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March 27 2012

17:35

6 ways to get started in community management

Following on from my previous post on the network journalist role, and as part of a wider experiment around the 5 roles in an investigations team, I wanted to flesh out what exactly a community editor role means when adopted as part of a journalism project.

First I need to add a disclaimer: the terms “community editor” (CE) and “community manager” (CM) are used to refer to a very wide range of jobs in a number of industries. I’m not sure what distinction there is – if any – but my hunch is that the title ‘community editor’ has been overtaken by its ‘manager’ variation because it rightly places the focus more on the community than its content.

Even within journalism, the role can vary enormously. This is partly because the communities themselves, and the challenges that they represent, differ so much. For example:

  • A mass market – anonymous and diverse, which a CM must try to somehow ‘convert’ into one or more healthy niche communities
  • No community – the CM is asked to ‘build it from scratch’
  • The CM’s website(s) already have active communities. The CM’s role is to maintain, support, and further develop those.
  • Communities exist, but not on the website(s) of the CM’s employer – the CM is asked to engage with those (this is more of a Community Editor role)

This post will be dealing with the last situation, which is the one in which most journalists first find themselves: with neither a platform nor a community.

With that out of the way, here are 6 things I think an individual can do as part of their first foray into community management/editing as a journalist:

1. Know where the communities are

This seems like a no-brainer but it’s all too easy to miss communities because you can’t find any evidence of them on Twitter or Facebook.

Along with specialist social networks (LinkedIn for professionals; MySpace for musicians; even profession-specific networks such as Doctors.net), there are forums, wikis, mailing lists, and various other places where people gather to share information and support.

The social media prism by Brian Solis (shown below) is one useful tool for checking if you’ve covered every possible angle on this front. For example: have you thought of looking for your community on Flickr? Last.fm? Digg? A locally popular platform? (LiveJournal dominates in eastern Europe, for example, while QQ is China’s answer to Twitter, Mixi is Japan‘s answer to Facebook, and Orkut and Hi5 have a healthy userbase in places like Brazil and India)

social media prism

Look for the communities in every corner of the net – don’t expect them to come pre-labelled. For example, the forums of local football clubs and local newspapers often contain corners devoted to topics other than football and news. And follow people as well as topics: if you find someone in your field, search for their username across the web and see what other places they contribute to.

One other place to look: the physical world. Live events, conferences, meetups and other gatherings are ideal places to build relationships with members of the community – as well as a great opportunity for providing live coverage online that will lead you to others, and others to you.

2. Look for problems to solve

Once you’ve identified and are following the community, try to find your best role within it. Remember that the community is not here to serve you: barging in and asking for case studies will get you the same response as if you did that in any physical social space: blank stares and muttered insults.

The simplest way to find a place in a community is through solving problems.

Listen for questions that people are asking, or complaints that they make. A key skill of a journalist is to find the answers to questions, or get responses to complaints – so that’s likely to be one way you can contribute.

Those answers and responses, of course, also make for good evergreen content (which can help you attract other members of the community), so cross-post them on your blog as well as on the platforms where the community gathers.

You might also see the need for physical meetups or other events – don’t be afraid to get stuck in and organise one.

3. Be interested – listen and ask questions

You will be both a better journalist and community editor if you listen as much as possible, and ask when you want to hear more about something.

It doesn’t have to be newsworthy – in fact, it’s sometimes better when it’s not – because often it’s an understanding of the small details and complex context which makes for better journalism and, by extension, better – and more – relationships with contacts.

4. Create content out of the process of discovery

As you explore a community a good practice to adopt is to record your research in ways that make it easier for others to engage with the community too. This helps you see what is interesting about a community, as well as creating content which can help contacts find you.

Examples of typical content created from the process of community research include:

  • ‘Top 20 people in [an industry] to follow on Twitter’
  • ‘The best forums for [your field or issue]‘
  • ‘The hottest discussions about the [issue] right now’
  • ‘Where do [profession] go for advice on [problem]?’
  • ‘The best blogs about [your field/issue]‘
  • ‘Forums roundup: what people are saying about [issue/question]‘

You may need to make a choice on where to post this content, especially if the community is not a big user of blogs. Don’t publish in a way that is disconnected from the community that you are supposed to be serving: at the very least cross-publish to the platforms where discussion is healthiest. Don’t spam shared spaces with links to external content.

You might also profile members of the community, or – at a later stage – create something that pulls together profiles, points of view, or experiences. For example: this Times Educational Supplement piece collects excluded pupils’ experiences (incomplete version online); We Are The 99 Percent uses Tumblr to pull together the experiences that inspired a protest movement; and Spitalfields Life seeks to document the places and people of the area, while this Guardian interactive allows you to explore the voices of 100 NHS workers on health reforms.

5. Link, retweet, attribute and comment

Finally, it’s important to link to content from your community as often as possible. This does two things: firstly, it demonstrates good attribution and demonstrates that you are not looking to take credit for yourself which belongs to others. And secondly, it makes other people aware of your work: a link to another blog generates a ‘pingback’ which alerts the author to your piece. Twitter users are notified if their tweet is retweeted by you, Facebook users if you ‘like’ their update, and so on. Comments are an extension of the same principle of acknowledgement.

Linking – or ‘linkblogging’ – is also the simplest way to begin engaging with a field and its communities, and a good habit to get into if you want to understand an area and get in the habit of keeping up to date with it. For more on that, 7 ways to follow a field… is a good guide.

6. Read about community management

As you gain in confidence and reputation, you may find yourself doing more and more in your community. Community management is, to my mind, one of the hardest roles in online journalism to do well, and the more insights you can gather from others, the better prepared you will be.

This list of resources from FeverBee is as good as they come. You should also follow blogs in the field – that list contains a section on those, but if you just want 5 to start with, here’s a bundle to subscribe to.

PS: If you want to see explanations of job descriptions of the CM, and other roles such as social media manager, this post by Blaise Grimes-Viort does a very good job of trying to unpick the subtle differences and links to typical job descriptions. More on traits of community managers at ReadWriteWebThe Constant Observer and Business2Community.

17:35

6 ways to get started in community management

Following on from my previous post on the network journalist role, and as part of a wider experiment around the 5 roles in an investigations team, I wanted to flesh out what exactly a community editor role means when adopted as part of a journalism project.

First I need to add a disclaimer: the terms “community editor” (CE) and “community manager” (CM) are used to refer to a very wide range of jobs in a number of industries. I’m not sure what distinction there is – if any – but my hunch is that the title ‘community editor’ has been overtaken by its ‘manager’ variation because it rightly places the focus more on the community than its content.

Even within journalism, the role can vary enormously. This is partly because the communities themselves, and the challenges that they represent, differ so much. For example:

  • A mass market – anonymous and diverse, which a CM must try to somehow ‘convert’ into one or more healthy niche communities
  • No community – the CM is asked to ‘build it from scratch’
  • The CM’s website(s) already have active communities. The CM’s role is to maintain, support, and further develop those.
  • Communities exist, but not on the website(s) of the CM’s employer – the CM is asked to engage with those (this is more of a Community Editor role)

This post will be dealing with the last situation, which is the one in which most journalists first find themselves: with neither a platform nor a community.

With that out of the way, here are 6 things I think an individual can do as part of their first foray into community management/editing as a journalist:

1. Know where the communities are

This seems like a no-brainer but it’s all too easy to miss communities because you can’t find any evidence of them on Twitter or Facebook.

Along with specialist social networks (LinkedIn for professionals; MySpace for musicians; even profession-specific networks such as Doctors.net), there are forums, wikis, mailing lists, and various other places where people gather to share information and support.

The social media prism by Brian Solis (shown below) is one useful tool for checking if you’ve covered every possible angle on this front. For example: have you thought of looking for your community on Flickr? Last.fm? Digg? A locally popular platform? (LiveJournal dominates in eastern Europe, for example, while QQ is China’s answer to Twitter, Mixi is Japan‘s answer to Facebook, and Orkut and Hi5 have a healthy userbase in places like Brazil and India)

social media prism

Look for the communities in every corner of the net – don’t expect them to come pre-labelled. For example, the forums of local football clubs and local newspapers often contain corners devoted to topics other than football and news. And follow people as well as topics: if you find someone in your field, search for their username across the web and see what other places they contribute to.

One other place to look: the physical world. Live events, conferences, meetups and other gatherings are ideal places to build relationships with members of the community – as well as a great opportunity for providing live coverage online that will lead you to others, and others to you.

2. Look for problems to solve

Once you’ve identified and are following the community, try to find your best role within it. Remember that the community is not here to serve you: barging in and asking for case studies will get you the same response as if you did that in any physical social space: blank stares and muttered insults.

The simplest way to find a place in a community is through solving problems.

Listen for questions that people are asking, or complaints that they make. A key skill of a journalist is to find the answers to questions, or get responses to complaints – so that’s likely to be one way you can contribute.

Those answers and responses, of course, also make for good evergreen content (which can help you attract other members of the community), so cross-post them on your blog as well as on the platforms where the community gathers.

You might also see the need for physical meetups or other events – don’t be afraid to get stuck in and organise one.

3. Be interested – listen and ask questions

You will be both a better journalist and community editor if you listen as much as possible, and ask when you want to hear more about something.

It doesn’t have to be newsworthy – in fact, it’s sometimes better when it’s not – because often it’s an understanding of the small details and complex context which makes for better journalism and, by extension, better – and more – relationships with contacts.

4. Create content out of the process of discovery

As you explore a community a good practice to adopt is to record your research in ways that make it easier for others to engage with the community too. This helps you see what is interesting about a community, as well as creating content which can help contacts find you.

Examples of typical content created from the process of community research include:

  • ‘Top 20 people in [an industry] to follow on Twitter’
  • ‘The best forums for [your field or issue]‘
  • ‘The hottest discussions about the [issue] right now’
  • ‘Where do [profession] go for advice on [problem]?’
  • ‘The best blogs about [your field/issue]‘
  • ‘Forums roundup: what people are saying about [issue/question]‘

You may need to make a choice on where to post this content, especially if the community is not a big user of blogs. Don’t publish in a way that is disconnected from the community that you are supposed to be serving: at the very least cross-publish to the platforms where discussion is healthiest. Don’t spam shared spaces with links to external content.

You might also profile members of the community, or – at a later stage – create something that pulls together profiles, points of view, or experiences. For example: this Times Educational Supplement piece collects excluded pupils’ experiences (incomplete version online); We Are The 99 Percent uses Tumblr to pull together the experiences that inspired a protest movement; and Spitalfields Life seeks to document the places and people of the area, while this Guardian interactive allows you to explore the voices of 100 NHS workers on health reforms.

5. Link, retweet, attribute and comment

Finally, it’s important to link to content from your community as often as possible. This does two things: firstly, it demonstrates good attribution and demonstrates that you are not looking to take credit for yourself which belongs to others. And secondly, it makes other people aware of your work: a link to another blog generates a ‘pingback’ which alerts the author to your piece. Twitter users are notified if their tweet is retweeted by you, Facebook users if you ‘like’ their update, and so on. Comments are an extension of the same principle of acknowledgement.

Linking – or ‘linkblogging’ – is also the simplest way to begin engaging with a field and its communities, and a good habit to get into if you want to understand an area and get in the habit of keeping up to date with it. For more on that, 7 ways to follow a field… is a good guide.

6. Read about community management

As you gain in confidence and reputation, you may find yourself doing more and more in your community. Community management is, to my mind, one of the hardest roles in online journalism to do well, and the more insights you can gather from others, the better prepared you will be.

This list of resources from FeverBee is as good as they come. You should also follow blogs in the field – that list contains a section on those, but if you just want 5 to start with, here’s a bundle to subscribe to.

PS: If you want to see explanations of job descriptions of the CM, and other roles such as social media manager, this post by Blaise Grimes-Viort does a very good job of trying to unpick the subtle differences and links to typical job descriptions. More on traits of community managers at ReadWriteWebThe Constant Observer and Business2Community.

17:35

6 ways to get started in community management

Following on from my previous post on the network journalist role, and as part of a wider experiment around the 5 roles in an investigations team, I wanted to flesh out what exactly a community editor role means when adopted as part of a journalism project.

First I need to add a disclaimer: the terms “community editor” (CE) and “community manager” (CM) are used to refer to a very wide range of jobs in a number of industries. I’m not sure what distinction there is – if any – but my hunch is that the title ‘community editor’ has been overtaken by its ‘manager’ variation because it rightly places the focus more on the community than its content.

Even within journalism, the role can vary enormously. This is partly because the communities themselves, and the challenges that they represent, differ so much. For example:

  • A mass market – anonymous and diverse, which a CM must try to somehow ‘convert’ into one or more healthy niche communities
  • No community – the CM is asked to ‘build it from scratch’
  • The CM’s website(s) already have active communities. The CM’s role is to maintain, support, and further develop those.
  • Communities exist, but not on the website(s) of the CM’s employer – the CM is asked to engage with those (this is more of a Community Editor role)

This post will be dealing with the last situation, which is the one in which most journalists first find themselves: with neither a platform nor a community.

With that out of the way, here are 6 things I think an individual can do as part of their first foray into community management/editing as a journalist:

1. Know where the communities are

This seems like a no-brainer but it’s all too easy to miss communities because you can’t find any evidence of them on Twitter or Facebook.

Along with specialist social networks (LinkedIn for professionals; MySpace for musicians; even profession-specific networks such as Doctors.net), there are forums, wikis, mailing lists, and various other places where people gather to share information and support.

The social media prism by Brian Solis (shown below) is one useful tool for checking if you’ve covered every possible angle on this front. For example: have you thought of looking for your community on Flickr? Last.fm? Digg? A locally popular platform? (LiveJournal dominates in eastern Europe, for example, while QQ is China’s answer to Twitter, Mixi is Japan‘s answer to Facebook, and Orkut and Hi5 have a healthy userbase in places like Brazil and India)

social media prism

Look for the communities in every corner of the net – don’t expect them to come pre-labelled. For example, the forums of local football clubs and local newspapers often contain corners devoted to topics other than football and news. And follow people as well as topics: if you find someone in your field, search for their username across the web and see what other places they contribute to.

One other place to look: the physical world. Live events, conferences, meetups and other gatherings are ideal places to build relationships with members of the community – as well as a great opportunity for providing live coverage online that will lead you to others, and others to you.

2. Look for problems to solve

Once you’ve identified and are following the community, try to find your best role within it. Remember that the community is not here to serve you: barging in and asking for case studies will get you the same response as if you did that in any physical social space: blank stares and muttered insults.

The simplest way to find a place in a community is through solving problems.

Listen for questions that people are asking, or complaints that they make. A key skill of a journalist is to find the answers to questions, or get responses to complaints – so that’s likely to be one way you can contribute.

Those answers and responses, of course, also make for good evergreen content (which can help you attract other members of the community), so cross-post them on your blog as well as on the platforms where the community gathers.

You might also see the need for physical meetups or other events – don’t be afraid to get stuck in and organise one.

3. Be interested – listen and ask questions

You will be both a better journalist and community editor if you listen as much as possible, and ask when you want to hear more about something.

It doesn’t have to be newsworthy – in fact, it’s sometimes better when it’s not – because often it’s an understanding of the small details and complex context which makes for better journalism and, by extension, better – and more – relationships with contacts.

4. Create content out of the process of discovery

As you explore a community a good practice to adopt is to record your research in ways that make it easier for others to engage with the community too. This helps you see what is interesting about a community, as well as creating content which can help contacts find you.

Examples of typical content created from the process of community research include:

  • ‘Top 20 people in [an industry] to follow on Twitter’
  • ‘The best forums for [your field or issue]‘
  • ‘The hottest discussions about the [issue] right now’
  • ‘Where do [profession] go for advice on [problem]?’
  • ‘The best blogs about [your field/issue]‘
  • ‘Forums roundup: what people are saying about [issue/question]‘

You may need to make a choice on where to post this content, especially if the community is not a big user of blogs. Don’t publish in a way that is disconnected from the community that you are supposed to be serving: at the very least cross-publish to the platforms where discussion is healthiest. Don’t spam shared spaces with links to external content.

You might also profile members of the community, or – at a later stage – create something that pulls together profiles, points of view, or experiences. For example: this Times Educational Supplement piece collects excluded pupils’ experiences (incomplete version online); We Are The 99 Percent uses Tumblr to pull together the experiences that inspired a protest movement; and Spitalfields Life seeks to document the places and people of the area, while this Guardian interactive allows you to explore the voices of 100 NHS workers on health reforms.

5. Link, retweet, attribute and comment

Finally, it’s important to link to content from your community as often as possible. This does two things: firstly, it demonstrates good attribution and demonstrates that you are not looking to take credit for yourself which belongs to others. And secondly, it makes other people aware of your work: a link to another blog generates a ‘pingback’ which alerts the author to your piece. Twitter users are notified if their tweet is retweeted by you, Facebook users if you ‘like’ their update, and so on. Comments are an extension of the same principle of acknowledgement.

Linking – or ‘linkblogging’ – is also the simplest way to begin engaging with a field and its communities, and a good habit to get into if you want to understand an area and get in the habit of keeping up to date with it. For more on that, 7 ways to follow a field… is a good guide.

6. Read about community management

As you gain in confidence and reputation, you may find yourself doing more and more in your community. Community management is, to my mind, one of the hardest roles in online journalism to do well, and the more insights you can gather from others, the better prepared you will be.

This list of resources from FeverBee is as good as they come. You should also follow blogs in the field – that list contains a section on those, but if you just want 5 to start with, here’s a bundle to subscribe to.

PS: If you want to see explanations of job descriptions of the CM, and other roles such as social media manager, this post by Blaise Grimes-Viort does a very good job of trying to unpick the subtle differences and links to typical job descriptions. More on traits of community managers at ReadWriteWebThe Constant Observer and Business2Community.


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: brian solis, community management, hi5, Mixi, orkut, social media prism

January 19 2012

10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 

10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: adam tinworth, adam westbrook, adrian short, bayesian methods, Code 2.0, community management, CPJ, dan gillmor, Data Journalism Handbook, documentary, ebooks, Franzi Baerhle, free culture, global casebook, Guardian Students, Guy Degan, how to blog, imagejunkies, investigative journalism manual, jono bacon, Journalism 2.0, kindle, lawrence lessig, Mark Briggs, Mark Lee Hunter, matt mason, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, nokia, paul radu, philip meyer, productivity, Proven Path, Remix, richard millington, security, SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day, story-based inquiry, Testing Treatments, the art of community, The Future of Ideas, The New Precision Journalism, The Pirate's Dilemma, University of Gottingen
10:52

20 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle) {updated to 38}

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and multimedia ebooks

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF*) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and Adam Westbrook‘s Ideas on Digital Storytelling and Publishing (PDF) provides a larger focus on narrative, editing and other elements.

After the first version of this post, MA Online Journalism student Franzi Baehrle suggested this free book on DSLR Cinematography, as well as Adam Westbrook on multimedia production (PDF). And Guy Degen recommends the free ebook on news and documentary filmmaking from ImageJunkies.com.

A free ebook on blogging can be downloaded from Guardian Students when you register with the site, and Swedish Radio have produced this guide to Social Media for Journalists (in English).

Computer assisted reporting ebooks

The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 cover more multimedia, but also provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on, his advice is still excellent.

You’ll also have to download each chapter of the Data Journalism Handbook separately, or you can pay for a single-download ebook or physical version.

For a walkthrough on using some data techniques in the health field, this ebook on reporting health gives some excellent advice. Although it uses US data which is rather more accessible and structured than in most other countries, the principles are illustrative for readers anywhere.

If you want to explore statistics or programming further, Think Stats (via Adrian Short) covers both. The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions is a useful introduction to more programming – it’s free if you choose a zero price, but you can also pay whatever you want.

On visualisation, here’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 from a book by Alberto Cairo (from a free course at the Knight Center).

On advanced search, Untangling The Web: A Guide to Internet Research is a whopping 643-page document released by the US National Security Agency following an FOIA request (thanks Neurobonkers). Sadly it’s scanned so you won’t be able to convert this to another format.

Community management ebooks

Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages and is a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand.

The Proven Path (PDF) by Richard Millington is a more concise overview by one of the field’s leading voices (via Jan Kampmann).

A useful complement to these is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. And each chapter of Dan Gillmor’s We The Media is available in PDF format on O’Reilly’s site.

More recently, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet (PDF) is a free ebook from the University of Gottingen with a collection of chapters covering practices such as consumer co-creation, trust management in online communities, and “coordination and motivation of consumer contribution”.

Staying savvy in the information war

Simply dealing with the flood of information and work deserves a book itself – and one free option is SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day - Adam Tinworth is among the contributors.

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies.

More broadly on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF. And The American Copy Editors Society has published a 50-page ebook on attribution and plagiarism which includes social media and other emerging platforms.

Ebooks on culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

He’s also worked with Luuk Sengers to produce Nine Steps from Idea to Story (PDF), which puts the story-based method into step-by-step form.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

The CPJ have also published the Journalist Security Guide, a free ebook for anyone who needs to protect sources or work in dangerous environments. Scroll down to the bottom to find links to PDF, Kindle, ePub and iPad versions.

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 18 so many books I’m losing count, but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientistis a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (more statistics), and Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

*Some commenters have suggested I should point out that these are mostly PDFs, which some people don’t like. You can, however, convert a PDF to Kindle’s own mobi format by emailing it to your Kindle email address with ‘convert’ as the subject line (via Leonie in the comments). Christian Payne also recommends the free tool calibre for converting PDFs into the more Kindle-friendly .mobi and other formats.

Alternatively, if you change the orientation to landscape the original PDF can be read with formatting and images intact.

UPDATES [12 Jan 2012]: Now translated into Catalan by Alvaro Martinez. [20 Jan 2012]: Dan Gillmor’s We The Media added to make a round 20. [22 March 2012]: A book on DSLR, another on multimedia, and a third on news and documentary filmmaking added. [27 April 2012]: A book on security for journalists added. [29 April]: the Data Journalism Handbook added. [3 July 2012]: Mark Lee Hunter’s 3rd book added. [4 October 2012]: Adam Westbrook’s book on multimedia added. [5 February 2013]: ebooks on health data journalism and statistics added. [3 April 2013]: Guardian Students’ How to Blog ebook and The Bastards Book of Regular Expressions added. [2 May 2013]: book on plagiarism added. [10 May]: books on productivity and advanced search added. [2 June]: book on social media for journalists added, and Bayesian methods. [12 June]: book added on collaboration and innovation in online publishing.

 


Filed under: online journalism Tagged: adam tinworth, adam westbrook, adrian short, bayesian methods, Code 2.0, community management, CPJ, dan gillmor, Data Journalism Handbook, documentary, ebooks, Franzi Baerhle, free culture, global casebook, Guardian Students, Guy Degan, how to blog, imagejunkies, investigative journalism manual, jono bacon, Journalism 2.0, kindle, lawrence lessig, Mark Briggs, Mark Lee Hunter, matt mason, New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, nokia, paul radu, philip meyer, productivity, Proven Path, Remix, richard millington, security, SmarterEveryday: Design Your Day, story-based inquiry, Testing Treatments, the art of community, The Future of Ideas, The New Precision Journalism, The Pirate's Dilemma, University of Gottingen

January 09 2012

12:04

19 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle)

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and community management

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is also available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on his advice is still excellent.

On community management, Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages. It’s a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand. A useful complement to this is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center.

Staying savvy in the information war 

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies. It’s also free to download, so what’s your excuse?

And also on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF,

Culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 books but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist is a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

August 20 2010

14:07

Community Builder Chat Wrap-Up & September Details

(This is reposted from my blog at AmySampleWard.org)

Last night was the first in what will now be a monthly chat for community builders or those interested in learning more about building community, on and offline.  The goal of this chat was to set some of the ground work for us to build on going forward. Below you’ll find highlights from the first chat and details for the next one!

August 2010 – Community Builder Chat Wrap Up

Last night’s chat had a good turn out for being the very first one – thanks to everyone who lurked, joined in, and shared! The two main questions explored were:

read more

August 12 2010

09:28

Join the monthly Community Building chats!

This is cross-posted from my blog at amysampleward.org - you can read the original post here, or copied below.

-----

read more

January 07 2010

20:50

Public Broadcasters Hustle to Fill Infrastructure Gap

In a recent presentation at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, John Proffitt, who blogs about public media, painted a gloomy picture . In slide after slide, the stats mounted. New gadgets, new social media habits, new channels for distribution and consumption all added up to one conclusion: public TV stations are rapidly losing both value and relevance.

In addition to that, urgent demand for wireless bandwidth -- as demonstrated by the recent woes of AT&T in serving iPhone users -- presents a particular challenge.

"This is a threat to the incumbents that own spectrum and own towers and own all of the infrastructure for creating and distributing television over the air," said Proffitt. "Broadcasters, you can't fight this very well ... when an industry is driving a 5,000 percent growth rate that's driven by consumers, I don't know how you can outlobby it."

Instead, he advised station managers to adopt "a martial arts mindset similar to jujitsu," working with the force of massive change rather than against it.

The Future is Public Service Media from John Proffitt on Vimeo.

But while single stations and independent producers may at times be able to act with such martial agility, the system as a whole can barely make it onto the mat. The problem is an increasingly urgent mismatch between current infrastructure investments, and those needed to keep pace with the volatile digital media ecosystem. While federal dollars are, in large part, mandated to support existing station operations, little money is available for multimedia content creation, innovation in rising areas like mobile apps, or engagement tools for new platforms. There is a critical infrastructure gap.

The stakes are high. As Center for Social Media fellow Ellen Goodman noted in a recent letter submitted to the FCC's docket on a national broadband plan:

The possibilities for transformative investments in education and local journalism
become clear when one considers what public television stations spend in just one day

on broadcast master control. In 2008, daily operation of master control cost the

average small public television station $11,384 and the average large station ...

$72,247. As a point of comparison, the New Haven Independent, a local community

newspaper established to combat diminishing local news coverage, operates for less than $2,000 per day. The award‐winning investigative news site, Voice of San Diego,

operates an eleven person newsroom on a daily budget of less than $4,000. And the

average city hall reporter reportedly makes less than $150 per day.

Broadcasting remains an important transmission technology and, until there is
universal broadband, the only source of universally available electronic media.

However, the broadband future demands a better balance between broadcast

(particularly television) infrastructure investments and investments in public media

content and engagement strategies.

Unless (or until) there's legislative action to reset the funding priorities for public media, organizations are going to have to find ways to fill in this infrastructure -- and innovation -- gap. Here are a few ideas.

Public Broadcasting Infrastructure Projects

Despite limited resources, players within the public broadcasting sector are working on new infrastructure projects that could create common platforms, standards and tools for public media 2.0. These include:

Shared archiving of legacy content: Current reports that a new head will soon be announced for the American Archive project, which will digitize, aggregate and serve up stations' historical video and audio content.

Shared metadata standards: This fall, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting issued an RFP for a program manager to tackle the next phase of the PBCore project, which would standardize and push out protocols for tagging public media content. Establishing such data standards is crucial not only for cataloging and storing media, but for breaking it down into modular pieces that can be easily searched and reaggregated across various screens.

Common distribution tools: Both the NPR API and the PBS COVE Player project provide new pipelines for distributing, sharing and embedding public broadcasting content.

While such projects may not seem like "infrastructure"-- they lack the physicality of wires, transmitters and routers -- they play the same role as previous system investments: establishing connections between local and national programmers in order to more efficiently provide relevant content to publics. What's more, they are crucial pieces in the puzzle of how to create a system-wide portal for public media content, a prospect being discussed by public broadcasting entities.

But Who Will Own the Tubes?

These and related new-era infrastructure projects assume that the future of public media is multiplatform broadband distribution. This raises at least two clear issues: new dollars will be needed to support data storage and transfer costs, and hard questions will need to be asked and answered about how end-users will get access to public media content.

Many hope the FCC's National Broadband Plan will provide at least part of the answer, by underwriting the build-out of a national system that will provide free or subsidized access to the web for members of the public. This would be a boon not only to public broadcasters, but to struggling community media projects and commercial news providers working to find viable online business models.

Another model might be for public broadcasters to buy into their own high-speed, nonprofit network, leapfrogging over current slow transmission speeds. The concept of such a "public interest Internet" is laid out in a whitepaper by the National Public Lightpath project, which provides a compelling vision of a national data autobahn linking schools, government and public broadcasters. With speeds up to 8,000 times faster than the broadband available to consumers, this network would facilitate collaborative production, real-time communication between students and experts, educational gaming, and more.

But while the NPL project could help to underwrite dedicated connections to schools, community centers, and other access points, it wouldn't cover the costs of serving up public media to end users who are on the move or at home. For now, both stations and national public broadcast organizations are stuck negotiating with commercial broadband providers to serve up content, and the public is left paying whatever rates the market will bear for access speeds that fall well below those in other developed countries.

And What About Infrastructure for Engagement?

What's more, many current public broadcasting infrastructure projects are still focused on the old business of moving content around. In order to match the needs of 21st-century users, parallel investment needs to be made in creating vibrant and appealing contexts for public participation -- either through partnerships with existing social media platforms, or the open source development of customized tools and interfaces. Both are already underway in experimental forms at stations and national public media sites, but no clear standards have emerged.

In his presentation, Proffitt described the "new scarcities" emerging in the digital media ecosystem, including trust, the need for community, and user time and attention. He made a distinction between the old, broadcast-driven public broadcasting model, and user-centric, issue-driven "public service media." He lauded projects like the Public Insight Network as inspirational models for more networked public media, but emphasized that new skills, along with new tools, will be needed:

"Building and managing communities really is going to be the new 21st-century skill ... Learning how to convene people, how to host and participate in those communities, how to engage people and get them to engage with the community, how to interact with people -- [these] are incredibly powerful things from a social perspective that we need to understand if we're going to become public service media people."

Calling all FIrst-Class Operators

bole.jpg

For station leaders, navigating this new terrain requires multiple, jarring swerves: not just learning new technologies and skills, but maintaining existing, still-valuable operations while making strategic decisions about which new platforms to invest in.

On his personal blog, Rob Bole, CPB's vice president of digital media strategies, laments the failure to recognize "first-class operators" in public broadcasting. Such leaders, he explains, are just as focused on keeping their outlets functioning efficiently and sustainably as they are on retooling for every new platform that comes along. While innovation is important, he suggests, digital visionaries have their eye on a different ball than station execs:

The risk equation for a Ken Ikeda at Bay Area Video Coalition or Avner Rosen at Boxee looks very different than the one held by a CEO at a public media station. At the moment if BAVC or Boxee craters it would be a shame, but the impact would be limited. If KQED [SF] or WNET [NYC] disappeared there are far deeper consequences beyond the immediate loss of jobs and programming. We are talking the potential loss of spectrum, the livelihoods of hordes of independent producers and, while depreciated, a couple of hundred of millions of dollars of assets.

Instead of rushing headlong into the future, Bole called for "a bit of guts" to take new risks, a bit of "new blood" among managers, and "a bit of sense" among funders, allowing them to develop measured, strategic responses to change.

In other words, jujitsu may just be a bit too dramatic -- perhaps some Tai Chi is in order.

Jessica Clark directs the Future of Public Media project at American University's Center for Social Media. There, she conducts and commissions research on media for public knowledge and action, and organizes related events like the Beyond Broadcast conference. She is also the co-author of a forthcoming book, "Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media," due out from the New Press in February.

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