We can’t embed it, so follow this link for a video looking at ‘Going Digital – the Next Generation of News’ from the Newseum, with some interesting interview extracts and a look at the Rocky Mountain News’ last days and the online future at Christian Science Monitor. Full story at this link…
It started off bleakly, but the talk got more positive as the participants warmed up. These are four digital leaders, driving forward ambitious online projects in their respective countries:
- Eric Echikson, Google’s senior manager for communications in Brussels
- Katharina Borchert, chief editor of the online newspaper DerWesten.de and also the managing director of WAZ NewMedia
- Pierre Haski, president of the society and editor-in-chief of the online French newspaper, Rue89
- Turi Munthe, CEO of the citizen journalism site Demotix
In a discussion led by Richard Gizbert, the panel discussed their hopes for opportunism in a dire economic climate.
Starting with a gloomy video reminder of the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, the panel were then probed on their own thoughts and experiences.
Katharina Borchert, from WAZ media, said the last 3-5 years have been a real opportunity, despite the fact they’re currently laying off a third of their staff.
To be using user-generated content in the way they are would have been unthinkable three years ago, she said.
Web is no longer an add-on, she said. There’s ‘more freedom to create content for the web’.
Video is the most popular content on their site, she added.
Pierre Haski, who left his job at Liberation newspaper to set up the independent French newspaper, realised the opportunity for different types of conversations with readers.
“Through blogging you reconnect with your readers. We tried to develop a model of participative news website, where readers could contribute to news process,” he explained.
After failing to sell the idea to Liberation, he and other colleagues left to launch Rue89.
“Not only will we survive the crisis but we will make money next year,” he said.
Then, Munthe, who set up his agency Demotix in a bid to source citizen journalism from around the world to counter what he perceived as a lack of original foreign news content.
“The flip side of the doom and gloom there are all sorts of opportunities out there,” he said.
He’s not worried about the content control, as editing happens within the process. “Who figured out three columns of smoke was wrong? Bloggers. That’s exactly what Demotix is trying to replicate.”
Demotix tries to bring together collaborative voices to self-correct stories and content, Munthe explained.
iwantmyrocky.com, launched at the weekend, is ‘a vehicle’ for staffers at the Rocky Mountain News to highlight why their newspaper is worth saving, SFNblog reports.
Having set up a timeline dedicated to reporting on the sweeping job cuts affecting both senior and junior journalists alike, a trend is emerging for laid-off staff to use blogs, Twitter and other online sites and tools to capture their redundancy.
Reports such as Martin Gee’s set of Flickr images from his last day at the San Jose Mercury give a highly individual picture of how these cuts are being felt on a personal level beyond the redundancy figures and prediction stats.
In the summer, the Columbia Journalism Review started its ‘Parting Thoughts’ series, posting responses from journalists leaving the industry or facing redundancy.
At the Gannett Blog, former Gannett editor Jim Hopkins crowdsourced a blogpost of lay-offs by the publisher, listed by newspaper area – at time of writing redundancies at 72 of Gannett’s 85 US titles affected by the company’s latest round of job cuts were accounted for in Hopkins’ post.
In an open blog post last week, Ryan Carson, co-founder of web application design and events agency Carsonified, used the company’s blog to share his thoughts about staff cuts and give the reasons for making them.
Carson went on to give tips for companies looking to recession-proof their business (points that some commenters on the post argue are common sense no matter what the economic situation).
The Spokesman-Review has used its Daily Briefing blog to cover staff leaving in an equally personal and open way. News of senior staff exiting the paper, such as editor Steve Smith and assistant managing editor Carla Savalli, was broken on the blog and posts have also been penned by outgoing journalists, including Thuy Dzuong:
“Folks, it’s been fun but The layoff list for non-managers has been finalized, and I’m on it.”
Last week Silicon Alley Insider built a ‘real time’-style page to cover lay-offs at parent company Yahoo, updating it as new info came in.
(UPDATE – The Rocky Mountain News has launched iwantmyrocky.com to canvas support for the newspaper)
Despite the sad circumstances, the way in which journalists and media workers are facing redundancy in these examples shows a real engagement with online tools. A personal picture of what is happening to the industry is being documented for future reference by these staff members expressing themselves so openly (and perhaps significantly being ‘allowed’ to express themselves by their past/present employers).
What is more, while they may not hold the answers to the problems currently faced by the media industry, they shed light on how these issues are perceived and felt on the frontline. Something which employers should read and learn from.
US newspaper The Rocky Mountain News has come under scrutiny for its use of microblogging tool Twitter.
The paper has been using the service to provide news alerts with its @The Rocky account, but recently experimented with an individual reporter twittering from the funeral of a 3-year-old.
“Rocky reporter Berny Morson filed live updates from the memorial service of 3-year-old Marten Kudlis. The messages are unedited,” reads the editor’s note accompanying the article on the death of Marten Kudlis, who was killed in a car crash last week.
Michael Roberts at the Latest Word blog points out that the updates are ‘self-satirizing in the most morbid, inappropriate way possible’.
“Morson’s not to blame for the lameness of these entries, which suggest a golfing commentator whispering at green-side while Tiger Woods lines up a putt.”
Questions have been raised about the appropriateness of Twitter coverage before, but usually centring on its suitability as a medium for coverage e.g. does the event require frequent updates or can it wait? Covering a funeral – that’s proprierty gone AWOL.
Scripps-owned US newspaper the Rocky Mountain News has created an online map of its news, business and sports features to give readers a better sense of where news is happening.
“We created the feature because we thought users might be interested in where news occurs. Oftentimes in metro areas, a street address means nothing. Map My News brings home how close news is happening,” Mike Noe, the paper’s interactive editor, told Journalism.co.uk.
Noe said there are plans afoot to connect the archive of mapped stories with a user’s postal code or neighbourhood to enable filtering by geographical area.
He also indicated that a combination of Map My News and YourHub.com – a sister site of the RM News, which allows users to post their own news and blogs – would be desirable for the website.