if this isn’t an awesome statement, then i don’t know what is:

“…at a time of upheaval and shift, to be in the beginning of something is to have a privileged seat at the table of freedom.”

spoken like a true communicator. jay rosen, the renowned media theorist/critic/educator spoke to the CUNY grad. school of journalism’s inaugural class on thursday. his visit was inspiring, shocking and informative.

i have been a fan on rosen’s since my undergrad days at hampshire college. i studied his work closely (as it was related to my focus on media studies and “infotainment”) and was particularly interested in “public journalism.” his new project, newassignment.net, has a premise that is similar to that of public journalism. get the people/readers/consumers involved in the production of news, make them want it and care about it. newassignment.net is for the future, that’s the twist. it lives on the internet, and will help journalists get paid online.

i hope that rosen’s project exceeds all expectations. the idea puts the power in the hands of the public, which in this day and age is seemingly what the masses want. choice! i’m glad that rosen has such a vision though, the role of the editor and of course the “director of participation, ” as he refers to it, will help with quality control. the idea of Pro-Am (professionals and amateurs) is brilliant, but there must be some oversight.

open-source reporting….gather the experts, the everyday folk, the volunteers…give them tasks, create what others haven’t created before…then “you’re cooking.”



October 8, 2006

today’s assignment was to find four blog posts that we considered “good” journalism. while i believe in online/new media and appreciate the new forms of storytelling, i’m having trouble identifying stories as “journalism.” perhaps my definition is too broad, or maybe blogs are not “journalism” at all.

so, what is journalism? could it be just the simple dissemination of information? are analysis and crafty writing essential? it’s complicated.

i think blogs can be just as effective as traditional media forms. but, because they follow different models of storytelling, they need to have a name that’s all their own.

journalists should be more than just information providers. they should cover stories that span the spectrum, not just those they know the most about. they should write stories without using sensational tactics and language. and above all else, they should be interested in achieving a higher goal. it’s not enough to just inform, you have to give readers, viewers, whatever a higher understanding. i don’t believe that true journalists should just “say it as it is” and not provide context and thoughtful analysis. i also don’t think, to use the example from class on thursday, that a person who writes about one issue, product or trend for a specific population, is a journalist. that person is an expert and is certainly providing a positive public service (he wrote about treo’s and their good and bad attributes, developments, etc.), but they cannot wear the badge of journalist in my book.

i have not named any specific blogs as journalism, but i do enjoy the stories from certain sites. they are generally commentary sites, which says a lot about the blogosphere. it’s a place where many go to seek out a certain type of information or viewpoint.

they are, to name a few: thehuffingtonpost.com, thenation.com, buzzmachine.com, tompaine.commonsense .

The Tribune Company fired Jeffrey Johnson, the publisher of the LA Times, after he refused to cutback his reporting staff by 100. He has been replaced by a man with obvious partisan beliefs (he used to work in the Reagan whitehouse alongside John Roberts.) Read it here.  Scroll down the page.

Also reported is an advertising deal that stinks of corporate control. Free Press, the media watchdog organization, was prevented from taking out an advertisement that rallied against the FCC loosening media ownership rules. Read about it right below the blurb on the Tribune Company. And yup, you guessed it! They’re related.

today’s nytimes has an article by charlie leduff, part of his american album series. the story he tells is so poignant and the subjects trust him to no end, it’s amazing. i hope to one day have people share with me what matters to them most, and trust that i will tell it how it is. the article is well written and there is also a link to a video made for the story. the addition of the video is necessary, we see the context from which the quotes were taken for the article and also the faces and the long pauses that the subjects took before speaking. this is a great example of excellent journalism; telling the stories of others unknown and also relating them to real life, large scale issues.

ok, so the question of “why do i have this blog” needs to be addressed. i started a blog this past summer but never wrote anything for it…never posted anything, all i did was name it. why did i do that? well, i was interested of course. i wanted to understand the bru-ha-ha…be a part of the future of communications, etc. not till i got to school though, was i required to dive, head first, into the vast and limitless place of the blogosphere. but, i’m here now and here to stay. i am even going to start another blog soon for the neighborhood of east williamsburg, brooklyn. i am going to post stories i write for craft class and hand out fliers in the neighborhood alerting people to the site totally devoted to them…they can comment on what i write and send suggestions for other stories. i am looking forward to this, what jeff jarvis and others call “the conversation.” yesssss…

what is fiercetalk about?? as my broad and all encompassing title suggests, it’s for commentary and enlightenment on “anything and everything.” i purposely made fiercetalk a non-specific blog…because i knew there would be no clear direction until i worked on it for awihle. it’s main function is to serve as a meeting place for myself, my classmates and my professors, jeff and sandeep. discussions about the future of media and journalism as well as class projects appear on fiercetalk. some personal blogs appear too. not personal in that they are about me as an individual, but personal in that the subjects have been chosen by me, because they interest me.

being from CT i am very interested in the race for the senate seat…i have chosen to cover this issue on my blog…the topic is coverage in different media forms… new (blogs) v. traditional (newspaper articles).

it’s great to have these class blogs. i have so much fun reading what other people think about class discussions, etc. this is why i think these blogs should be solely devoted to class topics. start a new blog for other doodlings, serious or frivolous. there’s space on the net!

the way the CT democratic primary race was covered in various media formats has created quite the buzz about new media, blogging and the internet. ned lamont, running a progressive, anti-war campaign had to his benefit many believers who started blogs and effetively mobilized voters as well as online media proponents. check this link for an example of how blogs helped ned.

lieberman, on the other hand did not have the same kind of grassroots activism behind him. his campaign suffered and has still not been able to harness the online energy in the same way.

both candidates have blogs on their websites, but only ned’s is run by champion blogger and netroots aficionado, tim tagaris.

the difference between blog and online coverage and traditional media coverage of this campaign is clear. traditional media tries to cover both candidates and takes no preference while most of the blogs are either pro ned or pro joe. check this article from the times and this one too for examples of traditional coverage.

anti joe/pro lamont blogs: spazeboy, myleftnutmeg, connecticutblog, lamontblog.
anti lamont/pro joe blogs: liebermania, lieberdem, vicious-poodle, bullmooseblogger.

interestingly, many of the pro joe blogs are more about moderate dems in general…

CORRECTION: Spazeboy posted a comment, correcting me on the content on liebermania. it is a satirical pro-lieberman blog.

wow. while reading my fellow soon-to-be “journalists” blog posts about the guests in class on thursday i felt: enthusiastic, depressed, manic, confused and exhausted. many people were taking the position of “if this guy dan can’t get a job after all his accomplishments than how can i?” i feel it’s utterly pointless to think like that. yes, the media market is shifting and jobs are disappearing but what i’m more worried about is how this change affects us as readers/viewers/whatever. don’t get me wrong, i want a stable job and money to live comfortably and bring up children, etc., but the real underlying issue for me is, well, what does all this change do for the public? papers shrinking, imporant issues left uncovered, opinion centric blogging…this is the stuff that makes my brain explode. so, what do we do? we have to practice good, true, journalism. i’m sure everyone will jump on me and say “well, what’s that?” but i think it’s pretty clear. information that does not distort the facts is journalism. what else? information that gives the reader a chance to make up their mind is journalim. stories persuading you to think one way or another is NOT journalism. i think there is a place in the future “market” for this kind of stuff. interactive blogs that give ultimate power and choice to the reader is an interesting technology, and it many ways it’s great. but i think the hunger for straight stories not tampered with by others will never die out. whether you read the stuff online or on paper…

one thing that dan spoke about that was interesting to me was the whole idea of not being as strict with online journalism. he said you could always go back and fix errors, and you knew that readers would maybe tell you to fix it. while my first impression was to think “what a slacker! this attitude is exactly what is bringing down the quality of news, and beyond that, online news: the future!” but then i thought more and the fact that readers play a role in “fact checking” is actually pretty awesome. however, the journalists are supposed to be the experts, they should know the stuff they write and no one should have to fix it for them. or worse yet: what if no one who reads the blog or web article knows the info is incorrect? people will be misinformed.

what do i think overall? i believe that we, as people who want to tell stories and help others to see beyond their own personal world, need to get the basics, learn the technolgies, and above all else, strive to serve the public good. i think i speak for everyone when i say that we are sorely needed.

yet again…

September 22, 2006

in today’s New York Times there is another article dealing with shareholders and their stakes in media companies. This article is specifically about The Tribune Company and it’s decision to consider its sale. and who will benefit?! not us, but instead The Chandler Family, whoever they are (i can’t find a website for them). Why can’t they be like the widow in Deadline U.S.A., the movie we watched in class with Dean Shepard!? She was concerned with the product and with the public that required it.
check it here.

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.

Deborah Solomon interviewed Lee Siegel, the guy who was fired from The New Republic for blogging anonymously on his own behalf, in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. What Siegel had to say on his behalf is interesting. He claims that “Anonymity is a universal convention of the blogosphere, and the wicked expedience is that you can speak without consequences.” Some position, Mr. Siegel.

Check it here.