair Times website. And here’s what you saw on their other internet presence, My Montclair. The Township of Montclair website didn’t have anything about the fire/power outage situation until late at night. And if you called the Montclair Public Library, the official cooling center for the town last night, you got a recording saying it was closed. Phil Read of the Star Ledger was there with notebook, but his reporting contributions didn’t show up on the website until this morning. And for the most part, the Montclair Watercooler was clueless, and focused on its usual preoccupations of window replacement vendors and Italian tutors.

We, on the other hand, were all over this story like cheap suit. And that we includes you.

Thanks again for all your contributions — your tips, your “on the scene” reporting in the form of comments, your generosity to your neighbors, and your sense of humor. Keep posting.

Bigger, better journalism

At the end of my response to Columbia J-school Dean Nicholas Lemann’s drawing of a line in the sand between professional journalists and bloggers, below, I challenged him to tell how he proposes to meet his proper desire to bring more reporters (I would say, instead, reporting) to citizens’ journalism. Well, I should pick up my own challenge. So here are some of my notions. As I embark myself on teaching journalism at CUNY this fall, note well that I haven’t even started yet and so I am sure to be wrong in countless ways. Note also that I don’t speak for the school here. These are simply notes on how I hope to learn and teach, study and explore some of the new possibilities for journalism.

First, journalism will become more collaborative — because it can, thanks to new tools; because it must, thanks to new business realities; and because it should, to build a new and respectful relationship with the public. So our challenge is to find the ways to help this happen.

To begin, I believe we have a cultural challenge to break down the walls in the newsroom and classroom. I’ve said before that as a small act, which may just be symbolic (though I hope it’s more), I plan to webcast my classes not to teach the world but so the world teaches us. I’ve also argued that newsrooms should become classrooms where the public teaches the journalists and each other and the journalists share the skills of their trade with the growing world of amateur journalists. I want the sources for stories we write to come to class and judge our work and teach us because — cue Dan Gillmor — they know more. I want to find projects that bring together professional and amateur journalists to report together in acts of networked journalism.

I am assuming that the classroom is a good place to experiment with collaboration and learn what can work. But I also think a school can be a meeting ground to bring together the pros and the ams to also discover their shared goals and meet each others’ needs. The challenge to all — journalists, citizens, educators — is not to protect against the shrinkage of a changing industry but to find the ways to expand the scope and work and quality of journalism, taking advantage of the many new opportunities before us.

Second, journalism will no longer be defined by its medium. It will be unbundled, in Terry Heaton’s words — and so journalists must learn how to tell stories and deliver information in any of many ways.

Thanks to the incredibly easy means of creating media today, there’ll be no more need for priesthoods of the tools. Yes, the tools will be taught (after my son teaches them to me) but as Rich Gordon emphasizes, the one sure thing is that they will change. We need to realize that the ease of creation pays a huge dividend: It means we can put less effort and resource into production and more into reporting.

Thanks to all the new means to gather and deliver from and to anywhere, this also means that the process of news must change — not just extending deadlines around the clock but also allowing reporting to become open: the story is never done and can always be better.

So this is about much more than just deciding whether you are a print, broadcast, or online person; those are soon-to-be meaningless lines and possibly career dead ends. This is about changing the essential architecture of news. But note well that I am not saying one medium will replace another (another common strawman in this discussion). See this week’s Pew study, which argues that the internet is a supplement to other media, though I’d put that slightly differently. What is a supplement to what depends on which medium gives you the most relevant news for your attention, I think. Still, online recognizes that there are other media people will still use and it also complements them. I think that newspapers never respected the role that TV and radio played. But online has to respect the role that newspapers and broadcast will always play. So it’s not about competition among media.

Third, journalists must take some responsibility for the business of news. Only a few years ago, this would have been heresy punishable by banishment to PR and in some quarters, it still will be. But today, we have to recognize that journalism will no longer be subsidized by closed monopolies and that the business itself — and the call on the public’s attention — is now highly competitive. There will be no magic bullet to save newsrooms. Newsrooms will change and those that don’t are the ones that are doomed. And there will be many business models. This is why I applaud as one model and why I keep flogging the idea of an open-source ad network for citizens’ media and why I am so heartened to see people like Deb Galant begin to succeed and Rafat Ali hiring reporters.

Fourth, journalists must redefine their roles and relationships as more than reporters, editors, and producers — which, yes, they must still be — but also…. Moderators. Entrepreneurs. Teachers. Students. Helpers. Enablers. Networkers. Filters. Partners. Community members. Citizens. I think in some ways this is the most exciting quest of them all.

The greatest benefit that can come out of all this is that we rediscover the essence of journalism and its standards. In most of the discussions of this, we hear about standards in a bundle — without enough discussion of the standards themselves — and they tend to be thrown around as the badges of professionals. But when we extend the definition of journalism and open the doors to all who commit acts of journalism, then the discussion of standards no longer becomes one of ‘we have them and you don’t’ (aimed at the amateurs) or ‘you think you have them but you’re failing at them’ (aimed at the professionals). Standards can stop being cudgels and start being what they should be: goals. But I do not think we should assume that the standards of journalism are signed, sealed, and delivered. As more people gather and share news in more ways and as the roles of journalist, citizen, newsmaker, and advocate mesh and sometimes merge and often conflict, I agree with those who fret about standards. I b elieve it becomes more important than ever to restate and reexamine them and be open to new standards that fit some of our new roles, standards like transparency and generosity.

I will — I’d better — change and adapt these views with every class and every discussion. But that’s my starting point.


Nicholas Lemann, head of Columbia’s J-school writes a piece in his magazine alma mater, The New Yorker, today trying to pit professional vs. citizen journalism (and he includes a post from me at my theatrical snarkiest). I’m in the front seat of my car (not driving) and I’ll write about the piece shortly. But I wanted to give you the link now.