Archive for the ‘Interactive Journalism’ Category

U2’s Bono Sings the Battle Cry for Online News

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

“You didn’t come all the way out here to watch TV, now didya!?”

Standing in the outfield of a giant baseball stadium under the glow of more than 40 video walls and monitors, the lead singer of the rock group U2 aimed his remote up at the screens and flipped from station to station while tens of thousands of concert-goers screamed and cheered. It was the fall of 1992. CNN had just made history with the first live video coverage of a war, and somewhere in a computer lab at the University of Illinois – in a town that could have comfortably fit its entire population in the sports stadium – researchers were about six months away from launching the first graphical Web browser.

The hundreds of channels on cable TV were about to be dwarfed by millions of Web pages. The mass media that was able to send one message to an entire planet all at the same time and had defined a shared American experience for more than a half century was about to be replaced by communication technology that would blend the telephone with the television and the postal service and the printing press to form a decentralized network of news and information that would allow every – or everyone with a computer and Internet access – to talk to everyone else all at the same time.

The online news audience doesn’t spend an average of 35 minutes every day because they need another glowing box. News organizations that aren’t committed to giving their audience something fundamentally different should quit throwing money at their Web site and start re-investing in legacy media.

They didn’t come all the way out here to watch TV. Stop giving them a news product. Let them visit news experience. They’ll pay for that.

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Newspaper Corrections: Sources Now Share the Obligation

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Handling errors and corrections online is good topic for newsroom debate. The dual challenge is that online text can be updated/fixed/improved/corrected at any time and it’s also always available. That means errors can get corrected quickly, but those that don’t can damage credibility long past the daily print edition.

In a world where anyone can publish a blog, professional journalists need to emphasize accuracy and credibility even more. But the reductions in staff at almost all newsrooms in America is putting a squeeze on quality control.

This story from last week’s News & Observer provides an interesting case study. The piece quoted me, but mistakenly said I had worked for USA Today. When I saw the error, I emailed the reporter and used the article’s comments section to quickly post my own correction.

In the last week, though, I never heard back from the reporter. It turns out he was on furlough. He sent an apologetic note once he got back. That said, the fact error remains online.

So, let’s walk through what’s wrong (and right) with this picture:

1. Error gets in the news article. Yes, this is an automatic F in my introductory newswriting classes, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. Many people would wisely artgue that these kinds of pernicous little errors are going to become more common, though, as reporters take on the work of departed colleagues and stories get fewer reads by editors before they go to press.

2. Vigilant sources can use comments to correct errors in the article. This is incredibly empowering and could go a long way to increasing trust in journalism. You often hear sources say they spot errors in reporting but never bother to ask for a correction because they figure the reporters and editors won’t care anyway. For the most part I think that’s the opposite of true. But it also doesn’t matter now — sources have the ability, and even the obligation, to correct errors of fact. To not do so is to complictly accept and tolerate inaccuracy.

3. Someone at the N&O should have been monitoring these comments and alerting the appropriate editors to corrections. The primary reason the comments section on newspaper articles are so low-brow is because the (already thinly spread) staff is not participating in them. Which leads us back to the old sentiment among sources and readers — that newspaper editors just don’t care about what I have to say.

This example highlights the two key components to success in the future of news — high levels of accuracy and engagement. Journalists who don’t pursue both are in danger of becoming quickly irrelevant.

Advice to Future Magazine Editors

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, magazines have a strong future online, I think. But their future depends completely on the leadership and innovation of publishers and editors, as I told the Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors last night.

The audio of the talk is after the jump.

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NCAA Basketball, the Tar Heel, and Citizen Media

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The NCAA basketball game tonight in Detroit between the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Michigan State Spartans brings us a good illustration of the relative strengths of print and online news.

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Innovative Student Journalism in the Works

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The students in JOMC 491: “Public Affairs Reporting for New Media” are developing some bang-up stories and tools. For anyone interested in the future of news, in North Carolina civic life or in education policy, their projects are worth reading … and engaging.

More here.

Social Media and User Generated Content for Journalists

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

There are so many great new buzzwords — distributed reporting, citizen journalism, crowd sourcing. They excite a lot of people who don’t think through their implications for public affairs reporting… and they terrify a lot of people who don’t realize that in many ways they are just juiced-up version of pretty common “old-media” techniques. In either case, they’re exciting because they pit two traditional journalism values — giving voice to the voiceless and accuracy — directly against each other.

Here’s an introduction, with audio to come in a future version. (If you can’t wait for the audio – give me a call or shoot me an email.)

Social Media and User Generated Content For Journalists

View more presentations from ryan.thornburg. (tags: citizen journalism)

When Everyone’s a Publisher, Who Will ‘Convene’ The Public?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Last week, Richard Hart of MDC, Inc., kindly came to speak to my Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class. He led us through an illuminating conversation about the nonprofit’s recently released report on the Triangle’s “Disconnected Youth.” (PDF)

At the end, I raised this question: If government is already publishing a lot of raw data online, and if organizations like MDC are already put together in-depth, relatively objective analyses of public policy issues like this, then what does he — as a former journalist and the nonprofit’s communication director — think is the role for journalists? How do we fit in to his overall communication strategy for this report, I wondered.

That was a good question, Hart said. He noted that his primary focus now, after an initial and relatively small media hit, was convening small groups of influential and interested area leaders from various sectors to discuss how to implement some of MDC’s recommendations.

That made me wonder: Should journalists be doing that? Presuming we think that the subject of high school dropouts is an issue that is relevant and important for our audience, how much effort should news organizations be putting in to creating conversation around content that is created elsewhere? Should journalists be conveners?

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Viral News: The Distributed Watercooler

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, journalists are loath to do anything they think would make them “seem like a pimp.” The problem with their hesitancy is that it too often means that important news stories get buried beneath entertaining ones and the public discourse is diminished.

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New Media Rochambeau: Twitter-Facebook-Email

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

You want a look at the future of breaking news? This is it.

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How to Report for New Media

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
Reporting for New Media in Six Easy Steps!

View more presentations from ryan.thornburg. (tags: journalism reporting)

Links Referenced in This Lecture:

  • Slide 3
    • Little Green Footballs
    • Powerline Blog
  • Slide 5
    • Sworn Statements by Abu Ghraib Detainees (washingtonpost.com)
    • The Fact Checker: Romney and Abortion (washingtonpost.com)
  • Slide 7
    • Bluffton Today
    • Live Online With Bob Kaiser (washingtonpost.com)
    • Wiki Scanner (wired.com)
    • GasBuddy.com
    • #ch-snow (Twitter.com)
    • Ushahidi.com
    • Veep-O-Matic (washingtonpost.com)
    • Consumer Consequences (American Public Media)
  • Slide 10
    • MarketWatch.com
    • War in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)
    • Times Topics (NYTimes.com)
  • Slide 14
    • Breaking News Blog (L.A. Times)
    • iReport of Va. Tech Shooting (CNN)
  • Additional Resources

    How to Report a News Story Online (Online Journalism Review)

    A Guide to ‘Crowdsourcing’ (Knight Citizen News Network)

    Multimedia Storytelling (Knight Digital Media Center)

MP3 Audio of the Lecture

Lecture: Reporting for online media