Winter 2008

The Search for True North: New Directions in a New Territory

In this time of accelerating change, how journalists do their work and what elements of journalism will survive this digital transformation loom as questions and concerns. By heading in new directions and exploring the potential to be found in this new territory of interactivity and social media, journalists – and others contributing to the flood of information – will be resetting the compass bearing of what constitutes “true north” for journalism in our time. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

The Search for True North
Introduction (3 comments)
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Spiking the Newspaper to Follow the Digital Road
If Murder Is Metaphor (3 comments)
Novels, at times, speak to truth in ways we, as journalists, can find hard to do.
By Steven A. Smith
Where the Monitor Is Going, Others Will Follow (4 comments)
A decade ago, resistance at The Christian Science Monitor to its online site almost killed it. Now, the newspaper is depending on the Web for its survival.
By Tom Regan
To Prepare for the Future, Skip the Present (18 comments)
‘… today’s obsession with saving newspapers has meant that, for the most part, media companies have failed to plan adequately for tomorrow’s digital future.’
By Edward Roussel
Journalism as a Conversation (6 comments)
‘Today digital publishing is practiced by the masses, and it’s inseparable from the practice of journalism.’
By Katie King
Digital Natives: Following Their Lead on a Path to a New Journalism
By understanding how young people ‘process various types of news and formats’ using new media, journalists enhance their ability to adapt their work to emerging technologies.
By Ronald A. Yaros
Serendipity, Echo Chambers, and the Front Page (2 comments)
As readers on the Web, we may filter out ‘perspectives that might challenge our assumptions and preconceptions about what’s important and newsworthy.’
By Ethan Zuckerman
Grabbing Readers’ Attention—Youthful Perspectives
Net Geners Relate to News in New Ways
‘Is it any surprise that they remember less from the traditional newscasts—told from beginning to end—than from interactive versions that allow them to click to hear the news or learn more details?’
By Don Tapscott
Passion Replaces the Dullness of an Overused Journalistic Formula
‘… mainstream journalism that my students abhor has become too formulaic, too cynical, and too concerned with internal standards over external truth.’
By Robert Niles
Accepting the Challenge: Using the Web to Help Newspapers Survive
‘Meeting us where we are—with a great Web site, content that works well in digital media, told in ways we can absorb and share—is a step in the right direction.’
By Luke Morris
Journalism and Citizenship: Making the Connection (5 comments)
‘Not only do citizens benefit from good journalism, but also journalism gets a boost from having engaged, news-hungry citizens.’
By David T.Z. Mindich
Distracted: The New News World and the Fate of Attention (1 comment)
‘As a term, “multitasking” doesn’t quite do justice to all the ways in which we fragment our attention.’
By Maggie Jackson
Tracking Behavior Changes on the Web (1 comment)
Evidence accumulated in a major study reveals significant shifts in how people deal with knowledge and information—shifts that affect young people the most.
By David Nicholas
What Young People Don’t Like About the Web—And News On It (2 comments)
‘… news organizations need to pay attention to what young people say about what makes them tune out on news sites.’
By Vivian Vahlberg
Adding Young Voices to the Mix of Newsroom Advisors
‘Start with a blank sheet of paper, I instructed them. On it, put down ways we can reinvent our newsroom.’
By Steven A. Smith
Engaging Young Staffers in Newsroom Activities and Change
By Steven A. Smith
The Gang of Eight’s Recommendations: An Excerpt
Excerpted from a report by the “Gang of Eight”
Using E-Readers to Explore Some New Media Myths
An experiment with digital media sets out to see what similarities might be found in how young and old adapt to new technologies.
By Roger Fidler
Blogs, Wikis, Social Media—And Journalism
Mapping the Blogosphere: Offering a Guide to Journalism’s Future (4 comments)
‘… what we find is that legacy media holds the center, while online-only media are frayed at the edges.’
By John Kelly
Political Video Barometer
By John Kelly
The End of Journalism as Usual
‘To maximize a news organization’s social capital and marketability, its journalism today must be transparent, authentic and collaborative.’
By Mark Briggs
The Wikification of Knowledge
A neuroscientist explores the shared challenges of medicine and journalism when it comes to gathering information and reaching conclusions in the era of social media.
By Kenneth S. Kosik
Media Re:public: My Year in the Church of the Web (2 comments)
In studying new and old media, the author feels ‘as though I’ve undergone two religious crises; one feels like a loss of faith, the other like a conversion.’
By Persephone Miel
Media Re:public: Conclusions After a Year of Exploration
By Persephone Miel
The Wisdom of the Crowd Resides in How the Crowd Is Used
‘… the animating idea—our readers know more than we do—is evolving into something that, if used wisely, will be far more efficient and useful than our first, early attempts at this new form of journalism.’
By Jeff Howe
When Journalists Blog: How It Changes What They Do (5 comments)
‘I was surprised at just how much these journalists felt their work had been changed by the simple act of blogging.’
By Paul Bradshaw
Digging Into Social Media to Build a Newspaper Audience (8 comments)
‘We weren’t even sure whether a mainstream news site could become part of the cybercommunities that evolve from social media sites.’
By Bill Adee
Web v. Journalism: Court Cases Challenge Long-Held Principles (2 comments)
‘… courts and legislatures, reluctant to apply different rules to the “old” and “new” media, are rethinking the basic constitutional principles that have protected a free press for generations.’
By Jane Kirtley
Ethical Values and Quality Control in the Digital Era (2 comments)
‘Situations that editors confront in this digital-era maelstrom reflect the vexing ethical challenges and the diminished quality control standards at a time when they are most needed.’
By Bob Steele
Rethinking the What, Why, Where and How of What We Do
Engaging the Public in Asking Why We Do What
‘No longer do I enter the newsroom believing that readers have tuned us out. Perhaps it is we who have tuned them out by creating too great a distance between them and us.’
By Nancy San Martin
Suggest a Topic—And Content Flows to It (2 comments)
‘… content becomes a roaring campfire that gathers around it a thoughtful and engaged group of people.’
By John A. Byrne
Creating a New Platform to Support Reporting
‘My sole and motivating mission is to figure out how reporting can thrive as we witness the death of the institutional model that traditionally supported it.’
By David Cohn
How Spot.Us Works
By David Cohn
A 21st Century Newswire—Curating the Web With Links (1 comment)
News organizations can remain vital daily destinations by supplementing original reporting with links to the best nonlocal content.
By Josh Korr
No Time Left for Reluctant Transformers
‘Digitally based consumption by a fragmented audience requires new and sophisticated distribution mechanics … smartly connect[ing] consumers to available, relevant content in virtually unlimited ways.’
By Jim Kennedy
Blogging From Inside a TV Station’s Newsroom (10 comments)
‘Comments on the blog began generating tips that turned into leads for on-air reporting, and the blog became a tool for promoting and teasing stories we planned to air or publish later that day.’
By Katie Allison Granju
Live Web Cast—From a Newspaper’s Newsroom
‘We did not want to produce an imitation of local TV news. We wanted to create something far less polished—more like a video blog, short and raw and conversational.’
By John Hassell
Video News: The Videojournalist Comes of Age (2 comments)
‘It is now possible for a person working on his or her own to make high-quality, intelligent and, most importantly, very inexpensive television.’
By Michael Rosenblum
A Retired Newspaper Journalist Takes What He Knows to the Web (2 comments)
‘What “sold” RappVoice to the local audience was solid and timely reporting, analysis, and in-depth explanation of complex subjects ….’
By James P. Gannon
Words & Reflections
The Unchanging Essence of War Photography (3 comments)
The image’s power rests ‘in the hands of intrepid, artistically gifted photojournalists who travel to trouble and assemble what they find without written commentary.’
By Peter Osnos
The Ties That Bind: Newspapers and Nonfiction Books (1 comment)
What reporters do in their daily reporting can become the foundation for compelling storytelling in a book. So what happens when newsrooms shrink and support for long-term beat assignments dries up?
By Melissa Ludtke
Using Strength of Evidence to Tell a Powerful Story About Torture
‘… there’s still an odd disconnect between the issues about which she’s done such superb reporting and the lack of informed public debate about them.’
By Tom Ehrenfeld
The Middle East Conflict: American Coverage
‘… Dunsky’s book is at its best when she reveals little-known aspects of the relationship that exists between American journalists and their government.’
By Simon Wilson
Peering Deep Into the Essence of Small-Town Life
A photographer returns to Oxford, Iowa after 20 years to take pictures of its residents again, and his images share space with their words.
By Madeleine Blais
Nieman Notes
The View From Baku (3 comments)
By James Trengrove
Election Night in Chicago–Capturing the Moment
Photo essay by Eli Reed
Curator’s Corner
Clear Direction in Tough Economic Times (2 comments)
Economic volatility brings ‘new meaning to the program’s transformative nature.’
By Bob Giles