This blog’s been a long time coming. It’s all about solutions and looking forward. No more bemoaning the demise of the news industry. The Web provides so many more opportunities for journalists to better serve their communities and to do better storytelling that the focus in ReJurno is how people are making that happen, on small and large scales, and how to help more people to do that.
ReJurno is put together by me, Jane Stevens, and organized into the daily (mostly) blog and the tabs across the top, which cover in depth the foundation of my approach to Webworld, formed by many hours of practice, discussion with many colleagues who are much smarter than I am about this, and my students.
How to THINK differently about doing journalism in Webworld.
What the structure of a social/news/information network looks like.
The new news ecology, as compared with the old. Hold on to yer hats!
What a jurno needs and does.
Other parts I’ll be adding soon include case studies of successful social/news/information networks (yes, there are quite a few), and a section just on the new local health reporting. With your input, I’ll keep updating those sections as Webworld keeps changing. Ta-dummm. My own little Web shell.
The blog’s foundation — the information in those sections — comes from my background:
- 12 years of videojournalism (New York Times TV), backpack journalism (New York Times TV, Discovery Channel), multimedia storytelling, developing Webcentric news and information sites (most recent, TOPP.org);
- 8 years of lectures and teaching graduate students with Paul Grabowicz at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism;
- 6 years of lectures and teaching at Knight Digital Media Center’s multimedia reporting workshops for mid-career journalists (also with Paul and many incredible guest lecturers); numerous presentations at workshops and meetings around the world;
- 3 years of working with various news organizations as they make the transition from print, magazine, TV and radio to Webworld (Oakland Tribune, Ventura County Star, San Diego Union-Tribune, Lawrence Journal-World, NPR).
- 16 years of working with Lori Dorfman at Berkeley Media Studies Group and Esther Thorson at the Missouri School of Journalism to figure out how to take a different approach to violence reporting, i.e., how to modernize the crime beat.
For all the graduate students and journalists who participated in those classes and workshops, you taught me much more than I ever taught you. By watching you work with new tools and ideas, I was able to continually learn and refine my thinking.
The blog began in 2005, after a brain-shifting Journalism That Matters workshop that began to shake my notion that traditional news organizations would survive this transition. But the blog faltered because, although I was pretty clear about the nature of the Web by that point and had no doubts about the skills and thinking required by new jurnos — aspects that I wrote about for OJR.org in 2002 — I didn’t have a good feel for how news organizations — large or small, hundreds of people or a 2-person shop — should structure themselves to adhere to the new medium’s characteristics. I couldn’t spot what would work and what wouldn’t, what skills and pieces and parts a news organization needed to make it. It’s much clearer now. (It would probably have been better to enter the conversation last year, but I took the Sherrill Headrick approach. Headrick is best known for his fearless play — his nickname was “Psycho” — as a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1963-67. What’s not as well known is that, after he retired, he played a lot of bridge in the country club circuit in Texas. For a whole year prior to playing in public, he just watched. His bridge partner noted that Headrick didn’t want to play publicly until he knew what he was doing. I met Mr. Headrick while doing a story about retired injured football players; he was a star in the bridge circuit, a quiet gentle man, and often the only man in a sea of women bridge players. He died on Sept. 10 at the age of 71.)
NOT that there’s one formula, but it’s pretty easy to point out what a news organization absolutely positively can’t live without, and whether they’re running down the road to ruin. In fact, news organizations should be called something different. Perhaps they’ll be known by their names or the names of the people who run them — in other words, the journalism will be branded — but they’re really social/news/information networks. SNINs? Argh. The community will come up with a better name, so if you’ve got a good idea, puh-lease toss it in.
This year — Sept 08 – April 09 — I’m fortunate enough to be a Fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Ideas. Experiments. Research. Solutions. That’s what the place is all about. And I get to bounce ideas off a group of extraordinarily smart and ambitious fellow RJI Fellows — Bill Densmore, Margaret Duffy, Mike Fancher, Jen Reeves, and Matt Thompson. I’m learning so much from them it makes my head spin. The environment couldn’t be more supportive — a Futures Lab that’s moving at mach speed, a School of Journalism with faculty who’ve been leading their students into Webworld for years, and real-world news labs — the Missourian, KOMU-TV, and KBIA radio — that are testing the waters of Webworld.
Surrounded by good ideas, support, guidance and assistance, I’m developing a couple of Web-based social/news/information networks — one focusing on health, the other on ocean science. Out of this, I hope, will come low- or no-cost Web-shell templates that many of the 15,000+ journalists who have lost their jobs in 2008 (as of Dec. 10…go to Paper Cuts for updates) can use to start their own niche news networks. I’m also coordinating the beginnings of a news organization incubator. More on that and the other projects will appear in the (mostly) daily blog.
And, yes, soon I’ll be doing more of this in a multimedia format.
Cheers, Jane Stevens