Building the news community
Media literacy, civic engagement
and journalism as a conversation
The limits of media literacy
• How would you define
it?
The limits of media literacy
• Understanding how to
separate reliable from
unreliable information
The limits of media literacy
• Understanding how to
separate reliable from
unreliable information
• Understanding the
diff...
The limits of media literacy
• Understanding how to
separate reliable from
unreliable information
• Understanding the
diff...
The limits of media literacy
• But what is the larger
context? How can we
convince our audience
that these skills matter?
Civic literacy supplies the context
• How would you define
it?
Civic literacy supplies the context
• Understanding the
importance of local
issues
Civic literacy supplies the context
• Understanding the
importance of local
issues
• Understanding the
importance of natio...
Civic literacy supplies the context
• Understanding the
importance of local
issues
• Understanding the
importance of natio...
Civic literacy supplies the context
• When people show an
interest in civic life, they
engage with the news
The role of the “former audience”
• In New Haven, Batavia
and elsewhere, inviting
readers to the table
The role of the “former audience”
• In New Haven, Batavia
and elsewhere, inviting
readers to the table
• Professional jour...
The role of the “former audience”
• In New Haven, Batavia
and elsewhere, inviting
readers to the table
• Professional jour...
The price of free speech
• The Register put comments up automatically and
depended on the crowd to report offensive ones
The price of free speech
• The Register put comments up automatically and
depended on the crowd to report offensive ones
–...
The price of free speech
• The Register put comments up automatically and
depended on the crowd to report offensive ones
•...
The price of free speech
• The Register put comments up automatically and
depended on the crowd to report offensive ones
•...
A better approach
• Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do
censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.”
A better approach
• Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do
censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.”
• Anonymity...
A better approach
• Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do
censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.”
• Anonymity...
Crowdsourced reporting
• Residents post on
SeeClickFix to complain
about an ugly building
Crowdsourced reporting
• Residents post on
SeeClickFix to complain
about an ugly building
• The Independent
sees complaint...
Crowdsourced reporting
• Residents post on
SeeClickFix to complain
about an ugly building
• The Independent
sees complaint...
Why journalism matters
• New Haven man
seriously injured
in possible assault
Why journalism matters
• New Haven man
seriously injured
in possible assault
• Reddit poster falsely
claims it was “justic...
Why journalism matters
• New Haven man
seriously injured
in possible assault
• Reddit poster falsely
claims it was “justic...
The Indy’s moment of crisis
• Nasty mayoral
campaign and its
aftermath broke system
The Indy’s moment of crisis
• Nasty mayoral
campaign and its
aftermath broke system
• A crude comment about
Mayor DeStefan...
The Indy’s moment of crisis
• Nasty mayoral
campaign and its
aftermath broke system
• A crude comment about
Mayor DeStefan...
Anonymity versus real names
• Howard Owens requires registration and real names
at his community news site in western New ...
Anonymity versus real names
• Howard Owens requires registration and real names
at his community news site in western New ...
Anonymity versus real names
• Howard Owens requires registration and real names
at his community news site in western New ...
Dan Gillmor
“If I could design a
comment system, I would
put all anonymous
comments at the thread’s
end, and give the site...
danah boyd
“The people who most
heavily rely on
pseudonyms in online
spaces are those who are
most marginalized by
systems...
What would you do?
Would you allow
anonymous comments or
require real names?
Comments are so 2005
• Facebook fosters civil
dialogue in a familiar,
real-names space
Comments are so 2005
• Facebook fosters civil
dialogue in a
familiar, real-names
space
• Twitter allows reporters
to promo...
Comments are so 2005
• Facebook fosters civil
dialogue in a familiar,
real-names space
• Twitter allows reporters
to promo...
Permissions
• (cc) 2013 by Dan Kennedy. You are free to use
this presentation under the terms of the
Creative Commons
Attr...
Dan Kennedy
School of Journalism
College of Arts, Media and Design
Northeastern University
Boston
2013
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Building the news community

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News site comments can be toxic. Yet, properly managed, they can be a tool for building media literacy, civic literacy and, ultimately, a news organization's audience.

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Building the news community

  1. 1. Building the news community Media literacy, civic engagement and journalism as a conversation
  2. 2. The limits of media literacy • How would you define it?
  3. 3. The limits of media literacy • Understanding how to separate reliable from unreliable information
  4. 4. The limits of media literacy • Understanding how to separate reliable from unreliable information • Understanding the difference between important and trivial
  5. 5. The limits of media literacy • Understanding how to separate reliable from unreliable information • Understanding the difference between important and trivial • Understanding the difference between fact and opinion
  6. 6. The limits of media literacy • But what is the larger context? How can we convince our audience that these skills matter?
  7. 7. Civic literacy supplies the context • How would you define it?
  8. 8. Civic literacy supplies the context • Understanding the importance of local issues
  9. 9. Civic literacy supplies the context • Understanding the importance of local issues • Understanding the importance of national and world issues
  10. 10. Civic literacy supplies the context • Understanding the importance of local issues • Understanding the importance of national and world issues • Understanding how local and global issues are interrelated
  11. 11. Civic literacy supplies the context • When people show an interest in civic life, they engage with the news
  12. 12. The role of the “former audience” • In New Haven, Batavia and elsewhere, inviting readers to the table
  13. 13. The role of the “former audience” • In New Haven, Batavia and elsewhere, inviting readers to the table • Professional journalism and reader comments working together
  14. 14. The role of the “former audience” • In New Haven, Batavia and elsewhere, inviting readers to the table • Professional journalism and reader comments working together • If you don’t tend the garden, the weeds will soon sprout up
  15. 15. The price of free speech • The Register put comments up automatically and depended on the crowd to report offensive ones
  16. 16. The price of free speech • The Register put comments up automatically and depended on the crowd to report offensive ones – “these shootings save the taxpayers millions … not only in welfare costs but in section 8, food stamps, health care. it is time to consider sterilization …”
  17. 17. The price of free speech • The Register put comments up automatically and depended on the crowd to report offensive ones • African-Americans felt alienated from the Register and cited racist comments as a prime reason
  18. 18. The price of free speech • The Register put comments up automatically and depended on the crowd to report offensive ones • African-Americans felt alienated from the Register and cited racist comments as a prime reason • A new editor, Matt DeRienzo, ordered that all comments be screened before being posted
  19. 19. A better approach • Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.”
  20. 20. A better approach • Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.” • Anonymity is allowed, but racist, sexist and personally insulting comments are not posted
  21. 21. A better approach • Paul Bass’ warning to his audience: “Yes we do censor reader comments. We’ll continue to.” • Anonymity is allowed, but racist, sexist and personally insulting comments are not posted • A civil conversation that often adds to the story and that fosters civic engagement — a virtuous circle
  22. 22. Crowdsourced reporting • Residents post on SeeClickFix to complain about an ugly building
  23. 23. Crowdsourced reporting • Residents post on SeeClickFix to complain about an ugly building • The Independent sees complaints and covers the story
  24. 24. Crowdsourced reporting • Residents post on SeeClickFix to complain about an ugly building • The Independent sees complaints and covers the story • Another 24 comments are posted at the Independent
  25. 25. Why journalism matters • New Haven man seriously injured in possible assault
  26. 26. Why journalism matters • New Haven man seriously injured in possible assault • Reddit poster falsely claims it was “justice for Treyvon” [sic]
  27. 27. Why journalism matters • New Haven man seriously injured in possible assault • Reddit poster falsely claims it was “justice for Treyvon” [sic] • Similar to Reddit rumors about marathon bombing suspect
  28. 28. The Indy’s moment of crisis • Nasty mayoral campaign and its aftermath broke system
  29. 29. The Indy’s moment of crisis • Nasty mayoral campaign and its aftermath broke system • A crude comment about Mayor DeStefano (right) was accidentally posted
  30. 30. The Indy’s moment of crisis • Nasty mayoral campaign and its aftermath broke system • A crude comment about Mayor DeStefano (right) was accidentally posted • Comments were shut down, later reopened with new rules
  31. 31. Anonymity versus real names • Howard Owens requires registration and real names at his community news site in western New York
  32. 32. Anonymity versus real names • Howard Owens requires registration and real names at his community news site in western New York • “It starts with basic news ethics: Readers have a right to know who is saying what.”
  33. 33. Anonymity versus real names • Howard Owens requires registration and real names at his community news site in western New York • “It starts with basic news ethics: Readers have a right to know who is saying what.” • But Paul Bass believes he would lose police officers, teachers and other community stakeholders
  34. 34. Dan Gillmor “If I could design a comment system, I would put all anonymous comments at the thread’s end, and give the site owner an easy way to move good comments higher. I’d also give users a way to make anonymous comments invisible.”
  35. 35. danah boyd “The people who most heavily rely on pseudonyms in online spaces are those who are most marginalized by systems of power. ‘Real names’ policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people.”
  36. 36. What would you do? Would you allow anonymous comments or require real names?
  37. 37. Comments are so 2005 • Facebook fosters civil dialogue in a familiar, real-names space
  38. 38. Comments are so 2005 • Facebook fosters civil dialogue in a familiar, real-names space • Twitter allows reporters to promote work and engage with users
  39. 39. Comments are so 2005 • Facebook fosters civil dialogue in a familiar, real-names space • Twitter allows reporters to promote work and engage with users • Have traditional news- site comments outlived their usefulness?
  40. 40. Permissions • (cc) 2013 by Dan Kennedy. You are free to use this presentation under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution/Noncommercial/Share Alike 3.0 license, which is online at http://bit.ly/2oyXPN • If I have used your copyrighted work inadvertently, please contact me at da.kennedy@neu.edu
  41. 41. Dan Kennedy School of Journalism College of Arts, Media and Design Northeastern University Boston 2013
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