Good analysis of the newspaper industry crisis

Jack Schafer of Slate asks what’s killing newspapers and answers with a round-up of the problems the industry is confronting. He concludes:

It appears to me that most newspapers—by choice or by necessity—have made the ‘decision to liquidate,’ to steal the phrase from Philip Meyer’s excellent 2004 book, The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age: They’re cutting costs, cutting staff, cutting pages, cutting features, cutting quality, and will continue cutting until the last reader and advertiser depart. (Local TV news looks to be following a similar script.)

I keep waiting for one of these distressed, failing newspapers to realize that it has nothing to lose and get a little crazy and create something brand new and brilliant for readers and advertisers. I keep being disappointed.

Career resolutions for journalism students

Based on personal experience and the advice of experts, journalism student Suzanne Yada offers two career resolutions for her fellow students:

  1. Become invaluable , and
  2. Network like mad.

Lots of great information here!

Good primer on social media

In “If I Started Today,” Chris Brogan offers a succint introduction to social media and social networking. Many of his ideas will be useful for class assignments or discussion starters. It’s worthwhile assigned reading if only for this passage:

Listening is my first move in starting to understand social media. That means this: go and read the blogs that are out there. Read from different genres. Go visit Twitter.com and more importantly search.twitter.com, and see what people are saying. Read comments on people’s blogs and see which ones seem to get any response. Search using Google and Technorati.com, and start listening to conversations that are out there.

Using links properly

Frank Rich of The New York Times tells the Nieman Journalism Lab why he is one of the few Times writers to include hyperlinks in his work. In the process, he also offers good advice for anyone writing for online delivery:

As a reader, I can’t stand the links where if the link is “Barack Obama,” and you click the link and it’s Barack Obama’s official campaign page. It’s useless because any sentient person who knows how to use the Internet doesn’t need that link to figure out how to get a motherlode of information about a proper name in a piece of journalism… So the feeling I’ve always had is let’s get the links as specific as possible instead of something generic.

Mindset is as important as skill set

Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times asks: “Does anyone still believe that the forms of movies, television, magazines and newspapers might exist independently of their rapidly changing modes of distribution? The thought has become unsustainable. ” Given that, for those working in traditional media, she recommends

they should imagine that they are 19 again: spending a day on Twitter or following a recipe from a Mark Bittman video played on a refrigerator that automatically senses what ingredients are missing and texts an order to the grocery store (it will soon exist!). Then they should think about what content suits these new modes of distribution and could evolve in tandem with them. For old-media types, mental flexibility could be the No. 1 happiness secret we have been missing.

D.C. area TV reporters go “backpack”

According to The Washington Post, under a new agreement announced in late 2008, WUSA TV was to become the first station in the Washington area to replace its crews with one-person “multimedia journalists” who will shoot and edit news stories sion their own.

The Post reported:

The change will blur the distinctions between the station’s reporters and its camera and production people. Reporters will soon be shooting and editing their own stories, and camera people will be doing the work of reporters, occasionally appearing on the air or on in video clips on Channel 9’s Web site.

Using blogs in journalism education

Writing at MediaShift, Alfred Hermida discusses the process of incorporating blogs into a journalism class. He notes:

The challenge becomes explaining that the blog is not a platform for students to pontificate about what they think about a particular issue. Rather, it is to provide a critical perspective on issues in the news within a student’s specific area of expertise. In some ways, the blog is similar to op-ed writing. The value of blogging in a journalism course is as a tool for reflection and critical thinking about events in the headlines.