Hello Carnival Goers
Yes – we have a late start to April’s Carnival of Journalism. But there are no apologies in the Carnival!
This month we have one of the most kick-butt question/hosts possible. Andrew Lih and his students at USC have created this prompt.
Here’s what to do.
1. Answer the question: “What is your most dangerous idea for pushing the boundaries of journalism?”
2. Record your response via video.
3. Send videos or links to your posting to: firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30th as well as the Google Group.
That’s right: A VIDEO response!
These are quick and easy to do. If you have questions about how – check out the FAQ page that Andrew and his class created which includes two examples.
Really looking forward to seeing all your pearly whites!
Our gracious host Greg Linch has dropped a mad wrap-up for us at his personal blog.
It’s also below. And stay tuned – the next Carnival of Journalism (April) already has a host and it’s going to be an exciting ride!
This month’s Carnival of Journalism topic, “What’s the best way — or ways — to measure journalism and how?” grew out of a post I wrote in February,Quantifying impact: A better metric for measuring journalism.
With this question, I wanted to broaden the possibile metrics beyond just impact. Higlights from the discussion are below. Enjoy!
Sheree Martin offered four important questions we must first consider:
- What is journalism?
- What is impact?
- How do we measure?
- Who is measuring?
Kathy E. Gill asked about similar fundamentals, “What matters? What is the role of journalism, our purpose, our challenge?” and raised a good question of balance:
how does “but it matters!” coexist in an environment where assessment is measured in large part by short-term page views and click-throughs?
Denise Cheng noted an opportunity to measure “inert engagement,” described as “the engagement that doesn’t want to come out of hiding as big steps like shares and comments.” She said:
measuring impact by measuring engagement are manifold. First and foremost, the modus operandi on my patch of the Internet is that journalism’s highest ideal is to equip its readership with information from which they can take judicious action
Specifically, she recommended defining metrics before you embark, measuring topical importance to the audience and acts accordingly, and that the sturdier your metrics become over time, the more of a road map you have.
Jonathan Groves looked at the issue on a more elemental level:
The root of journalism is truth, and the time-tested method that journalists have to uncover that truth is verification. If we want to measure journalism, it must begin here.
Addressing the quantitative vs. qualitative measurement distinction, he said:
Measurement assumes quantification, and some ideas — such as verification — are better evaluated qualitatively. Creating a measure requires including some attributes and excluding others; inevitably, such measures are always imperfect approximations, especially when it comes to complex concepts.
Clarisa Morales Roberts described a possible formula framed by the effects of journalism:
If we want to measure the impact of media and online journalism, we need to consider action. Action is what defines Effective Media (EM), and Effective Media can be measured by the Action that is a direct result of Quality Dialogue that is Shared
So, if we want to consider Impact by measuring Action, that measurement has to be proportional.
Michael Rosenblum emphasized the importance of finding niche instead of mass audiences:
As more and more content begins to fill the blogosphere and cyberspace and the cloud and wherever else ‘it’ all is, the competition for the Holy Grail of mass audience becomes ever more intense, and as such, the content itself becomes ever more amorphous.
Yet where is the ‘real’ value?
The web gives us access to discrete groups with specific interests. Our goal should be ‘narrowing the field’, not expanding it. Creating affinity groups with a common interest and common goals, and then, making it possible for those people to achieve those goal – whether its contributing to a new project – as in Kickstarter, or going on a golfing trip to St. Andrews.
Steve Outing looked at how social media is gaining an edge in the impact realm:
When I look at the question, I can’t help but get sidetracked into thinking how social media (i.e., “the crowd” utilizing digital social tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Change.org, among others, to amplify their voices) in a growing number of cases is having more impact than the traditional news media can achieve themselves — or is driving the mainstream news media to pay attention to stories that their editors fail to recognize as important.
Carnival ringmaster David Cohn also proposed an alternative approach :
I want to measure a different kind of impact. The impact of the dollars we spend in pursuit of journalism and its meaningful impact.
What we don’t appreciate is the strength of the little guy. What they don’t have in “impact” they do have in efficiency.
Steve Fox challenged the assumption of measuring something like impact:
Perhaps we all need to remember that the true “impact of journalism” rests with the impact we have on people’s lives. Have we given readers/viewers an amazing piece of writing or video that makes them appreciate parts of their life more? Have we created an “Oh, wow” moment for readers/viewer? Have we expanded someone’s universe? Isn’t that why we got into this business? Isn’t that what journalism has always done?
Perhaps the real question should be: “Why are we spending so much time measuring the “impact” of journalism?” Because, it really isn’t quantifiable now, is it?
What would be your ideal measure for journalism?
The March Carnival of journalism is all about impact. How do we measure the impact of journalism?
It was a questioned posed by Greg Linch earlier this year in a fantastic post (you really should give it a gander).
And now our fearless karaoke host asks all of you: “What’s the best way — or ways — to measure journalism and how?” Again – for some ideas on thinking check Linch’s post.
Not an easy question to ask or answer. But that is your task.
Deadline: Friday March 30th.
When you’ve got your post submit it as a comment here and/or email the group.
This month’s Carnival was hosted by Steve Outing at Test Kitchen. He writes
For February, I have been humbled to be the host (a.k.a., ringmaster) of the Carnival of Journalism, a monthly all-invited blogfest of journalism thinkers. This virtual gathering convenes once a month, thanks to the continued commitment of Digidave (a.k.a., David Cohn) to keep it going. Hurray, David!
As temporary host, I asked anyone willing to answer:
What emerging technology or digital trend do you think will have a significant impact on journalism in the year or two ahead? And how do you see it playing out in terms of application by journalists, and impact?
The answers are in! … And, in the spirit of the question, I’m using Storify to present a curated presentation of the blog posts of those who answered the call. (Storify, after all, represents a couple key digital trends that show signs of continuing to accelerate: curation and crowd-sourcing.) … If I missed including yours, let me know and I’ll add it.
And to do the round up he used Storify!
This month’s host comes to us from Steve “In” Outing. He is program director of Colorado’s Digital News Test Kitchen and I believe this is part of what inspires his question. Read on to party on…. #JCARN
And your question is! …
“What emerging technology or digital trend do you think will have a significant impact on journalism in the year or two ahead? And how do you see it playing out in terms of application by journalists, and impact?”
I work in a university journalism program, and my focus is largely on answering that question. Of course, I work around faculty and students who have mixed feelings about the overly fast pace of technological change, and how it’s changing journalism practice and the news industry. Some of my colleagues — and I bet it’s the same for you — might rather focus on the craft and theory of journalism; the technology that’s swirling around them and upsetting their world is an unwanted distraction. Other colleagues are immersed in the possibilities and opportunities that emerging digital technologies present. (Our Center for Media, Religion, & Culture recently hosted a Digital Religion conference, for example.)
I must admit, I don’t have much sympathy for those in journalism today (whether working professionally or in academia) who would like to put their heads in the sand in order not to hear about yet another technology development that’s going to alter their world. As I see it, technological developments of the last 15 years (the era of the “commercial Internet”) have upended journalism, all but destroyed old news business models, and put thousands of journalists out of work. Overall, we now have less investigative reporting and public-affairs journalism. And the loss of soldiers in the journalistic army means there are more chances for corruption to go unnoticed and unchecked.
Who’s to blame? The answer is clear to me: Journalists and those who manage news organizations. Our industry and profession didn’t act quickly or aggressively enough to adapt to the way that new technologies would change journalism.
But I’m a digital optimist. Technology also has presented incredible opportunities to improve journalism. Thousands and thousands of my journalism colleagues embrace the emerging technologies and work hard to figure out how to leverage them to keep the public better informed and get individual citizens involved in the news process and the conversation of news. It’s all good … except for the pesky fact that we have a lot of lost ground to make up for, and need to put more journalists to work in the new, digital-first news environment.
So what’s my point?: That this month’s Carnival question is not just about the latest gadgets. It’s not just the obvious question from a gadget freak who buys the latest iPhone whenever a new model comes out. It’s an important question, and your answers can play a role in making sure that news practitioners and executives, and journalism academics, understand how important it is for journalists and news industry leaders to understand what’s coming at them next — so they’re not caught blind-sided, again.
I’ll close by telling you about a lecture I attended a few days ago at the University of Colorado Law School, sponsored by its Silicon Flatirons program. Liberty Media executive Michael Zeisser gave what I thought was an insightful talk, “15 Years of Consumer Internet Industry: What (if anything) have we learned?”
Zeisser, who is an acquisitions expert for Liberty Media specializing in identifying established consumer Internet companies with long-term futures, is a “student of the Internet.” Among his principal observations is that about every THREE YEARS, there is a major paradigm shift within the Internet industry that often topples the existing industry leaders and replaces them with new companies that can better leverage the new technology paradigm. A new emerging technology sweeps onto the scene to dominate the Internet industry, setting the unprepared companies from the previous paradigm on a downward spiral. To hear Zeisser describe it, the Internet industry is a very tough one to survive in for long.
If you consider that technology companies tend to move quickly, especially in comparison to news and media companies, you can understand why the latter have had so much trouble adapting to the digital age over the last decade and a half: The ground keeps shifting under their feet!
To my mind, one of the most important things you can do as a journalist, news-industry leader, or journalism academic is work to understand the emerging technologies that are heading your way, about to upset your industry and field once again.
I look forward to your answers to my question, and the ensuing discussion!
“so far, so good”
For the past month I have been serving as acting ‘ringmaster’ for Dave Cohn’s travelling roadshow – The Carnival of Journalism.
Each ‘ringmaster’ is invited to pose a question to the group. My question was ‘Can a good journalist also be a good capitalist?” If so, how? Or why not?’
Now the answers are in.
“Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one”
The New Yorker’s AJ Liebling had it right – in the 1950s.
Owning a press (or a TV network) was extremely expensive.
Getting access to people’s homes was impossible without the massive investment that a press or a TV station required. So freedom of the press was for the very rich and the very few. The rest of us were left with the option of working for the rich few or opting out of journalism.
Then, only a few years ago, the whole technological applecart got overturned. Suddenly, with the web, it became possible for anyone to ‘publish’ whatever they wanted and put their message into quite literally billions of homes worldwide at no cost.
I was curious as to whether journalists collectively could seize on the opportunities offered by these revolutionary new technologies to free themselves from the Journalism Plantation – (we own it, you work here).
Dave’s followers represent a pretty good spectrum of thinking in the world of journalism. For the most part, Massa Sulzberger has little to fear.
Let’s take The New York Times, just an example.
What is The Times but the cumulative quality of the work of the writers?
Suppose Tom Friedman, Nick Kristoff, Maureen Dowd and the rest of them all got together in the cafeteria one afternoon and said ‘why are we here in this building? Why are we turning over our work to Arthur Jr. and his family when it is ours to sell? What does he bring to the party?” The answer is, not much. If the Times staff decided to start their own website and own it themselves, where would you go for your morning read? The Sulzbergers used to own the press machine. But today that’s a museum piece.
This is the potential power to OWN the machine that the new technology offers. The question is, why won’t the journos simply take it?
The responses to the question give a lot of insight.
Some people mistook ‘making money’ for ‘owning the means of production’. Some wrote, ‘Bill O’Reilly and Barbara Walters make a lot of money”. This is true, but they are still employees.
Others suggested that the future of journalism free of the dirty business of making money lay in no profits, NPR or not for profit journalism.
Overall though, the general reaction was still one of a feeling of a distinct separation between the purity of ‘journalism’ and the less and pure business of ‘business’.
Denise Cheng (@dennetmint) was first in with the comment:
“as a fellow Jcarny, I agree that it does not have to be repugnant. It’s something no person and no organization can do without, especially if they want to scale to better serve the community. Separating business from journalism is not an option, so maybe we need to shift our view: If we embrace capital and spend time figuring out how to do it better, then the time we have to do what we naturally do well—the craft, community engagement—will be optimized.”
She’s headed for Jarvis’ CUNY program this year.
Danielle Frankhauser was so quick off the mark that she emailed me her comments directly:
“Diamonds are created by pressure (a popular analogy). I think great innovation needs the kind of pressure that comes only from something powerful like cash flow. It’s one of those things, like religion and politics, that we’re not supposed to talk about at cocktail parties. It hits us deep in our psyche.”
Dave Cohn, who clearly is an entrepreneurial journalist responded that it’s a pretty mixed bag:
“But one of the professors at the Cronkite J-school gathering asked a very important and a totally fair question. I’m paraphrasing here: ‘
I know it’s a real path, but it can’t be all butterfly’s and kittens. What are the tradeoffs? What are the hard parts of going down this route? I don’t want to send off students without a healthy dose of reality.’
Sometimes those of us who have drank the entrepreneurial Kool-Aid like to point out success stories and perks without mentioning just what you have to give up to go this route.”
Jack Rosenberry cut to the core of the question:
“the essay seems to be conflating the idea of “capitalist” to “person who earns a sufficient level of income” and from there sets up a false divide. In a formal sense, the capitalist is the owner of the means of production; certainly the various press barons mentioned earlier were that. They were also journalists in that as publishers they helped establish — or flat-out dictated — the editorial direction for their newspapers. And in filling the dual role they made LOTS of money.”
Adam Westbrook checked in from London. Adam is also an entrepreneurial journalist and his perspective was similar to Dave’s. ”
It’s not for everyone I know, but personally, I would love to see more journalists & publishers – especially young ones – breaking free while they can, simply because so many of the hurdles have been removed. And as I’ve said beforethis window of opportunity won’t last forever.
Michael is right in lots of ways – but he misses an important point. Yes, journalists shouldn’t shy away from making big bucks. But to do so, you have to be motivated by something more than money.
Martin Belam was uncertain as to whether a good journalist should be a good capitalist. Wrote Marty:
But no journalist worth their salt wouldn’t write about a plane falling out of the sky on their hometown because it happened on a Thursday, and Thursday is the day you’ve set aside to phone local businesses to drum up ad revenue.
I think you have to ask yourself, do you get out of bed in the morning with a burning hunger to find and uncover stories, or do you get out of bed in the morning hungry to make sales?
I’m unconvinced that you can do both.
Fair enough. Although (fortunately) planes don’t fall out of the sky every day, but I take his point.
Mary Hamilton took us back to this initial question of character. Is it in our nature not to be entrepreneurs?
Many journalists don’t want to be – aren’t cut out to be – technical or technological innovators, or freelancers chasing clients for cash. Some of us love digital production and want nothing more than to be playing with new ways to tell stories. Others want nothing but to be allowed to get on with their important investigatons, or their war films, or their pithy columns. I am unequivocably in favour of journalists learning new skills in order to do their jobs more efficiently and more effectively – but when it comes to demanding they move away from their specialism and into areas they may not enjoy or be good at, I get a little uncomfortable. Not everyone can or should be a jack of all trades.
Alfred Hermida makes the point that
There has always been an entrepreneurial streak in journalism, typified in the freelance journalist who makes a living by pitching and selling their work to a range of clients.
Journalists, by necessity, have to be entrepreneurial in finding and chasing stories.
The shift today is in the product and process of entrepreneurial journalism.
Andrew Zaleski seems to get to the point that I was striving for:
No, what I think we’re really talking about is how journalists can sufficiently leverage their collective power to create economies of scale that are similarly powerful to the big guys. You know: Hearst, Gannett, Tribune, Conde Nast.
Carrie Brown, who teaches at the University of Memphis (and seems surprised that Columbia J-School could be so backward – that’s the NYC
myth’ blown away) writes (and in bold):
Being SKEPTICAL about money and its power to corrupt good journalism is a different thing. I think that is perfectly healthy.
Gary Kebbel, from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln says that they are already teaching entrepreneurial journalism at his school:
We want the center to be a model for how to teach entrepreneurial skills like audience analysis, market analysis, business planning, multidisciplinary cooperation, teamwork and evaluation.
Nick Leamon, take note!!
Geoff Samak makes the point that journalists require a ‘different perspective’ on their world to do their job, and that perspective might serve them well as journalists, but not necessarily as Capitalists.
AO Scruggs in his first contribution to the Carnival notes:
Many of us got into journalism because we loved telling stories, especially about stuff folks weren’t supposed to know. We liked seeing our byline or hearing our voices. We liked being in the mix. But the environment that feeds a modern-day Pulitzer starves a content creator.
Meanwhile, Steve Fox, at U Mass was unimpressed by the whole topic.
Haven’t we spent enough time asking what journalists can and can’t do?
Haven’t we spent enough time asking what the definition of journalism is?
Seriously, enough already.
Dulai Shaminder seems read to join the revolution:
And my friends, we’ve all drank the Kool-Aid. I’m just as guilty as you. My first job I lost money (no gas reimbursement), my second job I used my own equipment and paid for my own repairs, at another job I spent months eating $0.08 Ramen noodles on my entry level salery with unpaid overtime– and I did it all with pride.
I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it to inform and help people have a voice. And I was proud of the work I was doing, I still am, but I romanticized the ideal of the broke journalist falsely.
Kathy Gill on the other hand, goes to the other end of the spectrum:
Making money should be our primary goal? Really? (I call “embracing” something making it a primary goal.)
Making money your priority in life is a route destined to dead-end in the cul de sac of unhappiness. It’s not great as a reason for starting a business, either.
This ignores my favorite quote from Sophie Tucker “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better.” But that’s another story…
Jonathan Groves responded:
The problem with the question as stated is we’ve seen what the profit motive can do to journalism. It led to the yellow journalism of the late 19th century, when stories were fabricated and sensationalized for the sake of sales. Indeed, the Christian Science Monitor and the Missouri School of Journalism were created and the New York Times evolved under Adolph Ochs as responses to the market-driven journalism of the day.
They were pursuing a greater goal, a greater journalism beyond profits.
As a former president of New York Times Company who had to report profits and losses to the Board every month, I can tell you that this vision is a bit romanticized, to say the least.
Clarissa Morales Roberts heads back to the relative safety of non-profit, the very antithesis of good capitalism:
What I found in my review was that the basis of Capitalism is economic gain that benefits the individual above all others. The public good or nutritional value are irrelevant. And this is contrary to the fundamentals of what I believe good journalism to be: information that engages the public to participate for the betterment of society. If we are only about personal gain, then statutes like do no harm have no place in our profession, and that’s something I personally wouldn’t be able to stomach.
Sue Robinson at MediaTrope: does find a way where good journalists can be good capitalists. It’s all about discipline:
“As I tell my students now, the key to being a good journalist working at a for-profit company is time management, creative interpretations of corporate mandates such as “bulk! bulk! bulk!,” alternative kinds of story formats, agnostic understandings of platform, disciplined efforts around storytelling, and finally, laser focus on the end goal of significant and important democracy-improving work in one’s day-to-day labor.”
And finally, Erika Owens also hearkens to this notion that pure capitalism is at loggerheads with good community journalism:
What is the purpose in media making? If you want community contributors to be invested in your work, what are you asking them to invest in?
So where did this leave me in my question as to whether we (the Journalists) can re-arrange ourselves to work in a different way that is more profitable for us by owning the business instead of being the employees.
I tend to think that 150 years of being employees has formed a great deal of our thinking. Most people seemed to feel that being a good journalist and running and owning a successful journalism business are either difficult or perhaps inherently impossible. This, of course, is not my opinion (and the opinions stated here in no way reflect those of the Carnival of Journalism, Dave Cohn or anyone else).
150 years of daily experience is hard to shake.
When the Israelites left Egypt they didn’t wander in the desert for forty years because they were lost.
They wandered in the desert for forty years so that anyone with the memory of slavery would die off before they went into the promised land.
Perhaps in forty years we can re-raise this issue.
In the meantime, the Sulzbergers can rest comfortably.
On the other hand, anyone who wants to storm the NBC building, meet me at midnight.
**** and this late entry, just in, from Jonathan Frost
And – THE JUST IN – this super late entry by Lauren Rabaino.
She says (and since she agrees with me..):
So, can a journalist can be a capitalist?
- Yes, even though the traditional structure of legacy media doesn’t openly welcome or encourage it.
- Yes, if we care about the future of open information and democracy.
- Yes, because we’re positioned to do it best, as we’re the ones who know the content and the readers — something hard to initiate, as we haven’t been trained to innovate or make money.
January’s carnival of journalism comes to us from Michael Rosenblum.
In his post he asks: “Can a good journalist also be a good capitalist?” If so, how? Or why not?
The content of his full post is below. But the heart of the prompt is above.
Due Date: Friday January 27th at Noon PST.
You can publish anytime over the weekend and then we’ll do a classic Carnival Round-Up post.
How to Make Millions as a Journalist by Michael Rosenblum.
I am writing today’s blog in conjunction with the Carnival of Journalism , Dave Cohn’s ongoing journalism project.
If you feel like participating, please do.
The issue I wanted to write about for some time is Journalism and Capitalism – or “Why We Can’t Seem To Make a Living”.
The Carnival Of Journalism requires a question to which everyone responds, so my question is:
Can a good journalist also be a good capitalist?
Jeff Jarvis, much to his credit, recently launched the Center for Entreprenurial Journalism at CUNY. And bravo Jeff!
The world of journalism needs more thinking like this.
Alas, there is an instinctive aversion to the idea of making money amongst most journalists.
On the heels of attending one of Jarvis’ classes in Entrepreneurial Journalism, I was so impressed, I went to see Nick Lemann, the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, my alma mater, and a place I had taught for 8 years as an adjunct.
Lemann was aghast at my suggestion and practically physically recoiled. This, alas, is all too typical for the ‘professional journalist’. We instinctively associate making money with ‘evil’. We like to investigate it. If someone is making a ton of money, then they must be doing something wrong.
“Follow the money” says Deep Throat to Woodward and Bernstein.
As a member of the generation that was inspired by Woodward and Bernstein, let me amend that. ”Follow the money, figure out what they are doing and how you can make even more”.
I like that one better.
Making money is no crime. In fact, it is the ulimate good. With money you can do stuff. Without it, you are the perpetual victim and the perpetual employee, which is what most journalists are. And that is crazy.
Listen, the Internet ‘happened’ to our industry first – the information industry. That’s what the web was all about – the gathering and the processing and the distribution of information. That was and is our business.
So we should have been out there first, cleaning up. We should own the web. But we don’t. We let it get away from us because we never saw ourselves as Capitalist. We let ourselves get pounded.
Craigslist, which pretty much eviscerated newspapers classifieds should have been developed and owned by us.
Google – all the news that fit to print – and a whole lot more – should have been developed and owned by us.
Youtube, Facebook, you name it. We should be exploiting this mother for all she is worth. But we don’t.
We are the perpetual groveling employees, beggaring for a few crumbs and generally seeing our jobs and incomes slashed as the web and new digital technologies roll over the old.
And why is that?
Why are we such schmucks?
It’s in our nature. It’s in the image that we have made for ourselves.
“My job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afficted” says Peter Finley Dunne.
Crap!, I say. Crap.
Who came up with this idea?
What is the crime in making money? In making lots of it?
Anyone who became a journalist could just as easily have become a lawyer.
Lawyers work for the ‘good of mankind’, but they don’t seem to attach any stigma to making a lot of money.
And they’re equally happy to defend human rights and the Constitution and help the poor and a whole lot of other stuff without feeling like they have to live in perpetual poverty for the rest of their lives.
Look at how we present ourselves to the world. Look at the image of the typical ‘journalist’ in the movies.
Russel Crowe, journalist in “State of Play”.
Look at him.
Drunken stumble bum.
And he’s the hero!!!
What is the matter with us???
Is this a guy who is going to Goldman Sachs for an IPO?
Is any Venture Capital firm going to invest in him??
Not a chance.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
And how do we tolerate the crap way we are treated by our ‘employers’?
Bust your butt for The New York Times or NBC for 25 years and what do you get?
Bust your butt for a NY law firm for 25 years and what do you get?
Do you see any journalists being offered partnerships in The New York Times Company???
We are a mess.
But we are not beyond redemption.
We can change.
We have to get our act together.
We have to embrace making money – lots and lots of money – as a good. As a goal.
We should arrange ourselves the way lawyers do, as limited partnerships. Then some of the partners can carry on with their ‘investigative journalism’ while the others engage in more lucrative PR or Image Control and others launch web-related IPOs.
And instead of ‘working for’ the NY Times or NBC, we should simply license our work to them. For a fee.
I read a lot about the ‘dire situation’ that journalism is facing, but to me, the only ‘dire situation’ is the way that we have chosen to arrange ourselves.
Journalists of the world, arise. You have nothing to lose.
Nothing at all, apparently.