The New York Times is making its paywall a little taller. Those of you who enjoyed the 20 free Times articles accessible monthly to non-subscribers will only get 10, starting next month. At the very least, could it be a plausible sign that the New York Times’ $3.75 a week digital subscription plan isn’t failing?
A post from Newspaper and Online News Division chief Chris Roberts:
University of Alabama associate professor of journalism Dr. George Daniels was among the scores of attendees but among the few bloggers at the recent media convergence conference at the University of South Carolina, where the topic was sustainability and regeneration.
What those words meant was left to conference members, who defined it in terms of ecology, ethics, economics, and change. The keynote speaker was the University of Colorado’s Steve Outing, who used Skype because an injury left him unable to travel. Daniels noted that Outing offered a “multi-layered glimpse” of journalism’s future
This was the conference’s 10th year, and Daniels came away with five points from Columbia, S.C.:
1. Convergence is not about the tools, technology or legacy media, it’s about the audience and its role.
2. Modeling of What Convergence is still needs to be done with both theoretical development and new data-gathering.
3. Digital Media and their own sustainability are now worthy of discussion and dialogue.
4. There is still a digital divide when it comes to multimedia or convergence journalism education.
5. Longitudinal Research may be harder to come by, especially when media outlets have a “no survey” policy. What are the implications of this for future convergence/multimedia research?
What can journalism learn from programming? The Nieman Lab has a fascinating, philosophical piece by “news hacker” and New York Times programmer Jacob Harris that seems to address just that. One notion Harris limns quite forcefully is the idea of technology-based cure-alls for journalism’s ills:
Every few weeks, the new media hype cycle begins again. Some new tool or website comes out that makes some technically difficult aspect of news-gathering or production much simpler, and then that old question — Will it save journalism?— gets asked again, analyzed for a few days, and kicked to the curb under ridicule from obnoxious snarkmongers like myself.
One lesson I draw: as so many smart journalism educators have stressed in recent years, we and our students both need to learn to code – at least a bit.
Britain’s Guardian is bringing the public deeper into its news-gathering operations than perhaps any major newspaper in history. The liberal broadsheet (where I worked in the early 2000s) announced that the public will get “carefully” selective, limited access to its “newslist” as a way to boost public input in the direction and nature of the news. The newslist, in Brit-journo speak, is the normally confidential roster of stories reporters are working on a given day. National Editor Dan Roberts writes,
The idea of giving this information away before publication might therefore seem to be putting digital dogma before common sense. Just because the internet theoretically allows journalists to give readers a peek behind the curtain by sharing the list with them does not make it a good idea.
We suspect otherwise though at the Guardian. What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what’s wrong with our stories after they’ve been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?
It’s very brave move indeed. It flies quite wonderfully in the face of the whole idea of the competitive “scoop.” You can see the experiment here — live and as-it-happens.
The always thought-provoking MediaShift has an interesting new piece on how larger news organizations ought to tap into the expertise of local, sometimes non-English-based ethnic publications as way to deepen and broaden their coverage:
“There needs to be more collaborations because sometimes the organizations that you want to work with are located in strategic areas you cannot get to and already have a skill set of languages or talents that you don’t have in your newsrooms,” said Manny Garcia, executive editor of El Nuevo Herald and Investigative Reporters and Editors board president. “It’s a way to expand your talent base.”
As we have learned recently, many of these niche publications are also contending with changing readerships. So collaboration with mainstream media makes perfect sense.
The head of the Ohio Newspaper Association has called a new state bill proposing to block reporters’ access to the names of handgun permit-holders “bad precedent.” It’s easy to see why: the public has been barred from access since Ohio’s concealed-carry law was passed seven years ago, and since 2007, reporters have only been allowed to view the lists (without taking notes).
House Bill 328 would force reporters to obtain a court order to see the lists. Ohio journalists had used these records to cross-reference the names of alleged criminals in gun crimes against lists of permit holders.
“Judges shouldn’t be editors,” writes ONA Executive Director Dennis Hetzel in an association bulletin. “And reporters shouldn’t have to go to court to get permission to do their jobs.” The association represents more than 400 Ohio print and online news publications.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow offers an excellent overview of the proposal, including the supposed logic of the forces behind it. Needless to say, such bills have a way of crossing state lines, and it could soon be coming to a legislature near you.
On a related note: interesting new scholarship is shedding light on the problems of government open-records training procedures.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has awarded $4.1 million in grant funds to expand a digital news-gathering network which, up to now, has remained somewhat under the radar. No longer.
Operated by American Public Media, the Public Insight Network, or PIN, “brings together a network of 120,000 citizen sources from a variety of disciplines, who agree to share their expertise, insights and first-hand knowledge, with experienced journalists from 45 newsrooms.” The huge influx of funding, if invested effectively, could raise PIN’s profile profoundly.
Described as “a cross between a fancy Rolodex and a crowdsourcing machine,” PIN has mainly been associated with public radio. But as public radio goes more multimedia, distinctions between broadcast and print continue to blur.
Since PIN’s citizen journalists are self-nominating, one challenge may be keeping the ranks of PIN’s sources balanced in their outlooks and agendas. (Those of us who have worked in journalism know all too well about how certain sources sometimes come forward a little too easily.)
I missed this thought-provoking commentary when it appeared two weeks ago, but it represents one of several recent voices from newspaper and online journalism leaders wondering if anonymous online reader comments truly foster — or harm — public civic discourse.
As editorial page editor of the always-innovative Sacramento Bee, Stuart Leavenworth‘s measured opinion may resonate, too. He’s mostly concerned with comments directed at legitimate named letter writers whose letters appear online in the Bee:
I can understand the argument for anonymous online comments. It creates an outlet for expression for, say, state workers who might want to comment on state policy without fear of retribution from bosses. It is a fixture of the modern online world. Internet users have come to expect it.
Yet should The Bee subject letter writers to personal attacks and comments from people who won’t put their names behind their opinions?
Editor Margaret Sullivan of the Buffalo News wrote about this more broadly last summer, in a spirited defense of a policy change at the News (“Identifying commenters improved the conversation”).
The AEJMC’s own Newspaper Research Journal published an interesting article on anonymous user comments last spring, but it seems clear that, in general, too little research exists on the ethics and sociology of anonymous reader comments.
Nonetheless, the veil of anonymity many online newspaper readers use when they comment on articles is getting more and more attention.
The big news last month on this front was Politico.com’s important decision to make commenters on its blogs use their Facebook accounts if they wanted to post. I think it’s a good thing, personally. From my observation, the change led to an instant rise in the level of civility. I was also shocked by how many of the commenters on the site turned out to be not just “Average Joe” readers, but well-connected and politically plugged-in partisans.
What do you think?
The cheerily titled Newspaper Death Watch may not sound like the go-to blog for journalists anxious about state of print journalism, but it’s worth a look — and actually quite inspiring.
Longtime tech journalist and industry thinker Paul Gillin doesn’t have an anti-print agenda, and indeed he considers himself “a newspaper junkie from way back.”
But he does believe in “a new model of journalism built upon aggregation and reader-generated content,” and Death Watch is all about covering the painful transition from print.
Recent posts include a detailed look at Patch.com’s localized coverage of Hurricane Irene and a farewell to the consolidated Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.
Something for your bookmarks …
Everyone’s favorite starched and buttoned-down, male-dominated, middle-of-the-road political news-junkie fix is getting way too much attention for hiring two consummate insiders as opinion columnists. And now I’ve added to the problem.
On a more serious note, one cannot help but be a little stunned by the attention these hirings have received from all corners of the internet.
Thank heavens for educator-commentators such as NYU’s Jay Rosen, who snarked on Twitter: “Good to see Politico bringing voice to the voiceless, isn’t it?”
What Jay said.