Response to Readings Week One

Please respond to the following questions in a comment on this post. Length is not as important as THOUGHTFULNESS.  This week’s questions are pretty easy – mostly just asking you to reflect on what you have read or heard thus far.

1)Describe, briefly, one key takeaway you got from the Tow Center report on Post Industrial Journalism. What did you find most interesting or most important? Yes, you can skim over the report. Be sure you are not just repeating one of your classmate’s takeaways (incentive to post early). Hint: Here’s a list of my own takeaways, if that gives you any ideas. Be specific.

2)This is a review question, so if were paying attention in class, it should be pretty easy. Of course, you can use the readings too. Name one way in which media has been disrupted by technology…e.g. how did Google disrupt the New York Times? How did Apple disrupt the music industry? Be specific.

3)After watching Page One, describe one way in which The New York Times has faced either negative consequences OR opportunity from disruption.

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25 thoughts on “Response to Readings Week One

  1. […] Respond to questions about the readings and film here in a comment on this post. You do NOT have to be a contributor to the blog in order to do this, but I will be setting you all up as contributors eventually: […]

  2. 1. I thought the report did a great job of encapsulating the changing journalistic landscape.

    This quote (pg. 77) in particular stood out to me: “As new capabilities go, the ability for any connected citizen to make, copy, alter, share and discuss digital content is a lulu, upending many existing assumptions about news and about media in general.”

    They reinforced this statement with a pipeline metaphor, which I found very helpful and easy to understand. In this “pipeline,” reporters, editors and other “traditional” journalists work “upstream” as the main sources of the news. Originally, they created the product and had control over its distribution and consumption—much like an oil giant. The amateurs and consumers were “downstream,” only receiving the product in its final form. There wasn’t much they could do besides absorb it.

    However, the changes in journalism (as seen in Page One) have made that metaphor much less applicable today. As the report states, the gap between it and reality is growing. The individuals who were once “downstream” have much more power than they did before.

    Overall, I found that the report did an excellent job of illustrating all of this.

    2. The example I used in class was Craigslist’s disruption of the traditional print classified ads. Why would potential advertisers pay money when they can get similar benefits at no cost? Granted, paying for space in a physical medium certainly has advantages over a website like Craigslist where visibility may be limited. There are pros and cons to both outlets, and I think traditional media like the New York Times will have to work diligently to market traditional classified ads’ benefits to potential advertisers.

    3. Like my example in class, the paper was severely impacted by reduction in advertising revenue due to Craigslist and other (cheaper) alternatives. Motor companies, with their own websites, had less of a reason to budget large amounts for the auto advertising section in the paper. Coupled with a recession and subsequently sluggish economy, automakers would have little reason to shell out money to print advertising.

    However, I don’t believe the future is all “doom and gloom” for publications like the Times. The publication does have 163 years of experience—something that these emerging platforms do not have. Those decades have allowed the Times to build a mostly-sturdy reputation that has allowed them to leverage their credibility and report on an incident like the WikiLeaks scandal, which I doubt would have gone “mainstream” as quickly.

    People, for the most part, trust a reputable publication like the Times. That trust does not (should not, at least) translate to media like Facebook and Twitter where anyone can report and comment. There is the idea of longstanding media outlets having some degree legitimacy. I believe that is an opportunity that the Times and other traditional outlets should capitalize upon.

  3. 1. Something I found most important in the Tow Center Report on Post Industrial Journalism is the topic on specialist knowledge and persona. Specialist knowledge is the extent to which a journalist needs to have in-depth knowledge about something other than journalism. I think that as journalists we need to be well rounded and know a little about everything in order to identify with others and be better writers, reporters publicists or whichever career path of choice. That also coincides with persona, which is personal presence, accessibility and accountability. I believe that when you know more about things, you can relate to individuals in the media and the public, it builds credibility, and allows others to trust you, your articles, or any information you give to your audience.

    2. Google disrupted the New York Times by making news easier and free to access on the internet. Apple disrupted the music industry by digitizing music and making it pointless to buy actual CD

    3. One of the consequences that the New York Times faced is losing their credibility when Judith Miller reported wrong, and inaccurate information about the war. Also, from other reporters as well; they were putting false information in the papers and plagiarizing stories. They lost the trust from their readers and it diminished their brand.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good thoughts, Jessica. Do you think the need for specialist knowledge has increased, decreased, or stayed the same since the beginning of the digital age?

  4. Aidan Galasso says:

    1. The key takeaway I got from the Tow Center’s report was that specialty groups such as Technically Philly, Homicide Watch D.C. and the Voice of San Diego should combine with other specialty groups in their city to provide more comprehensive news coverage. These small start-up businesses are experts in their certain area and if they combine their expertise and up-to-date knowledge under the umbrella of a trusted institution such as a once powerful daily paper both these small, niche news services and the big paper can benefit.

    2. The internet was a big disruptor for the advertising section of newspapers. People can go to craigslist for classifieds and don’t have to pay for a newspaper to see what is for sale. Furthermore, advertisers can reach more people via the internet so newspaper advertising is becoming less cost effective and efficient.

    3. I believe the wikileaks episode prevented the New York Times an opportunity from disrupting. The editors and reporters were debating whether wikileaks was a publisher or a source. Wikileaks definitely published the secret documents and as the film showed did not need the New York Times, which differed from the when the Times published the famous Pentagon Papers. However, the fact wikileaks wanted to work with The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel shows that this disruptor believes it needs legacy media to more effectively get its message out by determining, which of the leaked documents are most newswairthy. This helps these papers remain credible and gives people a reason to buy them even when the unabridged wikileaks documents are available online.

  5. Robert Kohler says:

    1) The question of what is not being covered by the media is a worth mentioning aspect of the Tow Center report on Post Industrial Journalism. Using the example of two reporters moving to Washington, D.C., the authors illustrate how a journalist can find a niche: Scan the (local) media and ask the question: Where is a gap in the coverage? The reporters in the example realized that homicides in the city of Washington are their niche to cover. But the simple question can be transferred, every journalist could use it to find a unique subject to cover. Having found such a niche, a journalist can use every available data to this subject, focus on every aspect, and create a big data set.

    2) Traditional media are disrupted by technology in several ways. One of them is Google. More precisely, Google News, just to give an example for disruption. Google News is a tool that aggregates news from all over the world. The algorithm works automatically, so there is no editorial staff to be employed and paid. As Google News is an attractive tool for internet users to get news, companies like the New York Times have to make efforts (tags, keywords in headlines, etc.) to achieve a good rank in Google’s news feed. Moreover, if users go to Google News instead of the New York Times website, ad revenues shift in favor of Google.
    Another way how Google News disrupts the New York Times and other traditional news organizations: On their own website, New York Times journalists select and place news according to journalistic criteria. In a way, they tell their users: “This story might not be quite popular with you, but it is important to know about, so you should read it!” This kind of agenda setting is also disrupted when users go to Google News instead of the New York Times website (or the website of other news organizations).

    3) Instead of reading a newspaper, a lot of people get news online nowadays. But in contrast to print, scarcely anybody wants to pay for digital information. Even if there are lots of opportunities resulting from new technologies, charging for news online remains a problem for traditional media companies as the New York Times.
    Since print sales and ad revenues decrease, newspapers have to think about new sources of income. Not only the New York Times installed an online pay wall. But internet users can mostly find information elsewhere, without circumstances, and for free. Tools like Google News simplify news search and give users the opportunity to seek specific news, content they want to read about.

  6. reigningace says:

    1. One take away from the Tow Center Report for me was the importance of specialization for a journalist. Before journalist could get away with general knowledge of a subject, but specialization is increasing and almost a necessity for credibility in today’s media field.With specialization journalist also have to know how to utilize the data and statistics in a way that the audience can understand the issue. This act of specializing helps create niches and harbors more interest for the audience because the journalist can connect with the topic and translate to the audience as an expert.
    2. Google has interrupted the way students study and research. Gone are the days when students go to the library for research. If we don’t know something our first thought is, google it.
    3. In Page One an opportunity from disruption was with one of the staffers Brian Stelter and how he started out as a blogger and really helped connect the NY Times with the whole wikileak story and Jullian.

  7. Not to sound like a broken record from last semester, but Page One highlights how the Internet is fundamentally changing the producer/consumer relationship. This power relationship is being challenged across the board and the newspaper business is just one example in hundreds. I do not want to sound like a pessimist who is predicting the collapse of newspapers because I do not think that the situation is all doom and gloom. I actually think the disruption the Internet has caused can be and is a good thing. It forces institutes like the NYT to adapt or become irrelevant. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure it spelled the end for several respectable newspapers, but if the Internet hadn’t played a part in their destruction something else would have eventually. I feel that the NYT will be fine despite taking their fair share of hits the past decade or so. If the NYT does succumb and collapse, it will not mean the end of journalism. Journalism is as much an ethos as it is a profession, and there will always be people who strive to investigate and inform. It just may not be on page one of the NYT or any paper for that matter.

    I found myself agreeing with TOW Center essay quite a bit (especially with the dangerous preoccupation with the NYT). Journalism is changing and needs practitioners willing to embrace new modes of decimating information. The article talks about several blogs and the overall idea of citizen journalism. Even Page One illustrated these ideas when it detailed Brian Stelter (and to a lesser extent when it followed David Carr to the Vice offices, which was one of my favorite parts of the documentary). The wall between professionalism and amateurism is blurring. Again, this is not just happening in the newspaper world. Citizen journalists and bloggers are not the golden ticket, but they are not the problem either. The playing field is changing and some people will figure it out and others won’t. I feel the Lessin article shows that there are plenty of journalists who are not going to lie down and stop fighting. If anything, these changes are motivating creative and talented people to shape journalism in the 21st century.

  8. Marion Ziegler says:

    The Tow Center report on Post Industrial Journalism does a great job analyzing the relationship between journalists and ‘the crowd’. On one hand the report states that journalists exist because people need to know what has happened and why. On the other hand it states that today, the crowd can publish its own information without any intervention from a journalist. But instead of mourning its lost monopoly, the report gives ideas on how journalism can profit from that. So for me, a takeaway from the report is: ‘One thing that crowds do better than journalists is collect data.’ Matching those data can bring a whole new depth or range to topics, which could just not be done by a single or a group of journalists.

    How did Google disrupt the New York Times?
    Google aggregates news and helps people to find what they are looking for on the internet. Before Google or before even the internet, the New York Times and other newspapers were THE news. They were the basic, sometimes even the only source of information available. Thus, Google acting as a news aggregator means a loss of authority and attention for traditional newspapers on the internet. Users might get a keyword from the New York Times, but then read about it anywhere else in the internet. There will be no clicks and therefore no money for New York Times, but it will still have spent money to publish its stories – which creates a financial problem.

    Daniel Ellsberg had been a whistleblower in the 1970s, Wikileaks has been one in the past decade. Ellsberg had been a source to the New York Times, Wikileaks is perceived as more of a partner. One disruption the New York Times has to deal with is that today, everybody can be a publisher on the internet. That takes attention away from the New York Times, as potentially everybody can break their news themselves. Or as Bill Keller, Executive Editor of New York Times, puts it in the movie ‘Page One’: ‘The bottom line is that Wikileaks doesn’t need us. Daniel Ellsberg did.’
    Daniel Ellsberg says: ‘Had the internet existed then, I would have bought a scanner and sent it out to all the blogs.’ But back then, he had to fall back on New York Times to be published. That basically is a great development when viewed as a whole. For the New York Times however, it clearly is a loss of authority – sources become independent, are now business partners or even competitors.

  9. Amelia Ables says:

    1. Something that I took away from the Tow Center’s report was the section on page 110 which discusses the authors’ overall recommendations for journalists, the first of which is simply “know yourself.” When we as journalists know ourselves, we can, like the authors state, recognize our skills and weaknesses. This, in turn, helps us discover our areas of expertise and helps us become the best possible journalists we can be. As Jessica mentioned, it is good for journalists to be well-rounded and know about something other than journalism, which is what the Tow Center’s report suggests in order to achieve successful journalism. I believe one of the most important pieces of advice in this section is to know when to ask for help. Being new to journalism, I have many questions and I have a lot to learn, so I have to ask for help more often than not. Its nice hear that kind of advice from respected authors.

    2. One way that media has interrupted technology is, of course, through advertising. Page One mentioned how automobile brands now have their own websites, which has almost completely cut out car ads in newspapers, and therefore a lot of revenue. This was one aspect that I had never really thought about.

    3. The comparison of the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks was one of the biggest ways that I could see the New York Times has experienced disruption. Stating that Daniel Ellsberg needed them, while Wikileaks did not shows the impact of how technology has taken over traditional news media. However, one opportunity that I saw was through the comment about how the New York Times is still able to bring news that other individuals and institutions cannot. Original news gathering will always be a better source for news than a blogger that does not have a firsthand account of an event.

  10. rars22 says:

    1) Describe, briefly, one key takeaway you got from the Tow Center report on Post Industrial Journalism. What did you find most interesting or most important? Yes, you can skim over the report. Be sure you are not just repeating one of your classmate’s takeaways (incentive to post early). Hint: Here’s a list of my own takeaways, if that gives you any ideas. Be specific.

    At 126 pages, the Tow Center Report seemed to be a huge undertaking but as I began reading with every intention of skimming, I found myself wanting to finish the Report by actually reading every written word. Written by three standouts in the Digital Journalism field, the Report offered incredible insight into the ever-changing landscape once known as the “news industry.”

    In the section “Journalism Matters,” the authors explain the functions of journalism – to draw attention to injustice, to hold politicians accountable for promises and duties, to inform citizens and consumers, and to explain complex issues. I chuckled as I read this, not because what they are saying is incorrect – far from it actually, but because in many ways, Journalism no longer embodies these functions. The authors go on to say that it is imperative to find news ways to “do the kind of journalism needed to keep the United States from sliding into casual self-dealing and venality.” Maybe some still believe that our current standards of news and methods used for reporting are ideal and perform these functions, but I believe the trained eye can see that America has already slipped into a world where the majority of so-called news is nothing more than drivel and full of venality. But I kept reading, hoping that someone would acknowledge their understanding of this. And they did when the authors stated Lord Northcliffe’s famous litmus test for news: “News is something someone somewhere doesn’t want printed. Everything else is advertising.” “Thank god,” I exclaimed out loud in my living room early that morning, and my dog tilted her head, as if to say, “I understand.” At least she understood my frustration and these authors addressed it. Now feeling less need for donning on my tin foil hat, I kept reading.

    In the section “The Internet Wrecks Advertising Subsidy,” the authors explain vertical and horizontal integration business models – something many journalists do not understand because they are not “business” people. However, I found the statement “laziness now favors unbundling; for many general interest news sites, the most common category of reader is one who views a single article in a month,” to be quite telling. Laziness – the word I used so many times to refer to the citizens of this country – was finally said by someone else. I understand that the authors probably didn’t mean it to the extent that I do nor in the exact capacity that I use it, but finally – finally – someone noted that people no longer sit down and read the news of the day. They don’t care to read all the exact, factual stories of what is happening in our country, and within our government. And then, at that point, I realized that I need to store the tin foil hat in the closet and read the Report with a different mindset. The mindset of a journalist who desperately wants to be a part of this changing landscape and the digital age. One who wants to understand how to accomplish something important and make a difference.

    As a person with an advertising background, I found myself again troubled by the methods of advertising today. The Report states “the shift to cheap advertising with measurable outcomes, however, wrecks much of the logic of targeting as well….the junk inventory is more cost-effective.” I lowered my head because now I knew my suspicions about a once specialized field were true. A monkey can become a profitable and well-respected advertiser. It’s a fact. No longer does an advertiser have to understand the psychology behind a media buy or how to locate the perfect target audience. They simply place low-cost advertising based on Google’s recommendations and on Facebook and Twitter, and they do it in a widespread fashion. You no longer need a steady hand and a rifle, you just pick up a shotgun and shoot – hitting anything and everything in front of you, accomplishing your goal at the same time.

    Moving forward through the Report, I place my troubles in the back of my mind and become quite intrigued, and then excited, about the multitude of opportunities which one can take advantage – new forms of collaboration, new analytic tools and data sources, and the millions of new ways in which to communicate to the public.

    I really understood the point that authors made about how journalists have not taken full advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with citizen journalists. It has been my viewpoint for a while now that the newsworthy content that originates with citizen journalists should not threaten the ego of the traditional and trained journalist, but rather provide them with a “promotion” of sorts. The citizen journalist wants to be involved and has the ability to be “on the scene” when a reporter may not – but that doesn’t mean that the two cannot work together to provide the public with a phenomenal news story – one with incredible first-hand footage or eyewitness quotes provided by the citizen journalist and with a historical context, fact checking, and elegant writing style provided by the journalist. I see this as the best possible working environment. No longer will local reports be riddled with grammar errors, an unexplained backstory, and no sense of context because the journalist would act as a leader to provide a perfect collaboration and thus, an outstanding news story.

    I could write endlessly on the rest of the report – talking about how more newsrooms should embrace the metrics of the digital world to provide a better understanding of what people read, how more companies should expand to allow paid positions for telecommute journalists and public relations people since the geography is no longer of utmost importance due to the thousands of tools available online, the emergence of the “Fourth Estate” and the “Symbolic Capital” section as well as the “Journalism, Institutions, and Democracy” section (I will spare you all the pages upon pages that I could use to explain my feelings on that subject), how to work well with others and in order to survive how to become better collaborators, and ultimately how to be adaptable to trying solutions that were once thought to be impossible or “crazy” – those very ideas could be the answer you’re looking for.

    The Tow Report is obviously full of fantastics takeaways and golden nuggets of information that every journalist, advertiser, pr person, tech guru, and everyday man should read and implement – for they just might find the answers to all their problems within those few 126 pages.

    2) This is a review question, so if were paying attention in class, it should be pretty easy. Of course, you can use the readings too. Name one way in which media has been disrupted by technology…e.g. how did Google disrupt the New York Times? How did Apple disrupt the music industry? Be specific.

    The creation and expansion of Google and the Twitter/Facebook revolution created a 24/7 news cycle, as well as an opportunity for the everyman to become a journalist. First, the new fast pace news cycle created problems for the NY Times, as well as other traditional newspapers and sources, by speeding up the time it took to “publish” a story. No longer could a building catch on fire or a politician exit a seedy hotel with a prostitute without a citizen journalist “breaking” the news to the public through the many tools at his disposal, such as the camcorder and the internet in the beginning to the smartphone, social media apps, and bountiful wifi available today. Gone were the days of traditional seasoned newspaper men developing a story with exhaustive investigation and fact checking – time was no longer on their side.

    Next, as the internet and Google grew, the easy access caused multitudes of people to simply search by topic for news articles of interest, bypassing the majority of the newspaper altogether. People began to believe that everything was free and if it wasn’t, then it should be. Far less people were paying for a newspaper subscription than in days past, thus causing the traditional news media to lose revenue from newspaper subscriptions and subsequently, from advertisers.

    The creation of Craigslist pulled people away from the daily classifieds, Monster took the job listings, and companies began to realize that their target audience was no longer sipping coffee while thumbing through pages of newsprint. Their target audience was getting a venti half-caf soy sugar free vanilla latte with an extra shot while checking their news apps and Twitter or Facebook feeds on their iPhones, while waiting for the light to turn green. Why pay for potential eyeballs when Google offered a pay per click pricing model? According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism 2013 State of the Media Report, print advertising fell for a sixth consecutive year in 2012, and not by just a little – it dropped $1.8 billion, or 8.5%, in a slowly improving economy (Newspaper Association of America. Trends and Numbers. Fourth quarter projections by Rick Edmonds).

    Digital advertising, is now up to 15% of total newspaper ad revenue, and has grown anemically the past two years but has not come close to covering print ad losses. The 2012 ratio was 15 print ad dollars lost for every digital ad dollar gained, according to Pew’s 2013 State of the Media Report. Even as volume improves, prices are depressed because of the huge range of places to advertise, now including social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

    iTunes changed the music industry in equally significant ways. No longer were people purchasing entire CDs or records by a single artist. With the invention of iTunes, music enthusiasts are now able to pick and choose from a plethora of artists and are no longer limited to the selection that brick and mortar stores are able or willing to stock. Independent artists are now on equal footing with those signed to the label giants, such as Sony, BMG, and Capitol Records, and many have cut out the label “middleman” entirely due to widespread access to sound and production programs. The internet has also provided them with easy distribution and event generation solutions as well as funding opportunities through sites like Kickstarter.

    3) After watching Page One, describe one way in which The New York Times has faced either negative consequences OR opportunity from disruption.

    The New York Times is a legacy; a NEWS GIANT. A symbol of status, credibility, and as the 2012-2013 Tow Center Report, Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present states, “in a category of one” (Anderson, Bell, and Shirky p.17).

    Through watching Page One: Inside the New York Times, I gained a better idea of the struggle that traditional news media is still experiencing and felt a nostalgia for some aspects of days past. The days when my father was a newsman – putting pen to paper and crafting stories on his old typewriter. The days when I first learned how to design a newspaper layout – complete with a glue stick, a T-square, the counting of column inches, and the clipping of correctly sized “articles,” known as “paste-up” to my generation, and the ones before me.

    There are many things to learn from tradition but as we all know, the times have changed and digital media is taking over the marketplace. Millennial’s no longer wash the newsprint from their fingertips after reading the breaking news each morning. Heck, I’m not so sure they read or hear the news each day anyway, but when they want their Bieber updates, they go directly to their smartphones, tablets, and Macbooks. This change in habit alone caused significant problems for the American daily newspaper in terms of subscription numbers and advertising revenue. The New York Times was not exempt from this economical downturn. In 2010, they had lost over 30% of their advertising dollars – the historical bread and butter of the newspaper industry.

    However, the New York Times, being “The Times,” was able to examine different revenue outlets and potential solutions to the changing habits of their readers. They created a Media Desk department in order to better understand the issues their competitors and colleagues were facing during these changing times. Responsible for investigating the trials and tribulations of other traditional media outlets, the NY Times Media Desk, was just one of the ways this news giant was able to apply triage to the situation at hand. They also saw the value of investing in new employees, such as Brian Stelter, a graduate student at Towson University who started and had a better understanding of the future of journalism. Brian was able to stress the importance of mediums, such as Twitter, to the New York Times reporters and helped institute a more digital focus to take advantage of the emerging 24/7 news cycle.

    The New York Times did not escape unharmed, by any means. Reducing their staff by over 100 employees in 2010, was just the beginning of the drastic changes and negative consequences the paper would face. This reduction is workforce caused many papers, such as the quintessential Washington Post to become a less relevant paper. They could no longer afford to play in the league with the news giants due to the simple equation that less knowledgeable and seasoned reporters equals less relevant breaking news stories and overall less coverage. Today, newspapers continue to reduce traditional newsroom staff with smaller expansion on the digital side.

    A few papers have also had to cut print frequency to three times a week – something the New York Times has not yet experienced. Due to the New York Times credibility and status, it has been afforded many opportunities for experimentation with various new partnerships, data visualizations, and blogs, that other papers have not.

    Page One, gives a great inside view into the disruptions the traditional newspaper industry and in particular, the New York Times. It shows how the Google World’s challenges changed the industry forever, but it also explains how the New York Times turned some potentially negative consequences into opportunities for successful foraging of new frontiers.

  11. Samuel Prager says:

    1.i thought the whole part about how we don’t need a journalist to stand by a wheat field due to satellite gained data is super interesting. Even as traditional news sources become irrelevant, so do traditional journalist. As our jobs become easier, data gathering and etc., our jobs will become more scarce
    2. Apple disrupting the music industry was a huge change, some say enlightening some will say the end of, the way music buisness was ran. Every CD distributor, record store, etc. suffered huge losses in sales and relevance due to iPods and iTunes. However most of these businesses found ways to get around it. But it’s evident that these once nessecary parts of the buisness are now irrelevant.

    3. In page one it talked about New York Times falling due to technology disruptions. Obviously all the paperless, free, quick and easy news sources have disrupted NY times consumer traffic. Especially during the recession. People can get the news without paying $20 a month.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Samuel, good. Although I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that traditional news sources are completely irrelevant. I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

  12. Carrie Brown says:

    Good thoughts, though need some clarity on what you mean by this: “prevented the New York Times an opportunity from disrupting.”

  13. Barry Parks says:

    (Writer’s Note: Sorry for the delay in submitting this. “Medicine head” has made it difficult for me to even walk for the last week and a half. Intuitiveness has obviously not been the order of my day since the 17th thanks to the flu and a subsequent relapse.)

    1. Key takeaways from the Tow Center Report
    In this, my second semester of graduate school, I’m already seeing a trend—reading reports like this is frequent, and can be a bit disheartening. I have played a professional role in the journalism business when I was a television reporter. But that was a long time ago. Nearly 20 years away from the business, I knew that furthering my exposure and my enlightenment was imperative if I hoped to reenter the field in any capacity because the industry has clearly evolved. But then I read reports like this and at once it makes me wonder if I should even have bothered. Has the field evolved too much to even hope to get a shot at re-entering it—and at my age?

    There is beauty in reading an entire document, however. My disposition about the future of possibility flagged during the first components of this report. The report iterates that the business that I was excited about and the way we did it in the late 90’s is, indeed, a thing of the past. “Top-to-bottom reporting,” “gatekeeping,” “watchdogs for the public”..all the old terminology and semantics that I took pride in and for which I claimed personal credential..well, all that just doesn’t necessarily apply anymore. And I didn’t really want to be reminded of all that, because it all just makes me wonder how or even if I can fit in.

    But there are some sensible and succinct insights about the modern news ecosystem in the report that, I’m happy to confess, have birthed some hope and direction. I’m not sure exactly how it looks in the real world, but it’s easy to see that collaboration and partnership is the distinct and vital wave of the future for the news business. I see the term “convergence” fairly frequently in my role as copyeditor at the Newspaper Research Journal. And when I initially feared what that involves (as with a probable reduction in available jobs/roles within the industry), I am starting to see that new collaborations and partnerships create more opportunities rather than fewer. An overarching sentiment of the report seems to indicate that news will still be in demand, but by more people and from more varied sources. In light of that, it is now a news professional’s duty to become increasingly more specialized in order to find a niche in this new journalistic world. That’s both challenging and inspiring.

    It also occurred to me, as the report discusses the evolution of “publics” and “audiences” and the ever-increasing involvement of these previously consume-only elements of the news equation, that basically everyone can be a reporter in today’s society. Whether accurate or accountable, the untrained individual can now fulfill the “live, on-the-scene” role that has largely belonged to the media in the past. That concerns me, but social media has created that reality and it won’t change. However, as pointed out on page 24, “the way news is most efficiently and reliably relayed is by those with a combination of deep knowledge of (the subject) and a responsiveness to audience requirements.” When the man on the street has veritably become the reporter on the street, the need will still exist for those who are specialized and specifically knowledgeable to provide reporting that the public will always want. As this essay qualifies it, citizen journalism effectively moves journalists up the chain to a role beyond initial observation to one of verification and interpretation. Indeed, while folks love to toss out their observations and reports and photos of what they see happening around them on a daily basis via social media, the general public will never be excited about or even interested in going to the city council meeting or standing at the polls waiting for returns. The role of journalists will still exist, just not in as broad a sense as it has in the past and with many more outlets to play this emerging, specialized role.

    So, in spite of my initial all-too-familiar misgivings in reading this report, I can say that I finished it with a sense of excitement that graduate journalism school was a good choice for me—an exciting one, even. I’m probably not going to come out of it seeking a job wagging a camera around or with much advanced skill in editing footage beyond what I already possess. But that’s not as concerning to me now as it has been over the last few months. I totally get what this class is about now, and I’m eager to learn how I actually CAN fit into a whole new industry.

    2. Example of technological disruption
    An example of how technology has disrupted traditional media practices is the Craigslist/want ads dynamic. Having been away from the media for almost two decades and living as purely an ‘audience member,’ this phenomenon hadn’t really even occurred to me until it was brought up in class. I’ve been the guy who found whatever restaurant job I could find or by looking for someone to take over a lease by consulting Craigslist, all the while not even considering how long it had been since I had even opened a newspaper to peruse the want ads. The impact on newspaper income has inevitably been drastically affected by this trend. I guess there is some hope in the unlikelihood that Craigslist will ever become a hotspot for obituaries, but the shift in this arena is still profound and has forever changed newspapers’ bottom line.

    3. Page One
    The most significant opportunity the New York Times has enjoyed as a result of disruption is through its incumbent resources and accountability as a well-established news outlet. Its long-standing legacy has allowed the paper to foray into all the avenues that technological disruption provides (i.e. blogging, interactivity online, etc.). Indeed, it is the Times’ reputation and even financial foundation that has allowed it to survive in a trend of declining readership for newspapers. In the process and when other newspaper outlets have either made deep cutbacks or have not even been able to survive, the new technological capabilities presented and on which the Times has been successful at capitalizing have actually furthered the newspaper as “the source” that many other media outlets are now almost required to look to for leads and story information.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Excellent, Barry. No problem doing this late, I knew you were sick….and I think I’ve got the same damn thing now, ugh. Anyway, I think that this is a great time to be a journalist, too, even though at times it is difficult and confusing. Sharp takeaways.

  14. 1)While I was reading on beat reporting, it really just centered in that blogs and other media outlets are essentially beat reporters. They are honing in on one specific thing and doing that thing with amazing accuracy. On another note, I’m a process person. I like to look at organizations and find ways to make processes that fit what the orgs need to make them more efficient. I found an interesting insight in the Tow report about newspapers having TOO MUCH process. Here’s a quote: “Newsrooms are still structured like the
    military. That makes it hard to do anything without stepping on someone’s toes.” The quote was referring to the fact that processes are so set in and news is so refined that doing something different isn’t really a matter of suggesting it but actually making it happen without upsetting the process. Even with the NYT and how much they are attempting to shift there is still a rigid structure of news in an evolving industry. I’m sure the discussion of the paywall wasn’t an easy one to have, for example. Or the fact that essentially all of their stories would be available online. Another really excellent quote: “The newsroom assembly line is almost entirely anachronistic as a way of producing content to be produced for digital use, and it must be rethought.”

    2)This is just from my personal experience. I did my event, The Professional Connection, this past Saturday. It took hell and high water to even get on two networks to promote my event…and it was a positive thing for Memphis. In any case, what I learned from that was that people still watch the news, but the news/media is being disrupted by social media on an event scale that is more powerful than the television. Yes, apple made itunes and screwed up the label industry and blogs made newspapers feel a bit of a living hell, but what about traditional advertising for events? Usually, I would buy space in the Memphis Flyer and go on as many networks as possible, but in this case, they didn’t carry nearly as much push as social media provided. Advertisers are struggling to get dollars today because people aren’t finding their reach in the daily/weekly reader. Here’s my very specific example: I used Eventbrite to sell tickets. Through Eventbrite, I could upload, manage and send emails to my entire contact list. I could also plug in the information and Eventbrite built a Facebook event page for my event. Then, it tracked people who came from various sources, like website integration, social media and the Eventbrite suggestion page. This was specified analytics, something traditional media still is unable to provide.

    3)It was blatantly obvious in the movie of some of the major crimes by the NYT. I personally like the paper, but unfortunately the the negative consequences that erupted once it was discovered that Jayson Blair was fabricating stories was sad and damaging. Also Judy Miller and her hype of the war would not have been as big a scandal if it was a local reporter. Because the NYT has an air of accuracy in reporting, instances like this are far more damaging to the paper. I think that, in the form of disruption, it was well noted that NYT was prepared to shift as media did if necessary. The fact that they decided to put up a paywall shows their readers that they value loyalty but also that they are keeping up with the digital age. There are plenty of instances of stories gone viral, but they are repeatedly not seen as truly concrete unless a publication that has credibility confirms it as well. This shows that although we are moving into a digital age of news, we still feed off of credible sources.

  15. 1. “Every news outlets should commit some resources, however small, to taking an activist stance on this issue. Better access to better data is one of the few things that would be an obvious improvement for the news ecosystem, one where the principal obstacle is not cost but inertia, and one where the news organizations’ advantage in creating improvement is not expenditure of resources but moral suasion.”
    This section of the report stood out to me because one; I agree with what is being said and two; it sparked an idea in me. Not only do news organizations need better access to better data, but they should also take advantage of social media sites like twitter and Facebook. In a situation where something breaks via social media the news outlets should be the first to retweet or repost. Then they can use those better resources to gather quality data to give background and follow up info.
    Also a lot can be gathered through social media. In today’s time every media outlet has at least a twitter page. I find it easier to search a hashtag on twitter than to use google. I’m not saying the “better data” is only on social media sites, but I do believe those sites can contribute.

    2. Social media has definitely disrupted the journalism industry. I say this because I look around at my generation and I’ve realized something. Not many people my age even seek the news unless it directly effects them. Social media has created a ‘social ME’ attitude in young people. Most teens and young adults get on these websites to post content about themselves and keep up with friends.

    3. I think a number of things contributed to the NYT loosing its audience. Yes, the Internet was a big factor, but we also have to keep in mind the events the led up to the Internet. The recession, Jason Blair, Judy Miller and countless other factors. Regardless, it is still a national paper with tremendous talent. Quality journalism will never die. Even if they are losing money I doubt the NYT will lose its voice.

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