Radio Daze


For our groundbreaking field trip, we visited Michigan Radio, where Program Director Tamar Charney told us how she had lost “a heck of a lot of sleep” over digital disruption.   She talked about how the radio station had to rethink its mission as a journalism outlet, trying to find new audiences on different platforms.


Digital Producer Mark Brush laid out Michigan Radio’s digital strategy, which is to only put local stories about Michigan on the website since that’s the station’s strength, rather than trying to compete on general news with BBC, CNN and New York Times.  He also spoke about how Michigan Radio is trying to foster a more interactive approach with its MI Curious segments, where listeners get to suggest topics for the team to investigate, and then others get to vote which topic will get covered.


We also met Sarah Hulett, the Assistant News Director, who spoke of how she had struggled to repurpose her material for the online site.   It was a fascinating trip, and Tamar is encouraging class members to submit CVs and cover letters to her if they are interested in a winter internship.

As for Wednesday’s class, I’m afraid I will not be here, but Eric Strauss from ABC’s 20/20 programme will be stepping into my shoes for a session.  He’ll be talking about network television and what it’s like to work for a Current Affairs news magazine.   Please read the following readings ahead of class, and make sure you come equipped with some good questions.

1) How Americans Get TV News At Home

2) In Digital Age, What Does Watching TV Even Mean?

3) News Video on the Web


Watching Watching…..

Technology in the hands


Pic courtesy of Jodi Parker at Flickr

The New York Times has introduced a new front-page feature, Watching, which Nieman Lab describes as cross between “a constantly updating wire feed and an in-house Twitter stream of stories Times staffers are keeping an eye on”.   Or perhaps the less charitable version would be to say it’s a stream of stories that haven’t quite been written up yet by Times staffers.    Or a simple Twitter for people who haven’t yet discovered the real thing yet.  Thanks to Michael Spaeth for pointing out this article.

In other news, Gigaom dissects the success of Quartz, Buzzfeed and Gawker, which it attributes to the mindset that they are providing a service. Interestingly, the author brings up the example of the New York Times’s Snowfall project as a cautionary tale, saying that no analytics at all were attached to the project.

Before Monday’s class, please make sure that you have listened to Michigan Radio and been to their website.   A Select Ride Custom Shuttle bus should be in place at 1245 outside North Quad (Washington street 15 min loading area) to shuttle you to and from Michigan Radio.  Get listening, and make sure you come up with three piercing questions before Monday!


Lids Down


Photo by Brett Jordan via flickr

In news, the father of digital disruption, Clay Shirky, is asking his students to put away their laptops during lessons due to digital distraction.

His reasoning:  “Even when multi-tasking doesn’t significantly degrade immediate performance, it can havenegative long-term effects on “declarative memory”, the kind of focused recall that lets people characterize and use what they learned from earlier studying. (Multi-tasking thus makes the famous “learned it the day before the test, forgot it the day after” effect even more pernicious.)….The final realization — the one that firmly tipped me over into the “No devices in class” camp — was this: screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke. A paper with the blunt title Laptop Multitasking Hinders Classroom Learning for Both Users and Nearby Peers says it all:


We found that participants who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture scored lower on a test compared to those who did not multitask, and participants who were in direct view of a multitasking peer scored lower on a test compared to those who were not. The results demonstrate that multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content.”

This week’s slides are here dd6.  Before next lesson on Wednesday, please read the following and write a review of NPR One on yoru blogpost.

1) NPR One App has Huge Potential (Poynter)

2) The Newsonomics of NPR One and the Dream of Personalized Radio (Nieman)

ASSIGNMENT:  Download the NPR One app, and play for a bit with tagging, sharing and skipping stories so that your stream becomes personalised.  Listen for half an hour, and write a radio review.  I want to know how you rate the listening experience, including the type of stories offered, the efficacy of customization and whether it was an experience you would repeat.





How to get 45 million pageviews


Thanks to Yahoo’s Editorial Director Greg E Anderson for sharing the secrets to getting a gazillion page-views.  A summary:  keep it short, make sure it has an emotional punch and going negative doesn’t hurt.

Career advice from the poetry major who once lived the “life of a fickle millionaire jetsetting around the world” and driving $10m Ferraris was to be careful not to get pigeonholed early on.   He also advised potential journalists to build a twitter following and write a blog, as well as working for legacy media.

This week’s slides are here dd5.  This week’s readings

1) Ten Ways that Journalists Can Use Twitter before, during and after a Story (Poynter)   2) Digital Media Ethics (Uni of Wisconsin)
3) Should Reddit Be Blamed for Spreading a Smear?  4) How Twitter may have helped track down suspects from a Philly police surveillance video

ASSIGNMENT: Set up a twitter account and link to your wordpress site. Live-tweet an event (12 to 16 tweets). On wordpress, use a storify-type layout to show your live-tweeting or a conversation sparked by it.  2) Also post your most retweeted and/or favorited tweet (for MIDNIGHT SUNDAY SEPT 21)

If you are short of ideas, here are five things you could live-tweet

Happy tweeting, and don’t forget to use the #439 hashtag!  And if you’re in need of some tips, here’s how one man gained 68,000 followers by live-tweeting (from Mashable).



‘Glance journalism’….. uh?

So here’s what’s in store for us…. ‘glance journalism‘.   Apparently wearables will make twitter look like longform.  Forget paragraphs, we’re talking protons and neurons.   As of next year, news will be beamed to us in new subatomic units…. uh?


Here are the slides from the last class (Recovered File 1).  Before Wednesday, please read the following:

1) The Changing Revenue picture for US Journalism ps 1-15 and 27-30

2) Alibaba Flotation Gives Yahoo Chance to Turn Things Around

3) Put up or shut time for Marissa Mayer

and Greg E Anderson’s linked-in profile.  If anyone wants to really crunch the numbers and give him a hard time, here is a more detailed report.   See you wednesday, armed with some good questions for Greg E Anderson.


Digital disruption news: #applewatch, medieval helpdesks and the subway fold



The #applewatch is here, a new wearable which may change the way we consume news, get our emails, exercise, find directions and oh just about everything else.

For your weekend viewing, I’m also posting a short video illustrating the eternal struggle with new technology.  It made me laugh anyway.

And in case, you digital natives are struggling with physical newspapers for your next assignment, here is a handy guide


Before the next class, please read the first 54 pages of the leaked New York Times Innovation report and spend some time looking at its multimedia blowout, Snowfall.

For your next assignment, write a 400 word post comparing the treatment of one story in the physical NYT with its online version.  How different were the stories?   To what extent was the digital version informed by the NYT Innovation report? Please cite at least two examples of the success of failure of the digital treatment of the story with reference to the “Opportunities” suggested in the report.   The deadline is Sunday September 14th at midnight.




WordPress Workshop and Assignments



Sharona Ginsberg at the ISS Media Center teaching COMM 439 001 students how to embed dog videos from Youtube in WordPress.



September 8th Class

After the wordpress session, your assignment is to write a 300 word blogpost to introduce yourself and your media consumption habits (due for September 10th class).  How do you get your news?  How have your habits changed in the past few years?  How do your consumption habits differ from those of your parents?


Please read the first 45 pages of Post-Industrial Journalism, as well as A New Consensus on the Future of News, both of which we will discuss in our next class.    Do also glance at How Social Media is Changing News Consumption.