Can we harness the cognitive surplus?

Posted: May 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | View Comments

People do all sorts of things for free.

They learn to play the guitar and restore old cars. They collect sports memorabilia or brew beer in their kitchens (my personal favorite).

But aside from regular hobbies, they also do things for which professionals are often paid a lot of money: like edit encyclopedias or develop operating systems.

This got Wired contributor Daniel Pink and NYU Professor Clay Shirky thinking. The magazine published a really great conversation in its latest issue between the two about what they’re calling the “cognitive surplus,” or what happens when people stop worrying about television and learn to love the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »


Fmr. Pres. science adviser: Embrace the Web

Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: | View Comments

Original photo courtesy hyku

I got the opportunity about a month or so ago to talk with Dr. Neal Lane ahead of his speech at N.C. State about the future of science in America. A molecular physicist who served as National Science Foundation director in 1993 and as President Bill Clinton’s science adviser in 1998, he had some really unique insight about the history of science and the challenges scientists will face going forward.

One of those challenges, as he made abundantly clear, was communicating with the public.

An edited version of the Q&A was published in The Charlotte Observer, but I thought it would be worthwhile to post a more complete portion of the conversation I found most interesting: that scientists must embrace the Web to help translate science to the public. Read the rest of this entry »


Taking sourcing advice from a dinosaur

Posted: March 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

I hold absolute disdain for the “Man on the street” interview that permeates bad news coverage. Even worse are the stories framed around doing nothing but getting “reaction” to some event that took place the day before.

These quotes and stories are low-hanging fruit conceived around the table at the editorial board meeting when no one can think of a better angle. It’s lazy and a waste of valuable journalistic resources.

On this topic, never underestimate the eloquence of a T-Rex.

Read the rest of this entry »


Technician in trouble

Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

Issue No. 1

As soon as I graduated from N.C. State, I picked up what my father jokingly insisted would be the last thing he’d ever buy for me — a beautiful diploma frame for a document it took me five years to earn.

I love N.C. State with a passion only a better writer than me can describe. My time there amounted to some of the best years of my life.

But despite the prominent place my B.S. holds on the wall in my office, the symbol of my proudest accomplishment is a large red book covered in a layer of dust in my library. It’s a bound collection of every edition of the Technician published during my tenure as editor-in-chief.

That paper made me the person I am today. It equipped me with the skills I needed to become a journalist and contribute something valuable to my community.

But now, the Technician is in trouble.

I’m not clear on all the details of what happened — the paper hasn’t published a story on it yet. But one thing is absolutely clear to me — the Technician cannot die. And I’m not alone in that opinion.

This student newspaper, which is just 10 years shy of its 100th anniversary, is too important to the community of North Carolina’s largest university, a university that commands more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

So if you have a horse in this race — whether you’re a Technician alum, student, faculty, staff, community member or just a fan of student newspapers — I could use your help.

I’m trying to gather feedback on the way forward for this newspaper. I’m looking for anything you’re willing to give me, be it ideas, critique, complements or reasons why you believe it is doomed to fail.

You can deliver that feedback in a variety of ways, many of which are sure to evolve over the next two weeks:

• Leave me a voicemail by clicking on the Google Voice widget in this post. We need your affiliation with the paper (reader, staff member, alum, etc.) but you don’t have to provide your name.

• Comment on this blog post.

• Share your thoughts on Twitter, or link to your own blog post on the topic, using the #ncsutechnician hashtag.

• If you’re a student at N.C. State, consider joining the staff of the Technician. Whether you’re headed for journalism or not, writing for a daily newspaper will teach you some valuable lessons about teamwork, time management and meeting deadlines.

Also, if you’re an alumnus of the paper, enter your information into my alumni directory so I can keep track of where the Technician’s past staffers have ended up.

With your help, I believe we can help guide this newspaper back onto the right path and ensure the sweat and tears of so many students in this paper’s 90-year history won’t be in vain.


Journalism means balancing the silly, serious

Posted: March 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | View Comments

Anyone who knows me can tell you there are a few topics I love talking about, regardless of the circumstances. There’s beer, of course, and my belief that The Fifth Element is one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.

But at the top of the list, much to the chagrin of all my friends, is journalism.

That’s why I’ve been so thrilled to be a part of two different panels over the past year on the future of journalism. Even more than talking about journalism, I love learning about journalism, and panels like these never fail to teach me something new, whether the audience is filled with PR professionals or college journalists. It proves that the intellectual weight at any of these discussions is always heavily skewed toward the audience.

The two most valuable points I took from a recent panel at the Society for Collegiate Journalists‘ 2010 Biennial Convention came from UNC Chapel Hill Professor Paul Jones.

One point provides some validation, the other requires a change in my vocabulary. Read the rest of this entry »


Our audience: disloyal, overwhelmed, helpful

Posted: March 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | View Comments

Sorry Kyra, we want to see other people.

Your news audience isn’t big on commitment — or exclusivity.

That’s the conclusion of the newest Pew Internet and American Life report, which found that a whopping 92 percent of Americans consume the news on multiple platforms. That’s national TV, local TV, the Internet, local newspapers, radio and national newspapers.

But when it comes to the Web — the third most popular platform behind local and national TV — 59 percent of Americans pair it with other sources to catch up on the news.

There is a ton of great information in this report, and it’s important enough for every newsroom to review as they craft their plans for the future. But I think the some of the most salient data deal with the nature of the average news consumer. It’s information that can and should drive coverage decisions today, now. Read the rest of this entry »


Jan. 25 link roundup

Posted: January 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | View Comments

Photo courtesy Mahalie

In an example of journalism everywhere, a commuter snapped a Twitpic of a sleeping transit worker in Toronto and shared it via Twitter, sparking controversy.

People aren’t so sure about context-based ads, according to a Seattle Times study.

That piece in The New Republic on The Washington Post was lazy!

No it wasn’t!

Brightcove CEO is serious about “TV everywhere” — even more so than cable companies.

John Temple, former editor of the shuttered Rocky Mountain News, hired as editor of a hyperlocal Honolulu news start-up.

Despite growth in referrals from social media, the NYT’s pay wall may cripple sharing.

Journalists testing the value of social media by cutting off all sources except for Facebook and Twitter.

Google’s really “optimistic about the Internet,” you know, just in case you were wondering.

Is the question mark in television health news sensational and misleading? Yes, says Gary Schwitzer.


Jeff Jarvis is wrong about Haiti and the SPJ

Posted: January 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | View Comments

Original photo courtesy Eirik Solheim

I love Jeff Jarvis.

I follow his blog and his Twitter feed, and I honestly wish more news executives would too. His ideas on the future of media and the role of the Internet in that future have deeply influenced my views.

But sometimes, Jarvis is dead wrong.

Friday afternoon, Jarvis launched a tirade on Twitter in response to a statement from the Society of Professional Journalists on reporters’ conduct in Haiti. In it, they urged reporters not to forget that their job is to accurately tell the story of what’s happening on the ground in Haiti.

Undoubtedly, journalists walk a fine line to balance their professional responsibilities with their humanity when covering disasters. SPJ does not nor would it ever criticize or downplay the humane acts journalists are performing in Haiti. But news organizations must use caution to avoid blurring the lines between being a participant and being an objective observer.

Their stance drew applause from some in the industry, including journalism professor Gary Schwitzer, who took a closer look at the role doctor-reporters are playing down in Haiti earlier this week.

But Jarvis wasn’t pleased. Read the rest of this entry »


Jan. 21 link roundup

Posted: January 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | View Comments

Photo courtesy Hank Ashby

New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger to The Wall Street Journal on his company’s involvement with the Apple tablet: “Stay tuned.”

News director stands his ground as University of Tennessee tries to dictate “ground rules” of press conference with Lane Kiffin — and fights his colleagues along the way.

About a week after announcing it was laying off 10 in the newsroom, Raleigh News & Observer prints the same page on two different days.

Amazon gives e-book publishers more control over digital rights management.

Company allows publishers to create apps for Android and iPhones — for $25 and as little as 10 minutes.

Open source media player Boxee unveils payments system to directly connect content producers with viewers online — bypassing cable and satellite.

When dealing with math in the news, the most important question is, “Does this make sense?”

Study says children navigate multiple forms of media throughout most of the day.

NYT staffers talk about how they made that awesome Netflix interactive graphic.

Story in The New Republic documents the trouble inside The Washington Post.


Jan. 20 link roundup

Posted: January 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | View Comments

Photo courtesy Matt Mattila

Reuters Health refuses to report on a birth defects study when researchers won’t release the numbers.

A staggering majority won’t pay to read newspapers online, Harris poll says.

Relaunched startup helps readers aggregate content to create their own online news organization — and monetize it.

Fake AP Stylebook, every cynical journalist’s favorite Twitter account, is getting real with a genuine book deal.

Almost half of Google News readers never click through the headlines, study says.

Stop worrying about the blasphemy of front page newspaper ads. They’re not there anyway.

Is the right to link online a free speech issue? Rupert Murdoch doesn’t think so.

Newspaper veterans discuss the future of news in a collection of online essays.

Scripps exec says messed up metrics are holding news organizations back from making money online.

In terms of Internet speed, the U.S. fails to make the top-10 list worldwide.