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Posts Tagged ‘Emily Bell’

One of the most important questions news organizations and journalists need to decide now and in the years ahead is: What should we stop doing?

This was the question that lingered with me most after reading Post-Industrial Journalism, the outstanding report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism by C.W. AndersonEmily Bell and Clay Shirky.

When the report came out, my first reaction was to drop everything, read it right away and comment in detail to its many points. But I found I couldn’t do that. The report came out just as I was trying to get back up to speed after an extended distraction from work as I helped my brother’s family deal with the death of my nephew Brandon. Work tasks beckoned urgently, so I couldn’t drop everything again. And when I found some time to read PIJ, I found my concentration weak, partly due to fatigue, partly because the next work task was always beckoning.

Meanwhile other people weighed in with more insightful things than I had to say yet (but often along the same lines, which would have made my points redundant):  Josh Benton of the Nieman LabJeff Sonderman of Poynter and Mathew Ingram of GigaOm.

Besides, what I wanted to say on about every page was, “Right on!” It’s much easier (and feels more urgent) to blog about something you disagree with (see my posts about recent CJR posts by Dean Starkman and Ryan Chittum or my response to an earlier Columbia report by Len Downie and Michael Schudson, calling for government subsidies for journalism). But I agreed a lot with PIJ. (I did blog about two disagreements with a particular passage, about whether journalism is in decline and whether smaller communities will feel this decline more acutely).

Post-Industrial Journalism makes a lot of important points journalists and news organizations should consider — about the importance of data literacy in journalism, about the importance of solving mysteries (rather than just learning secrets), about the importance of journalists developing computer coding skills, about the importance of sharing lessons from startup news organizations, about shifting our work away from finished news products and toward the continuous flow of a news stream, about developing more flexible “hackable” content management systems. I encourage reading the whole report if you haven’t yet. Journalists should especially read the section targeted at individual journalists.

When I finally finished the report on my fourth or fifth or sixth sitting, one point stuck out, and it wasn’t something they said, but my reaction to what they said: What should we stop doing? (more…)

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I can hardly believe I’m ready to write a second blog post about a single paragraph in a 122-page report. But I question the notion that the quality of news coverage in the United States has been declining and will get worse before it gets better.

Here’s passage in question, from the Post-Industrial Journalism report by the Tow Center for Digital Media:

The effect of the current changes in the news ecosystem has already been a reduction in the quality of news in the United States. On present evidence, we are convinced that journalism in this country will get worse before it gets better, and, in some places (principally midsize and small cities with no daily paper) it will get markedly worse.

I blogged Monday about the community-size issue. Now I want to address the issue of whether news coverage has been declining and will get worse before it gets better.

I absolutely disagreed with the contention that community size is the primary factor affecting the quality of a community’s journalism. I’m less certain of the question of declining quality, past and present. I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but I can’t agree with their statement of the reduction in quality as a fact and with their conviction that journalism is going to get worse. (more…)

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I encourage you to read Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present, released Tuesday by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

I started reading it last night and I’m far enough in to say that it’s good and should stimulate some conversation and thought among journalists, and hopefully lead to some change. But I may not have time to finish it and blog about it for a few days. Josh Benton of the Nieman Lab and Jeff Sonderman of Poynter have already blogged some thoughts on it. Update: So has Mathew Ingram.

Emily Bell, who wrote the report with Clay Shirky and C.W. Anderson, interviewed me in the process of working on the report.

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I love the immediacy of online interaction. Someone says something brilliant and people react and retweet right away. Someone says something stupid and the mockery starts instantly.

But sometimes reflection is the better path.

In the November-December issue of Columbia Journalism Review, Dean Starkman launched a lengthy, rambling rant about what he derided as the “future-of-news (FON) consensus.” Essentially (and I overstate only slightly), Starkman proposes a future of returning somehow to the days of Ida Tarbell.

Only mildly miffed that he didn’t include me along with the five people he named as most prominent in leading the quest for a digital future for news, I replied immediately with what I thought was a strong response. I concentrated mostly on making the dual points that investigative journalism most certainly is part of the future the FON gang is working to build and that nostalgists such as Starkman always make the past seem rosier than it was. (Yeah, Ida Tarbell was a great muckraker, but the old business model also supported a lot of bad and mediocre journalism, too.) I dropped what I was doing and cranked out my response Nov. 8, the same day Starkman’s piece was posted online (or at least the day I learned of it).

Looking back on the piece I wrote, I’m still pleased with it, and I made some good points. But Emily Bell (who definitely should have been on Starkman’s FON list) took a day to respond and her piece was more thoughtful and reflective than mine. I encourage you to read it at the link above, but a few highlights: (more…)

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I still don’t have a lot to say about this week’s changes at TBD. But I know people who follow this blog are interested in business models for news and in the TBD experience.

So, in the spirit of TBD’s model of linking to other content, I will pass along links to other people’s analysis of the business aspects of what has happened here (I don’t agree with all of them; just passing them along):

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