Posts Tagged ‘ web2.0 ’

Digital Journalism Thesis – Proposal #1: Investigative Journalism

After the “Death of Journalism” in the US: Reinventing Reporting on the Web

Update: I got the thesis approved by my mentor on Nov. 30th! Work on the topic can now start! See for example the resource collection “Readings in Digital Journalism

This is one of the expansions on a post called “What’s Your Thesis”?, in which I list several possible topics for my masters thesis. Continue reading

Digital Journalism – Thesis Topic #12 – Range of Research

Update: I got my thesis on the reinvention of reporting approved by my mentor on Nov. 30th! Work on the topic can now start! See for example the resource collection “Readings in Digital Journalism

I went in with a vague idea, I came out with an abundance of vague ideas. Great!

Last week’s visit to my MA advisor didn’t quite go the way I had hoped, although it was highly interesting. But it did help me to get along a bit. One week later, I’ve brought some order into the chaos of my thesis-occupied mind.

Below, you find a list of possible paths I’m considering for my thesis in the world of journalism. Next step will be to pick one of these and get down a thesis proposal.

the topics condensed into to main themes/subjects on which I will continue to work in order to get a thesis proposal going… 😉

For resources in the field, see my collection of Readings in Digital Journalism (aka New Journalism or Journalism 2.0)

Continue reading

The first rule of Journalism is: YOU and your opinion don’t matter crap!

The first rule of Journalism is: YOU and your opinion don’t matter crap!
The second rule of Journalism is: YOU and your opinion don’t matter crap!
The third rule of Journalism is: News articles don’t tell a story.
The forth rule of Journalism is: News articles are told from important to unimportant with higher density on the important, more depth on the unimportant issues.

Amen? No, read more!

Internet Giants and Small Geeks – Google Meetup Seattle

Google and the simple geeks - Google Meetup Seattle ©pcbritz

Google and the simple geeks - Google Meetup Seattle ©pcbritz

Google is taking over the world! Next Stop: Fremont

One of the advantages of living in Seattle: Adobe, Amazon, Boing, Expedia, Getty Images, Microsoft, Starbucks are… literally… just around the corner! That means, when they have something new going on, you’re the first guinea pig to try it out.

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Getting Ready for the Future: Introduction to Digital Audio and Photo

Mark Briggs breaks modern news reporting down to the basics

Journalism 2.0 is a book for “old” journos who want to get their foot in the door of the digital world, but also for youngsters (like me), who are growing up in the digital age and want to use these tools on their way into the professional world. He introduces his readers to new forms of news gathering as well as producing.

In Chapter 7, he focuses on Digital Audio and podcasts, giving an introduction into the variety of recorders and editing programs. He also gives general hints on what you might want to avoid when recording or how you get most out of your recording.

Know your digital equipment to get the story out as fast as possible! ©pc britz

Know your digital equipment to get the story out as fast as possible! ©pc britz


In Chapter 8, Briggs introduces Digital Photography and photo management. As a photographer, this chapter feels inadequate to me. On the other hand, all the other chapters are equally short, which makes me question how much I am missing on the blogging and audio (or video, Chapter 9). This is a reminder that the book is just an introduction to all these fields.

One thing I take away from Chapter 8: Gimp is a free online program supposed to work like PhotoShop. I will have to check that out.

The Claim for Truth (updated)

Different reflections on the same "reality" - can any of them claim "Truth"? ©pc britz

Different reflections on the same "reality" - can any of them claim "Truth"? ©pc britz

I just read a great article by Jay Rosen online about a journalist formula referred to as he said, she said stories. He argues that this strategy has no future in the time of web-based reporting.

While the article was interesting and very helpful for me as a young journalist, the terminology employed around opinion, knowledge and truth made me cringe. I couldn’t help but comment on it.
Is it ok for journalists to claim Truth (with a capital T?) Are they not subject to the same principles of knowledge that science is and that render falsification, but not verification possible? Or am I being too liberal? (or not liberal enough?)

What’s your opinion on this? Truth or truth? Universal knowledge or theories and hypotheses?

Update: April 13th, 2009:

Jay Rosen has responded to my comment on his site. I’m not sure whether he didn’t really understand me making the point that “truth” is ALWAYS a matter of interpretation or whether he just felt I was hijacking his page.
I still feel truth can (maximum) be what a bunch of people agree upon as true (majority consensus) – but it is then only true for these people. Readers, however, don’t have to agree with a reporter’s interpretation. How can there be general truth?
Indeed, as he points out, he has not used the word truth as a noun. Yet, several of his colleagues have done so. And only if his definition of “truthful” means “no intentional lies or lack of information” I can see how I have failed to interpret his use of the term.

For me it boils down to this: A journalist is supposed to inform readers and thus support opinion building. In this, she is free to deliver her own interpretation of events and “facts”.

The question is: Is it fair to call these interpretations “truth” or even “truthful” when the main of the audience hasn’t even heard/read the interpretation, leave alone agreed to it?

Another Update April 13, 2009:
It seems I’ve triggered quite a debate among Rosen’s readers. John Walcott for example seems to have taken my issue seriously. I can’t say I agree with everything he says, but its a step towards discussion.
I do think we create our own reality. What he points out as facts are realities that have been agreed upon as true taking the place of a different truth that prevailed before.

April 14, 2009:

I have responded one more time to the discussion on truth. I might have been a little to jumpy on the issue of truth, but I do believe that many journalists (and other individuals) are too quick to consider their statements as true without considereing the possibility of error on their side or conflicting evidence (or what society has agreed upon as evidence).

I need to stop writing these comments though, they take up too much of my time – I hardly get all my stuff done. It is just that this particular issue has been bothering me for a long time and I have had many conversations on it.

They’re getting it, they’re not getting it, they’re getting it, is someone really “getting it”?

Good Multimedia News Sites . .  . Bad Multimedia News Sites

I have surfed the web over the last couple of days on my quest to find three examples of “bad” and three examples of “good” multimedia news sites. I have come to realize that I cannot possibly draw a line between the two categories (binary oppositions have died with Roland Barthes, haven’t they?).

Instead, I have created a selection of links on a continuum. Main criteria for the placement was not content, but the use of web2.0 technologies that would bring a benefit the readers and encourage users to becme engaged in a conversaition. I will be moving from “little use of Web2.0 technology” to “extensive use”.

My first example of rather poor use of web2.0, surprisingly springs from a programmer. Paul Graham claims 10.6 million visitors for his homepage in 2008, which indicates that his site is quite popular.

In his latest essay he proposes a rather daring plan for a combined solution of economic and immigration issues in the US. The topic is highly debated in the news since President Obama has declared immigration to be a priority on his list. The essay could have been a great starting point for conversation. However, it contains neither pictures nor links (although there is an abundance of related articles like this one which even ties both topics together) and most importantly: no feature for comments.

Web2.0 is about the conversation, not just one-way information! ©pc britz

Web2.0 is about the conversation, not just one-way information! ©pc britz


Graham misses the opportunity to engage in a conversation, his communication remains linear.

Graham is in good company, however. Although the Associated Press has categories for other media then text, press releases like this neither crosslink to other media, nor do they allow for any sort of feedback or user communication.

A little more user friendly is this New York Times article on internet piracy. It provides (a few) links to people mentioned and there is a “related search” option at the bottom. Initially, the article also had a comment function. However, it disappeared after less than two days. Even though conversation might have taken place initially, the outcome is lost to future readers.

On the German side of media, the situation isn’t too glorious either. Although heute.de presents their coverage of the Somali pirates complete with related link list, list of related videos and photos, it remains onedirectional providing NO comment function!

Newsweek does a better job than its German competitor on a story on gun control. Newsweek combines links, related photos and has a comment box. Unfortunately it is empty. It is not necessarily easy to find either, since the site appears very unorganized.

CNN has an astonishing variety of coverage on the Somali pirates: the story contains many links and is connected with both photos and videos as well as background information on the subject. Other than on Newsweek, it is very transparent and the different elements are easy to find. CNN also has a function that brings up blog posts on the subject, which moves it to the top of the multimedia news sites. Yet, CNN is still taking the steps towards web2.o: It does not include a comment function or discussion board of its own.

Overall, this is a rather disappointing result. Although some news sites make use of the ability to link different media on the same subject, most of them lack a tool to allow for interactive user engagement. Others who allow for this function miss out on providing further reading or other media. I have not been able to find a satisfying example of both cross-media use and facilitation of user discussion.

If you can offer examples of what you think is a brilliant use of the categories mentioned above, please leave a comment with link!

Top Ten of News-Related Tweets I Follow

Talking Heads:

If you run a country, you generate a lot of news… and you better tweet what’s going on with you (or have somebody who does it for you). I’m following the tweets of the head of states of Germany and the US, Angela Merkel (@Merkel_CDU) and Obama (@BarackObama), just to see what they’re up to.

Update: Turns out @Merkel_CDU is one of many fake acounts for the German chancellor. NOT funny!

Similar to those bigshots, I follow the United Nations (@united_nations), because I am interested in international relations.

Although these are not technically journalistic profiles, they deliver important news.

Images of the World:

I’m a photo guy and the fact that I have not seen any photo features on Twitter up until now makes me a little sad. I will keep looking, but until then I have a couple of relted Tweets to follow: @Getty Editorial is the Tweet of Getty Images, a photo agency that is actually headquartered here in Seattle. They mostly link to cool photos and related stories. The same is true for Magnum (@magnumphotos) and the National Geographic Society (@NatGeoSociety).

Closely linked to photography is visual design. @DesignNewz has cool info about tutorials like this tutorial on Photoshop or other top design issues

Standard National & International News Sources:

What is interesting to people is partially determined by where they live – or where they’re from. I’m following the top news of public broadcast on TV @tagesschau and the headlines in a major German paper @faz_topnews. Both feature national as well as international news. Although @reuters_topnews claims to deliver news from all around the world, their focus is of course the USA.

The Future of Journalism

The news organizations of yesterday are looking today for the journalists of the future. To see what kinds of jobs people offer around the world and see what trends determin the professional world of journalism I follow the tweet of @Journalismjobs

I’m still new to the Twitterverse and haven’t found travel journalists and many photographers yet, but I’m working on it! Do you have suggestions?

Conversation 1.9

Starting the conversation

Both The Clue Train Manifesto and Mark Brigge in “Journalism 2.0” talk about the “conversation” that has been started on the internet. What they are referring to are the new ways in which people communicate with each other. When comunication used to be linear from one side to the other, the times have changed. Rather than in a hierarchical structure, conversations are open for participation today on the internet. As the Manifesto states: “hyperlinks subvert hierarchy”.

What the Clue Train Manifesto laments is that this model has yet to reach the majority of businesses. It claims that many companies are still living in a world of paranoia trying to reveal information from their customers and maintain their monopoly status. The manifesto adresses thus a growing distance between producer and consumer that runs counter to the achievements of the global network. The Cluetrain calls to action asking companies to engage in the conversation with consumers and support the trend that will break their neck as businesses if they miss it.

A similar call for adjustment comes from Brigge. Rather than lamenting the fact that some people are still “not getting it”, he writes a “how-to” for all those interested in learning about the new “conversation”. He brings the issue to the attention of journalists and tries to familiarize them with the newest platforms that have developed in the world of web2.0, where “it is all open”.

The News Conversation

Both the manifesto and Brigge stress one key aspect of the recent development in society: The break-up of traditional a traditional linear structure or as Brigge puts it: “We send, they receive”.

For me as both a consumer and producer of news, this development is a double-edged sword.

On the producer end, I must admit I am somewhat worried about this development. Although I appreciate the feedback and the fact that it has become very simple to produce, the number of producers has drastically increased. This makes it harder to find an audience and be recognized as a producer right now while I’m a student. As a professional it will make it harder to earn money from the production. Of course, good journalists will stand out and do better than others, but I am not yet self-confident enough to place myself with those who are sure they will stay afloat during this time of experimentation.

On the consumer end, I am grateful but also confused about the new developments.

I take it as positive that I am able to participate in the process of news making. Not only is it easier to make my own news, I can also collaborate in the news others break. I can comment on a job well-done to encourage succeeding pieces and by entering the “conversation”, I can contribute to the knowledge of others. It creates a sense of community rather than being restricted to a critical, but powerless consumer.

The negative side of it is that it has become harder to find out what is worth consuming. With everbody and their grandmother being able to produce, a lot of pieces out there lack sufficient quality. On thing the new generation of consumers will have to learn is how to succesfully filter the available information and efficiently judge the quality of news reporting available.

Conversation Reloaded

Although the current situation is not yet ideal and has its bugs (thus Conversation 1.9), I look upon the developments with a positive attitude. Although I have no idea about how a journalist is supposed to live off his profession in this new environment, it is generally an environment that brings people closer together and create connections that had been lost or had not even be there before. These connections are a stepping-stone to mutual understanding all over the world.