Conflicting Views on Journalism

This semester I’ve learned a lot about journalism, or so I thought.

I was a part of an online journalism class and an enterprise journalism class. Both had conflicting views on journalism, the direction it’s headed and what citizen journalism is. It was interesting to see and learn from these different professors and their thoughts on the news industry.

I found that my opinions would start to change from one day to the next depending on what lecture or lesson I just had. At one end of the spectrum I had a professor teaching me the wonders of blogs, interactive content and all other things you can do on the web in the journalism business. Then I would go to another class where he talked about the wonders of the newsroom, hard-nosed reporting and investigative pieces.

To make a long story short I think this semester I went a schizophrenic.

One part of me has learned to love blogging. I love giving my opinion and the immediate satisfaction of hitting publish. The other part of me romanticizes journalism and the idea of getting a scoop or tip and running with it.

Every week I feel like I changed my mind about what I wanted to use my journalism degree for. Is it useless? Will I end up blogging on some no-name website or will I end up covering stories for a newspaper? Will there even be newspapers in three to five years?

Getting two different opinions, while at times confusing, actually made me a better journalist I think. Because of both of these classes I got to have more experience in both the online and print journalism world, which I hope will be an asset when I’m looking for a job.

It’s also nice to know that I’m not the only one confused about where journalism is heading… my professors don’t know either.

Well It Says on Her Myspace…

Today I read an article from the AP about Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry’s tragic death after falling out of a pickup truck. In the article they talk about Henry’s fiancée. They got the information from her MySpace page. Here is a snippet of what the article says:

“Henry is engaged to Loleini Tonga, and the couple has been raising three children. Tonga’s MySpace page identifies herself as “Mrs. C. Henry” and has a picture of her next to a person who appears to be Henry. She also has a post from Tuesday talking about buying wedding rings. A neighbor said Wednesday that the Tonga family owns the home where police say the incident began. Charlotte is home to his fiancée’s parents.”

At first I thought it was weird that the AP would be getting most of their information through MySpace, but then realized that it shouldn’t surprise me, especially with such a high-profile athlete. I’m guessing that she, and other members of Henry’s family wouldn’t comment so the reporter turned to the next best thing, public profiles.

While I think that public people lose most, if not all, of their privacy when they become famous, is it right to use the information of their families and friends? Does this cross a line? Or do you lose all your privacy by association?

Don’t Click Here

Google recently announced that they will allow publishers set a daily limit on the numbers of articles readers can access and read for free while using the google search engine. Now publishers can limit each individual reader to five views a day, making some content unavailable.

The staff at wired.com explains it better than I ever could, so here is what that actually means for viewers:

“If your site requires a subscription or registration to see pages of the site, those locked-down pages won’t show up in search results. News sites have dealt with this by taking advantage of Google’s First Click Free program, where any single page of a website can be seen, as long as the visitor shows up through a link from Google News or Google web search. If a user then clicks on another link to the site from within the site or from Google, the website can push the user to register, sign in or subscribe.”

And here’s the reasoning behind the idea:

“The idea is to allow searchers to find and read content on pay sites like the Wall Street Journal or mandatory-registration sites like the New York Times, while simultaneously letting those sites encourage readers to sign up. Being included in the Google index is important for news sites, because Google search traffic can make up a majority of traffic to news sites. Google News, the automated newspaper created through aggregated links, drives comparatively little traffic and is not a large revenue maker for Google.”

So much for the season of giving… ouch, I know. Sorry I just couldn’t help myself.

I think it will take a while for this to actually affect consumers, if at all. People will probably just start getting their information from other sources if they are annoyed enough. What do you think? Will this change your online practices?

If you’re feed up enough I guess you could just try yahoo.

The Fall and Rise of Media

Leave it to the New York Times to be do dramatic.

A few weeks ago, David Carr wrote an article chronicling the good old days of journalism. The piece talks about the end of the decade and how different the bid media companies were just 10 short years ago.

Here are some startling facts Carr has for you:

“employment in communications in New York had lost 60,000 jobs since 2000.”

“After 2000, jobs in traditional media industries declined at a rate of about 2.5 percent annually and then went into a dive in 2008 or so.”

Obviously the job setting in New York, and other big cities around the nation, has changed dramatically in the first decade of the 2000’s. But by now, those you still have a romanticized version of journalism (guilty as charged, I love All the Presidents Men) have changed their minds either about the profession in general or in what direction they will be taking it.

As my friend Kaitlyn Anness, a journalism student who is also the news editor for The Whit  and had a blog called The Unpaid Intern, said about journalism:

“Now, more than ever, students need to market themselves. They need to become unique. They need to blog, to create media that has never been thought of. Students need to understand and play into the interactive world of digital journalism.”

While Carr’s dramatic depiction of the fall of the media  is true and depressing to those in the journalism field, it is also a new challenge to those just breaking into the field and those who have to reinvent themselves.

HASTAC News

Have you heard about the Digital Media and Learning Competition? Hear Cathy Davidson talk about it here.

And here is an article on the education initiative that Davidson is talking about. It was announced by President Obama at the end of November and has had excited almost everyone in the education field.

One last bit of HASTAC news. The deadline for applying to participate in the 2010 Global Innovations Conference has been extended to January 4th. Find out more here.

Digital Storytelling

So I admit it, I’ve been a bad HASTAC scholar lately. While I have been keeping up with social media and all things that seem to be related to HASTAC I have not participated in the new forum about Digital Storytelling. The concept is neat and something I have not looked into thoroughly.

The forum splits up the idea of Digital Storytelling into three different, distinct areas.
1. Community Empowerment
2. Re-Defining the Role of the Academic Library
3. Purpose, Practice, and Potential

The first thing I immediately think of when I think about digital storytelling is Youtube. While not academic, Youtube tells all sorts of stories. They can be funny, sad, insightful, silly. They can also inspire or give people their 15 minutes of fame. I also think of Twitter, because one’s Twitter feed can truly tell a story. I especially think of the hastag sixwordstories. I remember reading a few #sixwordstories and feeling like I understood what the person was trying to convey. One in particular that stood out was by Melissa Harris-Lacewell. It was from a few months ago and Harris-Lacewell had been doing the six word stories all night. The one in particular that I remembered read Diagnosed with cancer. She fought back. It puts such a vivid picture in your mind. I can imagine each individual picturing a family member, friend or something else close to their heart when reading that.

I think that the key to digital storytelling is getting your message across in a way that people remember. This rings true for Youtube; everyone has their favorites they love to quote, as well as Twitter.

What is your favorite form of digital storytelling? Any examples?

Collective Action

Although I’m a few days late with reporting this, I read a really  cool article about a joint editorial project 56 papers in 45 countries are publishing. I found the article on editorandpublisher.com through Twitter.  

The editorial, which you can find at www.guardian.co.uk, was published to try to convince members of government all over the world to help the environment during the Copenhagen climate summit.

Here Tom Clark, a writer at Guardian, explains how all of these newspapers got together.  

I think this is a great example of collective action. While nothing may actually occur because of the editorial, it says a lot about what the newspapers and the people who write for them want to accomplish. I also think it demonstrates how a population can help convince other populations to agree on certain issues and fight for them.

While it may be easier for newspapers to do collective action because they all have commonalities and resources, I’m impressed that 45 countries were involved. That being said, participatory media and the newspaper’s online versions probably made it easier to convey ideas, agree and work as a unit.

What do you think? Will this work? Or is it just for show?