Thursday, May 26, 2011

Forget "old media" and "new media," it's just "media"

It's becoming clearer and clearer that we need to change our thinking about media -- let's quit talking about "old media" and "new media" because it's just "media." A fascinating report from the public relations field really strikes home how journalists are both relying on digital media and using it for publishing purposes whether they are working in a print field or now.

Here are a couple of points from the report, which you should read in depth but there is a nice summary at Crisis Comm, a thoughtful emergency management blog:

-- Journalists are leaning on social media for obtaining news. The figures are startling, 47 percent of journalists get new from Twitter and 35 percent from Facebook. I use "startling" only in the sense that we haven't thought about this because I find myself using social media for much of my news. I do prefer blogs rather than Twitter or Facebook only because I'm a news geek who likes news in depth.

-- The study reports that journalists say online channels for their news content are more important than print. Many print publications are monitoring digital postings and using their number as part of evaluation processes. Both Twitter (54 percent of journalists use it to disseminate news) and blogs (54 percent) are very popular.

Finally a comment unrelated to the study. The growth of digital really came home to me -- a journalist whose career was mostly in print with some radio/TV -- when I found myself quoting an "emergency management" blog. First, I discovered it totally because of digital media. Second, I found myself valuing the information more than its source -- in other words, I had total trust in the news value of information that was created for the public relations industry. The old barriers have totally gone, at least for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2 photographs; 2 views

I don't mention photography here much, and that's wrong. A still photograph makes by far the most impactful statement possible, in my view, and we need to take them seriously. I could go on for hours listing examples, but will just mention a couple: the flag-raising at Iwo Jima, and the assassination by a Vietnamese military officer shooting a suspect in the head. I mention them because those images live in our memories long after most of the people involved are gone.

A photograph at the White House during the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked a long comment on perspective at the New York Times' photography blog. It's something all journalists should think about.

Thoughts on the demise of Google's newspaper-archiving plan

San Francisco alternative publication blogger and writer Irving Muchnick offers some thoughts on the demise of Google's plan to digitize the nation's newspaper past. They're surprising in that they show the gray areas of this project, which generated such heat. He addresses the need for payment of writers for their past work and decries the Google-type plan where only companies get paid while pointing out the need for some coherent national policy. An earlier piece by the Boston Phoenix, another alternative publication, offers some light on the demise of the Google plan.

Are cuts good or bad things?

I have mixed feelings about the report today of McClatchy Co. cutting hundreds of positions. On the one hand, the company had a very rough financial first quarter this year, so I'm sure the beancounters both within the company and on Wall Street are screaming for cuts. On the other hand, I'm convinced content is king and without original content the long-term prospects for a media company are nil. Unfortunately newspapers (along with most other companies, which is one reason the economy is in the tank; it's even worse now that we've turned our state governments over to the same short-term thinking) haven't been able to grasp long-term thinking for quite a while.

The good thing is that journalism will survive. It's facing economic changes, but it's thriving in many new media venues and at more than a few newspapers that are thinking strategically. Content is king, and journalists are trained to provide solid content. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sportswriting: The best thing on the web

The title of the report from the Nieman Journalism Lab says it all: "Both the short and long it it: How sportswriting is taking over the web through innovation and adaptation."

I've always felt that sportswriting, for a long variety of reasons, has been out in front of much in the journalism field, especially innovation. This story points to some of the changes and offers a long list of links. It's a must-read for sports fans and, especially, students interested in sportswriting.

Is there a place for objectivity today?

Very interesting conversation between a couple of new media types about journalism today, including repeating the thought that "transparency is the new objectivity." There's a lot more interesting stuff in the talks between Jeff Jarvis, the creator of Entertainment Weekly, a San Francisco Examiner columnist, the associate publisher of The Daily News, and a consultant to new media companies, and the head of the online site TechCrunch Mike Arrington.

It was filled with good stuff, and, as so often happens to me as I read new media postings, proved the value of journalistic training, or at least good English training. It was filled with punctuation errors that get a lot of attention in journalism schools. That's not to say trained journalists are perfect, but they at least get some attention to the basics. Far too many online sites are filled with bad grammar or punctuation.

Talk radio ratings off

Arbitron ratings for talk radio are reportedly way down, with Rush Limbaugh's ratings off 30 percent. Look for a lot more manufactured issues as hosts try to revive their audiences by getting people mad about something.

A good social media policy: Don't be stupid

The New York Times' social media policy is simple: "Don't be stupid," according to this story in the Business Insider.

It quotes Liz Heron as saying: "We don’t really have any social media guidelines. We basically just tell people to use common sense and don’t be stupid.” Actually, she goes on with more, telling a BBC social media summit that the Times wants its journalists to interact more with their public.

Monday, May 23, 2011

When social media and the law clash

Very interesting case in Great Britain. British law prohibits newspapers from revealing a great deal of information, especially in criminal cases. For example, details of a crime are seldom revealed before a trial, and often withheld are names of individuals who are not charged. These are prohibited by law.

But what about social media? A case in London shows the problem. A celebrity allegedly has an affair. He went to court and obtained an injunction against any publication using his name. Twitter to the rescue. Now just about everyone knows that a "footballer" (read soccer star) is the celebrity in question.

So today a member of parliment asked if the law needs to be changed "With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all," said Liberal Democrate John Hemming.

It's just another example of how new media options are changing our world. Sometimes for the better. And sometimes not.

How Fox made millions promoting tea party candidates, but faces an uncertain future

Fascinating story in New York magazine about Roger Ailes, probably the single most important media figure in America (of course, next to his boss, Rupert Murdoch but maybe even more important), and how Ailes' political maneuverings had made his network, Fox, nearly a billion dollars next year but may have cost him the next election by promoting tea party candidates who have skewed the Republican Party so far right that it could lose the next election.

The story demonstrates that, as we all knew, media can "create" political movements, but cannot control the directions they take. It also tells us how a major political party can be so intertwined with the "objective" journalists that both can lose.

It's a very well-done piece that really is a guide for us all today on many, many levels -- the mark of a good magazine story.