Sunday, August 17, 2008

A yellowed clip predicting the future

This old clip from The Pierce Report on Charlotte in 1995 gives a great history lesson on building community online. Steve Snow was talking about building links among people 13 years ago and struggling with funding questions. We're still discussing those questions.

Related links with lessons:

Dallas Morning News, 1999:

Freelance article on politics and funding, 1997.

Letter from Steve Snow offering sage advice.

Case study from the Charlotte library. "It's not about technology, but about people."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gentle curmudgeon nudge

Goals with this post:
To be gentle, positive and collaborative, and yet to add a little perspective. Besides, sometimes I just can't keep my mouth shut.

Gary Nielson posted a link on his Facebook page to a story in The New York Times headlined, "TV networks rewrite the definition of a news bureau."

I beg to differ.

The story does have one phrase that seems to show that someone in the writing and editing process was aware that this kind of shoestring journalism has been going on for a long time (Hemingway in Paris, anyone?). Here it is:

"Though the style of reporting has existed for years, it is being adopted more widely as these reporters act as their own producer, cameraman and editor, and sometimes even transmit live video."

I respectfully, and gently, suggest that perhaps someone should have asked for a reworking of the top of the story, and an elimination of some words like "newfangled" and "new breed."

Instead, the story would have been more valid if it had taken the approach that new tools allow this kind of reporting to be much faster, cheaper and visual. Imagine some quotes, too, from a reporter like The Observer's Steve Lyttle, who was a one-man band with a typewriter and film camera many moons ago in the Monroe bureau. He's adapted and now reports online.

That example would invalidate phrases like this one: "Old-school journalists may bemoan the changes. ..."

On the contrary. If a return to the lean-and-mean reporting structure pre-1980s helps save journalism, I'm willing to bet one would find many old-school journalists who would embrace change and add their experience and skills. Let's stop this old-school vs. new-school dichotomy, which seems more damaging to journalism than the blogger vs. traditional media company dichotomy.

The reporter is about 23, according to Wikipedia (yes, he has a Wikipedia entry.) Being 23 is a great thing. But being 53 is also a great thing, and a little editing or seasoning of the story with some perspective would have presented a more valid picture. And perhaps it would have inspired others to embrace this "newfangled" reporting, instead of creating a "hogwash" reaction among the curmudgeon tribe.

In addition, the story perhaps implies that all this technology could eliminate the need for rewrite and producer positions back in the main office. Certainly it seems that many folks on the business side would like to think so. But take a look at the quality and success of Peter St. Onge's "Primary Source" blog during the May N.C. primary. Peter, essentially, was a rewrite man and a linker. And a darned good one, with 50,000 hits that month.

So let's try to be a little less breathless, and a little more seasoned. Experienced editors have perspective to add. We should add it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's something unpredictable

Three blogs, three young Carolina journalists.
You've probably heard of a couple of famous-in-the-blogosphere young journalists. These three aren't so famous, yet.
Check them out the next time you need a shot of inspiration. Some young people are intent on journalism's reinvention -- and its continuity.
Andrew Dunn, at "Breaks the News."
Sara Gregory, at "The Water's Fine."
Shannan Bowen, at "A (Young) Reporter's Notebook."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Learning about layout from blogs

This just in from Social Median:
Learn about blog layout from the world's top 50 blogs, as measured by Technorati.

Key quote:
"When taken together these sites have a readership bigger than all newspapers in the western world combined."

See some numbers about how they design at Subhub.