Digital first if we really have to …

Dave Winer’s latest post, Online journalism remains unexplored, gets this right, I think.

We still tend to see the internet either as a place/space/platform where we can carry on doing whatever it is we’re doing, but just get it out there quicker and cheaper.

Money quote:

… for the most [journalists] have gone to the Internet with a feeling of necessity not wonder.

That said, he’s hard on journalists, whom he accuses almost of setting up roadblocks and checkpoints between the reader and the source.

Is that all we do – just get in the way? Does our disintermediation (his word) add no value to the reader at all?

Digital soon

The Guardian launched a five-year plan in 2011 to move “beyond the newspaper” to an 80/20 digital/print split.

The Daily Telegraph (the first British newspaper on the web) announced plans in 2014 for a new editorial structure designed to use “digital content as the backbone of each printed edition” of the newspaper.

Said to be an acceleration of Telegraph Media Group editor-in-chief Jason Seiken’s “vision to transform the organisation’s print-focused mindset into a digitally led approach”, the new structure will have five main elements:

  • One integrated print/digital newsroom.
  • Two shifts worked each day, one from 6am and one ending at midnight.
  • Three speeds to work at, from fast for breaking news to slower for a feature.
  • Four key skills for each journalist: social, video, analytics and search engine optimisation.
  • Five deliverable ideas required from each desk each day: including one video, one shareable and one interactive.

We’ll get there.

The Telegraph model seems like a good place to start.

Beyond the printed page

There’s a lot to think about in this upbeat report from mediatel newsline from the annual PPA conference on Thursday (21 May) – with the headline theme being that “magazine brands will continue to move far beyond the printed page”.

  • Condé Nast International president Nicholas Coleridge told the conference that the company is still launching magazines around the world, but it’s taking on staff with a much wider skillset: it’s hired one hundred people to work in Camden on a new e-commerce business, and is is also investing in an “enormous” new video team.
  • Hearst Magazines UK CEO Anna Jones warned of the effects of ‘digital disruption: “It’s like white water rafting and you have to be prepared to pivot and change not on a quarterly basis – but a week-by-week basis.”
  • Time Inc UK’s CEO, Marcus Rich said “digital disruption was ruthless to the businesses that could not adapt to change.”

And to j-schools?

The future of print … insofar as it has one

I was doing some unrelated research and came across this quote in a piece by Clay Shirky (19/09/2014).
Check the date. It was right then; it’s unlikely to be wrong now.

Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.

So the question is: are we facing the future of print in our teaching?


Glassed up

The University of Southern California is starting a course where students will learn to tell stories using augmented reality and Google Glass.

Journalists as techno trailblazers?
My first job-related thought: interesting; and course leader Robert Hernandez makes a good point when he says journalists have never been technology trailblazers (which is putting it mildly), but that “the industry has a chance for a head start with Glass”.

I spy with another little eye
My first non-job-related thought: Yay! more surveillance; just what I’ve always wanted.

The UK is already the most spied-on nation on the planet, with one surveillance camera for every eleven people (at least—this piece is dated 2013).

Yes, I know there’s  difference between being spied on by the state and being spied on by journalists.

But I’d just as soon not be spied on by anyone, to tell the truth.

Spies ‘R’ already us
There’s nothing new about journalists using surveillance technology, as we found out during the Leveson inquiry.

But do tools like Google Glass take it to a new level?

Should we be so keen to add these new surveillance tools—cheap and getting cheaper; more pervasive; and more suited to fishing trips, rather than targeted news-gathering—to our toolkit?

Droning on
Journalism schools in the US are already running courses on using new-gathering drones to find stories.

(Though not over Deer Trail, Colorado, where residents last year wanted to issue licences to shoot down drones flying over their air space;  the plan has been postponed while a spoilsport court decides whether it’s legal.)

And there’s a strong argument that as more sectors use technology like this, it makes no sense for journalism to be left behind.

All in all, I’d say this is clearly an issue that should go to our ethics classes before it reaches our production workshops.

My own view:

  • Google Glass: don’t make a spectacle of yourself; or anyone else.
  • Drones: I’m with the good people of Deer Trail, Colorado: if it flies, it dies.