I remember when I first starting teaching journalism way back in the day actually using one of those stinky, buzz-inducing ditto machines to publish my students’ work “widely” up and down the hallways. I remember copy-editing by hand with green Flair pen, the same color my dreaded college journalism professors used, teaching my kids the fine art of marking up each other’s stories and adding suggestions for improvement. And I remember buying about 15 copies of various newspapers every Friday just so we could all spend some time getting our fingers black with ink as we searched for interesting and/or well written stories.
When I think of those days, I feel really old, for sure, but I also feel amazed at how much has changed in terms of media. And now, when it seems that “old” media is finally tipping full force into a “new” digital media model, I have to say I’m somewhat wistful.
Ok. I’m over it.
Yesterday’s New York Times piece by David Carr “Mourning Old Media’s Decline” got me really thinking again, however, about how much more important journalism has become in these days when newsrooms are being cut and reporters laid off. The Christian Science Monitor is closing its print edition. The Los Angeles Times, Newark Star-Ledger and others are making deeper cuts. All of which is going to increase our reliance on not only online media but participatory online media, the form of media that is largely unedited, essay-driven and agenda-ridden. All of which, by the way, should be driving our conversations about how to fundamentally rewrite our curriculum and our delivery system to prepare students to be, um, participants both as readers and as writers.
I loved this graph from the article:
Stop and think about where you are reading this column. If you are one of the million or so people who are reading it in a newspaper that landed on your doorstop or that you picked up at the corner, you are in the minority. This same information is available to many more millions on this paperâ€™s Web site, in RSS feeds, on hand-held devices, linked and summarized all over the Web.
The problem for us is that we’re still teaching like our kids are going to be reading those edited, linear, well-written newspapers when the reality is they’re not. And the bigger problem is that, by and large, we still don’t know enough about the “new” media world in our personal practice to push those conversations about change in any meaningful way.
We better figure it out pretty quickly, or we’ll be mourning much more than old media…
That’s what it’s going to cost you to excerpt in your blog any content published by the Associated Press under it’s new pricing structure. According to a pseudo FAQ on copyright that the AP has published:
Don’t use your browser to cut, copy, and paste content. It is wrong and, in most cases, illegal.
That right there might cost me under the new guidelines.
The potential scenarios for what are and are not billable excerpts are a nightmare, and articulated fairly well at BetaNews. Jeff Jarvis sees this as the beginning of the end for the AP, and bloggers everywhere are yelling and screaming and debating the impact. And how this plays out is important for our own understanding of how to teach this stuff to our kids. I know that Gary’s comment on my previous post about this is an important point in the debate despite his cynicism, and I hope he draws it out more here. But this is another benchmark in the disruption, another test that I find fascinating on many levels, and one that is worth our attention and conversation.
Just a quick pointer to a post by Jeff Jarvis who has some interesting observations about blogging ethics in the context of linking and quoting from other sources. Seems the Associated Press has attempted to get some bloggers to stop using pull quotes (even as short as 35 words) from its stories and, somewhat understandably, the blogosphere is rebelling. Jarvis is leading the charge, and describes the ethic of link and quote as this:
It says to our readers: Donâ€™t take my word for it, go see for yourself. And: Hereâ€™s what the source said; I wonâ€™t rephrase it but I will quote it directly so you can see for yourself.
I’ve always thought that this was one of the powerful qualities of blogging, the ability to send the reader back to the original to see the context for the writing. It’s what made me love teaching journalism with blogs, because it was so easy for me to follow my students’ line of thinking, but because it also gave me a great opportunity to talk about the issues of plagiarism and fair use and copyright with my kids. And, like Jeff, it’s what I want and expect now from traditional journalism, whether newspapers or magazines. It’s an expectation that makes print more and more difficult for me to read. It’s an expectation that I have of just about all non-fiction writing.
What’s interesting is that when I teach blogging workshops, this concept is not an easy one for people to wrap their brains around. The ease with which we can link and connect ideas makes this vastly different from the analog world. And the importance of links in connecting people is one of the foundational points in all of these discussions.
The continual disruptions to traditional journalism continue to fascinate me, another reason that I’m really looking forward to PDF next week.
Interesting post by Mark Glaser that does a really thorough job of summing up the challenges the major media outlets are facing as they “get the religion of audience participation.” The central question is:
How do you harness the audienceâ€™s knowledge and participation without
the forums devolving into a messy online brawl that requires
The good news here, as Glaser points out, is that we are finally past the point where people are arguing whether the audience voice should be heard. Most of the major newspapers’ online sites have growing points of participation for readers. The contention now is how to moderate all of those comments and which ones to highlight in “eye catching editorial spaces” presumably to drive more conversation. There seem to be a number of options shaping up, from reader recommendations a la Digg to paid employee moderators to filters that search for certain words. Some, like Business Week, are also motivating people to leave quality comments by offering them special incentives, such as an end of the year dinner with editors on the staff. And, of course, there is also the question of allowing anonymous comments at all. Fascinating read.
All of which once again makes me think of my days as a journalism student in college and how totally different life for a journalist is these days. And, it harkens back to what Dan Gillmor said many moons ago now, that “my readers know more than I do.” (I love showing this example of a USA Today article where the featured interviewee shows up in the comments section to set the story straight.) And it also makes me think about how we have to prepare our kids for this more participatory culture that we’re moving into.
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