Archive for the ‘news media’ Category

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Media Frets About Its Own Future at SXSWi 2010

March 18, 2010

Originally written for Mediaite, here are my takeaways from SXSW Interactive 2010.

Every year internet geeks gather for five days in Austin, TX to discuss the state of interactive media — and more importantly, what the future holds next — at South by Southwest Interactive. This year, old school tools like Facebook were barely mentioned: the hottest topics were online privacy, location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla, and perhaps most interestingly: the future of journalism.

The social media and Twitter elite demonstrated this week that they are increasingly more and more concerned about the state of journalism and what it will take for traditional media to survive the digital revolution taking place around them – and there was no shortage of panels obsessively deconstructing this topic.

In “Media Armageddon: What Happens When the New York Times Dies?” (hashtag: #endtimes — a little morbid if you ask me) a group of panelists including Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas talked about when (not if) the New York Times would die, while NYT’s own media columnist David Carr played the role of “MSM piñata.”  The panel rapidly turned into a heated discussion of Daily Kos vs. NYT — which one is more credible and which one would survive through the current tumultuous media landscape.  The panelists also frequently brought up Gawker Media, citing Nick Denton as an example of a publisher who had managed to build a successful model for online news. “I think Gawker is arching our direction,” Carr noted. “They have great reporting, research, and writing.” He added that he gets scooped by Gawker “all the time” – having often spent hours researching a story only to find Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan had already written 900 words covering everything readers needed to know about it. Nick Denton was flattered.

Click to read the rest at Mediaite HERE.

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2010 Campaign Coverage Already Reaching Obsessive Levels

February 12, 2010

originally published at Mediaite.

Here in the snow-submerged city of Washington, DC, the few people that have been able to dig themselves out from under four feet of snow have been feverishly keeping America stocked with more 2010 campaign coverage than ever.

In the past couple of weeks, as the nation was riveted by primaries in Massachusetts and Illinois, mainstream media and the blogosphere have begun the race to ramp up their 2010 coverage.  The New York Times, Politico, and Talking Points Memo are just a few of the media outlets that have stepped up their game in 2010 coverage recently. One wonders if, given the fact that we’re still nine months away from the general election, we all might reaching new heights of campaign obsession.

On February 1, just in time for the Illinois primaries, Politico launched its new 2010 Campaigns page, conveniently located at politico.com/2010. The page is boasting “Full 2010 Election Coverage and Political News” and is like porn for the political junkie. Features include: daily “Morning Score” email updates, maps and calendars encompassing every House, Senate, and gubernatorial seat up for grabs, a Polling Center featuring daily updates on the latest polls on nearly every 2010 midterm race, an aggregated Twitter feed of Politico’s reporters, and in-depth analysis on “races to watch.”

The Caucus, the political blog over at the NYT, also announced yesterday their plans to intensively track the 2010 campaigns over the next nine months, over at elections.nytimes.com/2010. The most prominent feature of this is a set of interactive maps of every House and Senate race in the country and a handy primary calendar.

Talking Points Memo also debuted yesterday their new Polltracker (beta!), which aggregates all the latest polling data from around the country, and even allows the truly dedicated the option of receiving a constant live feed of poll results via Twitter. Of course, no news site is complete without a Twitter account now, since that’s where all the breaking news happens!

The Electoral Map, a political geography blog, is one of the many blogosphere voices ramping up their 2010 coverage as well. TEM blogger Patrick Ottenhoff has been adding additional frequent posts on 2010 coverage, and supplementing it with a Flickr gallery of maps, a Twitter feed of breaking news and updates, and weekly posts on the state of the midterm campaigns.

In DC this is standard during an election year, and I admit I’ve been glued to 2010 coverage myself ever since the Coakley-Brown election started heating up. But is coverage maybe reaching obsessive levels?  Why do I feel like a crack addict, going from one primary race to the next? Is there ever such a thing as too much up-and-down election coverage? I’m a true election nerd, but even I feel that election burnout may be looming in the future for some.

Most of all, I worry that the real policy issues of our time – jobs, the recession, two wars, and oh, yeah, that healthcare bill! – are being pushed to the backburner in favor of our collective obsession over the latest campaign gaffe. But if we’re all contributing to it, I don’t see this question being answered anytime soon.

In the meantime, there’s a new WaPo poll out today. You’re welcome.

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My post at Mediaite: What the Sunday Shows Need is a New Media Makeover

January 13, 2010

This was  originally posted at Mediaite. And it was also quoted in The Nation, NPR, and Politico.

“Since Sunday shows never really appealed to 20-year-olds, Thompson thinks that trying to skew younger or add new technology and graphics isn’t likely to work. “Even before cable and the Internet, you wouldn’t have gotten younger viewers,” Thompson said.”
— from “Will the Sunday shows ever change?” Politico, January 9, 2010.

A debate has been raging online about the Sunday morning political talk shows, one of the venerated old institutions in American political discourse. It was started by Jay Rosen of NYU, who tweeted that maybe Sunday talk shows should fact check everything their guests say on Sundays and run it online every Wednesday.

Today, Politico’s Michael Calderone ran a thoughtful piece on whether Sunday shows will ever change, including commentary from several media personalities. They all agreed on one thing: the Sunday show format has changed very little over the years, and has done almost nothing to adapt to the new media age that we now live in.  And as such, their audience is shrinking.  Their guests are largely older white males and Washington insiders, their show formats haven’t changed since they were first started, and they rarely focus on issues that most Americans care about.  They’re Beltway shows that appeal only to Beltway audiences.

What troubled me the most was a quote in Calderone’s piece from Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse, who argued that the case for modernizing Sunday shows wasn’t that relevant because young people wouldn’t care enough to watch the shows anyway.

I stopped reading right there. I am 21 years old and have been watching Sunday talk shows for as long as I can remember, thanks to a very politically active father. And yeah, that puts me in that tiny category of political junkies who will watch Sunday shows no matter what.  But as a 21-year-old I resent having my entire generation casually brushed off as uninterested in Sunday morning talk shows.  Perhaps my cohorts would tune in every Sunday if they felt like these shows catered to them and spoke on the issues they care about. We are a very politically active generation, and we proved that in the 2008 election.  So it’s not that we’re not interested – the problem is that the networks are failing to adapt and provide programming that appeals to and informs the masses.

I fully believe that the Sunday morning talk shows need a new media makeover, and I have a handful of ideas for how they can do so.  I admit that I know absolutely nothing about what goes into the making of a political talk show. But what I do know  is that my generation wants transparency, participation, and engagement in their political process – and their news.  So here are my suggestions on how the Sunday shows might undertake a new media makeover that could finally usher them into the year 2010:

Take Questions From Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

We may be living in the YouTube age, but from the look of most Sunday shows you’d never know it. Remember the 2008 presidential election debates, where CNN and YouTube asked citizens to submit questions to ask of the candidates, and then featured selected video questions during the debate? Would it kill us to allow citizens to submit questions to the newsmakers and politicians on Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and This Week? Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube videos, allowing citizens to ask questions would give them a connection to the shows, engage them, and allow them to play a role in setting the news agenda. And talk show hosts like David Gregory and Bob Schieffer should help facilitate that citizen-politician connection. Although David Gregory, Bob Schieffer, and George Stephanopoulos all have Twitter accounts, their level of engagement with fans is very low. Schieffer and Stephanopoulos’s Twitter accounts aren’t even really them, but are merely RSS feeds of updates from their websites.

And while we’re on the subject, the only Sunday show with a Facebook page and Twitter account is Meet The Press. And even then, their Facebook and Twitter are both used as one-way, broadcast mediums only. The MTP Facebook page is used solely to push out promotional content for each week’s show, and they receive little response from Facebook users.  But what if instead they posted a status update asking citizens: what do you want to ask Janet Napolitano on Meet The Press next Sunday? What if there was a chance David Gregory would actually ask your question to Napolitano on air? I guarantee you citizens of all ages and all backgrounds would start paying more attention if they felt like the networks were paying attention to them.

Continue reading the rest at Mediaite.

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Quick hit: Mainstream Media Using Twitter Lists

November 9, 2009

I know no one wants to read another boring post about “Top 10 ways to use Twitter lists” so I promise this isn’t that. I just wanted to highlight what I think is a very innovative use of Twitter lists by the mainstream media – probably the last people I’d expect to have found an innovative way to use Twitter lists this quickly.

Several mainstream media organizations, particularly the New York Times, have been using Twitter lists to group together users live-tweeting details about a breaking news story from on-the-ground locations. Over the past weeks, they’ve had lists for the Ft. Hood shooting and the Orlando shooting. On a lighter note, they’ve got lists for the World Series, food policy, and DC politics, among others. An interesting thing about these lists is many of the NYT-created lists include not only bloggers, but reporters from other mainstream media outlets. I guess that’s just one of the many ways new media is subtly changing the way old media works.

DC politics

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Patrick Swayze: A Reminder That All News Is Going Social

September 15, 2009

An exchange between myself and my roommate tonight (she works in publishing).

Roommate: I just heard Patrick Swayze died today. I can’t believe it!

Me: I can’t believe it either. I heard about it the instant the story broke on Twitter. I don’t even need to read the news anymore because the second it happens, everyone starts talking about it.

Roommate: See from a publishing standpoint, that’s terrible! I don’t even use Twitter.

Me: Where did you hear the news?

Roommate: NPR.

Me: Oh, that’s good.

Roommate: Well, that was actually only because someone posted it on Facebook.

Kind of makes you wonder…what is going to happen to the news? Where will it be in five years? Will it just become secondary to social media?

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Sarah Palin: Who Needs the WSJ When You Have Facebook?

September 8, 2009

Sarah Palin is not governor of Alaska anymore, she’s not a VP candidate anymore, no one even knows WHAT she is really doing these days and yet the woman. is. everywhere.

She supposedly resigned to get out of the limelight and get her life together, yet she’s continuing to push her healthcare agenda to anyone who will listen, through a variety of channels.

Tonight she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Her Twitter account has been inactive since she resigned, but that’s okay — she’s all about Facebook now. She responds to major stories via Facebook notes. Like this one, penned in response to the controversy over the Associated Press releasing the photo of the dying Marine.

Really, it’s kind of fascinating to see how she is using Facebook notes as a primary communication channel. Who needs a blog when you can do that? Really, who even needs to place op-eds in the WSJ when you can write a Facebook note that will be read by roughly 860,000 fans?

She, like everyone else, can publish her thoughts instantly through a blog or Facebook note. But because she is Sarah Palin, she has rare and coveted access to the Wall Street Journal to publish her ideas there if she so desires — but does she really need it? Why wait for a paper to publish her thoughts when she can do it herself on Facebook, instantly, and with full control over her message?

What’s really telling is that she published the WSJ op-ed, but simultaneously copied and pasted the text of it into a Facebook note and re-posted it on Facebook.

So what does that say about the dwindling significance of the Wall Street Journal?

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Sunday Show Scorecard: Where are the women?

September 7, 2009

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday mornings is make coffee and plop in front of the TV for the Sunday show lineup: Meet The Press, This Week, Face the Nation, maybe even Fox News if I was feeling brave. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid, since my dad always had the Sunday shows on when I was little.

But lately I can’t help but notice how disappointing some of our Sunday show programming has become. A study from Media Matters for America shows that on average, Sunday show guests are 80% male.  The study was done in 2007, but really: how much has changed since then?

Yesterday, of the five major Sunday morning shows (Chris Matthews, Fox News Sunday, This Week, Face the Nation, and Meet the Press), there were a total of twenty-three guests.

Out of those twenty-three guests, how many were women?

Four.

So women still made up about 17% of yesterday’s guests on Sunday talk shows. (Also, coincidentally, women make up 17% of Congress….that’s for another post some day).

The more startling thing is that many of yesterday’s Sunday show panels were talking about the current hot topic around the nation: healthcare. Healthcare is an extremely important women’s issue — so why are there so few women being included in the conversation? Not that it is any less important to include women in conversations on, say, foreign policy and war, but with healthcare in particular there really is absolutely no excuse to leave women out of the conversation when you consider how much importance this issue has to women around the country, and how high the stakes are.

17% is abysmal. And it shows that almost nothing has changed since 2005, when the Media Matters study was conducted. The networks are still airing the same types of guests — and when they do seek out diversity, they have the same “token” women or token people of color (Juan Williams, for example, accounted for 99 of the 126 Sunday show appearances by an African-American in the Media Matters study).

So the question now is: what will it take to see real change out the networks, who have been doing the same thing for years?

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Guest post on NPR.org: The Future of Journalism

July 6, 2009

The following is an excerpt from a guest post I recently wrote for NPR.org’s Intern Edition blog. They are doing a series of guest posts asking young people to write about their thoughts on the future of journalism. To resad the full post, check out the link below.

In the year 2015, the New York Times as we have known it will cease to exist.

It’s now known as the newspaper of record, with a decorated, storied history spanning over a century and a half. Its Pulitzer- and Nobel- prize-winning columnists have become household names: Friedman, Dowd, Krugman, Collins, Brooks, Rich, Kristof, Douthat.

But now  the paper that has for years been the star of modern journalism is struggling just to survive under the combined pressures of a $250 million high-interest loan from a Mexican billionaire and the lack of a viable business model in an era of declining ad revenues and that thing we call…The Internet. The internet has now become the premiere way for Americans to get our news, and the old tradition of starting off mornings with the newspaper over breakfast has been traded in for hastily checking your Blackberry for news while in line at Starbucks.

But although the fate of the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets looks bleak, the future of journalism looks, from my vantage point, exactly the opposite — I think journalism has a bright, exciting future. Because now we see the rise of citizen journalism, where everyone is empowered to to contribute to and report the news. And with more people and more diverse perspectives reporting and collecting news, our collective access to the information we need can only increase.

The new journalism is about citizen journalism and community journalism. Blogging and the internet have helped connect reporters with their audiences and reduced the barriers between them, and now everyone can report. Everyone has access to publish content, to report events as they see them happening, and to have their accounts read and heard by hundreds, thousands, even millions, around the world. A YouTube user could create a video and get 10 million views. A blogger broke the story about Khalid Sheikh Mohamed being waterboarded 183 times and then it became a mainstream news story. Twitter users in Iran are sharing their accounts of election protests taking place there, while much of the mainstream media has been banned from reporting on the events.

Continue reading…

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Is America shifting on Israel, or is the media shifting on Israel?

June 16, 2009

One of the things I love almost as much as the news is the narrative being told about the events. It’s difficult for any given person to separate the facts and the actual events taking place from the media narrative being told about it. The Iran story that I’ve been watching lately is a perfect example. No one is really 100% sure what the facts are or what even constitutes fact. MSNBC will spin it one way. Fox and/or Mitt Romney will blame Obama. Bloggers will each try to put their own spin on it. And gradually, the narrative being constructed by the media may or may not reflect the actual facts.

Since Iran has been the Middle East story of the week, and America seems to be able to focus on only one Middle Eastern country at a time, the other big Middle East story of the week hasn’t been getting quite as much attention other than from foreign policy geeks. That story, of course, is the Israel-Palestine peace process.

A few weeks ago President Obama met with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. In early June, Obama delivered a speech to the Middle East from Cairo. This past Sunday, Netanyahu addressed his people on the topic of the peace process.

After these three historic events, a new narrative has emerged: America’s relationship with Israel is changing. Over the past couple of weeks have seen a plethora of articles and blog posts from both seasoned journalists and amateur bloggers alike, all suggesting the same ideas: the power of the legendary Israel lobby is weakening. President Obama is pressuring Netanyahu. Obama is the next Jimmy Carter [because Carter was the last US president who put real pressure on Israel to make peace]. Americans are gradually shifting from unconditionally supporting Israel to supporting a two-state solution. America’s relationship with Israel is changing dramatically. It’s a new chapter in the two countries’ relationship.

The question to me is: has American public opinion on support for Israel really changed? Or is this a shift in the media narrative but not actually a shift in America’s opinions and policy? Is the course of American foreign policy really shifting, or is this talk from speculative cable news pundits?

Is it REALLY a new era in America’s approach to Israel and Palestine? Or am I hoping for too much here?

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The New, New Journalism: Andrew Sullivan on Iran

June 15, 2009

There’s a lot of noise circulating right now about how the mainstream media networks like CNN and Fox have failed in providing adequate coverage and on-the-ground reporting on the events taking place in Iran. But there hasn’t been much talk about who HAS been providing stellar coverage of the situation.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been glued to Andrew Sullivan’s blog over at The Atlantic. Andrew’s blog is already high-quality content on a daily basis, but over the weekend he began blogging up a storm in real time as the events unfolded in Iran. Unlike big mainstream media outlets, whose reporting has been hindered by elaborate quality regulations, a lack of foreign bureaus to provide them direct on-the-ground footage, and a strong dislike for all forms of new media, Andrew’s blog has been going nonstop, hindered by none of those things. He is updating multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times an hour, every time he has any new piece of information.

He is gradually weaving together a complex narrative of the events taking place half a world away by piecing together a collection of eye-witness accounts, Iranian tweets, cell-phone videos uploaded on Youtube, reader emails from the US and from far away, riveting photos, and links to a multitude of blogs both big and small.

Old media types might shudder at the idea of linking to an unknown blog, but new media journalists like Sullivan aren’t concerned about how big the readership of your blog is or whether you’re just a student writing your observations on Twitter. It’s not about your press credentials; it’s about free flow of information. In this new media landscape, if you’ve got information, it’s worth sharing — no matter who you are.

CNN and other MSM outlets are running a few articles about what’s going on, but they can’t compete with this – real-time accounts through a variety of different mediums, collected together in one place being updated by the minute.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to. Sullivan’s blog is becoming the only source worth reading for accurate, detailed coverage of the events in Iran.

This is what journalism should be.

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