Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Journalists’

Mind. Blown.

In Ideas on 27 Apr 2017 at 4:44 pm

It’s been a generally mind-blowing week for me. Consider the explanations of news bots over at NiemanLabs, for instance. But the thing that set my hair on fire the most was Jimmy Wales’ plan to reinvent journalism as a symbiotic relationship between journalists and everyone else. If you think a crowdsourced news site is something that has been tried before (and failed), consider Wales’ Wikipedia. It wasn’t so long ago that people thought there would never be a crowdsourced encyclopedia that could compete with, say, Encyclopedia Britannica, and when is the last time you reached for that shelf of books your mom bought in the 1970s?

He’s calling the new venture Wikitribune and you should really read about it yourself. In a nutshell, the idea is to have subscribers hire journalists who will then work on stories the crowd wants to see. The results would be vetted by the community. They hope to hire 10 journalists and launch in September.

The key here is a role for professional journalists who can ask questions, take the story where it goes and provide appropriate context. The crowd will, presumably, call out bias, check the facts and basically wiki the heck out of it.

To be sure, there are questions. How do you keep the thing working in real time, when the crowd can pivot before a story ever develops? How do you keep it civil? What if the community is more interested in the Kardashians than Afghanistan?

We shall see. I highly recommend keeping an eye on NiemanLabs. It will keep your world spinning with new ideas.



The essential moral quandary

In Writing on 26 Feb 2016 at 6:49 am


This week, I have the extreme pleasure of visiting the crew in Williston. Among the many great things about being up here with peers is finding some solitude in the form of air travel that afforded me time to read all of a slim tract called, “The Journalist and the Murderer.” I am not being hyperbolic when I say it knocked me off my feet. Here, read the first sentence for yourself:

Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.

What follows is Janet Malcolm’s 1990 – that’s right, it’s 26 years old – account of MacDonald v. McGinniss. It didn’t ring any bells for me at first, but it was a much-discussed First Amendment case that brought some of the day’s most important writers and attorneys before a Los Angeles judge. Joe McGinniss was a well-known non-fiction author when he ingratiated himself to Jeffrey MacDonald, who was on trial for murdering his wife and kids years earlier while an Army doctor.

All of which is interesting, but almost immaterial to Malcolm’s important book. She’s interested in the relationship between McGinniss the author and MacDonald the subject, and her conclusion, stated right up front, is essential for anyone who wants to be an ethical journalist. … Read the rest of this entry »

Politicians, lawyers, journalists

In journalism on 4 Feb 2016 at 4:09 pm

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.03.58 AMWell, that hurts.

The fact is, a lot of people don’t trust us. This will come as no shock to anyone reading these words. It’s been a long time coming and the slide in public confidence has been persistent. Why would you say that is?

Gallup research showed last year that only four in 10 Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust that mass media will report fully and accurately the events of the day. That is down from 54 percent as late as 2003. That same research shows that it’s even worse among those under 50 and worse still for Republicans.

Regular Kicker readers won’t be surprised to learn I have a theory.

Confidence in all institutions is down. Increasingly, we don’t trust the government, the military, the postal service or the local power company. In fact, the trajectory of falling confidence in all those sectors is eerily similar.

That is partly due to misinformation spread on social media. People continue to believe everything they read on the Internet. If some yahoo on Yahoo says you can’t trust “mainstream media,” well there you go. The same is true for local governments that are continually strafed by half-truths on blogs and in newspaper comment sections.

Politicians make it worse. Blaming the messenger has become political SOP, particularly in the GOP, from Wabash to Washington. An embattled politician will invariably blame the press. There is some kind of mathematical formula, I swear it. … Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook is a double-edged sword

In Online media on 4 Jun 2015 at 1:52 pm
A new study suggests journalists should think carefully about their interactions on Facebook.

A new study suggests journalists should think carefully about their interactions on Facebook.

So says Jayeon Lee, an assistant professor of journalism at Lehigh University. Well. It’s a little more complicated than that, but journalists and Facebook are the key components of Lee’s new study titled, “The Double-Edged Sword: The Effects of Journalists’ Social Media Activities on Audience Perceptions of Journalists and Their News Products” as published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications.

I have not read the full study, but I did read Natalie Jomini Stroud’s synopsis for the American Press Institute.

The research basically consisted of this. Lee created four Facebook profiles for a fictional journalist. The first was just links to two news articles. Comments appeared underneath and that was it. In the second, the “journalist” included a personal anecdote about each of the stories. In the third, the fictional journalist responded to each commenter, tagging each on Facebook. In the last profile, the journalist shared a personal tidbit and commented on each comment.

What did we learn? That readers in the study thought more of the journalist as a person if he self-disclosed some aspect of his life, but less of him as a professional if he commented on all those comments.

Huh. So what does that mean? … Read the rest of this entry »

Can you have an opinion?

In Online media on 26 Mar 2015 at 3:37 pm


The question of publishing reporters’ opinions came from @muckrack: “Some journalists of color have been harangued for tweeting personal reactions to #Ferguson while also covering it. Your take?”

First of all, Muck Rack is a sort of social experiment for journalists, bloggers and PR professionals. Among other things, it is a platform for marketing types to find journalists who cover their niche. One of the most interesting things about it, for me, is a regular Monday evening Twitter Q&A. (Follow @muckrack and the Monday hashtag is #muckedup.) The question above was one of those bandied around on Monday.

As you can see, the responses were varied. That wouldn’t have been the case 10 years ago, when an overwhelming number of journalists would have suggested their brethren keep their opinions to themselves. That was the prevailing wisdom, well, forever. Until recently.

That began to change with the advent of social media. In part, that is simply correcting a silly bit of pretension from our pompous past. We all have opinions. Our readers know it. Just admit it already. It also changed simply because Web 2.0 was just so ubiquitous. It was becoming difficult for reporters to pretend to be opinion-less.

I think there is a logical middle ground. … Read the rest of this entry »

Who is a journalist?

In journalism on 9 Feb 2012 at 4:23 pm

Most of you reading this are journalists. I know that because I see the subscription list. Most of you are paid to work for bona fide news organizations. You are employed to find the truth and write it. That makes you a journalist, by definition.

But what do you call a mom in Poughkepsie who writes product reviews on a blog no one reads? How about an engineer who moonlights with a podcast about the local NFL football team? Is the guy who made himself a press pass while camped out with Occupiers a journalist? Heck, does it even matter who is called a journalist?

These questions have taken on some urgency in the wake of a court’s decision to fine an Oregon blogger $2.5 million for defaming a law firm. The court ruled she is not afforded legal protections the state gives to those it considers journalists. Feel free to read all those torrid details, but I think they are much less important than the existential question of whether we should differentiate ourselves from “them.”

I have never been one to claim special privilege by virtue of my job or title as a journalist. I think the First Amendment applies to all Americans, whether they work for the New Yorker or are simply New Yorkers. Any access granted by my press pass (and, frankly, I can’t remember the last time I brandished it at some news scene) is merely a matter of convenience for some event sponsor. Obviously, the NFL can’t let everyone into the Super Bowl, so it picks and chooses who can bring it the most value. The photo above is of a pile of press passes I’ve been given through the years. I bet I have 50 of them. … Read the rest of this entry »

What works on Facebook?

In Online media on 3 Feb 2012 at 9:49 am

There has been a lot of chatter in recent weeks about how best to engage readers via social media. Before I write another sentence let me make perfectly clear that I am no expert in a media landscape that seems to change by the day. I’m merely one man with some observations born of experience – observations that have been validated by new data from Facebook.

Most of you are now using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest or some other social media platform I haven’t even heard of. You may use them to share pictures of your children, connect with old college friends or spy on your ex. Hopefully, you are also using it to engage with your readers. If not, the boat to the 21st century is leaving without you.

In September, Facebook launched a new “subscribe” feature. It allows folks to find public figures and follow their posts without “friending” them. The difference may seem a little esoteric, but it simply means you needn’t get NBC’s Brian Williams to accept your friend request to know what he is posting to subscribers. Facebook says thousands of journalists have taken advantage of the tool and it is starting to understand what it means to those who do.

Facebook says journalists who enable subscriptions have seen a 320 percent increase in traffic since November. Facebook also reported some trends in the way journalists are using the social network and the tricks of the trade that work. Directly from Facebook: … Read the rest of this entry »

Caught in the Web

In Online media on 12 Aug 2011 at 8:46 am

The Arketi Group conducts a survey of the Web habits of trade journalists every so often and the latest query added weight to the notion that more and more of us are using the Web in ever more ways.

(Before we go any further, note that this survey was specifically aimed at those journalists who write for targeted business publications; decide for yourself whether you think the results would be similar for journalists generally. You have to request the survey from Arketi, so I can’t simply link to it.)

For starters, 92 percent of the journalists surveyed said they had a LinkedIn profile, 85 percent of them were on Facebook and 84 percent use Twitter (which is up from only 24 percent in 2009.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the No. 1 way we use the Internet is to read news. In addition, nine in 10 said they use the Internet to find sources (leading me to wonder what the other 10 percent do. Are they saying they never use the Internet to find sources?)

More than half of the journalists surveyed said they are actively blogging now. A third admitted to using the Web to view videos on YouTube – and I shouldn’t say it like that as there are acceptable and even necessary ways to use YouTube in the course of your work as a journalist. … Read the rest of this entry »