Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Another NewAssignment.net Post

December 1, 2006

So, the NYS Legislature released a text file of all the “member items” from 2004-2005. The NYTimes reported on some of the more glaring items in the list earlier this week. But at least one website – I’m sure there are more – has begun the task of combing through the list more thoroughly. They’ve even converted the Legislature’s release into a searchable document.

It is slightly fun to troll through searching for strange, big-ticket items, like $100,000 “to assist with operating aid” at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta. (Who knew there was a National Soccer Hall of Fame? Or that Marcelo Balboa moonlights from ESPN as a soccer ambassador? Kudos to Oneonta for that coup.) Or, the $50,000 that went to “recycle and renovate” a warehouse in Patchogue for use as an Elks Lodge.

That’s all good clean fun, but there is a problem. This document is huge and unwieldy! It would be nice to know how much Marcelo Balboa and those Elks may be collecting from state coffers via other “member items.” But, to do that we need a database.

Now, I’m sure that the Times will be working this thing over, finding all of the jewels that may be hidden within, but this seems like a perfect project for networked journalism. Jay Rosen, rally your mob to develop a people’s database of NYS “member items.” Maybe if we do it, the government will feel the need to release this stuff every year, not just every few decades. You could even give the database project a catchy name, like “The Marcelo Balboa Project” and get him on board as a celebrity sponsor, to raise interest.

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Circling Key West

September 20, 2006

“There are plenty of U.S. journalists, including me, who are eminently qualified to host TV programs that no one will ever see.”

– Carl Hiassen, Miami Herald

Romenesko links to Hiassen’s wonderful column on the Radio Marti et al. imbroglio. Even more wonderful than Hiassen, however, is the US government’s insistence on maintaining its ineffectual “broadcast” to Cuba.

Mosques on Mainstreet or Lost?

September 10, 2006

I’m interested in how the media covers Islamic communities in the US. Namely, how a venue like Beliefnet covers the potential for “homegrown” terrorism in muslim communities in America as compared to coverage in the NYTimes of a different angle of the same story. I feel that this issues faced by this community and the issues that this community raises for society at large are largely underreported. But, I may also work on this in Craft so I’m not sure if it’s okay to blog about this here. An open question for this new environment…

If that doesn’t work out, similar to Annaliese, I’d like to kill two birds with one stone. I know that I don’t have enough time to watch tv every Wednesday, but Lost has become required viewing. However, I don’t just want to cover the coverage of the show in the media, good bad or ugly. Lost has developed a cult following not unlike Star Trek and Twin Peaks and an online life that is somewhat unprecedented (at least to my untrained eye).

I would look at how Lost fans cover the show and aggregate information, commentary and theories, see Lostpedia. Also, there is the online “alternate reality game” The Lost Experience, which is run, in part, by producers of the show. The Lost producers have woven passing references to theories, events and characters from Lostpedia and the ARG and have stated that those venues inform the actual scripts. Lately, an ARG candybar has shown up on eBay. I found myself wondering if Channel3000 is even a real tv station! Would the Lost producers create a fake news website to run a silly story about their fake chocolate bars being auctioned? Nah.

Fact Check OUR Ass.

September 10, 2006

Just a quick thought from this weekend’s “On the Media” show, which included an appearance by Jay Rosen. In discussing his NewAssignment.net project and how online journalists will build their own standards of credibility, Rosen suggested a new approach to fact-checking. The quote from Rosen below begins about half-way through the segment:

“We’re not going to try and go about building trust online in the same way that a mainstream news organization goes about it. We’ll have other ways. For example, NewAssignment.net will probably practice a form of factchecking that exceeds what you would find at a daily newspaper. And we’ll organize networks of people to do that.

What we need to figure out is how is this newfound ability for people to share information horizontally going to affect the vertical synthesizing of information that professional journalism has been totally dedicated to.”

That’s a wonderful way of conceiving a new relationship with the audience that this new, liberating technology provides.

This idea of asking, and even organizing the blogging element of your readership to help you get the story right, fits in perfectly with the 5th tenet of Kovach & Rosenstiel’s “Journalism of Verification”: “not only should they [journalists] be skeptical of what they see and hear from others, but just as important, they should be skeptical about their ability to know what it really means.”

Journalist-free journalism

September 5, 2006

After re-reading Lemann’s NYer article, and the back-and-forth at “Comment is Free” I’m left wondering what Lemann has offered us. His best contributions come in the concluding paragraphs and seem painfully obvious: that the internet is “potentially…the best reporting medium ever invented” and that more reporters should move there.

Prior to that, he dismisses “hyper-local” blogs for being too “small and specialized.” But size wasn’t a consideration when he sought to chop the myth of the monolithic MSM, so favored by bloggers, down to its appropriate size. I was struck by the strange nostalgia for late-20th C. journalism in this graph:

“What the prophets of Internet journalism believe themselves to be fighting against – journalism in the hands of an enthroned few, who speak in a voice of phony, unearned authority to the passive masses – is, as a historical phenomenon, mainly a straw man. Even after the Second World War, some American cities still had several furiously battling papers, on the model of “The Front Page.” There were always small political magazines of all persuasions, and books written in the spirit of the old pamphlets, and, later in the twentieth century, alternative weeklies and dissenting journalists like I. F. Stone.”

Some American cities? Small political magazines? Books? Alternative weeklies? No offense to I.F. Stone, but the presence of a few dissenting voices does not a healthy, diversified media environment make. In attacking the bloggers’ strawman, Lemann constructs his own.

As Lemann suggests in his CiF post, perhaps GSJ students shouldn’t be biting into these weighty future-of-the-business issues. Perhaps we should be focussed exclusively on learning the craft.

“We do not focus on the business side of journalism in the way that Jarvis would like us to. That is partly because the founder of the school, Joseph Pulitzer, though a genius at business himself, insisted that this should not be a school of publishing. It is partly because our students want to be reporters after they leave, and mainly get jobs as reporters.”

Fair enough. But, then, he goes on:

“We will, however, in just a few months launch an executive leadership program, and its participants – top managers of news organisations – will spend a lot of their time here thinking about how journalism can meet its economic challenges.”

Do we really need another confab of executives generating lists of lessons learned and what the kids seem to want? Is that what will push journalism forward? Or, might it be useful to get the people who will bring professional reporting to the Internet to start thinking about what that means?