Think tank stresses journalism’s need for context

Martin Langeveld, a former newspaper executive, participated in a Washington, D.C. think tank that dealt with the future of news. “The Future of Context” discussion was mediated and organized by Matt Thompson, a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

The theme of Thompson’s discussion was obviously context, meaning, journalism must embrace the ubiquity of user-generated content and the necessity of the link to sustain itself.

Langeveld noted several points of insight introduced by participants in the D.C. discussion. The self-inflicted technological lag being felt by print newspapers was one of the more obvious observations.

Journalists must nurture discussions with their audiences, according to Steve Yelvington, a strategist for Morris DigitalWorks.

“Newspapers in the past couldn’t tap into conversations very well, but now we can. By focusing energy on making people part of the conversation and building community, we raise demand for our product.”

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The importance of multimedia storytelling

At EditorsWeblog.org, Emma Heald asks, “Are newspapers making full use of the opportunities that the Internet offers to change the way that they produce their stories?” While her overall answer is “No,” Heald cites some cases where news organizations are working heard to incorporate multimedia into journalistic storytelling, and cites a French school program that is exploring alternate ways of telling stories.

Heald concludes:

It is clear that more innovation in newspapers’ story-telling could only be a good thing, as long as it does not overwhelm a story’s essential message. And given the recent moves that publishers such as News Corp are making towards charging for online content, creating more interesting, interactive websites could even help to ‘save’ the newspaper industry by offering readers an online reading experience that they might be prepared to pay for.

Other good recent articles on the topic include “Storytelling Is Stuck In A Rut—What Publishers Can Do About It” and “New Journalistic Storytelling.”

NPR reinvents itself with multimedia

National Public Radio is focusing on reinventing itself in order to indulge its listeners in a more user-friendly experience. Included in this transformation is a revamped Web site and multimedia training for its editorial staff.
“Back in the days that there was just radio, your station was the only point of entry to all this content,” says Robert Spier, director of content development for NPR Digital Media. “You couldn’t get NPR except through your station because it was only available on radio, and radio was time and geographically bound.” Today, of course, “the user expects to be in control of his or her experience.”

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 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.

Are j-classes preparing students for a new world?

The Online Journalism Blog asks “Should Journalism Degrees Still Prepare Students for a News Industry that Don’t Want Them?”  In a video discussion format, several journalists look at the mounting instances of job cuts and outsourcing and offer suggestions for making journalism education more relevant for tomorrow’s graduates.