Tag Archives: Megan Garber

Start making sense

Common to both Gina Chen and Megan Garber’s recent calls for incorporating the Wikipedia aesthetic into newsrooms is the timely idea of giving readers what they need to empower themselves and make sense of the world.

In her look at the hyperlocal upstart WikiCity, Chen sees a potential model (and perhaps partner) for news organizations wanting to tap into hyper-niches in their communities. In previous posts, Chen has advocated for a reinvention of news websites so that they place more emphasis on giving readers what they want — not just in terms of news, but a whole host of interests.

I think Chen is right in wanting news organizations to play a bigger, more comprehensive role in being a “one-stop-shop” for readers, via curation, in their geographic area. After looking the WikiCity sites for Tampa and St. Petersburg, (I live in the Tampa Bay area), I can see the potential for fulfilling Chen’s vision, though there’s some work to be done, as neither site is arranged in a way that I would dare call “intuitive” and the content is generally very thin.

Garber, who writes for Columbia Journalism Review, has a piece on health care coverage and Wikipedia that is in sync with my own appreciation for the “wikification” of the newsroom.

Garber contrasts the lurid drama of the “death panels” narrative that has “proven irresistible to reporters” with the well-organized, comprehensive Wikipedia entry for “Health Care Reform in the United States.”

Indeed, what Wikipedia provides, ultimately, is information, pure and simple. And, perhaps just as significantly, it provides the implicit assumption that ‘information, pure and simple’ is enough. An encyclopedia entry has no mandate for a ‘colorful lede.’ It has no instinct for conflict. It assumes its audience’s attention, rather than feeling compelled to earn it, painstakingly—word by dramatic word.

And, because Wikipedia is crowdsourced, it has no implicit mandate, ethical or economical, toward ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity.’ It thus has no vested interest in the kind of he said/she said approach that has, to this point, so sorely compromised the mainstream media’s health care narrative.

Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks

Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer lambastes newspapers for living in an “echo chamber,” failing to “adapt their business models,” and makes note of that “perfect storm” that has so many journalists bemoaning the fate of their industry. Criticisms that should sound more than a little echo chamber-ish to anyone who’s been following the pontifications about the newspaper industry.

Megan Garber (who’s awesome, btw), respectfully summarizes Lerer’s talk at Columbia University, where he prescribed the same vague calls to innovation that Clay Shirky wrote about a month ago (nothing will work, everything will work). But after initially bristling at Lerer’s generalized recommendations, upon reflection I realize he’s probably right. Now is the time for experimentation:

Lerer (after noting the usual caveats: that there’s no silver bullet to rectify journalism’s woes, and that “no one knows what the future will look like”) pointed to innovation—and hasty innovation, at that—as a necessity for newspapers and other news outlets. We need to “embrace disruptive innovation,” he said. …

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PolitiFact's Pulitzer win is an evolution in journalism

Columbia Journalism Review’s Megan Garber looks at the significance of The St. Petersburg TimesPolitiFact winning the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting:

The fact that a piece of journalism so markedly different from its counterparts—both from its fellow finalists and from its fellows in investigative journalism more generally—has won the most prestigious prize in print journalism means that the shift in question is occurring not only in journalistic narrative itself, but also in the standards by which we judge excellence among its ranks. PolitiFact’s Pulitzer win marks the alteration of the definition of reportorial and narrative value itself.

Brilliant insight into what ails the journalism industry

Megan Garber sells her recent essay short by calling it a “modest entreaty.” It is, in fact, a brilliant, must-read call to action that says the lofty rhetoric about journalism as a sacred enterprise is hindering the preservation of journalism as a viable industry:

In our haste to elevate the theoretical, we sometimes forget the obvious: that good ideas are normatively so only insofar as they lead to good results, and that ideas more generally are useful only to the extent that they serve action. Theories are a means, not an end; a clever hypothesis that no one ever bothers to test might as well never bother to exist in the first place. Belief may create the actual fact, as William James had it; but when we fling about fanciful Monetizing Journalism proposals, as if we were characters in a bubbly Broadway musical—micropaymentsendowmentsandsubsidiesfromUncleSam, even though the sound of it won’t make the market give a damn—we serve little save our own egos. …

… The net effect of articles that rely on creative conjecture, and little else, to propose solutions for journalism’s woes is to enforce a kind of preemptive defeatism about the possibility of solving those problems. Our fanciful flings with speculation belie the true gravity of journalism’s current crisis. Each verging-on-glib proposal—stimulus bailouts for newspapers! wheeee!—serves, above all, as a subtle sanction to glibness itself. …

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Are you an upstanding citizen of Fox Nation?

The Fox Nation website debuted today to much fanfare across the interwebs. I know what you’re thinking: “But is Fox Nation the right news source for me?”

To determine your eligibility for citizenship, simply answer Megan Garber’s eight-question pop quiz. If you choose correctly, you’re bound to like it:

You’ll enjoy it so much, in fact, that you might not question whether spreading insipid Washington-themed gossip (“The Daily Beast: Who did Pelosi’s face?”) does, in fact, celebrate “core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse—and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” Or whether it’s fair or balanced to slug a hard-news AP article about the Huffington Post’s new investigative journalism venture “Huffington Post to rummage through your trash.” Or whether, speaking of the HuffPost, it’s intellectually honest to completely appropriate the left-leaning aggregator’s model while stoking partisan passions by outwardly mocking it.

At Huffington Post, John Delicath admits that Fox Nation isn’t his cup o’ biased non-journalism:

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Newspapers have ways of making you pay, aggregators

Enjoy the hard work of professional journalists while you can, online aggregators. Take one last bath in the million of dollars you’ve reaped from advertisements around content you didn’t create. Because if the folks behind Newspaper Project have their way, it’s likely your free ride will be over.

Publisher Randy Siegel talks to Columbia Journalism Review about the recently launched Newspaper Project, a coalition of newspaper executives endeavoring to share ideas about their industry vital.

Siegel, described by interviewer Megan Barber as the leader of the project, talks about the purpose of the organization, touts the value of professional journalism, and then throws down the gauntlet before the “information wants to be free” champions:

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