Category Archives: This Week in #Journalism

This Week in #Journalism: Kick-Ass Journalism à la Carte


Hersh says be Breitbartier, Bezos says be Amazonian, Best says be Kick-Ass and Democrats and Republican finally agree on something.

“When a journalist as well known as Seymour Hersh blasts his colleagues and recommends, in essence, that journalism must become what Andrew Breitbart fought for in the field, the mainstream media have no choice but to at least hear him.”  As Hersh says in his interview, “…just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Jeff Bezos’ customer-focused vision: “Does this mean give the customer what they want to read? Should editors choose stories that will be popular? It would mean giving up editorial control to the fickle themes of popular culture, and the loss of an editorial voice — the single most important feature that distinguishes and defines any newspaper.”  “Focusing on the customer is wonderful if you are a retailer because it’s easy to know what they want: low prices, speedy delivery, quick resolution of problems. The newspaper business is different.”

Filmmaker Charles Ferguson–director nonfiction film for CNN about Hillary Clinton: “After painful reflection, I decided that I couldn’t make a film of which I would be proud,” he wrote in the Huffington Post. “And so I’m canceling.”  “Neither political party wanted the film made,”  “the objection seems to be to journalism itself–and a sign that politicians believe that from here on out they will be able to run campaigns without bothering to deal at all with media that haven’t been paid for.”

Kathy Best, the new editor of The Seattle Times, “all of us in this room need to stay laser-focused on our mission: producing useful, meaningful, kick-ass journalism that readers can’t get anywhere else,” Jack Broom reports. Among her goals:  “Sunday newspapers that showcase elegant storytelling, along with watchdog and investigative stories” and “content that creates a strong sense of place, and connection to the community.”

“The conundrum in journalism today is that most people are not willing to pay anything for content. At the same time, there is a small pool of consumers that is willing to pay a large amount of money to see a story covered or content produced on a specific topic.”  “With crowdfunding, these same journalists can sell their journalism directly to readers without news organizations as mediators. Perhaps more importantly, it could be a model for true a la carte journalism consumption. Which is going to become more and more important as consumership gets atomized.” “That iTunes model of news all over again. It worked for music. We’re very close to finding out if it will work for journalism.”

This Week in #Journalism: Why Viral is Important to Keeping Journalism Alive


Even with a viral injection, online journalism can’t survive this “era of creative destruction” without a Bezos booster.  What about comments?  Are they good for you or a harmful carcinogen?  Will annotation be the cure?  At least this “golden age” of journalism is keeping advertisers healthy.

“It’s always been true to some extent, but it is even more true now — serious online journalism requires something else to subsidize it, whether it’s a rich benefactor or cat GIFs and slideshows.”

“Journalism is being adapted, rethought and reconstructed in thousands of ways in far more places than can easily be grasped. In short, there is enough experiment in train to be optimistic that economic sustainability will be found even if the experiments have a high failure rate.”

“What is happening now is wonderful for journalism and the world,” Blodget said Monday at the IAB MIXX conference in New York. “The world is vastly better informed than it ever has been in history.”  “Advertisers, too, have more options and flexibility than ever, Blodget added, arguing that marketers can still pursue newspapers and TV as well as new digital upstarts to find the audiences they’re looking for.”

Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti on why viral videos are as vital as investigative journalism [Video]

In Comments News:

“Website [Popular Science] says comments harm debate, while YouTube begins integration with Google+ to bring friends and ‘popular personalities’ to greater visibility – and hide random remarks”

“It’s a fascinating alternative-history proposition: would a world of annotations, rather than comments, inspired in part by Jacques Derrida, have set the Web on a different course? Social media might look very different; you can easily imagine an alternate version of Facebook and Twitter made up of people who regularly annotate certain sites across the Web.”

“The New York Times gave us not one but two stories this weekend that lead with a lamentation over the state of Internet commenting. “The most obnoxious development of the Web, the wild back alleys where people sound their acid yawps,” wrote Michael Erard on Friday. “The most slimy and vitriolic stuff you could imagine, places where people snipe, jeer and behave like a frenzied mob,” said Nick Bilton on Sunday.”

This Week in #Journalism: Oops is the New Norm


Well, it happened again.  News organizations were too busy reporting to worry about the truth.  Oops.  In the world of vetted sources, Reuters kills it’s Next big thing, All Things D’s co-editors leave for greener pastures and Sheboygan High drops it’s 178 year old print edition.

A Tragic Mess

“Breaking news is never pretty — anyone who hungers for facts and speed during a story as fluid as Monday’s shootings in Washington, D.C., is asking for a lot. Still, there were some notable screwups today, like…

  • Identifying suspect without official confirmation
  • Reporting numbers
  • Describing shooter’s race
  • Quoting police scanners

“Mistaken reporting on big, breaking events has become almost standard in the social-
media age.”  “We’ve gotten into a situation where the media’s standard operating procedure has become report first, confirm second and correct third,” said Dave Statter, a veteran TV news reporter who maintains, a Web site that reports on police and emergency services.

“Seriously, just ignore us. Wait it out. We’re wrong. We’ll keep on being wrong. File “mesmorizing” with “igon values” in the lexicon of accidentally valuable terminology. We’re all mesmorized. Those alarming yet tedious hours between something horrible happening and anyone figuring out what it was—forget about it, unless you’re in the vicinity. The only positive development this time was that the Reddit investigative thread immediately turned into a forum for abusing would-be investigators, then shut down entirely. Who did it? Piggy Poopballs did it. Reddit wins the news cycle.”

Other News

“Next is a long way from achieving either commercial viability or strategic success. In fact, I believe the existing suite of sites is a better starting point for where we need to go,” Chief Executive Andrew Rashbass wrote. “Therefore, I have decided to cancel the Next project and put our efforts into enhancing and improving the existing sites. We will repurpose as much of the Next development work as we can for that.”

All Things D’s split: “First things first: We’re keeping the Steelcase hot-seat red chairs. Forever. In fact, we own quite a few now.

And we’ll still be scooping and reviewing all things digital right here, at this Web address, for a few more months.”

“After a combined 178 years of producing printed copies of their school newspapers, Sheboygan North and South high schools have moved solely to online versions this school year.”  “We’re always attempting to model what is going on outside the world of education so we can prepare students for entrance into either college or the workforce,” North High Principal Jason Bull said.

This Week in #Journalism: Journalism’s Great Riptide


As the journalism business struggles, Tina Brown splits The Beast to go solo.  Meanwhile, “an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present” is published but where’s the diversity?

“Journalism is doing fine; the journalism business is struggling.”

“[Tina] Brown, 59, said in a statement that she would start Tina Brown Live Media, which will focus on building up the Women in the World conferences she has been organizing and running for several years.”


“Indeed, if one were to eavesdrop on a gathering of traditional journalists deploring the state of the news media, it would be easy to conclude that without high-quality journalism, American democracy would be hugely diminished.”

“It’s true that men continue to dominate the top ranks of the journalism industry, but Riptide is more lopsided than even the most depressing newsroom demographics: Of the 61 people interviewed for the project, only five are women.”

“Jeanne Brooks, the digital director of the Online News Association, and Sabrina Hersi Issa, a media entrepreneur and Roosevelt Institute Pipeline fellow, are searching for funding to create a report that includes a full, diverse spectrum of change-makers in digital journalism. They hope to compile and launch it next year.”

This Week in #Journalism: If You Bundle it, They Will Come.


Bezos thinks bundling is the answer.  What’s the problem with Twitter?  Is data science the goal of the new Post?  Does anything even matter when aggregators can summarize your work?  And what about history?  Is it history?

“People will buy a package,” Bezos told staffers, according to the Post. “They will not pay for a story.”

“Jay Rosen argues that news evolved to tell people about important events that happened in places they weren’t. But time can create distance as powerfully as space can.”

“Thompson [NY Times CEO] shares a bit more about the Times’ project-in-progress Need 2 Know.”  “the problem with Twitter is you don’t just get the news, you get everything else as well: uncorroborated but potentially precious eye-witness testimony and citizen journalism, but also rumour, speculation, disinformation, propaganda, lies and general nuttiness.”  “One statistic that is still startling even if, by now, it’s hardly surprising: In 2000, The New York Times generated $204 million in help-wanted advertising. In 2012? $13 million, a decline of 94 percent.”

“Erik Wemple breaks a huge media-corruption story for the Washington Post, and unfortunately for his employer, it’s about the Post itself.” “reports that the Chinese wall between advertising and editorial at the Washington Post Magazine, the paper’s thin little Sunday insert, is being seriously breached. Two stories from the August 11 education issue—one on college drinking and one on benefits for gay spouses of higher-ed workers— were pulled from the issue”  “If there’s a silver lining here, it’s Wemple, who takes it to his own employer as if they weren’t signing his paychecks. That’s brave on his part, but it also reflects well on the Post for letting him do so.”

“Contemporary journalism has a horrendous habit of considering history superfluous. If an event happened more than two—maybe three, if you’re lucky—decades ago, it’s impertinent. We just want the “facts,” and we want them now. No nuance, no complexity, and, Ford forbid, please no ambiguity. Ahistorical “journalism” is the norm; historical framing is abnormal.”  “Ignoring all of this history is ignoring reality. We can’t consider the stories we read in the corporate media real “journalism” when they ignore the very historical phenomena responsible for them coming into being. Contemporary “news” sources report on Assad as the “brutal dictator” (that he is) as though we had nothing to do with his rise to power. ”

“Data science.” In other words, not just the accumulation of data enabled by the ever-growing amounts of computing power, bandwidth, and storage we have available to us, but the smart application of it to reshape products, businesses, and industries in a continuous cycle of evolution and improvement.” “Ultimately, you need to have an idea of what your publication stands for and who you are as a journalist. Minus those lodestones, data can provide no guidance. But if you know who you want to reach and what you hope to do for them, there’s no question in my mind that data can help you fill in the map as you travel to your destination.”

“An awful lot of journalists I’ve spoken to over the years with background in old media think they know what’s wrong with the news business in the internet era, and I think they’ll be heartened to learn that Jeff Bezos agrees with them. The problem is that aggregators at the Huffington Post can summarize your hard work”

“On a complicated, fast-forward planet enveloped in information, journalists who thrive will be those who offer news consumers the same sense of trust that a skilled mountain guide provides to climbers after an avalanche. A sure trail cannot be guaranteed, but an honest effort can. Cronkite’s “That’s the way it is” no longer applies. Authority will derive less from an established media brand than through the constant scrutiny of the crowd. Effectiveness and impact may still come sometimes through a competitive scoop, but more often through collaborative networks in which insights flow in many directions.”

This Week in #Journalism: Sports Journalism’s Integrity Question


Did ESPN succumb to peer pressure?  The big boys are getting hacked, drone journalism is grounded and Al Jazeera’s reception is luke warm.

“ESPN was involved with a hard-hitting television series that delivered an unsavory depiction of professional football players. The N.F.L.’s commissioner was so perturbed that he complained to the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ESPN’s parent company. Not long after, ESPN stopped promoting the show, then decided to end its run after one season.”

“Tuesday’s hacking of the New York Times also included similar attacks on Twitter and Huffington Post UK, although those outlets were not as widely affected as the completely KO’ed NYT website.”

“According to Nielsen data for Monday as it kicked off its first full week, AJAM’s most popular primetime show was “America Tonight,” which attracted 27,000 viewers. In comparison, Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” drew 2.97 million, MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow” bagged 970,000, and CNN’s “Anderson Cooper” reeled in 627,000.”

“Two fledgling programs created to teach journalism students how to use drones in their reporting are applying for permits so they can resume operating unmanned aircraft outdoors, their directors said this week. Both programs received cease-and-desist letters from the Federal Aviation Administration last month.”

On Quartz annotations: “Think of it like the margins of a book or memo, where the best and most insightful ideas are often found.”

This Week in #Journalism: The Beat Writer of the Future? Algorithms.


Tactile journalism?  Automated stories?  Say goodbye to anonymity?  Is this the future of news?

Automated Journalism, the future of news?

Who’s writing the stories?

Sorkin: “The upside of web-based journalism is that everybody gets a chance. The downside is that everybody gets a chance. I can’t really get on board with the demonization of credentials with phrases like “the media elite” (just like doctors, airline pilots and presidents, I prefer reporters and commentators to be elite) and the glamorization of inexperience with phrases like “citizen journalist.”


“The best way to explain fracking is to let people do it, believes former LA Times reporter David Sarno, which is why he started to build interactive storytelling experiences based on game design tools.”

On killing anonymous comments: “I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity,” she said. “we need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet,” Huffington said.

Why they should stay anonymous: “Do we invite trolls and offensive behavior when we allow people to contribute anonymously? Perhaps. But free speech comes with a price, and I think we lose something significant when we start requiring people to verify their identities before we listen to what they have to say. If that’s what’s required for a “grown-up Internet,” I would like to stick with the one we have.”

“In addition to providing fact-checking, Storyhunter has its own editorial staff that works with journalists or teams of journalists on their stories. They’ve developed a “seamless editorial production process,” according to Ragir, that produces high quality news features, documentaries, and investigative pieces at maximum efficiency. That’s a major cost saver for the media companies, and a major selling point for Storyhunter, they argue.”

“The Washington Post used a user-centered design philosophy to radically shift our development process to launch dozens of successful new blogs, platforms and tools in the past year. This philosophy is the reason why [they] use WordPress.”

“The lesson now dawning on publishers worldwide is that their reliance on advertising as the major support of their news businesses is all but over.”

“Here’s a statistic worth dwelling on: “A senior editor at The Washington Post recently told me that he killed an average of three advanced investigations a year, usually over the protests of the reporters, who couldn’t see that they didn’t have the goods.” Outside ProPublica — and even inside it — how many online-only organizations can say the same?”

“When you embed Tweets in your content, the headline of your article and Twitter account will be surfaced on the Tweet’s permalink page for all to see.  We think this will help more people discover the larger story behind the Tweet, drive clicks to your articles, and help grow your audience on Twitter.”

“The San Francisco Chronicle appears to have decided that putting a paywall around commodity news content isn’t a great strategy and has effectively dismantled the one around its newspaper site — although the company says it will keep a subscription plan.”

Quartz‘s web audience in the United States has overtaken that of The Economist, one of its chief competitors in the business news space, and is closing in on the Financial Times.”

This Week in #Journalism: Full Fact Helps McJournalism’s Listicle


Full Fact launches it’s online fact checker, journalism jobs are picking up, journalism students aren’t reading the rags and the new delivery methods in the post Bezos listicle.  Btw, Craigslist stole 5 billion.

“Craigslist took a giant bite out of newspapers’ revenues — some $5 billion between the years 2000 and 2007. And that’s not even looking at the Times, the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, which the authors left out in order to have a more homogeneous sample.”

“A newspaper’s digital platform has the core attributes of big data — variety, velocity, volume and veracity. Data is being produced at larger and faster rates than ever before. It is from variety of sources and it can be “noisy.”

“With its acquisition of nascent startup Stringwire, announced today, NBC News is aiming to take a lead role in the realm of user-generated content, and therefore in modern newsgathering.”

“The journalistic lexicon has a new entry; the ‘listicle’, describing a list-based article. From The Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies’ to Buzzfeed’s ’31 Thing You Can Make Out of Cereal Boxes’, listicles are equally beloved for their condensed information format and online virility and decried as lazy journalism for the perennial lunchtime ‘news snacker’.”

“Only about a third of the journalism and mass communication bachelor’s degree recipients in 2012 reported they had read a newspaper the day before completing the survey, the lowest figure since the question was first posed in 1994. In fact, the 36.6% who reported reading a newspaper in 2012 is less than half the 81.7% reporting that behavior in 1994.”

“Yet the lingering fear is that while journalists dream of finding a Bruce Wayne — or in the case of the Los Angeles Times, an Eli Broad or David Geffen — they might wind up under the thumb of a Lex Luthor or some Bondian villain, eager to use these shiny new toys to pursue nefarious goals and world domination.”

“Journalists cannot successfully hold government accountable in a society that does not recognise a reporter’s right to exercise discretion with his sources and the information they provide.”

“But journalism always has been a tough business for tough and tough-minded people. The profession will endure, because people, their lives and their stories always will matter. We just need to figure out new ways to reach our audiences and pay the bills.”

“Professionalism has made journalists oblivious to the compromises with authority they are constantly making’.  It has also ensured that many readers remain oblivious to the same compromises.”

“The report last week from Pew Research Center for The People & The Press showed that only 19 percent of Americans polled said the media is fair to all sides. About a quarter (or 26 percent) said journalists get their facts straight, compared to 55 percent feeling that way in 1985. That’s a 54 percent drop in a sense of accuracy.  Yet 68 percent of those polled agreed that journalists as watchdogs keep politicians in line – a 17 percent increase since 2011. About half, or 54 percent, said journalists are more important today in order to make sense out of the news.”

Daily Beast doubles down on Big Mac minimum wage nonsense

“I decided to become a journalist first because I liked it. And also because I felt the community needed journalists to report on what is happening,” she said. “I believed that, with the crisis that Somalia faces, you need independent journalists who help the people by reporting well on what is happening.”

“The UK-based fact-checking website Full Fact has launched an online finder which journalists can use to track down accurate information.  The Full Fact Finder covers information relating to five topics: economy, health, crime and the law, immigration and education.”

“About 66% of 2012 journalism graduates landed a full-time job roughly six to eight months after graduation, up from 62% in 2011.”

This Week in #Journalism: Bezos Picks Up The Post


Bezos buys The Post while newspapers are dying off.  Why?  Does he know something the rest don’t?  Will this change the way we view newspapers? Who will be the last newspaper standing?

On Bezos buying the Post

Why they sold: “We had innovated, and to my critical eye our innovations had been quite successful in audience and in quality, but they hadn’t made up for the revenue decline,” – Donald Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Company

“A rather absurd number of people wrote substantial articles about the deal, and many of them were quite insightful.”  Here’s the best breakdown on the whole shebang.

“Suddenly, a ray of hope for the Post – Bezos purchase may be a last chance for newsrooms to become “nerve centers for the Internet” 

“Now that Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, will that change the way newspapers are read on Kindle?”

“In the words of the Atlantic’s James Fallows, perhaps this marks “the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence.” Wouldn’t that be something? Given the well-documented travails of the business of journalism, it’s an infrastructure with considerable deferred maintenance.”

“And while the digital revolution and the economic crash of 2008 have put severe stresses on both newspapers [The Post and The Times], the Times model offers more promise for growth. After a period of fits and starts, the Times is now moving aggressively and effectively to seize its advantages.”

Other stuffs

“The magazine Superinteressante is among a number of Brazilian publishers who have reached new audiences by producing games on topics like drug trafficking and police investigations.”

“Journalism instructors assign much more value to a degree in the discipline than do practicing journalists, according to a new Poynter study.”

“Ezra Klein talks with Michael Moynihan, Jay Rosen, and John Cassidy about the path of journalism, considering how much it’s changed following the introduction of digital media.” [Video]

This Week in #Journalism: Stepping over iPads to Pick up Magazines


Why are some publishers undermining the advertising opportunity of their tablet editions by trying to hold on to their dying print business, while others are pushing the traditional print boundaries by jumping into video?  What does Obama think?

“The beta release of StoryMaker makes it possible for English and Arabic speakers all over the world to make their voices heard. From now on, individual citizens in Egypt or Syria can tell their own stories, without the interpretation of reporters working for large news agencies and often from other countries.”

The New York Times’ Pulitzer for Snow Fall should have credited “its deft integration of JavaScript” rather than “its deft integration of multimedia elements.”

“The Times Co.’s new financial results show a company that’s hit one digital plateau and is reaching for the next one — and hoping it can do so faster than print can fade.”

“In a recent Kindle Singles interview, produced by Amazon, President Obama said that both manufacturing and retail have all gone the way of traditional journalism.”

“What 10 years of community journalism has taught iBrattleboro.”  “These Vermonters have more experience than most navigating the challenges of building local community online.”

Josh Stearns, a self-professed “verification junky,” works for Free Press, an organization that supports journalism in the public interest. Today, he launched an online “directory of tools for verifying, fact checking and assessing the validity of social media and user generated content.”

“Let newsmakers embed your content and they’ll look to you for material, likely publish more to you, and you’ll have more content to advertise against.”

AP, Meltwater end litigation, will ‘collaborate on innovating new products’

“Is it possible that some publishers are clutching to what makes them the most money now – print – at the expense of future opportunities, like the iPad?”

“The Washington Post will formally launch PostTV today — a big gamble that it can widen audience and win significant advertising revenue by producing digital video programs and distributing the segments to various partners.”

“NPR host’s live-tweeting of his mother’s last moments shows the power of 140 characters.”

“It was our goal to give viewers the ability to express their opinions on every story. Unfortunately, many stories began to be filled with mean spirited, and at times hateful comments. These comments provide no value to our readers and are time consuming to moderate.”

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