Here are the top three ideas I left Day One of the Beyond the Newsroom seminar with: (The seminar is sponsored by the American Press Institute with The Poynter Institute.)
1. Bloggers and Citizen Journalists are not the enemy. In fact, they could help strengthen newspapers’ bond with their readers and provide valuable content. So says John Wilpers, a veteran journalist who is now working as a consultant. He said journalists shouldn’t think of bloggers as replacements. Instead, think of them as covering something journalists don’t. Journalists are still needed, but so are bloggers. He noted that in his experience, some bloggers he has worked with became the best word-of-mouth advertisers for the newspaper. He convinced me.
2. There are innovative journalists out there taking chances — and succeeding. Susan Goldberg, editor of The Plain Dealer, described how eight newspapers in Ohio share stories and work on projects together. What makes this surprising is these newspapers have different owners. Goldberg described how this sharing has allowed them to pay for state-wide polling and provide more depth of coverage on the state as a whole. They don’t share everything. If there is an area of competition, it remains. However, they do share stories daily and run the stories with the original bylines.
3. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for newspapers and online news providers. Butch Ward, managing director and faculty member of The Poynter Institute, noted that each organization is going to have to explore ideas and take a chance on those that might work for it. There is no easy fix to attracting readers and making money.
The seminar continues through Wednesday. I’ll post more highlights here later this week.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be blogging and tweeting (@marducey) from the Beyond the Newsroom Seminar being sponsored by the American Press Institute and The Poynter Institute.
The seminar focuses on ways newsrooms are tackling providing quality journalism in cash-strapped times. Speakers include author and media blogger Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, and Charles Lewis of the Investigative Reporting Workshop.
I’m looking forward to learning about ideas being worked on in the newsroom trenches and to sharing that with you. I’d be remiss if I did not thank the James H. Ottaway Fellowship program for making it possible for me to attend API’s seminar.
If you are a jounajunkie like me, I encourage you to check out the American Press Institute’s offerings. In addition to opportunities to learn about the newspaper industry, the group offers a number of fellowships to make its programs accessible.
I watched the Senate committee’s hearing on the future of journalism yesterday from my computer at work. Well, watched isn’t the right word. It was more listened to.
What struck me most about the hearings were two points:
- The so-called “new media” folks testifying at the hearing are dreaming if they think citizen journalism can make up for having a news organization with the power and money to have reporters dedicated to stories, issues and people. (Can you image coverage of foreign affairs?) I’m not saying the news organization has to be paper based, but news organizations are essential. We can’t count on citizen journalists alone.
- David Simon, former Baltimore Sun journalist and current Hollywood writer/producer, articulated so well what some of us print and former print journalists think. (For his full transcript click here.) One metaphor captured it precisely for me:
“The very phrase citizen journalist strikes my ear as nearly Orwellian. A neighbor who is a good listener and cares about people is a good neighbor. He is not in any sense a citizen social worker. Just as a neighbor with a garden hose and good intention is not a citizen firefighter. To say so is a heedless insult to trained social workers and firefighters.”
Thank you, David Simon. Thank you.
I’m starting a new occasional feature here focusing on some good reads for journalism teachers. I will be sharing these blog posts with students in my journalism and web design classes.
♦Gina Chen’s Open Letter to Newspapers at savethemedia. She writes about what she wants from newspapers from the perspective of a newspaper reader, not a journalist. It’s excellent.
♦Mark Luckie’s Why Journalists Should Learn to Code at 10,000 Words. It’s difficult for journalism students to understand why knowing HTML and CSS might give them an edge. After all, it’s the story that matters, right? Luckie does a great job of explaining why coding matters.
♦Erica Smith’s Multimedia Toolkit: 55 Sites You Should Know About at graphicdesgnr. This will save me hours — literally — and give me lots of cool new tools to show my students.
Thanks to all for making the life of this journalism teacher a little easier and for making classes more interesting and relevant.
Here are some random journalism-related thoughts and notes:
A blog I love: Ted Pease’s blog, Today’s Word on Journalism. Perhaps one of my favorite posts was one of this week’s words, “fish wrap,” in which a Facebook user opines about why he reads the paper. The words Pease chooses are cleverly linked to his point, and he finds great stuff.
Good journalism: Today’s New York Times has a story on new Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) past as a lawyer for tobacco giant Philip Morris. New York Gov. David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat. This is important information for her constituents, who had no say in her representing them, to know.
Hope: Laid off reporters and editors from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer are trying to start web sites with in-depth journalism. They are working on ways to fund the sites. God speed. We need in-depth journalism now more than ever.
Over and out: The Buffalo Newspaper Guild voted in favor of a plan that will save jobs in exchange for employee give-backs and cost savings.
“No one is happy about the numerous families hurt by The News’ cutbacks,” said Phil Fairbanks, chairman of the Guild bargaining committee on the BNG web site. “Everyone in our union sacrificed to save jobs. Our hope now is that management will do its part to put the paper on firm financial footing and avoid future layoffs.”