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Posts Tagged ‘Columbia University’

Craig Silverman

Craig Silverman

Journalists and news organizations need to do a better job of avoiding involvement in the spread of lies and unconfirmed rumors.

Accuracy and credibility are the heart of good journalism, and Craig Silverman‘s study Lies, Damned Lies and Viral Content documents widespread disregard for both in the spreading of digital reports by pro.

I won’t attempt to summarize the report here, though I will use some favorite quotes from it at the end of this post. I hope you will read the full report (it’s 164 pages) and consider what it says about you and your news organization.

What I want to focus on here are some suggestions for news organizations and individual journalists, some of which repeat Craig’s own suggestions and some of which are my suggestions, inspired by his report:

Confirming and debunking rumors

To start, I don’t think chasing rumors is necessarily the highest form of journalism, though admittedly, great journalistic investigation starts with a tip that’s indistinguishable from a rumor. But in general, I would encourage a journalistic approach that seeks to find and publish new information rather than chasing rumors. (more…)

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Sigh. The drumbeat for unwise government subsidies for journalism continues with a How to Save Journalism essay in The Nation. It was written by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, authors of The Death and Life of American Journalism, just published.

I hardly know where to start in addressing the faulty reasoning of the essay. It was not persuasive enough that I will buy the book. But government subsidies for journalism, for some reason, are a hot topic, so I weigh in once more. (more…)

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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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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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This post is now out of date: I just posted my response to this report: American media need innovation, not subsidy.

I will be blogging later today on a report released by Columbia University titled The Reconstruction of American Journalism.

From a summary in the Washington Post by the report’s authors, former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie and Columbia Professor Michael Schudson, the report seems to focus on steps the government can take to prop up traditional news reporting models.

David Carr of the New York Times seems to indicate the same thing in his column on the same report.

I have serious doubts about the approach as summarized. But I won’t comment further until later (it’s printing out now and I will read it right away). Jeff Jarvis shares my doubts. I’d like to hear what you think.

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