Thursday, December 24, 2009

Including Those of Color in Future Journalism Efforts

The National Association of Black Journalists has a very active listserve on Yahoo Groups. Some of the bigger discussion topics are about including journalists of color on all the new media sites -- ones like Mediaite, Gawker, local ESPN networks like ESPN Boston and Huffington Post -- and of giving us access to the resources needed to become entrepreneurs and create our own new media models. You can read a post about that on the NABJ Digital blog here.

So it was with great interest that I read a post on the blog about NPR beginning to staff up its new local news effort, dubbed Project Argo. Project Argo won $3 million in foundation support from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Knight Foundation to tap a dozen unnamed local stations in the NPR network and setting them loose to offer “in-depth topical coverage of issues with broad national relevance and a strong local focus,” according to the site.

The funding is still being finalized but NPR is putting the pieces in place for a summer launch of its ambitious local news effort, known internally as Project Argo. Named by digital head Kinsey Wilson with Jason and the Argonauts in mind, this project is in search of a different kind of golden fleece—armed with $3 million in foundation support and a dozen stations committed to Wilson’s explains what NPR hopes to accomplish: “We want to demonstrate that we can build both authority and audience around the coverage of particular beats in these communities.”

When this project was first announced, I remember seeing a flurry of postings on the effort and how NABJ members could become involved. NPR has been up and down with hiring journalists of color, laying off what was seen as a disproportionate number in 2009, including several right after NABJ held a fundraising event at the station’s headquarters in October. NABJ President Kathy Times and VP-Broadcast Bob Butler sent a letter Oct. 27 to NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller taking her to task over the layoffs.

In her Oct. 29 response to Times and Butler, Schiller offered a more focused breakdown of people of color on NPR’s staff. She defended her organization’s effort to maintain diversity and admitted that NPR could do better, saying she was working to boost the numbers.

To that end, NPR announced Dec. 15 that it had hired Keith Woods, currently the dean of faculty at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, as its vice president of diversity in news and operations, effective Feb. 1. This is positive step, and we can only hope that Woods is able to back up Schiller’s commitment. Getting some journalists of color involved with the Argo project would be a great start.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday New Media News Roundup

  • Three industry forecasts predict that online will take in more advertising dollars than print by 2015, reports The blog post includes several charts that illustrate the point.
  • A week after the Federal Trade Commission's 2-day workshop on the state of journalism, the Online Journalism Review blog asks what should the government do help journalism.
  • Former managing editor and new BusinessWeek Editor Josh Tyrangiel has a YouTube video on storytelling across different platform.
  • CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves offers his optimism on the local media business an in interview with Variety.
  • Now that the Comcast-NBC Universal deal has been officially announced, NBC CEO Jeffrey Zuker has only nine months to prove himself to his new bosses, reports Bloomberg.
  • Finally, the 24/7Wall Street blog posts about 1o brands it predicts will disappear in 2010. At the top of its list: Newsweek magazine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It a Good Time to Go into Journalism? Are You Thankful to be a Journalist?

I have a confession to make. Despite the love I have for my career as a journalist, I think it's pretty natural to sometimes be depressed about the prospects for my industry as we continue to read about layoffs and publications folding.

So when I saw this post on the Flip The Media blog -- Why It’s a Good Time to Go Into Journalism -- my first reaction was "what is he smoking?" But the title was intriguing enough for me to read the post, and writer Mark Briggs, CEO of Serra Media and publisher of Journalism 2.0 (free!), makes an effective case. In his post, he offers three premises:

  1. Journalism has a bright future. "Experimental news operations are popping up all over the Web as this decade draws to a close. Some have become sustainable businesses in a very short time. Others are still searching for viability while finding new ways to cover issues and communities," writes Briggs. I have written about these organizations both here and over at the National Association of Black Journalists Digital Journalism Task Force blog. Some of the ones of interest are MarylandReporter, Baltimore Brew, Voice of San Diego, and Texas TribuneDNAInfo, to name a few.
  2. That future is in your hands. "Journalism needs you. It needs someone who can bring a fresh approach without the baggage that burdened earlier generations," he writes. I see myself straddling between old school and new school journalism, and this old dog is working hard to learn new tricks to stay relevant in the future.
  3. Journalism will be better than it was before. "Transformation and evolution are messy, emotional processes. When they produce advancement for society and business, they are seen as healthy and worthwhile, but not necessarily to those on the front lines," writes Briggs. I have seen first hand my old school brethren continuing to resist making the changes needed to be relevant. They want to stick to the old ways, convinced that the old ways are still the best ways. I firmly believe that you can stick with the basic tenants of journalism while taking advantage of all the tools and technology out there that enhance your journalistic efforts.
And this gives me the perfect transition, to a post I saw on the Knight Digital Media Center's Online Journalism Review blog: How thankful are you for your role in journalism today?

The poll, done by Robert Niles, is completely unscientific and only had 58 respondents. But I still think the numbers are worthwhile as media companies continue to adapt -- sometimes painfully -- to the new journalistic world order. Thirty percent say they have a job in journalism, working for someone else, and are thankful for it. Fifteen percent say I have a job in journalism, working for myself, and am thankful for it.

I encourage you to take a look at the poll and take your own temperature on the issue. Despite everything, I still love journalism in general and my job in particular. I don't know a whole lot of people who are paid for their lifelong hobby, like me!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday New Media News Roundup

  • For those of you keeping track of layoffs, here's the latest: Thomson Reuters has cut 240 staffers at its legal publishing division, reports; Washington Times has cut 40% of its 370 employees as it moves toward an online format, reports the New York Times; the Miami Herald cuts 24 jobs, reports the New Times; and Gannett lays off 37 and brings back furloughs, reports
  • YouTube has launched a channel dedicated to citizen journalists, reports the Telegraph. The new channel lets media organizations "request, review and rebroadcast YouTube clips directly from YouTube users.”
  • Bloggers can now get free legal help from the Citizen Media Law Project, reports Online Media Daily. The project targets independent journalists who write about matters of public interest, with those adhering to standards of "truth, fairness and transparency" receiving first priority, according to the program's FAQ.
  • The Telegraph has a profile of Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. And you can read her thoughts on the new path for journalism, written for this week's FTC 2-day workshop here. You can also see my NABJDigital blog post on that topic here.
  • And former National Association of Black Journalists president Bryan Monroe's guest post on Huffington Post -- Why New Media Looks A Whole Lot Like Old Media -- is a must read.
  • Do journalists actually look like this? asks the 10000 Words blog. None that I've ever worked with!!