Tag Archives: web journalism

A web journalism start-up worth a long look

A former student of mine, Hannah Margaret Allen, is a founding editor at a new website called Inverse.

The site is aimed at people who are seriously into looking at the present and the future.

Here’s what she says about it: “Men’s publications have historically leaned on the idea that manhood is an achievable goal, not a default. Different brands have pushed different strategies to achieve their favored form of archetypal machismo. We’re not into that at all. We work to publish stories capable of changing our readers’ worldviews, but we don’t strive to homogenize.”

Inverse.com is worth a long look.

The who, what, when, and why you’ve possibly wanted to know.

Source: The Genesis of Inverse | Inverse

Permanence and the web

Permanence is one of the five most important characteristics of the web (the other four being capacity, immediacy, flexibility, and interactivity), as explained in chapter 1 of Web Journalism. Until now, it has not been the subject of much discussion. But a high-level conference on blogging and journalism at Harvard University last week has spurred thinking about one part of the idea of permanence – archiving.

Many major news organizations, beginning with the New York Times, charge for accessing files that are more than a week or two old. Placing these files behind a tollgate has some important implications for the web and the activities that it has engendered.

The great beauty of the web (among other things) is that it does not deteriorate. Electronic storage is far more stable than print, pictures, videotape or audiotape. It is less susceptible to environmental conditions. What goes onto the web can stay there.

That’s not to say we haven’t lost much that has been placed on the web. We have – far too much of it. But we have lost material not because of the instability of the web but because of operator error. We have not done a good job at storing it, or we have simply deleted it.

The fact that the web is (or can be) permanent has two important meanings. First, it means we can retrieve material stored on the web. Second, it means we can duplicate that material. But when a site requires registration (which most people see as not a huge problem) or charges for that material, our ability to retrieve and duplicate is hindered or destroyed.

The tollgate for web archives is particularly difficult for the act of blogging, which is developing as major way of using the web. Web loggers pick up information they see on the web, discuss it, and pass it on. A discussion begun this way may last for several weeks, if not longer. However, if the article that generated that discussion goes into a tollgated archive after a week, it is cut off from all except those willing to pay. (A couple of nifty terms are used to describe what happens here: linkdeath and linkrot.)

Charging for articles inhibits the strength of the permanency characteristic of the web, and there are some powerful arguments against it. Some of those have been advanced by Simon Waldman, head of the Guardian’s online division (the Guardian is a newspaper in London) and Jay Rosen, a professor at New York University. They both call for “open archives” because (among other reasons)

closing archives takes the information out of the public discussion

closing archives diminishes the web site’s presence on the web and its ability to be part of the ongoing discussion of an issue.

According to Waldman:

What makes great news organizations great is not simply the work they do on a given day, but the accumulated quality of work done over weeks, months and years. For the first time, it can be available in one place: permanently. To neglect this is to go into battle with one arm tied behind your back.

In addition to these reasons, there are others that could be advanced for open archives:

Journalism has always been accused of being too episodic; that is, we have little sense of the past, even the recent past. We report stories on a daily basis as if this is the first time such an event has ever occurred. Giving readers the ability to reach back to previous stories about the same subject or similar events could show connects and help further their understanding of the things we report.

Giving information away at one point (a free news web site, as most are) and then charging for it at a later point does not, on the face of it, make a lot of sense.

Achieved information can be obtained free of charge even when a web site is charging for it. A consumer can simply go to a good library. So why make it so inconvenient?

The answer, of course, is money. While there is not much information about how much money archive sales mean for a news organization, there is no doubt that the income-to-cost ratio is very high. The money taken in is mostly profit, and news organizations see no reason to give it up.

Alex Jones, director, of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard and co-author, with Susan Tifft, The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times, wrote this response after the Harvard conference had ended:

Open archives is a great idea! It makes moral and professional sense. But it also has great potential for building audience, especially at newspapers. All it would take is a successful experiment at a couple of respected newspapers that show the income from selling reprints could be matched or exceeded from advertising at a newspaper’s “old news” web site and from special services (for instance, tapping the desire for a momento by selling framed photocopies of actual clips). Result: win-win-win.

But for now, many news organizations have chosen the first “win” and ignored the possibilities of the two others.

Jim Stovall (posted Jan. 30, 2005; minor corrections, Jan. 25, 2010)

News orgs discover web’s immediacy

A couple of stories from Romenesko’s blog on today show that big time news organizations are discovering the immediacy of the web.

One comes from Westworld, which reports that when the Denver Post stumbled onto a scoop last month about beer magnate Peter Coors being arrested for drunk driving, the Post nailed the story and then put it on the organization’s web site – despite some grousing from the traditionalists.

These folks thought a story like that should be saved for print first, which was several hours away. The paper’s managing editor said the web would be “our breaking news platform.” Then there is the story about CBS streaming its nightly news program simultaneously with its over-the-air broadcast. This, apparently, has come about only after painstaking negotiations with affiliates.

One is tempted to ask: “Where have these folks been for the last 10 years or so?”

(Posted Aug. 17, 2006)

Introduction to online journalism

Introducing your students to web journalism

Introduction to web journalism

    • The web is the future of journalism.
      News organizations see the day — very soon — when the web will be the centerpiece of what they do. Not print or over-the-air broadcasting. The good news is that the web is a relatively low-cost way of distributing information compared to printing presses and delivery trucks. The bad news is that the overall economics are not as lucrative. More bad news: news organizations haven’t figured out how to use the web to gain audiences. Many do not even understand what the web is about. (Unfortunately, that goes for many journalism schools, too.)


      • Recent quote: “Going into newspapers is like being a cowboy on a dinosaur ranch.”
        Unfair? Not really. Print is old and slow. The web is new and fast. Where would you want your students to be?


      • Consider the web as a news medium. Is it a newspaper, a television station, a magazine or what?
        A news web site is NOT a newspaper on a computer screen. It is NOT a television broadcast with text. It is something completely different. If you do not recognize that — if you persist in calling it a “web newspaper” — you do not understand the power of the web.



      • Two approaches to web journalism— an extension of the journalism we know
        Because the web handles most of the forms of journalism with which we are familiar, we have assumed that we can simply put what we have done for print or broadcast onto a web site and it will be satisfactory. Publishers for more than a decade have been charmed by this idea, thinking it won’t cost them very much to have a web site. But, we are beginning to understand that this is not how the web works.

        — OR something very different
        The web demands a different kind of journalism with different rules, customs, protocols and considerations.
        EXAMPLE: Deadlines


      • And teachers, hear this: What we need to be teaching our students is what we need to be doing ourselves: Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.