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Video as “hub” of storytelling April 18, 2009

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Travis Fox, video producer from WashingtonPost.com, described how video fits in with online storytelling.  In the recent past, online newspapers put video up as a way to generate more interest in their sites.  However now they know that just video alone will not save them.  They can use the material they shot for many other functions.

Fox once shot a story series about different aspects of the crisis in Darfur in which he also did the writing and editing.  He was able to use the script from the video for an article that ran on WashingtonPost.com and use some stills for photos.  It also aired on television on a program called “Foreign Exchange.”

“In the future there will be a new breed of journalists who can do all this and it’s second nature,” Fox said.

Another way it could have been used would be to take the sound file off the video and edit it for radio broadcast.

The old model newspapers used was to try to get extra revenue from video ads online but instead video can be used to get different bits of revenue through different media.

“I’m not saying that the era of video on the web is over, but that the era is changing,” Fox said.

Ideas to use on the web April 18, 2009

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Fred Ritchin, co-founder of PixelPress.org, discussed efficient ways of creating visual storytelling online.  The digital environment is composed of “discrete chunks” meaning online multimedia should be treated differently than in a continuous analog one.  Storytelling on the web should be more like a conversation which can be achieved by using hypertext.  The narrative moves in different directions like taking hypertext links to move through a story. 

Ritchin believes that what is missing from a lot of the journalism done today is perspective.

“I started to understand journalism the day I left it,” he said.

  Online news serves as a search function instead of being used to browse topics.  A browser friendly website can give voice to the subjects of the piece in a way that traditional pages cannot. 

Ritchin proposes that images used online should have a four corner system in which each of the corners contextualizes the image in some way.  For example, the top right corner may show an image of what happened before the dominant image occurred.  The idea is to give the reader a more interactive view of the subject to keep them engaged in the story.

About ten years ago, Ritchin co-founded PixelPress, a site dedicated to providing alternate views of the material they covered.  In 1996 the site created a project showing different aspects of Bosnia.  It was a four hour trip through issues the country was facing that the reader navigated with hypertext.  Ritchin laments that more media does not utilize horizontal scrolling simply because of the complicated nature of the technique.  He believes that it is important for the reader to experience the story on their own terms. 

“This is the most exciting time to be in journalism, but we have a lot of work to do,” Ritchin said.

Perspectives on Online Journalism April 18, 2009

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Unfortunately, my computer would not connect to the internet during the panel, so I missed out on live tweets from panelists and audience.
Ted Kian presented his research on how internet news coverage might create different frames for gender-related sports news. He said traditional sports news coverage frames women athletes as sex objects, trivializes their seriousness, and gives men’s sports more coverage than women’s sports. The internet presents an opportunity to frame sports news differently, Kian believed, and his research found that it sometimes, but only sometimes, does.
Dong Han, the next presenter, researched online news in China and found that, essentially, the internet does not defy censorship and “internet does not automatically liberalize or democratize.”
Online journalism professors might learn the lessons of their studies and trim their Power Point presentations.
Final presenter Edith Manosevitch was surprised to find a lack of personal narratives and expressions of values in the reader comments when she studied these comments on online opinion journalism. She quantified the types of responses found in one week of issue-related stories’ reader comments and presented her results as the last presenter of the panel.
Beyond being informative, the panel might have taken a lesson from their studies. Without the stimulus of Twitter updates and the rest of the online world, I was left to focus on each presenter’s lecture and Power Point presentation. Every slide looked like a book and each presenter nearly read straight from the screen. I’ll give these professors the benefit of the doubt, because I know they’re busy people, and the crammed screens probably reflect the unbridled enthusiasm they share for the conference.

The impact of web metrics on news judgment, by Chris Anderson April 18, 2009

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Chris Anderson from CUNY presented his research “Web Production, News Judgement, and Emerging Categories of Online Newswork in Metropolitan Journalism.”

How is citizen journalism understood? How does new technology help us understand our audience? These are questions Anderson posed to the audience at the beginning of his panel.

Anderson looked at the relationship between a quantifiable audience (which can be measured in numbers, visits and clicks) and an active audience (a productive audience which at least rhetorically is creative/productive/engages in acts of production). A passive versus an active producer of journalism.

The differences between these two audiences are not always distinct. The rhetoric around these audiences are intertwined, and technology impacts editorial processes.

“What I’m talking about in this study is how I saw in newsrooms the emergence of a certain type of metric –driven news judgment,” he said.

How it’s driven partially by news metrics. Online data can be used by managers of newsrooms to make decisions, management deliberately putting out the numbers of traffic for people to see, and encourage news behavior in the newsroom.

He talks about web production, which is a new type of newswork, he said.

“As aggregators, hierarchies, interlinkers and illustrators of web-content,” he said. These are people who are finding content, bundling it, packaging it, etc.

He also said that the money for news media is dependent on metrics, and concluded questioning the meaning of users that are producers of content.

Brutal data signal the differences between print and online newspapers April 18, 2009

Posted by Raquel in symposium.
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Neil Thurman presented “Taking the Paper out of News: A Case Study of Talous Sanomat, Europe’s First Online-only Newspaper.”


Here is the abstract to his article:

Using in-depth interviews, newsroom observation, and internal documents, this case-study presents and analyses changes that have taken place at Finnish financial daily Taloussanomat since it stopped printing on 28 December 2007 to focus exclusively on digital delivery via the web, email, and mobile. It reveals the savings that can be achieved when a newspaper no longer prints and distributes a physical product; but also the revenue lost from subscriptions and print advertising. The consequences of a newspaper’s decision to go online-only are examined as they relate to its business model, website traffic, and editorial practice. The findings: illustrate the extent to which the medium rather than the content it carries determines news consumption patterns, show the differing attention a newspaper and its online substitute command, and reveal the changes to working patterns journalists can expect in the online-only environment.

We got interested in the topic because we had access to one of the major newspapers to go off-print and online only: the Talous Sanomat from Finland.


Print revenues from advertising is about 90%, and by cutting out the print edition the outlet saves 52% of its costs.

Thurman stated that the online website lost 22% of unique visitors in the 5 months after they stopped printing, possibly because of the economy.

He also found out that the online version is read for a quarter of the time the print edition is read, and he mentioned an interesting concept of the new journalists, calling them “churnalists” for simply churning out second-hand information.


Transforming newsrooms from print to online discussed by Sue Robinson April 18, 2009

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Sue Robinson from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, talked about her research paper on “Technology, Physical Organization and Spatial Culture in the Transforming Newsroom.”

Robinson has been working for a year at a community newspaper that wants to make the switch to an entirely digital platform. She started with an anecdote in which all the reporters were given laptops, and the way they reacted to it. So she started an in-depth investigation about how tools affect news performance and newsroom’s culture. Giving a laptop to a reporter implies for one that he doesn’t have to be physically in the newsroom, that work can be taken home, that management is a little off because managers don’t necessarily see them in the office.

“My big finding was that in these newsrooms newspaper culture lingers,” she said. By that she means that people value having a print version they want to keep as a clip or hold in their hand. So there’s a physical blockade in the online panel.

Also, emailing and AIM is replacing the traditional personal physical interaction in the newsroom. So essentially, we’re developing virtual stories.

“They would have this solidarity and would stay true to journalism,” she said.

Several months into the transition, all of a sudden she started seeing a shift in reporters who would come in and push completely for getting their story on the web.

“As reporters began to realize that they now had a national and international audience, they warmed up to the web,” she said.

She concluded that stories are altered in the sense that online they’re not finished. It becomes omnipresent work, yet Robinson counteracted that notion by arguing that interactivity presents an advantage.


A link to the pdf is not available, but here’s the abstract to her research:

This research delves into the spatial dynamics of the changes in relation to the transforming workplace culture. An ethnography of a hybrid newsroom and depth interviews with journalists in transitioning places comprised the method; an understanding of the relationships and interactions of journalists in their physical, virtual and symbolic spaces informed the analysis. Two main findings emerged: 1) Technology, acting as both liberator and albatross, has taken on corporeal form, referred to in spatial terms and even replacing news workers such as photographers in some newsrooms. And 2) Despite the best efforts of journalists to instill textual-style boundaries in this new world, spatially sporadic digital newsrooms are forming that are inhospitable to old-world reporters and traditional concepts of news work and news products. As a result the expectations and assumptions within newsroom hierarchy are having to evolve, and news “homes” now represent a place for the process of journalism to take place, as much as for the product itself to live.


Edith Manosevitch analyses user comments on online editorials April 18, 2009

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Edith Manosevitch, a researcher from the Kettering Foundation, discussed her research paper “Reader’s Comments to Online Editorials as a Space of Public Deliberation.”

She touched on the research that’s been done before on UGC and the potential of online media. But she asked what has not yet been enough of work done is the content: does it manifest productive participation?

There’s much quantitative work not but not enough qualitative, especially reader’s comments.

She discussed the mission of editorials as an outlet for healthy reasoning and communication.

“Reader’s comments on the online format have a potential to really fulfill this mission,” she said. “Are people really getting each other?”

The research was based on TCPalm.com and DesMoinesRegister.com… for one week they analyzed readers comments, one by one, under a 9 deliberation criteria.

Examples of the criteria they used are one was whether the narrative has something related to experience, or fact, or whether the person that put the post linked to other sources, or providing additional information, values, position, reasons.

Our data show that both social and analaytic connections were happening within the comments.

“Looking through the threat, we noticed that throughout the threads people were commenting back and forth within a conversation,” she said.

So there’s a nature of people having a conversation, not shooting out comments like parachutes without coming back and following up. She also mentioned the importance of a site’s design to encourage user participation.

“How you design your platform really makes a difference as to what you get out of it,” she said.

She concluded with the thought that when you think about reader’s comments, how this may fulfill the financial needs but at the same time it also is an opportunity to bring more voices, more people and more productive participation.

Dong Han and how internet hasn’t democratized news in China April 18, 2009

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From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dong Han presented his research paper “State Policy and News Websites in China.”

“They want to boost internet for the economy but at the same time control content,” he said.

The core of the state regulation is licensing, or who can set up a news website. For people in the government it’s easy and even encouraged. But for people that wanted to establish big commercial websites they can, those that want to drive traffic, as long as their content is controlled.

The biggest news websites in China are sina.com and people’s net, yet they are controlled by the government “to insist on correct guidance of public opinion,” he said.

In conclusion, the popular news sites controlled by the state load people with propaganda and there can’t be an independent source on political news. Which means that internet is not acting as a democratizing force for news in China.

Citizen Journalism, User-Generated Content and Crowdsourcing April 18, 2009

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The second panel of Saturday’s symposium covered “Citizen Journalism, User-Generated Content and Crowdsourcing: Who is Contributing to the Conversation and Why?”  Academics from all over the United States and the world contributed information they had gathered on user interaction and how it affects journalism.  User-generated content, or UGC, has been an interesting issue for online journalism.

Cindy Royal, an assistant professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, moderated the discussion.  She put forth the question, “Why do we spend all this time communicating online without any expectation?” Many journalists are capitalizing on the audience’s enthusiasm to participate.

New technology has also changed user-generated content.  Royal showed through her twitter account that audience feedback could be a great source of information.  Fifteen minutes before the presentation she asked the twitter universe for some examples on why we use social media.  The quick and thorough response from users is an example in itself of why social media is beneficial.

The first presentation by Na’ama Nagar of University at Albany-SUNY discussed “The Loud Public: Readers’ Comments in Online News Media.”  Although a political scientist and not a journalist, her research looked at comments on news websites in both the U.K. and Israel.  She took a look at how comments are controlled and how they influence editorial decisions.  There are many levels of user interaction in the talk back feature of news websites.  The anonymity of users can vary and the quality of feedback can change from one website to another.

Edward M. Kian analyses differences between sports coverage in print and online April 18, 2009

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Edward M. Kian from the University of Florida presented his research paper “Framing Differences in Gender-Related Sport Coverage by Internet Sites ands Newspapers.”

He said new media are changing the way news is gathered, distributed, accessed and consumed. And also, Internet readers tend to be younger. Plus, throughout history sports have served as an institution to preserve the power of men over women.

Because there is not much research done on the subject, he set out to determine if any significant differences are present and how the newer media use descriptors to frame coverage of the same men’s and women’s sport, specifically in tennis. He sought to find whether the popularity of sports across genders remains the same or not.

Kian’s methodology was taking print and online articles and did a content analysis of three daily newspapers (The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today)

His results pointed toward that the internet was more likely to just use the AP stories to publish. He also found that humor was more likely to be used on men’s sport stories than women’s.

The big surprise was that on print articles, women stories included much more descriptive factors of the physical appearance of the players, versus online where stories focused more on the skills.

“Internet sport journalism is serving much more as a challenge to these notions than traditional mediums,” he said.