The Journolution Subreddit

July 19, 2009

9031384dc15c4afaab2a2d429fcbcaac.0A subreddit is a specific category of links about a general topic within the social link sharing site reddit.com. At its core, reddit has the same exact purpose as the much more popular competitor digg, except the news tends to flow a bit more freely and allows for the most active members of several communities to dictate what gets shared.

After about seven months as a user of reddit, I’ve found it far superior to other news sharing sites because of the point listed above. After four months, I decided to create my own community within the community that would support the efforts of the journalistic revolution brought on by the current wave of social technology. I called it Journolution (yes, a bit corny but then again, most things start off that way.)

So if you’d like to share a link about tech in relation to journalism, please subscribe and join the discussion.

Link:

http://reddit.com/r/journolution


Are You Prepared? – Motivation For Laid Off Journalists

April 9, 2009

reporters-notebook-04-2009Lets agree that the “Mainstream media” is going to die. There are plenty of diagnoses that indicate its going to die and the only real disagreement is in terms of how much time it has left before it passes. It’s time to prepare for the hard task that comes next.

It’s time to pull the plug on the traditional concept of news gathering. It’s heart may still beat as long as it stays hooked up to the advertising money machine, but the brain no longer functions.

That’s a very scary thought for anyone still working at these organizations because a) We got into this career because we are journalists, not to make money and b) Money is necessary.

But publications do not define our identity as journalists, and for the men and women who will soon be seeking employment elsewhere, it’s important they be reminded of that.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about freelancing to pay the bills and provide for families. The chances are great that freelance work won’t be an option for most people and they’ll have to get a job that’s extremely different than the one inside a newsroom.

What I’m eluding to is for people to fulfill that sense of duty, that led them to the newsroom in the first place . If you take the financial aspect out of the equation, everything makes more sense. I’m not arguing that we abandon ever getting paid for our services to the community, but there will be times where we’ve got to be selfless and continue reporting for the greater good. And just as members of a congregation pay a tithe to keep the church up and running, such is true of journalism too.

Our congregation is everyone around us. Our church is democracy,  justice and honest communication.

And on that unfortunate day when some of us receive a pink slip, remember this quote: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we are free to do anything.”

My fellow journalists, are you prepared for anything?


Are We Talking About Dead Trees or Journalism? – News Revolution

March 16, 2009

deadtree

Why aren’t more journalists overwhelmingly excited to be alive and practicing their craft right now? We are living in the middle of a revolution — not just for the production of news as a business, but for the entire world. The way people communicate, learn, live, grow and appreciate… it’s all changing because of the Internet and we are bearing witness to the birth of a new era.

Start acting like it.

I’m serious. Why the hell are we talking about what happens when newspapers are gone? They are made from dead trees. They do not define our role as journalists. After reading Clay Shriky’s  blog post Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable , I can’t help but think the old guard is holding us back…

“When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.“

Everything just *clicked* in my mind after reading that paragraph, which is not particularly awe inspiring, especially if you’ve been plugged in to the media machines who’s warrior employees are the very same people that want to be lied to.

And they do — they want to be lied to about the newspaper industry’s relevance, so they create a master plan to save the old institution. This plan fails, and we get an article much like Kathleen Parker’s column in the Washington Post in which she labels newspaper reporting and editing as the essential linchpin to keeping society free and open.

“But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic.

Unfortunately, the chorus of media bashing from certain quarters has succeeded in convincing many Americans that they don’t need newspapers…”

Yes, this may be true of “boots-on-the-ground grub work” right now, but saying it will disappear completely is like saying food will cease to exist if farmers stop producing crops as a profession.

I’m sorry, Ms. Parker, but we don’t need newspapers. We don’t need linchpins to keep a complex process working to ensure there is a watchdog role. What we need is for everyone to start watching.

What we need — what we have — is a revolution.

We are at the very base of the biggest change in society since the printing presses emerged and telephone lines divorced communication from time and space. Individually we have the ethical conditioning to lead the way better than anyone else, yet, most of us are ignoring it or worse, refusing to let the old era go.

What will happen when newspapers do eventually die? Who cares. If your purpose is ensuring the presence of good journalism, start acting revolutionary.

Original Image Credit: Louisa Catlover (via Flickr)


Why I’m Done With SPJ, ONA & Others – NewsGeeks

March 12, 2009

Letters asking for renewal dues start popping up in my mailbox around this time of year. I’ve received one from my local NPR affiliate station, about a hundred from Wired Magazine and two from the Society of Professional Journalists. The amount of funding each letter is requesting isn’t terribly unreasonable… mostly.

I won’t be sending in my membership dues to the SPJ. This is the first year I’m not being counted as a student so the dues are significantly higher. Sure, I can afford to pay them, but I’m not so sure I want to bother. It’s been well over a year since a local chapter scheduled a meeting — and even when those meeting actually happened, it was always a $25 meal and I never quite connected with any of the contacts I’d made.

For me, it was listening to fundamentals of journalism, and its hard not to see value in that. But the climate has changed. The conversation has shifted to financial models and how to best use technology at a news organization.

If I were seeking information about using technology effectively or how to run a business, the very LAST place I would look is at an SPJ meeting. I’m sorry, but that’s the god’s honest truth.

Other organizations that are geared more towards the discussion of online media aren’t much better. Most of the people who are in charge come from the organizations with the most problems. It’s not their fault of course, but their perspective is skewed. They are talking to large groups of journalists who don’t know how to best use technology and social media within their reporting, and they don’t have much of a clue either — not because they aren’t intelligent but again, because they are unable to bring forth a different perspective.

I love my fellow journalists. I think they are smart, resourceful and nearly always interesting to converse with. I tend to hang out with a lot of people who are just like that but who aren’t journalists. With the way the economy is going combined with the outlook on our industry’s job growth, pretty soon we’ll all be former editors, reports, writers, anchors and producers. We’ll all just be citizens sitting around a pub table evangelizing about news. And at that point we’ll all need to be journalists. Every one of us.

That’s why the NewsGeeks meetup was formed. I want the community, I don’t want the emotions from the industry. I don’t want an agenda or a topic of discussion. I just want to chat with other people who like to dissect the news and how the news travels on social media.

I’m not against the SPJ or ONA…(or any other journalistic organization for that matter) because they do a lot of activism that most people wouldn’t realize. But the community in the pre existing organizations is as gone for me as the job openings at metro newspapers.


Speaking at PodCamp Nashville: LiveCasting

March 7, 2009

Come hear me speak at PodCamp Nashville March 7 at 12:30 in Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management — Details here.

What exactly is “LiveCasting”? If you don’t know, it doesn’t mean you’ve been living under a rock while the rest of us media folks have vastly advanced the social media scene. No, both Christian Grantham of Nashville Is Talking and Erin Cubert at The Tennessean asked me the same question when I proposed that we do a speaker session at PodCamp Nashville 2009.

Neither of them knew what it was initially because the term “LiveCasting” was made up to describe what Erin, Christian and myself do while we’re not doing the news. Mostly this will consist of updating microblogging services (such as Twitter), adding links to Social networks (facebook, digg) and even some pre audio / video interaction (ustream, skype) prior to posting a blog post or short video clip. However, if we’re communicating with a community, it will fall under the LiveCasting umbrella.

In most places of “work” these activities are all considered an entertaining waste of time and thus, most people wouldn’t hesitate to say we “play on the Internet all day long.” That’s simply not true, even if it’s an enjoyable way to spend time. To adequately fulfill the role of  journalist in today’s world, you’ve got to become the most active member of the community while your reporting the news.

So we made up the term LiveCasting, but in reality, we’ve all been doing it for quite some time.


How I’d Redesign: Williamson Herald & Nashville City Paper

December 12, 2008

Here are a few ideas I played with long ago and never let see the light of day. The first is a redesign of the Williamson Herald web site, which is the Williamson County based publication I was previously employed at (and still occasionally do freelance for.) Since the web was never an integral part of their business model, I didn’t really catch too much flack for my drastic redesign.

Current site:

heraldcurrent

Herald Redesigned:

herald-re-design9

The second design is my take on a clean up of The City Paper, which does stellar journalism when I can find it in print. It’s harder to find now that they’ve scaled back to two editions a week and increased their online presence. I did this design a month after they officially announced their new strategy. It was purely inspired work — and in case your wondering, yes I am a geek of revamping newspaper sites.

City Paper Redesigned:

city9


Fixing Journalism with Link Love | Knight News Challenge

December 1, 2008

linklove-teaser

I submitted only one idea to the 2008 Knight News Challenge [newschallenge.org] to better journalism in my local area of middle Tennessee using open-source technology. While I saw many other applicants enter two or even three total ideas to improve the craft that some of us are lucky enough to call a career, I focused the bulk of my mental energy on just one concept. Quite a few friends, Kent Flanagan and Paul Van Hoesen in particular, lent me their ears and offered advice as I revealed my plan to take back the media for the community and forge a brand new relationship with how reporting news is done on the web.

If you haven’t been exposed to it yet, the project I pitched is called Link Love and it’s currelinklove-logontly awaiting a verdict from the judges panel for the second round of the contest. You can read about the project on the official application site.

Much still needs to be done if my idea does advance to the final round of judging. Attaching some real costs to the development as well as hammering out a tentative operating budget for the year will require more research than others since the total funding I requested was very lean compared to others. Truthfully, money is not the driving force for this project, although it is absolutely necessary. The real challenge will be engaging the community of journalists, citizens and developers once the idea is fully realized and executed.

Regardless of what happens from this point forward, I’m prepared to follow though with idea of Link Love because I truly believe it will strengthen local news on the web. We can’t afford to flounder any longer but, that’s exactly what we’ll do as a society if we don’t realize the value in sharing information.


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