Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be true. Many newsrooms are in danger of losing what matters most about journalism: the valuable, civic, pounding-the-streets, sifting-the-database, asking-challenging-questions hard graft of uncovering things that someone doesn’t want you to know. Serious, public-interest journalism is demanding, and there is more of a need for it than ever. It helps keep the powerful honest; it helps people make sense of the world and their place in it. Facts and reliable information are essential for the functioning of democracy – and the digital era has made that even more obvious.
As newsrooms disappear, veteran reporters are being forced from the profession. They dedicated their lives to telling other people’s stories. What happens when no one wants to print their words anymore?
Fresh from The Intercept (that fearless vanguard of journalism helmed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras): disturbing documents exposing the unfathomable reach of the United Kingdom's GCHQ in its quest for total awareness of global internet traffic. A hundred billion user actions logged per day. A "Black Hole" database of 1.1 trillion logs. Frightening programs like KARMA POLICE, MEMORY HOLE, and MUTANT BROTH that correlate the kilo-crore corpus -- IP addresses, cookies, forum posts, search histories, emails, and passwords all compiled and cross-referenced into a real-time "diary" that gives penetrating insight into the relationships, beliefs, and desires of every web user on the planet. Internal documents suggest only widespread encryption can threaten the regime -- a movement the UK is determined to subdue (previously). [more inside]
Based on such continuous disappointment you'd think that trust in these grandiose, empty promises would wane - yet articles like this are more popular then ever. How click bait articles work (this will amaze you!)
In an interview with Lucky Peach, Lockhart Steele (previously) talks about "flooding the zone" in the blog era:
One of the things that I try to say to the team at all of our sites is, Hey, let’s not be afraid to still be weird. Because as you get bigger, you can get forced to just be so mainstream. You have more people coming to your site, so you have more readers who are going to be confused by your obsessions, who are going to be like, What’s the joke, I don’t get it. And you have to be okay with people not getting it.via Super Punch
Producer Michael Shamberg Wants to 'Invent the Future' With BuzzFeed Motion Pictures - "I don't think there's ever been a Hollywood R&D model like we have here." (previously 1,2,3) [more inside]
Andrew Sullivan to have subscribers, causing speculation as to what this could portend for the Internet, new media, and journalism.
Eating Only Dessert: Why your information diet is probably terrible - "[Clay] Johnson is the author of The Information Diet, a book with a unique core metaphor: heavily processed information, like heavily processed food, isn’t healthy but for some reason we can’t get enough of it. Email. Social networks. Blogs. Online video. People today consume more information than ever before, and typically only consume the things they really, really like. Johnson compares this to a bad diet. “If you only ate what you want then we’d probably put the dessert section at the top of the menu, rather than at the bottom,” he says. “I think the same thing is happening with journalism: we’re going straight to dessert every time.”" PBS Newshour interview with Johnson (~6 min. video with full transcript). Previously: Who wants to hear the truth when they can hear they're right?
In the wake of the venerable Boston Phoenix changing to a glossy magazine format and rebranding itself as simply The Phoenix (as well as the ongoing turmoil at the Village Voice), Salon's Will Doig writes the obituary for the age of the alt-weeklies. The Phoenix responds.
Fungible: A treatise on fungibility, or, a framework for understanding the mess the news industry is in and the opportunities that lie ahead. The younger the person you ask, the less likely it is you’ll find that link between wanting to know what’s going on and grabbing a paper or opening up a news website. They use Pinterest to figure out what’s fashionable and Facebook to see if there’s anything fun going on next weekend. They use Facebook just the same to figure out whether there’s anything they need to be upset about and need to protest against.
Newstweek: fixing the facts. Newstweek is a device that injects fake news into unsecured wireless connections. More info at hackaday.
In February, AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million. (Previously) The formation of The Huffington Post Media Group was announced, to integrate content for a new combined, claimed audience of "117 Million Americans and 270 Million Globally." Then, AOL fired 200 US employees (leaving many sites without editorial staff) and began restructuring. Today, they announced that 30 brands, including popular site Slashfood, will be closed or folded into existing Huffington Post sections. [more inside]
"Israel is our only hope as the post-American president is aiding and abetting a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama is enabling Iran’s Islamic bomb" - Pamela Geller
As the "ground zero mosque" story approaches bipartisan consensus, thanks to unexpected statements by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (joining a growing opposition), several journalists trace the origins of how the Park 51 community center became(warning: CNN) a toxic subject. What they found was Pamela Geller, a blogger at Atlas Shrugs, who has some very interesting vlogs. You may previously know her from this cozy 2006 interview with Bush's infamous anti-UN UN ambassador John Bolton.
Restoring Journalism Maureen Tkacik talks about her life as a journalist, the nothing-based economy, and the future of journalism. She suggests abandoning authority and productively channeling narcissism. (via 2p & dd) [more inside]
"The Times and Sunday Times newspapers will start charging to access their websites in June, owner News International (NI) has announced. Users will pay £1 for a day's access and £2 for a week's subscription. The move opens a new front in the battle for readership and will be watched closely by the industry."(BBC) Some early reactions from other newspapers. Interview with Times editor about the charges. Previously
How To Save Media Jason Ponti from Technology Review offers some suggestions as to how traditional print publishers might save themselves from becoming irrelevant.
Tehran Bureau, the independent Iran news website which became indispensable during the post-election protests in June, has found a new home at PBS's Frontline, which is taking them under its wing by financing and hosting the Web site and providing editorial support. [Via]
Crap Detection 101 Howard Rheingold offers a fairly in-depth primer on media and internet BS detection. Lots of links to resources for enabling critical analysis of various information sources included.
The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age. At Harvard they are working with the Business School on new business models, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society on understanding online life, and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations on one potential path for news organizations.
The Daily Beast is the latest venture from Tina Brown. (mis)Named after the newspaper in Evelyn Waugh's (awesome) novel Scoop, the site is a mixture of original journalism and curated links from around the web, and of middle and low brow. Already it's attracted attention for both a (previously spiked) feature on Jennifer Lopez and for its logo, which some allege is remarkably familar. Reviews have been so so, but its stated aim to "sift, sort, and curate" finally allows us to get the best of the web...
In the same spirit as the Open Net Initiative and Committee to Protect Bloggers that both track global internet filtering, Sami ben Gharbia's Access Denied Map tries to track the blocking of sites like Blogger, Flickr, YouTube and others by governments, as well as efforts by activists to keep them accessible or to challenge their blockage.
Amateur Hour. Internet journalism and the traditional media. Nicolas Lehmann in the New Yorker.
In the Hot Zone Yahoo! have hired journalist Kevin Sites (previously discussed here and here) to 'cover every armed conflict in the world within one year... to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles - and their global impact'. The NYT (reg required) quotes Lloyd Braun, Head of Yahoo! Media Group, saying that he hopes they can combat the "growing public distrust of network news... [with] a transparency I think the Internet user wants and the news audience is craving".
Words: Woe & Wonder The CBC explains and debates usage from a Canadian-journalism standpoint - for example, why the Iraqi ex-leader is referred to by his first name and whether to capitalize this place.
Reflections On Our Media of Communication. Traditional news media vs. the internet. Are people really abandoning TV, paper, and radio news? Does the 'net really offer the best in free-press? The ever lovable Fred thinks so, and he's not afraid to tell you why.
The Digital Journalist: Features. The Digital Journalist: Features. Photojournalism features on a spread of human life, from Afghan child labour, the Dalai Lama and the Soviet Union to Marilyn Monroe, jazz and Smalltown USA. (Warning - adverts).
The War is about to Start and for those of us without a TV we are part of a grand experiment to see if we can be as well informed. According to this Reuters article, Radio had World War II, Television had Vietnam, Cable TV had the Gulf War and now, the Internet may have the U.S. war with Iraq...reporters and producers with wireless laptops and handheld digital cameras will file reports from battlefields and military installations. Cameras are at key locations for live feeds 24 hours a day. Interactive, 3-D maps will update troop movements, casualties and weapons used. ''You're combining the speed of television with the depth of print,'' says Mitch Gelman, executive producer of CNN.com. ''This could define how future wars are covered.'' (more inside)
With his own blog in place Tristan makes interesting observations on today's blogs. He's definitely got a point when it comes to the variety of information on most blogs... sometimes it seems I can visit 20 blogs and see the exact same source articles over and over again. An interesting read from tnl.net, as always.