Advice to Future Magazine Editors

Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, magazines have a strong future online, I think. But their future depends completely on the leadership and innovation of publishers and editors, as I told the Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors last night.

The audio of the talk is after the jump.

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NCAA Basketball, the Tar Heel, and Citizen Media

The NCAA basketball game tonight in Detroit between the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Michigan State Spartans brings us a good illustration of the relative strengths of print and online news.

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Social Media and User Generated Content for Journalists

There are so many great new buzzwords — distributed reporting, citizen journalism, crowd sourcing. They excite a lot of people who don’t think through their implications for public affairs reporting… and they terrify a lot of people who don’t realize that in many ways they are just juiced-up version of pretty common “old-media” techniques. In either case, they’re exciting because they pit two traditional journalism values — giving voice to the voiceless and accuracy — directly against each other.

Here’s an introduction, with audio to come in a future version. (If you can’t wait for the audio – give me a call or shoot me an email.)

When Everyone’s a Publisher, Who Will ‘Convene’ The Public?

Last week, Richard Hart of MDC, Inc., kindly came to speak to my Public Affairs Reporting for New Media class. He led us through an illuminating conversation about the nonprofit’s recently released report on the Triangle’s “Disconnected Youth.” (PDF)

At the end, I raised this question: If government is already publishing a lot of raw data online, and if organizations like MDC are already put together in-depth, relatively objective analyses of public policy issues like this, then what does he — as a former journalist and the nonprofit’s communication director — think is the role for journalists? How do we fit in to his overall communication strategy for this report, I wondered.

That was a good question, Hart said. He noted that his primary focus now, after an initial and relatively small media hit, was convening small groups of influential and interested area leaders from various sectors to discuss how to implement some of MDC’s recommendations.

That made me wonder: Should journalists be doing that? Presuming we think that the subject of high school dropouts is an issue that is relevant and important for our audience, how much effort should news organizations be putting in to creating conversation around content that is created elsewhere? Should journalists be conveners?

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Viral News: The Distributed Watercooler

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, journalists are loath to do anything they think would make them “seem like a pimp.” The problem with their hesitancy is that it too often means that important news stories get buried beneath entertaining ones and the public discourse is diminished.

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How to Report for New Media

How to Plan an Online News Project

If I had to pick only one difference between the mindset of print and online journalists, it’s the way they plan. Online journalists are more likely to have to collaborate with a large group, they are often working on longer time horizons on products that has longer shelf-lives. They are dealing with lots of smaller moving pieces and have to try to get management approval using static words and images to represent a project that will have a lot of animation and user-driven customization.

So, if you want to work online doing something other than breaking news you have to learn how to plan. In my experience, any online project — from an election returns database to a deadline explainer on the capture of Saddam Hussein — needs six things:

  1. A product concept
  2. A storyboard
  3. Asset management
  4. A clear workflow
  5. A financial budget
  6. A testing and quality assurance procedure

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Bootcamp: Data Driven Journalism

So much of the training and retraining of journalists seems to be focused on getting them to be multimedia reporters, backpack journalists or one of the other buzzwords we use for collecting audio and visual content and presenting it online.

Multimedia is one of three things that make online journalism different from offline journalism, but the other two things — interactivity and user-control — depend largely on journalists understanding data driven journalism. This isn’t about numbers, but about structured data. Here’s a bootcamp that’s intended to introduce journalists to the tools and concepts of structured data and data driven journalism.

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