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August 17 2012

15:53

September 01 2010

14:19

Press as Facebook & Foursquare

As research for Public Parts, I’ve been reading Jay Rosen’s doctoral dissertation about the creation of publics and the press. As in other research, I’m finding so many wonderful parallels between the changes in society caused by technology today and that which came earlier. Jay writes that “in 1784 William Bradford, a Philadelphia printer and the proprietor of the Merchants’ Coffee-House, announced that his establishment would provide a new service”:

To prevent the many disappointments that daily happen to returned citizens, or others, enquiriing for friends, connections, or those that tehy may have business with; the subscriber has opened a book, as A City Register, alphabetically arranged, at the bar of the Coffee-house, where any gentleman now resident in the City, either as a housekeeper or a lodger, or those who may hereafter arrive may insert their names and place of residence.

Jay says Bradford “was offering a form of news — word of who was in town and where they could be reached…. The need for a written register arises when there are too many connections, too many strangers, too many arrivals and departures for the community to maintain through speech and memory a record of its inhabitants.”

What does that describe? Facebook, of course, and Foursquare next.

I was among those who scoffed when Mark Zuckerberg dubbed his algorithmic aggregation of personal updates a “news feed.” I was wrong. It’s news just as Mr. Bradford’s bar-top register was. Others scoff at the idea of Foursquare: “Why would you want to tell people where you are? We didn’t do that before.” Oh, yes, we did.

June 27 2010

19:47

Associated Press: How to do watchdog journalism

This video features Associated Press Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier and Accountability Editor Jim Drinkard. This video is a part of the YouTube Reporters’ Center. See more videos on how to report the news – and share your ideas – at www.youtube.com
Video Rating: 3 / 5

Moderator: Adrian Holovaty Panelists: Matt Waite, Maura Chace, Matt Croydon, Ben Welsh www.djangocon.org

June 15 2010

08:07

Media Release: News Corp invests in newspaper paywall business Journalism Online

News Corporation has announced an investment in Journalism Online, the company founded last year by former US newspaper executives Steve Brill, Gordon Crovitz and Leo Hindery to help newspapers charge for their websites.

“We’re especially pleased with this investment because News Corp. is the industry leader in making the case that there is value in journalism online for which readers will be willing to pay,” says Crovitz in the release.

Journalism Online says its Press+ system will offer newspapers and publishers a range of paywall options from metered access, such as that used by the Financial Times’ website, and give users a common login across the sites it serves.

In September, Nieman Journalism Lab reported that Journalism Online would take 20 per cent of subscription revenue after credit card fees. The move by News Corp underlines its commitment to charging for content online, as shown by new paywalls for the Times and Sunday Times websites.

In the same release, News Corp also announced that it is buying Skiff, the e-reading platform developed by Hearst Corporation.

Full release at this link…

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February 01 2010

17:10

Skillwalls not paywalls

Fern Growing from Brick Wall
Image by pigpogm via Flickr

Tomorrow I’m off to Skillset to talk about their new standards framework for journalism. I’m looking forward to the chat around what skills journalists need and not just because I’m involved in delivering this stuff to our future journalists. What I’m equally interested in is what skills the industry think they need (the framework has been created in consultation with industry and accreditation bodies) as it says a lot about what they think a journalist actually is – what defines the job.

It’s been something on my mind since the newsrewired conference a few weeks ago when the vexed debate of identity reared its head. That debate is best paraphrased as “grumblings on why people can’t be called a journalist” and left at that.

But the skillset visit and a chat with Francois Nel about onions and data, pushed it to the front of my thinking again.

The best way I can sum-up where that thinking has got me is Skillwalls.

A skillwall is the best way I have found to balance the argument (in my head) of what sets journalists apart with the issue of what will people pay for.

In terms of the ‘definition’ debate a journalist would be defined by which skills your average punter/blogger/anyone-you-don’t-want-to-call-a-journo does not have or is unwilling to develop. The skillwall is too high or too much effort to climb.

Skillwalls help define the paywall debate for me in terms that are more tangiable. People will pay for stuff that they can’t do themselves. If you have the skills to do that ,they may pay you. Thinking about it as a skill issue works better for me than trying to assess a value proposition.

The web has become a place where people can do things – it enables. The successful sites are those that enable them to do things it would be hard to do otherwise. Things that would take new skills.

Skills Vs. experience or Skills and Experience

This is where it gets difficult for the industry and why I think recent discussions have been so interesting for me. Yes, the knowledge and experience is valuable but is it a skill? Is going to lots of council meetings a skill? Is knowing the PM’s press secretary a skill? Valuable, yes, but a skill? No. Being able to get that stuff online in an interesting way is.

Unless you can do one people won’t see the value of the other.

It’s easy to be dismissive of skills. They can be seen as functional, low level things. But skills enable. Get over the skillwall of data gathering on the web and you can add the value of your knowledge and experience.

Of course a skillwall is not an exclusive or all encompassing barrier. It’s a peculiar new obstacle/challenge that digital has thrown our way. But it’s also a powerful opportunity for journalists to exploit.

So where is your skillwall and what are you going to do to get over it?

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