Posted on September 5, 2006
News21 project: Worth it or not?
I was going to write something about this, but Mark Glaser beat me to it and did a good and very thorough job of it.
News21, a nonprofit news project with some serious funding behind it, aims to improve journalism education. Students from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California completed reporting projects, and these are now online.
There’s some nice journalism in the collection, but very little innovation. My question is: If you’re funding a project that looks to “the future,” shouldn’t it require innovative approaches to the story selection, the reporting, the production, the approach to the work, the final delivery?
I mean, was the idea only to get some stories? Or was this supposed to show us some original and fresh approaches to stories? These packages should engage the visitor immediately. They should explain their purpose and their importance clearly and quickly, up front. Long menus of headlines don’t do that. Flash fronts with generic-looking photos don’t do that.
There’s nothing in the packages that we have not seen many times before. There are reams and reams of text. Yeah, there is some video and some Flash. But it seemed to me that 90 percent of what I opened up was text, text, and more text.
I feel disappointed.