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.

When I asked him what happened, Cohn told me by email: Read more

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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.
  • She doesn’t have to choose between having a strong local and an international presence.

You can see additional comments on Twitter by using the hashtag #FutureNYT. Read more

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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.

During routine behavior, Duhigg said, “your brain actually stops working … This is a huge evolutionary advantage.” You can do the same things over and over without thinking about them so your brain can focus on more important things. 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. Another post chronicles the spread of that video of twin talking babies. 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.

And of course tweets are retweeted and Facebook posts reshared. Read more


5 provocative ideas sparked by women in media

As 2012 gets moving, I thought I’d be the very last person to list some of the ideas that have gotten stuck in my mind from over the last year.

Last year, I wrote a list of lessons I’d learned from women in media, and I found that to be a useful filter for reflecting on the year. So I’ve resurrected it for a slightly different list. This year, I’m recounting not lessons, but ideas. Thoughts still tumbling around in my head, sparked — again — by several brilliant people who (mostly) happen to be women.

What journalism can mean

As we all know, journalism remains in the midst of a deep identity crisis. We aren’t exactly sure what it is, what it’s supposed to do, and whether it works. Every now and then, however, we happen across a work of journalism so self-evidently worthy that it needs no explanation or justification beyond itself. Read more


Storify was created through classic innovation process

The Washington Post
Burt Herman tells the Post’s Innovations blog that Storify, which has become a popular way to assemble bits of social media into a story, was created through a classic process of innovating through iteration and user feedback.

“We had an earlier product that we were working on, which was was all about Twitter and making it look more readable for normal people, and that ended up not being as engaging. We actually did an experiment with a thing that let you embed a single tweet into a post, and that seemed to really have a lot of interest …  So we went in that direction … It’s not at all that we sat down at first and figured out what this was going to look like from scratch.”

In another video Herman says that social media is great material for a story, but isn’t a story in itself. Read more


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