Posts Tagged ‘New Media’

Who’s Watching Your Statehouse? No One

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The number of full-time journalists on the Capitol beat is down 40 percent since 2003. Why even politicians are saying weak newspaper economics is a disaster for democracy.

For generations of journalists, covering the statehouse has been a prestigious beat. It typically came with a desk in the building, and ample access to lawmakers. It was not an assignment for a novice. You worked your way up to it, and you had to be good. Bringing down a governor, exposing corruption—all in a day’s work. The statehouse is where reputations were made and politicians ran scared, knowing multiple news organizations could be on their case.

But that era is ending, a casualty of newspaper economics and a changing society. On a good day, state news is under-covered, especially compared to its importance. While multitudes of reporters in Washington chronicle the gridlocked Congress, the number of full-time reporters covering 50 statehouses has fallen to roughly 300, down from 500 in 2003, according to the Pew Research Center.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast

At the Franklin Center Content is King

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Dear reader,

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity has been catapulted into the national spotlight since its ground-breaking investigation into’s phantom districts. The onslaught of media attention brought with it speculation about our background and our motives. The Associated Press, for example, referred to the Franklin Center as “a government watchdog group led by former Republican staffers.”

We want to thank them for that fair and honest portrayal. We are a government watchdog first and foremost. As a news organization we adhere to the Code of Ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists. Our obligation is to that code and you, the reader, who turns to us — and every journalist, for the matter — for real information.

But we also happen to be led by a former Republican staffer, a fact that we make no attempt to hide. The Franklin Center should not be judged by the work history of its staff, but by the content that its reporters produce.

And so far that content has proved to be nothing short of credible. This has been confirmed by the fact-checkers at media outlets that have referenced our work, including CNN, the Wall Street Journal and ABC News — a network which allows George Stephanopoulos to host a well-respected Sunday morning news program, despite his senior level position in the Clinton administration.

Mr. Stephanopoulos’ situation, just like my own, is not unique. It has become common place for journalists and other media figures to come from political or policy professions.

What you find in the transition from the political to the media world is a desire to inform the public about the inner-workings of our democracy. Transparency. Accountability. These are not conservative or liberal ideas — they are American ideals, ideals that are needed and welcomed by millions of Americans of all political persuasions.

We thank you for visiting the site and hope that you will keep coming back.


Jason Stverak

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Can social sharing save journalism?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed says social media might save journalism.

By Melissa Bell | Washington Post Blogs

Political and journalism circles were a-flutter Monday morning when Ben Smith, longtime blogging pundit for Politico, broke the news that Ben Smith would be joining BuzzFeed as editor-in-chief.

Smith is seen by many as part of the young political journalism establishment and his move to a site that offers up stories such as “Dogs Sticking Their Head Out of Car Windows” shocked many media watchers. The obligatory jokes about the level of depth on BuzzFeed began in earnest with Reuters social media editor Anthony de Rosa tweeting an imaginary pitch: “Mr. President, Ben from @BuzzFeed, what are your top ten Honey Badger mashups?”

The digs don’t concern BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti, who’s seen a healthy growth in traffic to his site over the past year. Peretti thinks there’s room for both LolCats and longform, in-depth journalism on his site. We spoke on the phone this morning to discuss how hiring Smith should be seen as a logical step in his site’s expansion and how social sharing may save journalism.

News distribution, Peretti says, has moved past a reliance on Google search to a reliance on sharing. “The media you share is becoming a key part of who you are,” he said, and that means that quality journalism is becoming increasingly important. People will anonymously click on a trashy gossip story, but they want to share “something that’s hilarious or smart or touching. … People are going to share things that they’re proud of, that have an emotional resonance to them. That is good for reporters.”

Though Peretti won’t comment on BuzzFeed’s relationship to Huffington Post, it’s not hard to see this emphasis on sharing as setting the site up as a newer version of Huffington Post — a site Peretti helped co-found. What Huffington Post showed the journalism establishment about search, Peretti seems to want to show about people’s sharing habits. It’s part of why he hired Smith, who he sees as “an amazing combination of old school swashbuckling reporter and Twitter and social media fanatic.” Continue  reading.

Old media or new media – who breaks the news today?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Guardian UK

Print and web news outlets have clashed over a survey that aims to establish where stories originate from

How News HappensThe PEW Research Center studied 53 news outlets in Baltimore to find out where local information comes from today – Copyright: PEW Research Center

A study published yesterday – called How News Happens – has caused a bit of a stir.

The study focused on how news stories were broken in Baltimore and examined the outpout of 53 news operations in the city – from radio talk shows to blogs, specialised new outlets and media sites, TV stations, radio news programs and newspapers.

Mainstream media reported on the study as follows:

– “Study finds that papers lead in providing new information” (New York Times)
– “Most original news reporting comes from traditional sources, study finds” (LA Times)
– “Newspapers still generate most news, despite Internet” (AFP)
– “Local newspapers still number one for news” (Editorsweblog).

Unsurprisingly, new media folk began to protest, among them Steve Buttry, an innovation coach at Gazette Communications. Buttry produced a very deep and critical analysis of the research, and Guardian columnist Jeff Jarvis also weighed in.

So is the study – commissioned by the non-profit organisation PEW’s Research Center – biased?

Yes. And no.

In fact, the headlines could have been totally different:

– “83% of stories essentially repetitive today
– “62% of new stories initiated by government officials
– “Web now clearly the first place of publication

To be fair, David Carr wrote an ironic piece on the New York Times Media Decoder blog about “Reporting on a scarcity of reporting without reporting”.

So what has happened? Who does actually break stories these days?

If you read the research thoroughly, you will find that the effort not to be biased might cause the antagonism between mainstream and alternative media instead of diminishing it.

In fact, the survey starts with the statement that “much of the ‘news’ people receive contains no original reporting”, and that “fully eight of 10 stories studied simply repeated or repackaged previously published information”, often even without attribution.

Subsequently, the report comes to the conclusion that out of the two in 10 stories that did contain new information, most of it – 95% – came from traditional media, mostly newspapers.

Wait, from two out of 10 stories to 95%?

It was this weird numbercrunching that got blown up by the newspapers, and having said that, we can point out some interesting findings of the survey:

– Local papers are offering far less than they once did: the Baltimore Sun, for example, publishes 32% fewer stories than in 1999, and again 73% fewer stories than in 1991.
– With 53 different news outlets Baltimore isn’t short of local news at all.
– Writers obviously feel the need to suggest original reporting instead of being proud of correct attribution.
– Government bodies, led by the police, initiate most stories.
– Traditional media make wide use of new platforms.
– The mainstream press and the police department of Baltimore is using Twitter extensively to update information.

This indicates something different. While we will hear more about the competition between mainstream and alternative media, basically today mainstream media and alternative media are collaborating. Newspapers have embraced blogs, along with Facebook and social media – while alternative media are increasingly collaborating with mainstream media. For example, the New York Times handed over the local coverage of Brooklyn to the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, and Los Angeles Times Media partners up with the start-up US Local News Network.

In 2010, the hyperlocal approach will be more cross-media than ever, and in a very new way. Exciting.

TSA Goes After Bloggers

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

After the smoke cleared from an attempted mid-air terrorist attack on Christmas day, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began working to track down…bloggers that revealed new safety policies.

Two bloggers received home visits from Transportation Security Administration agents Tuesday after they published a new TSA directive that revises screening procedures and puts new restrictions on passengers in the wake of a recent bombing attempt by the so-called underwear bomber.

Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document.

The TSA directive, which ordered intensive screening and pat-downs before flights, was sent to thousands of airport personnel the world over. But the document also met the eyes the bloggers, Chris Elliot and Steve Frischling. Unamused, TSA investigators paid both bloggers a visit to discuss how they came upon those documents.

Frischling said he met with two TSA special agents Tuesday night at his Connecticut home for about three hours and again on Wednesday morning when he was forced to hand over his lap top computer. Frischling said the agents threatened to interfere with his contract to write a blog for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines if he didn’t cooperate and provide the name of the person who leaked the memo.

The case is not unlike the treatment of journalism students at Northwestern University who uncovered evidence hinting towards a wrongful conviction in a capital murder case. Prosecutors in Cook County, IL have subpoenaed the notes and even grades of the students involved in the investigation, bypassing the state’s media shield law by classifying the budding journalists as private investigators.

Had the memo been revealed by the Associated Press or New York Times, would there be an investigation–or threats to some journalist’s livelihood?

The Birth of the News Pauper

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

A cash-strapped Miami Herald has gone from paper to pauper, soliciting donations from online readers to maintain operations.

Starting today, users of the Herald‘s Web edition can make donations to the paper on each story.

A link at the bottom of each story directs users to “Support ongoing news coverage on”

Through the link, you can pay any amount you’d like with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted, sorry DiscoverCard holders).

The suggested donation is going toward a good cause.

“If you value The Miami Herald’s local news reporting and investigations, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you,” the donation page reads.

Journalism Schools Hard Hit by Media Dive

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Newspapers and magazines are not the only media organization shutting their doors, journalism schools are also being hit hard by traditional media slumps. The University of Maryland’s Knight Center for Specialized Journalism will be closing at year’s end.

The Center offers free, intensive training to journalists, and seeks applications from reporters working for independent news organisations. It has been running for 22 years and has awarded over 2700 fellowships to journalists in that time. It provides in-depth, subject-specific training, as well as shorter seminars.

Its funding from philanthropic organisation the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation covers tuition and board for students. Its last grant was for $1.52 million and terminates on December 31, but the funding was not renewed for 2010, reports.

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New Media a Return to Journalism’s Roots?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

An interesting interpretation on the rise of new media. Guantam Lamba of Wikinomics sees new media sites as a return to “crowd source” journalism of the past.

Up until, newspapers arrived in the seventeenth century (Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien,1605) reporting and observation were simultaneous and were the purview of the general public.

As journalism grew, it transformed from the crowd and into a specialized, organized collaborative group of people that banded together to report on vagaries of government and the elite.

Though it started out as strict reporting of what was observed, it did not take long to transform in to a platform by which journalists sought to cast their own opinions on the events they saw…

Then arose the critics. The public began viewing them with the same distrust that they held for the government and other big businesses. As it became clear that the free media was not necessarily so, the public turned to a new phenomenon, the internet. Blogs such as the Huffington Post sprang up as sources of ‘real news’ and since have grown to cause a serious dent in the readership of the established news media. Blogs, crowd sourced citizen journalism and the abundance of data on the internet gave the public insight and let them form their own opinions rather than have to rely on newspapers.

As it stands, crowd sourced news is here to stay. Now that initiatives have arisen that promote crowd sourced citizen journalism and even provide a revenue stream, this new model can be seen as a way to regain the public’s trust.

More importantly however, the proliferation of these crowd and collaboration centric signals a return to journalism to what it started out a being; common public freely viewing the goings on of those actions that affect them, on a real-time basis with little to no intermediaries to influence their observations.

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Government Must Stay Out of the Newsroom

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Just say no. Now.

Government subsidies for “quality journalism”? Thanks for the thought, but no thanks.

Any news media executive sniffing at the idea of easy government money must answer that temptation with an emphatic NO.

Not only is it irrefutable truth of history that widespread government funding of news inexorably leads to government control of news, easy money is what got the newspaper industry – which still employs more journalists and has more readers than any other — into this mess in the first place.

The subsidy serpent slipped into media’s garden last week during the second day of a Federal Trade Commission symposium on the future of news.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, said in opening the News Media Workshop, “We still need journalists to be watchdogs and do investigative reporting, for example. But they cannot keep producing the news if they are not paid for their work.”

There’s a thought. Journalism is a calling, not a career, which does not require vows of poverty and celibacy; it just works out that way.

But journalists who work long hours for low pay are not the only “self-inflicted” wounds Leibowitz referred to in his opening remarks.

Easy money in the form, ironically, of exemption from antitrust laws is the big one. The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, signed by President Nixon, legalized 37 years of so-called joint operating agreements that allowed newspapers to combine all operations except newsrooms.

That allowed newspapers in competitive markets to join those in monopoly markets in continuing a century of profit margins that would make an oil tycoon blush. Newspapers did not have to evolve because they did not have to compete for money, so when the economic climate changed they could not – or would not – adapt though they had more than 30 years to do it.

Instead they overextended, overleveraged and overvalued themselves, growing fat and lazy. Now the day of reckoning is here despite the fact a recent Scarborough Research study revealed more than 170 million American adults (while no cable news show can even beat ESPN, Nickelodean, Disney or even USA Network) read a daily newspaper in an average week, and newspaper Web sites as a category are the biggest news sites in cyberspace.

Any industry that can’t make a living off numbers like that deserves to die.

Among those gathered at the FTC conference were polar extremes such as media giant such as News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch of Fox fame, new media – and so far profitless – queen Arianna Huffington, and California Congressman Henry Waxman, Democrat extraordinaire.

Murdoch – who has referred to aggregators like Huffington as “tech tapeworms” — blames free distribution of journalist’s hard work on the Web for most of the news industry’s current problems, though studies show no rise in Web news consumption proportionate to declines in newspapers, television and radio.

In fact, it looks as if people who consume news on the Web are those who get it everywhere else they can. The problem is a decline in citizens who care about news at all, which does not bode well for our republic.

Waxman, powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, alluded to that in his prepared remarks, “A free press plays an intrinsic role in getting the facts, reporting them, and making accountability possible in the public interest. A vigorous free press and a vigorous democracy have been inextricably linked.”

He goes on to list six ideas for consideration, including last but not least: “The prospect of public funding for quality journalism as a means to preserve a critical mass of resources and assets devoted to public media.”

There’s the catch, citizens. Who exactly decides what “quality” journalism is? Politicians?

The harsh reality is politicians define “truth” as whatever they think makes them look good and advances their interests, and “lies” as anything they think doesn’t.

Remember, Founder Thomas Jefferson as president supported prosecution of criminal libel and sedition charges against newspapers.

Waxman said, “Those advocating for public funding … need to respond to the concern that government support of journalism would lead to government control of content.”

Huffington advocates “hybrids” of old and new journalism, but as a new media mogul reportedly still in the red, she’s not sure how to pay for that.

The answer certainly will include entities such as the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a foundation funded by anonymous donors who seek to build a host of citizen watchdogs around a core of professional journalists.

In many ways that is like the media landscape in which our founders forged this nation, littered with a myriad broadsheets and pamphleteers ranging from ranting diatribes to reasoned discourse.

Certainly government action affects media, as it does every other industry. Any action it takes in changing public policy to meet 21st Century realities will have consequences, intended and unintended.

Among those America must stop by any means necessary is more government funding of news. If leaders of the industry can’t say no, it’s up to citizens to tell them.

White House Press Corps Resistant to New Media

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Apparently, the admission of new media news organizations into the Washington D.C. press pool has raised some objections among traditional media outlets.

There will inevitably be some friction as online news organizations, which may or may not be bound by the same professed standards of objectivity, begin taking on the responsibilities of long-standing print publications.

That’s been apparent this week, as White House reporters have privately discussed and debated the recent addition of sites like Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post to the White House in-town press pool. It’s not that reporters are criticizing the work of either Christina Bellantoni or Sam Stein, but some have expressed concerns about pool reports coming from left- or right-leaning news organizations that will then be used by the rest of the press corps.

“This is really troubling,” said New York Times reporter Peter Baker in an e-mail to POLITICO. “We’re blurring the line between news and punditry even further and opening ourselves to legitimate questions among readers about where the White House press corps gets its information.”

Baker said he has no problem with outlets like Huffington Post, which he described “an important part of the marketplace of ideas.” But the site, he said, has a mission “to produce pieces with strongly argued points of view” and that puts the Times — or other nonpartisan news organizations — “in a position of relying on overtly ideological or opinionated organizations as our surrogate news gatherers.”

Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Weisman said that he doesn’t “feel strongly either way” about HuffPost and TPM joining but has asked WHCA President Ed Chen to call a meeting so correspondents can air things out. Weisman added in an e-mail that “with the two new additions to the pool rotation coming so fast, I think it would be good to get a broader consensus among correspondents.”

Both Chen, of Bloomberg News, and USA Today Vice President David Jackson said they’ve received questions from members of the pool in recent days and may hold a public meeting in the future to discuss the issue. The last open meeting, when TPM was let in, took place on Oct. 15. (Before another, the WHCA board needs to meet first, and that won’t be until early next year.)

It seems that some in the press corps treat new media outlets like Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the reality-show wanna-bes who crashed the White House last week. But sites are filling the void left by the dwindling press corps. New Media does not want to usurp journalism from the reporters, we aim to enhance the profession. Hopefully traditional outlets will realize the tools that lie in new media. Or they can dismiss the service that organizations like and the Franklin Center provide–at their own peril.