I started fiercetalk as a project for grad school in 2006. I really enjoyed blogging about whatever the hell I wanted. It was satisfying. But I always felt like, so what? Who cares? But I’ve come to realize that blogging and making it happen ON YOUR OWN is really the only way writers and journalists are going to make it in the future. I must be industrious. So, on that note, I’m going to start blogging here again. Starting now…..

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I am not the person of the year, as Time Magazine so cleverly suggested. And neither are you. How could anyone be THE absolute person? Maybe my cat considers me the person of the year, and maybe my dad considers my mom the person of the year. It’s subjective. How could a definitive list be put together, especially in the age of internet individualism and never ending choice!? That being said, here’s my list…

(Keep in mind this is seriousness mixed with fluff.)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: for obvious reasons. He’s a hero and a frightening foe, all the while looking sort of like a J.Crew model. (he was also Time’s first pick…)

Angelina Jolie: for being the most popular and talked about person on the planet…for no good reason.

Bob Dylan: for still kickin’ out the jams. Everyone should take a hint.

Hillary Clinton: she’s not my favorite, but the woman kicks some serious butt.

Jeff Jarvis: for innovation and bright ideas about news in the blogosphere.

YouTube: not a person…but certainly a revolutionary force in global culture.

Al Gore: for moving the all-important show off the road and onto the big screen. and scaring the shit out of everybody.

The Future of News

December 8, 2006

Yesterday was a big day for my interactive journalism thoughts. It doesn’t need to be said (again) that the web is the future of everything and most certainly the media. But, how will journalists react and what can we do to ensure quality and above all, accountability? As Geneva Overholser said last night at the Future of News panel at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, journalists need to continue to work in the public interest, in the midst of change.

Debbie Galant of baristanet.com visited the school (CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, duh) yesterday to speak to budding interactive students, or rather, smart, forward-thinking media minds. She was an infectious guest-funny, engaging and almost inspiring. Her blog, or community news website (whatever you want to call it), is a model that has inspired many similar websites, including one of my favorites, newhavenindependent.org.

Galant’s site is hyper-local, and that’s what makes it successful. Local businesses advertise, and everything covered takes place within the same three towns in New Jersey. The reach of her site is therefore minimal, but no less important to her readers. It fills, as she says, a niche. Baristanet works in the community it serves, but it doesn’t serve the same purpose, (and it doesn’t want to), as national or international news organizations.

Covering those national and international issues, and reaching wider audiences while still raking in profits, is a whole other issue. The panel discussion last night at the Time-Life building attempted to address it. Those who sat on the panel are esteemed media professionals: Jeff Jarvis, my professor and the founder of Buzzmachine.com, Jill Ambramson, Managing Editor of The New York Times, Jonathan Klein, President of CNN/U.S., Geneva Overholser, Chair in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and John Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times and lecturer at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. Norman Pearlstine, Senior Advisor at The Carlyle Group, moderated.

Jarvis is a proponent of what he used to call “citizen journalism,” but now refers to as “networked journalism.” He says we need to be “more collaborative, more open” in the age of convergence, and believes that a conversation between the readers and those producing content is absolutely necessary. “It’s incumbent on us to work together,” he said.

The monetary issues (how do we pay those that report the news?!) is the big issue- no one can deny it. What is the business model of the future? Abramson said The Times was not defined by a business model, but rather by their quality of journalism. “I’m not going to join the chorus of doom-sayers,” she said. “I see a great future, economically.”

But The New York Times stands alone, most other papers and news outlets are not in as comfy a position. As Abramson said herself, the average income of her readers is $90,000 and the average age is 45. Not exactly the norm.

But what about the public interest? Investigative journalism and uncovering buried information that the government doesn’t want you to know about is hard, and expensive. As Abramson said, a blogger may not have been unable to uncover and clearly report the NSA wire-tapping scandal. All on the panel said long-standing pillars such as The Times and The Washington Post need to exist in order for blogs and interactivity to also prosper.

A solution? No, of course not! A start? Yeah. The old media and the internet have met and one will either engulf the other, or a plateau will form where both can exist. Overholser said it well. “The avid consumer is offered more and better options. We traditionalists would do well to embrace it.”

(By the way, I usually type like e.e. cummings, all lowercase, but the lovely joy bergman asked me to change my crazy ways. this is my first attempt.)

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. is retiring after 17 years in the pulpit at Riverside Church. The longstanding and prominent liberal church has been a place for Protestants to openly protest against fundamentalism. The church has been a place for “activism, open debate and dissent.”

to give this story the best coverage possible means enabling the available tools and then giving the reader or viewer or whatever the means to navigate and choose what they want. what do i mean? do you want examples? of course!

– the Reverand experienced some controversy during his tenure and that may be of interest to some. A permalink to another page with many more links to previous articles about the numerous controversies would provide background.

– the church has long been a “liberal” religious institution. background on the politics of the church, and it’s many associations with activist groups, candidates, etc. would be of great interest to some. again, a link to a page which would then be a detailed outline of more links. the organization of these aggregate pages is essential. it would be a time consuming process for an experienced researcher.

– pictures of the large and architecturally beautiful and complicated building would add color and perspective. perhaps a slideshow would be available? Or, better yet, one of those programs could be used that allows one picture to blur and fade into another.

– videos of sermons, speeches, or other public appearances by the Reverand would also add to the overall package. Again, some readers, or viewers, or whatever won’t be interested in this but having the choice is always a good thing.

– with computers taking a prominent position in how people get their news, it’s important to remember that some don’t want to read anything. having video or audio on a website along with words would allow many more to become involved in the story. video interviews with members of the congregation and the Reverand would be beneficial. Even fully reported and edited news segments that are well packaged and cover all the bases of the story should be available.

– with a story like this, i would say it’s unnecessary to have charts, graphs, or other kinds of statistics. it may be interesting to know how Riverside Church compares with other churches with liberal leanings, but that may be better explained through interviews not numbers.

– also, a story like this doesn’t need a lot of flash, graphics, or colors. Some would argue that due to the seriousness of the subject, the inclusion of “distraction” tactics would spice things up a bit. I am of the opinion that if things are serious and not flashy, spicing them up and making them, shall we say, more “entertaining,” in the end makes a mockery of the story and keeps with the culture of sensationalism. for this reason, the photos of the church should be well done and be artistic.

-there is always room for more explanation, but not for clutter.

sad, sad, sad…democracy now! reports today that at least 10 Florida based journalists have been accepting money from the U.S. government. scroll to the bottom of the page for the short report.

cutbacks in dallas

September 11, 2006

this just in: dallas newsroom may cut up to 20 percent of it’s staff members. check it here.

Be sure to read the second to last paragraph…