Monday reality check: Journalism is being replaced by lots of non-journalistic things
Software developer Stijn Debrouwere is getting attention with a provocative post about how journalism is being replaced by other sources of information that provide a roughly equivalent service to users. Add up all his examples (he provides plenty) and you see how people are gravitating away from traditional news stories to answer questions about music, real estate, health care, neighborhood news and many other issues.

There are organizations and websites everywhere that are taking over newspapers’ role as tastemaker and watchdog and forum. These disruptors don’t replace investigative reporting, but they replace the other 95% of what made professional news organizations important.

This is not sharing cat pictures, this is stuff that matters. People can read the health section in their newspaper and get drip-fed badly researched advice about how to live a healthy life, or they can visit the NIH or the Mayo Clinic online, or create an account on one of the many bulletin boards about anything from fitness to dealing with cancer.

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TechRaking conference seeds journalism community with ideas from tech

Thursday’s “TechRaking” conference, sponsored by the Center for Investigative Reporting and Google, was not an experiment in transporting journalists into the world of ideas before reality smacked them back to the realm of the possible. No, it aimed to bring journalists and tech types together and see if they couldn’t find some way forward for investigative journalism, which many people claim to love and fewer and fewer news organizations can afford to fund.

Matt Stiles, a data reporter who works on NPR’s StateImpact project, told me over the phone that the conference gave him some ideas for news apps that can “help reporters and the public understand politics better.” For instance, he floated the idea of a Google Analytics-type site with customizable widgets that would let news consumers arrange data about campaigns — ad buys, coverage, social media. Read more


51 entries move on to next round of Knight News Challenge

Knight News Challenge
The judging for the first of the thrice-annual News Challenge contests is going quickly. This one focuses on networks. Judges have whittled the list of entrants from 1,078 to 51. The contest page says: “Included in this 51 are the five applications that generated the most chatter on Tumblr: AmautaCont3nt, the Unconsumption Project, and PreScouter.

Other projects by people I recognize: Read more


David Cohn: ‘Spot.Us is no longer the best place for me’

David Cohn has decided to leave Spot.Us four months after the crowdfunded journalism site became part of American Public Media’s crowdsourcing platform, Public Insight Network. When APM took it over, Cohn had planned to stay involved in a contract role. Now, he writes on his blog:

It has come to my realization, however, that in its new form Spot.Us is no longer the best place for me. In many respects that’s perfectly fine. … With this post I’m handing full reigns of Spot.Us over to APM not just in ownership (which already happened) but in terms of direction. This change has been going on in the background for some time and now it’s official. This is me taking a bow and exiting stage left.

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Alan Rusbridger outlines 10 principles of ‘open journalism’

Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger says he was asked during Guardian Open Weekend if he had rules for open journalism. “Not rules,” he tweeted Tuesday, “but 10 ideas abt what #openjournalism looks like.” Here they are:

[View the story "The Guardian's 10 principles of open journalism" on Storify]

Would you add anything else?

Related: Rusbridger asks readers what they would give in return for the Guardian’s journalism: time, money or data? ( | Josh Stearns adds background on open journalism, including Rusbridger’s earlier writing on the subject and Alex Howard’s talk on what these concepts mean for government | Melanie Sill on how to start practicing open journalism now (Poynter) Read more


Jill Abramson on the NYT as local vs. international paper: ‘We can have it all’

Monday at 11 a.m. CDT (12 p.m. EDT) at South by Southwest Interactive, New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson discussed her vision for the future of the Times with Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief and CEO Evan Smith.

My live blog of the event is below. Among the notable points:

  • Abramson said some people on the political team wanted a policy against tweeting news before the site had a URL to link to. That didn’t happen.
  • Expect more linking from to other quality sources.
  • She sees the rise of individual journalistic brands as beneficial for both the institution and the reporters, who can say they work for the Times.
  • She’s proud of being the first female executive editor but says it’s impossible to say how it informs her work.
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How bad habits keep news companies from changing and what we can do to fix them

Charles Duhigg started his talk at South by Southwest Interactive with a short neurology lesson. He described what scientists have learned about habits by studying rats crawling through mazes, which naturally made me think about reporters sitting in their cubicles.

The first time a rat enters a simple, T-shaped maze, Duhigg explained, it proceeds slowly, scratching and sniffing its way along the wall until it eventually finds the chocolate reward. As it repeats the maze, it gets faster and faster.

What’s interesting, explained Duhigg, is that the first time the rat goes through the maze, its brain activity remains high the whole time. Once the navigation becomes routine, its brain activity drops, except for spikes at the beginning when it starts the maze and at the end when it finds the reward. Read more

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Google’s ‘Solve for X’ project focuses on radical solutions to big problems

The Verge | Solve For X
The Verge’s T.C. Sottek writes, “it appears that Google is nearing the creation of a TED-like think tank that will focus on talks about radical technological ideas. … So far, it sounds a lot like the same territory covered by Google X — Google’s secret lab that’s suspected of working on over a hundred ‘shoot-for-the-stars’ ideas.” Meanwhile, Google has now produced four issues of its Think Quarterly magazine, which said in its first issue that it aimed to be a “breathing space in a busy world.” The theme of the current issue, ironically, is “speed.” Jeff Jarvis wrote one of the stories, in which he argues that although the Web has changed so much, so quickly, that may be nothing compared to the disruption yet to come. Read more

This 1984 photo of the Browns appears courtesy of the Hearst Corporation.

Former Cosmo editor gives $30 million to establish media innovation center at Stanford, Columbia

Stanford’s engineering school and Columbia’s journalism school will use the $30 million gift to establish the bi-coastal David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. In a joint release, the schools say the new Institute will “recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology, bringing the best from the East and West Coasts.” Helen Gurley Brown, who edited Cosmopolitan for 31 years, donated the money on behalf of her late husband David, a movie and musical producer who attended both schools.

Each school will receive $12 million for Institute activities, part of which will be used to endow professorships — one for the East Coast director, the other for the West Coast director. Columbia will get another $6 million to build a “highly visible signature space at the eastern end of the J-School’s landmark building, featuring a state-of-the-art high-tech newsroom.” The gift is the largest ever received by the J-School. Read more


How to adapt online news in the age of sharing

Internet users are sending a message most media companies aren’t ready to hear: They want to share, reuse and remix your content.

To leaders of news organizations and other media, this probably means one thing: copyright violation. But with a new style of publishing, they could turn it into an opportunity.

The most popular social networks thrive by letting users repost other people’s content. What if news publishers did the same?

The world’s 1.2 billion Internet users spend one in every five minutes on a social network, the fastest-growing of which are those designed for copying and curating.

Felix Salmon reports that the surging Tumblr microblogging network has nine people curating (by “reblogging” others’ posts) for every one person creating original posts. Then there’s the explosive growth of Pinterest (visits up 55 percent in one month), a social network exclusively for curating images and ideas from around the Web. Read more


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