Archive for the ‘ Old Journalism vs. New Journalism ’ Category

Taking Media by Storm

A new form of journalism is also surfacing – a much longer and more intensive form, very different from the two minute news packages you see on nightly newscasts.

Brian Storm is the president of MediaStorm, an award winning production studio located in Brooklyn, New York, which publishes multimedia social documentary projects at http://www.mediastorm.org and produces them for other news organizations. He envisions the future of long-form, multimedia journalism from the perspective of its creation, distribution and economic viability.

Working with top visual storytellers, interactive designers and global organizations, MediaStorm creates cinematic narratives that speak to the heart of the human condition. MediaStorm collaborates with a diverse range of clients and is leading the way in the training of the next generation of journalists, teaching them how to harness the power of this storytelling to engage and inspire viewers.

MediaStorm is different than traditional journalism in many aspects. The company uses breathtaking photography and exquisite multimedia storytelling on the extremely important issues, such as the legacy of  Rwandan genocide, that mainstream news outlets can’t produce (due to short budgets).

MediaStorm

Their storytelling philosophy, Storm said, is to let the subjects speak in their own words. They use on-screen text to connect the dots and drive the narrative, but the audio is in their sources’ own words.  They combine stills and video to great effect and always incorporate some kind of surprise for the audience.

The most interesting fact about MediaStorm is their viewership. Studies have shown that the average person will not watch an entire video if it exceeds two minutes. However, MediaStorm has a 65 PERCENT completion rate for one of their 21 minute videos. Meaning that 65 percent of those that start watching stick with it to the end – a truly amazing feat.

Does Storm have an answer for their high viewership?

1. Quality, quality, quality.  They are selective about the work they do, and they invest time and money in doing it right. No denying that’s a part of their success.

2. Audience expectations. If you plunk a big time-consuming multimedia project on a Web site where people expect relatively short news and feature stories they will feel too overwhelmed to take the time to really explore what you have to offer.  Instead, think about creating a separate site for your very best work, where you can cultivate a different set of expections. That is exactly what MediaStorm did.

3. Put content on as many platforms as possible. Make it easy for users to share it – via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Work hard on making sure the user experience is as seamless and non-frustrating as possible.

 

 

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Blog, Blog, Blog

The rise of blogs in recent times has sparked a series of debates about its place in the news industry. Here are a few important topics, questions, and issues surrounding rise of the blogosphere:

Are bloggers a threat to news organizations?

The latest, and perhaps gravest, challenge to the journalistic establishment is the blog. Journalists accuse bloggers of having lowered standards. But their real concern is less high-minded – it is the threat that bloggers, who are mostly amateurs, pose to professional journalists and their principal employers, the conventional news media..

Are blogs accurate?

Having no staff, the blogger is not expected to be accurate. [I’d certainly argue with that -jeff] Having no advertisers (though this is changing), he has no reason to pull his punches. And not needing a large circulation to cover costs, he can target a segment of the reading public much narrower than a newspaper or a television news channel could aim for. He may even be able to pry that segment away from the conventional media. Blogs pick off the mainstream media’s customers one by one, as it were.

What opportunities do blogs provide to journalists?

Bloggers can specialize in particular topics to an extent that few journalists employed by media companies can, since the more that journalists specialized, the more of them the company would have to hire in order to be able to cover all bases. A newspaper will not hire a journalist for his knowledge of old typewriters, but plenty of people in the blogosphere have that esoteric knowledge, and it was they who brought down Dan Rather. Similarly, not being commercially constrained, a blogger can stick with and dig into a story longer and deeper than the conventional media dare to, lest their readers become bored….

Do blogs benefit from each other?

What really sticks in the craw of conventional journalists is that although individual blogs have no warrant of accuracy, the blogosphere as a whole has a better error-correction machinery than the conventional media do. The rapidity with which vast masses of information are pooled and sifted leaves the conventional media in the dust….In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise – not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It’s as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.

Are blogs unfair?

How can the conventional news media hope to compete with blogs? Especially when the competition is not entirely fair. Bloggers can simply copy the hard work of the conventional journalists without paying a cent for it. There is also the fear of some critics worry that ”unfiltered” media like blogs exacerbate social tensions by handing a powerful electronic platform to extremists at no charge, where they can post biased opinions at will.

Can blogs be trusted?

Blogs enable unorthodox views to get a hearing. They get 12 million people to write rather than just stare passively at a screen. In an age of specialization and professionalism, they give amateurs a platform, and most people are sensible enough to distrust communications in an unfiltered medium. They know that anyone can create a blog at essentially zero cost, that most bloggers are uncredentialed amateurs, that bloggers don’t employ fact checkers and don’t have editors and that a blogger can hide behind a pseudonym. They know, in short, that until a blogger’s assertions are validated (as when the mainstream media acknowledge an error discovered by a blogger), there is no reason to repose confidence in what he says. The mainstream media, by contrast, assure their public that they make strenuous efforts to prevent errors from creeping into their articles and broadcasts. They ask the public to trust them, and that is why their serious errors are scandals.

So whether you follow blogs or have your own blog, these are all important issues to keep in mind.

Journalism Entrepeneurs

On September 20, the New York Graduate School of Journalism announced the founding and funding of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Wait a minute, Entrepreneurial Journalism?

Recently, journalists agree that it is essential in today’s world to understand the economics of news. Some journalists and journalism professors, such as Jeff Jarvis, believe it was irresponsible of journalism institutions not to teach this in the past. Entrepreneurial journalism stresses the importance of bringing entrepreneurship into the industry. Entrepreneurial journalism classes and programs are being implemented at colleges and universities across the country. Some programs concentrate more on new entrepreneurial ventures, others more on bringing innovation into existing companies. While some critics say journalists aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is a way to teach both innovation and business to journalism students, making them more well-rounded.

The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism claims to:

“- Establish the country’s first MA degree in entrepreneurial journalism for our students and also offer certificates in the field for mid-career professional journalists.

– Continue our research in new business models for news, following on our work last summer in the new ecosystem of local news.

– Help create new enterprises in news.”

According to Jeff Jarvis, this all comes from an optimism about the future of journalism. Jarvis explains:

“That’s why I’ve been teaching entrepreneurial journalism — with seven students’ businesses in development now with a total of $100,000 in seed funding — and why we are expanding that into a degree and certificate program to prepare journalists to start and run businesses and make journalism sustainable. That’s why we will continue to bring concrete specifics to the discussion about new business models for news. And that’s why we will help create those businesses in and out of the school. We will also help lead the movement to teach journalists to be entrepreneurs at other schools.”

As a journalism student at Quinnipiac, I would love to take a class like this. Recently, one of my previous professors informed me that he is trying to design new journalism elective, based on entrepreneurial journalism. The class will be taught by a journalism professor and a business professor. Students from the business school and communications school will work cooperatively to create a media outlet. I’m not sure of the specifics, but I think a class like this at Quinnipiac would be a great asset to our journalism curriculum.

Jeff Jarvis on the Future of Journalism

Technology journalists Jeff Jarvis and Michael Arrington discuss the future of news reporting.

Jarvis makes an interesting point about the how journalism outlets must evolve. Jarvis predicts a widespread shift from large, mainstream multimedia outlets to small, “hyper-local” communities of news gatherers. Interestingly, someone needs to come up with a new model, and it won’t be the old traditional media gurus. The future of the journalism business has transformed into something entrepreneurial, not so much institutional. The journalism industry’s traditional outlets have had 15 years since the start of the commercial Web and we’ve seen how far they can come, which is not very far at all. They have done little to adapt to the ever-growing world of internet journalism. What the industry needs now are innovators, such as entrepreneurial journalism students. These youngsters will the ones invent new forms, structures, efficiencies and business models for news. They are the future — we are the future.

Out With the Old, In With the New

The old-model of journalism and its supporters are starting to look a lot like Chicken Little crying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” But, the ‘sky’ is not falling, it is transforming.

In the United States, there is one thing that is certain in the world of journalism – there will be fewer professional journalists working in fewer outlets with fewer resources for reporting. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism 2010 State of the News Media report: “We estimate that the newspaper industry has lost $1.6 billion in annual reporting and editing capacity since 2000, or roughly 30 percent. That leaves an estimated $4.4 billion remaining. Even if the economy improves we predict more cuts in 2010.”

Although newspapers are hurting the worst, there is no good news from any types of news outlet. Both revenue and viewership are way down. The Pew State of the Media Report revealed some interesting, yet scary, statistics. Local television ad revenue fell 24 percent in 2009, radio was down 18 percent, magazine ad pages dropped 19 percent, and network television down 7 percent. Unfortunately, things may only get worse.

It is no secret that journalists are getting hit hard. According to a report by UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., there was a 22 percent increase in the journalism jobs lost from September 2008 through August 2009, compared with a general job loss rate of 8 percent.

So, what does a journalist do in the face of catastrophe? It’s simple – start looking outside the box.

Recently, there have been many groups experimenting with ways to organize and support journalists. Some of these experiments include grant-funded news operations such as Pro Publica, citizen journalism collaborations with professional newsrooms, and other various web projects.

In the rapidly changing world of online media development and technology, journalism is perfectly positioned to use such tools to their advantage. By embracing technology, journalism can stop dwelling on the past and build a newer, more sustainable model for connecting with audiences. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

In an interview with the Pew Project For Excellence In Journalism, Larry Jinks, former editor and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, gives aspiring journalists some hope – “I think the answer may come from places staffed by young people who understand the new technology and its potential and who have a passion for journalism.”

As a young aspiring journalist, I’ll take Larry’s word for it.