False incentives mean fewer AP interns

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , | View Comments

Photo courtesy of Douglas Muth

As 2010 comes to a close and the journalism industry counts losses from another year of sliding revenues, the Associated Press has decided to put its internship programs (and some other recruitment efforts) on a one-year hiatus. In the professional journalism world of late, cost-cutting matters almost as much as reporting the news. And despite controversy about the role of interns and the merits of paid versus unpaid in the industry, the program is low-hanging fruit.

Proponents of paid internship programs point to several functions they deem essential to education, training and growth in the industry: that internships grease the wheels for top journalism talent, and that without payment, positions would be available only to those wealthy enough to sustain themselves without pay for the position’s duration.

But incentives matter, and they aren’t well aligned to push the AP to continue the program. Read the rest of this entry »

The Joe Rogan Rule of online unpublishing

Posted: July 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet, journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

The caller on the other end of the line is angry, to put it mildly.

After months on the job hunt, he’s finally found something to fit his skillset. But after a few promising e-mails and a great phone interview, his potential employer suddenly informed him he was no longer in the running.

And he’s sure it’s your fault. Well, it’s really Google fault. Actually, it’s the fault of the guy who rear-ended him back in 2002, triggering a rage so intense the whole incident ended in an aggravated assault charge that was eventually dropped because it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Anyway, the point is you should take down that online story on the whole thing, because searching his name gives the impression that he deals with stress and confrontation by applying a tire iron to a windshield — which is totally not the case. And nobody wants to get lawyers involved, right?

Conversations like these are familiar to Web producers and online editors, who are working to develop new strategies for dealing with very real concerns from the subjects of old stories.

It’s a complicated issue that’s typically determined on a case-by-case basis. But editors from a variety of media do share some common techniques, from unpublishing to follow-ups. Poynter’s NewsU even has a whole Webinar on the subject taught by Toronto Star Public Editor Kathy English.

Then’s there’s the quality advice we get from NewsRadio’s Joe Rogan, circa 1996 (hat tip to @grapechick for the quote and @bluestraggler for the ID):

“You can’t take something off the Internet. It’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool. Once it’s in there, it’s in there.”

Good discussion of your unpublishing policy is essential, and writing it explicitly in your ethics policy is even better. The better your staff understands how to apply the policy, the more consistently they will apply it when the issue comes up, and that’s a crucial part to your news org’s credibility.

What policies do you have in place for unpublishing requests? Is it ever discussed in your newsroom? Do you think it should have a place in your ethics policy?

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 »

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 »

‘Garbage Girl’ talks Spot.us and media’s future

Posted: January 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | View Comments

Some news stories are just plain expensive.

That’s the case for in-depth investigations that require tons of sources and extensive research, and it’s true for long-term stories that require reporters to dig in for weeks or months to get the big picture. But it certainly holds true for sending journalists out to the middle of the ocean.

But that didn’t stop Lindsey Hoshaw from trying.

A freelance journalist specializing in environmental reporting, Hoshaw harbors a deep interest in trash — and in 2008, her eye was on the swirling vortex of it floating in the middle of the Pacific. Read the rest of this entry »

Earning the ‘i’ in ‘journalism’

Posted: January 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

In a lot of ways, my mother and my soon-to-be mother-in-law are two ideal sounding boards for my thoughts on journalism.

My mom subcribes to the paper, watches local news on TV and reads stories online. My fiance’s mother is a former newspaper reporter and columnist.

They represent two vastly different interests in the world of media — the producer and the consumer — that hopefully want a lot of the same things.

So it’s always interesting to sit down with them to discuss changes in the industry (especially when there’s pie and coffee — and there always seems to be pie and coffee).

This holiday’s discussion centered on the idea of journalists building their own brand.

There’s a lot of great advice floating around on how to do that. The ever-helpful Mindy McAdams has some excellent tips, as does Vadim Lavrusik over at Poynter.

But my family and I spent a lot of time talking about what the move toward the “individual journalist” means for the journalism industry as a whole — namely, the effect of rebuilding credibility from scratch. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating more valuable online ads in 3 steps

Posted: December 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | View Comments

Local moms love Uncle Rupert

The world of media can be largely divided into two different kinds of individuals: ad people and journalism people.

As both firsthand experience and the creators of Mad Men have taught me, ad people are suave, snazzy dressers with a silver tongue and a taste for quality scotch. I, on the other hand, drink PBR, sport a hole in my shabby work pants and get excited when the AP announces changes to its style book.

But regardless of my classification, both my income and my industry depend on advertising, and I think it’s important to keep an eye on where it’s headed.

That’s why I find it particularly troubling when Rupert Murdoch decides to chime in on the bleak future of ad-supported journalism.

Like him or not, Murdoch is a media sage and a shrewd businessman. When he speaks, people follow. Read the rest of this entry »

A new model for funding local journalism

Posted: September 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

All right. I’ve complained enough about a lack of ingenuity on the part of news executives.

Now it’s time to do something about it.

I just submitted an application for the Knight News Challenge, a grant program that awards start-up money to organizations with new ideas on community journalism.

I’ve posted that application below. This is an open application period, which means anyone can view and comment on the idea, and I can make changes based on those comments until Oct. 15. Feel free to comment here or on our application’s page on the Knight Web site. I would sincerely appreciate any feedback. Read the rest of this entry »

Gems from the German Internet Manifesto

Posted: September 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , | View Comments
Two minutes, Turkish.

Two minutes, Turkish.

While Google and the Newspaper Association of America scheme on how best to nickel and dime readers in the States, a group of German bloggers recently banded together to provide their take on how journalism in the world of the Internet really works.

The result is the Internet Manifesto.

The Bavarian e-tome consists of 17 points that should give journalists a lot of hope for the future — news executives … not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

Electronics firm sums up state of journalism

Posted: September 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | View Comments

I caught this gem of a commercial from Allied Electronics while watching the Science Channel over the long weekend.

I didn’t quite expect to burst out laughing at the end, when an older engineer decides to bash his younger colleague across the face with his six-inch thick catalog.

I thought volley between the electronics engineers was analogous to the battle between print and Web journalism — even the behavior seems to match.


- Young, tech-savvy rookie snidely touts the benefits of the slick online interface of the Web

- Curmudgeon defends print, citing nostalgia and intrinsic beauty of physical product

- Tech-savvy rookie counters with insult, calling curmudgeon a “dinosaur,” raves about instant nature of the Internet

- Curmudgeon responds with violence.

So which are you, curmudgeon or techy-savvy rookie? Vote and get a free T-shirt from Allied Electronics.