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 deadline for research paper submissions is 5 p.m. Dec. 5, 2011. Papers should be submitted electronically to the division research paper chairs, including, for the Newspaper and Online News Division, Jeffrey C. South at Virginia Commonwealth University, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.