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  • But that doesn’t mean that you have unbounded narrative license.
  • This is an advanced track session. I’m not going to explain Blogging 101; I assume you already know that. Instead, I’m going to explain the old face of journalism, as well as the new digital face of journalism. And because “the universe is made of stories,” I’m going to give this talk by telling you two stories: One fictional.One real. As a blogger, I can tell you a fictional, hypothetical tale.As a journalist, I report the cold, hard facts. 
  • So let me put on my blogger hat and tell you, first, about a hypothetical day in the life of an old-school journalist.Our old-school journalist has a very clear role: gather information. Our old-school journalist is the LINCHPIN of all this information. You’re not just a writer, you’re a reporter, and that means you go out into the world, gather information, come back to your desk, and assemble those facts into a narrative.
  • You do this everyday, sometimes multiple stories a day, under deadline. You work with the highest imagine standards of accuracy, fairness and objectivity. You triple-check EVERY fact, even the “obvious” ones. If Joe says, “I called Lisa,” you call Lisa to verify Joe’s statement. You wouldn’t dream of publishing the info without doing that.And that’s the bare minimum – that’s what it takes just to keep your job. But to outperform your peers, you need to scoop the competition and break fresh stories.
  • Ultimately, you’re judged on the getting theSCOOP.
  • Here’s the first story I’m going to tell you: A hypothetical day in the life Get to your deskShuffle thru press releases with eye towards “whats the BFD?”Go to editorial meeting to discuss your leads and decide on the day’s newsYou keep a few backup story ideas in your pocket >> “angel sheds a tear” >> community bakesale to help the homelessLooking for something more exciting, more of a gripping headline
  • Call sources – e.g. call the city council chairman “What’s up?” / looking for a scoopCompetitve as heckGoal: scoop your competitor. YOU want to be the first to report that the mayor is pursuing a bid for senate
  • Police scanner crackles: Gunman held up the 7-11 Race to the sceneDial police spokesman from cellphone en route (you’ve got his # saved)Record the call so you can get exact, first-hand quotes (NEVER use secondary quotes)Arrive on scene Photographer starts snapping; you start conducting interviews with the bystanders
  • Once you arrive on the scene, you focus on fact-finding.Writing the story is the smallest piece of your day .... Gathering facts and interviews is the bulk of your work.
  • Order the information so that it can be cut. Open with the most critical: “Two gunmen opened fire at the Main Street 7-Eleven yesterday, killing one bystander and wounding another.”
  • Towards the end, you add the least important details – the parts that can be cut.
  • Why 2006? That’s the year Twitter was invented.If there have been two game-changers, it was Craigslist, came out in 1999, followed by Twitter in 2006.
  • IDENTITY CRISIS! Journalists wonder: What’s a journalists role within this changing digital landscape?What service do they provide – if they’re no longer breaking the news ... If they’re no longer on fact-gathering missions ... What DO they do? At this point, it turns into a conversation about values.
  • -- Twitter and social media – and blogs! – are filled with false reporting, of people who don’t verify the accuracy of what they say before they say it. The most famous example: celebrity “deaths”: Kanye West, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington >> all falsely reported dead, sometimes numerous times.MASSIVE OVERLAP WITH BLOGGERS
  • ANALYSIS, CONTEXT, ACCURACYTransformation in journalism industry ..
  • This made a lot of journalists uncomfortable, largely because of what they perceived to be QUALITY shortcomings and ETHICAL shortcomings within the blogger community
  • Accuracy Journalists: Verify EVERYTHING. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Full-time factcheckersSourcing Journalists: Primary source. NEVER cite a secondary source. Bloggers: Fast-and-loose EXAMPLE: A CNN news article says that the US Census Bureau reported that the average U.S. household earns $X Blogger would publish that. A reporter would check the US Census report directly.EXAMPLE 2: In 2006, families of trapped West Virginia miners say that 12 miners have been rescued, but no confirmation from authorities. NYT: 12 Miners Are Found Alive, Family Members Say. Tampa Tribune: 12 Miners Survive Ordeal St. Petersburg Times: “They’re Alive.”Mea Culpa Journalists: Once it’s printed, it’s printed “Corrections” >> small box Bloggers: Can change copy anytime Blessing – awesome; curse – can induce lazinessAccuracy Journalists: Verify EVERYTHING. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Full-time factcheckers
  • Editorial Style Journalists: Standardized AP style Bloggers: Wild west, no standardization, ruled by keyword considerations AP: “Web site” = "website” Mea Culpa Journalists: Once it’s printed, it’s printed “Corrections” >> small box Bloggers: Can change copy anytime Blessing – awesome; curse – can induce laziness Accuracy Journalists: Verify EVERYTHING. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Full-time factcheckers Sourcing Journalists: Primary source. NEVER cite a secondary source. Bloggers: Fast-and-loose EXAMPLE: A CNN news article says that the US Census Bureau reported tbat the average U.S. household earns $X Blogger would publish that. A reporter would check the US Census report directly. EXAMPLE 2: In 2006, families of trapped West Virginia miners say that 12 miners have been rescued, but no confirmation from authorities. NYT: 12 Miners Are Found Alive, Family Members Say. Tampa Tribune: 12 Miners Survive Ordeal St. Petersburg Times: “They’re Alive.”
  • Editorial Style Journalists: Standardized AP style Bloggers: Wild west, no standardization, ruled by keyword considerations AP: “Web site” = "website” Mea Culpa Journalists: Once it’s printed, it’s printed “Corrections” >> small box Bloggers: Can change copy anytime Blessing – awesome; curse – can induce laziness Accuracy Journalists: Verify EVERYTHING. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Full-time factcheckers Sourcing Journalists: Primary source. NEVER cite a secondary source. Bloggers: Fast-and-loose EXAMPLE: A CNN news article says that the US Census Bureau reported tbat the average U.S. household earns $X Blogger would publish that. A reporter would check the US Census report directly. EXAMPLE 2: In 2006, families of trapped West Virginia miners say that 12 miners have been rescued, but no confirmation from authorities. NYT: 12 Miners Are Found Alive, Family Members Say. Tampa Tribune: 12 Miners Survive Ordeal St. Petersburg Times: “They’re Alive.”
  • Despite those differences, it became increasingly clear that bloggers were doing great workMany are doing high-quality reporting, disseminating info to the public, serving the public good, and contributing to accuracy, context and analysis.
  • So rather than force an artificial division, journalists increasingly began to embrace bloggers as one-of-their-own.
  •   Legal implications >>Free Flow of Information Act, otherwise known as “shield law,” protects journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources.Passed the Senate Judiciary Cmte in September 2013Still needs to pass the full Senate, and the House, and get the President’s signature  
  • In other words – CONSISTENCY is what seperates the guy who breaks a news story about a plane crash on Twitter from the blogger-journalist who’s at their desk daily, gathering info and disseminating it to the public
  • Do not oversimplify, misrepresent, or highlight incidents out-of-context.
  • This is particularly important given that many bloggers work on an affiliate-commission business models.Journalists: Reporters and advertising sales staff are separate divisionsNo overlap Different floors Can’t buy coverage Bloggers: Same person runs both editorial & advertisingAffiliate coverage
  • Respect people’s privacy – unless an overriding public need for any information, avoid spreading malicious intrusions into privacy.
  • Going to end this talk by sharing a second story – this one a true story. Woman named Jessica Lum, a graduate student pursuing her masters’ degree at UCLA’s school of journalism.Very MODERN journalist. She learned about a little area in the SoCal desert called Slab City, an intentional squatter community of people who have opted of of the system. Residents typically have a distaste for journalists, who in the past have oversimplified or sensationalized their lifestyle. But Jessica went full-in. Funded a Kickstarter project that allowed her to live in RV in Slab City, documenting the lives of these inhabitants. For a month, she lived with these inhabitants. Conducted interviews, took photographs, and immersed herself fully within their culture. Then she designed and coded the website herself. Click on any of these boxes, and a pop-up appears with that person’s story: their video interviews, quotes, their slice of the world.Kickstarter-funded, independently-produced, multimedia ... This is the new face of journalism, and it looks a lot like blogging ... Or maybe blogging looks a lot like journalism.

Paula Pant Paula Pant Presentation Transcript

  • “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” - Muriel Rukeyser
  • Showdown! Blogging vs. Journalism The Blurry Line Between Journalism & Blogging By Paula Pant
  • Old-School Journalism (pre-2005ish) • Gather facts • Break the story • First * Fast * Accurate View slide
  • Old-School Journalism (pre-2005ish) • Accuracy • Fairness • Objectivity View slide
  • A Day in the Life of an Old-School Reporter Flickr / Lisa Padilla
  • Flickr / BuzzFarmers
  • Flickr / jdelshad
  • • • • • • • • • • • • How many gunmen? How many victims were injured/killed? What hospital were the victims taken to? What condition are the victims listed in? Has anyone been arrested? What type of gun? What time did the shooting take place? Where did the gunmen position themselves? Who called in the report? Alleged motive? Bystander reaction – quotes.
  • Flickr / Joel Witter
  • Midtown resident Michael Smith, 27, was standing near the counter the gunman approached. “I was petrified,” Smith said.
  • Journalism in the Digital Age (2006 and after) Reporters don’t break news. Twitter does.
  • Jan 15, 2009 @highfours: I just watched a plane crash into the hudson rive in manhattan Photo: Twitter/ @jkrums
  • @ReallyVirtual: Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). (May 1, 2011 -- Operation that killed bin Laden) @JordnJnkieJuice: EARTHQUAKE !!!!! (August 23, 2011 – Earthquake in D.C. and up the East Coast)
  • Identity Crisis! Flickr / WorldWinnerdotCom
  • Role of Journalism in Digital Age #1: Accuracy “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” #2: Context Frame story within historical and cultural context. #3: Analysis “Second-Day Stories” >> Whom might this affect?
  • Flickr / Will Lion
  • The line between journalism and blogging grows blurry ...
  • Journalists vs. Bloggers (Quality Guidelines) • • • • Verify EVERYTHING Primary source Locked in print Quality determined by industry peers + adherence to industry standards • Crowdsourced accuracy • Secondary sources • Can change copy anytime • Quality determined by your audience
  • Journalists vs. Bloggers (Money & Special Interests) • Can’t buy coverage • Affiliate + paid coverage • Editorial staff works on • Same person runs both separate floor from editorial + advertising advertising staff • “Will this generate • “Will this sell copies?” clicks?” • Sensationalism • SEO
  • Journalists vs. Bloggers (Storytelling + Engagement ) • • • • Author-agnostic Third-person Detached Standardized AP Style • • • • Personality-driven First-person Engaged Wild west of style guidelines
  • “Our industry rightfully flinches at any attempt to define who is, and by extension who is not, a ‘journalist.’” - Online News Association, Sept. 18, 2013
  • Free Flow of Information Act •Medium-agnostic •Consistency is king
  • Free Flow of Information Act The person is an employee of or freelancer for any service “that disseminates news or information” no matter the mechanism of distribution, including media and technologies not yet invented.
  • Free Flow of Information Act The person must regularly gather news and information on matters of public interest for the purpose of disseminating that information to the public.
  • “In our view, a journalist is defined less by the title on his or her business card than by the acts of journalism she or he commits.” - Online News Association, Sept. 18, 2013
  • Tell Stories. (With curiosity, compassion, and no tolerance for B.S.)
  • Seek Truth. (Test accuracy. Avoid deliberate distortion. Question motives.) Source: SPJ Code of Ethics
  • Be Accountable. (Distinguish editorial from advertising. Avoid hybridizing the two.) Source: SPJ Code of Ethics
  • Act Independently. (Refuse gifts or favors that compromise your integrity. Disclose everything.) Source: SPJ Code of Ethics
  • Minimize Harm. (Respect privacy. Speak and write tastefully. Do not pander.) Source: SPJ Code of Ethics
  • Serve the Public. (Your boss is the greater good.)
  • Copyright Jessica Lum