13 February 2007

Proactive Innovators

Journalists must be ‘proactive – not just reactive – participants in the process of innovation’ if they hope to preserve their core values related to truth, community and democracy, according to a set of ethical guidelines recently provided by the U.S.-based Poynter Institute. The guidelines, based on a wide-ranging discussion among online journalists at a summer 2006 conference, urge journalists to ‘embrace dramatic changes in the pressures and competition we face and the products we publish’, as well as to be open to opportunities ‘to build new business models that will flourish in an era of digital media'.

The guidelines also highlight transparency as integral to the relationship between news organizations and audiences, emphasizing the need for both individual and institutional accountability.

Other components of the guidelines cover issues ranging from credibility and accuracy to the use of multimedia content to ‘show dimensions of our world that words alone cannot convey’.

Full set of issues, guidelines and related items at www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=117350

Champions of 'Breakfast'

The BBC, seeking to take user involvement with its programmes ‘to the next level’, is recruiting audience members to be part of a panel to provide monthly feedback about ‘BBC Breakfast’. Deputy editor Paul Royall says panelists will be asked for input about the stories they would like to see covered and what aspects of a topic are important to them. ‘We know that all the best ideas don’t simply emerge from our office at Television Centre’, Royall said in an 8 February post on the BBC’s Editors blog. ‘There’s so much you can contribute’.

Full post at

06 February 2007

Newspaper: ‘Big Crazy Octopus of Information’

In his 5 February 2007 ‘Stop the Presses’ column, veteran online newspaper observer Steve Outing solicits ideas from experts about how newspapers can remain relevant, especially to younger audiences.

Over the next decade, 'news' will become a less-distinct category, predicts Robin Sloan, manager of new media strategy for Al Gore’s CurrentTV cable network and Web site. There will be no ‘monolithic news experience’, he says. People will get information of all sorts throughout the day, ‘in little bits and bursts, via many different media. … In 5 – 10 years, the word 'news’ will be sort of confusing. Don’t you just mean ‘life’?’

Among the ideas about what newspaper companies should do to survive:

Sloan: '1. Aggressively expand your view of what counts as news, both in terms of subject and source. 2. Get that expanded news out there, everywhere, via every channel you can imagine, digital and non-digital alike. A news organization should be like a big crazy octopus of information, with tentacles reaching everywhere.'

Andrew Nachison, co-founder of new media think tank iFOCOS: Successful newspaper companies will ‘re-imagine their roles and think in terms of connecting and empowering communities, not in terms of controlling and dominating markets. … Those that learn to open themselves up to the expertise, wisdom and needs of their communities will thrive.’

Columbia University journalism professor Sree Sreenivasan: "Newspapers must remain engaged in doing what they do best: cover their communities, provide context and analysis and tell readers why the latest development in [fill in the blank] matter."

Dan Gillmor, founder of Center for Citizen Media: 'Offer and aggregate hyper-local and niche news, being guides to the best of what's going on outside their walls, and stop pretending to be oracles.'

Jack Driscoll, retired editor of the Boston Globe and editor-in-residence at the MIT Media Lab: Newspapers must recognize they are a valuable source for news and analysis. They must stop laying off reporters and other journalists who are needed to reach a ‘more-engaged, more-intelligent audience,’ and they should do research to understand what that audience wants and needs. They should not put all their eggs in the online basket, but rather figure out how to parlay the strengths of both print and online. And finally, they should ‘stop grousing and start concentrating on being indispensable.'

Full article (time-sensitive for non-subscribers):

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