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Redux: How we are experimenting with journalistic innovation

17 Nov

This Prezi presentation outlines the steps we are taking in this class to practice journalistic innovation.


The concept of networked journalism

15 Sep

The term is often attributed to Jeff Jarvis, who wrote this post in 2006, suggesting that “citizen journalism” isn’t quite the right term, whereas “networked journalism” was a better representation of the concept he wanted to capture:

“Networked journalism” takes into account the collaborative nature of journalism now: professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognizes the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses on the process more than the product.

Charlie Beckett from the London School of Economics has also written as much as anyone about the concept:

By ‘Networked Journalism’ I mean a synthesis of traditional news journalism and the emerging forms of participatory media enabled by Web 2.0 technologies such as mobile phones, email, websites, blogs, micro-blogging, and social networks. Networked Journalism allows the public to be involved in every aspect of journalism production through crowd-sourcing, interactivity, hyper-linking, user generated content and forums.

It changes the creation of news from being linear and top-down to a collaborative process. Not all news production will be particularly networked. Not many citizens want to be journalists for much of their time. But the principles of networking are increasingly practiced in all forms of news media.

Beckett wrote about his book: “SuperMedia: Saving Journalism so it can Save the World” on the Open Democracy Forum, explaining his concept of networked journalism further:

We are in a world where data is vital to daily and lifetime decision-making for individuals. Interaction and analysis are crucial to community cohesion. Fluid information-flows are the lifeblood of the information-based economies emerging globally and locally. And in a complex world where multifaceted issues such as migration and climate change are both difficult and unavoidable, the media forum and its potential for dialogue and debate about such concerns is vital to a healthy public sphere.

Blogger Alex Lockwood has explored the relationships between climate change and networked journalism. In 2010 the World Economic Forum held a panel on “Networked Journalism and Climate Change.” The panel is available on YouTube and includes interesting examples of how journalists around the world are practicing networked journalism. The concluding remarks summarize some of the ideas:

My own view is that networked journalism requires even more collaboration with citizens than is often considered for two reasons:

1. Given the volume of information and data available, the role of journalist is not just that of facilitator and moderator but also editor, curator and filter. The best filters and curators know their audiences. Genuine networked journalism requires knowing what information people need, in what form, in what manner, at what time. Data driven journalism requires deep familiarity with the needs of potential users.

2. Given the need to invent new information products, using innovation processes like that developed by IDEO could be a tremendous asset for journalists. The insights gained through observation and interaction with the end users of a news product are invaluable in helping journalists produce the best, most useful and most accessed information.

IDEO human factors expert Leon Segal says, “Innovation begins with an eye.” Tom Kelley writes about ‘human factors’ and the importance of observing people carefully to understand how they really do things. He’s not a fan of focus groups and makes the point that customer interviews are unlikely sources for insights about new products.

It’s hard for us to directly observe people using information. But we can certainly spend time listening, watching where possible, and brainstorming to generate ideas about what constitutes useful information and how to deliver it.