Archive for the ‘Online Journalism’ Category

Newser; or How to Bite the Hand That Feeds

January 27, 2010

The great debate of the future of journalism seems always to circle back to, “Who will instigate the original reporting and how will it be afforded?” The answers to that question are numerous and multifaceted.

Michael Wolff believes he knows the answer.  Wolff; journalist, author, pundit, and entrepreneurer, is a co-founder of Newser, a sleek and innovative news aggregator launched in Oct. of 2007.  Wolff, known for his outspoken nature, is fond of announcing his desire to put newspapers out of business, as is evidenced in a video on the site’s “About” page.

Newser is built around the popular concept that people are strapped for time.  They offer summaries of staff curated news content offered in a forever-updating grid.  It’s splashy design, smart aggregation, and concise stories are constructed for today’s newshound.  Brevity and regularly refreshed content are built for today’s shortened attention spans and constant internet connectivity.

But a quick perusal of the Newser site leaves one confused.  On the right of each story they list their sources, which are most often the big media outlets Wolff has set out to destroy.  If his vanquishing goes as planned, one must wonder, “Where will he get his information to summarize?’

Wolff’s brashness has not gone unchecked.  A foil has arisen in the New York Times‘ David Carr.

Carr stands of the opinion that someone will need to pay for  initial reportage and sites like Newser have nothing in their business model to cover these expenses.  Therefore, they are reliant on those whom they are chastising, as Carr discussed extensively in this discussion at NYU in 2008.

Rob Fishman of the Huffington Post, disected the argument between Wolff and Carr in a May column.  The results where anything but shocking.  They showed that Carr’s reportage was fueled by research and interviews, whereas Wolff’s was, revealingly, loaded with links to other newspapers (Carr’s Times extensively) and other Newser articles which are primarily summaries of newspaper content.

To pretend we know where journalism is going from here would be an exercise in futility.  To pretend that newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur, as suggested by Wolff, would be equally as foolhardy.

FLYP and the Future of Digital Publishing

January 25, 2010

While the introductory video of FLYP (“More Than a Magazine”) would have you believe they’ve reinvented the wheel, reality tells us they’ve simply pushed the bar of digital publishing higher.  They have certainly upped the ante in the battle for the slickest, most modern magazine presence on the internet.

FLYP has been heralded as the future of the magazine format.  In an article discussing FLYP’s launch, Salon.com referred to it as the van guard of “Magazines 2.0”.  While other media outlets have taken a more tempered approach, most recognize it as an important step in online journalism and eagerly await public response.

As detailed at the Online Journalism Blog, the innovation is the result of a change in focus.  FLYP not only privileges the content of the story but also the media in which it’s delivered.  While not a staggering revelation, the resources they’ve dedicated and commitment they’ve shown have produced a website with few competitors.

All is not perfect, though.  At times you can feel them shoehorning a story into one of their glitzy multimedia pieces.  It’s akin to a teenager who’s just gotten his new car and he just rolled up to the party.  He knows folks are watching and be damned if he’s not going to show off a little bit.  For instance, they convert a banal little piece on the study of decision making into a 2 minute, 14 second animation that adds little more than eye strain to the information.

But with FLYP it’s not about where they’re at.  It’s about where they’re going.  As one of the few sites on the internet to truly embrace the possibilities of a multimedia platform; not to mention the resources behind the venture to allow for some initial turbulence,  they’ll be limited only by their own imagination and ingenuity.  And we’ll be watching.

Into the Unknown

January 14, 2010

After reading Vadrim Lakrusik’s column “Eight Must Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalists”, I found myself thinking, “Sheesh, that’s a lot of skills to master.”  But then I took a step back and considered the idea that we’ve so repeatedly been instructed, we will be creating the future of journalism.

Upon graduation, it seems unlikely many of us will fall into traditional journalism roles, but instead we’ll be called upon to innovate, freelance, and scrap for any paycheck we can.  Because, ultimately, we don’t know what’ll be out there waiting for us.  And just as an explorer wouldn’t head off into uncharted territory without his or her full complement of tools and necessities, we are being equipped with our tools and necessities with each class we attend, with each column we write, and with each video we edit.

Sean Blanda’s article regarding the relationship between hyperlocal media and established media smacks of the failings of the newspaper industry.  Their inability to venture off their comfortable groundings left them vulnerable to the hyperlocal coverage.  And upon discovering David had invaded what had been Goliath’s age-old turf, the local papers generally responded with indignation.  It seems in time that the established media has realized its error and attempted to assimilate many of the hyperlocal’s tactics, while sometimes simply purchasing them outright.

While Blanda’s suggestions may seem like common sense, they also appear to be a good jumping off point for two outlets on opposite sides of the media continuum.  As we continue to redefine the future of the media, the strong voices shall remain, be they large or small, and the sharing of secrets and cribbing of notes may be the key to existence for both.