Tag Archives: Columbia University

Emily Bell answers questions from Columbia University journalism students

Former digital director at Guardian News and Media Emily Bell gives some great answers to questions from students at Columbia University, where she is now director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

The video is available at this link (no embed available unfortunately) and features answers on paying for news online (“Charging for news is incredibly expensive”) and journalists’ need for business savvy (“Every reporter should understand what the options are as to how you tell a story and how much do those options cost”).

Last night Bell helped to officially open the Tow Center with a speech that is well worth reading in full and is available on her blog.

Online journalism needs to be “of the web” not “for the web; journalism in the future must have a better understanding of the processes and business underwriting it and journalists must build relevancy and trust, she says.

In rebuilding – or rebooting – journalism, digital technologies are central to the solution, and not as many would have them, the source of the problem.As journalists, facing our own “Wapping moment”, we must examine some of the foundation stones of journalism and build better. We can acknowledge and perpetuate what is good about the best of our craft, but there is in truth so much opportunity to improve. We do not want to sustain parts of the business that need not a new model, but a sledgehammer. When we rebuild journalism we want it to be a more diverse and inclusive than the parts of the profession we have all at some point worked for. A rebuilt journalism has to hold power to account, but be accountable and transparent itself.

Rebuilt journalism has to be sustainable and not carry with it the extraordinary and untenable fixed costs of the past. It has to understand how to uphold free speech and tell stories in a world where protecting sources is evermore complicated. Rebuilt journalism has to use new ways to re-engage a generation alienated by old formats and for who screen-based portable devices bring the world to them. It has to live in a world of scarcer resource by understanding how to create production efficiencies, and measuring and understanding the impact of its output.

Chance to submit questions to former Guardian digital director Emily Bell

Former Guardian News & Media director of digital content, Emily Bell, is answering questions from the public on the future of the news industry in her new role as director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

Questions can be submitted to Bell via the Columbia University Facebook page. The deadline for submissions is 12pm EST tomorrow (Tuesday 12) and her answers will be presented in a video interview to be posted a week later, on the day of the official Tow Center launch (19 October).

Find out more here…

Wired.com: Columbia to offer joint computer science and journalism degree

US university Columbia has created a new masters’ degree combining computer science and journalism.

The Columbia programme, which will accept its first 15 students (tops) in the fall of 2011, seeks to attack the barrier between journalists and the increasingly important IT professionals whose web and digital savvy are crucial to any form of newsgathering, reporting and delivery. The problem: users really don’t know what to ask developers for (or how), and developers have no real idea what their software will need to do in the hands of the users.

The cross-disciplinary programme will equip journalists with vital data mining skills, technology to make their work more efficient and ideas for “new storytelling media using 3D photography and other methods”.

Full story at this link…

Mashable: Slideshow on ‘the future journalist’ – what will they need?

Great presentation from Mashable on ‘The future journalist: thoughts from two generations‘.

Created for Mashable’s NextUpNYC event the presentation was part of an on-stage discussion between Sree Sreenivasan, a professor and dean of student affairs at Columbia Journalism School, and his former student and Mashable contributor Vadim Lavrusik, which looked at the skills need by the journalist of the future, their approach to the business side of journalism and their use of social and multimedia:

Daily Finance: Some journalism graduates are finding journalism jobs

According to figures for last month from Columbia University’s Graduate School of journalism, 197 or 64 per cent of graduates already had journalism jobs (or equivalent internships/further study plans) lined up.

The stat is better than the situation this time last year for the school’s graduates and is backed up by similarly positive figures for the most recent crop of City University of New York graduates, the report states.

Full story at this link…

Journalism students and tutors – what’s the picture where you are? Are you seeing new areas of employment open up?

Speaking to a recent journalism graduate at a leading school in the UK, Journalism.co.uk was told that only 3 from a year of 75 had received job offers – two of which were in PR.

Todd Gitlin’s keynote JiC speech transcript: The four wolves who crept up to journalism’s door

Following our round-up of the Westminster students coverage of last week’s Journalism in Crisis conference, we’ll link to one final item:

Professor Todd Gitlin’s keynote speech, given via Skype, on the first day of the Westminster University / British Journalism Review Journalism in Crisis event (May 19):  ‘A Surfeit of Crises: Circulation, Revenue, Attention, Authority, and Deference’.

Gitlin, who is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, talked about how four wolves have arrived at the door of journalism ‘simultaneously, while a fifth has already been lurking for some time’. These were the wolves no-one was expecting, because everyone’s been crying wolf for so long. Gitlin spoke mainly in regards to American journalism because ‘it is what I know best’.

He used quotes and statistics from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism ‘Changing Newsroom’ 2008 report, and also his own anecdotal evidence and academic references, to illustrate the predicament – which he feels is fair to call a number of ‘crises’ – that journalism faces.

Here are a few choice extracts:

  • The four wolves at the door, and the fifth one lurking: “One is the precipitous decline in the circulation of newspapers.  The second is the decline in advertising revenue, which, combined with the first, has badly damaged the profitability of newspapers. The third, contributing to the first, is the diffusion of attention.  The fourth is the more elusive crisis of authority. The fifth, a perennial – so much so as to be perhaps a condition more than a crisis – is journalism’s inability or unwillingness to penetrate the veil of obfuscation behind which power conducts its risky business.”
  • Circulation of newspapers: “Overall, newspaper circulation has dropped 13.5 per cent for the dailies and 17.3 per cent for the Sunday editions since 2001; almost 5 per cent just in 2008.  In what some are calling the Great Recession, advertising revenue is down – 23 per cent over the last two years – even as paper costs are up.  Nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone.  Foreign bureaus have been shuttered – all those of the Boston Globe, for example, New England’s major paper.
  • “I have been speaking about newspapers’ recent decline, but to limit the discussion to the last decade or so both overstates the precipitous danger and understates the magnitude of a secular crisis—which is probably a protracted crisis in the way in which people know—or believe they know—the world.  In the US, newspaper circulation has been declining, per capita, at a constant rate since 1960. The young are not reading the papers.  While they say they ‘look’ at the papers online, it is not clear how much looking they do.”
  • “The newspaper was always a tool for simultaneity (you don’t so much read a paper as swim around in it, McLuhan was fond of saying) at least as much as a tool for cognitive sequence.  What if the sensibility that is now consolidating itself—with the Internet, mobile phones, GPS, Facebook and Twitter and so on – the media for the Daily Me, for point-to-point and many-to-many transmission—what if all this portends an irreversible sea-change in the very conditions of successful business?”
  • The Clamor for Attention: “Attention has been migrating from slower access to faster; from concentration to multitasking; from the textual to the visual and the auditory, and toward multi-media combinations.  Multitasking alters cognitive patterns.  Attention attenuates.  Advertisers have for decades talked about the need to ‘break through the clutter,’ the clutter consisting, amusingly, of everyone else’s attempts to break through the clutter.  Now, media and not just messages clutter.”
  • “Just under one-fifth of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 claim to look at a daily newspaper – which is not to say how much of it they read. The average American newspaper reader is 55 years old. Of course significant numbers of readers are accessing – which is not to say reading – newspapers online, but the amount of time they seem to spend there is bifurcated.  In roughly half of the top 30 newspaper sites, readership is steady or falling.  Still, ‘of the top 5 online newspapers –  ranked by unique users – [the] three [national papers] reported growth in the average time spent per person: NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, and the Wall Street Journal Online.’ One thing is clear:  Whatever the readership online, it is not profitable.”
  • “The question that remains, the question that makes serious journalists tremble in the U. S., is:  Who is going to pay for serious reporting?  For the sorts of investigations that went on last year, for example, into the background of the surprise Republican nominee for Vice President, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.”
  • Authority: “Journalism’s legitimacy crisis has two overlapping sources: ideological disaffection from right and left, and generalized distrust. Between them, they register something of a cultural sea change.  The authority of American journalism has, for a century or so, rested on its claim to objectivity and a popular belief that that claim is justified. These claims are weakening.”
  • Deference: “We have seen in recent years two devastating failures to report the world – devastating not simply in their abject professional failures but in that they made for frictionless glides into catastrophe.  The first was in the run-up to the Iraq war (…) More recently, we have the run-up to the financial crisis (…) Given these grave failures of journalism even when it was operating at greater strength not so long ago, one might say that rampant distrust is a reasonable and even a good thing.”
  • Resolutions: “The Project on Excellence’s conclusion is that ‘roughly half of the downturn in the last year was cyclical, that is, related to the economic downturn. But the cyclical problems are almost certain to worsen in 2009 and make managing the structural problems all the more difficult.’ Notice the reference to ‘managing the structural problems.’  They cannot be solved, they can only be managed.  The unavoidable likelihood, pending a bolt from the blue, is that the demand for journalism will continue to decline and that no business model can compensate for its declining marketability.  No meeting of newspaper people is complete these days without a call – some anguished, some confident – for a ‘new business model’ that would apply to the online ‘paper.’  The call has been issued over the course of years now.  It might be premature to say so, but one might suspect that it has not been found because there is none to be found.”
  • “What I do know is that journalism is too important to be left to those business interests. Leaving it to the myopic, inept, greedy, unlucky, and floundering managers of the nation’s newspapers to rescue journalism on their own would be like leaving it to the investment wizards at the American International Group (AIG), Citibank, and Goldman Sachs, to create a workable, just global credit system on the strength of their good will, their hard-earned knowledge, and their fidelity to the public good.”

Full transcript at this link…

Bill Grueskin: ‘What would Google do about newspapers?’

Guest blogging on Reflections of a Newsosaur, Bill Grueskin, the academic dean of the School of Journalism at Columbia University and former managing editor of WSJ.Com, offers his translation of comments by the Google’s vice-president of search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, to the Senate commerce subcommittee hearing.

“Her elliptical comments at a congressional hearing on the sorry state of the newspaper industry revolved around a message that seemed to add up to: ‘Lotsa luck, fellas.'”

Full post at this link…

FT.com recruits Bono and Jeffrey Sachs as bloggers

U2 frontman Bono and development economist Jeffrey Sachs are teaming up with FT.com in a bid to form the world’s ultimate rock group to blog their way through the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals summit, which starts in New York on Thursday.

Sachs, who is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Bono will post ‘development diaries’ throughout the event, a release from the paper explains.

Coverage was kicked off with a Q&A with Bono, who, it seems, is taking his duties pretty seriously:

AB [Andrew Beattie, FT trade editor]:What are the two or three goals you want to achieve this week?

Bono: 1. Blogging for the FT, being your roving reporter in the canyons of Manhattan. While the world upends on Wall Street, I’ll be mostly midtown at the UN and the Clinton Global Initiative talking about the resilience of the world’s poor while the world’s rich find out how fragile life can be.

Or then again…

AB: What exactly happens in the meetings you have with these world leaders?

Bono: Judo in a suit.