Skills for journalists in print and digital media

Hazy vision of a new media ecosystem

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J-Lab has completed a study of the Philadelphia news media scene and proposes a new scene comprised of many different sources of news all working under one collaborative umbrella. The collaborative effort is dubbed “news work,” and is intended to represent an “investment strategy” in the future of public affairs coverage.

News work is more than reporting and publishing stories. It involves curation, aggregation, data-gathering and visualizations, interactive opportunities for the public — and a mission that doesn’t just cover community, but helps to build it as well.

The report’s analysis of the present finds a fragmented and floundering news scene that disappoints many people.  Daily newspapers and TV news are given pretty low marks. The many and varied online news start-ups score points for ambition but not much for clout or, in some cases, substance.

The goal of  “news work,” according to the study, should be more and better public affairs reporting through collaboration and aggregation through one mega web site.

We recommend that this collaborative be anchored by an independent news website that would both curate and aggregate some of the excellent reporting originating in many of the city’s new media sites as well as provide original reporting on a half-dozen key topics and serve as the connective tissue for the partners. This should be a supplemental, rather than comprehensive, news enterprise. It should not try to cover everything the city’s daily newspapers do.

Like many visions of a happier digital media future, the report skips over who and how “excellent reporting” will be produced, and the skills, training, and resource that “media makers” would need. The central web site, too, rests on the news-wants-to-be-free assumption where content just sort of appears for the taking.

Without taking those mundane but essential operational elements into account, any investment strategy is incomplete. “When operational issues are ignored,” Marlene Caroselli of the Center for Professional Development once wrote,  “vision remains in the realm of potential.”

Ken Doctor on the study:


Written by mroberts8

04/21/2010 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Newstraining, Training

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