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Archive for the ‘Media issues’ Category

You might find some valid research in the Navigating News Online study published Monday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a project of the Pew Foundation.

But the study needed lots of context that an organization committed to excellence in journalism should provide. For instance: (more…)

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Note: I have added an update, in bold below, since originally posting this.

A study of Baltimore news sources was more deeply flawed than I initially realized.

I blogged Monday about weaknesses in the How News Happens study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and about the misinterpretation of the report by many journalists and media outlets. After further study of my own and a response from Tom Rosenstiel, director of PEJ, I have concluded that old-media biases by the researchers were so profound that they truly didn’t understand the “news ecosystem” they were studying. (more…)

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I followed this up with a subsequent post on Saturday, Jan. 16.

The reaction to How News Happens may tell us more about the news industry than the study itself does.

The study of the news ecosystem in Baltimore  was published today by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, and news of the report was first published Sunday. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, editorsweblog and more tweets than I could count trumpeted the finding that most news originates with newspapers and those upstart blogs contribute barely a trickle of original news. The favorite fact cited was that 95 percent of stories reporting fresh information came from the endangered old media, newspapers primarily. (more…)

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Whew! Publishers are expecting the plunge in newspaper advertising revenues to level off next year. Maybe now we can stop the bleeding and not feel so much pressure to change.

Or can we?

Alan Mutter wrote yesterday of the publishers’ projections in his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, asking, What the heck are publishers thinking? He cast doubt on the publishers’ projections, reflected in a survey by Kubas Consultants.

I sarcastically tweeted: “Wonder what these optimistic pubs predicted for 2009,” then went on with whatever I was working on at the time. But I wondered it again today when a couple more people tweeted about Mutter’s blog and the Kubas survey. So I stopped wondering and called up the Kubas report on what the publishers expected for 2009. (more…)

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Journalists pride ourselves in being accurate and on being current with the latest news. So let’s update our inaccurate views of Wikipedia.

A 10,000 Words post by Mark S. Luckie today offers lots of good advice for reporters on pleasing their editors, including this piece:

Fact-check your stories. Any editor worth their salt will inevitably ask where certain information came from. Be ready for this with explicit answers and a list of your sources. And for the love of all things holy, don’t say Wikipedia.

I heartily endorse the advice to fact-check stories, and I agree that Wikipedia alone is not a sufficient source. But it’s way past time for journalists (and academics, for that matter) to get beyond our arrogant dismissal of Wikipedia and include it in our box of imperfect tools for verifying facts. In fact, if Wikipedia has an entry on a topic you’re writing about, it would be an excellent first place for a journalist to start checking facts. (more…)

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Journalists love stories. Give us a good anecdote and we know what our lead is going to be. We’re not as comfortable with data. We know a good story is hiding in there somewhere, but most of us don’t know how to find it. And too many of us — reporters and executives alike — are refusing to learn.

My first exposure to the use of data for journalism was when I was at the Kansas City Star (or possibly the Kansas City Times; I worked for both) nearly 20 years ago. The late Greg Reeves, a kind of geeky reporter I didn’t know very well but came to admire, wrote a terrific story about the driving records of Kansas City police. I don’t recall the details, but I was shocked at how many police had offenses such as reckless driving (I think drunk driving, too, but I can’t vouch for my memory over that many years). What I do recall is that I started to understand the power of data analysis. (more…)

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I used to get regular comments on this blog from people taking me to task for my embrace of social media, particularly Twitter. I haven’t heard from that crowd much lately. Don’t know if that means I’ve won them over. Probably means they’ve given up on reading me.

But if anyone reading this blog isn’t yet convinced that we need to take social media seriously, like it or not, I present this video from YouTube (a social media platform, of course):

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When I read the Associated Press “Protect, Point, Pay” plan, I think of the Hummer.

General Motors thought it was moving forward when it trotted out the massive sport-utility version of a military vehicle. The Hummer represented a lot of smart work by a lot of engineers and GM sold a lot of Hummers. It carried on a GM tradition of massive vehicles under the Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile brands. But how did the Hummer work out in the long run? How’s GM doing today? In a world threatened by climate change and in a nation dependent on oil from unstable regions, the Hummer was simply the wrong move.

I think “Protect, Point, Pay” may get some traction with desperate newspaper owners who want more protection and pay. It has some good features with smart engineering. But it’s simply the wrong move. (more…)

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The Associated Press is giving me an uneasy feeling again.

I want to read the full AP “Plan for Reclaiming Content Online” for myself before I draw firm conclusions. I first read of it at the Eastern Iowa Airport this afternoon on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog entry by Zach Seward. Zach acknowledges that he’s just starting to analyze the seven-page briefing, which was sent to members. He will post further blog entries on the plan and eventually will post the full plan.

I’m writing this post from Denver International Airport. If I were at work, I would inquire of colleagues and try to get a copy of it and read and react more knowledgeably. I will do that, but I want to react quickly to what Zach has reported. The report drew a swift and mostly critical response on Twitter and I want to contribute to that immediate conversation in more than tweets, though I certainly did that. The problem with commenting quickly is that I have to write this long caveat that I don’t fully know what I’m writing about yet. If any of these impressions change on full examination, I will note them.

Let’s start with a positive statement: From what I can see, this plan reflects more understanding of the digital world than earlier AP statements. Dean Singleton’s blustery warning last spring that AP would seek legal and legislative remedies for “misappropriation” of members’ stories showed a complete lack of insight about the link economy. The more recent plan to protect AP content by use of a digital “wrapper” fell flat as AP’s own explanations of its intent and use conflicted. (more…)

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Accuracy has always been right at the top of the list of journalism values and priorities.

Except when I saw friends lose their jobs (and sometimes, had to deliver that news myself) or had to write about horrible tragedies, the sickest feelings I have had in this business were when I got my facts wrong. It didn’t happen often, but each time, I brutalized myself with second-guessing and figured out how to prevent it from happening again (and committed to ensure it wouldn’t happen again).

I don’t know how accuracy gets more important than that, but it has actually grown in importance. The public has more potential sources of information than ever today. Almost any path you can imagine for media companies to find our way to a prosperous future starts with being a trusted source for information. (more…)

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Newspapers can be replaced.

Don’t get me wrong. I love newspapers. I have spent my adult life (and the later years of my youth) working in the newspaper industry, starting as a carrier. Old newspapers hang on my office walls and fill my cabinets and file drawers. I believe that pretty much any mediocre newspaper is still the best news outlet and advertising vehicle in most any community.

But I am concerned by a conceit I hear and read too often from journalists and newspaper executives hoping to get by with incremental approaches to innovation. It certainly underlies the notion that if newspapers suddenly all started charging for content, the freeloading public would have to buckle and start paying. These people dismissively proclaim that their communities would suddenly starve (or pay) for news and information if the newspaper went out of business or its content vanished behind a paywall.   (more…)

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I hope the newspaper tycoons meeting secretly in Chicago this week come up with a clap-your-hands plan.

Because clapping our hands to save the newspaper industry, like we saved Tinkerbell at the movies when we were children, has more chance of succeeding than the paid-content-cartel approach that newspaper executives are dreaming and talking about but being careful not to conspire about. (more…)

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