Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Journalism 2.0 in a Web 2.0 World

Mark Briggs, Assistant Managing Editor for Interactive News at The News Tribune, is a man who is on top of changes in the world of newspapers and news reporting. Yesterday an article came out through Reuters that states consumers will spend more time surfing the Internet than reading newspapers, going to the movies or listening to music. The day before that, a BizReport research paper came out that examines different ways newspapers are expanding their reach online.

Anyone with a vested interest in these reports would do well to read Mark Briggs book, Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive (and then of course, the third subtitle “A digital literacy guide for the information age”). Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and an initiative of J-Lab and the Knight Citizen News Network, the book is a crash course in Web 2.0 technologies and toys that can help even the most old school rooted reporter enter the new world of online journalism, or enhance their print side activities.

There are many aspects of this book that appealed to me, but I will focus on only three off the top in order to maintain a reasonable length to this post.

First, even for someone who is already familiar with many elements of the web, it is an interesting peek inside the reporter’s life and mind. Newspapers once owned the nexus of information about their communities, and until the last decade were in no danger of losing that place. Some journalists steadfastly refused to acknowledge the change in information distribution and consumption that has revolutionized how we take in our news and interact with our neighbors. Mark sees these changes as an opportunity for journalists to continue to do what they do well, using new tools, a greater potential for reporting and enhanced community interaction.

An interesting quote by Phil Meyer, taken from the forward, says that “The old adage, “A good reporter is good anywhere” is no longer convincing. We need good reporters who can bring appropriate tools to bear on constantly changing situations.” That speaks well to the overall theme of the book.

Second, he doesn’t just deal with writing and reporting with words. Mark speaks to how multiple media are being integrated into the story. Not just as a whole multimedia piece either. When audio is available, even in raw form, it may be posted with the thoughtful analysis and synthesis to come in a more complete and digested piece later. He speaks to the power of community and community generated media and discusses a variety of open source tools that can help with distribution and syndication.

Third, it is available for you to download and read. It is a quick read at 128 pages, but it has many assignments at the end of each chapter which could keep you busy for awhile. So if you are a reporter, want to be a reporter, or want to bring a bit more professionalism to your blogging, then this book is well worth the time to order or print out and then study.

One minor disagreement I have involves blog writing, though admittedly his suggestion is aimed at reporters. He suggests short entries every day, while I like mine at about 400 words or so per post, two to three times a week as opposed to shorter bursts.

(Shoot, I’m over by more than 100 words. Where’s an editor when you need one.)

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