Carnival Roundup No. 2: Increasing news sources #JCarnPosted: February 18, 2011
We have almost 40+ responses to the broad question: “What can I do to increase the number of news sources?” Many of your sentiments overlapped, but each person brought a unique perspective to the mix. Several agreed that increasing news sources is a bad idea, and others championed it. That’s what this carnival is for — to dialogue and engage one another and the community at large. Thanks to everyone who contributed and a big thanks to Courtney Shove, who helped sift through all the responses to produce the round-up below (making her officially the smartest person in the world on this topic). We are continuing the tradition of adding descriptors to as many names as possible, just trying to create a friendly atmosphere among friends. If you missed the Carnival, that’s okay – there is always next month and we’ll be in touch soon about it!
Gary Kebbel, the man with an infectious laugh, responds to the question of how to increase news sources by talking about the role of journalism schools. He’s located at University of Nebraska, where the college of journalism and mass communications is working on a project that taps into the voices of refugees in the Lincoln, N.E., area. The goal of the project is to teach the refugees how to produce their own video stories, and the university is partnering with a local newspaper to publish the stories.
The indefatigable Jason Barnett discusses verification issues with newsroom social media use. He says news orgs should use social media to increase information sources, but they must also develop good verification filters. He gives a shout-out to the iBreakNews mobile app (a Knight News Challenge entry), which facilitates and encourages citizen contribution to news orgs.
Block by Blocker Denise Cheng proposes that we empower first-generation youth to be the news sources for their communities by creating low-demand platforms and leveraging digital media tools. In addition to shedding light on diverse local communities, giving first-generation youth an outlet for sharing news might help them sort through cultural identity issues that many of them experience.
The ever-present Carrie Brown-Smith shares examples of University of Memphis reporting efforts to highlight students’ ability to cover neighborhoods that are often overlooked in major news outlets. As a journalism professor, Carrie champions the idea of learning by doing and sending students out of lecture halls and into the streets. Although cub reporters, student journalists sure can cover a lot of ground.
From the Kitche of Steve Outing: increasing the number of news sources isn’t necessary but rather finding them and creating an online hub for them. He and a couple colleagues at CU-Boulder’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication have done so with SlicesofBoulder.com. The next phase of the project includes creating credibility, accuracy, bias, popularity, and other ratings for each source tracked on the site.
The ever-thoughtful Nicole Blanchett Neheli commends incorporating more unofficial sources into news stories and is disheartened that so many stories with “regular people” are run only as features or not at all. Pardon the journalese, but it sounds like we need to start checking out more of those “third places!”
Similar to Carrie and Steve, Alfred Hermida, believes that journalism students can fill reporting gaps and that universities should serve as filters for the plethora of information already being created by professional and citizen journalists. He says we don’t have a supply problem but a filtering one, and j-schools can serve as news hub that curate news and innovate news streams.
Like Nicole, Hans K. Meyer emphasizes the importance of seeking out community gathering places. He says the Internet itself is a third place and uses community Flickr groups as an example: “The people who are willing to photograph and share the sights of their hometown have the kind of passion journalists crave.” Journalists should also tap into community discussions by setting up Google alerts for blogs relating to their beats and by searching Twitter hashtags for area trends.
Like most of us “carnies,” Dan Fenster runs from the idea of the elite professional journalist. He embraces a picture of objectivity that Jay Rosen painted: “Look, I’m not going to pretend that I have no view. Instead, I am going to level with you about where I’m coming from on this.” Journalists are now teachers — tasked with educating the voiceless and giving them digital literacy that enables them to share their stories. As an example, he shares his idea for pairing a nonprofit with Santa Clara University students to provide homeless people with digital media and literacy training.
The “Rocker of Muck” Michael Morisy offers this hearty tidbit: “Empowering people to ask and answer questions that matter to them is a win for democracy, whether or not it fits into traditionally tidy boundaries of news or not.” Just as his MuckRock pushes for government transparency, Morisy aims to be transparent and respectful to those who work with him. He’s puttting his money where his mouth is by making the org’s FOI templates and results available to the public for free. With this model, he is encouraging everyday citizens to become their own news sources. His summary also includes a cheap plug for his pitch on Spot.Us which is almost funded, although he is not sure how it got there (but we do).
Housemate of the year Will Sullivan briefly discusses the prevalence of mobile reporting and publishing platforms and how they’ve already created an overflowing stream of news sources. He points out that as of February 15, 2011, there were 4.6 billion news sources and that filtering out the quality news from these myriad sources is probably the biggest challenge.
Aviation geek Benét J. Wilson applauds the initiatives of hyperlocal sites such as Greater Fulton News, Twin Cities Daily Planet, Dallas South and shades magazine in their coverage of minority communities. The theme continues: We need to enable everyday citizens to create their own news.
The man with an awesome name: Charlie Beckett says: “Only Twitter affords the opportunity for serendipity. Twitter works as a news source medium because it can be personalised and interactive.” The only hangup is that most Twitterers follow flocks of their own kind and interests. To have well networked journalism, we must build variety into our tools.
André Natta suggests “converting an older bus into a digital newsroom.” This bus would produce content specific to its location and serve as a classroom for children and adults. Again, the theme of empowering locals with digital storytelling skills emerges. Great carnival minds think alike, eh?
Daniel “seriously dude, hire me later in life or I’ll be pissed” Bachhuber is one of several contributors who thinks we don’t need more news sources (see Lauren M. Raibano and Eliot Caroom’s entries below). He says, “Instead of increasing the number of news sources, we should focus on producing durable data and the equivalent tools for remixing it.” And like Dan F., Daniel praises Jay Rosen’s view of objectivity.
My fellows ex-Seedster Josh Braun self-deprecatingly presents his thoughts on self-directed learning and how to make better use of online learning tools that already exist. Almost anything you want to learn how to do can be found on the Internet, but Josh points out that online learning lacks a “cohort experience.” He’s tinkering with an idea to produce a site that site would “replicate some of the advantages of cohorts for informal learning.” Let him know your thoughts!
When thinking about the impact of her stories, Juana Summers thinks about her own family: “People like my grandma don’t really care about the big picture, they care about journalism on a very granular level – how it impacts their block, zip code or household, instead of a wide-reaching story about a national trend. So write your big story with the byline that can lead A1, but give them the tools to engage at the level they need, too.” She urges us to link out, share our paper trials and forget about bylines.
Citiville buddy Chris O’Brien shares a personal experience with trying to obtain police records after his car was stolen in 2009. Not surprising, the Oakland cop shop turned out to be painfully inefficient and ill-equipped. He supports investment in “bring(ing) every government into the digital age.”
If the goal is to increase the sources of news, Adam Tinworth wants it to be news we can use. Otherwise, these new news sources will only add to overflowing information stream. His suggestions: 1) Let go of generalist information as the driving factor behind your news values, 2) Figure out which niches are ill-served by existing channels, 3) Figure our what information they need, 4) Figure out who is best placed to provide it for them, and 5) Continually iterate.
J-labster Jan Schaffer focuses on the importance of fresh voices and multiple truths in journalism. Among her suggestions for cultivating new news sources, she invites journalists to use humor, to spotlight individuals supporters and to let sources sing.
Sally Duros (who suggested the #jcarn hashgtag) talks about her work establishing the L3C as a business model for news. Her thought is that from the current economic and cultural disruption, new ways of doing business will emerge.
“Responsible for all cool parts of the new Spot.Us design” Lauren M. Raibano doesn’t think increasing news sources will solve the main problems of journalism: 1) how to create revenue, 2) how to create data-driven stories, 3) how traditional newspapers can survive in a digital era, 4) getting beyond the episodic story, 5) engaging and retaining readers and 6) reinventing the news consumption experience. She says: “Lots of quantity is not the equivalent of innovation. It’s pollution. It’s unnovation.” It’s value — not quality — that can save journalism.
In his work on SacramentoPress.com, Geoffrey Samek aims to develop more quantitative and analytical methods to expand knowledge about why people contribute to the site. He tests the 1-9-90 rule: “In January of this year, 0.14% of visitors to the site wrote an article, significantly less than 1%.” He goes on to say, though, that during that time, site traffic increased substantially without the unique contribution figure decreasing as much.
Steve “The Silver” Fox says, “Teaching students about news literacy (I’m going to avoid the ‘media literacy’ phrase) is the single-most important thing educators across all levels can do. News consumers not only need to know how to recognize good sourcing and good information, but more importantly, that consumption means visiting several news sources, to make sure you are getting all viewpoints and that the information is accurate.”
An associate professor at St. John Fisher College, Jack Rosenberry would like to see “the school’s resources to help local citizens learn more about being news providers with some sort of workshop or seminar” to fulfill the Knight Foundation’s seventh recommendation to “fund and support public libraries and other community institutions as centers of digital and media training, especially for adults.”
Recovering reporter turned startup queen Mónica Gúzman Preston says, “If a piece of news is shared but nobody hears it, it was never really ‘news’ at all. Although people everywhere are using things like Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups to organize and filter information, important news is still being missed. She’s helping build a tool called Intersect, which collects content in storylines and maps it at real-life coordinates of time and place.
Original Carnie (O.C.) Jack Lail says, “One thing I have tried to do and one thing I think that large local media organizations should be doing is curating local news sources and amplifying views, opinions and ‘reporting’ from the ‘people formerly known as the audience.’” Again, filtering news and empowering everyday citizens to tell their own stories stand out among this blogging group.
Soon to take over the world Emma L. Carew wants to see journalism education before the college level. She says, “Teens and young adults already have the ‘see it, snap it, share it’ mentality — as seen all over Facebook and Myspace. What happens if we fill that mentality with good solid news judgment?”
“It’s always sunny with” Christopher Wink, says that to increase the community news sources, we need to grow our audience and revenue.
For Kim Bui (shout-out to OnCentral‘s recent launch) the bottom line is trust. She says: “The question is what can we do to increase news sources? The answer is that we have always had more than enough sources, we’ve just never let them tell their story.”
Drury professor — but never dreary Jonathan Groves says he’s become convinced that local nonprofit news organizations that are tapped into citizen and student energy might help fill the coverage gaps. His hope is “to develop a community network to complement the work of the existing media,” so last year he created the Ozarks Community Journalism Foundation.
After admitted frustration with this month’s topic (we love your honesty), Eliot Caroom offers the idea of journalists using the #jhelp hashtag for brainstorming stories. He’s not keen on increasing the number of news sources but rather getting better-reported stories through dialogue with other journalists.
David (2.4 steps above useless) Cohn takes us through a short history lesson and ends with a description of his ideal personal media environment, which has tools “so powerful that all I have to do is buy a domain and on my personal computer use this software to create a dynamic site connected to a real database of my choosing.” Note: If you ever make eggs for David, make sure the yokes ooze.
Daddy Ryan Sholin reflects on Look Loudon, his 2009 entry to the Knight News Challenge, which included an idea for a mobile app that makes enables users to send their photos to nearby news organization based on their location. He suggests that we expand this approach to include 100+ news orgs into one app. The business would pay for the content and service, and the news orgs would get a cut.
The fearless Donica Mensing says her students don’t want more news or news sources and that journalists need to find ways to engage today’s young people, who are more interested in Jon Stewart and Perez Hilton those who produce hard-hitting news. In her sphere of influence, Donica is committed to teaching her students to be engaged community-information organizers instead of detached observers.
Californian turned DCist Chris Amico imagines a better DC news aggregator. “The point here is to assemble the many bits of news and try to see the big picture, and from there, to see the gaps.”
Last on the list but first in our hearts, Jacob Caggiano looks back at last year’s Journalism That Matter’s Pacific Northwest Unconference and how it sought to look at what journalism in the area was already doing well — hyperlocal neighborhood sites. The attendees also agreed that collaboration among news organizations was key. There was talk of more events sponsored by journalism organizations. Is this a good way to bring more voices into the mix?