December 15, 2007

Tina Brown: Media challenge, no blog for her

Shoma Chadhury caught up with Harold Evans and Tina Brown in Delhi where they spoke to about the challenge of journalism in the world today

I pulled out a few things that I was most interested in, starting with this question:
What is the biggest challenge facing media in America today? And India?
Corporatisation. The sophistry of the big conglomerate guys is to say there’s never been more plurality of outlet.
Here's the rest of her reply.

Sure. We have a thousand and one outlets now, but their circulation is zip.

There isn’t a place to have any meaningful public discourse. You’re just talking to yourself. Most publications and networks don’t have the critical mass.
And the major networks and newspapers don’t want to do the work.

... Journalists have to become entrepreneurs. The search for the billionaire with a conscience is a dead end.

... But though media is almost more important than politics at this point, the trouble is American newspapers where my heart lies are really a dying thing and you can’t persuade people to invest in them.

It has to be online. I’ve been working on a website.

I’m determined to make global journalism sexy.

But the web is a capricious thing. No one has figured the economic model. It will get resolved. We are in the in-between stage.

It’s like being in the middle of the Industrial Revolution.

Until we figure the online model, we’re stuck with old models with the corporations killing everything. There isn’t a serious journalist who doesn’t feel this. This is not just about professional dissatisfaction. It’s— as Al Gore says in his book — really affecting the marketplace of ideas.
She also shared why you shouldn't expect a blog from her anytime soon.

What do you think the trick on the web will be? I find blogs totally overrated. No rigour.

That’s what the DNA of my website will be. Rigour. I don’t want any more spouting of sloppy opinions. I don’t have the time. ABC just fired 75 TV journalists and hired 75 bloggers instead, responsible only to themselves. It’s insane to do that to your brand. This is just the exuberance of a new medium. No one wants to look uncool, but who’s reading it? People keep asking me to blog, but I’m not going to lower my standards, and why would I write for nothing? Haven’t done that since childhood.
Interested? Then read the rest online

Hurry! It's time for Fantasy Congress

Now, my husband will tell you that this former political science student doesn't get excited about politics much anymore.

And there are a ton of friends and colleagues who will tell you I am not a fan of rotball and other fantasy sports games. But this looks interesting: Fantasy Congress.

Gee, if only I could influence the way Medicare Part D is administered. To start, I would make sure that each company that puts approved drugs on the their list HAVE to keep the drugs on the list all year.

Wonder if they have a California game. Imagine the time I could save each year with some changes in the Medicaid program there. I would no longer have to prove:

  • He still has Alzehimers
  • His military discharge hasn't changed,
  • He still is an American citizen and
  • Yes, he is still broke.
Want to play? You have until Jan. 4.

December 12, 2007

So, don't I know you?

As I spend more and more time on Linked-In, Facebook and other social networking sites, I am learning about how many people I have forgotten and how many have forgotten me.

In fact, this whole networking thing is becoming one of my regrets of life. How come I was so busy with work and family that I "forgot" to keep up with the people I met at conferences, through blogs and listservs, via places like downtown Flint, Lansing, East Lansing and Michigan State University, or through events like Wheatland Music Festival, Walnut Valley Festival, and the Flint Bluegrass Festival.

(OK, my family might argue about me keeping up with the family. After all, they laughed when they read on Facebook that I was a recovering workaholic and perfectionist.)

I recently had a Facebook outrage when an innocent question from a colleague about something in my status uncovered a range of emotions and feelings I didn't realize I had.

The statement that started the whole discussion revolved around being tired of institutions claiming they were only doing what their constituents wanted, ignoring the flaw in the way the "wants" were collected.

Before the discussion ended, I dumped on the colleague for forgetting our past. Yeah, I couldn't believe this person could forget that I interviewed him about 11 years earlier and written countless comments on his blogs over the years. Or that he didn't know me from other times our paths had crossed.

It didn't take long for me to understand what I was criticizing him for was the exact same thing I was doing to others. (Not a new "revelation", even making Anil Dash's blog way back in 1999, which yes, I forgot I used to read religiously.)

Why in just one week, I heard from three "strangers."

The first was a man whose book I helped edit. A book!

Then I started having e-talks with a man who got me into IRC years ago so we could chat about community computer networks in real time instead of through the use-net group. (Long before AIM)

Then I heard from this guy who wanted to know if I still collected recordings of "Jerusalem's Ridge" because he'd found a version he knew he hadn't given me in the years I did a radio show called Just Country.

I didn't remember any of them until they reminded me.


Wish I had been smart like Robb Montgomery, who uses several social networks to keep in touch with the colleagues he has met over the last 20 years.

"I have a photographic memory - I have to take photos to remember things. I can connect photos and contacts and remember people and events better."

Heck, right now I wish I had been smart enough to not wipe out all of my contacts on the Iphone this week. Or knew how to easily get them back (and, no my backup was useless.)

More on data as journalism

Looking over some of my past Tweets reminded me about this whole issues of data as journalism, and journalism as data.

At The Flint Journal, I recently helped reporter Ron Fonger use Google maps to discover patterns in where the City of Flint was demolishing houses. The maps let you zoom in and out so that readers could get as close to the data as they wanted.

Whenever I think of this subject, I think of the presentations that Adrian Holovaty gives where he shows how easily we could take some "common everyday journalism" stories and present them in a more usable way with databases. Say crime stories or even weddings.

I also have to remember the outrage the Lansing (MI) State Journal faced when it published all of the salaries of state government employees in the state. (And, of course, I have to laugh at how much traffic dropped at the end of the work day.)

The Readership Institute in November explored the whole "data as journalism, journalism as data" thread in this post.
Rich Gordon sums up why Gannet has pushed the Information Center idea online:
  • Data is "evergreen" content.
  • Data can be personal.
  • Data can best be delivered in a medium without space constraints.
  • Data takes advantage of the way people actually use the Web
  • Data, once gathered, can be excerpted in print.
He also talks with folks at the Indianopolis Star, highlighting some of the newspaper's sucessful databases and telling how they were done. (He includes links to their Siren Calls work as well as how Colts player Peynton Manning does

He follows with suggestions of what every online news center should do, again with lots of ideas and examples. You really need to read the original post.

(As an aside, I loved how he pointed out how many of the people involved with "computer-assisted journalism" - a phrase I hated and shared in a Nov. 2 1991, piece for Editor & Publisher - are often the ones leading the databases online approach.)

December 10, 2007

State schools sue to stop sale of photographs

Scary stuff for newspapers counting on revenue from photo sales. This
battle in Illinois, where the Illinois High School Association is suing newspapers, is one newspapers should follow closely

December 9, 2007

Graphing Social Patterns: The Business

Twitter summaries of a recent conference helped me understand some of Twitter's appeal and started me thinking of new ways to use some of the technology that springs up so. This site gave more background and insight as it explained Graphic Social Patterns and an upcoming conference.

So let's see if I have it right: First, there was the Internet, the linking of computers. This allowed basic document sharing and simple email as long as you were geeky enough to learn a little code and satisfied with text only. (brief text in the days of slow modems.)

Then, the world wide web brought images to the Internet. That act opened the Internet to many more.

Now, a third wave is here/coming. It is connections, reaching out to all we know -or want to know - in social networks. The growing pains now center around open ID, sharing of profiles across platforms.

In a way Facebook and the whole social network movement reminds me of the angst of mailing lists. After managing a listservs for so many years, I can predict some of the squabbles that will arise by the time of year.

Are the Facebook growing pains unlike the struggles free-nets experieced?

How could you have townhall-organization of information without allowing businesses online?

Now, it seems silly to keep businesses offline as many wanted in the early 1990s.

Someday perhaps the issue of ads on social networks will seem the same. (No. I am not in favor of the Beacon system that didn't allow choice).

Interesting twist:: Staten Island Ferry inspires blog

I like how someone noticed activity in a forum and decided to create a blog on the same topic, 
Ahoy all Staten Island Ferry riders ... I hope this Weblog will be a place that you will call home every day. I want to hear your ferry stories, gripes, questions and see your photos.

Now I want to know how many are reading blog about riding the Staten Island ferry.. How does that compare to the forum traffic?

It hadn't occurred to me to create a forum or blog on a community gathering place. Of course, as blogs tend to do, the ferry one led me to Overheard in New York. So now I want to combine Twitter feeds into a place blog that includes longer posts.

Next up - which Flint places? Downtown? Coney islands? Auto City Speedway? Or...

All of that gives me one more argument for site software that lets users create own topics, blogs as the new MovableType community piece. If only it wasn't so pricey. I like it, but can't justify cost for groups I can see using it.

Update: The blog changed addresses in July 2008.

New J-school requirement?

After reading "Entrepreneurial Journalism in the Facebook Age" online in the Bits Technology - New York Times Blog, I have to ask:
Will we need to insist that running your own business classes become part of the curriculm for j schools?

Or perhaps the training is needed only for those of us born after 1980? Read the original post on new ways to be a journalist for yourself to see what today's journalism students are thinking about for careers.

When I think about all the laid-off and boughtout journalists, I realize there is a lot of power capable of changing communities if the skills of that group were tapped. Money wasn't the motivator when they pursued that career choice. Figure out what was and change could happen. (does that sound too '60ish?)