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May 30 2013

10:50

Collaborative learning and journalism – event next week, with Jay Rosen

Next Thursday I’ll be speaking at an event looking at collaborative learning and collaborative journalism, hosted at Birmingham City University.

Also Skyping into the event will be Jay Rosen, who is exploring similar methods at New York University.

The event comes out of the ‘Stories and Streams’ project, which resulted in the ebook of the same name. One year on, I’ll be talking about my experiences of having used those methods a second time, what was changed, what worked and what didn’t, and what the plans are for next time.

To book onto the event (it’s free) email this booking form to seminar.series@heacademy.ac.uk

10:50

Collaborative learning and journalism – event next week, with Jay Rosen

Next Thursday I’ll be speaking at an event looking at collaborative learning and collaborative journalism, hosted at Birmingham City University.

Also Skyping into the event will be Jay Rosen, who is exploring similar methods at New York University.

The event comes out of the ‘Stories and Streams’ project, which resulted in the ebook of the same name. One year on, I’ll be talking about my experiences of having used those methods a second time, what was changed, what worked and what didn’t, and what the plans are for next time.

To book onto the event (it’s free) email this booking form to seminar.series@heacademy.ac.uk

April 14 2013

16:22

Get started with Web coding. Part 5: How to use Git and GitHub

If you want to design the future, learn to code.

That’s how I concluded the last post in this series. So far, I’ve discussed HTML and CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, the command line, and software and CMSs. The vast majority of journalists out there are probably not going to stick with the program much past part 1 (HTML and CSS). But for those of you still with me, Git has become a de facto standard in a very short time, so let’s go!

What is Git? Git is a version control system (VCS). Version control helps you manage and keep track of changes you make to your online projects. Version control is considered essential for teams working together on a digital project. Git is free and open source — there are no fees.

How do you get Git? You must download and install Git on your own computer. Follow these instructions for any operating system. Skip past the part “Installing from Source” and go down the page to the part for Windows or for Mac. For Mac OS, download the Git installer, which launches a typical DMG file. Note: Some steps below will not work if Git has not been installed.

How do you use Git? This has a long list of possible answers, and you will need to learn a lot more if you are working on a project together with teammates. I’m going to focus on the solo user, such as one journalism student working on his or her own files. Basically, once Git is in place in a project folder on your hard drive (explained below), you will add files from your project, commit files after you have updated or changed them, and push files to an online site or repository (repo) when ready. Even if you are not working with teammates, this can help you prevent mistakes if you work on multiple computers — you can pull the latest version from the repo to quickly incorporate any changed files on the local computer.

You might be thinking, well, my Web sites or projects are very small, only a handful of files, so I don’t need this Git stuff. Okay, fair enough. But if you ever need to share a site or a project with other people, GitHub provides an easy way to do it. Others can download your entire project by clicking the Zip button on the GitHub repo page.

GitHub image - download zipped file

I have Git — now what?

If you have installed Git and done nothing else, what’s next? Do you have an account on GitHub? No? Then let’s do that next. (Yes? Skip down to the following subheading.)

GitHub image - First steps at GitHub

GitHub is a social site for code. It has more than 3 million users and is free to use, unless you want to have private code repos (then you’ll need to pay). So if you’re not going to pay, don’t put anything on GitHub that you don’t want the world to see. Coders from all around the world share their code publicly on GitHub. This is one of the coolest things about it. Even if you do not have a GitHub account, you can look at other people’s code, like this.

Go to GitHub, type a username, your email address and a password, and you’re good to go. Now read this and do what it says. It explains how to set up your very first “repo,” which means a repository for your files and code.

GitHub image - Create a new repo

If you have a little code project on your own computer already, maybe it has a name like photo-slider or personal site or scrolling_game. That is, you’ve got files inside a folder with a name like one of those names. If so, it would make sense to name your first repo the same way, and you could try putting a real project into your first repo. (Note that repos use hyphens in the name, not an underscore or a space.) Check out the way repos are named on GitHub’s Explore page.

Note: You do not need to create a README right away. You can wait.

I have a GitHub account, and so …

You have already downloaded and installed Git, but you haven’t set it up yet. I wanted you to wait a bit because this part requires you to go to the command line. It attaches your name to your work, and your GitHub login details. If you’re already comfortable with the command line, of course this will be simple for you. If you’re not used to the command line, you can do it in the client program — read on!

Assuming you are not a command-line jockey, you should now download and install GitHub for Mac (OSX 10.7+ only) or GitHub for Windows. Each of those is a client program that lets you manage your projects and all associated files without going to the command line. To get started, you will need your GitHub username and password — which is why you had to set up GitHub before this part!

After you supply your GitHub username and password to the client program, you’ll see the name of your first repo (the one you made earlier on GitHub) appear there. (If you don’t see the name of your repo, click your username at the left side.) Notice it says “Clone to Computer” on a button to the right of the repo name (shown below). Do not click it. (There are no files in your repo on GitHub, so there’s nothing to clone!)

GitHub for Mac image - Clone to Computer button

Interlude: Set your username and email address in the client program now.

GitHub for Mac image - git config information

Now, back to the “clone” thing: If you had files on GitHub.com and not on your own computer, then you would press the clone button. This would be perfect if you had an empty folder just waiting on your computer to receive a bunch of files. Cloning would bring the whole repo from GitHub down to your local folder.

However, if you have files for this project on your computer, and no files at GitHub.com, here’s how to copy all those files up to GitHub:

  1. File menu > Add Local Repository
  2. Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains all your project files.
  3. Open the folder and click Add.
  4. The client alerts you that this is not a Git repository (yet). Click Yes to make the magic happen. (This is what I meant above when I said “once Git is in place in a project folder on your hard drive.” When you click Yes, the client invisibly runs a git init command, which enables Git in that one folder.)

GitHub for Mac client image - Add Local Repo

Now your client flips to the Changes tab, and you see all the files that are inside the folder. These files are waiting for your first commit. (This is a big difference between the client and doing Git at the command line, by the way.) You’re about to do several steps — to upload all the files to your GitHub repo (where others can see and easily download them as one zipped file) — so make sure these are files you don’t mind others having access to.

Ready? Okay. Find the text near the upper left that says “Commit summary.” Replace that text with a few words that describe what’s been changed since your last commit. Since you never committed to this repo before, type “first commit.”

GitHub for Mac client image - Type a commit message

Click the button Commit & Sync. Now your local folder and the (remote) repo are sync’d. But your files are not at GitHub.com yet.

To send the files this first time requires two steps in the client:

  1. Click the Settings tab in the client. This is where you provide the Web address of your repo at GitHub. Get the address from your repo’s page at GitHub (see illustration below). Then click Update Remote.
  2. Click the Branches tab in the client. Then click the Publish button on the right side. Refresh your repo’s page at GitHub, and you will see all your files there. Click any file to open it. You can even edit files right there, on GitHub. (Warning: If you make a change on GitHub, be sure to do a pull in the client program — it’s on the Repository menu.)

GitHub image - Get the URL of a GitHub repo

You’ll need to explore the help document for your client program — Mac or Windows — to get the hang of keeping everything sync’d up in true Git fashion. You might even find yourself yearning to learn more about the command line in just a little while.

GitHub image - Help files for GitHub for Mac client program

Forking and branches

Two bits of jargon you’ll hear often around the world of Git are fork and branch.

If you fork someone’s code on GitHub, you get an independent copy of that whole repo, in your GitHub account. You can then modify any part of it without affecting the original. The files will not appear on your computer unless you clone the repo locally (about cloning: see the third paragraph under the subheading above, “I have a GitHub account, and so …”). Note: You can download someone’s repo without forking it.

Branches are vital for teams working on different pieces of one project. A branch is a copy of the code that stays in the same project, a parallel duplicate. A branch can later be merged back into the master, or original set, of all files and code. If any changes are incompatible, Git highlights them all for you so that human intelligence can decide what to keep and what to delete. Note: The original, first or only set of files is also a branch, named master. So every repo has at least one branch.

Git vs. FTP

Are you regularly updating and uploading files to a Web server? You might like to use Git to handle that for you. There’s a repo for that, in fact! Separately, there’s a very straightforward how-to for the command line. Less straightforward — this 26-minute video is almost scary (the guy opens a lot of apps in the process of figuring out, live, how to do this) but kind of fun to watch; he uses Beanstalk, a paid service. See also: Using Git for Deployment (detailed).

You must know your way around your hosting server before you try this part (replacing FTP). And you’ve got to be comfortable with the command line. If you’re not, better stick with FTP, I think.

More Information About Git

This Series

16:22

Get started with Web coding. Part 5: How to use Git and GitHub

If you want to design the future, learn to code.

That’s how I concluded the last post in this series. So far, I’ve discussed HTML and CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, the command line, and software and CMSs. The vast majority of journalists out there are probably not going to stick with the program much past part 1 (HTML and CSS). But for those of you still with me, Git has become a de facto standard in a very short time, so let’s go!

What is Git? Git is a version control system (VCS). Version control helps you manage and keep track of changes you make to your online projects. Version control is considered essential for teams working together on a digital project. Git is free and open source — there are no fees.

How do you get Git? You must download and install Git on your own computer. Follow these instructions for any operating system. Skip past the part “Installing from Source” and go down the page to the part for Windows or for Mac. For Mac OS, download the Git installer, which launches a typical DMG file. Note: Some steps below will not work if Git has not been installed.

How do you use Git? This has a long list of possible answers, and you will need to learn a lot more if you are working on a project together with teammates. I’m going to focus on the solo user, such as one journalism student working on his or her own files. Basically, once Git is in place in a project folder on your hard drive (explained below), you will add files from your project, commit files after you have updated or changed them, and push files to an online site or repository (repo) when ready. Even if you are not working with teammates, this can help you prevent mistakes if you work on multiple computers — you can pull the latest version from the repo to quickly incorporate any changed files on the local computer.

You might be thinking, well, my Web sites or projects are very small, only a handful of files, so I don’t need this Git stuff. Okay, fair enough. But if you ever need to share a site or a project with other people, GitHub provides an easy way to do it. Others can download your entire project by clicking the Zip button on the GitHub repo page.

GitHub image - download zipped file

I have Git — now what?

If you have installed Git and done nothing else, what’s next? Do you have an account on GitHub? No? Then let’s do that next. (Yes? Skip down to the following subheading.)

GitHub image - First steps at GitHub

GitHub is a social site for code. It has more than 3 million users and is free to use, unless you want to have private code repos (then you’ll need to pay). So if you’re not going to pay, don’t put anything on GitHub that you don’t want the world to see. Coders from all around the world share their code publicly on GitHub. This is one of the coolest things about it. Even if you do not have a GitHub account, you can look at other people’s code, like this.

Go to GitHub, type a username, your email address and a password, and you’re good to go. Now read this and do what it says. It explains how to set up your very first “repo,” which means a repository for your files and code.

GitHub image - Create a new repo

If you have a little code project on your own computer already, maybe it has a name like photo-slider or personal site or scrolling_game. That is, you’ve got files inside a folder with a name like one of those names. If so, it would make sense to name your first repo the same way, and you could try putting a real project into your first repo. (Note that repos use hyphens in the name, not an underscore or a space.) Check out the way repos are named on GitHub’s Explore page.

Note: You do not need to create a README right away. You can wait.

I have a GitHub account, and so …

You have already downloaded and installed Git, but you haven’t set it up yet. I wanted you to wait a bit because this part requires you to go to the command line. It attaches your name to your work, and your GitHub login details. If you’re already comfortable with the command line, of course this will be simple for you. If you’re not used to the command line, you can do it in the client program — read on!

Assuming you are not a command-line jockey, you should now download and install GitHub for Mac (OSX 10.7+ only) or GitHub for Windows. Each of those is a client program that lets you manage your projects and all associated files without going to the command line. To get started, you will need your GitHub username and password — which is why you had to set up GitHub before this part!

After you supply your GitHub username and password to the client program, you’ll see the name of your first repo (the one you made earlier on GitHub) appear there. (If you don’t see the name of your repo, click your username at the left side.) Notice it says “Clone to Computer” on a button to the right of the repo name (shown below). Do not click it. (There are no files in your repo on GitHub, so there’s nothing to clone!)

GitHub for Mac image - Clone to Computer button

Interlude: Set your username and email address in the client program now.

GitHub for Mac image - git config information

Now, back to the “clone” thing: If you had files on GitHub.com and not on your own computer, then you would press the clone button. This would be perfect if you had an empty folder just waiting on your computer to receive a bunch of files. Cloning would bring the whole repo from GitHub down to your local folder.

However, if you have files for this project on your computer, and no files at GitHub.com, here’s how to copy all those files up to GitHub:

  1. File menu > Add Local Repository
  2. Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains all your project files.
  3. Open the folder and click Add.
  4. The client alerts you that this is not a Git repository (yet). Click Yes to make the magic happen. (This is what I meant above when I said “once Git is in place in a project folder on your hard drive.” When you click Yes, the client invisibly runs a git init command, which enables Git in that one folder.)

GitHub for Mac client image - Add Local Repo

Now your client flips to the Changes tab, and you see all the files that are inside the folder. These files are waiting for your first commit. (This is a big difference between the client and doing Git at the command line, by the way.) You’re about to do several steps — to upload all the files to your GitHub repo (where others can see and easily download them as one zipped file) — so make sure these are files you don’t mind others having access to.

Ready? Okay. Find the text near the upper left that says “Commit summary.” Replace that text with a few words that describe what’s been changed since your last commit. Since you never committed to this repo before, type “first commit.”

GitHub for Mac client image - Type a commit message

Click the button Commit & Sync. Now your local folder and the (remote) repo are sync’d. But your files are not at GitHub.com yet.

To send the files this first time requires two steps in the client:

  1. Click the Settings tab in the client. This is where you provide the Web address of your repo at GitHub. Get the address from your repo’s page at GitHub (see illustration below). Then click Update Remote.
  2. Click the Branches tab in the client. Then click the Publish button on the right side. Refresh your repo’s page at GitHub, and you will see all your files there. Click any file to open it. You can even edit files right there, on GitHub. (Warning: If you make a change on GitHub, be sure to do a pull in the client program — it’s on the Repository menu.)

GitHub image - Get the URL of a GitHub repo

You’ll need to explore the help document for your client program — Mac or Windows — to get the hang of keeping everything sync’d up in true Git fashion. You might even find yourself yearning to learn more about the command line in just a little while.

GitHub image - Help files for GitHub for Mac client program

Forking and branches

Two bits of jargon you’ll hear often around the world of Git are fork and branch.

If you fork someone’s code on GitHub, you get an independent copy of that whole repo, in your GitHub account. You can then modify any part of it without affecting the original. The files will not appear on your computer unless you clone the repo locally (about cloning: see the third paragraph under the subheading above, “I have a GitHub account, and so …”). Note: You can download someone’s repo without forking it.

Branches are vital for teams working on different pieces of one project. A branch is a copy of the code that stays in the same project, a parallel duplicate. A branch can later be merged back into the master, or original set, of all files and code. If any changes are incompatible, Git highlights them all for you so that human intelligence can decide what to keep and what to delete. Note: The original, first or only set of files is also a branch, named master. So every repo has at least one branch.

Git vs. FTP

Are you regularly updating and uploading files to a Web server? You might like to use Git to handle that for you. There’s a repo for that, in fact! Separately, there’s a very straightforward how-to for the command line. Less straightforward — this 26-minute video is almost scary (the guy opens a lot of apps in the process of figuring out, live, how to do this) but kind of fun to watch; he uses Beanstalk, a paid service. See also: Using Git for Deployment (detailed).

You must know your way around your hosting server before you try this part (replacing FTP). And you’ve got to be comfortable with the command line. If you’re not, better stick with FTP, I think.

More Information About Git

This Series

August 24 2012

16:49

A few thoughts about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

Educators are talking about the phenomenon of large-enrollment free online courses offered by very reputable professors and universities.

Now the University of Texas “is in negotiations with Coursera and edX, two of the most prominent companies engaged in the mass distribution of course content from elite universities for free online” (source: Texas Tribune). So I have to wonder if more large public universities — such as my employer, the University of Florida — will go this route as well.

I started a six-week course in computer programming at Udacity, another MOOC provider, but I wasn’t able to finish it because of work demands. Maybe I’ll get back to it. I’m not sure. But I found the course to be extremely well presented, and I was learning new things and enjoying the process. So I must say I’m a fan.

In an article published today, education analyst Kevin Carey wrote:

MOOC credentials … will signal achievement selectivity. Instead of running a tournament to decide who gets to take the class and very likely get an A-minus or A, they’re running tournaments to decide who did best in the class.

That rang a bell in my mind — and here’s why: There’s a stay-with-it aspect to finishing a degree program. Plenty of people begin a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and fail to finish it. So one thing you know about a person with a degree is that he or she completed something. Then there’s the brand of the school he or she attended: good or bad? Party school or academic powerhouse? Expensive? Elitist? Etc. No one much cares about your GPA unless you’re applying to a higher degree program. Your major counts more in some career fields and less in others.

But for the free, open, online course: Did you stick to it even though there was no grade? Even though there was no degree as an end goal? I think that’s what Carey is getting at — because, yes, pressure from many corners results in far too many students getting A’s or B’s that some years ago would have been C’s. And people who get C’s today would have outright failed in some cases in the past.

It may never come to pass that people receive the same kind of credit (official academic credit, provable with a transcript) from MOOCs that they get from completing a traditional college degree. But given the way traditional education is going — I’m talking about brutal budget cuts (especially in Florida) as well as grade inflation — maybe completion of a MOOC will mean you have in fact learned something thoroughly, while completion of a degree will mean only that you showed up and took the tests.

The standard of quality indicated by Udacity’s decision (last week) to cancel one of its courses is another thing that intrigues me about these new companies focused on MOOCs. The professor had spent 45 hours recording material for the course. Udacity had edited most of the video. But then, for reasons Udacity did not clarify, the organization decided not to offer the course, even though 20,000 students had signed up for it.

16:49

A few thoughts about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

Educators are talking about the phenomenon of large-enrollment free online courses offered by very reputable professors and universities.

Now the University of Texas “is in negotiations with Coursera and edX, two of the most prominent companies engaged in the mass distribution of course content from elite universities for free online” (source: Texas Tribune). So I have to wonder if more large public universities — such as my employer, the University of Florida — will go this route as well.

I started a six-week course in computer programming at Udacity, another MOOC provider, but I wasn’t able to finish it because of work demands. Maybe I’ll get back to it. I’m not sure. But I found the course to be extremely well presented, and I was learning new things and enjoying the process. So I must say I’m a fan.

In an article published today, education analyst Kevin Carey wrote:

MOOC credentials … will signal achievement selectivity. Instead of running a tournament to decide who gets to take the class and very likely get an A-minus or A, they’re running tournaments to decide who did best in the class.

That rang a bell in my mind — and here’s why: There’s a stay-with-it aspect to finishing a degree program. Plenty of people begin a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and fail to finish it. So one thing you know about a person with a degree is that he or she completed something. Then there’s the brand of the school he or she attended: good or bad? Party school or academic powerhouse? Expensive? Elitist? Etc. No one much cares about your GPA unless you’re applying to a higher degree program. Your major counts more in some career fields and less in others.

But for the free, open, online course: Did you stick to it even though there was no grade? Even though there was no degree as an end goal? I think that’s what Carey is getting at — because, yes, pressure from many corners results in far too many students getting A’s or B’s that some years ago would have been C’s. And people who get C’s today would have outright failed in some cases in the past.

It may never come to pass that people receive the same kind of credit (official academic credit, provable with a transcript) from MOOCs that they get from completing a traditional college degree. But given the way traditional education is going — I’m talking about brutal budget cuts (especially in Florida) as well as grade inflation — maybe completion of a MOOC will mean you have in fact learned something thoroughly, while completion of a degree will mean only that you showed up and took the tests.

The standard of quality indicated by Udacity’s decision (last week) to cancel one of its courses is another thing that intrigues me about these new companies focused on MOOCs. The professor had spent 45 hours recording material for the course. Udacity had edited most of the video. But then, for reasons Udacity did not clarify, the organization decided not to offer the course, even though 20,000 students had signed up for it.

April 20 2012

06:26

Programming and journalism students: A conversation

I think it’s pretty cool to use Storify to sort out the threads of a bunch of simultaneous conversations on Twitter:

[View the story "Programming and journalism students: A conversation" on Storify]

Please join in — on Twitter, on Facebook, or here.

06:26

Programming and journalism students: A conversation

I think it’s pretty cool to use Storify to sort out the threads of a bunch of simultaneous conversations on Twitter:

[View the story "Programming and journalism students: A conversation" on Storify]

Please join in — on Twitter, on Facebook, or here.

04:33

The courses a student wishes he had taken

As he prepares to graduate, University of Oregon public relations student Sam Drake reflects on the courses he did not take:

  • Computer science: “To be able to code in Java, HTML, C++ or Python is one skill that is going to be extremely important in the coming years.”
  • Marketing classes: “If I could have taken a few marketing classes then I would have a better grasp of how the business world works.”
  • Language classes: “The last language class that I took was a Spanish class during my sophomore year of high school. After that, I never really used my Spanish speaking ability and have since lost most of my ability to speak it.”
  • Grammar: “I had taken J101 which is the equivalent to beginning grammar at the U of O but I never really got much out of that class. After an internship … I have come to the conclusion that I really need to learn how to write with better grammar.”

Read his full post here.

A lot of students tell me after graduation that they wish they had taken this or that — usually some technology-oriented courses that were offered as electives in our journalism program.

And why didn’t they sign up and take those courses when they had the chance? Only they can answer that.

04:33

The courses a student wishes he had taken

As he prepares to graduate, University of Oregon public relations student Sam Drake reflects on the courses he did not take:

  • Computer science: “To be able to code in Java, HTML, C++ or Python is one skill that is going to be extremely important in the coming years.”
  • Marketing classes: “If I could have taken a few marketing classes then I would have a better grasp of how the business world works.”
  • Language classes: “The last language class that I took was a Spanish class during my sophomore year of high school. After that, I never really used my Spanish speaking ability and have since lost most of my ability to speak it.”
  • Grammar: “I had taken J101 which is the equivalent to beginning grammar at the U of O but I never really got much out of that class. After an internship … I have come to the conclusion that I really need to learn how to write with better grammar.”

Read his full post here.

A lot of students tell me after graduation that they wish they had taken this or that — usually some technology-oriented courses that were offered as electives in our journalism program.

And why didn’t they sign up and take those courses when they had the chance? Only they can answer that.

April 12 2012

04:00

The liberal arts portion of a journalism education

Model Curricula for Journalism Education is a 150-page document produced by UNESCO and published in 2007. Its contents are based on work done in 2005 by an international group of journalism educators.

While many details in the document (particularly the recommended books) are now quite out of date, the general principles and recommendations are still solid and useful.

Although my main concern usually centers on digital skills (visual, audio, code) for reporting and storytelling, I was intrigued by these two lists in the UNESCO document (pages 33–34):

Journalism and Society

  • A knowledge of the role of journalism in society, including its role in developing and securing democracy.
  • An ability to reflect on developments within journalism.
  • An understanding of how information is collected and managed by political, commercial and other organizations.
  • An awareness of the international flow of information and its effects on one’s own country.
  • A knowledge of the history of journalism and the news media in one’s own country and the world.
  • A knowledge of news media ownership, organization and competition.
  • A knowledge of the laws affecting the news media in one’s own country and the world.

Knowledge

  • A basic understanding of one’s own country’s system of government, its constitution, system of justice, political process, economy, social and cultural organization, and its relations with other countries.
  • A basic knowledge of the geography and history of one’s own country and the world.
  • A basic knowledge of science.
  • A specialized knowledge of at least one subject area important to journalism in one’s own country.

These are listed under “Journalism Competencies” (page 30) and follow a much longer list labeled “Professional Standards,” which includes research skills, writing skills, and a list with this unwieldy heading:

Skilled use of the tools of journalism in editing, designing, and producing material, for print, broadcast and online media, with an understanding of and ability to adapt to convergence and technological developments in journalism.

I noticed the absence of math skills, statistics, knowledge of economics, and computer programming skills from the lists.

Lacking skills and knowledge in those areas, a journalist is ill-prepared for reporting in today’s world.

Related post: 6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today (July 2011).

04:00

The liberal arts portion of a journalism education

Model Curricula for Journalism Education is a 150-page document produced by UNESCO and published in 2007. Its contents are based on work done in 2005 by an international group of journalism educators.

While many details in the document (particularly the recommended books) are now quite out of date, the general principles and recommendations are still solid and useful.

Although my main concern usually centers on digital skills (visual, audio, code) for reporting and storytelling, I was intrigued by these two lists in the UNESCO document (pages 33–34):

Journalism and Society

  • A knowledge of the role of journalism in society, including its role in developing and securing democracy.
  • An ability to reflect on developments within journalism.
  • An understanding of how information is collected and managed by political, commercial and other organizations.
  • An awareness of the international flow of information and its effects on one’s own country.
  • A knowledge of the history of journalism and the news media in one’s own country and the world.
  • A knowledge of news media ownership, organization and competition.
  • A knowledge of the laws affecting the news media in one’s own country and the world.

Knowledge

  • A basic understanding of one’s own country’s system of government, its constitution, system of justice, political process, economy, social and cultural organization, and its relations with other countries.
  • A basic knowledge of the geography and history of one’s own country and the world.
  • A basic knowledge of science.
  • A specialized knowledge of at least one subject area important to journalism in one’s own country.

These are listed under “Journalism Competencies” (page 30) and follow a much longer list labeled “Professional Standards,” which includes research skills, writing skills, and a list with this unwieldy heading:

Skilled use of the tools of journalism in editing, designing, and producing material, for print, broadcast and online media, with an understanding of and ability to adapt to convergence and technological developments in journalism.

I noticed the absence of math skills, statistics, knowledge of economics, and computer programming skills from the lists.

Lacking skills and knowledge in those areas, a journalist is ill-prepared for reporting in today’s world.

Related post: 6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today (July 2011).

February 20 2012

04:54

Resources for learning about social media

I have been collecting posts, articles, tutorials and general how-to materials that relate to how journalists use social media. I started about two weeks ago, as I prepare for a workshop in Singapore.

They are curated here: Social Media and Journalists.

The collection is housed at Scoop.it, a curation site that goes a step beyond social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo, and which privileges text and tagging — rather than visuals (like Pinterest). For this particular project, I’m finding it very useful.

One example of its utility is that I can offer up a link to a subset of the complete collection by using my own tags: see all posts tagged with “Instagram.” This kind of selection is always useful in teaching and training. Unfortunately, you cannot combine tags (e.g., Instagram + howto) to narrow the search results.

I could have chosen Tumblr for this project, but I’m liking the way Scoop.it works. One of its best features is that when you “scoop” a link using the Scoop.it bookmarklet, the Scoop.it interface opens in a one-third-screen vertical overlay (shown in the first screen capture above). This allows me to scroll up and down in the source material, which makes it easy to write my annotations and choose my tags. I don’t have to flip between browser tabs.

The toolbar shown above appears at the bottom of every posted item. It’s fast and easy to edit your posts and to change or add tags. It’s also easy for others to share your posts on a variety of social networks.

A big drawback is that I can’t download or otherwise preserve my collection. If Scoop.it goes bust, I will lose all my work. There is an RSS feed, but the links go only to the Scoop.it posts; there is no link to the source material in the RSS feed. Bummer.

Scoop.it isn’t brand-new — the site launched in November 2011.

December 18 2011

05:48

November 16 2011

21:08

In Journalism Class, Think Visceral

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"Beyond J-School 2011" is sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which offers an intensive, cutting edge, three semester Master of Arts in Journalism; a unique one semester Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism; and the CUNY J-Camp series of Continuing Professional Development workshops focused on emerging trends and skill sets in the industry.

This week on MediaShift, we're exploring the moving target that is teaching journalism. Stay tuned as we offer tips, tools and insights on educating tomorrow's journalists.

Every semester I conduct a small experiment with the undergrads in my Journalism in the 21st Century course. On the day devoted to discussing media consumption, they walk into class and I ask for their cell phones. They blink, then laugh, then gape as I collect their phones and pile them in a corner behind me.

journeduseriesimage_small.jpg

They're not allowed to use cell phones during class, so it really shouldn't matter where the handsets are for the next hour and 15 minutes. Yet I can tell with every furtive corner-ward glance (to say nothing of the twitching if one of the phones beeps or buzzes), that students are in serious tech-withdrawal.

The best part is, they can tell too.

Yes, they also study Pew Research Center data chronicling Americans' news habits, and they log their own habits for self-study and comparison. They even read about some of the neuroscience behind the brain's dependence on info gadgets. But my hope is that the in-class experiment is visceral enough to help cement the lesson.

As a college educator in the 21st century, I am always trying to think visceral. We know that students increasingly crave stimulation, surprise and interactivity, but we deliberately push against the current. We think students benefit by being forced to focus on something -- anything -- that isn't byte-sized. We think we are lowering our academic standards if we cater to ever-shrinking attention spans.

In many ways, we are right.


But we're also kidding ourselves if we don't acknowledge the changing needs and habits of our target audience. They might engage enough to pass the class, but I worry about what stays with them once the semester is over. It's worth trying to attach a memorable image or immersive experience to the lessons I would have taught anyway -- just in case.

Here are some things worth trying:

Tune in

Picture 41.png

Thinking visceral usually involves teaching visual. There was a time when this meant composing a PowerPoint presentation. It's graphic. It's colorful. Sometimes it's even animated, if you can figure out how to swoop text around. But today's students are so inured to stimulants that it is simply their version of a chalkboard: two-dimensional, text-heavy and often boring.

You can try spicing up your PowerPoint presentations, or you can try a different visual route altogether.

I have journalism students read scholarly work by sociologist Manual Castells about the shifting powers of communication in what he calls the "Network Society." We then talk in class about the vertical structure of top-down, Industrial Age mass media and the horizontal structure of today's all-access, Information Age media. I could (and I have) used PowerPoint to highlight Castells' main themes. But I have better success illustrating them through a series of short scenes from journalism-related shows and films, culled from YouTube and DVDs.

stateofplay.jpg

We start with Charles Foster Kane in his newsroom in "Citizen Kane," then move onto Bob Woodward chasing down a lead in "All the President's Men" (the scene I show is described here), then news staffers gathering for a grim announcement in the last season of HBO's "The Wire." If there's time, I squeeze in a short clip from the 2009 film "State of Play." After each one, I ask students: Is this depicting a vertical communication system, a horizontal system, or some convergence of the two? Who holds the power in this system? What is their pursuit?

Such scenes help crystallize the power shift I am trying to track, and become quick reference points as students process the idea that they have unprecedented power and responsibility in the Network Society.

I try a similar approach when we get to the resurgence of partisan journalism. Students often say they don't understand how the opinionated bluster of a Bill O'Reilly or a Keith Olbermann can draw large audiences. This time, I go for the visceral first by having them watch some video clips for homework. I choose a "straight" news interview with a direct participant in the story, a commentary on the issue by a conservative media figure, and another one by a liberal counterpart. The more bluster the better.

The next day in class, I have students quickly say what they remember from the clips. Almost always, the memories are of the commentators' name-calling or insults. (When I did this once with the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan, only one student recalled the dry but informative CNN interview with the center's own imam, but only to point out anchor Soledad O'Brien's "rude" interruptions.)

In this way, students live the lesson before they study it. When they then read research on higher retention of opinionated versus straight news, they can't question why people gravitate toward an O'Reilly type, because they've done it themselves.

Get out

Teaching visual doesn't just mean bringing multimedia into the classroom. We have the opportunity to bring students into the subject matter because we are studying a living, breathing profession. I can almost hear the jokes about life support or breathing tubes, and I understand. Yes, newspapers are contracting and in some cities shuttering, but the number and variety of media companies have only grown in the digital age. Students have more to study than ever before. Plus, we have two advantages when trying to arrange such field trips: Journalists usually are happy to evangelize to future generations, and they happen to already believe in the concept of transparency.

And in any case, it doesn't have to be limited to media businesses. My students tour The New York Times every semester, but they also see the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. They see grad students, high-tech equipment, and professors whose work they have read for class. It's just the right blend of the familiar and the aspirational.

Own it

If part of your plan is to teach students that they have unprecedented power in today's media world, then let them feel the weight of that power.

Many journalism graduate schools are doing a great job of incorporating business education and entrepreneurship into their programs. Why not give undergrads an early taste? Have students formulate business plans for their own media companies, then pitch their ideas as if their classmates are investors. With the Knight News Challenge and other start-up funding out there, you never know what kind of initiative this will spark in students.

For more advanced students, why not have them cultivate a real product? Using a San Francisco State University course as a model, I have students create a WordPress blog on a topic of their choosing, then spend the semester posting text, photos, audio, video, mapping and other digital content to their site. They must market their blogs through social media, and track their success through web analytics. They are free to continue or disable the blogs after the semester is over, but at least they have a practice run at managing their own journalistic content.

Again, these ideas are meant to supplement, not replace, the lesson plans of any journalism or media course. I don't want my students to simply pass my class. I want them to think differently about the way they produce and consume media in their own lives. If that means pushing more visceral experiments and experiences into the class calendar, it's worth it.

Alexa Capeloto is a journalism professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/City University of New York. She earned her master's degree at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, and spent 10 years as a metro reporter and editor at the Detroit Free Press and the San Diego Union-Tribune before transitioning into academia.

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"Beyond J-School 2011" is sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which offers an intensive, cutting edge, three semester Master of Arts in Journalism; a unique one semester Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism; and the CUNY J-Camp series of Continuing Professional Development workshops focused on emerging trends and skill sets in the industry.

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July 31 2011

16:44

6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

16:44

6 Proposals for Journalism Education Today

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

I’ve spent a huge amount of time this year thinking about and working on journalism curriculum. From developing and teaching a four-week program to train journalism educators in Africa in the practice of online journalism, to helping with a major overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum in my own department, to my current preparations to teach journalism at a university in Indonesia, I have been thinking a lot about what students need to learn today.

Here are six proposals in three distinct areas of journalism that are increasingly important today.

Data Journalism

My colleague Ron Rodgers sent me this post from the Guardian, and it has great value in its brevity and directness: Data journalism at the Guardian: What is it and how do we do it? It addresses 10 big themes that a journalism educator could build a whole course around, but you can read the whole post in about 10 minutes.

In contrast, a paper produced last August as the outcome of a conference in Europe about data-driven journalism is quite long — 78 pages. The paper, Data-driven journalism: What is there to learn?, provides many details in a very well organized format, and it includes lots of links to examples and tools (free tools!).

Moreover, there’s a new book to help us teach students about data! The video below explains it.

Proposals: (1) A journalism degree program should ensure that all students are introduced to basic data journalism, using current examples and demonstrating how to apply concepts. (2) A journalism degree program should offer at least one 3-credit elective course that focuses exclusively on data journalism.

Social Media and Participation

Just about everyone who teaches journalism is trying to figure out how to integrate social media into the mix. We all know that young people are already active users of social media — but that doesn’t mean they understand how to use those media ethically and effectively to do journalism.

Did you know that journalists in Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English newsrooms have had intensive social-media training? Read about it here. The same article discusses how social media links drive traffic to news websites.

As well as getting involved (if they choose) in newsgathering, verification and curation of news, readers and viewers have also become part of the news-distribution system as they share and recommend items of interest via e-mail and social networks. [source]

The phrase participatory journalism is not precisely defined, but I take it to mean that the audience participates in setting the agenda for news. This requires that journalists make themselves open to listening more, and listening to more sources (not only official ones), as well as making a commitment to go beyond superficial (and sometimes denigrating) man-on-the-street interviews.

Another important term is crowdsourcing. This is one kind of audience participation in gathering news — but not the only kind. This BBC story provides a good overview of crowdsourcing, and this article from the scholarly journal Journalism Practice discusses some excellent examples.

Proposals: (3) All journalism students need to learn how to use social media for specific journalistic goals. Assignments should focus on distinct uses such as identifying experts, crowdsourcing, and crisis mapping. (4) In any journalism program, the instructors must work together to eliminate unnecessary repetition in the program — for example, two or more required courses might have almost identical Twitter assignments or blogging assignments. This is a particular danger because it’s easy to integrate social media into almost any course — but redundancy risks trivializing the experience for students.

Presentation

This is not just a matter of design (as in “page layout and design”), and it should never be a mere afterthought in the production of news materials. A wonderful post by designer Andy Rutledge illustrates better than anything else I have seen why news websites — and many news applications for mobile devices — are more likely to repel readers than to attract them.

Sometimes I think the students who choose to major in journalism came to us through a time machine from a place where people still read text that is printed on paper. What’s especially strange is that most of these students do not themselves read any text on paper — but they imagine that someone will give them a job where they will spend all their time writing text, text, text that will not interact with any other media.

In the early days of print newspapers, pictures were added to help attract people who would buy the product and read the text. Formats and font sizes (among other things) make journalism more appealing. When the product is appealing, it does not drive people away.

Unfortunately, many online and digital news products since the mid 1990s have been doing just that — driving people away. Why was this permitted? Why didn’t the entire newsroom stand up and protest that the website was hideous, slow, impossible to read, horrible, offputting, unusable? They didn’t do it because it wasn’t their job — the way their stories looked was of no concern to them. As the readers abandoned them, the journalists continued to be silent and even ignorant about the destructive effects of bad digital design.

Educators could use this book, for example, and assign students to evaluate news web pages according to its principles: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Proposals: (5) Every journalism program needs a required course in visual design. (6) A journalism course in visual design must educate students in the principles that make an image, a frame, a page, and a screen appealing — or offputting. The course does not need to produce skilled designers; rather, it should produce journalists who recognize when a presentation of news or journalism is effective, and when it is confusing, difficult, and fails.

June 27 2011

14:30

Branding: Should journalists build a personal brand?

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

14:30

Branding: Should journalists build a personal brand?

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

If you’re teaching journalism today, you must be aware of the discussion that surrounds branding.

If you’re a young journalist, or someone planning to enter the field of journalism, you need to understand what personal branding means.

On June 23, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote about this, and in summary, he said it’s a bunch of hooey. However, being an intelligent person, he also makes a very good point:

When I was a hungry young reporter … [my goals were]: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.”

Note the order. First came the work.

Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.

It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.

“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.

Journalism educator Owen Youngman put it this way:

[E]ffective personal branding turns out to be less about self-promotion and social networks than it is about accuracy, fairness and credibility. Whether the subject is a blogger in Portland, or a newspaper reporter in Kankakee, or a TV anchor in Florida, it turns out that the work creates the brand, and the brand then helps people find more of the work.

If you don’t like the word brand, you can substitute reputation. The reason we talk about this more today than anyone did back in the 1970s when Weingarten was starting his journalism career is that the pace and reach of journalism have changed quite a bit since then. Today someone who’s looking for a stringer to cover events in a hot zone might well turn to Google — and will that employer be able to find you?

Veteran journalist Steve Buttry responded to Weingarten’s column with this:

[B]randing starts with quality and hard work. But lots of outstanding journalists who did the hard work are losing their jobs. They are losing their jobs mostly because their industry has failed to develop new business models and new revenue streams in a period of disruption. But some of those journalists are losing their jobs or struggling to find new ones, in part, because they failed to show their value to their employers and their communities. Personal branding is about showing your value. It starts with quality and hard work, but if you don’t show the value, you can become undervalued. (Emphasis mine.)

That is the lesson new and would-be journalists need to learn so that they can make it in today’s media ecosystem.

Branding isn’t hooey — but it’s also not a shortcut to fame and admiration.

Related post: Journalists must build a personal brand: 10 tips

June 13 2011

14:12

Tune up your skills this summer

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