TV is Art, Not Literature

The Pulitzer-prize winning television critic for the LA Times, Mary McNamara, came to talk to my other class today, and described her ringside seat to the digital disruption of television.   She began working as a tv critic nine years ago solely because she wanted to have a job that allowed her to work from home.

(Apologies for the black bars – unforgiveable iphone filming lapse!)  As she sums it up:

Here’s the most important thing that did not exist in the television universe 10 years ago: ownership.

Now television has become “controllable, portable and permanent”.

“When television became archivable, everything changed.”

That’s what veteran television writer Glen Mazzara said to me a couple of years ago during a conversation about the “new golden age” everyone was talking about with wearisome regularity at the time.

The show runner for “The Walking Dead” at the time, Mazzara had called me to say in the nicest way possible that it would be really great if television critics would stop comparing television to film and novels as if the comparison in itself were some huge compliment. Television was an independent art form, he said, and should be judged on its own terms.

Her description of how Netflix disrupted television and transformed it is a textbook case of Clay Christiansen’s Disruptive Innovation.

For Monday’s class, we will be doing a photo workshop.  Ahead of it, please read the following:

1) What’s a Picture Worth?  The Digital Disruption of Photojournalism

2) Is Instagram’s Social Network Dumbing Down Photography? 

Looted antiquities, sex slaves and journalistic ethics

Those were some of the topics that Emily Feldman and Ann Peters  from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting brought up in today’s class, which I hope you found as interesting as I did.

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Here’s the project by Austin Davis, who took the Digital Disruption course last semester, and a video which is among the material that he generated.

As for the links that Emily referred to, here’s The Taking of Rakka and a story that Vocativ did on the Boston bomber’s mother.   The story on Unesco failing to keep up with Isis’s trail of destruction is here, while some of her sources for that were the Conflict Antiquities website  and Belling Cat. 

We’ll have the second set of presentations on Digital news outlets on Wednesday, so you’re off the hook for reading and assignments.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

 

Great Big Story … CNN plays Catch-up

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This week, saw the launch of Great Big Story, CNN’s “answer to Buzzfeed and Vice”, according to Fast Company.

It aims to create video that is appealing to millenials (more specifically, “urban-located, globally curious 25- to 35-year-olds”), shareable on social networks, and appropriate for native advertising—all objectives that CNN, with its strict focus on news, is somewhat awkwardly suited to pursue.

CNN has a branded content studio named Courageous, and they’re looking for millennial dollars by trying to unhitch themselves from CNN’s traditional brand.   The company’s attempts to appeal to millennials haven’t played well with the traditional CNN audience either.

After Narendra Modi was appointed as India’s prime minister, for instance, CNN’s digital team made a video that swayed from CNN’s usual straightforward voice. Titled,“Is THIS the most interesting man in the world?” it pointed to Modi’s poetry collections, three-hour-a-night sleep habits, and large number of female fans in India. “It did nothing,” remembers Chris Berend, CNN’s vice president for video development and the head of its digital studios. “Because our audience comes to us for the news.” When the team put the same video on Facebook, he says it racked up 2.5 million views within 24 hours.

The people behind Great Big Story see it as “filling a white space” between “shouty” Vice and “cotton candy” Buzzfeed.

READING:

On Monday, we have guests:  Emily Feldman and Ann Peters from the Pulitzer centre.   Emily Feldman is a journalist based in Istanbul who will talk about her work on Isis and refugees.   She mainly works in print but has done some TV production

Read the following pieces before Monday’s class.

  1. The New Recruits: How Islamic State lures Children to Fight in Iraq and Syria
  2. Isis still holds Thousands of Human Slaves, giving Brisk Business to Human Smugglers

 

 

Live Radio

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Thanks to  Michigan Radioand in particular, Tamar Charney and Mark Brush, for taking time out of their busy schedules to show us round.   Don’t forget that they offer fantastic internships and could even be looking for a snapchat intern.   One of my students who interned there ended up writing The Definitive Guide to Picking Up Women at a Bookstore. (Read it, by the way, it’s not what you expect).

Given that it’s internship application season, as a public service, here are 70 internships and fellowship opportunities.

ASSIGNMENTS

MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS: Group presentations on digital news outlets, to be ready by October 21st. Develop a 20-min presentation on your new media company and its aims, its distinctive voice, its evolution, the growth of its audience, its revenue stream and the people behind it.  Look at whether the site’s methods have changed over time and the amount of influence it wields on mainstream media. How disruptive has your news outlet been?   Each presentation should be 20 mins – do not overrun – and each should make reference to Clay Christiansen’s Mastering the Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism.
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resentations will be on 21st & 28th October.  All groups must be ready for 21st October.

AUDIO PROJECT:  This should be an audio piece, not longer than 2’30 about digital disruption or technology in your beat.  It can take the form of a simple recorded interview or a radio piece including other voices and recorded sound.  The length should be around 2-2’30.   Do not overrun!  It should include original journalism, so try to find suitable interviewees, who are preferably not members of your immediate family.

The computers in the Fishbowl have Audacity already installed, so can be used.

Please post to your blogs by October 20th 9pm.

The Podcasting Goldrush

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News that WNYC is opening a new podcast studio, with a plan to invest $15m in podcasts.

Among the shows being developed at the studio will be “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” a partnership with the magazine; a spinoff of WNYC’s popular “Radiolab” program coming next year that will focus on the Supreme Court; and “Only Human,” a health program.

According to the piece, WNYC’s podcasts are downloaded 20 million times per month.

Don’t forget, Wednesday’s class is a field trip to Michigan Radio.   Please listen to it before then.   For those who want to go on the selectride shuttle bus, look for it in the Commercial Loading Zone outside North Quad starting from 215pm.   Here’s a map of the bus pick-up spot.  The bus will make a couple of trips back and forth, so don’t panic if you don’t see it.

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For those who want to make their own way, directions are here.

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MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS: Group presentations on digital news outlets on Sept 21st.  Develop a 20-minute presentation on your new media company and its aims, its distinctive voice, its evolution, the growth of its audience, its revenue stream and the people behind it.   Showcase pieces of work that were successful and those that drew criticism.  Look at whether the site’s methods have changed and the amount of influence it wields on mainstream media.  How disruptive has your digital news outlet been?  Each presentation should be 20 minutes long – do not overrun!   Each presentation should make reference to Clay Christiansen’s piece on Mastering the Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism.

AUDIO PROJECT: Deadline is October 20th 9pm.  This should be an audio piece not longer than 2’30 about digital disruption or technology in your beat.  It can take the form of a recorded interview or a simple radio piece, length 2’- 2’30.   It should include some original journalism, so please record someone else, such as a professor on the topic.   Please try to avoid interviewing members of your immediate family.

The computers in the fishbowl have Audacity installed.   Please post to your blogs by Oct 20 9pm.

Other People Rating You… and A Listener-Generated Podcast

One of the most-hyped stories of the week was the advent of Peeple, a Yelp for People.  The online backlash was intense and included death threats, even including a People Vs Peeple campaign.  The website of Peeple isn’t working any more.  And we now have the phenomenon of the pre-launch backlash, leading to the reinvention of something that doesn’t even exist yet.  Confused, anyone?   Thanks to Sam Wittmer for pointing out Peeple.

One podcast, the Longest Shortest Time, is experimenting with audience engagement, by letting the audience record directly into its app.   Those responses are then woven into future episodes of the podcast, accordithe-longest-shortest-time-700x418ng to Nieman Lab.   It’s a podcast for new parents that comes out at 3am, and this is how the audience participation works:

Every two weeks, listeners receive a prompt geared toward an upcoming episode. Right now, it’s “Submit your sex questions for our experts!” for a series on sex after childbirth; other questions have included “When has your kid misinterpreted how the world works?” and “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done due to sleep deprivation?” (That last one was inspired by a thread on the Longest Shortest Time Mamas Facebook page; one new mom posted that she’d tried to put her contact lens on her nipple instead of in her eye.) 

Reading

1) In Digital Era, What Does Watching TV Mean Anyway? WSJ)

2) Not cable news: CBS’ 24 Hour Digital News Channel Makes Leap to TV (IB Times) 

3) How Americans Get TV News At Home (Pew)

The timing of this term’s study break means that all the assignments have clumped together, but I’m hoping you will have enough lead time to deal with this, if I move the radio assignment deadline back. These are all the assignments until after the midterm break.

Weekly Blogpost: Watch half an hour of CBSN and then share your thoughts and consider the following questions: What do you like and dislike about the content? What particular stories peaked your interest and why? What did you like and dislike about the format of CBSN (eg. the online 24/7 aspect, the video sidebar, the talent hosting) Would you watch it again or consider recommending it?  How does it compare to NPR One? (For Sunday 11th Oct 9pm)

Radio Assignment:  A recorded interview or a simple radio piece, length 2’- 2’30.   This must include another voice (not just your own) and some other audio, whether it be music or other sound..  The theme should be related to technology and digital disruption in your beat.  (for Oct 20 9pm)

***The computers in the Fishbowl have Audacity software installed and can be used for the assignment.***

Midterm Assignment:  In groups, develop a 20-minute presentation on your new media company and its aims, its distinctive voice, its evolution, the growth of its audience, its revenue stream and the people behind it.

Showcase pieces of work that were successful and those that drew criticism.  Look at whether the site’s methods have changed and the amount of influence it wields on mainstream media.  How disruptive has your digital news outlet been?  Please make reference to Clay Christiansen’s ideas in Mastering the Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism at some point during your presentation.  (for Oct 21)

Serial on TV, and a Cards Against Humanity Podcast?

The sensationally popular podcast, Serial, has been optioned by the TV studio behind Homeland, and everybody is wondering whether it will work for TV?   Here’s the Washington Post’s take:

Part of what made the first season of “Serial” so addictive was the way it isolated you with your thoughts and left you free to visualize what Koenig was reporting and the conversations she had with the people in Adnan Syed’s life. The fact that the audience wasn’t being fed visuals — aside from the ones being provided if you went hunting for them on the “Serial” Web site — forced you to pay attention in a way that television often does not. You couldn’t rely on scouring a screen for clues that a person might be lying based on their facial expressions or their body language.

Nieman Lab

Nieman Lab

And in more cross-platform news, the people behind Cards Against Humanity are also the driving force behind a Chicago Podcast Cooperative.  This is what their website says:

Here’s how it works. Sponsors pay into the cooperative each month to form a fund. Podcasts sign up to read a 140-character pre-roll ad. We pay podcasts a flat $50 per episode. Pretty simple.

 

READING: 1) NPR One App has Huge Potential (Poynter)

2) Deciphering What the Next Generation Wants from NPR One (Nieman Lab)

ASSIGNMENT:

 

1) 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 to the stream, and write a radio review.   I want you to note down exactly which stories were offered to you and how you rate the customization.  Did you feel it was tailored to you?  Would did you like and dislike about the listening experience?  Would you repeat it?  And what other features would you like to have seen on the app? (for Oct 6th 9pm)

2)Radio project:  a recorded interview or a simple radio piece, length 2’- 2’30.   This must include another voice (not just your own) and some other audio, whether it be music or other sound..  The theme should be related to technology and digital disruption in your beat.   (for Oct 14)