Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

May 29 2013

18:17

It’s time to talk about interns

It’s graduation season, and the end of the academic year means thousands of college students and grads are headed off to their summer internships. Just in time for their departure, David Dennis wrote a piece for The Guardian exhorting the journalism industry to end its reliance on the unpaid intern industry, which Dennis says prevents low and middle-class students from ever achieving media careers, thereby disenfranchising wide swaths of the population.

At the same time, ProPublica has launched Investigating Internships, a crowd funding effort to help pay the salary of an intern who will, in turn, use their time there to “tell the stories of the millions of interns across the U.S.”

We plan to send our intern to college campuses across the country, collecting intern stories in a visual way (think video, animation, graphics). We will be closely involved from ProPublica HQ, training our intern in multimedia, reporting and editing skills while they’re on the road.

These stories are a vital part of this investigation. While our reporters will focus on deep dive watchdog reporting, our intern will help highlight the human side of the issue in a visual, creative way.

However, if we don’t raise the money to cover the salary, travel and production costs, we won’t be able to hire someone.

So if you’re moved by Dennis’s arguments, you can do your part by helping at least one journalism intern get paid this summer.

September 05 2012

15:39

Miranda Mulligan: Want to produce hirable grads, journalism schools? Teach them to code

Editor’s Note: It’s the start of the school year, which means students are returning to journalism programs around the country. As the media industry continues to evolve, how well is new talent being trained, and how well are schools preparing them for the real world?

We asked an array of people — hiring editors, recent graduates, professors, technologists, deans — to evaluate the job j-schools are doing and to offer ideas for how they might improve. Over the coming days, we’ll be sharing their thoughts with you. Here’s Miranda Mulligan — new executive director of the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern, formerly digital design director for The Boston Globe — arguing that journalists need to learn how to code if they want to become better (and employable) storytellers.

Learning how to make software for storytelling and how to realize news presentations into code are currently the hottest, most pressing skillsets journalists can study. There has never before been more urgency for our industry to understand enough code to have meaningful conversations with technologists.

And yet if you attend any event with a collection of jouro-nerd types, inevitably the same question will come up. Someone will ask — philosophically, of course — “How can we tell better stories on the web?” and proceed to bemoan the tedium of reading a daily newspaper and a newspaper website, likening it to Groundhog Day, the same stories presented the same way, day after day. Sooner or later others add their frustrations that “we” — in 2012 — are still writing for the front page instead of the homepage.

It is our job as educators to remove fear of learning, a fear notoriously prevalent in journalists.

We’ve all had this discussion a thousand times. But now, it’s not just the visual journalists complaining about the stagnation of online storytelling and presentation.

For me, there’s only one response to this: Journalists should learn more about code. Understanding our medium makes us better storytellers. For an industry that prides itself on being smart, tolerating ignorance of the Internet is just stupid.

The time is now for our future journalists to learn about code. We need to innovate our curricula, really looking at what we are teaching our students. Learning, or mastering, specific software is not properly preparing our future journalists for successful, life-long careers. No one can learn digital storytelling in a semester. Mastering Dreamweaver and Flash isn’t very future-friendly, and having a single mid-level “Online Journalism” course offered as an elective does more harm than good. We should be teaching code in all of our journalism courses — each semester, each year, until graduation.

The list of jobs for designers and journalists who can write code is growing — seemingly exponentially. So, let’s all grab our copies of The Art of War and attack this problem from every angle: We need to teach our students to be more technologically literate. We need to teach them how to learn and how to fail. That, my friends, is making the Internet.

I am not arguing that every single writer/editor/publisher who learns some programming should end up becoming a software engineer or a refined web designer. The end goal here is not programming fluency. However, there’s a lot of value in understanding how browsers read and render our stories. Reporting and writing a story, writing some code (HTML, CSS, Javascript), and programming complex applications and services are all collections of skills. A fundamental knowledge of code allows for:

  • More significant conversations about digital presentation, ultimately leading to better, more meaningful, online storytelling. Understanding your medium makes you better at your craft.
  • Deeper thought and understanding of data. Learning more about what goes into writing and programming software teaches you to think in terms of abstractions, functions, parameters, components, frameworks, object classes, templates, and more.

Journalism needs hirable graduates that can create sophisticated visual presentations and can realize them in code. But many students are intimidated, not excited, by the tools now fundamental to visual storytelling. In fact, the prevailing sentiment throughout journalism and communications specialties is that “we” are still intimidated. Maybe this attitude is trickling down to the universities — or maybe up from them. But “we” have all got to get over our fear of the Internet.

Last September, I participated in a half-day student seminar at the Society of News Design’s annual workshop in St. Louis. To be brazen and speak for my panel-mates, we were all shocked by how apprehensive the students were toward HTML, CSS, and Javascript. In fact, after three hours of nudging them to make the time to learn some code, a female student boldly asserted that she really didn’t care about digital design and wanted advice for students hoping to break into print design.

It’s our job as educators to remove fear of learning, a fear notoriously prevalent in journalists. HTML is not magic. Writing code is not wizardry; it’s just hard work. Learning to program will not save journalism and probably won’t change the way we write our stories. It is, however, a heck of a lot more fun being a journalist on the web once “how computers read and understand our content” is understood.

Learning to program not only provides a practical skill — it also teaches problem solving. Students are learning more precise and nuanced thought processes, and the depth of their understanding of information and data will only grow. Also, for visual journalists, teaching code is teaching information design. Both news designers and web designers are burdened with the same responsibilities: organizing and rationally arranging content, illustrating ideas to deepen the understanding of a story, and working within the constraints of the medium.

I believe the most important thing an instructor can ever do is inspire students to be open-minded about their skills. No one knows what the storytelling landscape will look like in two years, let alone a decade from now. As educators, we can make becoming a digital journalist feel accessible and attainable. Graduates should leave armed with a skillset that includes the ability to learn quickly and adapt, to be open to new ideas and solutions, and to take initiative like the self-starters they were born to become. They will never get bored, and they will always be employable.

Our journalism pedagogy should inspire future digital journalists to be Internauts, to continually grow, constantly teaching themselves the newest storytelling tools and techniques, instilling processes for life-long learning.

Image by Steve Rhode used under a Creative Commons license.

February 24 2011

17:00

Professor Pablo Boczkowski on news consumption — and how when you read affects what you read

We wrote in September about Pablo Boczkowski’s new book, News at Work: Imitation in an Age of Newsroom Abundance. During a talk at Harvard’s Kennedy School, the Northwestern communications professor discussed the effects of imitation in the news space, highlighting a troubling paradox: Though we live in a time of abundant information, we also live in a time of homogenization. Repetition is everywhere.

It’s an intriguing phenomenon, but it’s not the only one in Boczkowski is studying. Another fascinating aspect of the professor’s research — the aspect, in fact, for which the book is named — is the study he conducted of the environments in which people consume their news. People tend to read the news at work; and that, in turn, skews the news content they consume. (For more on that idea — and for the broader trends it suggests about information consumption and civic life — check out the talk Boczkowski will be giving this evening, with the Lab’s own Josh Benton, as part of MIT’s Communications Forum. If you’re in the Cambridge area, the discussion will take place from 5 to 7 on the MIT campus; it’ll also be recorded and archived.)

When it comes to news, how does where we consume affect what what we consume? Above is a video, shot back in 2009 by former Lab-er Ted Delaney, of Boczkowski discussing the “news at work” ideas and implications; below is its transcript.


…is that the time and place of work has become a very important temporal and spacial location of online news consumption for a fairly large number of people who get the news online. Whereas in the case of traditional media — like print newspapers, television newscasts, radio newscasts — you would get the news before or after work, or going to and from work, but not at the time and place of work. Now, a sizable proportion of the people who get the news online get the news at work. And that has been changing how we get the news, what kind of news we get when we’re at work, and whom we talk to — the person, the people we talk to — when we talk to people about the news at work.

So, for instance, just to give you some examples, when people are at work, they tend to spend first some time, the first time that they visit the news sites during the day, or a number of news sites during the day, they tend to spend time looking at those sites in a routine, comprehensive fashion: They scan the home pages, they click on some stories, and so on and so forth. And then any subsequent visits after that are of much shorter duration, more focused on particular issues. Usually not clicking after that, just browsing on the homepage, looking at a particular story. A coworker said, “Oh, there is a big fire in this neighborhood; oh, have you looked at these poll results from that kind of competition.” People go online, check 15, 20 seconds, maybe a minute — maybe they will look at the first paragraph of the story, then they leave the site.

And the other thing that has happened is that because of the social norms of the workplace, usually it’s not well seen to have conversations with coworkers about politically, for instance, sensitive, or culturally sensitive or contentious issues. And because the people we talk to tend to influence the kinds of news that we get — sometimes to the point that we look at particular news stories because we anticipate having conversations about those stories with, in this case, the people with whom we work.

That tends to steer people away from the consumption of politically sensitive topics, and move them towards consumption of sports stories, stories celebrity stories — topics that are more innocuous, and lighter in terms of workplace conversations. And that also marks an interesting shift to people who for example work in a home environment, in a home office, versus the people who work in an office environment, with many other coworkers. The people who tend to work in an office environment, with other coworkers, and get the news online at work, tend to identify the consumption of online news with the workplace. So when they leave the office, right, because there is that symbolic association between the consumption of news and the workplace, they don’t want, when they’re at home, or it’s the weekend, they don’t want to get the news online. They’re less predisposed, because, at home, it’s not work, so they shouldn’t be doing work-related stuff. Versus the people who work in the home environment, they keep checking news sites after they finish working, right — or, at least, they have a higher chance of doing that — and also spending time looking at news during the weekend.

So these are some of the ways in which the consumption of online news at work has changed some of the habitualized, some of the routine patterns of news consumption that we have seen in traditional media. Sometimes major changes, sometimes intensifying pre-existing habits, and sometimes conforming to what we have known before. For instance, this issue that the people we talk to, the most proximate social relations, are a major factor in shaping what news we get and the kinds of things we talk about.

November 23 2010

13:52

Scholarship winner wants to help media "explore new digital revenue models"

When a Knight News Challenge grant made it possible to award journalism scholarships to people with backgrounds in computer science, no one -- not even the first scholarship applicants -- knew what career opportunities would be available to "programmer-journalists."

Five Knight scholars will graduate from Medill in December. Here's the second of a series of posts describing them and their career goals and plans. Other profiles: Geoffrey Hing.

Jesse Young

Jesse Young has worked for two Internet startups in the Bay Area, but he came to Medill in part because of his love for magazines -- the printed kind. He's particularly interested in the challenges of making magazines financially viable online.

In the Medill innovation project class he's currently enrolled in (along with the other four Knight scholars), Jesse is one of the leaders of the business team, which is identifying revenue strategies for hyperlocal publishers. He'd like to do the same for a magazine like Harper's.

"I'm interested in finding ways to help media get back to profitability," Jesse says. "Companies need to explore new digital revenue models that aren't just throwbacks to print."

While at Medill, Jesse reported on the telecom industry, writing about broadband technology, consumer protection and mobile applications.

He and some of his classmates also launched Flood Magazine, a Web site that garnered some attention earlier this month when Jesse showed how easy it was for a technically savvy non-subscriber to bypass the publication's "paywall" barrier.

Before coming to Medill, Jesse earned a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California-Berkeley.  He has worked as a developer and software engineer for MOG and Howcast.

For more information about Jesse, check out his LinkedIn profile.

November 22 2010

17:24

Graduating Programmer-Journalist Wants to Help Underserved Communities

When a Knight News Challenge grant made it possible to award journalism scholarships to people with backgrounds in computer science, no one -- not even the first scholarship applicants -- knew what career opportunities would be available to "programmer-journalists."

One of the first two Knight scholars wrote a guest post for Idea Lab suggesting eight different career paths for people who, as I like to put it, are bilingual in journalism and technology.

Five Knight scholars will graduate from Medill in December.  Here's the first of a series of posts describing them and their career goals and plans.

Hing_cropped.jpg

Geoffrey Hing's goal is to collaborate with people who aren't well-served by media or other information sources get the information they need to make important decisions, improve their lives or better understand their communities. He sees his future not exclusively as a journalist or a software developer but more as an information designer who helps solve problems by drawing on technology, community insight and knowledge, and the multidisciplinary skills of diverse collaborators.

"I am interested in using technology to try to meet the information needs of communities that aren't served or likely to be served by industry," he says.

Projects that have excited Geoff recently include Voces Móviles (Mobile Voices), which enables immigrant workers in Southern California to create and publish multimedia stories from their mobile phones, and Between the Bars, a project at MIT (written about recently on Idealab) that crowdsources the transcription of prisoner letters into blog posts. He is interested in exploring participatory design methods like the ones surveyed in a recent article from the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative.

In his time at Medill, Geoff wrote articles on housing issues such as eviction and affordable rental housing, the intersection of race and political power in Chicago, uses of social media for community empowerment and neighborhood conflict across race and age.

He missed doing programming work. "At Medill it was very frustrating not to do more technology development, especially when there were problems that could be solved with a little hacking," Geoff said.

Geoff has has a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from the Ohio State University. After graduating, he worked for an Internet service provider, the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project (which provides reading material to prison inmates), and the research technologies department at Indiana University.

Geoff has settled in Chicago and would prefer to stay here. His ideal job would be about one-third programming, one third management and strategy, and one third training or community organizing.

"I would love to be the go-to developer for community-centered media projects in Chicago, especially short-term, fast, agile ones," Geoff says.

You can learn more about Geoff on his Web site, The Reality Tunnel.

November 20 2009

09:48

Adam Westbrook: Northwestern University’s journalism students and the ‘Innocence Project’

Adam Westbrook looks at an ongoing project at Northwestern University in the US, where students under the leadership of investigative journalist David Protess investigate, fact check and data mine criminal convictions in their region.

Focusing on murder cases where the defendants have been sentence to execution, the group has to date freed 11 men through their work.

“This isn’t so much an idea which has any business revenue potential obviously, although there’s a chance it could get a decent grant here and there. But what a way to get students engaged during their studies! And what a way to teach them the most difficult skill of all: investigation,” writes Westbrook.

Full post at this link…

Similar Posts:



Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl