THE PROMPT - For this round of the Carnival of Journalism, Greg Linch asks, “What’s the best way—or ways—to measure journalism and how?”
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Last May, I attended a workshop at the Reynolds Journalism Institute where Joy Mayer and Reuben Stern convened bright folks from The Guardian, Chicago Trib, Free Press, Wichita Eagle, Adobe and more. The goal: To map out a starting point for orgs to measure engagement (the resulting white paper is a worthwhile read).
Breeze Richardson of WBEZ blew me away. She has such a mind for matching the sort of ooey-gooey community engagement I did at The Rapidian with ways to measure them. A year later, I’m thinking that way, too.
Which is why I have become a fan of ReadrBoard or, more accurately, the philosophy that drives its development. While reading one of Racialicious’ sharp commentaries, I noticed pinpoints trailing each paragraph. In-line commenting! And not just commenting, but reactions to specific passages and media assets.
THE PROMPT: Right now, nominations are open for the Online Journalism Awards. What qualities should awards like this endorse in an era of such tremendous change in the news industry?
There are older approaches, older technologies that have the potential to be repurposed and should be part of the considerations when journalists (communicators, really) are trying to reach audiences.
I remember reading an article introducing an innovators/entrepreneurs meetup among young people. There isn’t much innovation going on out there, one of the attendees said snidely. Lots of projects claim to be innovative, but they’re not.
“Innovation,” the buzzword that never went out of style. Knight Foundation challenges, Y-Combinator knock-offs, J-School-community partnerships… Everyone’s scrambling for it. Innovation is important in expanding our horizons, but as I’ve heard people toss the term around, I’ve realized that we’re often equivocating “innovation” with “play,” not necessarily better ways for the audience to absorb information.
THE PROMPT: This month’s Carnival of Journalism focuses on life hacks, or tools and habits that streamline our personal and professional chores.
Just two tools: Skitch and Feedity.
THE JCARN PROMPT
We talk about “failure” a lot in the online journalism community. It can be a bit of a buzzword … let’s create a safe space this month to discuss a failure that others can learn from.
- It must be a project you worked on.
- It must be your failing within that project.
- No apologizing. This is a safe space to discuss failure.
Update: The Carnival of Fail roundup from David Cohn, a must-read.
Based on stories bubbling up from The Rapidian, what kind of social dialogue could we frame? We settled on a town hall around Grand Rapids Public Schools, to which most people give up in frustration. Six of GRPS’ schools were ranked in the bottom 5% of the state, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. GRPS’ dilemma is an obstacle to the urban renaissance as GR keeps losing families (urban pioneers included) to suburbs with more flush public schools.
There were two components that we knew needed to be in place.
- An inundation of citizen reporting that explore the problem and appeal to Grand Rapidians from all walks of life.
- Provide a space to have a conversation.
We wanted to pose this question: In a community brimming with creatives and artists, grassroots efforts and community building, what could we come up with if we applied even a fraction of that mojo to Grand Rapids Public Schools?
Create an opportunity for citizens and neighbors, stakeholders to come together from all different perspectives to determine collectively what a public issue means to them.
Recommendation 12: Engage young people in developing the digital information and communication capacities of local communities
This is probably one that’s closest to my heart, and the most organic entry point for me.
In the full description of the recommendation, the Knight Foundation sets the scene for a “Geek Corps” that assigns post-college volunteers to public institutions to help them leverage digital media technologies. There already exists something like this, a program of which I proudly call myself an alum: the Digital Arts Service Corps (formerly the CTC VISTA Project).
But when I first read the recommendation, my mind gravitated toward youth rather than young adults. More specifically, first-generation youth in minority communities. Most of my experience in media has been imagining how to leverage everyday tools for media creation by sources that are not traditionally seen as information providers. This has ranged from mobile media creation by immigrant communities and Millennials to my current position as the citizen journalism coordinator for The Rapidian, a hyperlocal news site for Grand Rapids, Mich.
When we look at the purpose of information, it’s to acquaint communities with the intricacies of issues and phenomena that have a direct effect on them. There are patches of media that serve youth, that serve immigrants but there is a whole swath that straddles the line between cultures, and youth has proven to be a volatile time across the board.