Archive for Future of journalism

First posted at, the website of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Center sponsored a talk by Rutgers University media researcher, Nick Diakopoulos late last month.

The topic: Innovation and Computing in Journalism.

“As information comes at us faster and faster, we have more and more data to deal with,” Diakopoulos said. “Social media is pumping out terabytes of this every day. We need computers to help us deal with that scale.”

Diakopoulos defined computational journalism as “using computing to facilitate, enable and reinvigorate the practices and processes of journalism, including collecting, organising, making sense of, communicating and disseminating news information, while upholding the values of journalism such as fairness and accuracy.”

As part of the presentation Diakopoulos presented two programs to help wade through all that data.

  • Videolyzer” is a fact checking application designed for online videos.
  • Vox Event Analytics,” that asks, “What would a journalist ask from social media, what could be interesting?”

JMSC Media Talk: Innovation and Computing in Journalism from JMSC HKU on Vimeo.

I have argued with journalists and cajoled students into thinking globally with their local stories.

Here is an example of how a Washington correspondent for a  New Jersey paper linked Pres. Obama’s current trip to Brazil with very local issues in New Jersey.

First posted at my Journalism, Journalists and the World site.

Congratulations to Herb Jackson, Washington correspondent for the [New Jersey] Record.

He not only understands the idea that there is a connection between international and local events, he knows how to dig into the various databases to get the numbers to back up the link.

Obama’s trip to Brazil key to N.J.

He did what I and a few others have been arguing for a long time. He took information already on hand from the wire services, looked up some data and did some local interviews.

Without spending extra money to send someone overseas, the readers of the Record got a news story that was specific to their local area AND showed how the New Jersey economy depended on global trade.

This is called providing context.

It would be nice to see more LOCAL reporting like this.

Too often most Americans don’t know or care about global events. In part, this is because the U.S. media don’t show enough intelligence to provide the context of why understanding what goes on in Brazil or Japan or Germany means to the local reader/listener/viewer.

Again, congrats to Herb Jackson for being a good journalist who sees connections vital to his readership.

The following item was first  posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World. One of the good things about the Wikileaks cables, I argue, is that it shows how the U.S. Foreign Service promotes and protects U.S. jobs — a very domestic issue.

Unfortunately few in the U.S. — and within the journalism community — understand that connection.

Perhaps a new generation of journalism students will grasp the local connection to international issues and the international side of local issues.

One can only hope.

A lot has been said about the Wikileaks cables and how they have — at a minimum — hurt the ability of U.S. diplomats to do their jobs. (A position I still hold.)

Most of the cables would have been declassified 10 years after they were written so anyone interested would have been able to see everything we are seeing today.

But that is just the problem — that “anyone interested” part. Damn few people in the States seem interested. (Unless they have a political agenda.)

Thanks to Wikileaks more people are now paying attention to what U.S. diplomats do. And how that work affects local situations.

A recent story in the New York Times showed how closely domestic and international affairs are linked. (Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market)

Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to domestic economic affairs should know that the U.S. economy depends on trade. That means imports and exports. That means trade agreements and the ability to sell goods and services overseas.

And just how do you think the agreements that allow for imports and exports happen? Yep, through the work of the foreign services of a number of U.S. government agencies.

The Trade Representative Office works to make sure that our trade partners adhere to the trade treaties the sign with us.

The State Department negotiates the treaties and protects U.S. interests abroad. (Government and business.)

The Foreign Commercial Service (Commerce Department) has offices around the world promoting the sales of U.S. products from fortune cookies (yes, really) to aircraft.

The Agriculture Department has offices in most of the major U.S. embassies promoting U.S. agricultural sales as well as working to ensure the safety of food imported into the United States. (BTW, did you know that Wisconsin ginseng is more popular in China than Korean or Chinese ginseng?)

So why is there so much talk about cutting the foreign affairs’ budgets? I can only think it is out of pure ignorance of what the U.S. foreign service agencies do for the American government, people and businesses.

As I have stated before, foreign affairs does not have a constituency that can speak for it before Congress. The Pentagon hands out contracts to all 435 Congressional districts. And all the other agencies deal with domestic issues that voters can see and understand.

Unfortunately, the U.S. media have not helped the situation. Years of neglect about why events in the rest of the world mean anything to the American people have given us a generation (or more) of globally unaware people and leaders.

The amazing thing about the NYTimes story linked above is that the Times is treating this as news. As the article said, “It is not surprising that the United States helps American companies doing business abroad, given that each sale is worth thousands of jobs and that their foreign competitors do the same.”

Interestingly, the article focused on the sale of Boeing passenger jets. Yet there are also a number of Wikileaks cables that deal with the sale of U.S. military hardware. And this is just as important to keeping U.S. factories working.

Too bad they missed that little tidbit.

The authors find the details to be interesting. And they are. But, again, anyone who paid attention to such things did not need Wikileaks to get this kind of information.

But with media groups cutting budgets and bean counters screaming, “Local! Local! Local!” the resources are just not available to do the stories that explain to readers/viewers/listeners the connection between overseas’ events and their local economy on a regular basis.

So I guess even the harshest critics of Wikileaks should be thankful that finally the media are beginning to do some stories that show the domestic impact of what the foreign services do overseas. (I don’t really expect to see many more like the story mentioned above, but it would be nice.)

Thanks to Stuff Journalists Like for pointing out a blog by Nikki Villoria. (Follow her on Twitter at @NikkiVillori.)

6 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Student Journalist

Bullet points:

  • Know When to Approach. If there is a major event occurring that includes fires, natural disasters, sirens, fighting politicians, or riots, DO NOT approach us unless you have a relevant quote, good insight to the situation or a possible source.
  • Student Journalists Commit. We are building our career the minute we decide to major in journalism. If we see something we like, we dedicate ourselves to it 100 percent, which makes us great in relationships.
  • We are Loyal. We pride ourselves as being transparent and we know that the truth will eventually be found out, so we always tell the truth at the very start.
  • We are Great With People. We are out in crowds interviewing and mingling with everyone we meet.
  • We are Informed. The future of our career depends on us knowing the ins and outs of everything around us.
  • You Will be Quoted. Since you are a part of our lives and we spend so much time with you, chances are at one point or another you will say something that catches our attention more than normal, and we will quote you in an article or homework assignment.

Editor-in-chief of Reuters News David Schlesinger told a Hong Kong audience Oct 15 that journalism today is less about delivering straight facts than providing actionable information.

“That’s why this is the age of the publisher,” he said. “Journalists who understand this will survive. Those who don’t will be irrelevant.”

Schlesinger was speaking as part of a regular series sponsored by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hong Kong University.

When readers/viewers/listeners can easily snag online the basic facts to any even, it is important for professional journalists to provide insight and interpretation. Or, to use a term I hammered into my J students, context.

This kind of journalism has three pillars, Schlesinger said: journalistic excellence, presentation and utility to the client.

Schlesinger’s remarks to the JMSC crowd reinforces the idea that readers/viewers/listeners are now seen as “clients” and “users.” Professional journalism is no longer about sending information to a passive audience.

Journalists must continue to report breaking news, Schlesinger said, but that alone will not make it. Journalists, he added, need to produce stories that have an impact and address an audience’s interests and habits. Obviously, he said, this will be more difficult for a wire service such as Reuters.

For individual journalists, however, it offers an opportunity. Schlesinger said modern journalists need to think of themselves as individual brands.

“You’re nothing without your own brand. You have to establish yourself, what you stand for, your expertise.”

Besides knowing how to use social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, modern journalists need to be serious about knowing a subject inside out.

Knowing a second language doesn’t hurt either.

“Take some risks as well. It’s the new angles and the new stories that will help distinguish you.”

Again, this is something I have been arguing for some time. Except the risk in U.S. journalism is often making a connection between local and global events.

The local reporter who can see the global links in a local event or a local connection to an international story will provide more than just information to his/her local audience. Context and connections — or as Schlesinger said, “utility to the client” — will help the reader/listener/viewer better understand why a story is important.

Publishers and station owners who chant “Local! Local! Local!” as if that alone will save cash-strapped media organizations fail to see that while news consumers want news about their local areas, they also want context. And maybe more Americans will start paying attention to international news — other than wars, riots and disasters — if they see there is a link to their local community.

And the links exist. It just takes a journalist willing to “take risks” and an editor with some smarts.

Here is the full Schlesinger presentation: