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 »

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 »

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 »

Should rookie reporters face an Internet ban?

Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | View Comments


When the head of one of North Carolina’s largest and most tech-savvy news organizations speaks up about the role of the Internet in the newsroom, people tend to notice.

While taking one of his scarce breaks during the final week of publication for the semester, Daily Tar Heel Editor in Chief Andrew Dunn shot off a reflective tweet to his more than 1,500 followers:

andrew_dunn: I’m going to put something out there: I think new reporters should be forbidden from using the Internet for research.

It was a bold statement. It’s also influential, considering the fact that Dunn is one of hundreds of college newsroom managers responsible for some of the first and best training American journalists receive.

You can debate the pros, cons and more cons of journalism school all day long, but at the end of the day, you’re writing, shooting or editing for one person — a professor. In the college newsroom — whether it’s print, radio, or television — you’re writing for thousands.

The value there is clear. And Dunn seems to agree. Read the rest of this entry »

Experimenting with Google Wave — a good sign

Posted: December 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | View Comments

waveAs what is probably one of the most polarizing products Google has ever released, Wave has been both heralded as the second coming of e-mail and the resurrection of a zombified Microsoft Bob.

But to most Internet users, even the tech-savvy ones, it’s more than a little confusing. The fact that the service is still in beta, invite-only and more than a little buggy, doesn’t help.

It’s exciting to note, however, that journalists aren’t waiting for Google to work out the kinks. Read the rest of this entry »

Social media skips the news, solves a crime

Posted: December 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | View Comments

timecopNews editors love the mug shot.

This simple perp-on-gray image has been the visual bread and butter of crime stories for a long time. The St. Petersburg Times even has a whole Web site dedicated to them.

But they’re also valuable to the police, especially when they’re using the photos to help catch suspects or persons of interest in a crime. Sending a photo to news organizations means exposing it to thousands of eyeballs that can help detectives do their jobs.

But if it’s not a high-profile crime, they’re likely out of luck.

That was the case this week when the librarians at N.C. State were fed up after the brazen theft of a large $700 clock from their facility. They had security camera footage, but what news organization would have the space to print or air such a story?

As it turns out, librarians are pretty clever — they skipped traditional media altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

Rick Sanchez talks social media in Raleigh

Posted: September 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments
via Chris Copins

via Chris Copins

It may not have been by fancy hologram, but CNN anchor Rick Sanchez Skyped in to a technology education class at N.C. State last week to talk social media and its impact on journalism (Watch the video or read the rough transcript).

Thanks to his show’s use of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, Sanchez said his viewership is up almost 100 percent since he began hosting the time slot about a year ago. That’s shocking, especially as CNN continues to get dominated by the more partisan MSNBC and Fox News.

While Sanchez said he can directly attribute his show’s success with its use of social media, he said how he uses it is more important. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 Android apps for breaking news

Posted: August 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , | View Comments

pressAndroidAfter 30 long months with my faithful Nokia 6126, I finally broke down and splurged on a new phone. I’m now the proud owner of a MyTouch 3G.

There’s so much about this phone that excites me, mainly because I’m a geek who doesn’t typically get my hands on new technology until it’s cheap enough to be evaluated in terms of the number of meals I’ll have to skip to afford it. So for a mere 200 double cheeseburgers, I have finally gained entry into the smartphone club, much to the dismay of people who are actually hip.

In just a fews day, I was blown away by the potential of this device to help in the reporting of spot news.

There’s already been some talk about iPhone apps that have the potential to revolutionize mobile journalism. But check out how five apps from the Android market can enhance the way news is gathered, produced and delivered — even from the field. Read the rest of this entry »

Will pay walls make news orgs irrelevant?

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

box_kittensAs a follow up to Tuesday’s post, I contacted John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro News & Record, to get his thoughts on the fact that 75 percent of the N.C. Press Association‘s newsroom leaders are at least thinking about charging for online content.

Robinson has fully embraced social media. He sports about 800 followers on Twitter and frequently uses the microblogging service to create a dialogue with his community as well as fellow journalists. I figured that makes his opinions particularly salient, since I feel like its social media that will be impacted by a news organization’s decision to placed their content behind a pay wall.

Robinson agreed to answer a few questions via e-mail about his perception of pay walls and the future of online content for the News & Record. Read the rest of this entry »

For journalism, there's no place like home

Posted: May 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

Photo by Ali A under Creative Commons license

I’m going to follow up Wednesday’s gushing over Greensboro News & Record Editor John Robinson with a little more gushing.

The News & Record was one of the few papers in the country that decided not run Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court on the front page.

That was for a few reasons. First, the story broke as most people were fishing their papers out of the puddles in their front lawns Tuesday (seriously, it was rainy that day). By the time the N&R staff began, it was old news. Second, the staff had no unique angle — Robinson’s conclusion was that his paper had nothing to add.

That decision was an admirable one — a refusal to replicate what’s being said over and over again in most papers and cable news channels and a conscious choice to use that valuable real estate for unique local stories no one else had.

But recognizing the controversy, Robinson asked via Twitter whether his decision was the right one, then published the resulting conversation. Read the rest of this entry »