Tag Archives: wall street journal

Journalism in China is “almost like playing a video game”

Wu Nan, March 29, at Northeastern University

Based on Nieman fellow Wu Nan’s testimony about her work in Chinese journalism, being a reporter in that country has similar appeal as eating fire. Remember, some people like that stuff.

Wu’s work at various sites, including The Wall Street Journal’s Chinese site, gave her insight into the difficulty that nation’s reporters face in reporting every day news, she said to about 50 Northeastern students. She also said the emergence of social media in the area, from Facebook and Twitter knockoffs, has become crucial to the reporting process.

Wu’s roughly 35-minute discussion was kind of insider journalism discussion, but her experience reflected her talent in navigating censorship and disclosure restrictions, something journalists in every state have to face. But she described it as kind of a thrill, suggesting, to me anyway, she was interested in reporting that was challenging.

As China increasingly becomes a more important country, it makes sense to understand the ability of their reporters in covering the national news. On the face of it, it sounds like China embraces citizen journalism because it’s already a backbone of the journalism scene there.

Wu doesn’t mind, though. She thinks Chinese journalism is like a maze in a video game – and a great challenge.

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Old habits die hard

Here’s the news peg: The Boston Globe this morning announced something that sounds much more interesting than it actually is. Their new ePaper sounds like the best of both worlds, seeing the print version the same way on your iPad as in your hands as a newspaper.

To be fair, if I were still working for a newspaper, I’d love this announcement. The time and energy and sweat I’ve spent laying out pages, only to have Quark XPress self-destruct before you’ve hit save, is essentially vindicated now that my blood and tears are now available for the anti-print crowd to see on their techie devices. And I understand there is a market for such things as the ePaper, especially at publications that treat their website and Internet presence as an afterthought.

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Link Like a Gentleman

The person who thought of putting hyperlinks in a story probably thought it was a great idea. He or she wondered if there could be a way to find other Web pages that had information about a given topic or could provide more context to the story and embed them in the online copy. But to be honest, I’ve never really clicked on hyperlinks. In fact, I usually rollover them just to see where they link to. And really, linking to stories is no more than a courtesy to the reader. Sort of a handshake agreement that the writer or editor will aid your reading experience, right?

Maybe not. Mathew Ingram of GigaOM wrote and did a Storify last weekend on a spat between The Wall Street Journal and MG Siegler of Tech Crunch after he apparently broke the story Apple was buying app-discovery service Chomp. Siegler was miffed the Journal didn’t link to him in their own story after they confirmed of Apple’s purchase. Actually, miffed is a polite way to describe his rant on his own Tumblr.

Ultimately, Siegler thinks WSJ should have given him and Tech Crunch props for being first on the story, by at the very least linking to his story. What the Journal really did was re-report the story, probably based on what Siegler reported earlier in the day. I know I’ve written things that were later picked up by another publication without so much as a mention to me, and that’s OK. What’s not OK is to blatantly rip off someone’s story. That’s not what the WSJ did here.

Siegler’s probably overreacting, but Ingram raises a good question: What is good linking protocol? I say linking is to give readers reputable sources of information to provide greater context. Newspapers are notably stingy on doing this, usually linking just to their own stories about the topic. That’s not bad journalism, but it’s inconvenient. Mind you, I’m not one to click on links when in the middle of a story, but it’s worth going back and seeing what other information I can get out of an article. Linking is just polite, plain and simple. It’s one of those things that’s appreciated and helpful to some readers.

Siegler should really cool his jets and not boycott WSJ links out of spite. But WSJ and other outlets should do some more reporting and at least begin to acknowledge other outlets (and Tech Crunch is no small outfit) reporting news well ahead of them. That would be gentleman-like of them.

Photo: Flickr/buddawiggi

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Paywalls Closing In on Me

When did reading newspapers online become an expensive hobby? I can understand car collecting, sailing, diving for buried treasure. But reading op-eds in the comfort of your own couch on your iPad? (And, for the record, an iPad isn’t that cheap either.) On my college student budget, I can’t afford to subscribe to everything I want and that’s making for some tough choices.

My reading habits are about to get more expensive now that the Los Angeles Times has joined the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Boston Globe in the club of big newspapers that ask readers to pony up to read online content. Some are digging that grave for newspapers while they rapidly blog. Others are biting their nails to see whether the LA Times, still the fifth-highest circulated paper in the country, can stop its readership slide. I’m wondering how much I can afford.

When The New York Times put up its paywall last year, I hemmed and hawed for a month before breaking down and pulling out the credit card. Ironically, since I’ve been paying about $8 a month to read nytimes.com on my computer (via their temperamental Chrome app) I don’t think I’ve actually used all of my 20 clicks a month, ones that would be free if I didn’t subscribe. It’s just too easy to get around the paywall since a lot of what I click on comes from social media platforms or Google News.

The Globe’s policy is too cheap to give you any free clicks per month, so you think I’d have given into their paywall by now. Trouble is, the things I actually want to read from the Globe are free on Boston.com. It’s a similar story at the Wall Street Journal. Although I used to regard a WSJ online subscription like a rare commodity, (I used the password from a previous employer for as long as I could) it’s easy enough to find what I want for free. As long as they don’t put Dan Neil behind the paywall, I’ll be a happy camper.

Unfortunately, the LA Times plans to hide their auto critic, Dave Undercoffler, behind the wall – and a lot of other great writers too. They’re only giving out 15 free clicks a month before asking for about $2 a week to read everything. I’m conflicted because while I much prefer the NYT for DC and other national stories, they can’t do California news well. And, more emotionally, I grew up reading the LA Times. I have a devotion to it similar to that of Bostonians to the Globe, which is why they’re willing to subscribe online when I can’t bring myself to.

I tweeted yesterday that buying an LATimes.com subscription might come at the expense of an NYTimes.com one, something of a “Sophie’s Choice” decision to me. James Cobb, the NYT auto editor, tweeted back and said, ” But Sophie would never turn against her Old Gray Lady…” He’s right. I should just pick up the damn paper again.

Photo: Flickr/JoeinSouthernCA

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Feed Frenzy

I’d like to think I’m better at Twitter than I really am. I’ve had an account for getting on three years now. One of those years I used it a handful of times. It’s only been in the last year and a half or so that this social media avenue has taken over an increasing part of my life. But there here are others who spend way more time than I do and tweet things with far greater wit – including @dankennedy_nu. (Glad I got the kissing up out of the way.)

@andrewphelps – Andrew Phelps, future of news reporter at @NiemenLab.He’s popping up on both my Facebook and Twitter feeds, continuously revealing something tech-y about journalism. As someone distracted by new and shiny things, both Phelps and the Niemen Journalism Lab at Harvard are must-reads of mine for information about people’s social media habits and general trends regarding news and its online tendencies.

@gawker – OK, let’s get it all out in the open. I read Gawker like I look at a car accident – I can’t help myself. But it’s been kind of fun lately watching their petty argument against NBC News. I mean, who’s really counting how many cameras show up to cover a story. Lest we forget, it’s the web hits that count. Not the most media-ish of feeds, but today’s gossip is often tomorrow’s news. I think that’s their motto, too.

@LATimesRainey – James Rainey used to be the Los Angeles Times‘ media reporter before he abruptly stopped writing his weekly column late last year. Still, he’s a certified media junkie who reliably spills his thoughts on industry news – he also keeps me up to date with the happs in LA so I never feel the least-bit homesick for the West Coast. As a defender of newspapers too, he puts just the right amount of critique on the Internet revolution.

@BrianStelter – Where the LA Times has (or had) Rainey, The New York Times has Brian Stelter and Media Decoder. Stelter’s tweeting during events like the recent Republican debates goes beyond just what’s happening, but also takes a great look at the reporters, anchors and moderators. I feel like he’d be the person to criticize Scott Pelley for the position of his eyebrows. Frankly, the New York Times is the place to be if you’re a media tweeter. Go on WeFollow and most of the top media handles belong to the Times, such as @carr2n, @paper_cuts, @NYTimesAd, to name but a few. David Carr is another media reporter who tweets just about anything he feels in addition to his own work. His feed is, therefore, pretty entertaining. And the Times’ Paper Cuts and Media/Advertising handles keep things a little more serious when it comes to the printed products. Hey, I have to be serious sometimes.

@dkbermanThe Wall Street Journal is a bit much for me to handle, partly because everything I want to read online is usually behind their paywall. For all of the earnings reports Dennis Berman tweets, there’s some coverage about the media and how much money any given company lost last quarter. (NBC, I’m picking on you again) Plus, it usually gets me on the site before I indulge in some of Dan Neil’s humor. Of course, @zseward, the Journal’s social media editor, keeps things light on his feed too. After all he has the guts to call “bullshit” when wants.

[View the story “Zach Seward” on Storify]

Photo: Creative Commons/Flickr/_DaniloRamos

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