Welcome to the post-industrial journalistic age

Well, would you have believed: Just as you thought the media was becoming more industrialised than ever. Just as the steady stream of cost cuts, lay-offs, consolidation, online traffic partnerships and industrial scale copy-paste-steal practice popularly dubbed aggregation reached new heights.

Just as you thought the media was looking more and more as an electronic herd stuck on the treadmill of doom: 

The new media revival, the post-industrial journalistic age finally arrives. It's just that, as with most future paradigms about to become present ones, the implementation is unevenly distributed. 

The end of big (media) arrives, and news organisations move from brands to platforms for talent (Nieman Journalism lab), and we can finally glimpse what newsroom organisation in a post-industrial journalistic age will loook like (Emily Bell).

One could have been mistaken for writing this development down to how social media, and particularly blogs, forever changed publishing and enabled a revolution in personal brand building - allowing everyone with the skill and inclination to build his or her individual super brand and loyal community.

Except, by now the blog is long dead, The New York Times commits blogicide and The New Republic publishes the umpteenth eulogy for the blog in the history of blogging.  

Pardon me if I sound sarcastic, I actually didn't set out to be: When I started writing this blog post I just planned to collect some really interesting links in one place as a back up for my brain - in true, traditional link blogging style.

But I'm struck by the many ironies and paradoxes here, even if I do think there's lots of thoughts worth pondering in the two first posts I link to.

I'm not so sure about the third: It describes an interesting trend, but I don't think I agree with the conclusions.

I'm more inclined to agree with Björn Staerk (aka Bearstrong), who in a recent history of Norwegian blogging (described here) writes something like this (I'm paraphrasing him slightly):

Personally, I feel that because everything has become blog, nothing is blog, and as a result we should get rid of the word entirely... The blog is dead because today everything online is streams of information, and everything is user friendly. 

And where does that leave the media?

The media has certainly become more blog-like in several respects, and absorbed both some of blogging's best practices and the blogworld's best bloggers (such as Björn Staerk, whom Aftenposten has had the wisdom to employ as a columnist).

Perhaps, and at the moment it certainly looks like, that might lead to a future where media acts as a platform for individual brands and talented curators. Or a future where big media uses the pull of its mass audience to act as a platform for niche sites, entering into partnerships with one-topic-sites on issues ranging from politics to technology, as well as specialist bloggers, rather than employing anything but a skeleton staff itself. 

What do you think?

As implied above, I didn't set out to write this post because I have all the answers here, but these are trends I've found myself pondering recently...

See also:


On bringing about real change (or using disruption management to create innovation)

"You can’t bring about innovation with disruption," a friend of mine likes to say. Luckily, I’ve also gleamed some valuable insights on exactly how to go about changing what I myself like to call dysfunctional organisations from her, or how to disrupt them enough to bring about real innovation.

But first a bit of background for why I’m blogging this post now: Some time ago I was invited to manage the Twitter-account of Corporate Rebels in week 12 this year, in other words the week now coming to an end. Corporate who? You can read more about the concept here, or the short version here.

Their starting point:

"Our organizations no longer serve our needs. They cannot keep pace with a high-velocity, hyper-connected world. They no longer can do what we need them to do. Change is required."

I couldn’t agree more, but how do you bring about the needed change?

 As someone who’s spent most of her professional life working for legacy media, I know that change doesn’t come easy – a fact I’ve blogged about at numerous times, most recently (and with a positive slant) in this post on how to transition from legacy media culture to the digital world.

Now it must be said I had no idea how insanely short on time and focus outside of work I’d be this week (and how much in need of the vacation I started yesterday) when I accepted the challenge to manage @CorporateRebels in week 12. But, now  that my much needed vacation has finally arrived, it offers me the opportunity (and much needed impetus) to sit down and write that post I’ve long been contemplating on disruption management.

As so many good things in life, it started with a great conversation: This particular conversation took place in London in 2010, while visiting my friend Adriana Lukas (who, as it happens, was the woman who set up this very blog for me and told me to get blogging back in 2005). Adriana is, in Jackie Danicki’s words, "a professional disruptor" and the topic for our conversation that evening, was Adriana’s recent thoughts on what she coined ”disruption management”.

In Adriana’s words (via this blog post by Jackie): "Disruption is not about destruction. It’s about putting things off-balance in order to change them, so you can sneak something new and better in between the cracks."

Here’s how (again, in Adriana’s words, as she explains this much better herself than I do):

The challenge for anyone looking to change the old ways is to:

  • avoid existing and mostly dysfunctional processes
  • connect to the outside where the shifts are being defined
  • bring the change inside and apply it to their sphere of influence
  • find people to set up a loose and cross-functional network of allies who end up building alternative ways

The first three apply to those who have had their OFM. The forth is the hardest and involves co-operation, conversations, reaching out and most of all willingness to face the stigma of a disruptor. There rarely is innovation without disruption…

 This, in short, is the recipe for disruption management if I’ve understood Adriana correctly. She also has this very useful (and funny) post on what kind of persons within any organisation who might be persuaded to become your allies in bringing about change.

After having that late night conversation with Adriana about disruption management back in January 2010, it felt like I had found an important, missing link that tied so much of what I had been thinking about the previous few years together.

See, I’ve always felt that companies, and especially media companies, are very much like more or less dysfunctional families (please note, I say this with almost as much love as I have for my own weird and wonderful family), and I’ve sometimes observed how dysfunctional managers create co-dependent employees. In general,  I’d long been contemplating how there's so much that is true about individual psychology that's also true about companies: "As above, so below"  - macro cosmos mirrors micro cosmos.

And journalism has at times felt like one of the most dysfunctional industries ever, dysfunction being the norm and not the exception - something that's even eulogised at times. As a journalist, hearing eulogies like this about other media folks is not uncommon: "He was a right old crook and bastard, mercurial and just plain impossible at times, a heavy drinker whose wife long since left him: But he was a hell of a journalist to the end of his times". Crook, bastard and heavy drinker often being honorary words when used by journalists and editors about journalists and editors.

This is a type of mythology I’ve always detested, and why I’ve repeatedly talked about how journalism needs new heroes, new myths: And as I’m passionate about the opportunities online media holds for transforming and expanding journalism, I’ve often talked about the way new online tools and services can help bring about more open, more transparent, more social, more informed, more service-oriented journalism - and sought to point to "heroes" and positive "myths" from that field.

It’s easy to point out how tools such as Twitter of Google Maps have created new opportunities for lazy journalism and celebrity stalking, but there’s also tons of examples on how such tools have created a more transparent, more informed journalism that wasn’t quite possible in the same way before.

So when you bring the change new tools represents into media organisations, it changes journalism as well. Also, if you can identify, educated and network the people who have the passion, and the skills or willingness to learn them, for bringing about change, that can also help bring about new solutions, new alliances – and affect change. Which all, might help bring about small, loosely organised, doses of disruption management, though perhaps not enough? Perhaps, the change is only incremental as the old school still is in charge?  (Kevin has posted some reflections related to this here)

Again, I do know how hard it can be, or seem, to bring about substantial change in the industry I’m most familiar with as we’re always chasing deadlines, always fighting the daily chaos (which I written about here, here, here and here – to mention a few posts). So these tips come in handy:

A few tips for those who find themselves in a situation where the organisation is their worst enemy:

  1. Don’t try to change the system from within – i.e. trying to bring a change by going through established and outdated processes.
  2. Find people inside the organisation who understand both how important and good such change is and the original reason behind processes that are stopping it.
  3. Increase their knowledge and understanding of what you are trying to bring about, share tools, passion, ideas, frustrations.
  4. Gradually connect these people in a network that will amplify their ability to make things happen ‘under the radar’, i.e. bypassing the dysfunctional processes and in effect creating alternative ways of doing things.
  5. Make sure the ‘alternative ways’ are not grabbed by the system’s people and turned into their version of inflexible and ossified processes.
  6. Rinse, lather and repeat – 2 or 3 times helps but once already feels good.
  7. Wave good bye to ‘business cases’ and say hello to ‘case studies’ i.e. ‘this is how we have done it and all we want is to enable everyone else to do something similar if they wish’.

This, to my mind, is brilliant advice, and applies not only to companies but to all kinds of organisations. This, I think, is also why all kinds of networks of change makers, change hungry or change curious people, such as Norwegian Online News Association and Girl Geek Dinners, can be so powerful when it comes to connecting the right people with each other and with powerful ideas…


Book launch, blogging and content analysis

Add meetings, presentations and report-writing that title pretty much sums up my week.It's been a week with a slightly dizzying pace, very intense, but, although I started it in the doctor's office, I got a lot of important things done, learnt some valuable new things and received some good news.

At work, I was very pleased to attend the first of three full-day workshops I've organised on web content analysis, expertly held by Netlife Research - which turned out to be extremly useful, and taught me many valuable things about our content and how various parts of the organisation approach it.

At this stage I should perhaps explain that I'm writing this post as much for myself as anybody else, because I was so nackered at the end of this week I really have to remind myself about all the good things it contained.

In addition to learning the secrets of web content analysis, I was delighted to learn that an author-to-be I've been working with for close to two years now, finally has signed a book contract with a publishing house I work for. To say "worked with" is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but this project all started with a features idea I had back in August 2011 or so, and we've talked about the project and project brief, which quickly evolved into a book idea, for about a year now. Perhaps needless to say, I think it may turn into a great book - and a very important one.

And then there was that anthology on Norwegian blogging I mentioned here recently, which was launched on Tuesday - another project long in the making - with a big debate on the future of blogging, which I moderated.

I should be over the moon about all this, as those two book-related bits of "completed" are kind of milestones, but right now I'm just looking forward to a long Easter holiday - when I might even find some time to blog some reflections from that before-mentioned debate - and more web content analysis' workshops coming up this week.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to all the good books I plan to read this Easter (this weekend saw me mid-way through "The Secrets of the Lazarus Club", an uncomplicated, riveting crime novel set in London in the 1850s, exactly what I needed after a week like this).

In the meantime, here's a hard copy of that book on blogging:

GiMegEnSceneBok


Paywall success for "Ål inclusive"

After introducing a "hard" paywall in November 2011, tiny local newspaper Hallingdölen in Ål, Norway, boasts  of its best financial year ever in 2012.

The name of its businessmodel? "Ål inclusive" (the term refers to how only paying subscribers can access the paper on all platforms).

Fascinating. And if you know that "betalingsmur" is Norwegian for paywall, Google does a half-decent job if you try running this Kampanje-piece on the story through Google translate.

As I wrote about for Journalism.co.uk, Scandinavian media was hit by a bit of a paywall craze last year, so a lot of people will be watching this and the early results from other recent paywall-projects very closely. Hallingdölen also claims, in the before-mentioned article, to have been the inspiration for another recent and much talked about paywall-project, that of Norwegian regional Faedrelandsvennen (which I blogged about here).

What makes this extra interesting, is that this story comes in the same week as Facebook introduced it latest revamp and with re-newed vigour made clear its ambitions to become "the world's best personal" newspaper - or position itself as your (hyper)local newspaper if you like.

So where does this leave local newspapers long-term? How long before Facebook will conquer the (hyper)local ad market? Or will Facebook's hübris and blantant disregard for its users privacy have killed it off before it ever can conquer such a positon in a rural part of a country on the outskirts of the world such as Norway (albeit a country with a very impressive broadband penetration)?   


New Book: A history of Norwegian blogging

Here's a book I just discovered is hot off the press today, a book I've been working as a bit of a backstage assistant for, and am delighted to finally see published.

It's a history of Norwegian blogging, and the book's title roughly translates to something like "Give me a stage! Norwegian blog history - ten years of terror, trauma and today's outfit".

The book is an anthology where prominent Norwegian bloggers charts this history in personal essays, focusing on how blogging changed their own lives and what wider impact it has had. More about the book here, in Norwegian. And the launch is set for next Tuesday, more about that event here (also in Norwegian): 

 

GiMegEnScene




Blogging just landed me a new place to live - hence the radiosilence

This might be old news if you follow me on any of my Norwegian social media profiles, but I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain the radio silence on this blog last month:

I was tired of my search for a nice place to rent dragging on and on, wrote a blog post about the flat search, the post got reweeted by lots of helpful souls - and the process landed me the place where I now live.

Success :-)

Except moving is a true nightmare. I worry way too much about everything that may go wrong along the way, and find it hard to stop worrying until everyting is done and dusted.

I saw this place for the first time end of January, signed the contract mid-Feburary, and has been moving ever since next to a full-time job and other work committments. I'm delighted with my new home and how I came to live here, but I've only just managed to unpack all my books (well, save one box) this weekend.

I'll admit I've had a strong inkling to only share lots of house- and moving related stuff online the last few weeks, but thought I'd better abstain for the most part (instead I'm afraid my colleagues have borne the brunt of this temporary obsession).

I hope to get back to blogging about media related stuff, and an exciting book launch coming up, next week.

In the meantime I'm very proud of this mess as these boxes are all empty (finally) and ready to be put away in storage:

Boxes


50 blogs by journalists, for journalists

Now, here’s a really pleasant surprise which really made my day on Thursday: This blog is included on Journalism.co.uk’s terrific list of 50 blogs by journalists, for journalists.

The news reached me when I was at the mercy of a very angry sinus infection, after having covered a ministerial visit to a building site on a freezing Monday afternoon, and I wasn’t even aware of the list being put together – so it was an extra pleasant surprise. 

It must be said though, that this blog never did have journalists as its specific target group.

It just sort of ended up rather quickly as blog on information, social media, traditional media, media acquisitions, journalism and all those sort of things.

Over the years it has very much shaped my career and work, it was almost like this blog took on a life on its own –  by the way it revealed me to be a media nerd, shaped my public persona and created all sorts of wonderful job offers and career avenues for me.

That is a major reason why these days I constantly regret not finding time to blog more here – I write for three different blogs, for a quite a while I was even paid to write a forth one for Norway’s most read news site, and at the moment I’m involved with quite a few book projects next to a very rewarding, full-time job.

Incidentally, one such project is a history of Norwegian blogging, an anthology, which is due to be published in March - so I've found myself reflecting a lot on my personal blogging history recently (I first got acquainted with blogs when I was doing work experience for a print newspaper close to Fleet Street in 2002, and it's so ironic to look back and realise that blogs ended up being much more helpful for my media career than that stint of work experience. I certainly had no idea it would turn out like this at the time).

These days though, I must admit I do more mental blogging than actual blogging. I have all these blog posts almost fully written up in my mind – I just need to find the time to actually sit down and do the writing. I keep promising myself I will do. In the meantime, it seems I’ve at least seen the end of that sinus infection. That’s a start, I guess.


HMV, Blockbuster, Jessops & disintermediation anno 2013

A post about the recent bankruptcies of high street chains HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops - brands which holds a lot of memories with me - made me think back to a a favourite video which bears revisiting.

"Where-ever there is mediation there will be disruption. This is not just the lesson of an economic downturn - it is the structural reality of the networked world - of an Open Economy... The web disintermediates - and retail is mediation," wrote David Cushman following the recent collapse of these household names.

That post, or maybe it was HMV's collapse, I don't quite remember, reminded me of the excellent "Day of the Longtail", which I think I came across in 2006 or thereabouts via Adriana. Back then it was a feeling that this kind of disitermediation was imminent, but it has been a slow, drawn-out process which has far from come to it's end. In either case, the video is worth revisiting:

 


Crowdsourced media accountability - in 20012, 2013 and beyond

What if readers could just add a plugin to their browsers and instantly correct factual or grammatical errors on various news sites? Would they bother? Would news sites ever welcome such an innovation and use it to correct their content? Well, it does exist....

I know at least one former editor of mine whom I’d suspect would relish a tool like this, which would effectively enable him to put a grid over a news site and suggest corrections for any errors, grammatical or factual, in red print – almost like correcting paper pages with a red pen.

I was reminded of this innovation when I attended the Online News Association’s annual conference in San Francisco in September 20012, and media analyst Amy Webb talked about the top ten tech trends for 2012 (I’ve blogged about this talk here, albeit in Norwegian).

The first trend she singled out was #Verification, predicting the emergence on tools and systems bent on verifying content as a result of consumers are getting more sceptical. She even asked, rhetorically: ”What if there was a way to grade the trustworthiness of journalists?”

Well, this is not quite a tool to grade trustworthiness, but it is a tool its masterminds, Tobias Reitz and Kersten A. Riechers, dub a tool to facilitate crowdsourced media accountability.

They believe errors these days spread massively and quickly, like an electronic wildfire, in part due to social media such as Twitter & Facebook, and due to cost cutting in the newsrooms and the demand to do more with less, in addition to the emphasis on speed, they feel we have reason to believe errors happen more and more frequently.

So they invented this tool, called ”Corrigo”, allowing user annotation of news articles, based on their diploma thesis in online journalism.

Corrigo is browser plugin, and people do have to download it, but it helps you flag and correct factual errors, missing links and types in online news articles. With the plugin you can highlight sentences that contain errors. As a publisher you can click on the yellow line on the top of the site to see if there’s anything the Corrigo community wants to tell you.

Corrigo's vision is to fight haste and paste, and if you wonder if parts of an article is copied from a press release, you can check that straight away.

Now, I must admit I got acquainted with Corrigo while listening to Tobias and Kersten talk about it when attending a small media bloggers conference in Bristol as far back as August. So I don’t know if its inventors have forged any partnerships with media organisations since then.

Unfortunately, I picked up a bad strep infection on the way home form Bristol, which put me in bed for two weeks, and then work and life’s been moving at such a frantic pace since I got well that I’ve had no time to blog about it until now.

But it’s a fascinating concept and I’m curious to learn how it would work for a online media organisation and what kind of challenges they might face using it.

I do know, and did mention to Jude Townend, who was there blogging from the conference, that Schibsted-owned VG, a former client, has implemented its own kind of ”crowdsourced media accountability” measure - though very different from Corrigo.

What VG has done is to advertise for people who would serve voluntarily as proofreaders for its news site, which is Norway’s most read. From those who replied to that call they’ve chosen 100 proofreaders, many of them retired teachers, who voluntarily proofread VG.no’s articles.

The proofreading they do is not visible to the readers, but as a journalist you will get an email, or more, from the proofreaders if there are any grammatical errors in your articles. And the number of errors corrected in various journalists’ articles will show up in VG’s internal statistics – as a journalist those stats will enable you to see how many people read your article(s) that day (unique visitors), how many errors were corrected, how many likes it or they received on Facebook etc.

Which is a different way of doing things altogether than what Corrigo offers, but still an interesting and very efficient one. In either case, it’s really interesting to see innovations like these come about and how they work.

Another verification tool for a very different purpose that Amy Webb mentioned in her before mentioned talk in San Francisco, was the Super PAC app – which works much like Shazam, just that it’s for political ads and not for music. The user holds the phone up to a political ad while it's playing to collect information about the ad's funding and other tidbits. That sounds useful, though I’m curious as to how well such an app can work.

In either case, limiting tech trends to such and such a year is rarely an accurate practice – one or more tends tend to be big one year, but more often than not these trends will tend to stretch over many years. And what many experts single out as a trend one year, very often turns into something more like a seed which rather gradually blossom into full bloom, often stretching over many years – sometimes even a decade or more.

So I for one am very much looking forward to see more of these innovations in verification- and crowdsourced verification, correction and accountability tools in 2013 and beyond as well...

A bit more on Corrigo from the founders:


Investigative journalism in the digital age

It’s good to see journalism school books and primers finally being updated to reflect the new challenges and opportunities of our age.

A good example of this is a book which arrived in my mail box just before Christmas:

Gravejournalistikk

Now, it must be said that it arrived in my mail box because I provided some input on the chapter on social media a few years back,  and one of its editors is a former editor of mine.

Still, the book has gone through many revisions since I read that one chapter on social media, and the result looks very promising. I’ve yet to find time to actually read the book, but skimming through some of the content on social media and new digital tools it looks like it offers a very comprehensive and up-to-date guide.  

I’m especially looking forward to reading Rune Ytreberg’s chapter on the new digital tools of the trade properly. Ytreberg is also due to give a talk on this for The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA), the organisation I co-founded, used to run and am a still a board member of, towards the end of this month.

From skimming through it I see that one of the plethora of sources he credits is Journalism.co.uk’s Colin Meek who NONA brought over from Scotland to Oslo talk about advanced online research techniques in April 2010.

Incidentally that was the previously mentioned, and much covered, trip where Meek almost got stranded in Oslo due to the ash cloud crisis. Only VG’s brilliant editorial innovation, the Hitchhiker’s central, and me convincing a friend to drive stranded travellers, including Meek, from Oslo to Dover (and then back again with another load of stranded travellers) prevented that.

In either case, it’s great to see some of NONA’s work bear fruit in this way as in the book, and hopefully inspiring both better teaching and better practice when it comes to utilising today’s digital tools as efficiently as possible to create good, and perhaps even innovative, investigative journalism both in terms of uncovering worthwhile stories and connections, and finding new ways to convey these stories.  


Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you all a wonderful 2013!

I think I made this card for new year 2009, as the world economy was in a complete mess after the 2008 bank crisis etc, then I didn't post it as I thought it would come across as a bit too pessimistic for a new year card. And yet I also think the photo rather beatiful, perhaps implying that even in the darkest of times there is always a lighter horizon and rescue ahead for those who choose it - or how every cloud has a sliver lining. Or perhaps that's reading way too much into a photo (which is one I snapped at Stavern harbour, Norway).

For my own part the future looks very far from bleak, I've just been too busy and preoccupied to blog much as of late.

2012 has in many ways been a turbulent and trying year for me, but it has also held wonderful professional opportunies - including joining the editorial board of a small publishing house, and learning so many invaluable things in the process, and starting a new job working with online development, social media and science communication at The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (more on that job here, in Norwegian) Oh, and working with some wonderful stories and book projects and moving out of a house I only realised after moving out made me ill to live in (due to major dampness issues I now suspect).

So everything is set for 2013 becoming a much better year for me than 2012.

Maybe, and I really hope it will be the case, I'll even find more time to blog in 2013. It's not that I've lost interest in blogging or the issues I blog about, it's just that life has been too demanding, I write for 3-4 different blogs and earned most of my living writing until September - and I've found myself becoming a much more passive consumer of social media this year than previously. I've still used social media a lot, but I've found myself listening more than sharing or participating actively in 2012.

In either case, I hope 2013 will be a stellar year for us all - and perhaps even for blogging:

HappyNewYear

 


Montgomery praises Norwegian media

"You don't often hear the chairman of a new British newspaper publisher begin his launch press conference by saying how inspirational things are in Norway," Peter Preston writes in today's Observer.

He's writing about former Mecom-boss David Montgomery's newest media venture, regional newspaper group Local World, and it must be said it's far from the first time Montgomery has praised online developement in the Norwegian media market.

And rightly so, while Montgomery was in charge of Mecom, the company's Norwegian arm, Edda Media, was top of the class within the pan-European company both in terms of online product development and of earning money online.

My recent visit to the US for the Online News Association (ONA's) annual conference also brought home to me to how well Norwegian media (Schibsted, Edda, A-pressen etc) measure up, even compared to international media, when it comes to online journalism and innovation. But then it must also be said that as the founder and former president of the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA), where I'm still on the board, I may of course be somewhat biased.

A more interesting question is perhaps how well the ideas Montgomery bring with him from his time in Mecom, so controversial among Norwegian journalists, will go down with UK journalists. 

Preston describes the gist of it as re-modelling local newspapers as "a one-stop shop for content and commerce".

That sounds very much like something along the line of what Montgomery described more in detail in this debate arranged by the Norwegian Union of Journalists (NJ) here (see the text below the subtitle "Newspapers to sell lingerie and wine). Or are we past that debate about knocking down the walls separating editorial and advertisement by now?

In either case, here's a few perspectives on Local World I found in my newsreader (amazingly my Icerocket search on Mecom still works, I'm so used to useful free online services being bought up or shut down by now):

 


How to make the newsroom embrace data journalism

Struggling to get your entire news organisation enthusiastic about the possibilities inherent in big data sets? Texas Tribune has the answer.

I can’t recall just how many times the terms "data journalism" or "computer assisted reporting (CAR)" have elicited big yawns from other journalists.

It is certainly nothing which will draw journalists to an event, unless you focus on the most spectacular stories this kind of journalism has made possible. So it’s perhaps no surprise that Texas Tribune’s recipe for success is both simple and daunting:

Just do it, and the enthusiasm will follow from the results.

"Data accounts for 66% of our traffic. I don’t think all the journalists saw the light instantly, but as they saw really interesting stories come out of the data and traffic started to pick up, everybody got interested," said Rodney Gibbs, Chief Innovation Officer for Texas Tribune at Online News Association's annual conference last weekend, ONA12.

He was on the panel together with Stephen Engelberg, Managing Editor of ProPublica and Meghan Farnsworth, Senior Manager Distribution and Online Engagement at the Centre for Investigative Reporting (CIR) for a session called "The Business of Collaboration".

Engelberg said they saw immense potential in sharing big data sets with different news organisations who each focus on their own regional angle, and that ProPublica’s collaborative data sets are now so distributed he discovers partnerships via Google Alerts.

"It is really important to figure out if there are tools out there which will help you distribute your content better," said Farnsworth, and spoke of Publish2 as an incredible tool (which sort of reminded me I haven’t used Publish2 for ages, better try to check in and have look around again soon).

"We certainly view everyone at ProPublica as journalists: it’s just that some of them write words and others write code – that is the future of journalism," said Engelberg.


Twitter promises better curation tools for journalists

Emily Bell interviewing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was one of the highlights of ONA12 – and the session also revealed some good news in store.

Twitter is working to create better event curation tools for journalists; Costolo promised we will be able to download all our tweets within the end of the year and a Twitter-version of Google Analytics is underway.

Those, to my mind, was some of the good news from this keynote session at Online News Association’s annual conference, ONA12, which I attended in San Fransisco last weekend.   

But that is playing down the entertainment (or should that be infotainment?) value of the interview.

Here are a few tidbits:

- I’d like to thank Costolo for ruining my attention span… In my journalistic lifetime Twitter has probably been the tool that has had the biggest impact on our professional lives in terms of how we do the job, said Bell at the start of the session.

- You are dictating the biorhythm of free speech for an increasing number of people all over the world.. How does it feel to be in charge of free press in 21st Century?

- It’s important for us to help our users protect their freedom of speech… We were put between the rock and a hard place when we were told to hand over information before the court of appeal was held, said Costolo, referring to the Malcolm Harris-case. The Guardian’s Matt Wells has written more in detail on that here.

Costolo agreed that this kind of judicial challenge is just going be a more entrenched problem for Twitter in the times ahead.

As for the recent crackdown on third party apps, Costolo said, among other things that this was "to make sure all our users got all our new features and fixes immediately". Techcrunch has more on this story, but Costolo also answered a question by Jeff Jarvis related to this by saying: - If you mean that are there anything more we will restrict or restrain in the near future? Then no.

- Is the area of openness over?, asked Bell. - No. We’ll continue to spend a ridiculous amount of money to keep our API open, said Costolo

Bell: -When is instant translation coming? Costolo: - Not soon. Bell: - When can we download all our tweets? Costolo: - Before the end of the year. But you got to take into account it’s the CEO saying this, not the engineer building it. It is a priority we actually want to have out by the end of the year.

Bell: - Twitter analytics like Google analytics, when can we have that? Costolo: - We have the function, but have to improve it before rolling it out. Bell: - Can we have it by the end of the year? Costolo: - No, I’m only going to over-commit from stage once. Bell: - So end of next year (no protest from Costolo there).

Two other interesting points:

Costelo said Twitter would like to migrate to a world where the 140 limit can serve as a caption for further content. In general, he said Twitter is not about being a destination. - I’m a huge believer in syndication and in that true platform companies always outflanks products, he concluded.

(Oh, and I just realised I’ve used the standard Norwegian way to write up quotes – and not " ...", but it goes better with my very quick write-up of my notes)


EU funds European platform for media accountability

Given all the different European press codes and national challenges, what should a European website for recording media transgressions focus on to be most useful?

That was the question at a media bloggers’ seminar  in Bristol, organised by the EU-funded Media Act project, I was privileged to attend some weeks back.

Should such a website just feature a collation of RSS-feeds from different European journalist union sites and media bloggers, or should it do regular features to highlight interesting cases? Or something else all together? And could there possible be pan-European interest for media challenges that are unique to England, Hungary or Norway? Can we share best practices, and how could we do that in the most useful way?

Those were some of the questions raised at the meeting.

For my own part, I’m a big fan of sharing both challenges and best practices. Not at least I think it’s very useful to share stories about how we handle various challenges.

A case to the point is the twin terror attacks in Oslo and on Utöya 22/7 and the aftermath.

This was a very challenging and resource-intensive story to cover, 60 complaints have been lodged to the Press Complains Commission of which 49 were unique (some complaints concerned the same issues), 40 have been evaluated and six media organisations have been deemed in breach of the industry’s agreed code of ehics. But also, there’s something about the scope and impact of this story, and the many online innovations created to best cover the trial against the perpetrator.

As VG’s Anders Giaever wrote in one of his many brilliant comment pieces from the trial (my translation): ”Tears are shed at the judge’s table. The defence attorney looks downs and rubs his eyes. Several of the defendant’s attorneys are fighting to gain control over their voices. Journalists are crying. The audience is crying. And of course the next of kin, the families of the victims and the survivors are crying.”

That of course is one kind of story, raising all sorts of ethical issues and conundrums. A very different kind are the kind of cases mentioned by Mediawise’s Mike Jempson where the media perpetuates something blatantly untrue or so twisted it comes close to a lie which could be so hard to live with it results in suicide or other terrible consequences.

There are the ethical issues we all struggle to grasp with in the best possible way, while sometimes failing due to their complexity or because we don’t properly see all the ramifications of our decisions, and those cases which seems like a deliberate obfuscation or plain lie. There are cases of blatant government censorship and laws that seems invented only to obstruct journalists from telling the truth – be it about companies or politicians. Sometimes the ethical challenges are universal, sometimes they are entirely unique to the country in question.

Could there possibly be international interest in a website that focuses on the whole breadth of such challenges? I actually think there would be, seeing how the journalistic community, and that of media academics, tend to be very interested in ethical issues pertaining to journalism in general.

I’m not entirely certain about the best form a website dedicated to such a project should take, and how it best should be achieved in terms of organisation, but I do think a combination of original, case-based, content and RSS-feeds + tool kits could work very well. In either case, it will be interesting to follow the MediaAct-project to see how it evolves.

NB: I'm a bit late blogging about this as I picked up a strep infection at the airport on the way back from Bristol, and went straight from two weeks of strep-induced downtime to moving etc.


Food for thought: networked individuality, Wikipedia, doctors of doom and roadblocks

Here's a few links I've been thinking about recently (and had open in my web browser for ages).

Obviously I need to find a new bookmarking site to my liking, after Delicious got all pearshaped I've been unable to make up my mind about which service I should use to replace it (any ideas?).

Networked individualism (via Sambrook)

"The networked individualism operating system creates new efficiencies and affordances in the ways people solve problems and meet their social needs. Whereas in the past, it was not easy for people to get real-time information to help navigate a place, now it could hardly be easier with instantly available maps, augmented reality mobile apps that give people helpful information about their surroundings, and crowdsourced input about the environs."

Journalism and Wikipedia

Journalism, as a field, should be concerned with adding to the record that is Wikipedia, argues Doc Searls in a post which spurs a really interesting discussion in the comment section.

Doctors of doom

Few things makes me as angry as reading about doctors who take it upon themselves to make uninformed, blanket judgements about how an injury may cripple you for life. I really don't understand why some of them find it necessary to dole out what are effectively life sentences, when they simply do not know for sure.

It makes me angry because I myself was told my life was probably over after a serious car accident at 17, so when I read this gripping story about a girl who defied doctors who told her she would never walk again that's the thought that hit me: why? I'm not so sure about the article's conclusion - Mind over Science - I think it's more of a question of doctors making unscientific judgements, or judgements based on too little or inclonclusive evicence. I wonder if one reason for this may be found in this study on blind spots, or biases: "Why smart people are stupid".

Roadblocks

Interesting article on following unconventional routes to success (via Jackie Danicki). It reminded me of some hard-learned insights I've had myself about sometimes missing out on key opportunities when being too obsessed about where you're going, and how detours can turn out to be more valuable than planned careers moves.

 


The modern newsagent

Modern newsagents are diversifying as quickly as they can it seems. I just came across this fascinating photo I snapped last year because I was stunned by how many different services and goods this London newsagent sold. Is there a parallel here to the media industry? Should there be more of a parallel than there is? In either case, I find it a fascinating photo to contemplate:  

Diversification


22/7: The frontpages commemorating last year's twin terror attacks on Oslo and Utøya

Last year Norway experienced the worst peacetime massacre in modern Norwegian history, these are some of the frontpages the country woke up to today - one year later to the day.

I kind of think the more minimalistic ones are the strongest ones, I especially like Aftenposten and VG's.

These were the frontpages Norway woke up to on 23 July 2011, the morning after the shocking twin terror attacks on Oslo and Utöya 22 July had left 77 people dead and others severely wounded.

 

Aftenposten: "You will never be forgotten"


220712AP

 

VG: "Hope"


220712VG

 

Dagsavisen: "Back from the darkness"


220712Dagsavisen

 

VG: "Hope", Dagbladet: "Dad's grief"


220712VGDB




Norway's first constitution day celebrations after 22/7

I must admit celebrating 17 May has at times felt as too much hassle due to all the preparations involved. But against the backdrop of the devastating twin terror attacks on 22 July last year, and the current, painful trial against mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, I found this week's 17 May parade incredibly moving.

Even to the point that I berated myself for letting myself become blind to the beauty of it in previous years, for allowing myself to take such a unique and joyful celebration of independence and democracy for granted.

Apparently I'm not alone in this, according to a survey conducted by Norstat for NRK ahead of the day, three of ten said 17 May would mean more to them this year. Here a snap from the 17 May parade in Drammen:

DrammenBarnetog1000