The penultimate session in my 10-class module in Online Journalism from last year covered a range of areas. There’s a little bit on audio slideshows, a lot on community, and related to that, I covered wikis too. I’ve split them into 3 presentations for ease of use. This year (the module starts again on Monday) I’ll probably take an axe to all of this…
Part four of this five-part series looks at how interactivity forms the basis of true online journalism, and explores ways to think about interactivity in practice. This will form part of a forthcoming book on online journalism – comments very much invited.
In his 2001 book Online Journalism, Jim Hall argues that, in the age of the web, interactivity could be added to impartiality, objectivity and truth as a core value of journalism. It is that important.
Interactivity is central to how journalism has been changed by the arrival of the internet. Whereas the news industries of print, radio and TV placed control firmly in the hands of the publishers and journalists, online you try to control people at your peril.
It is important to remember that people use the web on devices – whether a computer, mobile phone or PDA – with cultural histories of usefulness or utility, very different to the cultural histories of television, radio or even print.
People go online to do something. Companies that help with that process tend to prosper online. Those that attempt to curtail users’ ability to do things with their content often find themselves on the end of a backlash.
News is, of course, a service. But up until now news organisations have been under the mistaken impression that it is a product. The web is reminding them otherwise.
What is interactivity?
Interactivity is not video, or ‘multimedia’; it is not flashy bells and whistles. At its core, it is about giving the user control. Continue reading
Recently my attention has been drawn to the Dutch news website www.en.nl. Wilbert Baan, interaction designer for the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, told me he wants to see “what we can do with news, social networks, wikis and more.
“I think you might like the experiment we are doing,” he wrote.
And bloody hell was he right. Continue reading
Sarah* is a final year journalism degree student who has already launched a fanzine and is in the process of turning it into a commercially viable magazine.
She recently popped in for an ad hoc tutorial and I asked her about her web strategy.
“I don’t have a website,” she replied.
“But you have a blog?”
“Yes. And a MySpace page. With 800 friends.”
“So you do have a web strategy.” Continue reading
In the second part of this five-part series, I explore how adaptability has not only become a key quality for the journalist – but for the information they deal with on a daily basis too. This will form part of a forthcoming book on online journalism – comments very much invited.
The adaptable journalist
A key skill for any journalist in the new media age, whatever medium they’re working in, is adaptability. The age of the journalist who only writes text, or who only records video, or audio, is passing. Today, the newspaper and magazine, the television and the radio programme all have an accompanying website. And that website is, increasingly, filled with a whole range of media, which could include any of the following:
- Still images
- Audio slideshows
- Flash interactivity
- Database-driven elements
- Microblogging/Text/email alerts (Twitter)
- Community elements – forums, wikis, social networking, polls, surveys
- Live chats
This does not mean that the online journalist has to be an expert in all of these fields, but they should have media literacy in as many of these fields as possible: in other words, a good online journalist should be able to see a story and think:
- ‘That story would have real impact on video’;
- or: ‘A Flash interactive could explain this better than anything else’;
- or ‘This story would benefit from me linking to the original reports and some blog commentary’;
- or ‘Involving the community in this story would really engage, and hopefully bring out some great leads’. Continue reading
Last semester (Nov 2007), as part of a module I teach called Magazine Design, I asked students to contribute to a wiki looking at magazines’ new media ventures. Each student was assigned a particular magazine sector (e.g. B2B or computing) and had to explore the websites, find information etc.
Some will think me cruel for making students look at the websites of the likes of Uniforms Magazine and Mailing Systems Technology. Continue reading
“The idea behind ProductWiki is to create collaborative product reviews that boil all the judgments about a product into one single review. It avoids revision wars by requiring every reviewer to list both pros and cons, and then every other ProductWiki reader can vote on each pro and each con until a consensus emerges.
“Last week, the site turned on three new features which Ismail hopes will allow him to create the ultimate “product graph” (this is like a social graph for products, showing how products are related or connected to one another). Reviewers can now identify competing or related products, and vote on which ones they like better in a head-to-head, A-B fashion. The third feature is a product rank derived from the first two features. For instance, based on 15 votes, the iRex iLiad beats out both the Kindle and the Sony Reader in the e-book category (so far).”