What I read this week

I spent Saturday morning closing tabs in my browser. Here’s what was interesting and good.

Local news

Charting the years-long decline of local news reporting
Paul Farhi
March 26, 2014

“[L]ocal news has become a tough sell, especially online. It’s not that people aren’t interested in their communities — local news usually ranks as the top priority in surveys — it’s that the economics of the digital age work strongly against reporting about schools, cops and the folks down the street.”

News design

Against beautiful journalism
Felix Salmon
March 27, 2014

“The stripped-down, minimal approach to page design has its place — but most of that time, that place isn’t for news stories, which by their nature are mostly snack-sized things written on deadline and designed to be consumed quickly and easily, rather than long meals designed to be slowly savored.”

Data literacy

Data across the curriculum: Is personal data the key?
Brian Mathews
March 24, 2014

“[A]nalogous to Writing Across the Curriculum … Imagine the interdisciplinary possibilities of merging these two — a thought-provoking book accompanied by a related thought-provoking data set. … Big picture: this becomes a teaching moment for students. Third-party businesses are already collecting, using, and selling this personal data — a program like this would help bring better awareness and perhaps action to this situation. The objective becomes to empower students by giving them access (and choice) to data that is currently unavailable to them.”

Assessing U.S. journalism now

State of the News Media 2014
Pew Research Center: Journalism Project
March 26, 2014

This massive annual report is something I scan and dip into over several weeks after it is published.

Popular journalism

Shut up about “clickbait”
Tim Marchman
March 26, 2014

“Used as an epithet, the word ‘clickbait’ presents a tautology as a criticism. You published something, and want people to read it, too. … In theory, it’s a term for something without inherent merit, published principally for the purpose of tricking people into reading it. In practice, it’s something else.”

Data journalism

Debugging the backlash to data journalism
Alexander Howard
March 26, 2014

“This past week, data journalism broke into the hurly burly of mainstream discourse, with the predictable cycle of hype and then backlash … Part of the backlash has something to do with high expectations for [Nate] Silver’s effort. FiveThirtyEight is a new, experimental media venture in which a smart guy has been empowered to try to build something that can find signal in the noise (so to speak) for readers.

“… 2014 was the year that I saw the worm really turn on the use of term ‘data journalism,’ from its adoption by David Kaplan, a pillar of the investigative journalism community, to its use as self-identification by dozens of attendees [at] the annual conference of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) …”

Journalism education

Course remix: Meshing reporting skills and multimedia storytelling
Rachele Kanigel
March 24, 2014

“My department now requires all majors to take three digital media courses – JOUR 226 Digital Newsgathering, JOUR 395 Online Journalism and JOUR 400 Multimedia Journalism. But even as we’ve found ways to squeeze in more multimedia and social media skills, the faculty have had long debates about where to fit these skills and courses into the curriculum.

“… Last fall, my colleague Jesse Garnier and I launched an experiment: We paired one section of our introductory multimedia skills class, Digital Newsgathering, with our boot-camp Reporting class. Our goal was to mesh the two courses together, so students would learn the fundamentals of shoe-leather reporting while simultaneously developing multimedia storytelling skills. Our secondary goal: to keep our students from getting totally overwhelmed.”

Journalism education

Is ‘journalism’ losing its clout in U.S. higher education?
Steve Outing
March 24, 2014

“The University of Colorado’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication ceased to exist (it was ‘discontinued’) on June 30, 2011. Journalism education at CU lives on, for now as a ‘program’ housed in the CU Graduate School. At some point, CU will have a Journalism ‘department’ inside a still-being-planned new College of Media, Communication, & Information.

“… The CU-Boulder situation has me wondering: Is it a sign that Journalism is waning in importance at American universities and colleges? Are some higher-education administrators mistaking Journalism’s disruption period for a decline in the importance of Journalism, and making decisions that defy the significance of Journalism?”

Journalism education

Aiming for the stars: Teaching investigative journalism
James Hollings
March 24, 2014

“This paper outlines an approach to teaching investigative journalism that produces publishable stories within an approximately four –month period. It is based on a five-step method that has been developed over the past few years on a journalism programme for graduate students. With refinements, the method is getting an increasing proportion of students to complete a successful investigation.”

Link rot

The Million Dollar Homepage still exists, but 22% of it has rotted away
David Yanofsky
March 25, 2014

“The atrophy of links has been shown to stabilize over time, meaning we should expect fewer than 22% of links to break over the next eight years. The longer a link continues to work on a webpage, the longer it can been expected to work into the future.

“Nonetheless, it remains a problem for thought experiments and seminal works alike. Researchers at Harvard found that at least 50% of URL-based legal citations in US Supreme Court opinions, for instance, no longer point to the originally referenced material.”

Learning to use data in journalism

Making Sense of Data

This is a free online course, extremely (and wonderfully) free of unnecessary steps and verbiage, that teaches us how to think about data while using Google Fusion Tables to put the steps into practice.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.