Rebooting the News #51

In Podcast on May 12, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Anyone listening?

Dave’s “rant for the week”… Does communication ever really happen? Do people actually listen? It isn’t smart to judge “intonation” online because there is none, but people do it anyway. What’s it going to take to actually reboot ourselves?

We guarantee it!

Jay: Advertising that guarantees results– that people will recall it. Suppose journalists started to guarantee it: we actually inform people; we have the metrics to show much knowledge people acquire when they come to our site. Then you could say to potential advertisers: people remember what they see here.

iPad rewind

Jay: Getting more interested in the iPad since I read this piece on how it may help sustain long form journalism.

Dave: That won’t work; it’s too hard to read for a long time on the iPad. For example, I read in bed and it doesn’t work for that. I’m also really frustrated that I can’t read the New York Times on the iPad yet. The “editor’s choice” app doesn’t do it for me.

Dave: We should try to get Jake Tapper of ABC News on the show. I like the fact that we can talk to him. “There’s listening happening there.”

New York: Silicon Alley?

Is NYC the next tech mecca? As Dave wrote:

“… NYC, with its incredibly huge pool of fresh talent, which is its advantage — this is the largest metro area in the United States, and one of the largest in the world — shouldn’t be thinking about competing with Silicon Valley. They do what they do very well for a reason. We should be thinking about how we can work with Silicon Valley, when the time is right. In other words, I don’t think we’re going to stop taking planes to SFO anytime soon. What we can do here, though, is iterate on the vision for the next level of tech, which I feel intuitively involves the humanities and media, as much as it will involve memory, batteries and input devices.”

Jay: “Everything’s that magical about New York comes back to density.” Dave: “And diversity.”

NYU student uses the tools she has and makes a documentary about the semantic web.

The Local: East Village

Jay: Last week presented our plans for the East Village Local to the New York Times last Wednesday. We emphasized what we want to do that moves the ball down the field in rebooting hyperlocal journalism. 1.) The way we plan to go about launching beats, 2.) Our plans for topic pages, 3.) The open source assignment desk, which “opens out” to the community.


Jay: They went with the View from Nowhere because that’s what they knew. The magazine is up for sale. No clear buyers or path to profitability. “They bet on a strategy that requires a view of the world and then declined to develop one.”

Dave: The domain must be worth some money. “I would love to buy it” … and see what could been done with it.

Dave: “Great stuff that’s just stagnating.” Yahoo kind of reminds me of a company that has dissipated its assets like Newsweek. “I don’t know how organizations get past this. I don’t think they generally do.”

Here’s the show, Rebooting the News #51; we hope you like it:

6 Responses to “Rebooting the News #51”

  1. I think there’s something to Jay’s idea (to know how much you absorbed) but from a different angle. Sort of from a news filter perspective. If Jay reads something and ‘retweets’ it I may be more apt to want to read it myself. In this way you could create an ecosystem for things to go viral – or in the least for interesting stories to percolate up. NYTimes has most emailed/viewed/blogged/viewed on their homepage….

  2. I think Dave kind of missed the point on the idea about the iPad offering a new channel for long-form (but maybe not book-length) journalism. It’s not really about the iPad. It’s about the retailing model established by iBooks (and earlier by Amazon and iTunes). You buy a book, or a song, at what is often an “impulse buy” kind of price and it instantly downloads to your device — be it iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Android, whatever — on which you can read it.

    But just as iTunes has partly blown up the whole notion of what we think of as an “album” (since we can just buy songs), Amazon and iBook may eventually do away with the notion of what we traditionally think of as a “book.” A publisher doesn’t have to have 200 or 300 pages to make it worth their while. It’s the whole bundling thing: Newspapers, books, albums evolved as they did at least partly because it was an efficient way to produce, bundle and sell in those mediums that had to be manufactured and shipped around on trucks.

    But now, it’s easy to drop a 50-page work onto Amazon or iBooks and try to sell it for, say, $2.99. If you can manage to sell a couple thousand copies you’ve maybe done OK, as journalist pay goes. And a piece can probably be published more quickly as well, an important consideration in journalism.

    Whether people will buy such items it hard to say. But you could argue there might be a renaissance in a few forms that have faded over the past 50 years — such as the short story and the essay. They no longer have to be bundled in books or magazines and can be sold at impulse-buy prices.

    In fact, the Atlantic magazine has teamed up with Amazon to publish short stories (fiction) exclusively for the Kindle for $3.99 each. These stories, I believe, don’t ever appear in the printed magazine. I really have no idea how well they are selling, but I would guess any sales get divvied up between the Atlantic, the writer and Amazon. But with no real cost of manufacturing or shipping, it makes sense to try publishing such bite-sized pieces of work individually.

  3. I want to ask Jay Rosen a question. Has there ever been a news source out there that give the news in raw unedited format. Instead of the reporter writing a news story, he or she writes a list of facts of a news event in simple subject/verb/predicate sentences. There is no analysis nor shaping of story. Wouldn’t it be of valuable to the reader for a newspaper to publish the notes of the reporter as an addendum to the news story? Aren’t the notes the unfiltered facts that the reporter gathered for his article?

    I have been thinking about your East Village experiment. If you are to “open it out” to the community, I think you will have to not intimidate the community participants. Writing a news story is intimidating, even if it is a single paragraph. I think people are more willing to participate in community journalism if they are ask to report simple facts. This can be tweets, but it must be first hand knowledge. Please discourage retweets and hyperlinks which just add to the noise.

  4. RE: advertising where there is a guarantee that the message is getting though. I refer you to this article:

    Shankar Vedantam – The Power of Political Misinformation –

    “Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration’s prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation — the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.”

    It seems that there are people who will not change their minds based on facts. Not for WMDs, not for global climate change, not for overpopulation, not for tax policy, not for peak oil, and not for religion.

    However, it seems that Fox news could clean up selling ads to people who want to sell a specific view point…

  5. With Episodes 50 and 51, I find the sound quality of Dave substantially poorer than Jay. Jay seems fairly close to his mic and gets that “NPR sound,” while Dave sounds like he’s 10 feet from the mic. The net is that listening while driving to my office, I can clearly understand Jay but not Dave. Your prior podcasts from NYU didn’t have this problem.

  6. Hi Jay,

    While listening to your comments on the “open source assignment desk” for wordpress, I got really excited.

    Over a six year period (2003 to 2009), I built a national business magazine in Australia from scratch. To do that, we tried all sorts of fun things – like our Magazine 2.0 Experiment, where we used our blog to launch some early attempts at crowdsourcing to ‘build’ our holiday edition.

    We even used 99Designs to design the cover, giving our readers the opportunity to vote on the cover concept (unfortunately, it seems that voters did not pick the best cover for the purpose of selling magazines in a retail setting – but that’s a story for another day).

    I guess you could say that we are one of few magazines that have used the internet to launch a print product and not the other way around (and did so by empowering our readers to be actively involved in the growth of the business). Today, we rely heavily on reader contributions online.

    Hence my interest…

    I am super-super keen to trial your wordpress plugin and apply it to one of Australia’s Top 20 media sites. Sure, we attract a business audience. But we’ve taught our readers that they are responsible for the development of this ‘community’ (for want of a better word).

    Where can I go to check out this “open source assignment desk” for wordpress of which you speak. I’d be happy to blog about our experiences (for the greater good).

    Kindest regards,
    James Tuckerman

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