Tag Archives: journalism education

A little media blogging on the fly . . .

I do want to return to blogging a bit more substantively about many of the topics I’m linking to below. But I’m trying to launch a site and grapple with some serious server meltdown issues that are preventing this from happening. The life of a Web entrepreneur is a glamorous one, I tell you. What I offer here I do so without comment or elaboration — for now:

Newspapers Not Evolving Enough for Digital Demand:

“I have wanted to work for a forward-leaning digital company for a long time. Part of this is recognition that newspapers have limited resources, they are saddled with legitimate legacy businesses that they have to focus on first. I am a digital guy and the digital world is evolving rapidly. I don’t want to have to wait for the traditional news industry to catch up.”

We Need ‘Philosophy of Journalism:”

“Every journalism student should be required to take a course in ‘Philosophy of Journalism,’ to develop the intellectual instincts and reflexes that will make the approach to truth of both practices a permanent part of his or her intellectual makeup. Imagine a world in which every column about the Obama administration’s battle with Fox News came with profound context about the large issues involved. A sweet, rather than tweet, thought.”

Does Political Journalism Focus on the Trivial?

“In the 60s journalism was a craft, not a profession, and more identified with ordinary people. Now, we’ve lost some of our idealism. The media and politicians are going down together in terms of cynicism.”

‘The Daily Show’ crew serious about media criticism:

“Too often, King said, journalists’ political coverage — and that of media critics — ends up being sanitized and nothing but a perfunctory he said/she said exchange. ‘If you were going to talk about whether the earth is flat, and 99 percent of scientists are saying it’s round, and 1 percent are saying it’s flat, you wouldn’t bring on the 1 percent guy. That viewpoint is factually inaccurate and they shouldn’t bring him on just to give the illusion of balance.’ “

Fertile Ground for Startups:

“Startups are playing an increasingly important role in American business, and they may play a central role in any recovery. As of the end of 2008, companies infused with venture capital were responsible for generating 12 million jobs and 20% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to a recent survey published by the National Venture Capital Assn.”

The War for the Web:

“It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.”

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What I’m reading: Buyout shock, hobby journalism, Madonna writes and DIY editing

It’s been exactly a year ago today that my whole world changed. I turned in my buyout paperwork to the human resources department at my former newspaper, went to lunch with my sidekick, and for the first time in a very long while was at peace with myself and what was ahead of me.

The thoughts of recent buyout-takers at the Syracuse Post-Standard are hauntingly familiar and kick off a roundup of links about media topics I’ve been reading in recent days:

Don’t mourn for long: Longtime Post-Standard illustrator Darren Sanefski is dealing with fresh, raw emotions that won’t subside in short order:

“I’m still going through this grieving process. Working at the newspaper is what identified me as a person for the last 22 years.”

This is an unbearably hard notion to shake, but it must be licked. Sanefski’s bottom-line perspective virtually mirrors the thought that sealed the deal for me to move on:

“When you conquer your greatest fear, you make the greatest strides. And that’s why I left the newspaper.”

(via Fading to Black)

A young journalist, undaunted: Paralyzed since the age of eight, Sonia Sharp has stormed her way through Columbia Journalism School because, frankly, she’s never wanted to do anything else:

“I grew up with doom and gloom. So you can doom-and-gloom until you’re blue in the face, and I’ll yawn. I still want to be a journalist because I’m stubborn, and dropping in on total strangers and having them open their lives to you is addictive, and I’m not a ‘just say no’ person.

“Journalism marries the two things in the world I’m actually good at—being nosy and writing for money.”

Writing . . . for money? How quaint. (via Romenesko)

But it’s a hobby, isn’t it? Caroline Miller could teach Sharp quite a bit more about the real world of journalism than Columbia. There’s lots of piling onto the anti-Chris Anderson bandwagon (more on that tomorrow) but hers is one of the kvetchiest ripostes yet to the author of “Free:”

“I’ve never met anyone who was insulted to get paid to write something—that seems delusional—but otherwise he gets right to the anxiety deep down in the heart of journalists (and journalism lovers) everywhere. It’s really not about whether newspapers will survive (no, they won’t, not in their current form), or whether they’ll morph into story syndicates or journalistic cooperatives (yeah, they will, or some other form that monetizes content more broadly), but whether people will get paid to report and write at all.”

Blame it all on Robert Redford: I got the journalism bug because of Watergate, and that was due in some part to the glorification of Woodstein in “All The President’s Men” that hit the cinemas during my high school days. For years I figured Hal Holbrook might as well be Deep Throat.

Russ Smith believes this celebrity treatment of journalists has ruined reporting, making us a preening pack of camera hounds and pundits working out of soulless, smokeless, odorless newsrooms (now rapidly thinning out, of course). He loses his point several times in a rambling, but entertaining post that includes this zinger of a caveat:

“That’s not to say all, or even most, daily journalists in the fat decades were pricks who whooped it up with herbal tea and treated cigarette smokers like pariahs even before local governments stuck their noses into that onetime controversial issue.”

Well, I do believe Smith is saying that. He might not have worked in places like that, but I did. While the goo-goo legions in newsrooms are, well, legion — Sign up for Weight Watchers! Join the Walking Club! — this “antiseptic” mindset ranges far beyond the journalistic imagination of Hollywood.

Think what it might be like to have this guy for an editor.

Writing like a virgin . . . for the very first time: Yes, this celebrity journalism thing really is getting out of hand, now that Madonna’s made herself a newspaper correspondent. Yes, the Madonna. Her full debut “story” won’t be published until tomorrow. In it, the Material Girl:

“Describes her religious awakening almost 14 years ago, saying she realized fame and fortune were not the end but only the beginning.”

Today, Israeli’s largest daily. Tomorrow, per chance, the Huffington Post? Perhaps Arianna already has something worked out with Her Girl Friday.

Do your your own damn rewrite: Not sure who’s looking over Miz Ciccone’s copy in that Tel Aviv newsroom, but reporters are having to be their own copy editors with the latter the most endangered species of all journalists. The American Copy Editors Society is revving up its blog to address that topic and others related to the art, practice and discipline of good writing and editing.

Ex-Baltimore Sun desk chief John McIntyre, one of the aces of ACES, takes no pleasure in seeing print errors mount and worries that present Web standards won’t be raised:

“I suspect that one of the things that is on the minds of publishers of online enterprises is a sense that readers on the Internet don’t expect things to be accurate or very well done and, therefore, they are used to tolerating a much higher level of shoddy work, a much greater volume of errors and, therefore, you can sacrifice the quality on the Web and it doesn’t mean that much.”

It’s truly a DIY universe we inhabit. So get your online stylebooks here: Associated Press and Reuters.

A journalistic ideal that won’t change

The Poynter Institute’s “Standing Up for Journalism” workshop has been engrossing (and busy!), so much that this week has been one for light posting. We’ve been heavily into video shooting and editing, and will have a final project tomorrow that I’m eventually going to try to post here.

Today we heard from former Philadelphia Inquirer managing editor Butch Ward on “Surviving Change.” Echoing many of the familiar tactics of job-seeking networking (my career coach despises the term) that we have been hearing and learning to adopt, Ward also stressed the practice of lifelong learning, or “boundary spanning. Don’t be defined by your own boundaries.” This is going to be our reality for for the rest of our careers:

“What does surviving mean now? It doesn’t mean you’ll keep your next job. [It does mean] having options in a situation and knowing how to respond.”

After Ward regaled us with “glue pot” stories from his days at the late Baltimore News-American — the memories endure, because they gave those newsroom folks a proud identity — he underscored that the core objectives of the profession remain the same, even if the tools and business models are in flux:

“Why do we do this work? What you do is important but it’s so much more powerful if you know why you do it.”

A similar message was sent to University of Tennessee journalism students who, unlike my Poynter classmates and me, have grown up in the digital age:

“Whatever technology knowledge or skills we need today are only the enablers to do journalism.

“It’s still about knowing a story, getting the story quickly and accurately, and playing it correctly that ultimately matter.

“No matter the tools or the medium, it’s knowing what is a story and the telling of it that turns information into journalism.”

The best kind of journalism education

Simon Owens passed along this follow-up about the New York University student who protested the lack of digital media courses in its undergraduate program. One of her professors, called out by name as not being particularly Web-savvy, barred the student from further blogging, Twittering and other online communications about the class in question.

The professor’s rationale was that the privacy of the students was being violated by such reportage. But surely the frank and blunt post Alana Taylor wrote for the Media Shift blog to sum up her underwhelming response to the class raised the most hackles:

“I am convinced that I am taking the only old-but-new-but-still-old media class in the country. At this point I may not learn too much I don’t already know about my generation and where it’s taking journalism. But one thing’s for sure — I’m certainly going to gain some insight into what exactly they mean by generation gap.”

Chillingly, Taylor is reluctant to blog further on her class for Media Shift. Casting aside for the moment questions over privacy and whether students should blog or use mobile devices during class, the issue of challenging authority in a J-school environment is what struck me reading all this.

When I was in college — long before the advent of the Web — a few of us on the student paper challenged the university administration on a range of subjects. Not a new subject there. But these were the days when visceral memories of Watergate were fading as the Reagan era of cheerful conformity took hold. Visiting professors to the journalism school were of a type — the likes of Pat Buchanan, as one example — and we complained about it in print. These were the days, in fact, when the “liberal media” meme was being fashioned into a convenient, and effective bludgeon against journalistic vigilance.

“This is a newspaper, not a viewspaper!” howled the dean of the J-school at one point. Even though we did our complaining on the editorial page.

We had our funding stripped for a semester. When I was editor, the dean approved all editorials. Getting haranguing phone calls at the crack of dawn on publication day of my senior year was not how I envisioned making the transition to my professional journalism career.

Yet it was the perfect, most fitting educational experience I could have received. I attended an average small public university in a sleepy town in the Deep South and wrote my stories pecking away on a manual typewriter. Alana Taylor goes to a well-heeled private university in Manhattan and blogs and Twitters in class (well, not in all of them).

The compulsion to shut down individuals who don’t behave themselves knows no generation gap. And it’s still thriving in the laboratory of journalism schools.

I had to submit to the most egregious kind of censorship. With in-class blogging on hold, Taylor on her own blog says she’s “still watching, listening, observing. Very much a learning experience.”

You wonder if those in charge of Taylor’s education, which presumably does not come very cheap, will ever learn this age-old lesson: That punishing students for questioning authority contradicts the entire exercise of training journalists.

Taylor gives a damn about her future profession and how she’s being prepared for it. She’s giving herself a better education than any of obtuse adults insidiously trying to silence her.

Read her full list of grievances here. And Mark Glaser’s summary of the saga. The comments section at the bottom of both posts seem to more well-rounded than anything Taylor’s been taught in her classes.