Tag Archives: internet

Student journalism is worth the rising costs

This might surprise the technologically inclined, but most college students don’t expect their campus news on a phone or tablet – they find it printed on newspaper.

Editors say over and over that students get news by stumbling across their college newspaper and flipping through it casually, or seeking out their friend who might be in a picture or mentioned in a story. It’s not a regular habit to seek it out on a website or like it on Facebook.

In my interviews with some Boston college paper editors, they say they’re still experimenting with online strategies. But their hands may be forced soon as university budgets make newspapers a costly proposition.

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As editors dream up online strategies, the short-term future of college newspapers remains in print [Video]

Flickr gallery

While the current trend among newspapers in this country is to throw brains and money at the online side of the business, student newspapers are just getting strategies in place to put more thought into websites and social media.

At first glance, it appears counterintuitive. Today’s students are technologically savvy, quick adopters of new devices such as smart phones and programs like Facebook and Twitter. Product planners are also fast to note how infatuated twentysomethings are with their phones and tablets. But in Boston at least, student newspapers aren’t planning to abandon the print product anytime soon.

While students are generally connected through social media, it’s going to take more time to get them to go to the Internet before going to the newspaper. So much time, in fact, that editors are in no rush to abandon the print product and view the two technologies as generally separate entities.

“This is as social media savvy of a school as you can find,” said Alexander Kaufman, editor in chief of Emerson College’s Berkeley Beacon. “People at Emerson are eager to tweet about things that irk them or what they’re thinking about.”

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Boston Globe Lab is full of ideas. Great, now where do they fit in a newsroom?

Chris Marstall in front of the picture map at the Globe Lab.

The newspapers still (relatively) flush with money should do the right thing and invest in researching how people, and their readers, use technology. Thankfully, the Boston Globe isn’t sitting on its hands. It’s invested in a good-looking lab that features a raft of interesting technology.

The Globe has the right to feel it’s ahead of the curve, technologically speaking. BostonGlobe.com is a nice site, even if it’s under a dreaded paywall. It was also honored with an award from the Society for News Design that basically equates to “Best Damn News Website – Period,” thanks to a responsive design setup. They also won kudos for their fancy way of integrating maps and data into the site, such as that used in their feature about mislabeled fish that Design Director Miranda Mulligan was eager to show off. It’s clever stuff.

The Lab’s other tech serves as a cool way to monitor what readers are doing. Joel Abrams was keen to show off a clever way of mapping tweets and showing how sharing links among users can really take off. Chris Marstall liked to show off a set of screens that maps Instagrams taken by people around Boston.

But where does all of this fit into the newspaper’s business of reporting? Their ability to answer that question was pretty much summarized by a trio of TV screens in the newsroom that monitored tweets and replies to the paper’s handles. Slowly, different forms of technology are working their way into the newsroom. But it looks like it’s going to be some time before all of the interesting mapping and social media analysis is going to make it into the newsgathering process, and that’s a shame.

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A Pulitzer win for David Wood is a win for the future of HuffPo and online-only journalism

Photo/@joshuahersh

Poynter tried to tease media junkies yesterday morning before the 2012 Pulitzers were announced, but I saw one of the big news pieces of the day about an hour before official announcements came down – and it wasn’t as shocking as I might have thought maybe a year ago.

David Wood‘s win for the “Beyond the Battlefield” series, posted on The Huffington Post, is a deserved win for a seasoned journalist producing really great journalism. But it’s proof that it’s the writer, not the organization, that wins the Pulitzer. The organization, however, gets to bask in the acknowledgement that it employs a Pulitzer-winning journalist. And for HuffPo, that’s a great sign.

Online media nabbing Pulitzers isn’t really news these days. Politico and ProPublica have done it for a few years now, showing great journalism doesn’t always need to be printed. But HuffPo, the target of right wing bashing and criticism for headlines so big and sensational that’s it’s not even funny, hasn’t enjoyed a reputation for really specialized content. Calling it a news aggregator as little as a year or two ago wasn’t that far of a reach. Things have changed, and the Wood’s Pulitzer is proof.

The fact that good journalists are coming to HuffPo is a great thing for the company. Yes, the dialup-grade connection to sinking ship AOL is a downer, but the Pulitzer cred should be taken as a sign that Arianna’s creation is willing to foster strong journalism. As a sucker for good journalism entering the job market, that’s more than a little comforting.

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Who cares what you like to read?

I have The Washington Post’s social reader installed on by Facebook account. Why? Good question.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the more I saw my friend’s messages floating down my feed, I saw what kinds of articles they were reading. Or probably clicking on by mistake.

The idea behind the social reader isn’t far-fetched, I’ll give it that. I share tons and tons of stories to people I know aren’t clicking on them. At most, they retweet or throw a story on their Facebook news feed. If people reply or leave comments, that’s just an interesting side note. But the whole point is that it’s a selective process.

Installing a social reader in your Facebook account is a little different.

The point of it is to show people what you’re reading, but it turns into a map of cheesy things you click on – and might not want others to know about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the bro-iest of guys confess they’ve “read” about Snooki’s pregnancy thanks to the Post’s reader. I’m sure (or I hope) it was out of morbid curiosity, not because they’re really interested in what the “Jersey Shore” personality (that’s being kind) is doing.

I know there are ways to turn these settings off, but it defeats the mission of the product. But a social reader, to me, answers a question nobody was asking. Really, how hard is it to type 120 characters and add a link on your own?

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Liking and friending on new platforms

I stand by my original motivation behind pursuing print journalism: I want to report and share news with people, but I don’t want to be on camera. Unlike broadcasters, I don’t want to hear my voice or get covered in makeup to appear on camera.

But the days of hiding behind my byline are over, thanks to the Internet. And I’m being told time and again that a social media presence is a journalist’s best friend. Really? In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been introduced to different platforms that are supposedly brilliant for journalists. If only I knew why.

Vadim Lavrusik, Facebook’s journalism program manager, has been cluttering my news feed with ways to use Timeline. After getting all jazzed about finding a way to get it before the herd way back in October, it’s been a tough sell for me. But Vadim has some points for using Facebook as a journalist. It’s a great way to shamelessly self-promote because your non-journalist friends will still like you – probably. And now that Facebook’s becoming the favorite of the Washington Post staff, there’s good reason to delete my partying pictures and post more stories.

Mashable this week gave 7 ways journalists could use the site Pinterest. Frankly, after waiting three days for an invite to join I’m at a loss. If I blogged about interior design, cooking, baking, pretty things in general, Pinterest might be of interest to me. Maybe if I were a photographer, things would be different. Or if I really cared to make picture “boards” of my interests so others could better know my work. But until I master the camera that usually gathers dust on my dresser, Pinterest will stay on the back burner.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m relatively upbeat on journalism and social media and finding the point where the two do wonders for each other. I’m just learning to not jump on board with the next new thing I hear about.

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