Posts Tagged ‘ journalism ’

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.

 

 

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.

The Journalism Social Network

In light of the new hit movie, The Social Network, it seems appropriate to write a post on the infamous social network – Facebook. How does journalism relate to Facebook? Well, there are plenty of ways a journalist can use Facebook as a tool.

To start, Facebook is a great way to find contacts. For example, say a journalist is covering the health industry and adds 20 of his contacts to Facebook. By looking at his friends, the journalist may be able to find other contacts that he wouldn’t otherwise have met. Now, obviously a journalist has to be careful about adding “whistle blowers” or anonymous sources. These people can give false leads and information that will risk a journalist’s credibility. But, most of the time Facebook is a very useful tool.

Secondly, Facebook is a great source of special interest groups. Previously, journalists looked to large ‘official’ organizations to comment on a story.  Now, a journalist can get a further perspective from groups that are using social networking platforms. This is particularly important as stories are increasingly pushed by people from these niche groups.

A third way to use Facebook is as a news source itself via the feed of friends’ status updates. This can be more miss than hit, but there’s always the chance someone will mention something newsworthy, or even post newsworthy images. Either way, having friends on Facebook will improve a journalist’s relationship with contacts by showing an interest in others’ lives.

Finally, a journalist can set up his own group on Facebook. This can provide a useful organizational and distribution tool for stories. A journalist can seek help on a story, and get others to give their perspective on an issue. The group is like a community that can feed into the news agenda of the site, suggest ideas, leads and treatments. As journalists become increasingly stretched, being able to tap into support networks like these is becoming increasingly important.

Adapting to Facebook will be easy for young journalists, since so many of them have practically grown up with social networks. College students are perhaps one of the most connected groups of people, which is important for those entering the field of journalism.

    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.

    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.

     

    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!