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May 29 2013

14:27

Get Pinterested, Storyboard style

Join Nieman Storyboard on Pinterest! We’re expanding our reach via categories on everything from reporting resources to tip sheets. Among our growing number of boards:

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 12.09.08 AMNarrative news: Fresh quick reads, pinned daily. Up now: How Twitter is shaping the future of storytelling, via Fast Company.

Nieman store: Links to details about the great and growing number of works published or sold by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, including our popular Telling True Stories anthology and The Future of News as We Know It, by Nieman Journalism Lab, one of our sister publications.

Inspired: Storytelling curios in journalism and beyond. Hemingway’s recommended reading list for young writers; the nine stages of story as told by a vase of flowers; a Dorothy Parker telegram proving all writers suffer; Henry Miller’s writing commandments; Harvard professor Stephen Burt on the intersection between poetry and news (from our sister publication Nieman Reports); former Nieman Fellow Megan O’Grady on the beauty of the counter-narrative.

Interviewland: Q-and-A’s on narrative journalism and more. Conversations, so far, featuring Joan Didion, David Finkel, John McPhee, Hunter S. Thompson, Janet Malcolm, Chris Jones, Joshuah Bearman, and Junot Diaz.

Gear: We’re addicted to great pencils and pens and notebooks and gadgets and organizational ideas — and we like to share. So enjoy that.

Best of Storyboard: Good pieces you might’ve missed, including, for instance, a rollicking storytelling talk with ESPN The Magazine‘s Wright Thompson, and seven storytelling tips from Nora Ephron.

Wish list: We’re hoping someone writes a great narrative about … at the moment, cicadas.

Also: Reading lists, class props, miscellany, tattoos, and more to come.

Have fun in there.

September 15 2011

14:00

From Nieman Reports: How the Center for Investigative Reporting and partners birthed the Civil Rights Cold Case Project

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with their Fall 2011 issue, “Cold Case Reporting,” which focuses on process of revisiting old investigations to tell new stories. Over the next few days, we’ll highlight a few stories from the issue — but go read the whole thing. In this piece, Robert J. Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting writes about the origins of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project.

Soon after I arrived at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in January 2008, I spoke with reporter John Fleming of The Anniston (Ala.) Star. He was looking for help investigating a cold murder case from the civil rights era. Within weeks I learned of other journalists in the South and elsewhere who were working on similar cases. Two of them, Jerry Mitchell of The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi and Canadian documentary filmmaker David Ridgen, had done acclaimed work that helped bring killers to justice and some small measure of peace to the families of the victims.

In the early spring of 2008 I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to talk about collaboration and the funding of cold case reporting with Mitchell; Ridgen; Fleming; Stanley Nelson of the Concordia Sentinel, a weekly paper in Ferriday, Louisiana; and Aynsley Vogel of the Vancouver-based Paperny Films. Our unifying motivation was storytelling, justice and even reconciliation. I wanted to create a project of an ambitious sweep that would tell the untold stories of killers, victims and their families in ways that would tie together a shameful chapter in American history and link it in powerful arcs to today. What I didn’t know going in was how inspired I’d feel by hearing these journalists share fragments from their work that spoke to why telling these stories mattered to them — and should matter to all of us.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

June 17 2011

13:00

Alicia Shepard: Anonymity allows “the loudest drunk at the bar” to dominate online conversations

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its summer 2011 issue, “Links That Bind Us,” which focuses on the role community plays in journalism. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow at the Lab, but go read the whole issue. In this piece, Alicia Shepard writes about quality of online discourse (or lack thereof) during her three-year tenure as NPR ombudsman.

Nieman Reports summer 2011 coverIt might be hard to believe, but one reason NPR was inspired to build its social media community is what it found in personal ads like this one — “Female golfer, loves NPR, travel and skydiving, is looking for like-minded man.” With NPR squeezed into the middle of self-portraits, the network figured that if it created a digital public square, people would want to congregate there.

So three years ago NPR invited its 27 million listeners to gather at this virtual water cooler to share ideas, suggest stories, offer comments and criticisms, and participate in civil dialogue. Joining NPR’s digital community requires creating an account. Individuals need to log in each time they comment on a story, though using real names is not required. So far 500,000 people have signed up as members of the NPR.org community.

Since the launch in 2008, those tasked with oversight of this digital community’s dynamics at times have felt as though they are riding a bucking bronco in the rodeo ring. Those feelings hit hardest when contentious issues surface, and it can be challenging to maintain civil dialogue as conversations devolve into downright meanness.

Keep reading »

June 15 2011

14:00

Michael Skoler: Community, not audience, is a new business model

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its summer 2011 issue, “Links That Bind Us,” which focuses on the role community plays in journalism. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow at the Lab, but go read the whole issue. In this piece, Michael Skoler writes about the (monetary) value of community.

Nieman Reports summer 2011 coverA few years ago, Public Radio International coaxed its most popular host, Ira Glass of “This American Life,” into digital cinema. Ira had already expanded his famed radio program into a traveling stage show that toured a dozen cities a year. With this new idea he would perform one show and beam it live to hundreds of movie theaters around the United States at the same time. Efficient, yes, but would it be appealing, Ira wondered.

After all, people came to see him and even hoped to meet him. Radio is an intimate medium, and with Ira, so is a live show. What would be appealing about watching him on a screen from thousands of miles away in the company of a hundred strangers? This wasn’t a sporting event — the main draw for digital cinema — it was journalism, storytelling journalism. And people could already watch Ira on DVD.

So would they come and pay $20 a ticket?

They came in droves. More than 30,000 watched the first digital show at hundreds of theaters across the U.S. and Canada in the spring of 2008. The next year, 47,000 turned out. They came to be with other fans, experiencing something they all loved together. The success wasn’t so much the power of Ira, but the power of his community.

Keep reading »

March 14 2011

17:53

What we’re watching: a town washed away, satellite images and covering conflict

With Muammar Qaddafi’s efforts to suppress armed rebellion in Libya and the events unleashed by the massive earthquake in Japan on Friday, it’s a wonder that those of us not involved in the immediate coverage or relief can do anything but sit and watch these images in horror, hoping for the best possible outcomes in the face of tragedy.

Japan Earthquake Aftermath” and “Libya’s Escalating Conflict” from Alan Taylor of the Atlantic’s “In Focus.” Ongoing curation of unforgettable single photos – a moving combination of human and epic images.

Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami,” by Alan McLean, Matthew Ericson and Archie Tse of the New York Times. Dramatic interactive sliders use GeoEye imagery to show before-and-after damage done to six Japanese cities as a result of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

Street-Level Footage of a Town Washing Away,” from Japanese television (via @geneweingarten). Gene Weingarten writes, “The anonymous videographer here is going to be remembered as a modern Zapruder.”

12 Must-See Stories about Covering Conflict,” from MultimediaShooter.com. A roundup of links to Magnum, VII, and other photojournalists and organizations reflecting combat in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Coming Home a Different Person,” from The Washington Post, winner of the Documentary Project of the Year Award from Pictures Of the Year International (POYi). Dramatic visuals, personal stories, and a lot of context fill out our developing understanding of traumatic brain injury and its effects on those fighting in battle or caught in the crossfire. (Those credited for the project include Whitney Shefte, Marvin Joseph, Alberto Cuadra, Christian Davenport, Kat Downs and Marc Fisher.)

And in a quick switch from suggested viewing to suggested reading, those reporting on Mideast unrest or the aftermath of the earthquake might want to return to Nieman Reports’ Winter 2009 issue “Trauma in the Aftermath,”a thought-provoking take on covering conflict and tragedy.

December 22 2010

16:00

New tools and old rules on the sports desk: Making Twitter a part of covering the Denver Broncos

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its winter issue, which focuses on changes in beat reporting. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow in the Lab, but we encourage you to read the whole issue. In this piece Denver Post sportswriter Lindsay Jones talks about how Twitter became part of her day job.

My name is Lindsay Jones, and I am a Twitter-holic.

OK, I admit it. I didn’t take to this Twitter revolution right away. Soon after I joined The Denver Post in the summer of 2008 to be the beat reporter for the Denver Broncos, my editor asked me to tweet as part of my routine at training camp. Twitter wasn’t well known back then, and I remember wondering why anyone would possibly want to receive a 140-character message from training camp or during a nationally televised game.

I did it anyway, and boy, was I wrong.

By the next spring, Twitter — along with other social media — was playing a huge role in my coverage. Tweets were now as big a part of my job as filing stories for the paper, just as they were for my NFL sports writing colleagues. Twitter has completely changed the way we cover football, as I’m sure it has changed all other sports beats.

The Denver Post’s Broncos Twitter account was launched during my first training camp with the team. Since then close to 14,000 tweets have been sent — the majority from me. Nearly all relate directly or indirectly to the Broncos and the NFL, a combination of breaking news from me or my Post partners, analysis (particularly during games), and some back and forth with the public. Some are auto tweets from our Broncos and NFL print and online news stories, columns and analysis.

Keep reading »

December 15 2010

16:00

Juanita León on independent journalism and La Silla Vacía, one of Columbia’s first political blogs

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its winter issue, which focuses on changes in beat reporting. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow in the Lab, but we encourage you to read the whole issue. In this piece Juanita León, a 2007 Nieman Fellow, writes about creating a political news blog in Columbia.

I am convinced that the Internet is changing journalism in ways we never could have imagined only a few years ago. The idea of the reported story as being the basic unit of journalism is being shaken by the Web’s way of sharing information, and along with this change comes a rethinking about the concept of the beat itself.

A year and a half ago I set up an investigative political blog called La Silla Vacía (“The Empty Seat”). It is a website dedicated to covering how power is exercised in Colombia and, as such, it serves as a discussion platform about public issues in my country. With a staff of seven — and about 60 unpaid contributors — La Silla Vacía publishes stories that before we existed were not being told. They are the stories that lie behind the news media’s typical daily political reporting.

In the United States, political blogs are too numerous to count. But in Colombia, La Silla Vacía is the first such experiment with sustainable independent journalism. Here, news organizations are concentrated among a few business conglomerates and families with political backgrounds so a news reporting outlet set up by journalists is truly innovative.

Keep reading »

15:00

#Niemanleaks on Thursday: After WikiLeaks, a flood of new questions

While WikiLeaks’ recent document dumps have answered questions large and small (How many civilians have been killed in Iraq? Does Muammar al-Gaddafi prefer blondes or brunettes?), the organization’s controversial brand of journalism has raised a lot more questions that scholars, working journalists and legal systems around the world are just now beginning to tackle. The Nieman Foundation is hosting “From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Secrecy and Journalism in the New Media Age,” at which speakers ranging from The New York Times’ executive editor Bill Keller to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus will offer their insight into how the rules are changing.

Here are a few of the questions we’ve seen raised, and where you might begin to figure out some answers tomorrow. If you won’t be in attendance, check back here Thursday morning for the live video stream, or watch #niemanleaks on Twitter.

Is WikiLeaks journalism? What does that mean when everyone can blog, Tweet and share instantly with an audience around the world?

Check out the 2:30 p.m. (EST) panel, “Secrets 2.0: Exploring Entrepreneurial Answers to Journalistic Obligations,” which will feature the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison, Basetrack’s Teru Kuwayama, the New York Times’ Aron Pilhofer and others who are helping answer that question through innovative approaches to what journalism is, while pushing back on the notion of what it isn’t. For example, Knight News Challenge winner Basetrack pairs professional war correspondence with the thoughts and reactions of U.S. Marines and their families, who are also blogging their experiences. The Sunlight Foundation, on the other hand, takes massive data sets and made them more accessible and useful, often leaving it up to the reader to connect the dots in creative new ways.

What should we make on all the legal and political pressure being put on WikiLeaks and other news organizations? Should the law dictate how and what is reported, and where do you draw the line on either side?

The “Prosecuted, Banned, Blamed: Reporters Push Boundaries as a Voice of Public Accountability” panel at 10:00 a.m. features a global perspective from current and past Nieman Fellows, including Stefan Candea, who helped map out Romania’s complex web of political and media ownership, as well as fellows from Chile, Cambodia, and South Africa. It will be moderated by the Nieman Foundation’s Stefanie Friedhoff.

For a more local perspective, head to “Whither the Gatekeeper? Navigating New Rules and Roles in the Age of Radical Transparency.” It’ll feature The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus, Clint Hendler from Columbia Journalism Review, Maggie Mulvihill from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and Danielle Brian from the Project on Government Oversight. It’ll be moderated by Nieman Reports‘ Melissa Ludtke.

So in the end, what’s changed post-WikiLeaks?

The conference’s keynotes will tackle the big question of what changes between media and their sources as those sources can increasingly go direct to the audience with their message. Kathleen Carroll executive editor of the Associated Press, will discuss freedom of information in the digital age at 9:10 a.m., while the Times’ Bill Keller will address secrecy, national security, and the press at 1:15 p.m.

December 14 2010

16:00

Meet your host: Inside TBD, where engaging the audience is a new beat

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its winter issue, which focuses on changes in beat reporting. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow in the Lab, but we encourage you to read the whole issue. In this piece the community engagement team from TBD talk about their jobs and what “engagement” means.

The job of engaging with those formerly known as “the audience” is in some ways becoming a new online “beat” — one in search of a simple moniker to describe what it is, the skills required, and the tasks entailed. Four of the six members of TBD’s community engagement team describe what they do at this local news site that came to life in the summer of 2010.

Nathasha Lim:

“I’m a community host at TBD.” That’s what I say when people ask what I do. Hearing this, they smile, sort of, and nod their heads, and then they ask again what it is I really do. By now, this routine is all too familiar — but I can appreciate why. Until I started this job, I hadn’t heard of a community host either. Unlike the previous positions I’ve held — reporter, producer, video journalist — this one was unfamiliar, with responsibilities undefined and always evolving.

While I don’t have a clear definition for my title, in the short time I’ve been doing it, one thing is certain: What I do is unpredictable and diverse. On any given day I will keep an eye on local bloggers and interact with the community via social media. I stay on top of local news by relying on a combination of traditional and new sources. Then I use social media and digital tools to bring accurate and useful news and information to the public — quickly.

Keep reading »

December 13 2010

20:09

Stories inside and outside traditional beats: narrative nods in the winter issue of Nieman Reports

One of our sister sites, Nieman Reports, has just posted its latest issue, “The Beat Goes On.” You can take a gander at the issue in its entirety, but we thought we’d include some highlights for those of you with a particular interest in narrative.

In “Modern-Day Slavery: A Necessary Beat – with Different Challenges,” E. Benjamin Skinner offers a well-written account of reporting on the sex trafficking beat, weighing storytelling with ethics, action, and the needs of his subjects. Melanie Hamman’s “Visual Stories of Human Trafficking’s Victims,” a partner piece to Skinner’s, discusses visual documentary of criminal, exploitative activity, and wounded subjects. “Merely by retelling her story,” Hamman writes, “a victim can be retraumatized, severely complicating her recovery.”

Storyboard contributor (and longtime narrative journalist) Beth Macy offers a sample of the kinds of stories she balances on the family beat at The Roanoke Times and how that beat has changed in her many years there. Looking to the future, Macy says that when it comes to stories, “If we tell them well, it won’t matter what medium we use. They can be our saving grace.”

Very different opinions emerge about new media’s effect on the sports beat, including storytelling in sports. Former Wall Street Journal tech columnist Jason Fry discusses sportswriting as a blogger and ponders what’s most important in reporting. Lindsay Jones, who covers the Broncos for The Denver Post, explains how Twitter works for her. But in excerpts from the 2010 Red Smith Lecture on Journalism at the University of Notre Dame, sportswriter Frank Deford (a senior contributing writer with Sports Illustrated and commentator for NPR) worries about what the digital revolution has done to sportswriting:

“The Internet – or to be kind, the influence of the Internet – is reducing the amount of storytelling in sports journalism … the story – which was always the best of sportswriting, what sports gave so sweetly to us writers – the sports story is the victim. Sportswriting remains so popular – one word. Sports stories – two words, are disappearing.”

Gay Talese might well agree. In an excerpt from an October talk in Boston celebrating the release of “The Silent Season of a Hero: the Sports Writing of Gay Talese,” he answered a question from the audience by saying that reporters are behind their laptops too much. Arguing for being present with subjects and occasionally unplugging, Talese said, “Sometimes I think reporters should waste some time. Good journalism is wasting time.”

The winter issue includes many other stories, from reviews of books about the status of women journalists and the work of legendary writers to a look at whether news organizations have some obligation to tell stories whose audience size may not sustain the resources required to report them. See the full roster here.

September 13 2010

15:00

When journalism meets academia: Reporter teams up with the Carr Center to research violence in Juárez

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, which focuses on the current state of international reporting. There are lots of interesting articles — check out the whole issue — but we're highlighting a few that line up with our subject matter here at the Lab. Here's Monica Campbell, a veteran journalist and former Nieman Fellow, on how her partnership with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard allowed her to continue her work researching and reporting on the drug trade in Juárez. —Josh]

Eight o’clock Monday morning in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Federal cops, their high-powered weapons pointed outward, packed pickup trucks and patrolled the city’s streets. Women waited at a bus stop to head to factory jobs. A newspaper’s front page featured grisly crime scene photos. It was July, searing hot, and I headed to my first interview.

Unlike my previous trips to Juárez, I was not there on a traditional news assignment. On this reporting project my partner was the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. This opportunity arose during my Nieman year when I noticed a growing interest among academics in Mexico’s escalating drug cartel-related violence. Having reported from Mexico for several years, I developed a proposal for research that would focus on citizens’ response to the violence in Juárez, the epicenter of Mexico’s bloody drug war.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

September 10 2010

16:30

Jon Sawyer on what the Pulitzer Center has learned about angel investing in international journalism

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, which focuses on the current state of international reporting. There are lots of interesting articles — check out the whole issue — but we're highlighting a few that line up with our subject matter here at the Lab. Here's Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, on the lessons his organization has learned about nonprofit journalism. —Josh]

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting began with a simple idea — that we could leverage small travel grants to journalists to assure multiple voices on big global issues and at the same time help talented individuals sustain careers as foreign correspondents. Five years and some 150 projects later those remain key goals but our mission has expanded — and with it our sense of what is required of nonprofit journalism initiatives like the Pulitzer Center.

Some lessons we’ve learned:

Collaboration: Our best projects have entailed partnerships with multiple organizations and outlets. We developed our expertise on video by producing several dozen short pieces for the now defunct public television program Foreign Exchange With Fareed Zakaria, for example, and we extended our audience by partnering with YouTube on its first video reporting contest. In our project on Sudan we are collaborating with The Washington Post to support the work of journalist/attorney Rebecca Hamilton and funding complementary coverage on PBS NewsHour. We have worked in tandem with NewsHour and National Geographic to promote our common work on the global water crisis. In these and other reporting initiatives we have recruited donors with an interest in raising the visibility of systemic issues — and an appreciation that the journalism cannot succeed unless there is an assurance of absolute independence in our work.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

June 17 2010

14:00

“A super sophisticated mashup”: The semantic web’s promise and peril

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, and its focus is the new digital landscape of journalism. There are lots of interesting articles, and we're highlighting a few. Here, former Knight Fellow Andrew Finlayson explains the role of journalists in the semantic web. —Josh]

In the movie Terminator, humanity started down the path to destruction when a supercomputer called Skynet started to become smarter on its own. I was reminded of that possibility during my research about the semantic web.

Never heard of the semantic web? I don’t blame you. Much of it is still in the lab, the plaything of academics and computer scientists. To hear some of them debate it, the semantic web will evolve, like Skynet, into an all powerful thing that can help us understand our world or create various crises when it starts to develop a form of connected intelligence.

Intrigued? I was. Particularly when I asked computer scientists about how this concept could change journalism in the next five years. The true believers say the semantic web could help journalists report complex ever-changing stories and reach new audiences. The critics doubt the semantic web will be anything but a high-tech fantasy. But even some of the doubters are willing to speculate that computers using pieces of the semantic Web will increasingly report much of the news in the not too distant future.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

June 16 2010

13:00

Agents of immediacy: Nick Carr on why journalists need to “teach people to pay attention again”

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, and its focus is the new digital landscape of journalism. There are lots of interesting articles, and we're highlighting a few. Here, Internet provocateur Nicholas Carr writes about the tension between immediacy and understanding online. —Josh]

“Thought will spread across the world with the rapidity of light, instantly conceived, instantly written, instantly understood. It will blanket the earth from one pole to the other — sudden, instantaneous, burning with the fervor of the soul from which it burst forth.”

Those opening words would seem to describe, with the zeal typical of the modern techno-utopian, the arrival of our new online media environment with its feeds, streams, texts and tweets. What is the Web if not sudden, instantaneous and burning with fervor? But French poet and politician Alphonse de Lamartine wrote these words in 1831 to describe the emergence of the daily newspaper. Journalism, he proclaimed, would soon become “the whole of human thought.” Books, incapable of competing with the immediacy of morning and evening papers, were doomed: “Thought will not have time to ripen, to accumulate into the form of a book—the book will arrive too late. The only book possible from today is a newspaper.”

Lamartine’s prediction of the imminent demise of books didn’t pan out. Newspapers did not take their place. But he was a prophet nonetheless. The story of media, particularly the news media, has for the last two centuries been a story of the pursuit of ever greater immediacy. From broadsheet to telegram, radio broadcast to TV bulletin, blog to Twitter, we’ve relentlessly ratcheted up the velocity of information flow.

To Shakespeare, ripeness was all. Today, ripeness doesn’t seem to count for much. Nowness is all.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

June 15 2010

16:00

What does the shift from editor-as-gatekeeper to a collective pursuit mean for the news industry?

[Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its latest issue, and its focus is the new digital landscape of journalism. There are lots of interesting articles, and we'll be highlighting a few here over the next few days. Here, our friend Ken Doctor writes about how the gatekeeping function of editors changes in a digital world. —Josh]

In the early 1990’s, I became managing editor of Saint Paul, Minnesota’s Pioneer Press, a proud Knight Ridder newspaper locked in mortal daily combat with Minneapolis’s Star Tribune, just across the river. I recall well the day when I had to make my first tough calls — the news we were going to place prominently on Page One and the news we weren’t. I felt an odd mix of exhilaration and fear.

I was the final arbiter of what would greet several hundred thousand people who picked up the paper each morning. What if I chose wrong? So I focused on choosing right, and with that confidence grew the assumed power and nonchalant arrogance of the gatekeeper. That’s what top editors were, and still are, though their power is diminishing each day by weakening print circulation and an odd feeling of being on the losing side in history’s march into digital journalism.

In this hybrid era of straddling print and digital publishing, the role of the gatekeeper has markedly morphed. It’s shifted from “us” to “them,” but “them” includes a lowercase version of “us,” too. Gatekeeping is now a collective pursuit; we’ve become our own and each other’s editors. I picked this idea to be the lead trend in my book Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, published earlier this year by St. Martin’s Press. I called the chapter “In the Age of Darwinian Content, You Are Your Own Editor,” and since I named it I’ve never regretted giving it top billing.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

June 14 2010

18:09

NIEMAN REPORTS: THE LAST ISSUE

niemanreports_banner

The Summer 2010 issue of the Harvard University Nieman Reports is here.

The Digital Landscape: what’s Next for News is the main topic that includes many contribution from around the world.

The full index is here and my piece here.

My headlines:

The Tablet’s Mobile Multimedia Revolution: A Reality Check

‘In my opinion, tablets, like the Internet in the past, are fantastic opportunities, not just devices on which to perform the same old tricks.’

By Juan Antonio Giner

18:00

New issue of Nieman Reports: The digital landscape

Our friends at sister publication Nieman Reports have come out with their summer issue, and it’s a doozy: 36 pieces about journalism’s new digital landscape, from the state of brain science to iPad hackers to how young people interact with media. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but here’s a sampling of some of what you’ll find:

Nick Carr on the threat skimming poses to news producers and consumers;

Doug Rushkoff on the Internet’s bias “to the amateur and to the immediate”;

James Paul Gee on what video games teach us about audience engagement;

Brant Houston on building online tools for investigative reporting; and

Esther Wojcicki on teenagers’ opinions about tablet devices like the iPad.

There’s tons more, from names you’ll recognize (our own Ken Doctor, Nora Paul, John Brockman, Michele McLellan, Juan Antonio Giner) and some you might not. Go check out the full table of contents and dive in.

April 06 2010

13:30

Check out the future of photography: The current issue of Nieman Reports

Written journalism isn’t the only form being radically transformed by technology. Sure, the Internet may have eliminated the monopoly that the Gotham Morning News enjoyed, and any web page could be one link away from the attention of millions. But photojournalism is also having both its distribution model and its production model changed. The old client news organizations aren’t paying any more (at least not as much). The price of quality cameras has dropped so much that a skill-less amateur can, almost by accident, create a great shot. And a good photo gets spread around the Internet so quickly that maintaining ownership — and the money that comes with it — can be almost impossible.

Those issues are some of the ones that the current issue of Nieman Reports wrestles with. Where is photojournalism headed? Is it into a headlong embrace of new technologies? Toward a business model that can sustain professional work? Or toward a model in which an army of cameraphones are good enough? As Nieman Reports editor Melissa Ludtke puts it in her intro to the issue:

Photojournalism’s destination and audience, once pre-ordained by the news organizations that paid the cost of doing business, are now in flux. Digital possibilities are limitless, but what is now required of photojournalists are an entrepreneurial mindset and a facility with digital tools. On the Web, photographs now act as gateways to information and context, to stories told by participants and conversations held by viewers.

Here are some of the stories Lab readers will be interested in:

— Ed Kashi writes about shifting to multimedia in the age of declining traditional media.

— Brian Storm talks with Melissa about the new digital distribution model for photography.

— VII’s Stephen Mayes talks about the shifting roles of photo agencies.

— Ian Ginsberg compares photojournalism’s changes to those of the music industry.

— Turi Munthe explains the digital wire service they’ve built at Demotix.

The entire issue is worth your time.

March 17 2010

14:00

The Milton Wolf Seminar: NGOs, media, and diplomacy

For the next couple days, I’ll be attending a seminar on how changes in the media landscape are affecting diplomacy. The event, the Milton Wolf Seminar, will include a series of panels and discussions with leaders at international NGOs, journalists, and members of the diplomatic community — a group I’m excited to meet and interview and whose thoughts I’ll be sharing with you here.

The seminar is put on by the American Austria Foundation, the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, which is sponsoring my trip.

The seminar builds on themes from the series we ran here at the Lab, in partnership with Annenberg, on the changing role of international NGOs in the media ecosystem, with newspapers and TV cutting foreign bureaus and coverage abroad. As the introductory post asked:

What happens when news making and journalistic functions are increasingly outsourced or claimed by other actors with no original training in this field and its editorial standards? How central are new media to the alterations and growing distortions of the traditional journalistic sphere and how, if at all, can they be harnessed?

One session at the conference will address that issue directly, looking at how large NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Medecins sans Frontieres are using social media to produce and spread an incredible amount of their own content. One of the panelists, Simon Cottle of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies wrote an essay in our series on how NGOs bend to the needs of new organizations in the battle for coverage:

NGOs have become increasingly embroiled within a “media logic” that is far removed from the ideals and aims of humanitarianism. This is demonstrated in how aid NGOs seek to “brand” their organizations in the media in response to an increasingly crowded, competitive and media-hungry field; how they pitch and package stories in ways designed to appeal to known media interests, deploying celebrity and publicity events; how they regionalize and personalize media coverage of humanitarian work in the field, marginalizing if not occluding local relief efforts and the role of survivors; and also how they expend valuable time, resources and energy to safeguard their organizational reputations and credibility against the risks of media-led scandals.

It should be an interesting couple of days — keep reading.

December 15 2009

15:00

New issue of Nieman Reports: Reporting on trauma

Our friends at Nieman Reports have put together their new edition, and it focuses on an important issue: the interaction between journalists and trauma. How can reporters respectfully cover communities that have been through devastating circumstances? How can they make sure their stories reach an audience overburdened by sad tales? And how do journalists themselves deal with the emotional impact of covering people in great pain?

Go check out the table of contents yourself, but I do want to single out this piece by Jerome Aumente on Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who gained fame/infamy for throwing his shoes at George W. Bush. Aumente — who was working as a trainer for international journalists in conflict zones — met al-Zaidi a few weeks before the world media did:

I was conducting a weeklong series of workshop lectures on the impact of the Internet and new media for about 30 journalists from Iraq. After class, one of the participants, Muntader al-Zaidi, a Baghdad-based Iraqi TV reporter with Al Baghdadia, approached me and shared with me that in the previous year he’d been kidnapped, then released unharmed a few days later by one of the militant factions. He’d also been detained by U.S. forces and released. According to family members, al-Zaidi was deeply affected by his coverage of the death and suffering of civilians, especially women and children. In Beirut, he asked me for help: he said he was nervous, unable to sleep at night, and was suffering from post-traumatic stress. Could I find him help in the United States?

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