Posts Tagged ‘ New York Times ’

Do What You Do Best, Link to the Rest

‘Do what you do best, link to the rest,’ is a phrase coined by Jeff Jarvis. He encourages journalists, especially bloggers, to try on this new rule.

Right now, newspapers try to cover everything. This is because they used to be the all-knowing source for everyone in their market. Often, they had their own reporters replicate the work of other reporters elsewhere and ran the stories under their own bylines as a matter of pride and propriety. It’s the way things were done. They also took wire-service copies and reedited it. But in the age of the link, this practice is inefficient and unnecessary. You can link to the stories that someone else did..

According to Jarvis, “This changes the dynamic of editorial decisions. Instead of saying, “we should have that” (and replicating what is already out there) you say, “what do we do best?” That is, “what is our unique value?” It means that when you sit down to see a story that others have worked on, you should ask, “can we do it better?” If not, then link. And devote your time to what you can do better.”

Jarvis believes that people need to strive to provide value, and not the one-hundredth version of the same story. This will work for publications and news organizations. It will also work for individuals; this is how a lone reporter’s work (and reputation) can surface ‘

Jarvis mentions that news is not one-size-fits-all. News just doesn’t come from one source anymore. People are bombarded with news constantly – it is all around us. For instance, everyone knew that Anna Nicole Smith was dead. So that means that not every newspaper needs to cover that story in depth. The New York Times should not devote their time and effort to reporting on the story when they added nothing more to it. It’s not what they do best. If they wanted to cover it, they should have covered it online, and linked to the many, many other sources that are covering that specific story. Then the Times could have used its resources for news that matters and news that they can do uniquely well. They need to take advantage of the link.

Some newspapers are getting more comfortable with linking are and even linking to competitors.

Jarvis noted, “Once you really open yourself up to this, then it also means that you can link to more people gathering more coverage of news: ‘We didn’t cover that school board meeting today, but here’s a link to somebody who recorded it.’”

So you do what you do best. And you link to the rest. It’s a rule to live by..or at least report by.

There’s An App For That

There seems to be an app for everything these days. In light of a recent survey, perhaps news organizations should start thinking about mobile apps.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Internet and Nielson, studied cellphone users’ app habits. They found that about 43 percent of cellphone users have an app on their device, but only about 29 percent actually use them. However, this may change. The ever-growing market for smart phones is sure to increase app usage. So, journalists…jump on the bandwagon!

Photo Credit - thefrisky.com

It’s simply a fact..young people like apps. According to the survey, about 47 percent of 18 to 29 year old said they’ve downloaded an app, compared to 39 percent of 30 to 49 years. The 50-plus group brings in a measly 14 percent. For news organizations looking to reach out to young customers, apps are perfect. The survey also found something very interesting – young people have taken to giving mobile donations. For nonprofit news organizations like ProPublica, this is the perfect combination. Young people plus apps equals money!
Another interesting fact about apps is people who use them tend to get their news online. According to the survey, 90 percent of app users consume news online, compared to 75 percent of non-app users. That is a HUGE percentage! Apps will not only draw in money, but will draw in an audience. By having a mobile application, a news organization can keep constant contact with their audience.
Some news organizations already have apps. For instance, CNN and USA Today both have applications. Unfortunately, news apps aren’t nearly as popular as game apps, but they are managing to make it onto the scene. The most popular apps, such as Facebook take a whopping 42 percent of users. If you look a little further down on the popularity scale, news apps start appearing – nine percent of users said they used the CNN app in the past month, 8 percent USA Today and 7 percent New York Times. For being fairly new to the app scene, these number aren’t too bad!
Apps need to be quick and concise. The survey found that people who use their apps daily only do so for less than 30 minutes. This is where journalists’ skills to catch an audience’s attention will come in very hand. With people only spending so little time on an app, a good headline or lead is extremely important to draw them in.

And the Award Goes to…

It seems like congratulations are in order for ProPublica. Back in April 2010, ProPublica won the Pultizer Prize for Investigative Journalism.

Photo Credit - dailypostal.com

ProPublica’s winning story chronicled the crucial decisions of an overwhelmed, overexhausted staff at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. The story was produced by Sheri Fink and co-published by the New York Times.

According to the BBC News, ProPublica’s win marks the first time that the award has been given to an online news agency. The win also marks another first for its collaboration between such an agency and a traditional news outlet like the New York Times. Sig Gissler, the Pulitzer Prize administrator, mentioned that the journalism industry should “expect to see more of these collaborations in the years ahead as organizations face tougher financial situations.”

The majority of the Pulitzers went to mainstream newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. However, ProPublica definitely stood out as the most notable winner despite being dominated by traditional news outlets.

ProPublica’s success marks the rise of future online news outlets. ProPublica’s win is a positive indicator that a non-profit online business model can sustain the cost of investigative journalism. This gives hope to other organizations such as the Texas Tribune who also use a non-profit model to support investigative reporting. Although these organizations have yet to win a Pulitzer, their entrance into the spotlight may be sooner than we think.

According to the Guardian, the Pulitzer Prizes represent the”gold standard for American journalism.” However, they also point us toward the future, giving readers an idea of what types of journalism they should expect to see more of. Recently, the Pulitzer Prize updated its criteria to allow entries from non-print newsrooms as long as they were “primarily dedicated to original news reporting and coverage of ongoing events.”  They also accept entries form any Internet-only publication as long as it is published at least weekly.

It looks as if online journalism is becoming a more professional, more credible and more respected form of journalism. With Pulitzer Prizes going to places like ProPublica, the legitimacy of digital journalism is increasing. Well, if it’s good enough for Pulitzer, it’s good enough for me.

ProPublica: How Do They Afford It?

ProPublica is proud to be an independent, non-profit newsroom, but how do they manage to stay afloat?

According to the New York Times, the traditional model of journalism is changing.  Newspaper advertising revenue declines and technology are drastically changing the public’s relationship with news organizations.

In 2009, ad revenue was down 30 percent for some newspapers. The Times says that it is searching for new streams of money and opening itself to new ideas. In the old model, editors decided what news is, assign their own reporters and pay the expenses using ad revenue. Now, with ad revenue down, media outlets like The Times are trying to form a variety of partnerships and arrangements to fund stories.

This is exactly how ProPublica manages to stay in business.

In 2009, ProPublica published 138 news stories with 38 different partners. One of these was actually awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

When ProPublica publishes a story, the story does not just appear on the website.  ProPublica actually offers its stories offered to traditional news organizations, free of charge, for publication or for broadcast.

ProPublica also partners with major news organizations to produce stories. For instance, ProPublica partnered with CBS to do a report on questionable federal stimulus spending on airports. They worked hard to deliver a story free of any political bias.

But it doesn’t end there. ProPublica supports each story that it publishes with an active and aggressive follow up. This includes regularly contacting reporters, editors and bloggers, encouraging them to follow-up on ProPublica’s reporting, and to link to ProPublica’s work.

Interestingly, ProPublica does not just promote it’s own reporters’ stories. The ProPublica website site also features investigative reporting produced by others. ProPublica wants their website to only be a destination, but a tool for promoting good work in the journalism field.

But where is ProPublica getting the funds to do this type of reporting? Obviously, the Sandler Foundation has made a major, multi-year commitment to fund ProPublica. However, they don’t do it alone. ProPublica is trying to build a more sustainable business model and reduce its reliance on the Sandlers. Currently, ProPublica has a large group of supporters and philanthropic contributors such as the MacArthur Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

ProPublica has managed to perfect the art of securing donations. Their stories have to be sufficiently compelling to convince editors and producers to accord them space or time. By consistently delivering compelling stories, donors will be confident that professional standards are being met and maintained, and that important work is being done. Thus, they will be more willing to donate to ProPublica’s cause.

So, is this a model that could be implemented across the board?  Instead of desperately trying to save and adapt the current business model, is it time for a new one altogether?

It’s obvious that news outlets need to change and develop, in terms of what they cover, how they cover it, and how they reach their audience. It’s no secret that the Internet has revolutionized the way people follow the news, and it will undoubtedly continue to play a role in journalism practices. The idea of implementing payment for online news is an option, but has yet to show much success. For now, if newspapers and other media organizations want to function effectively, whether in print or online, they need to be creative in finding new ways to maintain sufficient staff and resources. Thankfully, an organization like ProPublica found a way to provide the American public with quality news stories despite these hard economic times. Let’s hope the rest of the journalism world can follow in its footsteps.