Poynter Training Needs

Submitted by eangelotti on Tue, 03/10/2009 – 8:01am

Session Convenor: Howard Finberg and Ellyn Angelotti

Session Reporter: Ellyn Angelotti

Discussion Participants: Jim Kennedy, Tom Honig, Bill Densmore

What should the print/web product look like?

Print- more reflective

Web- constant info

We need to be teaching journalists how to:

* curate conversations online.
* transfer storytelling from text to visuals
* Edit video
* aggregate blogs
* find people and info online
* ask people to contribute content

Copy desk needs to learn how to post to the web, post multimedia

Used to send journos to learn something specific, now they need training for skills.

Platforms to master:

* mobile
* blogging
* community- conversations, etc.

Should Poynter follow the trends (train around what people are doing), or lead the way (give a sense of direction, more prescriptive)?

Reality-based conventions like platform judgment.

Values of journalism in a new context. You need certain skills but you still need the principles of journalism.

Pick five or six things we know we should teach.

Who do we want to train? Who is the audience?(i.e. journalists serving local sites or niche communities) How do we reach them?

We need a new point of view on the print portfolio.

There’s a repositioned business model and cost structure that we need to understand

Speak publishers’ language
How do we monetize content, lower costs?

Should we leapfrog over the current problems and solve the anticipated ones we see coming?
How are we serving independent media organizations? Do we need to save the legacy media orgs? Or save journalism?

Survival of the fittest: Who will be the survivors in the legacy and new media?

Define the paths and build the bridges

Construct a vision with specifics
seed a program that brings together the winners

Nurture those who want to survive. Those who aren’t excited– how can we get them excited to learn new skills? Give them an alternative to complaining and reject cynicism.

Identify beats that people care about…those that change lives

“I have 25 people in my newsroom. How should i best use them?”

If you want to be a winner, you need to do these five things…
These are five things community sites should be doing.

We need to learn how to survive in a different form

Regional model? (Like National Writers Workshop?)

entrepreneurer modules for journos.

How can the three elements of making money– ad, subscriptions, one-off — be revived with new package of products.

How can we get  a different lens on who our audience is? From the “right-sizers” of small online weeklies to the “24/7 Titans” like CNN/NYT

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Peter Block’s Reflections

Reflections on New News Ecology

Peter Block

The Journalism That Matters conference held in St Petersburg is, in itself, a face to face, in person example of what the new news ecology looks like.

Some features of the conference and the new ecology:

-Content from experts is balanced with citizen (participant here) content. Each has something of value to contribute to the story. The absence of keynotes, panels and previously designed workshops is decisive. There is still space for timely and short expert sharing of thinking and practice. The people who left after the first day hold the stance that the experts hold the monopoly on wisdom.

-Wide mixture of knowledge and interests. Geeks, startups, legacy professionals, students and educators are all in the same circle. The absence of any one would be fatal.

-Example of Cooperative Journalism. Operates out of a context of abundance not scarcity. Dominant culture of the conference is one of generosity not competition. Raising the tide, care for the whole, is the priority. To keep competing is choosing to fight over crumbs.

-The hard work is the invitation, getting people to show up in new configuration. The fight is not against explaining what is new, but against the eroding faith people have in their own profession. Launching the conference, again and again, and figuring out what to do now is the tough part. This is where pioneers are needed.

A second point is that the question of new platforms, new technology and a new business model is only half the conversation. The content of the news and the worldview behind its production needs attention. It will not be enough for a media rich product. The trust in the industry seems to be declining and this is not a problem of packaging. The context out of which reporting now operates needs to be questioned. Here are some areas where new content is emerging;

-The economic model of scarcity, pseudo competition, measuring consumerism and GDP as index of prosperity, and Wall Street/stock market as the measure of wealth are breaking down. Abundance, savings, barter, local currency, revived cooperatives, local enterprise and Main Street are the emerging model.

-Consumerism may have run its course. It is designed for expanding needs, the belief that what I require for a good life must be purchased. Consumer society has taken too great a toll on the family, the land, and the centers of our communities. Community and home economics is replacing consumerism.

-Leaders, large institutions, city hall, courts, and the buildings we have been reporting on are not the real story. Citizens, community, neighborhoods, community gardens, local culture and interdependence despite the odds are the emerging story.

-The answers to problems of health, education, safety, poverty, and the land are not found in focusing on what is wrong with our programs, leaders, funding and expertise. They have little capacity to reform under the existing context. We are in the wrong conversation in each of these. The powerful conversation that goes unreported is how citizens are taking control of all these areas. Right now citizen actions to create health, raise a child, stay safe, be prosperous without cash, and caring for the land are considered “human interest” or “alternative efforts”, which discounts what is happening. The storyline that someone will commercialize is what small groups, communities and under the radar movements are producing in these areas.

Final point is that if the JTM conference is the model for what is coming, the value proposition for a customer like me might include:

-Help me get a greater return on my investment in home technology. We have computers, DVD’s, video games, Playstations, cell phones, TV’s, PDA’s and more. The citizen not only needs content, but Geek help in getting more out of these devices. A tiered service guide to the Internet and help in the use of my devices would be worth paying for.

-Offer a customized bundled package of news, education, entertainment and lifestyle guides for spending decisions. We now pay separately for a monthly city magazine, TV and Cable, weekly paper, daily paper, etc. Create cooperative venture in the community where citizen can get sources as a bundle for lower price. The real hidden cost of news and technology is the services, products and technical capability that we will never use. This is the Cooperative Journalism mentioned above.

-Use the need for news and information as a community-organizing device. Citizen generated stories are an excuse for building social fabric. We could build a local brand by converting consumers to citizens and providing the vehicle for their taking more ownership in the well being of their community. Make this an explicit purpose.

Posted in Post-conference Information | 1 Comment

How do we (market) teach that journalism matters

Submitted by newsecology on Wed, 03/04/2009 – 1:27pm

Session Convenor: Bill Densmore

Session Reporter: Jenn Hemmingsen

Discussion Participants: Jeff VanderClute, Michele McLellan, Jeremy Iggers, John Hamer, Kat Powers, Tom Stites, Susan Moeller, Hannah Miller, Kelly Puente, Tom Honig, Laura Emerick, Anne Anderson, Jenn Hemmingsen, John DeVries, Leslie Clark

These notes were prepared by breakout session participant Jenn Hemmingsen and are organized with an introduction, and then consideration of two key questions raised:

  • What is journalism and what kinds of information do communities need?
  • How do we make sure the public recognizes the value of this information?
  • AUDIO — An audio recording of the sessions was made with the permission of the participants and you can listen to it (or down an MP3 podcast) by following THIS LINK.

Bill D: What we have is not only a supply problem; we also have a marketing problem.

Jeff VanderClute: is here to listen.

Michele McLellan: A lot of people are stuck thinking we have to save the news industry, when really what we have to save is journalism.

Jeremy Iggers: marketing is tied to the idea that news is a commodity. Maybe we should be conscious that we’re not talking about that here. Maybe the word journalism is too constricting. We’ve got much more powerful tools now.

John Hamer: Trust is so important to our value. We’ve got to make that part of the equation.

Kat Powers: Marketing is what she does to get people to her web site. She wants smart, cheap ideas to take home.

Tom Stites: wants to take away a sense of how journalism can be set aside from the general meaning of the word media. We have to separate it out from “blather” if we’re going to get people to value it.

Susan Moeller: is looking for smart ideas. Platform matters less at this point.

Hannah Miller: wants to talk about themes and groups to reach out to. We are writers; we should be able to figure out the answer.

Kelly Puente: Wants great ideas to help her paper

Tom Honig: is remembering the old Johnny Carson show where poor scientists would try to come out and get ribbed by Don Rickels. We’ve got to shake people up and say “this stuff is important”. Have to advocate our stories – not the sites – market them before and after they come out.

Laura Emerick: is getting the sense we aren’t valuing “legacy media”. There are great people in print, but management has failed them. How do we sell that to the public?

Anne Anderson: wonders if we don’t need a better definition of what we do before we talk about marketing at all.

Jenn Hemmingsen: is uncomfortable about the term marketing. She thinks we need to do a better job of teaching people about our standards and practices and listening to their response.

John DeVries: says there’s a school of thought that journalism should be a funded public service commodity.

Leslie Clark: says Albuquerque just lost its second newspaper – she’s here to get ideas about how to fill the void left from losing them.

Question 1: How do we convince the public that journalism is important? Wait a minute, what are we talking about when we say journalism? What kinds of information do communities need?

Short answer: pocketbook issues, monitoring and checking of authority, engagement connections, aggregate clout, framing questions, how to use the system – rules of the game, community and consumer safety, entertainment, witness to history, record of culture.


Michele thinks that sometimes we know so clearly what we want to celebrate that we don’t really connect with citizens. Maybe we need to be better about eliciting that from the community. When she was an ombudsman, sometimes she felt like the staff and the readers were living in parallel universes.

Tom H. says his readers over 50 read the paper as an act of civic responsibility – they’ll plow through stories. Younger ones don’t so much. Younger readers have more of an attitude of “Show me, every time, that this is something I need to read.”

Susan says we aren’t clear enough about why it matters to readers. Reporters have to really sell the story.

Hannah: Somehow as a society, we’ve transitioned from citizens to taxpayers. “We used to have to care because everyone was important. Now we only care because it’s about our money.”

Jeremy: It’s difficult because readers remember what papers (star tribune) used to be and they miss it.

Bill: so there’s a visceral understanding of that (what journalism is)?

Jeremy: among older people.

Bill: Is there a broad overlap between the civic needs of 18-34 and of older people?

Jeremy’s sense is that a lot of 18-34 year olds aren’t interested in civic issues

Kat: but when they have kids in the public schools, they care. They care about Barack Obama.

Michele says young readers engage — they just do it in other ways.

Kat: Is constantly trying to pull people in. The 18-35 year olds are used to that. We’re more used to pushing information out to the public and watching that make a difference.

Bill: Does the community need us to teach them how to engage in civic life?

Kat: Young people are creating their own ways to engage. Facebook, live journals, things they happen by. You need to look for different forms of civic engagement. She provides knowledge about how to get involved. No one reads it. But when she blogs it and posts it to facebook, it gets picked up on another blog, etc.

Bill: So is there anything about engagement that’s a core function of journalism anymore?

Kat: when you comment, or forward, you’re engaging with the paper.

Jeff: The change is in who is driving the engagement.

Michele: Still are engaging around data.

Tom: Refers to the Wash post column by Wire writer bemoaning lack of Baltimore cops coverage – the problem is that the reporter wasn’t out there patrolling. They were covering the stories but not meaningfully.

John: sometimes the media get it wrong. When that happens, people lose trust. There’s not a great outpouring of community grief over the death of the Seattle P-I. He hears it all the time – that the paper thinks it’s their job to tear down icons.

Jeff: Are there emerging ways to do the monitoring? Historically this role has been aggregated. Maybe there will just be smaller bits floating around. “Maybe we can provide some organization, but we have to fan out.”

Michele: Thinks professional journalism of the future could signal a willingness for more partnerships. In the past we’ve rejected people as not being up to our standards. Now we have to ask – what is it that other people can do? What are the things that professional journalists have to do? If you want to partner with your community, you’ve got to guide what it is that pros need to do. “I think a lot of people are developing citizenship in stepping in and trying to fill this void.” Break down the idea of watchdog. There might be people in the community who are perfectly capable of getting documents and putting them up online.

Laura doesn’t see these community groups banding together and bringing down Richard Nixon. The way these things happened is because of the tremendous institutional clout.

Anne: We take for granted that people are more knowledgeable than they are. 12% of the population doesn’t even use a bank. People don’t know how things work – they don’t know the rules of the game. One of our roles is to explain things in more detail to help people to function in society.

Bill: clout can be negative when it’s too concentrated. But if there is none, it weakens people’s ability to challenge authority. What’s the balance? Does the community have any stake in how the journalism functions?

Question 2: How do we make sure the public recognizes the value of this information?

Short Answer: Inventory needs, develop joint projects, send staff out as representatives to talk about how decisions are made and how they can participate, ask for the public’s help, join with other people on the inside who are sticking out their necks, show vivid examples of what journalism is.

What are the information needs of communities given the above parameters? How well are the local papers doing this? How can citizens help with that? When they fail, acknowledge that failure and see how they can help.

A lot of newspapers today can’t meet all of these needs because of limited resources. If the community thinks it’s important enough mightn’t they help with that?

Michele just got an e-mail from a small town editor who is now using community content for arts coverage. In many of these communities, people are already identifying the gaps and trying to fill them. Newspapers can see these people as rivals, or they can partner with them.

Jeff: “It sounds like the word ‘marketing’ just got tuned into ‘education’”

Tom S. hears us promoting newspapers. If we are going to promote journalism instead, what’s the speaker’s bureau? Are we talking about a product or a form?

Bill thinks it some kind of new citizen-based entity armed with a belief that journalism is important. He wants them to lobby “incumbent” media organizations.

Tom: our trade associations are connected to products

Hannah: No one’s ever run a campaign for journalism before

Tom H: the vanishing newspaper is what’s on people’s mind

Bill: If there’s an audience that wants journalism, there should be a business that provides it.

Tom H: but the truth is media companies are not doing the job

Laura: It’s not that they don’t want to

John H: thinks they weren’t doing it even when they were making money. They were fat and lazy.

Hannah: Common Cause is freaking out because they’ve realized their watchdog work will be useless if there are no newspapers to run their investigations. Everyone is freaking out because there is no public dialogue to affect. The more concentrated power becomes in the country, the greater the need. The reason her generation don’t read newspapers is because the media rolled over on the Iraq war.

Tom H: yes, but the mainstream media also came up with secret prisons in Europe, Walter Reed.

Bill says it’s Hannah’s job to fix this. He’ll push and help her.

Hannah says newspapers won’t change until there’s leadership and a push from inside. And journalists have to stop being arrogant.

John H: Reads a Wole Soyinka quote from the courtyard: “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”

Tom H. Could there be an established media advocacy group?

Tom S. We need vivid examples. Show journalism in the process of being valued.

Bill: so what do we call this movement?

Some ideas: Journalism matters, New reporter, Save the news, Story (something), Charting the Information Future, Vox Populi

Send your campaign name ideas to: hmiller [at] media [dot] democracy [dot] net

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Journalism 2.0 / Independent startups

Submitted by montgomeryl on Wed, 03/04/2009 – 6:07amin

Session Convenor: Mark Briggs, Serra Media LLC

Session Reporter: Leigh Montgomery

Discussion Participants: Attendees: Barbara Iverson, Columbia College Chicago; Karen Duffy, the Daytona Beach News-Journal; Barbara Kantrowits, Hechinger Institute on Education & the Media, Columbia University; Tom Stites, Banyan project; Anne Anderson Freelance writer; John Hamer, WA News Council, Jeremy Iggers, TCDailyplant.com, Jay Young, Jenn Hemmigsen, Ronnie Lovler, Tracey Durkin, Sara Justicia, Leslie Fishburn Clark, Hannah Miller and Leigh Montgomery, The Christian Science Monitor

Independent startup journalism introduced by Mark Briggs, of Serra Media LLC that has a startup: Newsgarden, that has at a few newspaper clients.  The app allows mapping of news stories as well as microtargeted advertising:


Mark spoke about examples of startups with VC funding





These have become national players due to the significant investment of funding, planning & staff.   Techcrunch has actually changed the way high tech sector is reported; MSM now liveblogging at industry events, where high tech leaders are speaking etc.



http://www.pegasusnews.com – has been bought & sold


Mark also gave examples of startups by former newspaper journalists, include


Husband and wife reporting team that covers their Seattle neighborhood of Ballard

As well as another reporting team:


Jeremy Iggers was attending this session, from http://www.tcdailyplanet.net.

This features original reporting by city journalists, others to feature what is happening, best of the neighborhoods, community press, ethnic press, workday Minneapolis.  They also train potential journalists.  This had startup funds of $12K.

There is another news site called Minnpost run by Joel Kramer.  This is staffed by former Minneapolis Star Tribune journalists.  Kramer does not believe in ‘citizen journalism’ and is doing  ‘old style journalism.’


The group spoke about eventually syndicating this content, making it available to aggregators etc.

Posted in Session Notes | 1 Comment

Journalism curricula and investigative reporting

Submitted by jhai on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 10:14pm

Session Convenor: Bill Moushey

Session Reporter: Jackie Hai

Discussion Participants: Lou Ureneck, Ken Carpenter, Carey French, et al.

Bill Moushey of the Innocence Institute at Point Park University and Lou Ureneck of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University talked about their programs.

Innocence Institute – research and reporting – 2 sets of classes

Open-ended classes (practicum, internship, directed research)

– students have gotten 15-18 credits doing things related to Innocence Institute

– they have very little knowledge of criminal justice system, after taking classes, knowledge base increased tenfold

– 13 cases have been reversed each year

– 400 media appearances in last 2.5 years

– Bill is expanding the Innocence Institute to become a center for enterprise reporting

New England Center for Investigative Reporting

– students are trained in classes that prep them for internship at the center

– internships are guided/directed

– center has partnerships with media: Boston Globe, New England Cable News, WBUR

– each unit brings something to table: reporting/editing help, production capacity

– now trying to tap into alumni network

Young people fall in love with their stories – a huge motivator

How many kids in each class?

– 20 kids involved in Innocence Institute

Have never finished an investigation in one semester – sometimes runs into summer – need committed faculty for this.

At BU, paid reporters from media partners are leading investigations, coaching students, but not teaching classes – giving students pieces of the assignment and guiding them. At Point Park, students enterprise their own stories and investigations.

How to ensure integrity of reporting?

– students don’t go alone, faculty accompany students on interviews

– students usually have not yet developed a good B.S. meter, need to be told to double-check

– anecdotal stuff not allowed unless presented on documents

How to get started with your own center

– integrating programs

– “center” means outside funding sources

– consider which route to take: 501(c)3 standalone vs. university umbrella

– Bill modeled his program after one by David Protess at Northwestern, though now it’s grown more towards becoming a larger organization

Getting buy-ins

– from universities, e.g. law school partner

– from other journalism professors, e.g. broadcast, photography

– bring in more instructors by hiring through center with grant funding

ProPublica model

– give away stories in exchange for credit, student’s name in byline

– gets the word out


– two cornerstone courses: principles and techniques of journalism, media law and ethics

– course in investigative reporting

– IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) book, anecdotes and tips

– students get cases almost immediately, compiling backgrounds, surveying kids in detention centers

This is good, old-fashioned journalism

– though the presentation may change, fearless hardnosed reporting is still the backbone of good journalism

– students still want to learn this and are flocking to it

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TRUST: How to Rebuild It

Submitted by John Hamer on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 7:16pmin

Session Convenor: John Hamer, Washington News Council

Session Reporter: John Hamer, WNC

Discussion Participants: Anne Anderson, Tom Stites, Jay Young

JOHN explained the River Park Square project report, in which The Spokesman-Review of Spokane asked the Washington News Council to do an independent outside audit of 10 years of their coverage of a downtown development project run by the owners of the newspaper. He said it was unprecedented in the history of American journalism, and was an example of complete openness and transparency in an effort to be accountable to the public.

TOM briefly explained the Banyan Project. The whole philosophical underpinning has to do with integrity and trust.…We are living in the age of an information glut, which means that attention is scarce. There’s still 24 hours a day. What there is is a tremendous number of people wanting access to people’s eyeballs. What’s scarce? Integrity in our institutions. We are awash in manipulative messages – politics, PR people. Everybody knows that but can’t quite say it. And the media are not trusted. There’s this comprehensive sense of mistrust.

“The integrity economy.” Goal: News we deliver is relevant, respectful of them, and worthy of their trust. People will find that very valuable and maybe even pay. OK, if you’re going to do that, what do you have to do? 1. Make sure that news institutions don’t have built-in conflicts of interest. We’re here to serve you.

JAY: Owner of Altoona paper owned baseball team. No bad coverage of Pittsburgh Pirates. Scaife-owned paper: No photos of Al Gore in paper. Period.

Ethics Battles in Altoona: If you bring up a topic like that in a small newsroom, it’s dangerous. If you work at the paper in Altoona, you’re big time.

There were instances where people knew. Used car dealer was underselling everyone, pissing off the dealers. We did a feature photo on him, and the dealers who advertised went ballistic.

If I want to sit here moralistically and say that’s wrong….well, it’s complicated.

TOM: Banyan needs to find a source of revenue so you can have the independence. Civic networking – as opposed to social networking. Do it as a co-op, and the owners are restricted to people who are reader/users. No capital involved. Comes entirely from people who are engaged. Other parties would be involved, but the advertisers would have to be screened to get the untrustworthy people out. Don’t put up people who are putting up false advertising (i.e., subprime mortgages).

Center for Public Integrity – It doesn’t get covered if we don’t get a grant.

If journalism is ever going to be trusted again on an institutional scale, we need to find a way to be trusted.

ANNE: I came late to this profession, and I still struggle with one of “them” – i.e., journalists. I have some real antagonism toward this profession.

Does freelancing for small group of papers owned by St. Pete Times. Got Knight Foundation fellowship to get Master’s in community journalism at U of Alabama and Anniston Star.

Antagonism toward journalism? The whole trust issue goes beyond ethics to attitude: I know more than you do, and if you’re lucky I’ll tell you. The media tends to build mountains out of molehills. You never really know if it’s really important or are they just trying to get eyes on the page or viewers. At the same time, while they ignore the smaller things, you don’t real get a sense of proportion, context and priorities.

I have an issue with telling stories. We don’t write “stories,” That’s part of the identity crisis of journalism. We’re trying to be the storytellers, and not tell the objective facts.

If we don’t know who we are, how can readers know who we are? That implies the whole us vs. them mentality, which is another issue in building trust.

Journalism has been above the community, looking down on the community, and telling people what they should do – instead of being part of the community.

Orange County Register – Doing away with the central newsroom, and putting people out in bureaus to be closer to the people they cover.

JOHN: We comment all the time on things we don’t know anything about. That‘s the definition of the profession.

JOSE: We take ourselves too seriously. We act like we are omniscient. We hold ourselves above the community, and at the same time we crave the recognition for what we do.

TOM: It’s an ego need. What we have to do is not forget that what we do it a public service: It’s about who reads the story, not who writes it.

JOSE: That’s why we make so little money at it. You have to accept that.

JAY: In every newsroom you start with the perception that you’re smarter than the public. You’re better than the real people.

JOSE: Media. Where does the word come from? It has a Latin root: It’s a channel,, it’s something that things pass through. It’s OK to shape, skew the news, but you need to be upfront about it.

JOHN: There is news and opinion, and a wall between the newsroom and the editorial page at most good papers.

JOSE: Editorial Wall? The lady who picks up the paper in the morning doesn’t understand that distinction.

ANNE: Read Bernard Goldberg’s book, BIAS.

She read from Kovach & Rosenstiel: Journalism is our modern cartography. It creates a map for citizens to navigate the world.

JOSE: When journalists speak about the press, they usually talk of big major papers, but it also includes National Enquirer.

JAY: At mid-sized papers, there is no value to two words: CUSTOMER SERVICE.

JOSE: At Wall Street Journal, every day they run corrections. Most papers do.

JAY: Every paper does it, but you have to go through a lot to get that correction. Was I talked down to by a person who thinks they’re smarter than me? Their paper’s attorney told them they had to do that to avoid defamation or libel suit. Even if you avoid the lawsuit, you haven’t satisfied the customer.

JOSE: I wouldn’t do anything I couldn’t explain to my mother or my kids.

JOHN: The Golden Rule is the only ethics code journalists need. What if the story was about YOU? Wouldn’t you want to make sure it was right? Double-check facts? Every reporter should have a story written about him/her. It teaches a lesson. I’ve had stories written about me, and in every one they got something wrong.

JAY: Editors are busy on phone, while editing a story and making an assignment at the same time.

ANNE: Idaho Falls PostRegister.com is a great example of being open and accountable. Has a story with ? marks that link to explanations of how and why they did what they did.

JOHN: THIS IS A CUTTING-EDGE EXAMPLE OF TAO (Transparency, Accountability & Openness).

ANNE: See ASNE.org for list of ethics codes. Tampa Tribune’s site is the best. (FUNNY!) She did a paper for degree on how newspapers communicate their ethics standards to their staff, the public, et al. (NOT PUBLISHED YET). She may present paper to Newspaper Association of America meeting in Mobile, ALA.

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on TRUST: How to Rebuild It

Capturing young people’s attention in the digital age

Submitted by jhai on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 6:03pm

Session Convenor: Jackie Hai

Discussion Participants: Carol Zuegner, Warner Sabio, Lori Rosolowsky, Jim Bowey, Joe Shea, Jose Baez Guerrero, Peter Block

Opening premise: We all have ADD.

Technology has changed the way we think and work. We multitask, skim and scan, jumping from site to site in search of something to engage with. Often we don’t even know what we’re looking for.

The first imperative is to produce quality content with true depth. The second imperative is good design. Present clarity amidst a sea of noise; use simplicity to draw us in, then provide a portal to deep information to compel us to stay. Young people are turned off by the staid, “blow-dryed” journalism of old media. They seek real people who will speak directly to them. They expect interaction.

We need to break down rigid models and adapt to the medium of the web with new forms of storytelling. The forms that succeed will present:

  • Authentic voices (the human touch)
  • News as social capital (leading to viral distribution)
  • Choices and freedom to explore (letting users design their own experience)

An example that contains many of these elements: Market Meltdown 101 on AmherstWire.com.

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on Capturing young people’s attention in the digital age

Humor as a commodity

Submitted by Kelly McBride on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 2:03pmin

Session Convenor: Kelly McBride

Session Reporter: Kelly McBride

Discussion Participants: José Báez Guerrero, John Hamer, Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Jannet Walsh, Lori Rosolowsky, Nick Penniman, Tyson Evans

Humor seems to be a huge commodity on the Internet. What can we learn about humor that will help us in journalism?

We looked at these videos  (Jacob will add the list)

Questions we asked:

Is the Internet replacing the funny pages?

What’s the difference between amusing and funny?

Where the Hell is Matt Video

It’s structured like a good joke:




riffing on the punchlines

something unexpected

good storytelling – examines difference and universal

Having a point is not a pre-requisite on the Internet

Generates a huge audience (18 million)

People remember emotional response to information

Creates a MEME (a cultural idea that is mimicked)

repeatable, remixable, inside joke w/a wink

Funny kid worried about blood video

Common form of family video

there is a punchline


A form of realism and spontaneity that can’t be faked

IRAN spoof

Layers and layers and layers of visual and auditory jokes



Targeted to an audience that will “get it”

Culturally specific, assumes underlying knowledge

Assumes a collective unconscious

Invites you to revisit it

If you don’t get it, you are motivated to figure out the jokes

the path from “I don’t get it” to “I get it” is quick and easy on the Internet, eliminating the need for the background graph so common to journalism

Humor is a great conversation starter. We need to be conversation starters, not conversation finishers

Humorous voice signals: talk about this

Authorative voice signals: yell about this

Dana Milbank’s Plouffe video

Accomplishes much more than a straight story, even a funny story

Humor endears you to the deliverer

Individuals are funny, institutions are bullies. Has to come from indiv.

The notion of staying out of the story may be a disincentive to be funny

As a society, when we use humor against the powerful, we use it to unsettle. When we use humor against everyone else, we use it to reinforce social expectations.

Maybe there’s a new idiom

humor/no BS

new language of humor is emerging

relies on individuality

seems more truthful, but also more subjective

More new idioms we find, the more we connect with the audience

You have to be fast with your joke, the audience will click away if it gets bored

What’s your goal with humor? to be popular? to provoke? add perspective? document? truth?

Self-deprecating works well. Can journalists take it as well as they dish it out?

Final video: Business reporting spoof

Why is swearing so funny?

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Home Mental Models of the Audience

Submitted by biverson on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 1:49pmin

Session Convenor: Barbara Iverson

Session Reporter: same

Discussion Participants: Karen Duffy, the Daytona Beach News-Journal; Barbara Kantrowits, Hechinger Institute on Education & the Media, Columbia University; Tom Stites, Banyon project; Anne Anderson Freelance writer; John Hamer, WA News Council and Leigh Montgomery from CSMonitor

JTM Breakout 3-2-09

Our topic was “Audiences: What mental models of our readers/viewers/v/users/PFKAA*” are appropriate for today?”

We began with a question: does it matter whether we think of our audience as “readers” or “viewers,” when they might be interacting, choosing, making things on site and stories we create.

The idea behind this session was to consider whether imagining an audience of readers was appropriate, given the various degrees of interactivity and content of interactive sites like games, databases, calculators, etc, should journalists create a set of typical user profiles as interactive designers do.

We looked at sites like Great Lakes Wiki, an NYTimes graphic feature which featured Mad Magazine‘s back page (remember the page you folded to reveal a visual joke) that you fold via your mouse. The point of this was to show how lots of news content requires more than just reading to be fully engaged with it, or to understand the non-linear narrative presented.

The discussion was informative, as we considered how you take the perspective of the user as you develop news stories that include slideshows, videos, calculators, games, and all kinds of non-linear narratives. We did not solve this problem, but had a good time talking about non-narrative media and the challenges of working with new forms of content.

*People formerly known as audience
<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/03/28/arts/20080330_FOLD_IN_FEATURE.html?scp=1&sq=interactive&st=cse”>NYTimes Fold-Ins, Past and Present</a>

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What skills and traits are necessary for a journalist in the new news ecology?

Submitted by carolzuegner on Tue, 03/03/2009 – 10:52am

Session Convenor: Carol Zuegner

Session Reporter: Carol Zuegner

Discussion Participants: Carol Zuegner, John Hatcher, Yoonserk Pyun, Kelly Puente, Liz Monteiro, Laura Kessel, Kat Powers

We had a wide range of people: two educators, two reporters, two editors and an online producer.

Kat Powers, who has successfully trying new strategies at her paper and Web site, Wickedlocalsomerville.com, says one key characteristic is to be bold, not afraid to try and innovate.

We have to tell stories in a different way, open up the process of story telling and the way it is produced.

Journalists now have to learn how to let go. It was suggested to look for people for whom change is the norm: Army brats and foster children.

Young people ( and all of us) have to get over the idea that “it’s not my job.”

One very important question: Can you get people who are willing to take risks?

Kat and others suggested that it’s not good to focus too much on the tools, because tools are tools and they will change.  Journalists in the new news ecology should be fearless.

Journalists have to develop people skills, whether interviewing, dealing with conflict or talking to an angry reader/viewer.  It’s important to understand marketing. It’s not enough to just put your story out there — you have to make sure that people see it, link to it, click on it.

With the immediacy of the Web and the drop in the number of copy editors, the environment seems to call for people who are skilled at writing and editing, the basics.This sparked some discussion over the need to get info on the Web quickly and whether people would stop reading because of poor grammar.

We also spent time talking about how things work at different papers.

Our list: ( Please add to it!)

Journalists still have to have “it,” the passion, the drive, the willingness to go after a story and to work to present it, on whatever platform, in the best means possible.

Skills: you’ll notice no real software here because that changes.

HTML: link, embed, image



Social networking

phone with a camera

story choreography: Putting all the pieces together, whether it’s multimedia or charticles

Writing basics (including grammar and punctuation)

story telling

ability to figure out the rest






Embrace failure

Ability to redefine


Open to critique

share power/humility


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