Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

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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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What are the student journalists doing?

February 24, 2010

So, I found a really interesting article in my Google Buzz feed today (is it too early to start using that term casually?) via Akhila about how social media users are getting older — and how young people are barely using the internet.

Blogger Jina Moore wrote:

I gave a talk yesterday in the stellar Rosemary Armao’s upper-class undergraduate journalism class at SUNY-Albany… Rosemary’s 30-ish students are all around 20. I polled them. None of them reads blogs. None of them uses Twitter. A few actually read the newspaper (cheer for the underdog!), but few of them really seek out news. Those who do look at it on their phones.

This reminded me of my visit to St. Mary’s, a private high school in Portland, Ore. I didn’t poll the students there — my mission was slightly different — but I did happen to find out that not one of them uses Twitter. “Ms. Pierce,” one student explained to my friend who had invited me, “Twitter is for old people.”

I was mostly shocked by the fact that NONE of the 20-year-olds — in a journalism class! — read blogs. Hardly anyone reads books anymore, and definitely nobody reads papers, so if they’re not reading blogs what ARE the journalism students of today reading? Reading, people! Have we forgotten about it already?

Reading Jina’s post is initially shocking because everyone thinks of 18-24 year olds as “digital natives” (whatever that means) who are glued to the internet, blogs, Twitter, etc — even the new Pew study that came out today basically reaffirms what everyone thought they already knew about how millennials love the internet.

But while young people may use Facebook, for the most part, 18-24 year olds are not the people reading blogs or using Twitter. and when they do use social media tools they use it to connect with their friends — not necessarily to share information. That’s why seeing the clash of people my age and their parents/coworkers/bosses on Facebook is so interesting. We got Facebook in college and used it to connect with our friends — now everyone older than us is getting Facebook and using it as a professional and information-sharing tool.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised. As recently as last year I would tell my friends something interesting I read on a blog and they’d react with blank stares and scoff  “I don’t really read blogs. Blogs are not my thing.” And the only college journalism majors I know of who even use Twitter are sort of weak at it. They use it like a glorified Facebook status update, rather than a tool for sharing content, links, and insight.

At the same time, I can’t really rail on college journalists: this past Monday Huffington Post launched its college section and they have a really fine collection of college student bloggers writing for the site and sharing their insights on the college experience today. There is some great content to be found on HuffPost College from some great student writers who really get the importance of digital journalism. So you know those students are out there, but I feel like they’re few and far between.

The future of journalism is all about digital media, yet many student journalists are still, for the most part, not absorbing themselves in the online tools that are quickly taking over their industry. Print is dead (hello!) so I hope that the future journalists of America start using digital tools for information, reading, and research; digital media holds so much value for the future of journalism, but only if the college students of today figure out how to use it. If they have to be educated on it, so be it: maybe what college journalists need is mandatory classes on digital media instead of so many classes on print journalism.

We’re counting on them to figure out how to save journalism!

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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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David Gregory is not a blogger

August 2, 2009

david-gregory-meet-the-press_thumbBefore I get to the point of this post, I feel I should say one thing: David Gregory is a great journalist whom I respect a lot. And I still get up to watch Meet the Press every Sunday morning!

But, respected journalist that he is, David Gregory is not a blogger. A few months ago when he became the host of Meet The Press, he started a blog and a Twitter account. And everyone fawned all over him and how great he was at “embracing new media,” something that old-media journalists love to talk about doing.

Has anyone else but me checked out David Gregory’s blog recently? I will admit when I heard the MTP host was starting a blog I went and subscribed right away. But lately, his blog is just a stream of once-a-week posts of  “some reads this morning” highlighting a couple articles he’s reading each morning.

That’s great, but that’s what GOOGLE NEWS is for. And Memeorandum. And RealClearPolitics. A famous journalist, talk show host, and political media personality should have a real blog, not simply a regurgitation of any political news aggregator. People actually listen to this guy — or at least pay attention to what he says — so can’t he say something useful on his blog?

(It’s kind of like how social media people got annoyed when Oprah got on Twitter, because she has such a huge audience and everyone fawns over the fact that she’s on Twitter, but she doesn’t really use it! I take issue with David Gregory’s blog for the same reasons.)

I’m not saying he should have a blog. He’s wildly successful enough in his career already that he can do whatever he wants. But what I am saying is this: if he’s going to publicly try to embrace new media by starting a blog and using Twitter, he should actually do it well, not half-ass it. A collection of “what I’m reading” lists is not a blog.

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Journalists start to get Twitter…about time!

February 23, 2009

Last week, it seems like Twitter finally hit the Washington press on the head with an anvil and they all finally got with it. Why most journalists are so far behind the curve is kind of mystifying to me. Millions of normal people use Twitter everyday, but when you look up major journalists on Twitter the vast majority of them don’t *get* it.

Just look at Anderson Cooper or Gawker or CNN. This is not how you use Twitter. These guys follow no one, and only post a stream of posts from Twitterfeed trying to get you to their blogs or websites. That’s not the point of Twitter. If you’re going to do that, why bother?

Recently, this is a topic I’ve seen discussed in other places. Luke Russert didn’t have a Twitter account even though he is supposed to be covering youth issues. And then last week  I noticed an interesting trend…journalists started to get it. Russert started his own account. George Stephanopoulos, whose Twitter account previously until February 18th was just a stream of ads for his blog, suddenly started posting updates like a real person. David Gregory and Mike Allen both joined Twitter and started posting real updates, and both garnered a huge following within days. Gregory even went so far as to start his own TypePad blog.

There are some journalists who have been getting it for a long time: Ana Marie Cox, or John Byrne, CEO of Business Week, John Dickerson of Slate, and of course, Rick Sanchez and Don Lemon of CNN. All of these journalists use Twitter to post real updates, information, and insight, and they genuinely interact with people and gather information, rather than simply using Twitter as a self-promotion tool. They connect — which is the point.

There are some great ways Twitter can be used to improve and complement serious journalism — it’s not just a frivolous tool for posting where you’re going every second of the day or what you had for lunch (NOONECARESABOUTYOURLUNCH.Why do I get so many tweets like that?) It’s a great way to discover breaking stories or find interview sources or simply step out from behind your byline, go where the readers are, and talk to them.

Social media is useless if you just use it as a one-way megaphone; it has to be a two-way conversation. I hope more journalists follow suit, because I have to wonder how accurately they can report on issues on behalf of the public if they’re missing a crucial opportunity to see what the public is talking about.

*This post itself was inspired by a Twitter conversation started by one of my favorite bloggers, Jaclyn Schiff. If you’re not already, follow me on Twitter. And Jaclyn!

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Does anyone read print newspapers anymore?

November 24, 2008

Do you? I don’t. As avid of a news reader as I am, I can confess to not reading a single thing in print. I get everything online now, like everyone else. The big media companies are definitely feeling it — and the impending recession is making the situation even worse.

For my dad’s generation, print newspapers were an important part of everyday life. My dad still reads the Wall Street Journal every morning on the train to work and treasures it, but I think he’s of a dying breed. Yesterday he was showing me some stock quotes in the WSJ and I was struck by how long it had been since I had read a print copy of anything to get the news. Especially for something as rapidly changing as stock quotes, it seemed futile to me to look at a print newspaper published only once a day, when those stocks would fluctuate constantly throughout the day and the most up-to-the-minute updates could only be found online.

Last week the New York Times, still my favorite for news, announced that it sharply reduced its dividend — which will save the New York Times Co. about $97.8 million a year. This is after years of increasing its dividend. Some think that page by page, section by section, the NYT’s influence is fading away.

PC Magazine is shutting down its print edition and going completely digital.

And did you know over half the Washington Post company’s revenue comes not from WaPo or Newsweek…but from its Kaplan test prep division?

On the other hand, in July, Gawker Media got twice as many pageviews as the LA Times website. And Huffington Post has supposedly raised $15 million in capital.

AdAge questions whether print can even survive another five years — a little pessimistic if you ask me. But then there’s been so many media layoffs lately, that the blogging giants are trying to seize an opportunity by offering free blog accounts to laid-off journalists. So who knows.

One thing I do know is that mass media is changing. No one wants a one-way message from the media anymore; they want a two-way conversation that they can participate in. They want to be able to comment on news stories, they want to be able to discuss the news as it happens, they want rapid updates every minute, and they want to be environmentally friendly and save paper. I’m taking a mass media course right now, and I’m surprised by how little we have even touched upon the topic of the internet — we’ve studied nearly every kind of old media, but barely even touched upon the effects of the internet on the media establishment.

What I’m interested to see next is: which big media company will actually keep up? Or will they die out and be completely replaced by internet media?