The Weekly Illumination — Issue 10

Welcome to the the Weekly Illumination, a JTM newsletter offering a quick look at the week in journalism with a focus on what’s working in today’s news ecology. In this week’s Illumination we’ll look at new tools now available for journalists, examine what the future of news might hold and explore the philosophies that drive the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed’s video initiative.

New news innovations

Forbes has partnered with Freedom of the Press Foundation to create SafeSource, a way for people to send anonymous tips to the publication. The project is open source so other news agencies can adapt the technology for their own news organization. Another new tool profiled by Forbes is Vocativ, a digital news startup that is looking to ingest and analyze the public conversations on social media the same way the NSA is doing with all of the private conversations on the web.


The NPR podcast On The Media has created a new tool to accompany its reporting on the Department of Homeland Security that allows listeners to contact their elected representatives and urge them to “shed light on the DHS.” The tool also provides a way for listeners to log the interaction for On the Media to use in future reporting.

The future of journalists and journalism

Is Glenn Greenwald the future of Journalism, asks the New York Times Bill Keller in his recent column that consists of a written debate between Greenwald and Keller.

“All journalism is a form of activism,” said Greenwald. “Every journalistic choice necessarily embraces highly subjective assumptions —cultural, political or nationalistic — and serves the interests of one faction or another.”

“I believe that impartiality is a worthwhile aspiration in journalism, even if it is not perfectly achieved. I believe that in most cases it gets you closer to the truth, because it imposes a discipline of testing all assumptions, very much including your own,” said Keller. “I believe journalism that starts from a publicly declared predisposition is less likely to get to the truth, and less likely to be convincing to those who are not already convinced. (Exhibit A: Fox News.)”

Keller says that he feels Julian Assange should be afforded the same protections as the New York Times, but the debate in congress over a proposed shield law has made clear that any legislation wouldn’t extend to the Wikileaks of the world and might not even cover bloggers doing original reporting. JTM Alum Josh Stearns argues that we should seek to define journalism instead of defining who is a journalist.


In a recent essay on LinkedIn Jason Calacanis lays out an incredibly detailed roadmap for Google’s future as a company that is inspiring but also chilling. Here’s what he predicts Google will do when it comes to the news business:

They won’t buy the New York Times for a couple of more years, but now that Bezos and Omidyar have bought and created their own major news organizations, it will be hard to stop Google from doing the same.

Perhaps Sergey will personally buy the New York Times and put it in a trust (Google considered this ‘trust’ concept before), but at this point they probably won’t have to. They can just start giving advertising advances to publications to get them on the teat, and slowly make pubs dependent.

 A look at how the sausage is made

The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab visited the Huffington Post newsroom to speak with National Editor Kate Palmer about the culture behind the Huffington Post and how the company sees its role in the news ecology.

Over at the Nieman Journalism Lab, Caroline O’Donovan spoke with Ze Frank who heads up BuzzFeed’s video department. Frank describes how BuzzFeed’s video content has social media in its DNA; they allow people to express their emotions, their identity, or distribute novel information by sharing BuzzFeed’s videos.

Odds and ends & odd ends

Job(s) of the week

JTM is looking for freelancers to write about successful journalism initiatives and is paying up to $250 per story.


The Illumination is a curated collection of stories about journalism innovation, notable job opportunities, grants and updates about Journalism that Matters. It is distributed to e-mail subscribers, through the JTM Google Group, and posted to the Illuminations blog.