Ning, the software that allows anyone to create their own social network, is moving away from the free/advertising business model to a subscription-based business model. This is similar to the move by Sprout that I wrote about previously. The Ning network I’m most familiar with – Wired Journalist – was already using Ning’s premium network services before this, so there should be no disruption for them. But for others, there will likely be some disruption in the social network space. TechCrunch reports that Grouply and Grou.ps are already targeting their service to Ning customers who won’t be excited about the move to pay-for-play. There is also Spruz, which is a service I wasn’t familiar with until the Ning announcement.
This Week on ABC is conducting an experiment. I think it’s a good experiment. Jake Tapper explains to Steven Colbert:
Pulitzer-winner Jim MacMillan spoke to students in our Society of Collegiate Journalists chapter last night via Skype. Check out his photos here.
Awesome tilt/shift effects from Ben Garvin at the Pioneer Press (via the ever-useful Newspaper Video Yahoo Group).
I am continually amazed at the storytelling coming out of the team at This American Life. Listen to the Planet Money, ProPublica and TAL teams explain complex Credit Default Swaps and Mortgage Backed Securities in this episode.
Housekeeping note: I’ve changed the format of the blog back to an earlier template. Those of you who’ve been reading for a while will notice something familiar. While the Mimbo theme we were using was a pretty good magazine-style theme, there were some bugs, and until I find a magazine theme I like better, we’re reverting to a traditional blog-style theme.
Tonight, I get to find out what is “The Future of Journalism.” I’m excited! I’ll let you know what I find out soon. In the meantime, here are some curated links to tide you over:
We’re back from Spring Break here, and I’m hitting the ground running. This Wednesday, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on “The Future of Journalism” here at EIU, joined by the Journerdist himself, Will Sullivan, along with John Foreman, publisher of the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana, Ill. and Nancy Foreman, executive producer at WCIA-TV3 in Champaign. Jeff Lynch, interim dean of the EIU College of Arts and Humanities will moderate. Should be an interesting event, and I’ll post audio or video once it’s over.
Then, this weekend, I’ll be assisting with the APME/MPI NewsTrain workshop in Arlington Heights, Ill. (details here) The faculty is pretty impressive. Mark Briggs will be there, as will Derek Willis, whom I’ve interviewed, but never met in person. I hope to have some short videos available from that workshop as well.
Meanwhile, here are some random links to start the day off right.
A few things that have popped up in my RSS feeds lately that might be of interest:
Research Dramatizes Changing Practices\: The ever-inciteful Paul Gillin links to some interesting research about how social media is being used extensively by journalists in their reporting (even Wikipedia!). Lots of other substance in the post as well, so read the whole thing.
Housekeeping: I’m in the midst of heavy revision of my dissertation draft, so posting will likely be light over the next few weeks unless something big breaks.
Reminder: Feb. 1 is the deadline for applications for the Spring 2010 CICM internship. $500 stipend. Work from anywhere. Write about the future of college media.
Via Doug Fisher, journalists and PR experts scrum over how to handle a press conference about new USC football coach Lane Kiffen when he left U. of Tennessee after one year. I especially like the point where the PR guy says, “just remember, you’re in our building.” The University of Tennessee is a public institution.
Updating Flash Journalism (Part 2) – Mindy McAdams details some of the steps a journalist should take if she wants to learn Flash CS4, since Mindy isn’t going to be updating the excellent Flash Journalism. Worth a read. And here’s a link to Part 1.
The Right to Link – Jeff Jarvis takes down Rupert Murdoch’s silly campaign to exsanguinate the Internet by disallowing links to News Corp. web sites.
Linking is not a privilege that the recipient of the link should control – any more than politicians should decide who may or may not quote them. The test is not whether the creator of the link charges (Murdoch’s newspapers will charge and they link). The test is whether the thing we are linking to is public. If it is public for one it should be public for all.
It is always baffling to me how journalists want to wrap themselves in the mantle of a free press when it benefits them financially, but refuse to practice the sort of openness they preach about for elected officials. You can read more at right2link.org.
Mark Johnson: Failing faster – Daniel Bachhuber sums up a talk given at ICANN about experimentation and innovation. This summary should be familiar to readers of this blog:
There’s a difference between innovating and creating. Innovating is trying new things. Instead of covering the council meeting and writing about it, bring an audio recorder, a couple of microphones, and try to tell the whole story without using your own voice. That’s innovating. Creating, however, is about developing a routine that makes you prepared to produce. Technique isn’t creativity. The people who know all of the ins and outs of Photoshop, but can only produce within the scope of the assignment aren’t creative enough.
Too often in the day-to-day grind of producing a newspaper, the routine becomes preparation to produce what you’ve produced in the past. Even if what you’ve produced is “new” media. The challenge is to incorporate fresh ways to tell stories into your routine.
Notes on the Cleverness Economy – Ryan Sholin uses the humorous aspects of Twitter to make a point about the news business today. And it’s a really good point:
“Breaking News” is the treadmill. It’s the “flow” that keeps your audience engaged, coming back, checking your site or your blog, turning on the TV, visiting your national news site on their phone first thing in the morning to check if anything has blown up overnight, subscribed to your hyperlocal blog’s e-mail updates, checking their RSS feeds to see what’s new. And that’s crucial to building and engaging online news consumers.
But it doesn’t last. The stuff that does last? The most obvious answers include investigative and enterprise reporting, but I think there’s room these days for great infographics and data visualizations, too. For example, I’ve gone back to this New York Times piece on the 2008 Democratic primaries more than a few times over the last year, sometimes for political reference, and sometimes just to demonstrate the sort of displays of information that interest me these days.
Recommended: Find the balance, online producer, between churning out a steady stream of content and taking time to build something of lasting value beyond the next few hours.
I’d say the same applies to bloggers, educators, students, etc. Writing a quick hit blog post is relatively easy to do (I’m doing it now!), but there should be content that explores the boundaries and implications of what’s going on in your area of expertise as well.
My take: No. SATSQ (simple answer to simple question).
The businesses who offer unpaid internships are taking advantage of the marketplace to get work done for nothing. Free work that they wouldn’t expect from a “professional.” Part of the problem with American society in general is that we don’t value labor enough, and free internships don’t help. I realize broadcasters have been using free interns for years. But that doesn’t make it right. I should expand on this thought sometime.
As you probably already know, Haiti suffered a devastating 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12. You can find some pretty comprehensive information about relief efforts at this Washington Post list. If you have some money to spare, there are some people who could put it to good use.
Off to Edmonton! This afternoon, I’ll be heading to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to speak at the Canadian University Press Conference. You can find out more about the conference at the link above. I’ll be speaking about blogging, social media, and adding interactivity to a web presence. And, I’ll get to participate in a panel discussion with Matthew Ingram and others. I’m looking forward to it. You can follow the discussion on Twitter. I’ll post a hashtag at @cicm when I find out what it is.
Now to the links.
Here comes another edition of links you probably should check out. Most are culled from my RSS reader, with my commentary on why they should be read. I used to do this using automation via delicious.com, but that method was a little too impersonal for my old-fogey blogging ways. Let me know if you like these posts and I’ll try to keep doing them. Otherwise, I can just post links the more automated way.
In the Spotlight: College Fashion Founder Zephyr Basine – Dan Reimold interviews a college student who started a blog about college fashion that has become a hit and lead the student to make money off the deal. Pretty sweet, right? Read the interview for more details, and notice some of the keys to making a hobby into a career start.
“I created College Fashion in March of 2007 because I loved reading fashion blogs but couldn’t find any that were aimed specifically at college students. All my favorite fashion sites and magazines catered either to middle-aged women or 16 year olds in high school. I started this website to fill that need. It began as a fun hobby but it’s grown into a full time job and then some!”
It reminds me a lot of Brian Stelter’s story. He started TVNewser while in college, and now works for the New York Times as a media beat reporter. There are still opportunities to do those kinds of “ground up” blog success stories. The key is to find a passion, make your site as unique as possible and stay committed.
Because the simple fact is this: there are no new business models for news. News is not entertainment, so there isn’t going to be an iTunes for news. The only possible models are these: advertiser-supported and reader-supported (through subscriptions or donations).
Niles breaks the model down into three component parts: direct purchases, advertising, and donations, which is a little more nuanced than my construct. Worth a read.
But over the last few months I’ve come to a different conclusion: I don’t think we’re happy to pay for news on websites … because it doesn’t look very good.
Think about it: no matter what the story, subject, country, language or website a news story on a web page follows a visual formula. Usually a thin (400-700 pixel wide) central column with two or three thinner columns either side; a headline in big bold letters; the rest of the text in size 10 or 12; the odd sub heading if you’re lucky; and video or photographs squeezed inside the narrow column.
I don’t necessarily agree that people would pay for news if we just put it in a better dress or redecorated every day. But, like Pat Thornton’s post I linked to earlier, there seems to be a sense that news web sites need to do more to make themselves appealing through design. The problem is that design like that takes time and skill. And too many news outlets don’t have either. Thought-provoking.
Make Your Mockup in Markup – Web designers have usually used Photoshop or an image-editing program to make a sketch of their web page design before beginning the tedious task of coding in HTML/CSS. 24 Ways walks through the process of doing a mockup in HTML/CSS instead.
News media and college students: A match made in heaven? – Mark Luckie writes about something I’ve been concerned about recently – the increasing coziness between big news media outlets and college journalism departments to do big journalism projects. The question that should concern journalists is whether these partnerships are actually exploiting cheap labor to do the stories the big companies aren’t willing to pay real salaries for.
It is worth noting that college journalism students are often bright and talented young journalists looking to hone their skills in an academic environment. Some students, especially those in graduate programs, often have substantial experience in the newsroom or have worked previously as a full-time journalist. The partnerships can benefit both the students who gain practical experience and news media who can expand the reach of the newsroom.
But are news organizations avoiding paying full or part-time reporters in favor of tapping the skills of students who only require academic credit rather than financial compensation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
I don’t have a problem with students gaining real world experience. But I’ve also seen a trend toward the odious unpaid internship coming up. It’s really a shame that news organizations when willing or able to pay the people who are working for them. College students are in a uniquely vulnerable position in this regard. They need experience, and some will do most anything to get it. That means media companies can exploit that vulnerability instead of paying for services rendered with real cash.
It’s Monday – school starts tomorrow, and the RSS feed is full of good stuff. Here’s what I’ve read today. You might want to consider heading over and considering what these people are saying. (in no particular order)
10 golden rules for video journalists – Chris Wu reminds us of some of the basics of shooting video (from Travis Fox, formerly (?!?) of the Washington Post). Nothing really earthshattering or new here, but, as with many things, we do well to repeat them for those who are coming along behind us.
We can all agree that the Web is a vastly different medium than print.
Which is why I can’t understand why almost every news site tries to emulate the user interface ofa newspaper. The mediums are nothing alike, and they each have much different strengths and weaknesses. Why are we still making dynamic Web sites that try to mimic static news print?
A user interface can be often be the single most important decision in the life of a Web site. News organizations need to take this decision more seriously and need to rethink everything.
Newspapers: what to market? – Tim Burden turns on to the idea that newspapers need to market themselves, and points to some ways they can do so. I’m not so sure newspapers don’t advertise (as Burden’s friend insists), but much of that advertising is probably misplaced. Read the article for some thought-provoking ideas on how to change a paper’s image. More applicable for professional outfits, but college media could learn a thing or two.
Make people feel smart, educated and aware every time they follow the little blue star, and they will want to come back for more. They will associate the brand with good feelings. Not feeling good, necessarily, because the news isn’t always pleasant. But if you remove the barriers to flow; if you make the activity intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action; if there is a balance between ability level and challenge; then people will feel smart for having been on your website.
Ideas for journalism educators – Mindy McAdams links to a couple of presentations she’s presented recently. Check them out for ideas about blogs and integrating online journalism into your curriculum.
Predictions old and new – Paul Conley works on Sunday to put out a thoughtful look back and into the future for B2B (business-to-business) publishing. B2B? You ask. “This is a college journalism blog.” Yes, it is, and many college journalists find themselves working in B2B when they get out of school, so – from an employment angle – it’s a good idea to follow B2B. Read the post if you’re interested in working in this field, or even if you’re not, because what Paul says is relevant to you.
But in summary, let me say this: the old days are over. We’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in how people consume information and how the cost of producing that information can be covered.
There’s no going back.
Just like in 2009, there will be people who prosper amid the difficulties. And, just like in 2009, there will be people who suffer through no fault of their own.
Your task — whether you’re an editor, a salesperson, a publisher, marketer, c-suite executive, designer, j-student, etc — is to position yourself where prosperity is possible and suffering is minimized.
Holy Moses! Media need to gear up for tablets – Alan Mutter (the newsosaur) goes for the Old Testament symbolism when discussing the oncoming wave of “tablet” computing systems (I don’t call them computers, but I don’t know what exactly to call them).
Tablets will the rock media as much, if not more, than the Internet, because they will powerfully combine ubiquitous connectivity, elegant displays, powerful computing and extreme portability. As the future Swiss Army knife of media platforms, they have the potential to obsolete not just print, broadcast television and Filofaxs but also desktops, laptops and smart phones.
Tablets demand a fresh approach to content and advertising that leverages the capabilities of this new medium in the same way TV required pictures and action, instead of stiff announcers recycling radio fare.
I don’t think tablets will kill the laptop, but what do I know. Still, there’s a lot for media to consider. I’ve said for several years that once students have something light and portable that they could interact with while waiting for class, the printed news product would be in danger on your campus. This may be the time when that prediction comes true.
Are You Getting Dangerous Feedback From Your Readers and Prospects – Copyblogger Sonia Simone has an excellent post about negative feedback from your “customers.” It’s a good idea to keep in mind when the latest “your paper sucks!” comment shows up on your web site. People who are pleased with your product rarely call to compliment you.
When you focus on complaints from people who don’t like you, your natural tendency is to steer your blog (and your business) in a direction that will make it more appealing to them.
Why would you want to do that?
Simone doesn’t throw all negative criticism out, but you need to ask yourself whether it’s valuable criticism, or just a troll.
Top 100 tools of 2009 for learning – Alfred Hermida links to this post and points out that they are great tools for journalism as well (since journalism isn’t just about “telling,” but also “learning” what needs to be told). And social media consultant Jane Hart even created an embeddable slideshow. So here it is:
16 social media guidelines used by real companies – Chris Lake of Econsultancy links to some real-world social media policies (I’ll have to post a copy of the Chicago Tribune’s policy if I can get the digital file). It’s a good baseline to consider when you’re developing your own policy (I get plenty of e-mails about this). One thing to consider (as with any policy document) is that students should have a prominent place in deciding what the policy should be. I don’t really care what your social media policy, but it should not be a top-down dictum with no thought about how students use social media outside your newsroom.
‘Unpublishing’ – the growing challenge for editors/publishers – My friend Doug Fisher writes about some recent research about “unpublishing” newspapers’ online archives. The surprising (or not so much, depending on your level of cynicism) finding is “barely half of the news organizations she surveyed had some kind of policy for dealing with such requests.”
This has been a problem for college news sites for a while, and if you’re dealing with this issue (as I’m sure you will at one time or another), Fisher has some good thoughts to consider.
And, regardless of what your policy is, I am personally opposed to removing someone’s poorly constructed, grammatically incorrect op-ed columns just because the person is embarrassed by them today.
About that resolution – Ryan Sholin writes about the difficulties of “writing more” for a modern tech-infused writer. It’s somewhat humorous, yet points out how real blogging is sometimes just as time-consuming – if you’re going to do it right – as writing a news story or producing a video. For instance, I’ve spent over 2 hours this morning reading, thinking, sifting, and writing this blog post. That’s not to brag, but just to remind you that if you’re able to crank out a blog post for your campus news site in 30 minutes, “Ur doin it wrong.”
Write Better Blog Posts Today – As if timed perfectly (it was the next tab in the browser, I swear), Chris Brogan offers some unnumbered tips on how to sharpen your blogging skills. Sometimes, writing better blog posts is a matter of introspection, as Brogen concludes:
And finally, if no one’s reading your stuff, you’ve gotta consider why. Is it bad writing? Is it too long? Is it not visually broken up for people’s eyes to scan? Is the topic too minor for people to consider? Or are you posting at the wrong times? There are lots of things to troubleshoot. Just don’t leave it be. Try something. Try something with each new post. Change one element at a time and see if things improve. Oh, and if it’s just that you’re not getting comments, try commenting on other people’s posts for a while first. Comment a lot. Don’t talk about your blog. Talk about the posts you’re reading. That often gets you some new traffic and some new friends. Especially, and here’s the bonus trend, if you comment on non-A-list blogs where the people are just as grateful for the traffic as you’ll be when they visit.
When students begin blogging, they often miss the fact that a blog isn’t just an editorial column on the internet. A blog post is part of a conversation. If you’re not conversing with people who share your interests, you’re not likely to draw a lot of attention in a sea of information.
Link journalism makes context easy in stories online. But the link in itself is not necessarily journalism — it’s what you do to verify its source and accuracy that makes it journalism and, thus, more valuable.
“Because it’s on the web” is no excuse for not verifying. That just leads to low-quality content, of which there’s plenty online. Instead, you should strive for the best quality because there’s so much garbage out there.
Linch has some very practical tips on verifying and researching web sites. I plan to share this post in future online journalism classes. Highly recommended.
She will direct the work of editors there and around the company in pursuing journalistic material from social networks, promoting AP’s presence and content on social networks, and providing feedback to news managers on topics of high interest on social networks.”
One of our recent graduates is now social network manager for a large insurance company. This is one of the growth areas in journalism, so if you’re not helping with your college media social strategy, now would be a good time to get started. BTW, she’s only been at AP for two years.
So, your past earns you nothing online. Whatever audience you will have there, you must build yourself.
Now you’re a community organizer.
It’s a good read for any young journalist who is looking at working for an online site or startup. College media is uniquely geographically bound into the life of a campus. But a campus in itself is only one type of community. Overcoming the hurdle to understanding that there are literally hundreds of communities on a large campus can help you transition to the future of community journalism.
So, effective immediately and through the New Year’s holiday weekend, no comments will be allowed on new local content posted on Pantagraph.com.This “cooling off” period is meant as a strong reminder to our online readers: that the reason comments are allowed in the first place is to foster a “spirit of community involvement and conversation.”
I actually like this approach. Too often, we think of comments as an either/or proposition. Either we let every jerk comment and let the comments become a cesspool, or we close down comments altogether. But this is something that truly engages the online community. It’s a short-term penalty for abusive commenting that treats commenters like adults. Comments have since been turned back on, and we’ll have to see how the time-out elevates the tone of discussion.
Screw professionalism. The *professional* only knows one way to do things. Always be the student. Always be learning. Practice, Practice, Practice. Do something everyday to make your skills better. Pay attention to what others are doing, dissect their videos and projects, LEARN. If you’re not practicing your craft or paying attention to what your competition is doing, then you’re losing the creative race.
This type of advice reminds me of Ira Glass on Storytelling, where he talks about “taste” and working to get to the highest levels of the craft.
Some thoughts on multimedia in a small market – Many college news outlets are not staffed by huge numbers of students, or producing daily newspapers. So Daniel Sato’s thoughts are worth attending to. I like this point about not just focusing on those who are interested in multimedia:
In the end though, it seems to me that it is those that are currently uninterested that will hold the key to whether or not multimedia truly takes off here. Perhaps it is overly optimistic of me, perhaps naive, but whether they are afraid of technology, beaten down by the daily grind or unhappy with putting out work that does not meet their standards of quality, the passion that brought them into the field is still there. It my job then, to find the right inspiration/motivation to get them excited about multimedia. The good thing is, once the ball starts rolling, things snowball.
Is journalism storytelling? – Jeff Jarvis stops talking about Google long enough to pounce on one of journalism’s sacred commandments – the journalist as storyteller. Go ahead and think about the concepts he discusses. Like the summary paragraph:
But if we continue to assume that our role is that of the storyteller, and to limit ourselves to that, then we risk closing ourselves off from forms of gathering and sharing information that do not end up in the form of stories, that are not structured and told. When we open ourselves up, we can think of journalists as enablers, as community organizers (not just of information but of a community’s ability to organize its own information), as teachers, as curators (how could I get through this without using the word at least once?), as filters, as tool makers, as algorithm writers.
I hate writing numbered list posts (despite the advice from blog experts that people like to read them), but to help get back into the swing of a new semester, here are some links that have come through the RSS reader recently, curated for your enjoyment:
Eight things your college newsroom needs to change (if it hasn’t already) – Brian Manzullo posts a list of some mindset disruptions that need to occur in college newsrooms. Longtime readers will recognize a number of these from past blog posts (link to outside sources, staff comments, web-first mentality). But it’s always good to see a new generation raising the change flag high. There are some non-web-specific mindsets listed as well. (via Dan Reimold)
On a related note, John Thompson posits Ten things every journalist should know in 2010 – Again, many are rephrased ideas that have been pounding at the shores of journalism’s fortress for several years now. But I think I’ll be passing this out in classes. (via John Robinson, see below)
And Judy Sims reminds us of 7 New Years Resolutions News Execs Should be Making in 2010 – All of these are not related to college media, but several of them are, including using the web to become a complete community connection for your school and creating “verticals” (gad, I hate that word). Check them out and ferret out the application for your campus publication/media outlet.
Thoughts about video editing software – Mindy McAdams provides a run-down of some of the video editing software that dominates journalism training. I will say that iMovie ’09 has brought back ease-of-editing to cutaways, which means we may be using it in our newsroom (if not classes) this spring).
WooHoo! Journalists are no. 184! – Newspaper reporters were ranked 184 out of 200 best and worst jobs of 2010 according to CareerCast.com. Stevadore was the worst. You can view the rest of the carnage here.
John Robinson on the value of Twitter – Robinson links to David Carr of the New York Times. I will be talking about Twitter and other social media outlets next week at the Canadian University Press Conference in Edmonton (brrr).
The big rumors lately have been about the Apple Tablet device. I’m interested to see what comes out. Over the last few student conferences I’ve attended, I’ve seen more and more iPhones and iPod Touches in the hands of students. Depending on the price point, it’s difficult to see this product taking the place of the iPhone in the hands of college students. But I’m not making a prediction.
Some blog posts, time-wasters and resources I’ve come across during the past week that I just haven’t had the time to post about. I’ll be back on Tuesday with some more new college media web site redesigns and other stuff. Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.
Internet Anagram Server: Ever wonder what your name would spell if the letters were rearranged? The IAS will scramble them for you. ICM is “A Cad Levee Oiling Tin Moon” among others. I am “Manly Rub Rye.”
GraphJam: From the people who brought us icanhascheezeburger and other LOL sites, this is a site that lets people create humorous non-statistical graphs. More of a time-waster, but could be useful for editorial cartoonists. Here’s one I like:
In many ways, the Times’ blogs are no different from anyone else’s. But there’s one organizational trick they employ very effectively: Division of Labor. Times bloggers don’t work on their own. They don’t handle every aspect of their blogs. Who does what is divided up to bring specific expertise to bear on different parts of each post. The result is I can crank out more posts, and those posts are better overall, than if we writers did everything ourselves. I know, not everyone wants to have other people involved in their blogging. But there’s a reason people work in teams.
CPC Computer Prompting and Captioning: Several states are adopting ADA requirements for web accessibility for all state agencies and affiliated organizations, which means some college news orgs. are having to rethink their video and audio offerings, specifically offering transcripts and close-captioning. Using QuickTime to close caption is a pain, and it doesn’t provide captioning across file types. Eastern Illinois U.’s video production crew (part of the technology support staff) is using MacCaption, which they say is easier to use. Here’s a page with info about Windows and Mac versions.
Fire Eagle: Location awareness is one of those buzz-generating Internet phenomenon which I find a little bit creepy. But if you’re into location awareness, Fire Eagle is a Yahoo! product that:
is a site that stores information about your location. With your permission, other services and devices can either update that information or access it. By helping applications respond to your location, Fire Eagle is designed to make the world around you more interesting! Use your location to power friend-finders, games, local information services, blog badges and stuff like that…
Xslimmer: This nifty little program goes through and removes the old PPC code from universal binaries of Mac software programs, dramatically decreasing the size of the files, and therefore freeing up mucho hard disk space. Especially useful on older Intel chip Macs. It is shareware, but $14.95 is not a huge price to pay for a few gigs of space, is it? (thanks to colleague Brian Poulter for the tip)