Tag Archives: nieman journalism lab

Nieman Journalism lab launches iPhone, iPad app

The Nieman Journalism Lab has launched its own app, available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

The app offers the latest stories and videos from the site itself, as well as pulling in updates from its Twitter feed, updated link lists from Hourly Press and other third-party content recommended by the lab.

The app is free to download from the iTunes store.

Nieman: French journalists experiment with social network newsgathering

A radio journalist who took part in a week-long social media experiment – confining herself and four other journalists from French-speaking stations to an isolated cabin where their only news sources would be Twitter and Facebook – has detailed her findings on the Nieman Journalism Lab (originally posted in June).

Janic Tremblay documents the highs and lows of following events via the two platforms whilst trying to build a strong network of reliable news sources.

On our first night in France, I went online and came across tweets from a man who had been arrested during a demonstration in Moscow earlier that day. He had been jailed for many hours and was tweeting about what was happening. I did not know him. Clearly we lived in different universes, but it turned out that a member of his social network is also part of mine. When my social networking friend retweeted his posts, he showed up in my Twitter feed, and there we were—connected, with me in a French farmhouse and he in jail in Moscow.

(…) With the traditional tools of journalists, the odds of me finding this man would have been close to zero. However, I believe situations like this one happen rarely, as best I can tell from my experience and that of my colleagues.

See the full post here…

Nieman: Would dedicated follow-up outlets make for better journalism?

It’s an idea which has been circulating for some time now, but was raised again by Megan Garber on the Nieman Journalism Lab in light of the recent WikiLeaks leak – “what if we had an outlet dedicated to continuity journalism”.

Her idea seems to centre on both the issue of sustaining interest in stories, as well as the importance of journalists continuing to follow-up on topics long after a story is published.

While it may not always be practical in a busy newsroom, she suggests the creation of a separate organisation whose sole practice it is to follow-up on past news stories.

What if we had an outlet dedicated to reporting, aggregating, and analyzing stories that deserve our sustained attention — a team of reporters and researchers and analysts and engagement experts whose entire professional existence is focused on keeping those deserving stories alive in the world? Sure, you could say, bloggers both professional and amateur already do that kind of follow-up work; legacy news outlets themselves do, too. But: they don’t do it often enough, or systematically enough.

It is a debate which has drawn support from both sides – one of Garber’s commenters, Adam O’Kane, who runs the Late Press blog, has already announced he has secured the domain ‘followupstories.org’.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick says he is “not convinced”. He says that not following through a on a story at a later date may actually be a sign of a good understanding of what makes news.

After all, there are plenty of news stories that live on for a while, if the “follow up” events are considered newsworthy. And certainly, on niche topics, there are plenty of dedicated folks who follow those stories all the time. So an organization that just does follow through doesn’t necessarily make sense, because the problem isn’t necessarily the lack of follow-up, but the lack of newsworthy information to come out of such follow-ups.

The changing face of the news editor in the world of social media

The freedom attributed to the world of online journalism supports the notion that the internet fosters equality. When it comes to news, we can be our own gatekeepers and use social media to carve out our own news agenda.

The issue is at the heart of a post on Nieman Journalism Lab by Ken Doctor, looking at the evolving image of the news editor within social media, from the experienced newsdesk figure to our community of online friends.

In this hybrid era of straddling print and digital publishing, the role of the gatekeeper has markedly morphed. It’s shifted from “us” to “them”, but “them” includes a lowercase version of “us”, too. Gatekeeping is now a collective pursuit; we’ve become our own and each other’s editors.

With social media, the serendipity that came with turning pages and suddenly discovering a gem of a story that an editor put there happens in new ways. We’re re-creating such moments ourselves, each of us―individually and collectively―as we tout stories and posts to each other. A friend e-mails us a story; we might read it, time permitting. We get the same story from three people, and chances are good that we’ll carve out time to take a look.

Doctor says that in the future news organisations will need to “harness this power” by combining a professional and traditional news judgement with the value and reach of social media networks. Additionally – never underestimate the importance of aggregation in appealing to social media audiences.

Go ahead and call it gatekeeping, but think of it with a different slant when it comes to flexing those well-honed news judgment muscles. These days editors have a much bigger bank of news and features on which to draw. It’s not just what staff reporters and wire copy offers; it’s the entire web of content.

See his full post here…

Investigative Voice director defends the online-only watchdog

Stephen Janis, journalist and content director of Investigative Voice, gives a behind the scenes look at digital investigative journalism in relation to a recent story he broke on a local government employee who had been on the Baltimore city payroll and collecting sick pay while in prison.

Writing on Nieman Journalism Lab, Janis looks at the opportunities and challenges of investigating and breaking such a story on a digital platform, following a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) which he claims concluded that Investigative Voice “was all but irrelevant to the city’s news flow”.

The study entitled ‘A Study of the News Ecosystem of One American City’ reports that “the expanding universe of new media, including blogs, Twitter and local websites—at least in Baltimore—played only a limited role: mainly an alert system and a way to disseminate stories from other places”.

But Janis says the impact of the case study shows a greater role than that.

These discoveries and quite a bit more—for example, DPW supervisors had threatened to fire an employee who discovered that McLaughlin was on the state’s Sex Offender Registry—were published in a series of stories on Investigative Voice, the website where I work as a senior reporter and content director. Baltimore’s inspector general opened a department-wide probe, and the city solicitor ordered a citywide review of personnel policies related to criminal convictions and the employment of sex offenders in jobs that bring them into contact with the public. Because of the governmental watchdog reporting we do at Investigative Voice, I was distressed by the implied assumption in the study that the purpose of a website like ours is to replicate what our print brethren is doing.

Yet folks at Investigative Voice and other websites like ours are rethinking how to keep a watchful eye on city government agencies, personnel, policies and practices in a ways that will have impact. The old assumption is not our starting point.Our impulse as digital journalists is to innovate—and this means finding stories that aren’t being covered by other news media in Baltimore and doing what we can to illuminate them in ways that propel people to act. While we take full advantage of our digital platform, we adamantly uphold the basic tenets of investigative journalism.

He adds that unlike some online news media, Investigative Voice’s focus is not on page impressions or clicks – but making the most of strong images, information rich material and “eye-catching” headlines.

What set us apart, however, are our homepage’s outsized graphics and our investigative mission; in both, we aim for a different model of social influence within the community.Our consistent focus on this scandal, coupled with bold, eye-catching two-word headlines (white words set against a black background), provocative subheads, and information-laden captions reinforced our emphasis on watchdog reporting and lent authority to the investigation as it unfolded on our Web site. In some ways, our digital approach harkens back to the heyday of newspapers in the early 1900’s when boys hawking papers shouted out headlines designed to catch the attention of passers-by. Economically, this translates into an ability to market our influence with readers and advertisers in a qualitative rather than a quantitative way; impact and influence triumph over eyeballs and clicks.

See the full post here…

‘It is a biased medium’: Douglas Rushkoff on power roles in journalism

Douglas Rushkoff has a thought-provoking look at internet power roles in journalism on the Nieman Journalism Lab, claiming a bias given to immediacy on the internet damages the value of journalism.

(…) at first glance the Internet seems to be different. It is a biased medium, to be sure, but biased to the amateur and to the immediate—as if to change some essential balance of power. Indeed, the Web so overwhelmingly tilts toward the immediate as to render notions of historicity and permanence obsolete. Even Google is rapidly converting to live search—a little list of not the most significant, but the most recent results for any query term. Likewise, our blog posts and tweets are increasingly biased not just toward brevity but immediacy—a constant flow, as if it is just humanity expressing itself.

But, he adds, this is not a sustainable model for “professional journalism” and the role of the Fourth Estate.

(…) a professional journalist isn’t just someone who has access to the newswires, or at least it shouldn’t be. A professional newsperson is someone who is not only trained to pursue a story and deconstruct propaganda, but someone who has been paid to spend the time and energy required to do so effectively. Corporations and governments alike spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on their public relations and communications strategies. They hire professionals to tell or, more often, obfuscate their stories. Without a crew of equally qualified—if not equally funded—professionals to analyze and challenge these agencies’ fictions, we are defenseless against them.

And thus, we end up in the same place we were before—only worse, because now we believe we own and control the media that has actually owned and controlled us all along.

See his full post here…

‘To the skimmer, all stories look the same and are worth the same’

Nicholas Carr has an interesting piece on Nieman Reports discussing the speed of news consumption online and the impact on journalism.

According to Carr, “skimming” of news is a threat to serious journalism, which requires “deep, undistracted modes of reading and thinking”.

On the web, skimming is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself. That poses a huge problem for those who report and publish the news. To appreciate variations in the quality of journalism, a person has to be attentive, to be able to read and think deeply. To the skimmer, all stories look the same and are worth the same.

The practice turns news into a “fungible commodity”, he writes, where the lowest-cost provider “wins the day”.

The news organization committed to quality becomes a niche player, fated to watch its niche continue to shrink. If serious journalism is going to survive as something more than a product for a small and shrinking elite, news organizations will need to do more than simply adapt to the net. They’re going to have to be a counterweight to the net.

See his full post here…

Online journalism: A return to long-form?

Nieman Journalism Lab’s Megan Garber has a good post up about Slate and its dedication to long-form journalism, a dying art in the world of blogs and aggregators and online news consumption analysis.

Slate editor David Plotz launched the Fresca Initiative last year, designed to give reporters the opportunity to produce long-form work on subjects of their choice. Under the scheme, staff can take four to six weeks off their normal jobs to produce more in-depth stuff.

The result? Not only a handful of very good (and, at as many as tens of thousands of words, very long) articles but serious traffic to the site too. For the tens of thousands of words there have been millions of page views.

For Plotz, the form is about “building the brand of Slate as a place you go for excellent journalism”. It is not about “building Slate into a magazine that has 100 million readers,” but making sure they have “two million or five million or eight million of the right readers”.

Anybody trying to monetise online content at the moment knows about the right readers, and about their value to advertisers.

So here’s to the idea that ten thousand word articles and are not anathema to online audiences, and to the idea that giving your staff six weeks off to write them isn’t anathema to making money from online content.

And, most of all, here’s to the idea that my boss thinks so too.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Full Nieman post at this link…

MediaMemo: Time Inc. on paywall plans and print/iPad-only content

As reported by Nieman Journalism Lab, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon noticed late last month that a Time Magazine story he had followed a link to online wasn’t there, instead there was this message:

To read TIME Magazine in its entirety, subscribe or download the issue on the iPad.

The next morning the story reappeared in its entirety.

Yesterday reporters at Nieman noticed that “nearly every major article” on Time Magazine’s website was no longer available in full:

Check out the current issue of Time Magazine at Time.com. Click around. Notice anything? On almost every story that comes from the magazine, there’s this phrase: “The following is an abridged version of an article that appears in the July 12, 2010 print and iPad editions of TIME.”

This afternoon MediaMemo has confirmation from parent company Time Inc. that there are title-by-title paywall plans and content across its publications will increasingly be print and iPad only. Spokesman Dawn Bridges outlines the publisher’s policy:

We’ve said for awhile that increasingly we’ll move content from the print (and now iPad) versions of our titles off of the web. With People, we haven’t had hardly any content [SIC] from the magazine on the web for a long time. Our strategy is to use the web for breaking news and ‘commodity’ type of news; (news events of any type, stock prices, sports scores) and keep (most of) the features and longer analysis for the print publication and iPad versions.

Full story at this link…

Nieman Journalism Lab: ‘Empowering citizens through public media’

Nieman Journalism Lab is posting a selection of videos (those most relevant to the future of news) from a series of weekly discussions at the Berkman Center for Internet at Society.

The latest features Ellen Goodman and Jake Shapiro on ‘Empowering citizens through public media’.

See the previous two at the following links and look out further posts.

David Weinberger: How information became the “dominant metaphor” of contemporary intellectual life

Jure Leskovec: How memes move, heartbeat-like, through the news