Here is a link to the ProPublica sponsored panel on the future of long-form journalism featuring Ira Glass, David Remnick and others.
In 1835, the French historian and political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the abundance of newspapers in democratic America. He observed that these local newspapers played a critical role in maintaining a sense of community and common purpose among people who were pursuing their own individual ends.
“Nothing but a newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment,” he wrote. “A newspaper is an adviser that does not require to be sought, but that comes of its own accord and talks to you briefly every day of the common weal, without distracting you from your private affairs…. To suppose that they only serve to protect freedom would be to diminish their importance: they maintain civilization. I shall not deny that in democratic countries newspapers frequently lead the citizens to launch together into very ill-digested schemes; but if there were no newspapers there would be no common activity. The evil which they produce is therefore much less than that which they cure.” (My italics.)
As newspapers decline in the new digital age, and other sources of local news continue to struggle to maintain a presence in communities, few online alternatives have emerged to take their place. This final assignment is an exercise in imagining and outlining a solution to this problem.
The assignment is this: Choose a community, preferably your home town or city. Briefly outline the nature of the community, and develop a plan for an internet based multi-media platform that will play a role (to use Tocqueville’s words) in maintaining civilization and a sense of community and common purpose.
What kind of stories and information will the site deliver? How will the stories and information be delivered? What forms of media will be used? How will it interact with members of the community? How will it reflect the larger narrative of the community as a whole? How will it be financed (advertising, online subscriptions, foundation funding, membership drives)? What kinds of obstacles must be overcome to make this successful. How will success be measured?
Whenever possible, link us to examples of news organizations that are using methods that you would incorporate into your project.
Think outside the box, always taking into account the speed with which this revolution is unfolding. Consider the speed of change just in this semester and imagine where we might find ourselves in five years, not where we are now.
2000 words, give or take. Due at noon on April 20.
Explore this report compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Comment on the most optimistic findings about the state of the news media in the United States. What was most surprising to you? How is technology continuing to change the fundamental nature of the news business? Due Friday, April 1, before class. PLEASE NOTE THE DEADLINE CHANGE to accommodate the tardiness of your professor.
The New York Times is reporting how Google’s ambitious plan to digitize every book in the world has run into an old and venerable legal principle: copyright.
Explore the news coverage of the disaster and human tragedy in Japan. How are news organizations using multi-media and social media tools to tell this story? Direct us to some examples. How does the use of these tools influence your understanding of the various dimensions of the story? Are we better informed? Due March 23 before class.
What does the Wikileaks controversy tell us about the power of information, and the role of journalists in the information age? What has changed? What has not changed? Answer these questions making specific references to the Wikileaks story and the interaction of Wikileaks and journalists. Due March 16, before class.
The nature of the Journalism 2.0 medium has created new ethical challenges for journalists. Discuss one of these challenges and point to ways specific news organizations are dealing with this challenge. How would you handle this challenge if you were running a newsroom? Due Wednesday March 2.
First, if you don’t have a Twitter account, start one (sorry Joanne). Then spend some time building up a decent followers list following the suggestions of Jacques Poitras in Wednesday’s class. Spend some time with Twitter this week. On Wednesday before class file a posting here discussing the five most useful things you learned from your Twitter feed.
One of the most interesting developments in the Reporting 2.0 world has been the work of not for profit, membership driven news organizations. Comment on the work of two of these organizations, either the long-established NPR and its expansion into social media, or the more recent upstarts such as the Voice of San Diego or the Texas Tribune. Better yet, point us to new sources we have not yet encountered. Dig them out. Post them here. Due Wednesday February 16 before class.
This is an interesting contrarian take on the story of the role of social media and the internet in Egypt from veteran new media journalist Douglas Rushkoff (Digital Nation, The Persuaders).
This is big news: AOL buys the Huffington Post. The New York Times tells us why.
How is the revolution on the streets of Egypt related to the revolution in the world of communications and media? What role are journalists playing in both revolutions? Where are you getting your news? Post due Wednesday, February 9, 2011.
Please note a new category of links on the left margin. This is a place to post links of journalistic work related to our area of inquiry. Two new links there, and more to come.
The not-for-profit Propublica news organization based in New York City has a mission to pursue investigative journalism in the public interest. Explore one of Propublica’s investigations (link to it) and use this investigation to comment on how this organization, or organizations like it, can play a role in the new world order of journalism. Feel free to comment on the pros and cons of the Propublica model.
Robert Pirsig writes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “The stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks. . . . “What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?,” a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream.”
Zen was first published in the spring of 1974. How might Pirsig’s words relate to the world of Web 2.0? How might they relate to your relationship with technology?
Due Wednesday, January 25.
This is the first in a series of posts to address the question: How does the Web 2.0 world influence the way we think and interact with the world? This week’s assignment: Write a diary of a day in your life of media consumption. Include all forms of media (including “tree books”), links when appropriate, and make sure you note periods of multi-tasking. Be honest. 250-500 words. Due Wednesday, January 19, 9 a.m.
PLEASE NOTE: WHEN YOU ARE POSTING YOUR RESPONSE: CREATE A NEW POST AND FILL IN THE FORM AND PUBLISH. USE #1 Media Diary AS YOUR CATEGORY. THIS WILL ALL BECOME EASY AS WE MOVE FORWARD.
This is our class group blog. You will receive an e-mail from me that will allow you to become a contributor. Follow the instructions to join the blog. NOTE: Please use your complete first and last name when registering. No pen names allowed on this blog.