The outsourcing of newspapers has begun
It’s inevitable that outsourcing would visit journalism eventually. Some newspapers have been using freelance copy editors who work from home for years. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Miami Herald is sending some of its work to India.
This is all part of Journalism 2.0—and Newspapering 2.0. Some of the changes the come with the information age are good, others are not. The goal is to make it through this period so we can create Journalism 3.0.
Journalism 2.0 PDF now available in Spanish, Portuguese
Journalism 2.0 was translated into Spanish and Portuguese by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin and launched to the public last week. In just a few days, the translated PDFs were downloaded more than 4,000 times.
So apparently lots of people are reading a version of my book that I wouldn’t understand. And that’s a little bit weird.
But I’m fortunate that Rosental Alves and the two journalists who took the time to do the translations – Guillermo Franco, online editor of El Tiempo (Spanish language edition) and Carlos Castilho (Portuguese) – have made my work available to such a wide audience.
Next up we’ll be doing some distance learning programs based on the book for journalists in Latin America and Carribean. I’ll be conducting the sessions in English while Franco and Castilho will be leading the Spanish and Portuguese editions.
Lifehacker’s guide to free software applications
If you don’t read the blog Lifehacker regularly then you miss out on handy tips to improve your digital life in the information age. But don’t worry, the folks at this famous blog have compiled a greatest hits post that will guide you to the best free downloads in over 20 categories.
Make time for praise
We’re hosting a 3-hour training session for frontline / assigning editors today. Steve Buttry is here from API (for another reason) leading the session and we have representatives from other McClatchy papers in the Northwest (The Olympian, Tri-City Herald, Puyallup Herald). The session began with attendees offering their greatest challenges in this multi-platform world. Here are the greatest hits from the group:
- Where is the division of labor today? (If we need a photo, do my reporters need to shoot it?)
- We talk about doing more multimedia, but what’s quality multimedia?
- There used to be a “rush hour” when editors were busier. Now it’s all day and it’s difficult to keep up with crush of digital information (especially email).
- How do we meet new needs and still make the print product worth 50 cents?
- How to make time for one-on-ones, since it’s still the highest and best use of editors is to make people better at their jobs
- Used to worry about story and photo. Now there’s a video and a database and other elements. Who keeps track of that?
There are no easy answers, of course. But one of best takeaways for me was a very basic, but important, lesson: Make time for praise. No matter what the medium might be, it’s still important to give your staff praise. Not just feedback, but praise. Steve asked each of the attendees to do a one-minute practice praise session to prove the point that yes, everyone still has time for this. It only takes a minute.
Need a good digital audio recorder? Try the Handy H2
If you’re looking for a high quality digital audio recorder, check out the Handy H2 recorder from Zoom. It’s sensibly priced at about $200 and records in a variety of modes, including 90 degree radius, 180 degrees or 360 degrees. Joe Barrentine, the newly hired photographer / multimedia guru at my newspaper, says it records in high quality WAV format and is like having a nice studio mic in the field.
Arrington: ‘Balance’ is how journalists cover themselves
I love the blog TechCrunch. Not just because it provides the first look at the next big thing in web and technology, but because it also provide a glimpse of Journalism 2.0 in its voice and style.
The information is accurate (and usually first), but there’s attitude and authority. If a company launches a wonderful product, they say so. If a CEO does something stupid, they say so. I’ve often wondered: why can’t mainstream news organizations write this way? It’s way more compelling than the inverted pyramid or he-said, she-said objective reporting we see too much of today.
Yesterday, the site’s creator and driving force, Michael Arrington, published a post about a TechCrunch employee leaving the company to take a job at Facebook. It appeared – to me, anyway – heavy on satire and was mostly a vehicle for congratulating the former employee.
The last line of the post really pushed the edge, however:
On a completely unrelated note, if anyone has a lead on a highly negative Facebook story, send it our way. Unfounded rumors and pure speculation are encouraged. Jerks.
My internal snark meter red-lined, not only because of the “completely unrelated note” but also because I’ve been reading TechCrunch since its inception and know and trust their brand of journalism. They aren’t going to publish – let alone ask for – unfounded rumors and pure speculation.
But it didn’t take long for one of the comments to see it the other way:
Should I take this as a hint that TechCrunch is not to be considered an unbiased news source, but a personal weblog?
You’re a new reader, aren’t you?
We don’t strive for balance. We strive to be correct.
“Balance” is just a way for journalists who are too lazy to really understand a story to cover their asses when they write.
So I’m not suggesting mainstream news needs more sarcasm and satire (though it wouldn’t hurt). I’m suggesting that balance may be a journalistic virtue that doesn’t work in the information age. News is everywhere today. It’s a commodity that you don’t have to choose to consume; it finds you. People are data obese but information starved. They need authoritative and credible sources to make sense of news and information for them. And if they can do it with style in a conversational tone—what’s wrong with that?
I say, the more, the better.
Tips from a multimedia veteran
Robert Hood has been doing multimedia as long as anyone. He started at MSNBC.com in 1996, just a few weeks after the site was launched. So he’s seen and done more than most people have in this area, which made him a valuable speaker at the in-house training sessions I put together for The News Tribune yesterday.
“I don’t have all the answers,” Hood said. “But I’ve had more time to screw things up and maybe you can learn from that.”
Hood focused his presentation around four main points:
Photojournalism: It’s always been part of the reason MSNBC should succeed, and they’ve had success with minor tweaks and little additions, such as adding audio.
Video: It’s an answer, but not the only answer. Hood said he thinks of a video camera more as an audio recorder with a lens than a video camera with a mic. That’s how important audio is to video.
Auotmation: It’s the “key to our industry.” We need to figure out what we’re doing over and over and over again and automate whatever we can.
Experimentation: Don’t get too invest in one thing and be willing to try something and then stop.
His advice to photographers, or anyone else trying to add audio to your content: “You will work as hard doing audio as you ever did making pictures.” He advised against recording one “uber-interview” that would then need hours of editing. Instead, listen in on the traditional interview, keeping an ear out for the most salient points. Then ask for five extra minutes, turn the equipment on and repeat the question(s) if needed.
Hood also talked about the trend in news organizations today to equip journalists with everything and ask them to do it all. This creates the tendency for some to think that the “lone wolf” approach is efficient and effective. Not so, according to Hood, who suggested that only through teams can journalism be produced at its highest level. The optimal size of a team is three, but should always be odd-numbered when possible (to prevent a 2 vs. 2 situation).
One of the struggles that most organizations are facing today, and one that has no clear answer, is the tug between quantity and quality. Hood recommended keeping the bar high for quality multimedia, despite the pressure from managers to hit quantifiable goals or homepage editors who always want something new.
“If that slideshow really isn’t good, how many times will a user click?” Hood asked rhetorically. “Maybe two, maybe three times, then they’re not going back there again.”