Quit your job in a traditional newsroom, and go it alone to innovate in journalism … or work within existing newsrooms, which have the most money to try new things.
These were the two messages that emerged from the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s panel on media innovation on Thursday night, in a talk entitled “Journalism, Disrupted: How to create media innovation.”
Marissa Nelson, acting director of digital media for CBC News moderated the panel.
Seward argued that innovation in journalism comes more easily when operations are in startup mode. Quartz was an example of this – he intentionally set operations up in New York while the Atlantic is based in Washington D.C., removing any geographical connection to the traditional media.
This is an I-love-technology piece, gird yourselves accordingly.
Fourteen years ago, as a journalism student, I recorded a lot of audio.
This set up (pictured left), included the latest technology: a smallish cassette recorder, and a giant ice-cream-cone-shaped microphone.
I was set. I recorded ‘tape’ of interviews for assignments, and eventually did a 30-minute radio documentary about women journalists working on Parliament Hill from 1966 – 1996. (Note to self: Find and digitize, some big names on there).
In my first year of journalism school, we were taught to edit tape using an Ampex, razors and tape. I’m not making this up.
Hours before their website won the Knight Award for Public Service at the 2012 Online Journalism Awards, DC Homicide Watch’s Laura and Chris Amico said it’s important to not get lost in the technology and remember that the purpose to tell a story.
Though it’s a massive database detailing every homicide from incident to sentencing (or cold case status) in Washington DC, their site’s logo echoes this sentiment:
‘Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.’
When building the site, Chris and Laura said they were aware that though the deaths were an organizing principle, or their beat, the focus had to be on storytelling and community building.
“Beats are built for and around a community, with a clear understanding of who a beat is for, and what it’s about,” said Chris Amico.
The DC Homicide Watch founders talked about beats during a session they hosted with Politico’s Juana Summers at this year’s ONA conference.
This blog post was not written by a robot. Nor is it the result of a fancy algorithm.
But it could have been, Narrative Science would probably argue. The 30-person, Chicago-based company has created an algorithm that is generating text.
From the company website:
Narrative Science helps companies leverage their data by creating easy to use, consistent narrative reporting – automatically through our proprietary artificial intelligence technology platform.
We also help publishers who are faced with the constant challenge of keeping up with the speed, scale and cost demands of content creation. We offer an innovative and cost-effective solution that allows publishers to cover topics that can’t otherwise be covered due to operational or cost constraints.
I teach a second-year ‘Fundamentals of Reporting’ class at Carleton University’s j-school – but often I’m learning just as much from the students.
These past three weeks, we’ve been running ‘newsroom days’ – students come in with a story, and then head out for the day to chase another, putting out a publication at 5 p.m. The class is large enough that we actually put out two publications at the end of the day, with students alternating roles between Managing Editor or desker and reporter.
This year, Facebook and Google played key roles in putting out our student publications at the end of the day.
Today, I am giving the students in my second-year journalism class a math test.
When I told the students in this lab – which is mostly a “journalism boot camp”, focusing on interview skills, background research, focusing a lead, writing a strong feature story with an emphasis on CP style – they were shocked.
“But we went into journalism because we aren’t any good at math,” one student said.
Indeed, many of us did, I answered. But journalism is not a refuge from math, numbers are everywhere. And if you’re wrong on your math in a story, it’s as detrimental to your credibility as misquoting someone, or being wrong on the basic facts of a story.