Tag Archives: future journalism

Try it, refine it – or throw it away

Try new stuff! If it doesn’t work, just stop doing it. Then move on and try something else.

That’s what Mackenzie Warren, director of content at Gannett Digital (that’s the digital division of what’s currently the USA’s largest media company), advised a group of Norwegian media executives at the Norwegian Institute of Journalism this week.

Now, let me first point out that Mackenzie Warren has been a journalist since the age of 14. He’s been a photographer, reporter, online editor, managing editor… just about anything you can be in a newsroom. Except that at Gannett, and at Fort Myers News-Press, where he worked before heading up the digital content section at Gannett, they no longer call it a newsroom.

“We’ve done away with the word “newsroom”. There’s no news in a newsroom (desk reporters are often the last to hear of a story). Plus, it’s not news we do – it’s aquiring, processing and distributing information”, he said.

Now, the Gannett publications have more of a control centre where section editors (sports, news etc., not print, online or TV) monitor the competition and also what the readers and viewers are responding to at any time. Continue reading

The future of investigative journalism: databases and algorithms

There’s a great article over at Miller-McCune on investigative journalism and what you might variously call computer assisted reporting and database journalism. Worth reading in full, the really interesting stuff comes further in, which I’ve quoted below in full:

“Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation and a veteran investigative reporter and editor, summarizes the nonprofit’s aim as “one-click” government transparency, to be achieved by funding online technology that does some of what investigative reporters always have done: gather records and cross-check them against one another, in hopes of finding signs or patterns of problems

“… Before he came to the Sunlight Foundation, Allison says, the notion that computer algorithms could do a significant part of what investigative reporters have always done seemed “far-fetched.” But there’s nothing far-fetched about the use of data-mining techniques in the pursuit of patterns. Law firms already use data “chewers” to parse the thousands of pages of information they get in the discovery phase of legal actions, Allison notes, looking for key phrases and terms and sorting the probative wheat from the chaff and, in the process, “learning” to be smarter in their further searches.

“Now, in the post-Google Age, Allison sees the possibility that computer algorithms can sort through the huge amounts of databased information available on the Internet, providing public interest reporters with sets of potential story leads they otherwise might never have found. The programs could only enhance, not replace, the reporter, who would still have to cultivate the human sources and provide the context and verification needed for quality journalism. But the data-mining programs could make the reporters more efficient — and, perhaps, a less appealing target for media company bean counters looking for someone to lay off. “I think that this is much more a tool to inform reporters,” Allison says, “so they can do their jobs better.”

“… After he fills the endowed chair for the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy Studies, [James] Hamilton hopes the new professor can help him grow an academic field that provides generations of new tools for the investigative journalist and public interest-minded citizen. The investigative algorithms could be based in part on a sort of reverse engineering, taking advantage of experience with previous investigative stories and corruption cases and looking for combinations of data that have, in the past, been connected to politicians or institutions that were incompetent or venal. “The whole idea is that we would be doing research and development in a scalable, open-source way,” he says. “We would try to promote tools that journalists and others could use.”

Hat tip to Nick Booth 

Model for the 21st century newsroom pt.6: new journalists for new information flows

new journalists for new information

new journalists for new information

Information is changing. The news industry was born in a time of information scarcity – and any understanding of the laws of supply and demand will tell you that that made information valuable.

But the past 30 years have seen that the erosion of that scarcity. Not only have the barriers to publishing,  broadcast and distribution been lowered by desktop publishing, satellite and digital technologies, and the web – but a booming PR industry has grown up to provide these news organisations with ‘cheap’ news.

Information is changing. Increasingly, we are not seeking information out – instead, it finds us. The scarcity is not in information, but in our time to wade through it, make meaning of it, and act on it.

Information is changing, and so journalists must too. In the previous parts of this series I’ve looked at how the news process could change in a multiplatform environment; how to involve the former audience; what can now happen after a story is published; journalists and readers as distributors; and new media business models. In this part I want to look at personnel – and how we might move from a generic, hierarchy of ‘reporters’, ‘subs’ and ‘editors’ to a more horizontal structure of roles based on information types. Continue reading

It’s time to relieve the stress of RSS. Newspapers, make your own readers!

(This entry was originally posted by Dave Lee on jBlog)

A few days ago on this blog, Paul Bradshaw wrote what he called one of the most important posts he’s ever made. Here it is.

In it he describes how the era of the awkward, socially backward geek is nearly behind us. They’re not geeks, he says, they’re early adopters. And you’d better listen to them if you want to stay a step ahead of the game. Continue reading

BASIC Principles of Online Journalism: C is for Community & Conversation (pt2: Conversation)

Continuing the final part of this series (part 1: Community is here) I look at conversation. I look at why conversation is becoming a form of publishing itself, why journalists need to be a part of that conversation, and a range of ways they can join in. Continue reading

Semantic Journalism: Ideas

Semantic journalism is a vision for the future of journalism. As the writer works on her article, her computer would gather data on the matter, from pictures to other articles to assessing global opinion trends. It would read through the Wikipedia pages of a given theme and summarize key concepts. A semantic algorithm would bring a selection of the most authoritative people on a subject.

The journalist is left with what she does best: checking and analyzing the data.

That means avoiding the pitfalls of redundant news content. That means escaping the trap of writing about topics without having a clue of what’s at stake. That means interviewing people who do things rather than those who talk about it.

This article is the first of a 4-part series. We’ll explore semantic hacks for newsgathering, writing and publishing in the coming weeks. Continue reading

JEEcamp – when the cottage news industry met mainstream media

What happens when you bring together local journalists, bloggers, web publishers, online journalism experts and new media startups – and get them talking?

That was the question that JEEcamp sought to answer: an ‘unconference’ around journalism enterprise and entrepreneurship that looked to tackle some of the big questions facing news in 2008: how do you make money from news when information is free? Where is the funding for news startups? How do you generate community? What models work for news online? Continue reading