Suw and I are still bedding in, so to speak, with the brilliant new WordPress-powered Strange Attractor, and one of the things that I haven’t quite set up is Del.icio.us auto-posting (although ‘auto’ might be a stretch seeing as the feature seems to work when it wants to). Until we get it working again, I’ll just have to post some of the things that catch me eye.
Convention opportunity costs
I’ve already written about my views on the excessive coverage of the US political conventions. It doesn’t take 15,000 journalists to cover a four-day informercial by the political parties. I would be thrilled if the 15,000 journalists actually cut through the stage-managed crap and told the American people and the world what these candidates actually planned to do, but they don’t.
Jeff Jarvis has much the same view and put it excellently both on BuzzMachine and his weekly column at the Guardian (my day job):
The attention given to the conventions and campaigns is symptomatic of a worse journalistic disease: we over-cover politics and under-cover the actions of our governments. We over-cover politicians and under-cover the lives and needs of citizens. . . .
We don’t need the press to tell us what the politicians say; we can watch it ourselves on the web. We don’t need pundits to tell us what to think; we can blather as they do on our blogs. The rise of mass media – primetime TV – ensured that conventions would never surprise again: they became free commercials. The internet then took away the last reasons to devote journalistic resources to the events – there’s nothing we can’t see and judge on our own.
Brooke Gladstone at On the Media flagged up the childish behaviour of the on-air ‘talent’. At FoxNews, Bill O’Reilly petulantly complained about a newspaper that had insulted him, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had a go at colleague Keith Olberrmann for making a ‘yackity-yack’ hand gesture for whittering on. I agree with Ms Gladstone when she says:
After Obama’s speech, true to form, the pundits told us how to feel about it. This week, the cable news talkers told us that Obama had to reveal himself, but so did the news channels. They all saw this week as promotion for themselves, as much as Obama, and they tried to tell us how to feel about them.
But I don’t feel that good, frankly, because they got in the way of the story, because they made themselves the story. Because if this truly was the historic event they kept telling us it was, then they all talked way too much.
Pundits are getting in way of the story. They think we need them to tell us how to feel or think. I don’t think I’m alone in resenting when people try to tell me how to think or feel. Besides, now if I feel the need to entertain myself with anchors behaving like children, I can always watch it the next day on YouTube.
‘Lifecycle of a New Story’
Alison Gow wrote an excellent post of how the journalism work flow differs now in the age of the social media. She expertly and succinctly walks journalists through traditional reporting and how things can be. (I originally wrote have changed, but this is a work in process.) Every step of the reporting process can draw on new social media tools and tap into a broader range of expertise. I’ll flag up one of her five steps:
Reporter researches story (Web 1.0)
Phones/meets contacts to verify information; searches Google for background/experts; finds expert and emails questions; includes response in article; sets up photo opportunity with picture desk; writes article and sends to newsdesk.
Reporter researches story (Web 2.0)
Crowdsources idea using social networks; uses blog searches and blog translators to find posts and experts worldwide; uses own blog to post developing and ask for input and suggestions from readers; sets up online survey and poll (promotes these using links to it from own blog, Facebook page and online forums); posts links and questions on specialist messageboards; searches social bookmarking tools for related issues; uses video discussion site to seek views; records telephone interview for podcast; collates findings and discusses package with print and digital news editors; films video report; begins writing detailed, analytical article for print product, accompanied by quality images – some found by picturedesk searching photo-sharing websites’ Creative Commons pool.
It’s a great post. Keep it handy. Distribute it to your staff, and flag up her conclusion. “I had no idea when I started doing this how thin the ‘old’ opportunities for investigating stories would look compared to the tools at our disposal now; it’s quite stark really.”
Read the comments. Alison talks about the tools she uses.
I’ll be writing more about the tools that I plan to use to manage all the work I will be doing on my upcoming US Election road trip, mentioned in my post about how to geo-tag photos. The blog launches next week, but I’m already reaching out into the social networks that I am part of.
Chrome as a web operating system
Steve Yelvington consistently writes insightful posts about new media, the newspaper business and community. Steve is a journalist through and through, and he also has an excellent grasp of the web and technology. Last year, he told me over dinner how he wrote a Usenet news reader for the Atari ST in 1985.
Steve sees Google’s Chrome not simply as a web browser but as a ‘Web operating system’.
The vision for Chrome, as documented in a 38-page Web comic, is to create an environment that optimally manages and coordinates Web-based applications. That sounds a lot like the classic definition of an operating system: “An operating system (commonly abbreviated OS and O/S) is the software component of a computer system that is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer. The operating system acts as a host for applications that are run on the machine.”
He sees Chrome as a game-changer.
NOTE: People have taken issue with the EULA, saying that by using Chrome you give Google “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license” to do what the search giant wants to do with content submitted using the application. Gizmodo says that Google is updating the EULA to ‘be less creepy‘.