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Archive for October, 2009

While I am critical of the Columbia University report, The Reconstruction of American Journalism, I am pleased that it has stirred debate about the future of journalism. Here are the most interesting takes I have seen on the report by Columbia journalism professor Michael Schudson and former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr:

Tom Grubisch ripped into Downie and Schudson in OJR: The Online Journalism Review, calling it the kind of “shallow analysis that typically informs newspaper editorials on big issues.” Be sure to read Robert Niles’ comment. He sees Downie and Schudson as speaking for news industry leaders who “chose to ignore, marginalize or even demonize voices who argued that the news industry must change its procedures, in both editorial and business operations, to compete online.” Now, Niles says, “top news company managers are working their way through the stages of grief.” The Downie/Schudson report, Niles said, represents the stages of anger and bargaining. (more…)

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Michael Schudson accepted my invitation to continue our discussion about The Reconstruction of American Journalism. I  blogged critically Monday about his report with former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. Schudson responded Thursday and I replied today . I recommend reading the other links, if you haven’t yet, before reading this. Schudson is a journalism professor at Columbia University. This is his most recent email to me:

I have a different picture of our journalism history than you do.

Yours is close to the conventional story that American journalists have long told themselves — it just happens not to be true. (Take a look at Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media or an important work that Starr draws on, Richard John’s Spreading the News.) (more…)

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This is my response to Michael Schudson’s response to my criticism of his report with former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., The Reconstruction of American Journalism. I recommend reading the other links, if you haven’t yet, before reading this. Schudson is a journalism professor at Columbia University. While I encourage you to read Schudson’s response from the link above in one read, I have pasted it below. His comments are in italics, mine in regular type.

First, this was no clip job. Unless there’s something that escaped my  attention, every direct quote in our report came from in-person, phone, or in a few cases e-mail interviews done over the past 7 or 8 months — except for two quotes that came from interviews Len Downie conducted a few years ago.

Buttry responds: I apologize. I was too flippant and not specific enough in calling it a clip job, especially in contrast to the reference by Columbia J-School Dean Nicholas Lemann praising “the breadth of their original research.” Originality in journalism and academia is a serious matter and I did not say or mean to imply that this was plagiarism in any respect. But there is a wide area between original research and plagiarism: rehash. And that’s what most of the first section of the Downie/Schudson report was. (more…)

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Thanks to Columbia University journalism professor Michael Schudson, who responded to my Monday post criticizing his report with Leonard Downie Jr., The Reconstruction of American Journalism. I responded separately to his comments:

A response to your thoughtful post:

First, this was no clip job. Unless there’s something that escaped my  attention, every direct quote in our report came from in-person, phone, or in a few cases e-mail interviews done over the past 7 or 8 months — except for two quotes that came from interviews Len Downie conducted a few years ago. (more…)

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I will be teaching Getting Started with Twitter at Kirkwood Community College next week (still room in the course if you want to register or to refer friends).

I will probably edit and update the getting-started tips I used in September for my Using Social Media for Business course. This course differs from that one in a three respects: (more…)

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Thanks to Anthony Capps, entertainment editor at the Iowa State Daily, who found an eight-year-old training handout that apparently I never posted online. It was for a 2001 workshop I did for interns at the Omaha World-Herald on horrible mistakes and the lessons from them.

I asked colleagues at the World-Herald and elsewhere to share their stories, which they did quite eagerly. I sorted them by lessons learned. This was the forerunner to my workshops on accuracy for editors and reporters, for which the handouts are already online at No Train, No Gain (along with most of my other training handouts).

Anthony was kind enough to send me a pdf of the handout, which I have cut and pasted (with a little editing to fix mistakes that snuck past me then or to make it more appropriate for today). I promised confidentiality, so that I wouldn’t need to verify the third-person stories and so that people would feel free sharing the embarrassing first-person stories. A few people gave me permission to use their names in 2001. I have removed their names now, rather than track them down now and ask if it’s still OK to name them.

The stories and lessons are more print-centric than they would be if I were to collect stories today. But I think they still contain some valuable lessons for journalists: (more…)

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Update: Michael Schudson has responded to this post.

Whatever else it is, The Reconstruction of American Journalism is not comprehensive.

Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, authors of the Columbia University report, described their work in the Post today as a “comprehensive report.” They recommend federal subsidies for news organizations and changes in federal law to allow more philanthropic support for journalism. More on those topics later.

Here’s what the report does not address in any meaningful way:

  • The role of social media in the future of journalism.
  • The failure of media companies to develop new business models.
  • The possibility of developing new business models that rely on the free market, rather than charity or taxpayers. (more…)

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