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 paper’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: Don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself. And: Here’s what the source said; I won’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 audience’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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As a journalism major, I really find the challenges that reporters and MSM are facing these days to be incredibly interesting. For me, the writing part was always the easy part; it was the reporting that I found and still find difficult, and these days the rules are being rewritten. Witness the brouhaha that’s been building over at Wired as one of it’s reporters has been trying to do a story on some Web 2.0 types who don’t want to play by the traditional rules. Jeff Jarvis deconstructs the whole affair in his blog, and if you want to get a sense of how radical this is, imaging the following as part of the new model:
As Winer says: “So if you want to work together, let’s find a new way to do it. I’m fed up with the old system. The way we start the reboot is to do all our work out in the open, real-time. Not via email, but in full view of everyone.” Examine the possible benefits of this: The reporter asks a question and I answer it. But I get it wrong and a reader pipes in to give a correction. Isn’t that a better way? I read my answers as I write them and improve them myself. What’s wrong with that? Why should the reporter get the opportunity to rewrite and edit and I don’t? Why should the reporter get to look smarter than the subjects? The best reporters, after all, go to find people who are smarter and know more than they do to get the best story. Ah, but I can hear some of you saying, wouldn’t this blow an exclusive? Well the exclusive has a fleeting value of about 30 seconds anymore anyway. And what’s exclusive about what Dave Winer has to say about Mike Arrington? If anyone owns that exclusive, it’s Dave, no? And Dave’s stance is that if he has anything to say on a subject, he’ll say it on his blog. Welcome to the transparent era, my fellow journalists. You want transparency? This is transparency.
What’s fascinating to me is just being able to watch this play out. Seems like every day the challenges mount. I know in my own case that I would much rather use the wisdom of the crowd to help me make decisions than the traditional advertisements I’ve been peppered with all my life. I mean really, how long will advertising as we know it have any effect on what we buy when we can connect to people who we actually trust to guide us?
George points to a couple of interesting articles that highlight the disruptions going on “out there” and encourages to read with education in mind. It’s something I constantly do, because i really believe that as traditions in those arenas begin to crumble and break down, there will be more and more pressure on the traditions of schooling to do so as well.
Case in point is Jay Rosen’s Washington Post essay titled “Web Users Open the Gates.” So much of it is easily reframed toward schools, as in when he talks about his ability to select the best sources of information for what he is interested in.
Simple example: The Net radically shifts principles of news distribution as all sites become equidistant from the reader.
In2003, I tracked Arnold Schwarzenneger’s gubernatorial campaign by reading California Insider by Dan Weintraub because the Sacramento Bee political columnist seemed more clued-in to the race than top national reporters. That I could choose his coverage (and links) over the Washington Post’s demonstrates the “unbundling” effect of the Internet.
Containers in which news had been packaged broke apart because the Internet could deliver content without the wrapping.
How about “the Net radically shifts principles of curriculum distribution as all ideas become equidistant from the learner.” Think about how much more freedom and choice we have as learners today, and how, if we exercise that freedom effectively, we can create a much more relevant learning experience for ourselves. We’re not hostage to one idea from one expert or one textbook. And in this way, if follows that “Containers in which curriculum had been packaged will break apart because the Internet can deliver it without the wrapping.
If you are interested at all in what the pressures on journalism are, you should give it a read. (I’ve added it to the EdBloggerNews page.)
As networks shrink the world, business priorities change. Efficient production used to call the shots. Make lots of stuff, gain economies of scale, and sell, sell, sell, even if what you were selling wasn’t quite what your customers were asking for. But now customers can buy whatever they want from anywhere in the world, whenever they want to.
So what happens when learners no longer need the business of schools to get the education they want and need? Even in the early years?
Interesting stuff going on “out there”…
I really think that one of the reasons these tools are going to fundamentally change the way we educators do our business is because they are fundamentally changing the way all sorts of other people do their work. Nowhere is that more true than journalism and media which in many ways are being turned on their heads by the ability of any of us (with access) to now contribute to the news and meme making streams. Jeff Jarvis has a great post that looks at how one media organization, Reuters, is really getting the shift, and so much of what they are experiencing can apply to us as well. Substitute the word “student” for “consumer” in the following statement by CEO Tom Glocer and you’ll see what I mean:
They’re consuming, they’re creating, they’re sharing, and they’re publishing themselves. So the consumer wants to not only run the printing preess, the consumer wants to set the Linotype as well…
Our industry is facing a profound challenge from home-created content… If we create the right crossroads, provide the consumers with the appropriate tools…we can harnass what otherwise from the outside would look like a punk revolution…
We do need to harness all of the creative energy that is now at the hands of our students (with access.) I say this in my presentations all the time, but how cool would it be for us to remind our kids to “publish your homework” instead of simply hand it in? We can do that now.
Glocer also says that “what we are seeing today is an almost continuing talent show,” and I really like that image. It reminds me of a quote from a book by Marc Rosenberg, Beyond E-Learning I’ve been working through where he says “don’t call them learners:”
Thinking about e-learning in new ways has to start with existing paradigms that might be holding you back. Calling people what they really are is a good beginning, but if you must use a generic term, a better one might be performer (23).
Anyone who as ever taught knows what a difference performance can make when it comes to learning. We teach through performance, not in the getting up on stage sense but in the delivering the content in meaningful, relevant ways sense. It’s not enough to “know” it, which is what standardized test require. We have to be able to make meaning of it as well.
The whole post and ensuing comments are worth the read…
Jumping off of the CUNY discussion from yesterday comes this piece in today’s Times about how a Swiss magazine decided to cover the recent riots in the Paris suburbs. It’s a great comparison of how traditional methods are being replaced by the immediacy of the new tools.
The blog turned their work routine upside down. Typically, they would do their reporting, then write the main piece for the magazine, and finally perhaps, a related feature or a reporter’s notebook.
But with the blog, said Serge Michel, a world affairs editor who opened the office, “we report and immediately write and publish an initial draft, giving a first tentative shape to the narrative.” When the staff members sit down to compose that piece for the magazine, the reporters have days of this “flow writing” behind them.
The reporters say they found a new relationship with their readers, who are invited to leave comments. The journalists engage in the discussions, and have used reader feedback as inspiration for more posts.
I wonder as I read articles like this what the demands will be of our current and future students in terms of writing. I’m not suggesting that the basics of written communication will change that much, but I am suggesting that the purposes of that communication as we currently teach it are going to have to be reconsidered. Writing the essay or the narrative or the story for the teacher only these days is to take a very narrow view of what writing is for. That’s not to say everything gets published. But as I walked through the hallways last week at the semester break and saw teachers attacking stacks of final, culminating papers that their students had “handed in” instead of published to a wider audience (and potentially more effective assessment,) I couldn’t help thinking how much our students are missing in terms of what it really means to write these days.
Bud’s thinking about getting his kids involved with YourHub this fall, the community news portal for Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. It’s a great idea, and it of course makes me yearn for the classroom once again. There’s just so much I could be doing with my journalism kids: blogs, rss, social research, wikis, Skype interviews, podcasts, photo stories at Flickr, all published to a dynamic online newspaper space of our own design. (Out here in the hinterlands of New Jersey, there isn’t a YourHub to work with yet…) My goodness how things have changed in just the past couple of years.
Last week I sat down with blogger/journalism teacher Tom McHale to talk about the class and our school newspaper and what we might be able to do. What struck me is how many more opportunities there are now to do regular, ongoing journalism, stuff that’s not relegated to the paper copy that comes out every two weeks. In fact, the newspaper site may be one of the biggest draws into our community. We talked about adding video editorials, regular audiocasts, photo montages…there are so many ways that students could contribute. And it’s really all about being able to read and write different types of texts. I can’t imagine how much fun it would be to teach that class again…
This is why students should be taught to blog. A Georgia high school principal decides to pull the plug on the journalism class because the stories in the paper it was producing were too controversial. (Guns in schools and teen mothers…shocking!) Then he also pulls the school magazine and cancels an introductory journalism class that the same teacher had proposed. So, the students start a blog “Speaking Underground”:
We believe students’ rights to exercise responsible free speech should be encouraged and not stifled. The Speaking Underground forum was created in an effort to keep students’ voices from being silenced by school authorities. We invite you to study the documents on this website. Please contact the Pebblebrook administration, as well as Cobb County School District officials and encourage them to rescind the decision to remove journalism classes at Pebblebrook High School.
People all over the place are railing against the principal for his affront on the free speech rights of students. What I’m more interested in, however, is the students’ response: they started a blog. I mean, really. How cool is that?
Now they’re not getting an “A” for blogging…yet. Right now the site is basically a list of links. Most of the 100 or so comments bash the principal, raise the banner of the First Amendment, etc…stuff you would typically expect to find. But if you look closely, it gets more interesting. You have bloggers saying they’ve “covered” the story on their sites. One blogger, Michael Memberg, actually tells the kids to stop complaining and asks:
Has your ability to disseminate your ideas been limited? No, as evidenced by this blog, you still have a means to publish your work.
Whoa. One anonymous commenter says:
Fight to keep the newspaper if possible, but consider starting your own independent paper, too. This blog is a good start toward that.
So maybe the indie paper doesn’t look as slick or modern as what might come from a class production … in this case, the content seems more important than the design.
And do you know how awesome it would be to produce the publication without the school’s interference?
And if it really matters enough, the death of the class will not be the death of a newspaper at Pebblebrook.
Content over design. Hmmm…ever hear of RSS?
As a journalism major, former journalist, and former adviser, I’m not sure if any rights have been violated here. Certainly, the principal could have found a better way to deal with what he perceived as a problem, however. And I’m not totally convinced that students should be producing a “paper” per se outside of the school for a variety of reasons. Good journalism is a craft, and those skills need to be coached by someone who recognizes them and hopefully employs them.
But these editors and reporters should be blogging. And I mean really blogging, reflecting on the stories they write, engaging in discussions about meaningful topics at the school, giving voice in a respectful and meaningful way to issues and ideas that might not always make it into the paper “paper”. And in doing so, they could contribute to the development of other high school journalists across the country, around the world. Right now, they’ve contributed the story. By blogging, they can start to contribute the LEARNING.
(Thanks to Steven Cohen for the link…)
Jeff Jarvis who has skyrocketed to fame and, well fame, on the shoulders of the blogging revolution (seen him on MSNBC lately?) has moved his citizen media movement into the video realm and he wants MSM (main stream media) to get the message. I urge you to watch his three minute vlog just for a sense of how easy it’s become. Here are some outtakes to get the flavah:
The citizen media movement now comes to broadcast. This will be big…blogs are…It’s all about control. My first law of media, and life, is give people control and they will use it. The remote control, not the Guttenberg press, was the most important invention in the history of media for it lets viewers control their consumption of media. How much more powerful it is to create media…I would see this new medium as a way to build a new relationship, a conversation with the audience. [Emphasis mine, obviously.]
Jeff came out here to Flemington a couple of times last year as we held some blog meetups, trying to start a citizen journalism movement here. It didn’t take root, unfortunately, more because we didn’t have the time to put into it than anything else. But I’m inspired again. I think it would be very cool to start a Flemington area I-channel with vlogs and blogs and podcasts and goodness knows what else that’s coming down the line. Jeff’s right, we can all have our own personal tv space now.
Go Read/Write Web. Go!
Wow. Peggy Noonan is pumping up blogs (from a journalism sense) like I don’t know what. And at the Wall Street Journal no less:
But when I read blogs, when I wake up in the morning and go to About Last Night and Lucianne and Lileks, I remember what the late great Christopher Reeve said on “The Tonight Show” 20 years ago. He was the second guest, after Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield did his act and he was hot as a pistol. Then after Reeve sat down Dangerfield continued to be riotous. Reeve looked at him, gestured toward him, looked at the audience and said with grace and delight, “Do you believe this is free?” The audience cheered. That’s how I feel on their best days when I read blogs.
That you get it free doesn’t mean commerce isn’t involved, for it is. It is intellectual commerce. Bloggers give you information and point of view. In return you give them your attention and intellectual energy. They gain influence by drawing your eyes; you gain information by lending your eyes. They become well-known and influential; you become entertained or informed. They get something from it and so do you.
It’s a great read, one that I think is pretty level headed and “spot on” about a lot of what’s happening right now. But we still have such a loooooonnnngggg way to go before we’ll see just what the long term effects are.
But this is why I believe that the technologies will change education. If the Fourth Estate is reeling a bit by the rise of citizen editors and the creation (in progress) of a new definition of journalism, I just feel like the same can happen to education. Like newspapers, we just don’t hold the keys to the content anymore. And I think we all better start waking up to that fact…
I realize I’m on a bit of a journalism bender here lately, but I can’t help myself, especially when Jay Rosen announces that the debate is officially ended.
Bloggers vs. journalists is over. I don’t think anyone will mourn its passing. There were plenty who hated the debate in the first place, and openly ridiculed its pretensions and terms. But events are what did the thing in at the end. In the final weeks of its run, we were getting bulletins from journalists like this one from John Schwartz of the New York Times, Dec. 28: “For vivid reporting from the enormous zone of tsunami disaster, it was hard to beat the blogs.”
And so we know they’re journalism– sometimes. They’re even capable, at times, and perhaps only in special circumstances, of beating Big Journalism at its own game. Schwartz said so. The tsunami story is the biggest humanitarian disaster ever in the lifetimes of most career journalists and the blogs were somehow right there with them.
The question now isn’t whether blogs can be journalism. They can be, sometimes. It isn’t whether bloggers “are” journalists. They apparently are, sometimes. We have to ask different questions now because events have moved the story forward. By “events” I mean things on the surface we can see, like the tsunami story, and things underneath that we have yet to discern.
I reeaalllly wish I could be at Harvard this weekend, but the aggregated feeds and the webcast will just have to do. And besides, now that I have my iPod, I’m sure Doug Kaye and IT Conversations will be making it all downloadable in short order.
Let me just say that Memeorandum, which takes ral headlines and displays them above blogger reactions, is especially interesting to me as it’s the first step down the road of bringing blogs and old media together in the “newfangled news tangle” format. I like having the news next to the views; I only wish there was some way that I could select which news items I’m interested in and the bloggers whose opining I’d like to follow. It’s also another step down the RSS as textbook road that David Warlick had (brought here via Jenny, who wants
David and I to do some brainstorming… another great idea!) I was thinking about how easily teachers could whip up some feeds about current events i.e. the tsunami disaster for example. Glue together a search feed or two from the traditional media, a flickr feed for pictures and some select blogger feeds, throw them onto a public Bloglines account and in no time you have the beginnings of a text that is constantly being updated. (Then have the students pull out the best info into their own Wikipedia type entry, and…)
My head hurts. (But it’s a good pain.)
Now Newsmap is “an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator.” At first it seems like just a bunch of colorful headlines from around the world. But the cool thing is you can click through and get views from a variety of countries, putting them side by side, showing how different stories play in different places. It’s along the lines of 10×10 only it’s more text than pictures and it’s much more informational. You can even go back in time to see what what news when and watch how it evolved out of importance. I’m not sure I would use it regularly, but I just like the creativity, the way someone has decided to push the technology into a new area.
Have I mentioned how much fun this is?