Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Times profiles the Journal-World

They describe it as The Newspaper of the Future. gets a mention, but a lot of time is spent on the way that the print journalism and video journalism work hand in hand, or at least try to.

I was interviewed for a story that will broadcast on the 10 o'clock news tonight on Channel 6, and a print story in tomorrow's paper. The reporter showed up with a video camera (somewhat to my surprise), and basically let me talk about blogging.

One thing that I talked about, and that this article reinforces, is the valuable interactions between professional journalism and blogging. As Rob Curley, the director of new media notes:

"When the space shuttle blew up, we didn't have it on our home page; when the war in Iraq started, we didn't have it on our home page," Mr. Curley said. "It's focusing entirely on local stories that we think made our Web traffic go crazy."
That's smart. Try as I might, I can't cover all, or even many, events in Lawrence. And if I do cover them, I only know to do so because the Journal-World reports them. Without the professional media, there would only be the blogs that run such hard-hitting stories as "Why doesn't Katie like me?" Without the RSS feeds from the Times and the Journal-World, I wouldn't have national or local news to write about.

Blogging is about connections. A good story ties together personal knowledge, at least one story from the headlines, and maybe a story that's dropped out of the hivemind. Personal knowledge alone reads like a free-association. Current events offer a frame for that knowledge.

The danger in this convergence is the rush to the bottom. TV reporting will obviously move in a different direction than print journalism. TV reports tend to be quick summaries of what happened without any context or analysis, and they may or may not be worth 1000 words/image. It seems clear that there is a broader trend toward less critical and analytical print reporting, with many people openly doubtful that the Pentagon Papers, let alone the Watergate reporting, would ever be printed today. That sort of reporting, analytical, deep reporting on complex issues, has largely moved to blogs, where a lack of deadlines and editors makes it easy to spend a couple extra days chasing a source.

And I don't doubt that that's the next convergence. Reporting may become more stenographic, while blogging will play a greater role in evaluating and analyzing events. In time, blogs will be folded into the structure of the news process (cf. The Note), bringing investigative journalism back into the fold.

It's worth noting that there are a number of blogs (including this one) published under a Creative Commons license. What my license says is that, while I reserve copyright over my piece, I will allow non-commercial use of my work here, provided I'm given credit for my work. If the Journal-World wanted to run commentary from TfK now and then, we could work out a payment system, and I'm sure that Billmon and other CC-licensed bloggers would be willing to do the same.

Maybe it's blood-loss from a nick on my finger, or the wine with dinner, but I think this is a model that could work. Useful investigative or analytical work from blogs could be a valuable revenue stream for newspapers. Bloggers would accrue the cost of the investigation, but if it pans out, the paper gets a story and the blogger gets a cut. I'm not even sure it would be cheaper for them to have their own reporter summarize a blogger's analysis.

On a different note, among the other noteworthy aspects of the Journal-World's internet presence: podcasts. I don't listen to podcasts. I listen to music. I like my news in text form, and I know that I'm a freak for that reason, if no other. But some people like to load their news or blogs onto an iPod (the best mp3 player!) and listen to them on the road. And I don't know another paper routinely offering podcasts of their stories. (If it isn't clear, podcasts are spoken versions of the stories, broadcasts targeted to iPods or other mp3 players.)

So, read the paper tomorrow, watch the news tonight, and watch for this convergence to become more commonplace.