Questionnaire on journalism and news consumption

I’m representing at a conference in D.C. next week, and I’ve been presented the following questionnaire to submit beforehand. I’m working on my responses, but I’m curious to hear yours. I’ll follow up with my responses and more about the conference.

1. What are the most significant new forms of news, journalism, and reporting that you see in the current Web landscape? Which ones are of potential long-term value for research, education, and cultural purposes and why?

2. What trends do you see in community, hyperlocal, and citizen journalism that you anticipate will have significant impact in the near and mid–term (5-10 years)?

3. Describe briefly how your consumption of news has changed in the past 5 years. As a rule, where to you turn to for news—local, national, international, and among professional colleagues?

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Andrew Nacin

Lead developer of WordPress, living in Washington, D.C. Follow me on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Questionnaire on journalism and news consumption”

  1. Some thoughts, my dear Nacin:

    1) Big new form of news: Nonprofit and/or watchdog journalism. See California Watch, ProPublica, Nieman Watchdog for examples. From these organizations, we’re seeing more long-form, investigative reporting, without the spot news in between.

    2) In hyperlocal, watch for location-based stories and distribution channels a la TBD. Also seeing a lot of part-blog-part-community-news-outfits along the lines of Minn Post and Voice of San Diego.

    3) RSS feeds seemed like they were going to be the next must-have in news consumption, but that title goes to Twitter** now, essentially because Twitter = RSS + discussion/comments/feedback/user-generated content. If all I did was look at my Twitter stream evolve all day, I would not miss a single important news story, and I would learn about most stories quicker than if I had been tuned to my news organization of choice. Smart phone apps and tablet apps deserve an honorable mention in this category too.

    ** While Twitter is crucial for news consumption, Facebook tends to send more traffic to websites that Twitter, based on what I’ve seen.

  2. 1. Data journ. Once relegated to the nerds in the corner to parse and interpret, data’s becoming a powerful force in journalism thanks to tech. Really good database presentation allows the public to search and manipulate the data to answer questions on which the journalists may not have touched. The best offer additional information (read: reporting) that accompanies the data.

    I’d also nominate data journ for the second question’s answer. Nothing reveals trends in culture like numbers do. You can’t argue with it (at least not if the journalist’s done his job right).

    But for the most part, I don’t really think there are too many truly new forms of journalism. Rather, it’s the way old forms (writing, graphics, photos, video, audio) are put to task in light of new technology. From a storytelling perspective, I think very few news organizations make the most of interactive multimedia packages. (And I mean true multimedia packages, not text with video or a timeline.)

    2. I think people are realizing that community news is the stuff that isn’t going away. I’ve always argued that if paywalls worked anywhere, it would be in your smallest communities – where else are you going to find the Boy Scout service projects and town rezoning laws? But that’s the stuff that community cares about.

    At its heart, hyperlocal/community journalism is all about connecting people with things they care about. To do that, you have to know your audience in more than a demographic sense, and I think that’s what news forgot sometime in the past hundred years. Suddenly we’re seeing news orgs scramble to figure out how to engage with people. That’s something they should have been doing all along, and something that they’re going to have to do much better if they want to survive.

    Citizen journalism doesn’t fit with hyperlocal/community to me. In fact, it seems like citizen journalism has faded somewhat as a “savior” for the industry. No one could ever really tell me why someone would donate his very limited free time to basically be told he can’t write. It always smacked of “hey, free labor!” to me.

    3. A confession: I am not a regular news consumer. News consumption is something I’ve had to learn through my journalism education. Most of my news comes through my graduate assistantship, in which I have to write biweekly news quizzes for a class of brighteyed freshman journo students. Hopefully, once I finish my stint as a grad student, I’ll be able to keep up with it a bit more!

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