If Wikipedia Says It Loves You, Check It Out

The idea of using social media to report a story is appalling to some journalists. They have a certain germophobia when it comes to the Internet. Because it is littered with rumor and lies, they never use it as a source for a story, they say. They’re right, of course. Social media like Twitter and Wikipedia are littered with rumor and lies, but so are most city halls and almost every other place journalists ply their trade.

Social media, I tell my students who have been scared away from it by other professors and editors, are like all sources — a great place to start and a lousy place to finish.

Armed with the same skepticism and curiosity with which I treat any other source, I try to teach students to stop worrying and love the hyperlink.

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Open Letter to Washington Post: Keep the Frontier Open

I normally try to avoid giving public advice to my former employers. But, with it having little chance of helping or hurting any of my former colleagues at this late point in the decision process, I’m going to fire away.

Dear Washington Post Deciders,

You need to merge the print and online newsrooms immediately. There is no time to spare. Oh, and you need to keep them separate.

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Survey of Journalism Want Ads

I can’t wait to read the results of this study by Serena Carpenter at Arizona State University.

I’m particularly interested to see whether there’s a disconnect between the words that hiring managers use in their postings and the words that journalists themselves use to describe online news jobs. Also, job postings are an important “leading indicator” of changing duties and skills in the industry. My survey describes the present state of affairs, and it doesn’t do a good job predicting what the future will be or what hiring managers WANT the future to be.

Don’t Forget to Report the Web

Most often, when I’m talking with folks about online journalism the conversation centers around online publishing. But a quick hit last Friday in The News & Observer’s Under the Dome blog reminds us not to forget about using the Web as a reporting tool. David Ingram used LinkedIn to research a former Wachovia lobbyist, and found a misleading profile of the lobbyist. And, of course, there’s the New York Daily News’ recent use of MySpace to cover the story about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy.

Here’s a quick rundown of some prominent social networking and user-generated content sites and how to research them.

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A New Profession of Trail Blazers Who Find Delight

While working today on a chapter for a new edition of Reaching Audiences, I was re-reading the 1945 Atlantic Monthly article in which Vannevar Bush lays out his concept of the hypermedia world we’re now building. In it, he not only envisions a new method of storing and sorting information but a new industry of people who do so.

“There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.”

Perhaps I have a perverted perspective, but MAN does that sound like a sexxxy job description — pioneering, democratic, joyful. If these qualities stir your heart, then you’re a journalist in any medium.

Online Job Titles at N.C. Newspapers

THBT: More Blogs on the Bus Tour

Several of my colleagues have also posted to their blogs some thoughts about the Bus Tour. You’ll see from the blog titles that we were an eclectic group. I like eclectic groups.

Also not to be missed is the blog of my journalism colleague Jock Lauterer, who does his own tour every summer of the state’s community newspapers. He’s on the road now.