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.

Robo-Journalists?

The future may be bleak for us mere humans…especially with robo-journalists taking our jobs!

There has been a significant increase in automated journalism in the last year. Software programs are able to write sports stories and generate original news videos by compiling images and opinions found on the Internet.

But now, researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University have developed a journalist robot that can autonomously explore its environment and report what it finds. The robot detects changes in its surroundings, decides if they are relevant, and then takes pictures with its on board camera. It can ask nearby people for information, and uses internet searches to further round out its understanding. If something appears newsworthy, the robot will even write a short article and publish it directly to the web.

Although the idea of robot journalists may be frightening, and maybe even creepy, there are some benefits to the idea. For instance, robot journalists can go to areas too dangerous for human reporters. Back in 2002, MIT created the Afghan eXplorer robot to cover the war there. Of course, that robot was a teleoperated shell while the ISI bot is autonomous. Which means that we can make a huge number of these bots, send them out into the field unsupervised, and have them generate a new era of robot written media.

To see some robot journalists in action watch the video:

Crowdsurfing the Crowdsourcing Scene

A journalism technique called crowdsourcing is like a close relative citizen journalism. Crowdsourcing, in journalism, is the use of a large group of readers to report a news story.

Crowdsourcing allows reporters to collect and gather information through some automated agent, such as a website. This is a huge advantage. Journalists no longer have to be ‘on the scene’ to get information, which can save so much time.

Although it is using new technology, the concept of crowdsourcing is not new. Modern crowdsourcing is similar to hooking an answering machine to a telephone “tip line,” where a news organization asks readers to phone suggestions for stories. Or, asking readers to send in photos of events in their community.

These old methods, however,  require a great deal of manual labor. Reporters must sift through submitted material, looking for information that can be used well in a story. But with new technology, reporters no longer have to do this.

True crowdsourcing in today’s terms involves online applications that enable the collection, analysis and publication of reader-contributed incident reports, in real time. Applications such as twitter, Facebook, and even mobile applications. The audience can use these tools to contact reporters, letting them know of story ideas as they break. In essence, crowd sourcing allows journalists to have eyes everywhere.

A great example of this is Janis Krums’ Twitter post about the plane crashing into the Hudson River. The photo seen below was the first photo of the crash.

Photo Credit - Twitpic

Krums whipped out his iPhone and took this photo right after the plane crashed, beating all the traditional media outlets to the story. This shows how media outlets can find great value in using Twitter as a news source.

 

Written by the People, For the People

These days, you don’t necessarily need a degree to be a journalist or even any experience for that matter. With a new concept called “citizen journalism” anyone can partake in journalism. Although some are skeptical of this idea, many new organizations are actually encouraging audience participation in journalism practices

One type of citizen journalism to consider is sometimes referred to as “open-source” or “participatory” journalism or reporting.

This type of reporting is a collaboration between a professional journalist and his/her readers on a story. Readers who are knowledgeable on a specific topic are asked to contribute their expertise, ask questions to provide guidance to the reporter, and even do actual reporting which will be included in the final journalistic product.

There are various ways for journalists to get readers involved with a story. Here is one example from Poynter Online:

“Announce up front that you are working on a particular story, and ask readers to guide you. An example would be if you have an interview scheduled with a famous politician or celebrity. Announce that you want to go into the interview armed with questions submitted by your readers. Pick out the best ones, add your own, then do the interview.”

Another way to get readers involved takes the concept a step further. A journalist can distribute a draft of his or her article to the readers before publishing. Readers will feedback to help the journalist “perfect” the article before it is officially published. For reporters who publish on Web sites or on blogs publish a draft online, getting public feedback, and then later publish the updated version.

One of the most advanced forms of open-source reporting actually makes the readers the reporters. Readers with knowledge or involvement in a topic go out on their own to do actual reporting, which is then incorporated into the final published story. This brings up the issue of payment. Payment for readers’ work can be as simple as giving them credit in the finished article; it does not necessarily always have to be a monetary reward. Obviously, it is always important for the reporter publishing the story to double-check the reader’s reporting.

Nowadays, citizen journalism is becoming a huge trend. CNN’s iReport allows readers to submit their own stories and ideas. Who knows..you may become the next Walter Cronkite.

The Digital Media Pyramid

Remember that inverted period that was pounded into our heads during our first journalism class? Well, get ready because this is the new and improved version.

The Digital Media Pyramid, coined by Benjamin Davis from the Online Journalism Review, takes the traditional pyramid and reworks it for today’s journalists. Journalists who write a television, radio, or print story are often required to re-write and re-work their story for the Web. This pyramid helps them do so.

Photo Credit: Online Journalism Review

Keep in mind that the Digital Media is not a substitute for the inverted pyramid. Instead, it simply enhances it. Young journalists and students, who are already digitally minded, are well-prepared to gasp this concept. At the top of the pyramid is a traditional brief introduction of facts (otherwise known as the five W’s – who, what, where, when and why). These facts are very important, and separated from supporting details.

The Digital Media Pyramid also addresses finding supporting information online, and explains rules such as cut-and-pasting. The Digital Media Pyramid tries to bring home the importance of respecting copyrighted material and original works by teaching proper attribution and giving credit where credit is due.

The pyramid also explains the proper use of photographs, video, and other digital media sources. The pyramid also draws a journalist’s attention to ads. Journalists must be wary of advertisements on the Internet, since new software has the ability to automatically place relevant ads next to a news story. This can easily be mistaken as bias. Writers must strive to still maintain objectivity.

Finally, the “Digital Media Pyramid” encourages what is known as ” self-education of  users.” This is when readers are able to quickly seek out balanced information on a news story through the use of embedded links, social networks, and other sources.

In theory, the pyramid is good, but how is it in practice? According to the OJR, “journalism students who have been taught the Digital Media Pyramid for the past seven years at Rutgers University have enthusiastically welcomed the change in how they are to prepare and present their news stories.”

As a journalism student, I would love to see one of my professors use the Digital Media Pyramid in one of my classes. The inverted pyramid is a great building block, but an updated version will help journalists cope with the demands of the fast-moving digital world. Finding a balance between journalism and new technology is not an easy feat, but techniques like the Digital Media Pyramid can help us all adapt together.

A Journalists’ Code of Ethics: Applied to Online Journalism

The Journalism Code of Ethics is very important in all news outlets, including online journalism. It is obviously impossible to control what happens on the Internet, however, if online journalists want to be taken seriously they must still abide by some rules. A journalist can’t just publish whatever he or she wants and call it ‘newsworthy.’ Fortunately for all you online journalist, there are a few principles that help separate the good writers and publishers from the frauds and con artists online.

Here are a few online journalism codes to follow, provided by the Online Journalism Review:

1. No plagiarism

This may seem like the simplest rule, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to plagiarize on the Internet. To put it in raw terms…You wouldn’t want someone else stealing something you worked hard on and passing it off as his or her own. So don’t do it to others! Plagairsm is stealing. With the Web, plagiarism does not just apply to print and cutting and pasting articles. It also applies to copying photos, graphics, video and putting them on your website without citing a source. If you want to reference something on another website, it is best to link to it. It also doesn’t hurt to give readers the name of the publication that published the page and its date of publication.

2. Disclose

Tell your readers how you got your information, and why you chose to publish your content. Describe your personal or professional connection to people or groups you’re writing about. Readers deserve to know what has influenced the way you reported or wrote a story. It’s important not to hide from your readers. Tell them who you work for, or where the money to support your site comes from. If your site runs advertising, label the ads as such. This will only gain your readers’ trust!

3. Do not accept gifts or money for coverage

To avoid any sort of conflicts of interest, it is best to refuse all gifts or money from sources you may cover. Journalists who accept gifts or money from someone they write a story about, open themselves up to the belief that their work is a paid advertisement. You don’t want readers thinking that you are not being honest. If offered a gift, just politely decline.

Some major news organizations do allow their writers to accept free admission to events for the purpose of writing a feature or review. But journalists should deny anything else from such groups, such as free travel and hotel rooms.

Some companies also send items such as books and DVDs to writers who review them. These items can be returned, or even donated.

When writing about an employer, let readers know your relationship. Identify yourself as an employee, so people know can make their own judgment about your credibility.

The same rules apply in the other direction. Journalists should NEVER ask for anything in return for writing a story. If your website or blog runs ads, do not solicit people or groups you cover to buy ads or sponsorships on your site.

Although the world of the Internet and ethics may seem tricky, just following a few simple rules will help online journalists become more credible and respected. Just by tweaking a few things here and there, a Code of Ethics for Online Journalism such as this one can serve as a good guide.

Tweet, Tweet

Photo Credit - arkarthick.com

Twitter has revolutionized society as we know it. In a nutshell, Twitter is a networking tool that helps users keep up with friends, strangers, and even celebrities. But for news organizations, it is a resource for publishing work, communicating with other journalists and finding story ideas.

Along with The New York Times, other news organizations such as CNN, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel and The (Portland) Oregonian are using Twitter to post breaking news alerts and updates on sports, business and traffic, that can be read via cell phone text messages, instant messaging or on a user’s Web browser.

One of the best things about having a Twitter account for a news organization is that it doesn’t take much time to create. And it’s free. Having a free tool is especially important in today’s industry with newsrooms making tons of cutbacks to save money.

Journalists can also use Twitter to get tips for story ideas through updates from other organizations. Journalists can use Twitter’s public timeline and look for trends to develop into a story. They can also find sources in the search option on the right-hand side of the Twitter page.

Some journalists are even using Twitter to find jobs. The British journalism site, journalism.co.uk., has a Twitter account that sends job updates to subscribers who write “Looking for a job.” Followers of the twitter site can also have job updates instant-messaged or text-messaged to them through Twitter.

Recruiters can use Twitter to help keep in contact with people who apply for jobs and internships. By posting a tweet, a recruiter can let everyone know where the company is currently at in the selection process. This will definitely save them a lot of unnecessary phone calls and e-mails.

Although many people in the news business are still not familiar with Twitter, it can be a very useful tool. So journalists…jump on the Tweet-wagon and tweet away!