(This post was written by Lisa Williams – the Carnival’s July host. Interested in being next month’s host? Contact david AT spot DOT us).
You gotta understand, this whole thing came out of an epic, epic email thread where we had full-on NERF bat epistemological debate going on about the future of journalism. You weren’t there, but that’s okay, because Steve Fox wrote it up for you.
Once the dust cleared, we had this month’s #JCARN question: In an era of tremendous change in journalism, what should the Online Journalism Awards be rewarding and encouraging?
Denise Cheng says fight the noise:
Innovation, the buzzword that never went out of style.Knight Foundationchallenges,Y-Combinatorknock-offs, J-School-community partnerships… Everyone’s scrambling for it. Innovation is important in expanding our horizons, but as I’ve heard people toss the term around, I’ve realized thatwe’re often equivocating “innovation” with “play,”not necessarily better ways for the audience to absorb information.”
I agree with Denise here, even as someone whose primary motivators are justice and delight. Delight is a great way to invite people in…but what are you going to do with them once you get them there? Our play must be purposeful.
Donica Mensing speaks for a lot of the tribe when she says:
Perhaps innovative business models should be an entire section of the awards ceremony.
Jessica Binsch, too, says show me the money:
I hear the purists screaming: How can you call journalism a product?… [But] I think journalism awards should honor innovative forms to reach audiences and frontier work on finding new revenue streams.
Carrie Brown says, well okay, but:
I think rewarding profitability, as some have suggested, is a little tricky…and I’m not sure a snapshot in time would necessarily represent overall “success.”
Steve Fox says, enough with the shiny, already:
What has really struck me about ONA in recent years, at the conference panels anyway, is the over-focus on technology over journalism. While I love panels on the next new whiz-bang-golly-gee-feature as much as the next person, what wedois journalism.
Steve Outing defends the shiny and goes on to sayblessed be the weirdos, and hey, I resemble that remark!
I’d like to see OJA reward the misfits and the tinkerers within journalism. Without them guiding the news industry forward, there will be little great journalism on which to bestow awards.
Tiffany Johnson Watts reminds us that the consistent shall inherit the earth and all its Twinkies:
Consistent coverage: We were all shocked that theNational Enquirer was nominated for a Pultizer Prizeafter breaking the story about John Edwards. While the newspaper’s work was indeed important, we were shocked by their admission because the Enquirerdoesn’t consistently deliver that caliber of journalism. Consistency and following-up on stories should be rewarded.
Geoff Samek says show your work:
In math to most students’ annoyance, writing down the correct answer is only good for partial credit, how you got there is really what matters. That principle should be true when it comes to judging criteria for the OJA…The OJAs should focus on journalism that expands the boundaries of journalism and does so online, the final frontier.
Anna Tarkov tells us why great reporting combined with disdain for marketing isn’t going to make the grade anymore:
I was in a local grocery store yesterday and there was a table set up with free copies of that day’s Chicago Sun-Times. I overheard the gentleman manning the table telling a shopper how despite all the newsroom cuts, the paper has still managed to win Pulitzer Prizes and do great reporting. The shopper seemed unimpressed and why should he be? We havegotto do better than that.
Michael Morisy channels my main man, Karl Popper, and says, Let’s Do Science To It:
or even more, use of a negative finding than of a positive one. How are news organizations taking gambles where they have a Heads I Win/Tails You Lose Scenario? These examples should be highlighted to help foster low-cost, sustainable innovation throughout the industry.
The last Carnival of Journalism went great. And it ended with an epic internal thread started by Lisa Williams.
Steve “the silver” Fox has a recount of the thread.
And thus our next topic for the Carnival of Journalism was chosen. And some of you already have a head start in thinking about it.
The host: Lisa Williams.
The question: Right now, nominations are open for the Online Journalism Awards. What qualities should awards like this endorse in an era of such tremendous change in the news industry?
Deadline: Thursday, July 14 noon PST.
Hopefully we are starting to get into a routine and everyone knows how this works. The question is above. On Thursday July 14th we will all publish our respective posts and link back to this post here (leaving a comment with a link to your post) and share them via our Google group. Discussions will then continue.
Interested in hosting a future #jcarn – let me know.
p.s. I may excuse myself from this month’s #jcarn. I’ll be on my honeymoon and I want the marriage to last longer than that
To get a full summary of what all the Carnival goers wrote for this month’s question on how to hack your work flow – check out Will’s wrap-up post.
Stay tuned for next month’s question coming soon!
It’s that time again – the next Carnival of Journalism. For this installment of the Carnival of Journalism we’re going to go ultra practical with our host Will Sullivan, of Journerdism.
The JourNerd in Chief asks us: What are your life hacks, workflows, tips, tools, apps, websites, skills and techniques that allow you to work smarter and more effectively? So for instance, what tools, plugins, apps and websites do you use to get the most out of the day?
You can read the blog post from Will where he gives examples of life/work hacks that he has used in the past.
Our deadline for publishing will be Friday, June 10th. When you publish on your blog, leave a comment or link to Will’s post.
Let’s all help each other become better, more productive and informed journalists.
It’s my last time hosting #jcarn. They’ll be another blog post soon announcing next month’s host and the topic. It’ll be a good one!
Meanwhile I want to thank everyone for re-starting the Carnival of Journalism with me. I think this last topic and round of posts shows the value. I learned a lot from and about each of you. Failure is tough. For me – I always remember “Let it go, this too shall pass.”
We have a nice little community growing here. So let’s get to it with the roundup.
Denise ‘the unstoppable’ Cheng wrote about her experience organizing a townhall with the Rapidian. In the end “I was so engrossed with crafting the conditions for an atypical town hall that I had overlooked one crucial thing: Even if it is staggering for city dwellers, this was not an issue bubbling up organically on The Rapidian. We were being proactive rather than responsive, so we didn’t know what questions would be most important or galvanize an audience that took us up on a town hall.”
Steve ‘the silver’ Fox took the post to a more personal place, reminding us that success in the job is great, but not if it means failing in other parts of our lives. “My failure, in a way, was my inability to see outside the job. My sole focus was the story, then the anthrax attacks, the 2002 mid-term election cycle, the start of the war in Afghanistan, the start of the war in Iraq…..it was kind of easy to get caught up in the latest, biggest story.” I can only imagine being a WaPo editor after 9/11 – I think many of us would have been lost in the series of stories.
Courtney ‘the copyeditor’ Shove wrote about her fear of failure/risk and how it has been overcome in personal affairs. “After tackling some of the aforementioned fears, you know what I learned? I’m more critical of myself than anyone else will ever be, so why not step out and try new things? The times I think I failed, no one else probably even noticed.”
Jack ‘Congrats on the non-media affiliated best blog SPJ award in East Tennesee’ Lail – starts by examining what failure is “I think true failure is the inability to recognize or escape from a mistake and thus keep repeating it again and again and wondering why it doesn’t work. Failure is never changing.” Later on Jack admits that part of the digital steps we take are run by folks who ‘walk like egyptians’ and have a “framework of reality as newspapers and newspaper people.”
Carrie ‘the Memphis’ Brown-Smith -tackles her fear of failure. “It took me far, far too long – but, hopefully, it’s not too late – to learn that sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good.” She talks about this in relation to the tenure track for professors (as an example) and walks away saying “the big lesson, then is that when we are freed from fear we can really start #winning.”
Juana ‘I graduated early’ Summers - writes about her graduation from college 1.5 years early. Perhaps the flip side to Steve Fox’s post about making sure the job stays a job, make sure college isn’t a job too. “College can be one of the best places to figure out who you are, who you want to be and what you’re passionate about. Find those things, then make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you graduate in two years or six.”
Michael ‘ahead of his time’ Rosenblum – shares a story from 1994 in the heyday of the Internet. It’s a great story and really puts in perspective how far we’ve come in just 20 years. I don’t want to give it away, but if you want a face-slapping fail story, this is a good one.
Michael ‘the MuckRock’ Morisey – tells the tale of a college graduate that had everything going for him but still couldn’t nab a newspaper job. “I eventually realized that no one owes me anything, much less an increasingly coveted job in an increasingly shrinking field…. I’ve learned to think like a CEO, since I am one. I’ve learned to manage a budget and a staff of a hundred. I’ve learned to program in a couple of languages and, more importantly, learned that the best code is the code you don’t write. But more important then that, I’ve learned that even though not everything happens for a reason, you can make a reason for everything that happens, turning failures into starting blocks for your next great adventure.”
Mary ‘is a WRITER in my heart’ Hamilton – shares her dream of becoming a Writer and ending up a writer. “It’s been – it is – hard, and joyous. And I’ve never regretted the failures that led me here. That’s my lesson. Sometimes failure is better than success. Sometimes you get better opportunities through failing than you do through succeeding. Sometimes the only way to win is to fall. “
Mark ‘awesome last name’ Coddington – writes about a missed opportunity when he was a college journalist. A timid sportswriter, he was afraid to go out and do the kind of reporting he knew he could, instead hoping he would magically wake up and become the awesome reporter he knew he could be. “There is no secret knowledge of journalism, and it will never be magically bestowed on you. There’s only one way to become a good journalist — going out, doing it, and then going out and doing it some more.”
Benét ‘the Aviator’ Wilson – shares a #fail that is as old as journalism itself, the embarrassing typo. Spellcheck is there, but don’t rely on it.
Nicole ‘who’s on first’ Neheli – writes about a moment of poor news judgement. It’s an understandable situation, one I think all of us could find ourselves in. “That incident made me a better producer. I weighed my options, and responsibilities, more carefully. It makes me a better teacher because I can use a real-life example of what not to do. Maybe if I’d talked about it with someone I worked with at the time they could have learned from my experience too.”
Dan ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ Gillmor – resurrected a letter he wrote about a failed project Bayosphere. I’m personally glad he did. Whether he knows it or not, that was part of the inspiration for this month’s #jcarn. I remember reading that letter in 2006. It changed the way I think about the media entrepreneurship space. It’s hard to put yourself back in the mindframe of 2006, but give this post a read.
Jackie ‘lemonade from lemons’ Borchardt – writes about taking on too much and making the best of crappy situations. “It’s not failing to change midcourse, make a plan, move forward. Also, it’s better to seek help at the first sign of trouble — not when the ship is halfway (or two-thirds of a semester) to the bottom of the ocean.”
Chris ‘he’s actually from Jersey’ Wink – writes about his rejection to almost every university he applied to in 2004. Utter rejection, maybe? But he slow clapped himself into Temple University. And then something magical happened – he fell in love with Philadelphia. His post is about reaching beyond what you might be capable of.
Hans ‘wins this #jcarn for quoting me’ Meyer – Almost got the owner of the Detroit Red Wings kicked out of the NHL on a mistake. Not a bad way to start a post! The real thrust of his post, however, is about taking chances and pushing forward despite obstacles. “My biggest failure as a newspaper editor was not pushing hard enough….This should serve as a warning to my students at Ohio University then. If you take my classes, expect to fail. In fact, I want you to try to fail. Don’t go for the safe projects. Go for the crazy ones because you won’t regret the failure. You’ll regret never trying in the first place.”
Jonathan ‘Grover’ Groves – gives his take on failing fast which took place in 2001 creating a virtual tour of a golf course for a website. The video was great, but the views weren’t. “I learned a valuable lesson, though. From a news site, most people just want the information quickly, sans multimedia doo-dads. In many conversations with online editors since, I have found staff-produced videos typically are not major draws. It’s the raw video from breaking-news scenes or the goofball YouTube amateur that pulls in the audience.”
Lisa ‘The Rasputin’ Williams – takes us to a little known country ‘Failistan.‘ It’s a great little meditation and Lisa shares with us rules she has to avoid the borders Failistan in the future. Words to the wise.
Jack ‘the Doctor’ Rosenberry – looks back at a potential missed opportunity to try something (and potentially fail). “Rather than take the opportunity that was presenting itself to really see if I had it in me to be a self-supporting independent free-lancer, I sought out (and fairly quickly found) another newspaper staff job….But it’s impossible not to wonder where things could have gone had I chosen the other path.” Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to real failure is, as Jack says, a failure of nerve.
Shaminder ‘this is not a joke’ Dulai- Shaminder and I share something in common. As kids we both wanted to be stand-up comedians. But in 1999 he actually gave it a whirl. “I started writing this post thinking that bombing on stage was my failure and how it taught me to be myself and not to try and emulate those that I admired. I was unfocused and trying to do too much and instead of doing material that I thought Pryor, Kaufman and Sienfield would do, I should have been trying to find my own voice. But now reflecting on it nearly a decade later, maybe my real failure was not giving it another shot. Last night as I was falling asleep I starting writing in my journal again with ideas for routines, something I haven’t done in years.”
Steve ‘four for four jcarn posts’ Outing – shares a story from 2007. It’s an important lesson about grassroots media while working on a startup the Enthusiast Group.
Jacob ‘the JTMer’ Caggiano discusses his feelings towards openness and failure. “For a while I’ve been trying to sort out some cognitive dissonance in my brain. From one angle, I hear a lot of online innovators buzz about collaboration, building conversation, openness, transparency, etc…and I think, “Awesome I want some!” Then I remember those career counselors and corporate types talking about how your first impression might as well be your last if it’s not PERFECT. How you’ve got to PERFECT your elevator speech and then I start thinking “Oh gawd I need to censor myself or they’re all gonna laugh at me.”
Kathy “invest in her on Empire Avenue” Gill - takes on a journey worthy of a movie. Who knew she was a badass biker? From her trip we can take away five lessons ranging from “To see the lesson we have to reflect” to “failure is required for personal and business growth.”
Michael ‘eventually goes back to S.B. so he can’t complain’ Marcotte – writes about a specific presentation he gave as part of his Knight Stanford fellowship. “There’s two parts of this failure — the opportunity I missed and the presentation I botched.” He has a real idea and presentation and is looking for feedback. Give it a read.
David “Digidave” Cohn – writes about Spot.Us expansion. The expansion is occurring – but it isn’t how he imagined it. He likes to write about himself in third person.
Sally ‘we are still friends” Duros – writes a touching post on what it means to be friends with yourself. “I err therefore I am” – we truly know ourselves when we screw up.
Bryan ‘the college innovator’ Murley – writes about the very real feeling of being a teacher and literally failing students. This fall will be my 11th year teaching collegiate journalism classes, and I still feel the need to reinvent my courses constantly. And that’s the thing I think is the lesson from this failure: Even if you think you have things down, there’s always a time to look back, evaluate, and try things differently.
Adam ‘never a boring read’ Tinworth – He doesn’t tackle one big failure, but many small examples over the course of his career. “And, actually, that’s why I’m pleased that I’ve defied the brief with some small failures, because iterative rounds of experimentation and failure are exactly what we need right now.”
Anna ‘soon to be mother’ Tarkov wrote about her many job opportunities gained and lost in the field of journalism for being an independent thinker.
Three post round-up entries.
1. André Natta
It’s time to put up a topic for the next Carnival of Journalism. And the topic is #fail.
The best explanation can be found in the video below which also has the instructions on how the Carnival of Journalism will continue as I pass the reigns to other hosts. For those that prefer text, keep on reading (but you’ll miss all the jokes I inserted into the video).
When: May 5th at 12pm PST.
Where: Publish on your blog
What: A failure in your life (personal or professional) that has lessons. It must be your failure and you must take responsibility. But this will be a safe space to discuss our failings and what we can learn from them.
We talk about ‘failure’ a lot in the online journalism community. It can be a bit of a buzzword. “Let’s fail early and fail often” is a motto I personally have adopted.
But the true value of failing is if we can share the lessons learned. We probably do this all the time without knowing it – but rather than try to condense our lessons into 140 characters, let’s create a safe space this month to discuss a failure that others can learn from.
- It must be a project you worked on. Let’s not turn this into a space to point fingers and lay blame on anyone but ourselves.
- It must be your failing within that project (see above)
- No apologizing. This is a safe space to discuss failure. In fact, I want there to be a fight at the end for the biggest failure of the lot. That person should be cheered for their honesty, insights and perhaps attempting something that none of us had the cojones to try.
This month’s Carnival of Journalism is in part inspired by Ethan Zuckerman who once discussed “Fail Camp” with me as a great platform to share lessons.
Look, none of us are perfect. Nobody expects everything we do to turn into Pulitzer investigations or multi-billion revenue streams. Everyone fails a little every day and occasionally we fail really big. The question is if we can fail well. One way to accomplish this, I believe, is if we share the failure, get it off our chest and help others avoid it in the future.
So with that – please join me for the Carnival of Fail, the failfest, failapalooza, all you need is fail. #jfail. Have fun with it.
Future Carnival of Journalism Hosts
Hopefully by now we all have a sense of how the Carnival of Journalism works. There is a host. Their job is to come up with an interesting topic and a date everyone will publish on their personal blogs. Everyone sends a link of their post to the host and the host then does a summary of what everyone said and tries to find next month’s host. Along the way – bloggers meet new bloggers, ideas are shared and the community of bloggers feels strengthened and empowered.
I’ve hosted the first four months to get things going.
But this is not a company. There is no ownership. It lives and dies if people take stewardship of it.
So email me: david AT spot DOT us if you want to host next month and let me know what topic you’d like to propose to the group. If you aren’t chosen – have no fear, you can email next month’s host with the same topic. Then both myself and the next host will choose the third month’s host. Following that the three ex-hosters will pick the fourth host. And so on and so forth until we’ve come full circle to 12 hosts.
If that happens…. well. Wow. That would really be a testament to everyone involved and how committed you are to discussing the future of media. We will then wipe the slate clean and start again with a new host. I’ll gladly do a Mardi Gras video #mardiGrasOfJournalism post.
I look forward to this and future Carnvial’s and I want to thank everyone for their time and energy. This has been a truly exciting endeavor and one that I hope continues well into the future.