Some media stories of note for Friday, May 17, 2013:
Margaret Talbot, writing for The New Yorker online,
examines the recent spate of incidents involving the Obama Administration and the press. She argues that they have damaged the credibility of the government and threatened the freedom of the press. An effect, she fears, is the chilling of sources of information who fear their anonymity cannot be protected. The result of that will be fewer stories that explore significant secretive information and a reduction in civil liberties.BBC reports
on a new British study of 35,000 young people that suggests they now prefer to read on a screen than on paper. They engage in social networking and one-third prefer to read fiction on a screen. The National Literary Trust report, based on interviews with those eight to 16 years old, concluded that 52 per cent preferred a screen, while only 32 per cent preferred a print experience.
The controversy this week involving Bloomberg reporters monitoring the online activity of their clients on Bloomberg terminals has raised a series of ethical issues. The Associated Press has a look
at what experts feel is a shifting landscape in which more access to technology and user activity will permit greater access to consumer information once considered private --- and where privacy is not as respected as it once was.
James Breiner, writing for Poynter
, looks at recent developments in journalism education to teach students how to be entrepreneurial. With more opportunities to build businesses, and less likelihood of one-company careers, journalism schools are finding it valuable to impart business start-up and operational skills in their journalists to teach them how to create and manage their own companies.
Media stories of note for Monday, April 15, 2013:
Ross Douthat, in his blog on culture for The New York Times,
challenges the notion of "bipartisanthink" in news media. He notes the collision of the traditional premise of an impartial media and the newer practice of ideological media, but he sees parochialism as a major problem for mainstream outlets in condescending on which issues to cover and to underplay stories it does not find valid. He sees an opportunity for mainstream media to lean in to Internet traits and offer greater diversity and a wider range of journalistic ideals.
David Carr's latest Media Equation column
for The New York Times deals with the emerging consumer options that threaten the profitability and structure of the television business. He identifies organizations like Netflix, Dish and others that are breaking the traditional relationship between programming and advertising, and thus the traditional business model. Carr notes that even the programmers themselves are moving in that direction. Witness, he said, the CBS Masters app.
Tom Rosenstiel's latest column for Poynter
identifies some of the challenges today for journalism education. More than anything, he says, a better conversation is needed on how to groom students for the craft. But he lists four principal ingredients for stronger schools: technical skills, journalistic responsibility, business awareness, and the intellectual discipline of verification.
Media stories of note for Tuesday, March 19, 2013:
The British House of Commons has passed measures
to establish a new press regulator. Press Gazette reports that judges will be permitted to award punitive damages against publishers who do not sign on to the new entity, which will be established by royal charter, seek arbitration of disputes, and be amended only by two-thirds support in both Houses of Parliament. Major newspaper firms have reacted critically
. The measures follow the Leveson inquiry into press conduct.The Atlantic delves into data from the new State of the News Media report and identifies the critical slide in advertising revenue for the newspaper business and their websites. In 2012, newspapers lost $16 in ad revenue for every $1 they gained in online ad revenue. Indeed the entire growth in the last decade of digital revenue does not make up for a single year of declines since 2003.The Knight Foundation is critical of many journalism schools, noting they haven't mastered the Web much less prepared their students for even more modern developments in gathering, telling and distributing their content. Where Knight is financing social and mobile applications, some schools haven't found ways to integrate the Web, Poynter's Andrew Beaujon reports.
In recent days the benefactor Knight Foundation has written an open letter
to U.S. university presidents to encourage their journalism schools to adopt a "teaching hospital" model that incorporates mid-career professionals in the academic instruction roster.
The concept is not a new one, and it is used in several places, but Knight suggests it remains of significant potential for schools with an emphasis on scholars and an absence of practicing journalists. (Disclosure: I am the executive in residence and an adjunct professor at University of British Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.)
"At its root, this model requires top professionals in residence at universities," the letter says. "It also focuses on applied research, as scholars help practitioners invent viable forms of digital news that communities need to function in a democratic frame."
The foundation adds: "We believe journalism and communications schools must be willing to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators and innovators."
The foundation acknowledges some schools are doing this but several remain trapped in traditions that do not permit journalists with limited academic credentials into the faculties. The danger it sees is a sector slipping further behind digital change to the industry it identifies as crucial to democracy.
A long-awaited report released Thursday on the future of media suggests a shift away from citizens to institutions and a serious decline in local reporting in the United States.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report
, written by former Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report journalist Steven Waldman, identifies a serious reduction in local reporting as the number of online news sources increases. It finds this situation dire and worries about the consequences of a weakened watchdog function.
Waldman's report, Information Needs of Communities, does not denigrate the arrival of digital; indeed, it celebrates its opportunities for the flow and exchange of information as never before. But it notes that gaps are emerging as organizations reduce their local expenditures and digital enterprises do not backfill what is lost.
Many recommendations are made to stimulate the environment for enterprising local reporting, including tax measures, regulatory changes and journalism school curriculum improvements.
Stephen J. Ward, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at University of Wisconsin-Madison, has developed in the last decade an impressive body of work to articulate how journalism can perform its functions ethically.
(Full disclosure: He is a former colleague at both UBC, where I worked with and for him, and at The Canadian Press, where he worked with and, very briefly, for me.)Ward, in a post for PBS' MediaShift, identifies the principles of ethics journalism education.
In summary, he suggests:
1. Starting from the students' world, not your own. No laying down of media laws.
2. Assisting with reflective engagement. Help them reach their own ethical views.
3. Insisting on critical, not just fashionable, thinking.
4. Accommodating the transitional. Ideas of old may not work today.
5. Being global in perspective.
He advocates dialectical, holistic, Socratic teaching. The tall order is a very good guide.
The New York Times reports tonight
that the City University of New York (CUNY) will announce a Master's program Monday in entrepreneurial journalism.
This ought not to surprise anyone, given Jeff Jarvis' efforts in the last couple of years to advance the concept of journalism as a small, personal business with great opportunities. Jarvis will lead the program and its centre, funded with a $10-million grant.
The university already offers an undergraduate program in entrepreneurial journalism. These courses will examine the intersection of journalism and business. The aim is to produce graduates who will start or participate in the build-up of businesses associated with digital journalism.
The New York University scholar, Jay Rosen, has been at the vanguard of digital journalism, so it's a treat to hear his advice for the next generation of creators. He gave an opening-day address to students in Paris and has since summarized his remarks.
Yes, Rosen touches the bases all journalism instructors now do: you should blog, know SEO and HTML5, understand the audience, get feisty about mobile and know how to record and edit audio and video.
But Rosen's best advice --- in his view and in mine --- comes in what else he says students pursuing journalism ought to watch as the power shifts away from journalists to the people who consume and share content:
1. The need to replace audience terms like readers, viewers and listeners with "users."
2. The need to understand users know more than you do.
3. The qualities the audience brings are of mutual importance to the work of journalists.
4. Describe the world in a way people can participate in it.
5. Just because everyone can participate doesn't mean everyone will.
6. A journalists is simply a heightened case of an informed citizen.
7. Your authority has to do with being some place to tell people about.
8. You need to listen to demand and give people what they have no way to demand.
9. Trust means telling people where you're coming from.
10. Newspapers make associations and associations make newspapers. This is a saying from De Tocqueville, but one Rosen says remains germane.
Annually the journalism schools of the world (including UBC, where I teach) take in ambitious, optimistic and eager new creators. Once they're through, the expected outcome is a grounded, competent and presentable professional.
Robert Niles, writing for the Online Journalism Review,
has some advice for the incoming class:
1. Journalism school will not prepare you. You are now on the job.
2. Audience equals power. Get one.
3. Your career is only as strong as your network.
4. Your career is only as strong as your passions.
5. Conduct yourself as a journalist.
Mark Berkey-Gerard teaches journalism at Rowan University in New Jersey and he maintains a very clearly written blog with a batch of online tutorials and tips.His latest post
itemizes many of the conventional myths worth confronting in the classroom as professors work with students to enter the craft of journalism. In brief, they include:
1. Lecturing is no way to have a conversation.
2. Follow those you like on Twitter to gain resources and insight.
3. Don't assume the digital natives are active.
4. Don't skimp on HTML and CSS assignments.
5. Review raw interview tape.
6. Online tutorials need to be followed up.
7. Experiment first, be an expert later.
8. The audience is an excellent editor.
9. Let students pursue passions first in their creation.
10. Push beyond what you know.
11. Expect convergence to be resisted.
12. Storytelling is hard.
13. Students don't remember PowerPoint, so provide it.