I’m trying to catch up with recent discussions about ‘solutions journalism’ – here are a few links:
A good piece to read all these against is the short entry on Journalism in the ‘New Liberal Arts’ ebook put together by the guys at Snarkmarket.
A couple of key quotes:
Journalism was once defined as “what professional journalists do.” Today, journalism can be re-described as a community’s conversations with itself. The role of the journalist can be re-imagined as facilitating that conversation. Effective journalism will amplify a community’s questions about how well it’s doing and help find answers.
Journalism becomes the story of how a society optimizes itself. It creates an ever-evolving record of how the society is functioning, so citizens can amplify their successes, improve their inefficiencies, and fix their mistakes. Once thought of as “the first draft of history,” journalism drafts the blueprint for an ever-changing present. It brings together the best information we have to evaluate our choices and adjust our course.
Journalism is described as ‘the art of the now’… Which is, well, revealing and interesting.
I’ve been reading Clay Johnson’s ‘The Information Diet’ recently. His central analogy – the idea that we are over-consuming information the way we over-consume food – works as a way to get your attention though it is rather over-extended.
That said, Jonson’s general point – that we need to think more carefully about media consumption – is hard to argue with.
For example, I’ve become a bit troubled by the habit I’ve fallen into with Instapaper. In theory, this fantastic tool is supposed to help you consume online media more effectively and efficiently – it strips out ads, save the text for later when you can focus on it etc.
In practice, it doesn’t seem to work quite like that, at least not for me. I use Instapaper to save loads of things to read during the day – I find stuff via Twitter, Google Reader, Zite – but I never really get round to actually reading them – probably because I save too much.
So all I really know from all the pieces I save is what I pick up from scanning them quickly when I first encounter them and am trying to work out if I should save them to Instapaper.
So my idea with the ‘reading list’ post is to go back through my unread Instapaper stuff, pull out pieces around a particular theme and actually make time to read (and think about) in the following week and then write a post summarising what I learned.
That’s the plan anyway. Let’s see if it works.
A few things I’m planning to read this week, on the subject of viral media and journalism. In theory, I’m going to write a follow-post in about a week about what I’ve learned:
- Cheezburger’s Ben Huh says news orgs should think like teenagers if they want to survive, by Adrienne LaFrance for Nieman Journalism Lab
- Cheezburger founder tells newspapers what they have been doing wrong, by The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss
- Why are we still consuming news like it’s 1899, by Ben Huh
- What makes something go viral – again from Nieman Journalism Lab, this time by Andrew Phelps
- When funny goes viral, by Rob Walker, for the NYT
- Several of the posts on the Circa blog
- Six degrees of aggregation, about the HuffPo, by Michael Shapiro for the Columbia Journalism Review
- Viral culture, before the internet, by Kliph Nesteroff – I read it on The Awl but I think it appeared on an iPad app called Punch first
- How to make a viral hit in four easy steps, by Farhad Manjoo for Slate
- If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead, a Convergence Culture Consortium 2008 white paper by Henry Jenkins, Xiaochang Li and Anna Domb, with Joshua Green –