Posts about norg

Starship Telegraph

Media Guardian’s Roy Greenslade has seen the future of The Telegraph’s newsroom and operation and he likes it. Other papers, including The Times, are starting the process of merging all media. The Telegraph is using a move into a new newsroom as the opportunity to also move the processes, culture, and job descriptions of the journalists into the future.

For the journalists, this means that there will be no split of functions between print and web. And, in addition to providing text, they will also transmit audio and video for podcasts and vodcasts. And many staff are already building their new skills, appearing on camera to read their own scripts – downloaded on to a self-operated auto-cue – and cutting their own footage after barely an hour’s training.

Oh, good, my students won’t think I’m crazy when I push the end of the monomedia journalist.

Roy also reports that they are reorganizing their output into separate products.

Instead of producing articles once a day for a printed newspaper, they are going to work to four deadlines – in the jargon, “touchpoints” – throughout the day. After what appears to have been exhaustive research of modern audience needs, the paper’s team – led by Will Lewis, the managing director (editorial) – have come up with a round-the-clock schedule of differing “products”. Mornings are for text, so the concentration will be on supplying stories online. Lunchtime into the early afternoon is for video and audio. Late afternoon, drive-time, will see the production of PDF pages, what Lewis calls the “click and carry” service. This allows people to download sets of pages and then print them out, in colour or mono, in various sizes to read on their way home. Evening is then the time for “communities”, with material aimed at the bands of enthusiasts for football, gardening , travel, whatever floats their boats.

I wonder whether that structured biorhythm will become too limiting. That is, when the big story hits, you’ll want to get it out in all forms across all media and devices. I’ll be eager to watch this.

The Telegraph also announced layoffs as part of this process. It’s a necessity of the new economic realities of news and also of the opportunity for new efficiencies. Says Roy:There is a mixture of apprehension and enthusiasm for the new regime, but several of them are also very upset because of the announcement that more than 50 people will be made redundant. . . . It is sobering to learn, even after the passing of hot metal printing 20 years ago, that many articles currently pass through 12 pairs of hands before reaching the reader. That is obviously unnecessary and a key reason for job losses.

News organizations have to reexamine their own value and put their resources there. Heavy editing can improve content, yes, but it can also harm it — homogenizing it, dulling it down, slowing it up – and it’s expensive.

NewAssignment.net

Jay Rosen announces an important experiment in journalism today: NewAssignment.net.

In a nutshell: This is publicly supported journalism. The public will come to NewAssignment.net with story ideas and will collaborate on honing them there. Once assigned by NewAssignment’s editors, the public will contribute both money and reporting to the work that reporters are paid to do. The process is open and the public will have a strong voice and role in the journalism NewAssignment does. Editors will supervise the assignments and the reporting and will edit the stories, assuring that NewAssignment produces quality journalism and also that it is not overtaken by a pressure groups. There’s much more to this with many nuances and Jay examines them all in a lengthy (even for him) FAQ on his blog.

This is an answer — not the answer — to the frequently asked question in the shrinking news business these days: How will we support journalism and investigation? NewAssignment will not replace the work of professional news organizations. It will complement them, attacking the stories that are not being covered. It begins with an article a few articles faith. First: The public will support journalism and investigation. Second: The public will then want more of a voice and a role in that reporting. Third: Given the opportunity to have more of a voice and role, the public will contribute more support. It’s a virtuous circle, if it works.

Jay got funding from the MacArthur Foundation to explore this idea for a year. NewAssignment just received a grant from Craig Newmark‘s personal foundation to fund the work on a pilot project. And NewAssigment is getting help from Daylife, the news startup I’ve been working on. That relationship: Daylife will gather, analyze, organize, and create a new, distributed platform for the world’s news. In a sense, then, NewAssignment is complementary: Daylife shows you what is being covered and New Assignment fills in a few of the gaps about what is not being covered. Daylife will provide some technical and distribution help, starting with a pilot project.

I’ve known about Jay’s vision for NewAssignment for more than a year now and I’ve thrown in my two cents. I think this is an important experiment in pro-am, publicly supported, open journalism. We must explore new business models to support coverage of news and this is one of them. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of NewAssignment and I look forward to working with Jay and you on it and learning a lot along the way.

This is your chance: You’ve said you wonder why some stories are not getting covered. Well, now you can gather together and get them covered. You’ve wanted more of a role in journalism. Now you can be involved from start to finish. You’ve known facts that would matter in news coverage if only you could be heard. Now, you can.

Too many journalists

The accepted wisdom in the news biz is that you can never have too many journalists and that the ad and circ crunch hitting papers will hurt papers by reducing newsroom staff. I’ve been questioning that wisdom here.

But sitting on another darned panel yesterday, Chrystia Freeland, ME of the FT in the US, said it better than I have. We were singing two-party harmony as I wondered why every newspaper needs a movie critic when the movies aren’t local and she questioned the need for the Miami Herald to have its own Moscow bureau — back in the heyday when she was reporting there herself — to get that apparently unique Miami view of the USSR.

Then she said that news is “an industry with a lot of oversupply that is now exposed.” I liked that hard economic talk about the business. It reminds us that we are an industry and need to reexamine our business assumptions like every other industry.

So maybe the problem with journalism today isn’t that there are too few reporters and and editors but too many. I’ve talked before about the foolishness of sending 15,000 reporters to the political conventions, about papers sending TV critics to junkets or golf writers to tournaments. Inside the newsroom, too, there are overwrought processes. Meanwhile, of course, revenue is sinking and staff will follow.

But rather than treating this as an endless retrenchment, the ballsy editor would take this bull by the horns and undertake an aggressive reinvestment strategy. Why not cut that staff today? Find your essence — hint: it’s local, local, local. Streamline now to put out a better focused and better print product.

Then make a deal with the owners to take the saved labor expenses and invest them immediately in digital interaction. I don’t mean moving old copy editors over to online and teaching them HTML to join the spare staffs there. I mean hiring new people with new specialties: people to get out into the communities and recruit and help support citizens to join in networked reporting at a local, local, local level.

And then shame the publisher into doing likewise with a sales staff that has spent a generation maintaining ever-dwindling lists of advertisers and not really selling n ew business, since there isn’t any. Trim there, too. And there, too, don’t take an old classified sales guy and try to train him in online. Invest in technology and marketing to create your local Googles: extremely efficient and thus inexpensive self-service advertising for new classes of advertisers who could not afford your marketwide print or online products. Maybe recruit citizens to help sell you on commission. And build distributed at networks across citizens’ sites. More on the biz guys later.

I come back to Freeland’s very clear statement: We are in oversupply. It’s time — past time — to face that and act on it.

Commodity propaganda

Juan Antonio Giner shows exactly what is wrong with the news industry today. Here.

Who’s in charge here?

A followup to the post about the Dow Jones task force, below….

I had an email exchange with an editor I respect about the merging of print and online newsrooms and operations that tends to follow such task forces. There’s a vital issue many are dancing around:

Who’s in charge of the future? The print guys or the online guys?

At many media companies, online was started as a separate division and for good reason. If it had begun as part of the print newsroom, the editors there would have tried to mold the internet into the image of print, and the business people would have sold the internet as a valueless add-on to print. Some are still trying. At my last employer, we started separately for good reason. But today, if the entire company doesn’t become digital, it’s dead. That’s why news companies are merging newsrooms.

So who should be in charge? In many of the efforts to merge or reorganize news companies, the print people ended up in charge. They have more ballast and political clout. They are the 2,000-pound canaries. Now I don’t mean to diminish their experience, of course. But the experience of the online people is being diminished and shouldn’t be. They have worked to invent new products with new opportunities and understand this new world, but again and again, I’ve seen them shoved aside or exiled as threats. That is a big mistake.

The ballsy news company will not only give precedence to the internet but also to the people who know the internet. I’m afraid I’m not seeing that happen.

: LATER: Michael Urlocker has some advice on disruption and task forces for Dow Jones.

: Roy Greenslade chimes in.

: Matt Terenzio says:

Newspapers are more religion than business to many of their producers. We need a left turn and it’s nearly impossible to get them to budge a few degrees.

One more thing.

It is my opinion that it would be much easier and faster to get the online folks up to speed on traditional journalism and print business practices than it would be to get the print folks to understand the web.