Tag: process journalism

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Praise Be Citizen Journalists

On this Easter, like others, I think about resurrection—but this day, strangely, how it should apply to the news media. Three years ago, I wrote largely-overlooked ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The concept germinated from my June 2009 essay “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, following protests in the country that citizens documented on social media/self-publishing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which at the time were little more than three years old (with respect to availability to the public). I predicted that these nascent services would disrupt editorial monopolies on news and other information, which has occurred in varying degrees during the nearly eight years since.

By March 2010, a troubling trend lead me to write what would become the other genesis for the book: “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. Too many news gatherers single-source blog and socially-shared posts, without independently confirming their accuracy. As I have told my reporters over the years, when working as an editor: Write only what you know to be true. If you haven’t communicated directly with the source, then you don’t know what’s true. But I am more disturbed by social media activity that mainstream media presents as news, such as stories that turn trending topics, or simply single tweets, into clickable headlines. Often they’re unconfirmed filler for driving pageviews. 

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Why We Need Gawker

I love tabloids like the NY Daily News or New York Post. The editorial style is aggressive; reporting is accurate but snarky-authentic; and headlines typically are punchy and bold. These pubs also push boundaries that more traditional, staid—and, honestly, hoity-toity—papers like the New York Times often won’t.

Gawker Media blogs adopt similar scoop style appropriate to online news gathering; they connect the dots, adding breadth and context to stories all while keeping what I call the Prime Directive: Write what you know to be true in the moment. The approach—think tabloid and wire-service mashup—assumes the reporter doesn’t have the whole story, but writes what he or she has, following up as new info is available. Professor Jeff Jarvis calls it “Process Journalism“, which gets a chapter in my book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers

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Journalism Matters

Over on Google+ today, Alex Hernandez reminisces on 2015’s closing by looking at content from years past. Among them: Dan Lyon’s February 2012 missive “Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool“. Hey, I vaguely remember that indictment of Silicon Valley journalism. Alex, who runs tech-news site Techaeris writes in response to the nearly four-year old story:  “I’m working really hard to not be a ‘Valley Press’ site—as Scott Wilson rants about often—and after reading this and a few other articles today, I may be reforming the way we approach things.

Jack Weisz mentions me in a comment, to which I responded and to another from Alex. While both responses reiterate principles posted to this site many times before, end-of-year reflection is good time to present them again. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter II

The second of the five journalisms was a topic on this site long before becoming part of my ebook  Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. First reference: “Process Journalism and Original Reporting” (July 2009). The concept closely aligns with contextual journalism, which is the topic of the previous chapter published here a week ago.

I wrote the book understanding that the intersection of old and new media presents an opportunity to develop more realistic reporting guidelines. The cultural and ethical differences too often set one against the other, which process journalism demonstrates. However, online reporting demands a different way of thinking about news gathering and what the so-called quest for truth really means. 

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You Could Study Journalism, or Learn as Much Watching These Five Films

If you gather and report news and would like a New Year’s resolution, consider this: Put your audience first by building trust. The how depends much on the type of journalism you practice: Advocacy, contextual. conversational, data, immersive, or process, but hopefully not mob, or a combination of them. You could seek the method in a book, like my Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. But do you really want to take your work home and read? Movie marathon is better. Grab the popcorn and Bunch-a-Crunch.

Any—and ideally all—of these films are a great way to shake the ethical cage as 2015 starts. Wikipedia lists 188 entries in category “films about journalists“, and I choose just five that combined convey lessons about responsible and irresponsible news reporting. They are textbooks anyone writing news should study; presented alphabetically. 

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‘We Are Web Journalists’

Three days ago I laughed hysterically at Nate Dern’s Funny or Die post “The First Rule Of Web Journalism Is You Don’t Fact Check Web Journalism“. This poke-in-the-gut missive is so close to the truth, I almost couldn’t chuckle. The second rule is the same as the first, by the way.

Snippet:  “The eighth rule of web journalism is that if it’s too good to be true, you have to post it. The story goes up. It goes viral. It’s revealed to be fake. The apology goes up. The apology goes viral. You forget about it in a day and we’ll do it again in a week”. Funny because it’s true! 

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When Media Values Collide

Overnight, I came out against my colleague’s story “New Mozilla CEO is allegedly anti-gay marriage—Firefox developers boycott” . Had I been editor on duty, the story wouldn’t have run, not because of the topic but the sourcing. However, response to the post—820 comments as I write—raises an interesting quandary about the cultural clash between old and new media.

Reader response is explosive, and comments are much more interesting reading than the story (no offense to buddy Brian Fagioli). Commenters largely fall into two opposing camps—those complaining about societal constraints on free speech and others disgusted by Mozilla’s CEO being allegedly anti-gay marriage.  The polarized ends, and even some discussion between them, is fascinating snapshot about freedom, community, and human rights—one person’s personal versus those of the larger group.

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Wired smartly curates ‘A Startling Simple Theory’

Someone at Wired deserves credit (and bonus pay) for curated news journalism well-done. Story “A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet” is original content that provides fresh perspective about Flight 370. The tech news site plucks this gem from Google+, where aviator Chris Goodfellow posted five days earlier. Wired sources the original, acknowledging authorship and curation: “We’ve copyedited it with his permission”.

The Plus post shows social sharing’s strengths, where the interaction in comments extends the storytelling (as does the broader Reddit thread that captures Chris’ post and many others). It’s unfortunate Google+ limits comments to 500, cutting off the conversation.

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The Case for Advocacy Journalism

Judging by Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s Google+ posts, he is a nobody—less than 500 Circles and virtually no comments. Reality is something else: Philip is a respected reporter responsible for the Apple 2.0 blog. Googlism is primary reason, I believe, for the response—or lack of it. The social network attracts Google fanboys and abhors others. There isn’t much audience for him on Plus.

But over on the Fortune website, Philip’s following is clear, judging by comments to his frequent posts. He falls into the “advocacy journalism” category. Philip writes for an Apple audience and often, but by no means always, favorably about the fruit-logo company.

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The Great Tablet Newspaper Experiment Ends

How does a news organization squander $30 million? Launch an iPad-only newspaper with great fanfare, only to shut down 18 months later. News Corps’ tablet newspaper fails for many reasons, some related to necessary restructuring of larger operations.

But ultimately, The Daily fails for lack of good editorial content and oversight. The app/publication is is too much like a digitized USA Today for people with sixth-grade reading comprehension.

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Comments, No-Comments Debate gets Noisy

People love catfights, which perhaps explains some of the interest in the comments/no-comments debate between me and Mac blogger John Gruber. It’s a pseudo-debate, really, since the only engagement is blog posting. John and I haven’t directly communicated.

I started it all, by calling out John for not having comments on his blog. I told him to “Be a man,” which I actually meant with some backslapping good nature. But some people are morally offended. Stacia Van Doll reblogged the post as: “QUIT being a douchebag Joe Wilcox.”

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Let Your Stories Teach You How to Write Headlines

Marco Arment got me to thinking about headlines today. Let me start by apologizing to Marco for nearly copying his post in it’s entirety. I don’t normally do that. In post “My Bad Post Titles Are Getting Out Of Control And Are Inconvenient For Techmeme, Now,” he writes:

At Least When Business Insider Copies My Articles Nearly In Their Entirety, They Write Their Own Sensational Titles To Replace Mine And Make Me Sound Much More Critical Of Apple Than My Posts Really Are, Every Single Time I Write Anything About Them.