Another in a long tradition of academic looks at the news industry landed last week with considerable attention among the new media community.
The Post-Industrial Journalism report from NYU’s Clay Shirky, Columbia’s Emily Bell and CUNY’s Chris Anderson has been far better dissected, in greater detail, by the Nieman Lab’s Josh Benton, so I’ll leave it to him. (Kindly Technically Philly is briefly mentioned in the report as a leaner version of journalism purveyors of today)
Instead, I wanted to share my three biggest concerns about journalism academia, as I had shared with Anderson this summer following a conversation I was a part of with the three authors and others at Columbia.
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Eleven University of Pennsylvania students pitched their media startup ideas at an Entrepreneurial Journalism Demo Night held in the Kelly Writers House last week. I was there by invitation of the class’s professor Sam Apple, whose reporting background stems from a stint experimenting with launching theFasterTimes.com.
The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper, covered the pitch night here, so I just wanted to share the 11 pitches I saw.
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Today, the greatest competition for journalists isn’t other journalists. It’s the source itself.
But rather than face the continued loss of revenue to efforts outside of reporting or the looming collision of mission and audience, my industry is still focused as it always has been on besting others in their traditional ecosystem, not on preparing for the growing attention deficit online.
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For anyone who traffics in ideas, relationships and communication (and reporters are certainly that), “one of the most important soft skills you can have is handling a high-volume of email,” said Merlin Mann in his well-trafficked 2007 “Inbox Zero” Tech Talk.
The idea here is that time and attention are irreplaceable, finite and the most valuable resources of knowledge workers. So, as silly as it sounds, managing efficiently your email is a major skill.
Yet we all get overwhelmed by the fire hose that is our email inbox (and don’t put any workforce development time to this). For an industry that needs to keep our sources organized and be able to manage relationships (and do so by emailing better), that’s a sin. As I’ve brought on a couple reporters, I’ve found myself working with my cofounder Brian James Kirk, a true student of email productivity, to coach them on better email practices.
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Content partnerships do not work, my colleague Sean Blanda posited last year.
From the very first conversations we’ve had that led to his post, I’ve wanted to prove this wrong. In truth, I do believe in the future, the expectations and roles will be sorted out, and content partnerships will be understood and successful.
But, for now, content partnerships still don’t work.
Number of Views:1642
Relationships are a currency.
They’re worth something — friendships, acquaintances, colleagues, sources. They enrich our lives and, yes, they are integral to any success. Things get done by people who have relationships, to help guide, support, advise and strengthen goals.
This goes for everyone, but there are surely some industries that need them more than others: construction and development, politics and government and, certainly, reporting and community building. So I think a lot about the connections and people who make up community in all of its forms.
If relationships are one of the most valuable resources we have, why do we so often ignore their impact and why do three types of people so often abuse the role of connection?
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This was my October Story Shuffle contribution. Listen here.
There are ghost books and haunted places in old Philadelphia, but I am not here to tell a fiction. I am here to offer a warning. Scary stories have everything to do with patterns, of what is unfinished: loss, sorrow, missed opportunity and vengeance. It’s not really a haunting. It’s a sinking. Of knowing you do not have control over what is coming, of what is coming for us.
I am not here with a ghost story, but with a warning. Someone in this room is going to die before the month is over, and it’s because of me. I believe the only way to save ourselves is to recognize the patterns, and I have found a pattern. But it could also be our undoing.
Let me explain.
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The early crowd at Thursday’s Future of College Media ONA event.
College newspapers are facing the same challenges of their commercial counterparts have had for decades but, despite their advantages, are struggling to fundamentally innovate.
Nearly 40 professional journalists, students and college administrators attended representing a half dozen universities and student newspapers attended Thursday the Future of College Media event I helped organize with Temple University Journalism Department Chair Andy Mendelson for our monthly local Online News Association get-together.
None of the newspapers represented had made any revenue outside of print and web advertising.
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People waiting in line for unemployment relief in Chicago in October 1960. Photo by Myron Davis for LIFE Magazine
Updated with more perspective on the job-crashing Internet here and more from Vox Media here. Also, though some think there is a mighty economic transition happening, many readers and friends have pointed that I didn’t properly address the ‘lump labor fallacy‘ here, in which I incorrectly assume there is a static number of jobs that are going away. I still think there is perspective worth sharing below. More comments welcome.
In the next 20 years, the United States and the broader global economy will either dramatically rethink its employment structure or a history-altering societal change will take place.
Of course, unemployment numbers are gamed by those who give up on looking for jobs, but the idea here is that it’s hard to understand why anyone seems to think that the overall unemployment numbers for our country will trend anywhere but upward.
Let me be clear, this is armchair commentary from someone with absolutely no background in economics or geopolitical, socioeconomic trends, so I am writing this hoping for outside insight because I can’t figure this out.
Below, I (a) outline the problem as I see it, (b) look at big economic drivers that seem to be chances for more problems, (c) list all the opportunities I understand that could reverse somewhat this trend and then (d) highlight some of the transformational changes that could lie in wait for the next generation, before offering some more reading and then waiting to get yelled at in the comments.
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Penn Professor Ted Hershberg
A dense, 30-minute look at the past, present and future of education reform in the United States was the focus of a presentation by the celebrated University of Pennsylvania professor Ted Hershberg last week.
Though his lecture was part of a class I’m taking that is officially off-the-record, because I know Hershberg’s work through a friend of mine who is part of his research team and what he said follows what he often speaks on, I thought it was okay to share what I felt was a helpful top-level look at the problems and opportunities.
For context, Hershberg is an open left-of-center thinker, but he has a reputation for being an outspoken critic of the teacher’s unions. I share some easy-to-digest notes below.
Number of Views:6742