Archive for the ‘New Media Economics’ Category

The Credit Economy?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I just gave the students in my Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class their first quiz. Overall, not bad. But I have to report this piece of breaking news:

Only 1 out of 16 students said that it was UNethical to “download a photo from the Web server of a blogger, upload it to your server, using it on your site along with credit to the original creator.”

I’m dying to talk with them about this on Thursday to hear more about their rationale. Maybe it says something about how they see bloggers. Maybe it says something about the way they see ownership of content.

What do you think?

Fertile Failure: Live Blogging Class Discussion

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Updated: 2:51 p.m. ET

Fail fast, fail cheap. Isn’t that what they say? Well, today I did it. My first attempt to live blog a class discussion didn’t work out. But neither did my first attempt to … well, do just about anything…

No matter. Here’s what I learned… (more…)

A Lab for ‘The Reconstruction of American Journalism’

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This week is the first of a new semester in my Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class — a journalism class in which the students must work 30 hours with a community partner over the course of the semester. Our goal this semester — expose the students to all of the journalism models that Len Downie and Michael Schudson outline as potential replacements for a decline in public affairs reporting at newspapers.

This semester, the 18 students in the class will be divided among four partners:

  • the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a non-profit funded largely by foundation money and private donations;
  • OrangePolitics.org, a liberal blog about local politics run part-time by a single “citizen jouranlist”;
  • N.C. DataNet, a newsletter of from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program on Public Life, edited by a former News & Observer reporter and opinion editor;
  • a public broadcast outlet here in North Carolina.

If any of these sources will be part of the reconstruction of American journalism, the students in the class will help determine how it’s reconstructed. At the very least, the students will be able to report back to the rest of us more details about what they find in these laboratories of post-newspaper news.

Stay tuned… and add your suggested reading for the class via the Delicious bookmark tag JOMC491-examples-s10.

News Organizations Should Not Be Online

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Monday kicked off a new semester, and I started by challenging the students in my online news production class with this statement: News organizations should not have a Web site.

The statement picks up on a session I led at last summer’s N.C. Press Association’s Newspaper Academy. In a time of tight budgets, news organizations must be focused on delivering their core product, service or experience. Everything they do must be justified — including having a Web site. Unless a news organization can clearly state why they have an online presence, they should drop it.

The students’ responses focused on the Web as a platform for competing on breaking news and for reaching audiences — especially young people — where they are. My goal for the semester is to help them see that online journalism is a wonderful tool for telling more memorable and relevant news stories, and not just about 24/7 distribution.

Make your anonymous argument after the jump — can you articulate a clear, rational, viable reason that your news organization should be online? Or make your public comment for attribution here.

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Predictions for the Decade? Nano Journalism?

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

From Saturday’s News and Observer article, “Future looks small to experts”

“What I see a lot of today is the realization of ideas that were being tried unsuccessfully in 1999,” Thornburg said. “A lot of the ideas we see as trends today were dismissed as flops 10 years ago.”

Among the trends to look for in information and news, Thornburg said, will be the rise of content targeted to a user’s location at a given moment, via ubiquitous high-speed Internet access. Other possibilities include new markets for buying and selling small pieces of information, and a divide between high-quality information that people pay for and free lower-end news – often focused on social and political points of view, entertainment or sports.

Citizen Journalism, Public Health Stories and Ooze News

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Public health issues often only make the news when some dramatic event provides a clear narrative that journalists can use to craft a compelling story. I was in the middle of one of those stories this week when the Miami-Dade County Health Department told guests at the downtown Epic Hotel not to use the water there because it was the suspected source of Legionnaires’ Disease. After more than a week of lost revenue, the hotel’s now been cleared as the source of the deadly bacteria — but not before the incident provided some good lessons about the roles of government, professional reporters and citizen journalists in public health stories that tend to be much more important over the long term than during an initial safety scare.

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Professional Journalists, Just In Case You Ever Need One

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Alejandro Alfie, a reporter at Argentina’s Clarin newspaper, had done his homework before he interviewed me there last week. Toward the end of a long interview during which I pontificated broadly about the future of news, he wondered what it might say about the future of online news if it is being espoused by someone who hadn’t updated his blog in about five months.

Chagrined, I told him I thought my disappearance provided a good anecdote about the potential future of news — many people will start blogs because it is easy to do. But few will provide the day-after-day reliable coverage that societies need to remain informed and that media businesses need to remain viable.

Perhaps professional journalists will be a bit like firefighters. Citizens may not pay much attention to them most of the time, but we’ll need to find a way to pay them just in case disaster strikes.

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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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Rerun Posts: Who Drives the Vision? Who Takes the Risk?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The question that keeps coming up in recent discussions about experimentation and fertile failure is this: Who will drive the vision and who will take the risk that journalism needs to get over this hump?

As a preamble, I’m re-running two blog posts (…hmm, I wonder if “the long tail” is going to make the word re-run go the way of the turntable…anyway…) that highlight the challenge and two potential answers:

After the jump, I’m looking for where we might be most likely to find the fertile failures and experimentors that journalism needs.

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Does the WSJ’s Online Business Strategy Work for Local News?

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Be niche. Have very high standards. And find some subscribers to buy it

Good advice for future journalists from Alan Murray, the editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Web site, who gave the Park Lecture at UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Thursday night. His approach to online journalism certainly sounded right to me, but what I didn’t hear was any hard evidence that would help support my gut instinct.

The biggest question I still have: Is there any business model for high quality local public affairs journalism?

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