Saturday, December 30, 2006
9. The most important journalism innovation will be:A. The combination of reputation and popularity in selecting news that matters
I’m not sure what they mean by “news that matters” — it seems an ill defined phrase to me: news that matter …to whom? … in what circumstance? etc.
aside from that, I don’t know that using “reputation” is necessarily such a good idea — at best, it seems to be just an approximation of qualities that may be better assessed on their own right (I would even favor “blind assessments” — where those who assess pieces of news have no idea who wrote the stuff… it *shouldn’t* make a difference… of course, this assumes you could independently check facts etc.)
Dan: if it wasn’t unethical it seems to have been just plain dumb… (this reads like something straight out of an advertisement pamphlet to me…)
“Dash’s new Express In-Car navigation system (dash.net) might not help with your primary search (finding a potential mate), but it will keep you on the right path. It’s the first nav system with two-way connectivity, not only using Wi-Fi and cellular networks to pull in traffic and weather conditions, but also communicating with other Dash drivers and adjusting your route accordingly.”
P.S. then again, the leading passage sounds ever worse:”Women like strong men, and not sob stories. Give yourself a testosterone boost by purchasing something manly. Like electronics.” (sounds like a desperate door to door salesman… what’s wrong with this guy? can’t he see what this reads like?) D.
and here's Dan's reponse
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
That’s certainly what the Latin root says but I’m wondering how many people *really* look at it that way… (”meaning passionate more than mercenary”), especially when used together with “professional,” as in “professional and amateur journalists.”
P.S. Now, if the term was *mercenary* and amateur journalists… yeah!
Note: Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine blog (the annoying animated Treo ad is now on during daytime...)
Sunday, December 17, 2006
... still, I think the charge that the Time was in the wrong is misplaced (because it ignores practical issues; just imagine they would have done that...so... Time: "the person of the year is...*us*!" what?*???* that would have never worked without an explanatory paragraph... and by the time you do all that...the effect is lost); It helps to put yourself in the other's shoes before starting to criticize (not that I'm all that good at it myself...) D.
Friday, December 15, 2006
do you mean you don't think they *could* succeed with THIS?
re:" I am pleased to announce today that we are working with Adobe and Canon to create a solution that enables photo editors to view an audit trail of changes to a digital image, which is permanently embedded in the photograph, ensuring the accuracy of the image."
this looked the most promising thing to me (from what they were talking about) -- some of the other things are just funny... especially this (the doctoring up of pictures) being a big surprise for them!
"How could this have happened and what can we do to prevent it happening again?"
My hunch is that it had something to do with assuming people just wouldn't give in to temptation when faced with the opportunity... (and doing close to nothing to prevent that from happening...)
"We conducted a review which concluded this was a case of an individual photographer, ignoring Reuters rules, and embellishing two photographs for aesthetic, not political, reasons."
bad review! (time to wake up and face the facts...)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
It all depends on what you want to get out of it and how it will hold up for the long run. I think the involved one on one conversation ceases to work when you have a huge number of people. For *me*, that is an essential ingredient. Otherwise, it’s just information (which can be really good and useful in itself) but I think that *in the long run* people will gravitate towards venues that offer more than that. That’s why I agree with Robert that very popular blogs have a problem in their hands — not an “unfixable” one, but a real problem that they need to address.
P.S. And yes, you can’t keep track of them all… but is that necessary?
Of course you can’t do that (it’s a very different medium); you can use filtering tools the type clearthought mentioned but you are still not going to be able to “keep track of them all”… I don’t think that’s the goal. It’s more like, you want to get as much of what you regard to be “the good stuff” as you can within the time you have available.
re: “I also doubt any blog wants to limit the amount of traffic it gets”
well, if they *keep* getting the level of traffic they need with truck loads of people just mumbling to themselves instead to talking to each other…. they are probably not going to change… but I suspect at some point people are going to drift off to more hospitable (better set-up) places.
I wouldn’t expect it to decrease traffic — on the contrary, the idea would be to just *split* the large number of interested people in group sizes that make sense… so they can talk with each other and enjoy the interaction — the resultant traffic should *increase* (something tells me that the thrill of talking to oneself wares off fast but I could be wrong…)
note: if you are annoyed by ads (especially the animated kind) just don't visit the BuzzMachine at night... I mean that seems to be what's going on... (I thought I was halucinating at first but I'm positive there was an animated Treo ad running *at night*, but that seems to be the only time...)
MORE: my post
I agree with Robert (on the general idea) — academia wondering off from the objectivity goal is even scarier than the press doing that (maybe we need to deal with ideology the same why we deal with religion — they seem to be very similar at the fundamental level: you just need to *believe* and… stop thinking!) D.
MORE: my post
I like this! it's just that... screw the advertisers! get as many interested people as you can to help and make sure the "interest" you are covering would have enough people that are not in the position to help... willing to pay... Have something like a special interest newsletter instead or a "newspaper"... at least some of the interested people are going to help and if you have plenty of interested readers... why not stop there? your costs should be significantly reduced since you have people that would pitch in and help -- that should help turn a decent profit (and the readers would really love you for not trying to shove things in front of their eyes).
P.S. If you can't turn a decent profit that way... (and that should not be more than “normal” salaries etc. for those employed)… maybe that's not something worth covering...
Monday, December 11, 2006
MORE: my post
re: Kneecapping you… (could have been…)
I don’t know if it was you but it might have been… Couple of years back I was flying from LA to SF after a happening holiday break (meaning I was dead tired), so the moment it was OK to recline and go to sleep (at least that’s what I thought …) I did so… well *tried* to… — thunder coming from behind!
So I just got back in straight position, rang for the attendant and quietly explained the situation (didn’t even glanced at the guy in the back — didn’t seem like a nice guy…). I don’t know if I was just in luck, but the flight attendant just moved me to first class! (and took good care of me all the way to SF — *really* nice guy…).
You’d think the inadvertently “kneecapped guy” would have been happy now… (with an empty seat in front of him). Nope! He wanted to be in first class too! (declined…)
P.S. I’d try to get your sponsors (those who cover your travel expenses, I assume) to fly you first class — telling them long sob stories of how people won’t stop kneecapping you might help…. D.
This would save me the time of describing things that are already there (such as this interview of yours) and aside from responses to my comments on the 'prompter blog,' I might also get some comments on my own blog (I could also post a link to such comments on the prompter blog if desired).
P.P.S. It would be mostly about 'online journalism' and such (at least at this point), although I'm contemplating a craigslist criticism blog of some sort -- I just think there are a lot of good questions about craigslist that are just not being asked or are merely alluded to (BTW, I'd love it if YOU did an article on craigslist... might even change my mind about this 'specialty blog' idea ...).
some things may not be so strange... IF they are serious about the interactive online thing...
they may think that would give them a serious edge against outfits such as the Post and the Times (and it *might*...)
although it's hard to see how they could match the knowledge base for a very long time (if they want to be more than the Enquirer turned on the press industry itself) -- they might just mean that the approach they would use would in itself place them on higher grounds in the coming years (although it might take them a while to show results -- they are not saying it would happen right away...)
and the opening salvos (aka. bragging)... again, IF the online interactive thing will be a major part, making *noise* (ANY kind of noise, as long as it attracts attention ... and it certainly has...) may be what's needed at this point...
P.S. but as you say... time will tell (I'm just not so sure it won't take a *long* time...)
Right! We got all day and all night… not only to “hear” fragmentary parts of the story (at different times, I presume) but to somehow remember them all and pull them all together, do the analysis and come-up with the balanced whole we were supposed to get in the first place… What are these people *thinking*?
I agree with Gray… it’s hard enough to attain a high level of objectivity even when you are *really* trying… I don’t see how you could look at a blatantly biased source of information and somehow get accurate news. I mean… what is the user supposed to do? Go do his/her own reporting to get to the issues you purposefully avoided? (so she could have a chance to then put it all together and get a balanced view of what’s going on?)
Interesting project! thing I don’t like about it: the rating process is too much of a “black box” when it need not be so: why not have a “talk page” ala Wikipedia, for instance? (or the comments function for Digg) and let people talk it out… ask each other questions, point out flaws that others might have missed… and make all this viewable not only by those who want to rate (which would very likely result in more accurate ratings) but also by those who just want to read the stories.
The tips on rating are good (good categories!)– I just think they are a bit too general (the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 levels for each category are just left undefined) to be very useful to the rater or to those just reading the stories and trying to make sense of the rating.
re: “know to hit 4 when they think it’s good, or 2 when it’s bad”
well… you want them to do more than just give you their gut reaction… (I *think*… — I mean, *I* would… I think it would be much more useful…)
Oh… and, I think it would be good to also have a category by category breakdown of the general score available (maybe a “breakdown” link next to the general score?). Some people may not want to read a story that rates poor at the factual support level but somehow manages to do OK overall…
Further along this idea… I’d consider letting the reader pick the criteria: maybe have a search box that lets the user get a list of stories according to their desired criteria (e.g. no less than 4 on factual support, don’t care about originality etc.)
re: hitting 5 when they really like a story
I’d get rid of that question altogether (re: “how good is this story?”) or at a minimum I’d have it at the end — not at the beginning — (if you *must*…). I think letting the aggregate score on the individual categories give the overall “recommendation” would really help the rater with not allowing things like personal likes and dislikes get in the way (you want them to be as objective as possible… I *think*…). In fact, a message asking them to “please don’t let your personal like or dislike of the story affect you rating (if you don’t think you can do this, please skip this story)” would probably help.
re: “In time me may calibrate everyone’s ratings to adjust for their personal rating style”
I think that would be much more difficult than establishing a common understanding for the rating steps in each category (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but, of course, I could be wrong…
P.S. I’ll try to keep an eye on your project but I’m trying to not get sucked-in any particular project. D.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Second thought: forget about the 24 hour thing (completely ban all info originating with newspapers and wire services
The point of the experiment would be to test if you can get decent NEWS -- as opposed to opinion based on news already gathered -- without using info that originates with the newspapers or wire services.
Of course, there is plenty of this stuff *somewhere* on the internet... but it's not all (or even lots of it) in one place so I think it's much harder to form a well informed opinion on... say... how would news fare if (God forbid) the newspapers were dead tomorrow...
I don’t know why you killed my last comment: maybe because I said “hi!” to a fellow commenter? (I figured it was just a nice thing to do… ) or because I wanted to get his input on my suggestion for NAN (is that forbidden *???*); anyways, would have been nice to know… not lastly so I could get some sort of a clue whether or not I should bother to make any more comments on your blog).
re: ”Craig didn’t kill it. He was merely the first and smartest to see that the internet connects buyers and sellers directly.”
You may well be right, but that’s certainly not Craig’s story. If you are not buying his story (that he was just a do-gooder that sort of stumbled into it) and believe that, on the contrary, he *purposefully* (out of his smarts or whatever) built a market on the internet… that’s good to know…
P.S. Oh… and I agree with the other commenter that he *is* the middleman (for every ad where he charges a fee) — he’s basically just moved a (for the most part) existing market on the internet (pretty smart thing to do! but if that would have been craigslist’s declared raison d’etre… I don’t think he would have gotten anywhere this far…). D.
... and wondering what does Jeff Jarvis *really* think about Craig's story...
But if you are *expected* to be the CHEERLEADER… you are certainly doing a fine job at that!
(isn't that a term of endearment?)
This all sounds nice and dandy (re: “I am most optimistic about the fate of journalism”)… but I’m wondering if anything worries you? Assume all the promise of the “new journalism” comes true, would there be anything essential missing?
re: “I chose to concentrate instead on the opportunities”
Well… it’s hard to critique your stuff if it’s not *supposed* to be balanced… The way I see it, this “new journalism” can certainly do a much better job of giving people what they want and getting them to participate at a level previously impossible.
But would that be enough to fulfill the traditional function of journalism? To at least STRIVE to give a *balanced view* of what’s going on around us and thus act as one of the prongs of democracy? Unless you think that peoples’ aggregate special interests would necessarily lead there (and I see no good reason to believe that), that is the essential thing that would be lost (and it’s no small thing).
And what happens if the “old journalism” collapses before a functioning new one (however insufficient) takes over? (quite possible…) That’s why I don’t think that “accelerating” the process (“exploding” things before their time) is such a good idea…
But if you are *expected* to be the CHEERLEADER… you are certainly doing a fine job at that!
Unbelievably vague at the factual level (and thus useless for analytical purposes), even more unbelievable in that it actually purports to draw a conclusion. Things the readers would *need* to know: what were the 'many' assertions that have 'proven' flat out wrong? what criteria does the writer use to conclude the assertions were 'proven' wrong? (to be fair to the president: just because whatever illicit weapons searches were done did not produce what would have been expected does not 'prove' anything -- too strong a word in this circumstance; again, to be fair to the president: what were the Bush administration's assertions that did NOT prove wrong?) . And again, were any of the assertions *misleading*? that's the QUESTIONï¿½
Find a struggling newspaper and really look into it: how bad is it struggling? why is it struggling? what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving? etc.
Arlan: I agree with you that it's disturbing but I'm not so sure objectivity will become more critical as a matter of course.
At the practical level, I can understand (although I see it as a problem) that the path of least resistance (*avoiding* being "shredded") is very tempting, as long as you can get away with it.
And that doesn't seem to be much of a problem -- it's pretty much established as the "main stream." So unless an ideological move in the opposite direction occurs, I don't see much hope.
P.S. The way I see it, the idea that we are just not naturally objective is a valid one. I think the disturbing part is to conclude that because we all have our smaller or bigger handicaps in that respect, we should just revel in them and not even attempt to overcome them. That seems to result in abandoning the job altogether.
comment on the interview itself
"When I say, organs of the press could have tried to answer the question: did the president mislead us into war? what I mean is treat it as an urgent but also an open question, a matter unsettled and in need of calm, clear-headed investigation. Then investigate. Answer the question. Then defend the answer. True, you might discover something else is ï¿½the story,ï¿½ leading in a different direction. Iï¿½d argue the nation still deserves an answer to the question."
If answering that question (to the best of one's ability) would be "interpretive history" it's a really sad state of affairs... I mean, ALL the facts are in (have been for a very long time...): there is no good reason why you can't look at the facts and decide yes, no or inconclusive.
And all those are valid answers, as long as you do your best take all available facts into account and "show your work" (give the step by step reasons why you conclude one way or the other) -- so your work can be properly critiqued.
Tim: hmmm... not quite sure what you are saying...
re: "Your last post shows the problem with the previous one. If a local newspaper is sending space "Did the president mislead us into war?", they are not spending space on "what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving?"
I didn't see them as being at all related... My suggestion was for *Jay* (sorry for not making it clear), for a possible future "article": to really look into a struggling newspaper (I think there would be a wealth of really good info coming out of something like that).
But since you brought it up, I *do* think that having well reasoned articles on topics such as: "Did the president mislead us into war?" -- especially if they were unique to the particular newspaper -- could really improve readership, which in my mind would be "making things better" (for the struggling newspaper...)
re: The impact to the local community is less when the newspaper is sending print space on something other outlets are doing a better job reporting. After all most local outlets only report the feed fron the NYT, AP or other national news outlet for national news.
well.. that's just part of it... I think the paper likely serves the community in more ways than just journalistically and those would have to be taken into consideration too...
And just so you have a much better idea of where I am coming from: I think the newspapers may be in much worse trouble than we know... (and if not now maybe in a not so distant future, they might actually need government support).
Jay: you are welcome!
For instance, most people take some time to become valuable contributors (and for good reason: what do they really know at the beginning just how worthy of their time a particular project is, for instance).
So it would be a mistake not to accommodate for that — I think newcomers should be treated differently (they need to get the feeling that their contributions are *valued* even if they are not necessarily all that valuable…)
And I see a little bit of a problem with this as far as the current NA site goes. I think, at a minimum, all people who made comments (especially if it was their first comment) should have been greeted. If they are not… plenty of them would not bother commenting again… And this probably also affects *potential* contributors that haven’t posted a comment yet (they see what treatment others got and are less likely to post themselves).
re: “A lot of what Asa does amounts to cheerleading for people who are doing things that add value”
Looks good! Don't get discouraged if you don't get a "huge turnout" -- it's just a starting point. I think what's important is that people get the feeling that you are *sincere*... that you'd only suggest projects that you would yourself participate in and (to the extent that it's feasible) are there to provide assistance if needed.
P.S. Feel free to email if you'd like my opinion on anything.
I'd consider adding a chat room to the NA page (I think the immediacy aspect of it would be much more conducive to encouraging people to gather and talk among each other).
It could be a free for all (and see what happens) or much more structured (I'd see if I could get the advisers together for a weekly hourly chat -- maybe a digest of the week's news with an emphasis on stuff relevant to NA -- , on Saturday afternoons for instance).
P.S. Something tells me that could prove to be a very powerful magnet: you, Dan Gilmore, Jeff Jarvis and (maybe) Craig Newmark casually talking about news...
Just to clarify. The way I see it, Craig comes with a caveat: you'd *have* to get him to actually TALK (beyond his regular cutesy fare -- that would get boring quick) and I suspect that's not an easy feat. If you can't do that,(my opinion is that) the "chat circle" (you, Dan Gillmor and Jeff Jarvis) would be stronger without him.
# Delia Says:November 14th, 2006 at 2:12 am
Interesting experiment, except the other way around: get 'the internet' to assemble a news portal that ignores newspaper and wire services for 24 hours after their release on the internet and see how well it would or would not work.
P.S. Wondering if NA could test this (just state the premise and invite contributors). You'd probably have to do it for quite some time before you conclude if it could work and how well.
P.P.S. Forgot to mention in that comment that part of the premise would be that they could not use info from the printed version, either (a commenter suggested that could be done).
Of course, there is plenty of this stuff *somewhere* on the internet... but it's not all (or even lots of it) in one place so I think it's much harder to form a well informed opinion on... say... how would news fare if (God forbid) the newspapers were dead tomorrow...
So if you could get a lot of the people who actually go out and gather news themselves, to at least post a link on a master page connected with NA, I think you'd get a much better idea of what's really going on...
I also think it would probably encourage at least *some* new people (that are not currently going out and gathering news) to at least consider doing so...
P.S. I posted a follow-up comment on the Buzzmachine blog... well... I *tried* to :)... and it appears that Jeff Jarvis "moderated" against it... I don't know why... If there is something not quite right about this idea, don't bother answering (I'll understand). D.
I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to attract and keep *NewAssignment* volunteers.
Things that I’d consider:
— have the NA volunteers post the pictures uploaded to a separate page — something connected with NA, preferably — (not directly on the official project page) and just SHARE them with the project;
— this would not only give a sense of “community” (ah — I know you don’t seem to like that word much… just let me know what you’d prefer I used instead and I’ll just do that…) but by separating the NA contributions, would give you a good idea of how many volunteers *you* have at this point;
— or you could ask for some sort of contact info when uploading the pics and compile a list of people who have volunteered with NA (with their *permission*, of course — a question such as “would you consider volunteering with NA in the future?” would probably help)
I’d also try to take the project on the ground (even in a very minor way):
e.g. I’d *seriously* consider being PART OR IT: I mean, pick a voting place most convenient to you and actually *do* what you are asking the volunteers to do; if you could get some local volunteers to join you, it would be even better… And you could maybe have a podcast so people would have a good idea of what was involved? It seems to me that it could be very useful for volunteers to see *you* talking to people and finding out what are the legal bounds of taking pictures at the particular location you have chosen; and of course it would be good if you did this ahead of time (I think this would probably give them confidence that they could do it too…)
P.S. Looks like at least *some* journalism students would be interested interested in NA kind of projects… (re: http://www.newassignment.net/blog/jay_rosen/welcome_to_newassignment_net...
P.P.S Oh… I’m afraid some people (who otherwise wouldn’t mind participating) might not respond too well at being given “assignments.” It’s the name you’ve chosen and it’s not necessarily a bad name, it’s just that I’d consider phrasing it differently when asking people to volunteer for particular projects.
The thing looks a bit scattered to me (I think it needs to get a lot more focused). Who are all the people that would be interested in this and what kind of problems do *they* see? Why not have some sort of an *informal* meet-up with interested people in NYC, for instance?
Something in the line of: Anybody who would possibly consider this meet me at this or that coffee shop and letâ€™s talk about it! (Iâ€™d make sure most of the NYU journalism students could attend â€“ the meeting would not be at the time they would be in class for a mandatory course or somethingâ€¦; if you end-up having a huge turn-out you may have to head over to some big classroom somewhere).
I think people would respond a lot better face to face than over the internet. Especially at the beginning, you want some sort of social interaction going (I thinkâ€¦.). If they like the meeting (and I think most would), they would likely tell their friends etc. (so you get some word of mouth going on). I think a whole lot more people would be posting comments and getting involved as a result.
P.S. Ohâ€¦ I wouldnâ€™t be telling people: â€œWhat are you waiting for?â€� I know you didnâ€™t mean it that way, but it can come across as not very respectfulâ€¦ I think itâ€™s good to keep in mind that none of these people *have* to do any of this stuffâ€¦ (and most of them are not just sitting around waiting for something to do to turn upâ€¦) So in some way they need to be shown that their efforts would be acknowledged (as basically a sacrifice on their part) and made clear that NewAssignment would really appreciate them.
P.P.S. I like Amanda’s suggestion too (getting a list of volunteers through other non-profits if possible). I’d still try to informally meet up to the extent that I could.
I think the beginning of a project is very important: it’s like making a first impresion. This is all would-be volunteers can *see* (at this point… right! but you have good publicity… *now*… so I suspect quite a few potential volunteers have been looking at this stuff). People get a gut reaction of what the project would be like from what you tell them now…
Yeah… having a “huge turnout” was the (maybe overly) optimistic way to look at it, but even if you just get 5 people talking about it (and none of them journalism students), I see no harm in trying. I still think you might be surprised what a face to face would do (both in terms of turnout and in terms of the quality of the discussion and positive externalities following from that).
But I maybe wrong, of course… All I’m saying is that… *I* would give it a try…
... why wasn't he taking advantage of the great publicity he was having?
(couple of posts *up* -- the NAN blog comments go the other way round)
Great News! Been traveling (still am) so I only have time for a quick note at this point -- it's just a comment on whether or not you *need* to have a "community."
re: "I'm not sure "community" is the right word for the eventual users of New Assignment. People use that term too loosely, in my opinion. But if NewAssignment.Net develops a base of active, loyal and intelligent users, it's not unreasonable that they can help police the site, especially if they understand that verifying information and preventing fraud are basic to everything we are trying to do."
I think it would be extremely difficult (if at all possible) to attract AND *keep* people that would be able and willing to police the site without having them feel that they are much more than "users."
If you don't think "community" is the right word for the kind of social glue needed... I guess you can call it anything you like... but I seriously doubt it could work without having *something* that fulfills the function of a "community"...
Connection with Daylife?
Some people might be wondering whether there is an undisclosed connection between NewAssignment and Daylife.
“[Jeff Jarvis] also said the site would provide technical and distribution help to NewAssignment, which aims to encourage ‘smart mobs’ of regular citizens to submit ideas and report the news through a process they're calling ‘open source journalism.’" ( http://www.techweb.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=191600725 )
This statement was made *before* either Daylife or NewAssignment were even launched. If I remember right, Jeff Jarvis is involved with both projects (editor for Daylife and advisor for NewAssignment).
Some people might be wondering why? (Why would the for-profit Daylife *necessarily* provide technical and distribution help to the non-profit NewAssignment…)
Does Daylife stand to gain from the work done within NewAssignment? If that’s the case, I think volunteers/donors for NewAssignment should be made aware of that.
P.S. just wanted to let you know (will be away for the day so I can only read your reply, if any, when I get back probably late in the day).
P.P.S. another thing that might be relevant: Daylife seeks to “create a distributed platform for the world’s news” (http://www.techweb.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=191600725); meanwhile, NewAssignment’s model is distributed reporting…(http://web.archive.org/web/20061205235021/http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2006/08/27/na_jrnl.html#comment28724)
I mean, I don't see anything wrong with just learning (and possibly putting it to lucrative use, as long as you don't secure intellectual property rights), but it might end-up being a whole lot more than that (impossible to tell at this point, if you ask me, given how little is known about what Daylife would really do).
You may find-out that Jeff Jarvis is not such a good choice (even for a *free* advisor): he may end-up having serious conflicts of interest.
I'd also watch donations (or collaboration) from other for profits that are more than casually related to NewAssignment for their source of profit (giving money or "help" to NewAssignment might be an attempt to influence for financial gain).
and another post down that thread...
I'm disappointed (I think you are missing a great opportunity) but, of course, I wish you best of luck!
re: "For starters, I need to state clearly—and keep saying it—that NewAssignment.Net… does not propose to put users in charge in some ultimate sense."
Nor does it offer much to those that would do the work, aside from some sort of an acknowledgement, which is fine but I just don’t see it as enough to build a very strong following. There just isn’t enough there for a whole lot of people to get that excited about…
P.S. Somebody's going to come along and do the bold thing (and make it work) any day now...
P.P.S. Oh well... as I said: best of luck! It can still be a very good project! (it's just missing a soul, as far as I'm concerned...) D.
re: " 'Nor does it offer much to those that would do the work.'
I just don't know how you know that. And to speak with such confidence!"
1 - how I know that: it's NOT bottom-up
2 - where my confidence comes from: the fact that the following is set in stone (at least that's what your language suggests): "For starters, I need to state clearly—and keep saying it—that NewAssignment.Net… does not propose to put users in charge in some ultimate sense."
re: "the site doesn't exist yet and not a single story has been done. No journalism... yet. "
right! but you've set the *philosophy* (and that's what gives it a soul or not): the way you set it up, the possibility of having "advisory committees" and what not serves journalistic ends (not those of the people that might want to spend a lot of their time and resources on this) -- they would have no power whatsoever, they would have some *influence* at best (influence that can be rescinded at any time).
re: "I decided to try pro-Am journalism on the open web, and in my universe, which is a mixed republic... In the beginning there is the editor!"
that is the *choice* you make, Jay -- I think it's the wrong choice to make, but of course this is YOUR project so all I can do is tell you what I think (and I've probably done too much of that already...)
OK, just one last thing since I've already started this:
re: "NewAssignment I already described as a hybrid, not boldly one thing or the other."
the bold part is giving power to those who would do the work, being a hybrid does not preclude that from happening
there is more down that comments thread -- you know the drill by now...I hope:)...
you can't expect blind trust
If you are going to have any permanent positions (say an editor), I'd make those people accountable to the volunteers (collectively, the volunteer community needs to be able to "fire" them if they don't suit its needs).
Maybe don't *ever* give them power (you could have employed people act as if they were working for the volunteer community): they would be expected to put their knowledge forth and step out of the way... (leave the decision with the volunteer community).
Say a number of stories have been considered and looked into. Instead of the editor saying: this is the one we are gonna do! (period...), she would be evaluating and contrasting the stories for the benefit of community (this one is likely to cost this much, appeal to these many people etc.; maybe make a reasoned recommendation but not more than that).
All I meant to say was that you would probably save yourself a lot of time and frustration if (whenever you have something concrete to present to people -- after Labor Day, if I remember right)you make sure your chosen system puts the volunteers at ease (if you *want* to build a community of volunteers).
If you mostly want to go hire people and just hope that citizen journalists/volunteers would help you *find* the ideas, do leg work and then surrender everything and wish you luck with them... I'm afraid you are going to find that there would not be enough interested people for the long run (even the ones that would give it a try would not stay long...)
As far as what has been said, my suggestion was an attempt to solve the problems Aaron Barlow brought-up (which I think reflect the citizen journalist/volunteer part of things very well).
I don't know if you actually meant the "new voices" comment for me (doesn't seem to fit)... but this is about all I have to say at this point.
No problem… Well, I don’t want to stress you out even more than you probably are :)… but I believe that you will win/lose the citizens journalists/volunteers on the concrete model you present after Labor Day. I’d make it as generous possible AND *mean* it… (it *needs* to be bottom-up).
And it doesn’t need to be something that can be implemented right away: I think people would understand that it might take some time to get there – they just need to know that the train they would be getting on is going in the right direction... So… no, there will be no community to speak of come Labor Day (your model is just going to have a place holder for it).
I think the relevant community (from the model’s point of view) is made-up of those who would do the work, use the site, provide funding or a combination of those. Ultimately, it *is* a community of belief (those who believe that worthy stories that mainstream media doesn’t cover *should* be covered) – I just think that from the *practical* point of view it makes a lot of sense to organize it geographically (the way Craigslist is).
I’d start with NY, of course, and make that geographic community work. I’d first see if I could get enough volunteers (professional or amateurs) to do one (not terribly hard to cover) story – something they, as a community, *want* to do. If people wouldn’t be rushing…I’d see if I could talk the NYU journalism students into participating (at least doing one easy project and see how it turns-out). And build-up from there. At the point where the community would want to pursue a “complicated story” and couldn’t (because they would be missing some critical skill), I’d go out and hire someone who could do the job *and* teach them.
If I remember right, Jimmy Wales observed that there was a certain size of a Wikipedia community where serious problems start happening (intimate social interaction usually keeps problems under control as long as the size of the community is small). You will probably find-out that something similar would happen with your communities. It’s hard to tell when that will happen, but you’ll probably know it when you see it…
At that point, I’d just split the community in half (for the same geographic area) – maybe have a politics branch and an economics branch (if that would suit them well). Of course, you would need to present this to the community and have their *approval*. The two new communities could of course collaborate if they wished but they would be two separate units.
Once NY would take off, I’d set my sights on Washington, DC… I think you see where I’m going :)….
P.S. If you’d like my opinion once you get the concrete thing together, feel free to email.
... and more exchanges (just scroll down that blog entry if you'd like to see the whole thing)
I love the general idea and I think Craig did a very good thing by providing funds to help kick start your project. But I just think it is unwise to create the expectation that all expenses will be covered at all times. Or that anybody would necessarily be paid for all of their efforts. It completely changes what the project ends-up being about.
To me, it only makes sense to secure “angel funds” at the point where they are truly needed. Covering any and all expenses related to a particular project changes the dynamics and the reason people would get involved.
You want people to get involved primarily because they are excited about being part of this project. If that's the case they would have no problem contributing the work and related minor expenses that they are able to contribute on a "pro bono" basis.
I suspect plenty of people (professionals or just good amateurs) would not mind doing at least *some* of the work for free... and that is the part that would really build a sense of community – of being in this together. At a minimum, things like initial leg work before a story is even taken into consideration (just plain looking into things: making a couple of phone calls, doing some initial interviews if they are easy and cheap to come by etc.)
Of course, to reach it's potential, the project definitely needs someone like Craig (and hopefully others) to step in and basically help out at the point where pursuing a worthy story becomes prohibitively expensive (in terms of time, money etc.) . But *only* at that point...
Anyways, good luck with everything!
that was just my first post -- there are plenty of them following under the same Press Think blog entry, just scroll down if you'd like to see them)
Well… why pay a reporter by default… – I’d first see if I could get someone who would be able and willing to do the job for free (and I suspect that in many cases that would not be hard to do…).
As to your “part one,” here are some things that seem to be leaning in the wrong direction (at least for me):
“Finally, professional journalists with the required skills and a commitment to truth. They would be there looking for contract work.”
Well, not primarily and not necessarily… if your model would only financially compensate at the point where (quality) free work could not be had -- interested parties (professional or not) would be there to do whatever is in their power to do (mostly to help) bring to light worthy stories that for whatever reason mainstream media does not cover.
Yes, *sometimes* people would be paid but only when that would be necessary… (e.g. no point in paying a reporter, if an adequate and willing one could be had for free). I think saying “[professional journalists] would be there looking for contract work” creates the expectation of compensation where there did not need to be one. And that’s not just bad from the financial point of view – it’s bad for the community you expect to create.
"Expecting users to pay for media has a history of about 10 years. It's a dismal story, too. What evidence do you have that people will actually pony up for stories??"
Well? how many stories are we talking about? What kind of stories? How often? Now if you *needed* to be rapidly churning "expensive stories" left and right? Yeah -- You'd probably need a constant stream of funding coming in but I don't see that as being necessary -- doing what you can, with an emphasis on volunteering and good enough quality and building up from there seems like the healthiest start to me.
I don't think you need to worry about volume or excessive sophistication before getting the interested volunteer people together and seeing what can be done. I'd give it plenty of time to reach its potential and keep learning from experience and keep improving?
Re: “When someone tells me that this or that portion of what I am suggesting is "nothing new" (which happens repeatedly in the course of a year) what are they trying to say? To me it's baffling.”
Well, not that strange if you ask *me* … definitely not uncommon or all that hard to understand…
I mean… as of now, nobody’s really figured-out how to make this thing work -- not really… Yeah, Dan’s lessons are great but he does not have (neither does he claim to have) the recipe for success.
So something “new” (in one way or another) needs to come about in order to make such projects work. Granted “nothing new here” can come across as harshly dismissing and it may have been meant that way (I don’t know…). And sustained unsympathetic criticism does end-up being emotionally draining.
However, the criticism behind that statement (whether it was meant well or not) seems to be of value: you *need* to come-up with something new (as opposed to the things that have already been tried and proven unsuccessful).
But I think that whatever that “new thing” will end-up being, it is much more likely to come through the process of starting and learning from experience than from dreaming-up some magical formula ahead of time. So…yeah… in that sense “nothing new here” is no big deal at the *beginning* of the enterprise…
P.S. OK… I better go to bed, now… Let me know if you are still interested in translations of French blog entries that talk about your project (it’s always good to get different cultural perspectives).
That particular *combination* of things sounds novel to me... I think Cal is just having a field trip with the bits and pieces of it.. (which *individualy* might not have worked so well previously).
I think some of the points your are bringing-up are definitely worth thinking about but the *way* you do it can come across as harsh and dismissing of the *core ideas* of this project (which I think is pretty solid).
I hope I wouldn't be annoyed with you if this was my project and you'd be giving me this kind of feedback, but we are all human afterall...
OK! I'll see what I can do... (re: translation French blog entries about your project). Do you want them posted here or...?
re: Shades of Snow Crash
Not at this point, I just started to read that book... but I think Craig would be a good person to ask (he's familiar with both the book and your project).
Here is my English version of the “Nanoblog” entry (http://www.nanoblog.com/past/2006/07/newassignementnet.htm) -- the initial French blog you mentioned earlier on. I tried to simplify things (especially syntax) without altering the message – it just tends to come across better for English speakers (French seems to take the “scenic route,” while English usually takes the highway – just my personal take on it). I’m sure it’s not perfect but it should give a good idea.
NewAssignment.net is a new project by Jay Rosen, expert in journalism and blogs. He describes it in detail on his blog.
The project builds on the idea of “OpenSource journalism,” meaning media financed by users. But it’s not only about asking for donations, it’s also about having the public participate in the production of information, which remains largely produced by professional journalists.
Even if there have been some precedents, the concept is pretty novel. I think it’s a real alternative for the future of media and for citizen journalism.
Jay Rosen proposes a very different model: citizen journalists can submit story ideas and collectively develop them by providing information, donating their time or co financing the production. The professional journalist does his job, pretty much as usual, just that instead of being paid by traditional media, he/she is paid by the people who would like to see such projects done. The “best journalists” are identified through a reputation system.
Although it’s still in the preparation stage, NewAssignment.Net seems exciting to me. At a time when parts of the media are in a crisis and journalists’ salaries seem to be free falling, NewAssignment.Net offers an attractive alternative. Also, like some other projects on the web, NewAssignment.Net would enable internet users to be actors as well as spectators. Finally, it offers an alternative to simple citizen media. Speaking of which, it seems to me that many haven’t understood that the real point of citizen journalism isn’t as much to develop new ways of producing information but to come-up with economic models capable of giving life to new forms of media. Finally and above all, Rosen’s project makes perfect sense: why should media intermediate between the public and the information producers?
P.S. Jay, if you ask me… this is a standing ovation! Let me know if you want me to translate the trackbacks too or maybe something else?
P.P.S. If you plan on discussing French blog entries in here it might be nice to invite those people to come over… I mean… it’s been a while since they posted the stuff and they may have changed their minds or something… (kidding:)… No… but, I think they might like to be present and would probably have interesting things to add.
I’d make it very clear to people that the ONLY point of accepting/charging money *ever* would be to do more and continue to increase quality in the future – if that’s the case... I think at least some people might be wondering what are your long term plans in this respect.
The thing is that there are some wonderful projects out there (that have made very good use of volunteers) that seemingly against all odds turned-out to be very profitable. The persons who started such projects probably never contemplated such developments (so they seem to be innocent) but the fact is that there are volunteers out there that regret having spent a big chuck of their time and energy unwittingly building someone else’s empire… And I can’t blame them…
I think nowadays people who would consider spending a lot of time and resources on this kind of project would want to know that ahead of time. And I’m not saying that you would not still be able to find *some* volunteers even if … let’s say… in case it ends-up being a big financial success you wouldn’t mind financially benefiting from it...
After all you came-up with an original model and if you wanted to (and you haven’t considered it so far), you might be able to get a patent for it – something like a business model patent maybe. And you probably plan to spend a fair amount of your time on this project for a good long while… so… it would be perfectly understandable if you didn’t necessarily want to keep it non-profit come what may…
P.S. I do want to do those translations for you, Jay. I just might need a couple of days. I thought this topic was more urgent since you seem to be putting down important things about your project. (http://web.archive.org/web/20061205235222/http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2006/08/11/na_mrpbl.html#comment28584)
Well… if you let the model go straight into the public domain (so anybody can use it) I think it’s quite likely that *somebody*’ s going to end-up making quite a bit of money at some point… (by taking what you’ve done – the model *plus* all the hard work done within the project -- and figuring-out how to apply it commercially…) Assuming you can make it work, of course… (and I think you *can*… if you just stick with it… -- I don’t think Craig was wrong when he picked your project :). If I were in your shoes, I’d see if I could get a patent and use licensing fees as a source of funding (at the point where others would want to use the model). That would not only provide some built-in funding but would also allow you to control who gets to use it and how… If you don’t like the ethics of a company (they can’t be trusted), they don’t get a license… To get a license, you could require that companies build-in a gift for the local communities (say, free coverage of major political events). And you could give away licenses to non-profits if you wanted… I just think that this alternative would give you a lot more to work with than the CC type of thing… (I could be wrong, of course…).
NewAssignment.net -- an experiment in new journalism
Jay Rosen, Journalism Professor at New York University, expert in citizen journalism just started NewAssignment.net (see on his blog, Press Think, in English), a totally innovative journalism project.
Jeff Mignon explains on his Media Café blog:
“It’s a simple idea: doing high quality ‘open-source’ journalism. How would it work?
Anybody will be able to request a reportage, an investigation… on an internet site: NewAssignment.net. Professional journalists, employed by the site, take on these projects. With public participation, they help better define the request.
In fact, citizen participation (readers, internet users, information seekers) is essential to Assignment.net. They are the ones who define the questions they want to have answered and also the ones who finance the journalistic investigations.
Ideally, it guarantees a journalism perfectly attuned with the readership and independent of big money or advertising.
The idea of putting journalists and readers together, on equal footing, (using personal knowledge, the readers can correct an investigation while it’s going on) is very timely. It answers the question posed by Benoit-Raphael’s blog motto: “Tomorrow… will we all be journalists?” Well, of course! *Can* be done… at NewAssignment.net. Except that, as opposed to Agoravox – the ambitious citizen journalism collective project started by Carlo Revelli and Joël de Rosnay -- NewAssignment.net gives the choice of subject to the citizens but delegates the editorial job to paid professionals.
Obviously, the project poses a number of questions: what level of funding would set the journalistic inquiry in motion? Who proposes the subject of the investigation: NewAssignment or the readers? Would the readers suggest pertinent questions? And finally, always the same question at the end: is the project economically viable?
To finish with something I completely agree with, here is a part of Damien ‘s commentary on the Media Café blog: “[…] I think it’s even cooler to imaging the editing handed over to the clients (which for the first time would not be the advertisers) where the topic of discussion would be what interviews to go get, everyone bringing to the table their knowledge and motivation. What a vote of confidence for the journalists and, above all, what confidence builder to know that you got the community backing you up when you use your press pass to go ask the bothering questions: ‘Prime Minister, I got 350 people paying me to ask you this question…’ Rather exciting, no?”
Nighty night, all…
Maybe not exactly the way you have it right now (chance are you are going to find out that some parts just wouldn’t work the way you thought) but I think you probably already have the key elements.
And here is my translation for the other link:
“Public Journalism” Renaissance by means of the internet?The is a follow-up to Cyril Fievet’s blog entry on NewAssignment.Net, an experiment in citizen journalism. It’s a reaction to the idea of novelty:” Even if there have been some precedents, the concept is pretty novel and I think it’s a real alternative for the future of media and citizen journalism.” Jay Rosen, the initiator of this project, is a promoter of “Public Journalism,” a movement that would like to reform journalism. The internet, the most revolutionary ways of producing of information seems to be the means to reactivate this initial project.
Here are the key four principles:-- a priori, the readers of printed media are active citizens-- the press can help the citizenry address public problems-- the media should do more to improve the quality and utility of public debate-- the press plays a crucial role in public life,
According to Jay Rosen, founder of this “rethinking approach” to the profession, public journalists must contribute more to the quality of democratic life, notably by renewing the confidence bond and thus having real dialogue with the citizens. Aside from the relevance of specific facts to current events, these citizens are expecting concrete solutions to big societal dysfunctions and to certain personal problems concerning their daily lives. In the absence of such solutions, most of these citizens continue to turn away from traditional media.”
I think that if you focus on building a volunteer community of people who are united to bring to life worthy stories that the mainstream media doesn’t cover you will be very likely to succeed (as long as you earn their trust, of course). You want to be the Craigslist that never went commercial or the Wikipedia that never spawned Wikia. Don’t get me wrong, I think both Craig and Jimmy are ok (I don’t think they “planned it all” or anything…)
Also, since it’s a community service sort of thing -- if at all possible, I would avoid having anybody pay to access the information (it would sort of defeat the purpose: you want to bring to light valuable information, so it should be out there for anybody to see…).