Difference between revisions of "New and Old Media, Participation, and Information"

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Americans are more politically engaged than citizens of other Western/developed countries already, and citizen-led media is a natural step in the direction of higher political engagement. I don't think that "too much news" will lead to a more polarized society, but it may lead to more misinformation. However, there has always been misinformation in the news and I don't see this new form of alternative citizen-led media causing a larger gap between real news and misinformation. Neither old media or new media are immune to scandals, either. Traditional journalists are hailed as superior to ordinary citizens because they can monitor and police news stories better, picking out facts from falsehoods. The Guardian article offers a good example of the other side of the coin. In response to "The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers," I think government subsidies should not be used in the news industry and I don't think that is a sustainable option for newspapers. [[User:Aberg|Aberg]] 22:22, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
 
Americans are more politically engaged than citizens of other Western/developed countries already, and citizen-led media is a natural step in the direction of higher political engagement. I don't think that "too much news" will lead to a more polarized society, but it may lead to more misinformation. However, there has always been misinformation in the news and I don't see this new form of alternative citizen-led media causing a larger gap between real news and misinformation. Neither old media or new media are immune to scandals, either. Traditional journalists are hailed as superior to ordinary citizens because they can monitor and police news stories better, picking out facts from falsehoods. The Guardian article offers a good example of the other side of the coin. In response to "The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers," I think government subsidies should not be used in the news industry and I don't think that is a sustainable option for newspapers. [[User:Aberg|Aberg]] 22:22, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
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Like many others seem to have, I really enjoyed the Death of the American Newspaper article.  I was initially skeptical about the suggestion that government subsidize newspapers, and I still feel like it would be basically politically impossible considering how consistent a conservative Republican move it is recently to criticize most media as a bought and paid for lackey of the Democrats.  But, then there was the point that:
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"Currently the government spends less than $450 million annually on public media. (To put matters in perspective, it spends several times that much on Pentagon public relations designed, among other things, to encourage favorable press coverage of the wars that the vast majority of Americans oppose.)"
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That really brought me around to that way of thinking.  If the government is willing to spend that kind of money on PR it really would be hard to justify not supporting a crucial part of our Democracy, an effective free press. That said it's still political suicide for any Democrat, and politically impossible for any Republican.  On Assange, I really enjoyed how carefully he fit into most of the legal definitions of "reporter" that would protect him from prosecution.  That said, from a more personal point of view, I see a real difference between what he did with the information and what, for example, The New York Times did with it.  He simply dumped it all out there with no regard for the possible damage to be caused.  Times reporters debated how to protect individuals named in the leaked reports, and in many cases redacted names.  I'm not sure how I feel about what he did (I can see both sides of the argument and in the end I probably come down more in support of the sort of openness he committed to) but I do know that, despite the legal definitions, it does not seem like a reporter to just dump information out there.  My support for government subsidies for print newspapers is largely based on the concept that a strong and responsible media is a necessary pillar in a democracy/republic; Assange may have been brave, but he was not necessarily responsible. [[User:AlexLE|AlexLE]] 23:22, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
  
 
== Links from Class ==
 
== Links from Class ==

Revision as of 23:22, 5 March 2012

March 6

The profusion of low-cost media production and distribution has led to the rise of an alternative citizen-led media sector. Is this a passing fad of enthusiastic amateurs or the beginning of a fundamental restructuring of the way media and news are produced and consumed? Will the current trends lead to more information, better information, and better informed people or to an infinite stream of unreliable chatter? Will it lead to a more politically engaged populace or to an increasingly polarized society that picks its sources of information to match its biases and ignorance?


Assignments

Planning to work in a group? Let us know by this Friday, March 9 by emailing the instructors with a short paragraph explaining why a group approach to your proposed topic for the final project makes sense.


Readings

Optional Readings


Class Discussion

What do people think of "The Death and Life of the Great American Newspaper"?

I thought the author's first premise was that these old media outlets have an intrinsic value and should continue to exist. To be rather reactive and harsh, let them die. If they can't cope, good riddance. To be a bit more diplomatic, reasonable, and thoughtful, I think a basic flaw in his ideas is this idea that 'old media' as we think of it, that is these institutions like the NYTimes, WAPost, Time Mag, etc., were always there. The author talks about people coming to the US in the 1830s and being impressed with the number and quality of periodicals; but it wasn't even "professional" journalists as we think of them. It wasn't newsrooms of paid writers being directed by editors. It was what we think of as "citizen" journalists. At that period, there weren't the large industrial printing presses: It was movable type plate presses. So, the cost of physically producing a copy was roughly the same whatever the scale. After the industrial revolution, when steam began powering large presses, it became very marginally cheap to product a single print copy. So, if you were large, you could print them cheaper, and if you were small, you couldn't compete on price. A "citizen" paper couldn't hope to compete, largely because of the high barrier to entry with a mechanized press. Hence, the rise of large papers. The internet has taken us back to where the cost of publishing a given piece is the same for everyone. I think that this distinction between "citizen" and "professional" journalist is false. If you're reporting original news, you're a journalist. If you offer original analysis, you're a journalist.

So, then it comes to actually finding a solution to the quandary of actually getting good journalism in people's hands (or screens). Here I found the author's solutions to be, not only flawed in respect to my above premise, but also rather complicated and disturbingly focused on preserving physical periodicals out of principal. Subsidize mail distributions? That's the whole purpose of the internet. Still, I do see the need for someplace people can publish and read good news. Blogs don't usually work so well, because good writing and research takes time and effort. In order to keep a blog relevant, it really needs at least a weekly story. Most people would probably not be interested in publishing more than a story or two a year. I've certainly come across some great blogs, especially those run by a few professionals writing about news in their field. "science based medicine", for example, has some of the best medical reporting around, especially if you want the skeptical version. It helps that it has several contributors as well. But overall, quality control is still an issue, as is finding information centrally. One solution might be say, an online newspaper, with either paid or at lease vetted editors that accept user submitted stories, check facts, ensure that the story is at lease in some semblance well written, factually correct (at least generally), and basically edits what stories are published. They could also (as online publications already frequently do) update the stories easily as more facts come to light, or other users check facts, etc. I know that no individual component of this idea is new; it's sort of wiki meets blog applied to a newspaper format online, but I haven't seen it applied in this manner yet. It's not a perfect idea, but it's a whole lot more sensical than subsidies for newspaper subscription and other convoluted government fixes.

Am I crazy here? Anyone else have any counters or solutions to the author's ideas? BlakeGeno 07:00, 4 March 2012 (UTC)


March 6: New and Old Media, Participation, and Information Just Johnny 17:10, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Knight Commission Report on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy link: http://www.knightcomm.org/executive-summary/ Qdang 04:14, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

What do people think of "The Death and Life of the Great American Newspaper"?

I thought the author's first premise was that these old media outlets have an intrinsic value and should continue to exist. To be rather reactive and harsh, let them die. If they can't cope, good riddance. To be a bit more diplomatic, reasonable, and thoughtful, I think a basic flaw in his ideas is this idea that 'old media' as we think of it, that is these institutions like the NYTimes, WAPost, Time Mag, etc., were always there. The author talks about people coming to the US in the 1830s and being impressed with the number and quality of periodicals; but it wasn't even "professional" journalists as we think of them. It wasn't newsrooms of paid writers being directed by editors. It was what we think of as "citizen" journalists. At that period, there weren't the large industrial printing presses: It was movable type plate presses. So, the cost of physically producing a copy was roughly the same whatever the scale. After the industrial revolution, when steam began powering large presses, it became very marginally cheap to product a single print copy. So, if you were large, you could print them cheaper, and if you were small, you couldn't compete on price. A "citizen" paper couldn't hope to compete, largely because of the high barrier to entry with a mechanized press. Hence, the rise of large papers. The internet has taken us back to where the cost of publishing a given piece is the same for everyone. I think that this distinction between "citizen" and "professional" journalist is false. If you're reporting original news, you're a journalist. If you offer original analysis, you're a journalist. 
 So, then it comes to actually finding a solution to the quandary of actually getting good journalism in people's hands (or screens). Here I found the author's solutions to be, not only flawed in respect to my above premise, but also rather complicated and disturbingly focused on preserving physical periodicals out of principal. Subsidize mail distributions? That's the whole purpose of the internet. Still, I do see the need for someplace people can publish and read good news. Blogs don't usually work so well, because good writing and research takes time and effort. In order to keep a blog relevant, it really needs at least a weekly story. Most people would probably not be interested in publishing more than a story or two a year. I've certainly come across some great blogs, especially those run by a few professionals writing about news in their field. "science based medicine", for example, has some of the best medical reporting around, especially if you want the skeptical version. It helps that it has several contributors as well. But overall, quality control is still an issue, as is finding information centrally. One solution might be say, an online newspaper, with either paid or at lease vetted editors that accept user submitted stories, check facts, ensure that the story is at lease in some semblance well written, factually correct (at least generally), and basically edits what stories are published. They could also (as online publications already frequently do) update the stories easily as more facts come to light, or other users check facts, etc. I know that no individual component of this idea is new; it's sort of wiki meets blog applied to a newspaper format online, but I haven't seen it applied in this manner yet. It's not a perfect idea, but it's a whole lot more sensical than subsidies for newspaper subscription and other convoluted government fixes.

Am I crazy here? Anyone else have any counters or solutions to the author's ideas? BlakeGeno 06:57, 4 March 2012 (UTC)


@ BlakeGeno: You are not crazy for bringing up an interesting point! However, I would like to counter your argument against subsidizing mail distributions, because it is way to sustain skilled journalism. In addition, if the goal is to inform all communities, then we do not want to exclude those who but are not tech savvy. Qdang 20:30, 4 March 2012 (UTC)


The readings for this week’s class were very interesting and got me thinking about many of the topics covered. The article regarding the Life and Death of Great American Newspapers was one of the most interesting since it touched a subject which always got me curious. I personally am a fan of the newspaper that one can touch rather than the online version and I do agree that in the near future there might be only an online version but I do feel that at least to some extent, the fault can be of the newspapers as well. Several newspapers and magazines set up their own website where people can access information for free. So why would someone want to spend money and buy the paper version when they can obtain the same information online on the website of the same paper? The article concerning the Guardian was also very interesting and true in my opinion. However out of the four great pieces of advice I personally feel that the most important is the one regarding the fact that the work is free so it should be fun for people. I would be definitely eager to do something free but fun and transforming the process in a sort of videogame is also a very productive way of doing so. Sunlightfoundation.org was a pretty cool website to visit, but my favorite part was the Poligraft especially the part stating that you can “Simply paste the URL or text of a news article, blog post or press release and Poligraft will create an enhanced view of the people, organizations and relationships described within it.” I found the article on Julian Assange really interesting and after reading it, it got me into a research mode on the subject to search for additional info on Wikileaks. In regards to Assange’s person I am firmly against what he has done and what he represents but from a legal perspective I feel that he cannot be deprived of the title of journalist. While intelligence professionals, military personnel and other related government officials to a certain extent have to keep government secrets to themselves and must swear to protect them and not reveal classified information, a regular person especially not a citizen of the United States isn’t in my opinion subject to such regulation. Emanuele 15:21, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney's The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers, is a candid reminder on the sad state of real journalism in an age when media corporations are concerned more with the bottom line than cutting-edge journalism. I think that it is important to understand how we choose to receive our daily news in order to better clarify the roadblocks for journalists today. For me, I prefer to view headline news on the internet instead of a newspaper because I can easily access news stories with a click of a button as well as cycle through any relevant photos. Many of the stories are succinct and straight to the point and cnn.com is my website of choice. I may augment the daily headlines with cable news television programming, or even explore the internet for interesting blogs if I have the time. All of this may consume 1-2 hours of my time each day and I am not sure most Americans have this time. If the main concern by the authors is to reboot truly comprehensive and compelling journalism that covers gaps in current reporting, they must also understand that the only engine for achieving such a goal is to increase the consumer demand for such reporting. While pumping government dollars into subsidizing news organizations or providing newspaper tax credits to individuals may moderately expand viewership (and financially prop the journalistic craft), the goal should be to analyze behaviors, time, consumer trends and find ways to convince a consumer base that news is much more than headlines and TV viewership. --Jimmyh 17:41, 5 March 2012 (UTC)


@BlakeGeno, I also don't think you're crazy...:) I agree with you on various points, one of which is what makes a journalist and how within the past decade, the concept of “citizen” and “professional” journalism are now one in the same again. Although, I have to counter to another and say I don't think we should just let these old media outlets die off and say good riddance; there has to be a strategic middle ground. However, I do believe there should have been a quicker adaptation/crossover of news/media outlets to digital. I think if newspapers in particular would have made that shift a lot sooner, or at least were a bit more aggressive to gain additional revenue streams in the online space, perhaps we might not have seen such an overall struggle to adapt (unless major attempts were made and I’m not aware of). It seems as if there were very slow movements or a somewhat resistance to new and online media. Also, this statement is very true, “regrettably the loud discussion of the collapse of journalism has been far stronger in describing the symptoms than in providing remedies.” I went to a conference recently where a panel of journalists discussed “Democratizing the Conversation: The Future of Brand Journalism in Social Media” and how moving into the digital sphere is absolutely essential for brands, companies, and news to stay relevant and maintain that connection with consumers/readers/viewers. The focus was centered on social media but they brought up some interesting points such as how social media is effective at giving journalism more transparency, or how even traditional newspaper URL’s are slowly diminishing, the thoughts of pure journalism are washing away, or more recently how we have the ability to start a blog or launch a website and if you’re savvy enough and put out great relevant content you will get a major following. To your point re: the solution or “bailout” portion of the piece and although they offered some interesting suggestions, I agree many of them are a bit convoluted or slightly flawed. However we have to start somewhere and I did like the idea to create tax credits as they stated and that the “the essential component for the immediate stimulus should be an exponential expansion of funding for public and community broadcasting, with the requirement that most of the funds be used for journalism, especially at the local level, and that all programming be available for free online.” I think that statement is key. I also thought it was quite interesting that "other democracies outspend the United States by whopping margins per capita on public media: Canada sixteen times more; Germany twenty times more; Japan forty-three times more; Britain sixty times more; Finland and Denmark seventy-five times more. These investments have produced dramatically more detailed and incisive international reporting, as well as programming to serve young people, women, linguistic and ethnic minorities and regions that might otherwise be neglected by for-profit media.” Curious to see what those margins look like now (since the article came out in 2009) and how the US can scale to better allocate resources/funding to public media. With last year’s vote of the House to cut NPR’s $90 million annual federal funding and how representatives claimed that the “object of the bill is to get NPR out of taxpayer’s pockets” (give me a break), it doesn’t seem like we’re heading into the right direction.[House Votes To Cut NPR Funding]

I also enjoyed reading the Executive Summary from the Media Re:public overview, and the articles on crowdsourcing lessons from the Guardian, Wikileaks, and Bloggers vs. Journalists. Great readings this week!

Some thoughts:

Re: Wikileaks/Pennenberg - Great article and the definitions of a journalist/journalism; I believe the crux of the piece is this question/statement: “What constitutes ‘legitimate newsgathering activities’? How do you differentiate between what WikiLeaks does and what the New York Times does? The Times, like other news outlets, often relies on sources passing on confidential - even classified - information that it makes public, and it has published a series of articles based on the documents that WikiLeaks procured.” Can’t wait for our discussion on Wikileaks! I can go on for hours about this…

Re: Media Re:public – Great intro and particularly liked how it establishes the exploration of the impact of new media structures, providing the key issues of news media environments and possible responses to those challenges. Does anyone have any thoughts on these?

Re: Bloggers vs. Journalists Is Over – Thought this quote was interesting and to me refers to the whole concept of what I was mentioning previously about media outlets crossing over to digital and the dire effects of that hesitancy: "'I live in Winston-Salem,' begins a blog post from Jan 13, which I submit as material for the conference. Jon Lowder writes: I have the Winston-Salem Journal delivered every morning. But I don’t feel like I know anyone there. The paper doesn’t have a 'voice,' at least not one that I can hear. The closest thing to its voice is the editor’s column in the op-ed section. Jon Lowder admitted that one reason the Journal seemed so voice-less to him was the juxtaposition with the Greensboro News-Record, which had begun to reach him from the next town over through weblogs he read. (There are five and he subscribes to them all.) These he received via the wire service of the blog world, known as RSS, a truly disruptive technology for the news business. I hear from the N&R several times every day, all via their blogs. I hear from the Journal in the morning and that’s it… As a result I know more about Greensboro’s city council than I do about Winston-Salem’s. So for now I’d say that the N&R is my hometown paper. It’s not too late for the Journal, but they better act fast or it will be. I’d love to write the editor and share some ideas… anybody have a name for me?"

I also suggest clicking on the link after the words “news business” that leads to an article titled, “Content Will be More Important than its Container.” Great read and in line with a lot of what’s being discussed.

Re: Four Crowdsourcing Lessons from the Guardian - Fascinating piece on how the Guardian was able to successfully keep up with or essentially surpass their competitors when they had their journalists on the job of outing the “country’s biggest political scandal of the decade” for a month and the Guardian was able to complete the task in less than a week for little to no cost. Also taps into the notions of gamification and how it can take your product/brand/media outlet to a whole other level and when it’s fun and engaging, simple, and not too complicated, it can be integrated as part of the narrative/story and have a big positive effect. Great lessons for the NPO sector to take heed as well.JennLopez 22:38, 5 March 2012 (UTC)


I think that citizen-led media is a good thing for journalism and news consumers. I don't think it will entirely replace old media, and I hope it doesn't because I'm sure the people who don't have access to the internet will be left out, among other reasons. Also, many news stories found on social media, blogs, etc, were originally reported by traditional media outlets. While an influx of ordinary citizens producing news may lead to some lower quality news stories, I don't think the news will end up as an "infinite stream of unreliable chatter." The new media phenomenon is helping to transform old media into a more "participatory and collaborative" reporting venture. (CJR) New media has caused old media to restructure and innovate, and that is always a good thing. With so many sources of news (blogs, traditional news outlets, social media), many different agendas can be heard/read/viewed. Additionally, new media has the ability to report on small stories that would otherwise be overlooked and aren't usually reported in old media outlets.

Americans are more politically engaged than citizens of other Western/developed countries already, and citizen-led media is a natural step in the direction of higher political engagement. I don't think that "too much news" will lead to a more polarized society, but it may lead to more misinformation. However, there has always been misinformation in the news and I don't see this new form of alternative citizen-led media causing a larger gap between real news and misinformation. Neither old media or new media are immune to scandals, either. Traditional journalists are hailed as superior to ordinary citizens because they can monitor and police news stories better, picking out facts from falsehoods. The Guardian article offers a good example of the other side of the coin. In response to "The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers," I think government subsidies should not be used in the news industry and I don't think that is a sustainable option for newspapers. Aberg 22:22, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Like many others seem to have, I really enjoyed the Death of the American Newspaper article. I was initially skeptical about the suggestion that government subsidize newspapers, and I still feel like it would be basically politically impossible considering how consistent a conservative Republican move it is recently to criticize most media as a bought and paid for lackey of the Democrats. But, then there was the point that:

"Currently the government spends less than $450 million annually on public media. (To put matters in perspective, it spends several times that much on Pentagon public relations designed, among other things, to encourage favorable press coverage of the wars that the vast majority of Americans oppose.)"

That really brought me around to that way of thinking. If the government is willing to spend that kind of money on PR it really would be hard to justify not supporting a crucial part of our Democracy, an effective free press. That said it's still political suicide for any Democrat, and politically impossible for any Republican. On Assange, I really enjoyed how carefully he fit into most of the legal definitions of "reporter" that would protect him from prosecution. That said, from a more personal point of view, I see a real difference between what he did with the information and what, for example, The New York Times did with it. He simply dumped it all out there with no regard for the possible damage to be caused. Times reporters debated how to protect individuals named in the leaked reports, and in many cases redacted names. I'm not sure how I feel about what he did (I can see both sides of the argument and in the end I probably come down more in support of the sort of openness he committed to) but I do know that, despite the legal definitions, it does not seem like a reporter to just dump information out there. My support for government subsidies for print newspapers is largely based on the concept that a strong and responsible media is a necessary pillar in a democracy/republic; Assange may have been brave, but he was not necessarily responsible. AlexLE 23:22, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Links from Class