journalism

Another Storytelling Venture Sheds Old Media Constraints For 21st Century Creativity & Context

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 4.09.26 PMBlogger and columnist Ezra Klein (formerly of the Washington Post) just announced in The Verge his new news venture "Project X" at Vox Media. It aims to address the question: "why hasn't the Internet made the news better at delivering crucial context alongside new information?" "New information is not always — and perhaps not even usually — the most important information for understanding a topic," Klein writes in The Verge. That's the way news has functioned in the past, often due to space restrictions. "The web has no such limits. There's space to tell people both what happened today and what happened that led to today."

As a 21st century content creator with an old media background, I'm familiar both with the restrictions Project X's founders (including Melissa Bell and Matthew Yglesias ) have been bristling under and the avenues they want to pursue.

News is a natural field for building a rich new ecosystem of information around content.

 

For the past decade I've been committed to doing on a personal scale what Project X aims to do for news: Plumbing the content of deep interests and creating transmedia stories that can live and grow online.

Our time is coming!

Media Empire Building For Women, What We Can Use Our Platform For & Why We Need To

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 7.43.06 AMRegarding an on-going kerfuffle in an area I follow pretty closely (media & journalism plus gender disparities in those fields), this post by magazine editor and journalist Ann Friedman on media empire building has a lot of lessons in it for those of us building platforms and what we can use them for, and why we need to.

We need them for leverage, if we're thinking bigger or one day will. We need them as evidence. If we're women, many of whom are relegated to supporting roles in our fields, we need our own platforms to grow strong as marquee figures.

"I’m doing pretty well at building a following for my work that’s mine alone, not reliant on the individual outlets I write for. But I’ve never approached a publisher or editor-in-chief to ask for my own vertical, or the funding to create my own mini-empire."

When she decides to pitch a funder to finance her own media empire, Friedman writes, "There will be footnotes about my own Twitter following and the number of newsletter subscribers I have and my proven ability to cultivate a strong editorial voice."

Becoming Media Literate

Saw someone on Facebook bemoaning how "the entire internet" fell for the claim that the Turkish government was using "agent orange" against its citizens in the Gezi Park uprising.

The spread of mistruths is not a reason to distrust everything you see reported on social media (nor to decry it as a "menace to society"). It's a reason to do better about parsing the information and its sources.

Just like threatening chain letters and Bigfoot hoaxes, we're supposed to grow out of this kind of dupedom.

I see the growth taking place before my eyes in the Turkish use of social media. It helps to have skillful journalistic people covering the news. (Here's a new Twitter list of English language tweeters on Turkish current events by cultural journalist Robyn Eckhardt for a one-click follow of 20+ accounts. Here's my Turkey protests Twitter list with more than 80.)

The first mention of agent orange I saw was associated with the debunking of that claim, on the twitter feed of NPR's Andy Carvin.

Becoming (social) media literate is a process, and especially messy in a crisis.

But many people have already been through major crises while using social media (for instance, Carvin pioneered the crowdsourcing of citizen journalism during the Arab Spring as I, Jillian York of Global Voices and TIME pointed out in April 2011), so to portray us all as rubes -- and social media as "untrustworthy" -- is inaccurate.

Social media is a tool. It's up to us to use it wisely. As web anthropologist Stowe Boyd says, "The single most important decision we make in a connected world is who to follow."

 

Shifting From Writing For Others To Writing For Myself, With Mediabistro's First Journalism Bootcamp

My Mediabistro alumni interview with Claire Zulkey for Mediabistro Toolbox. I took Mediabistro's first media program given by creator of the series, Victoria Rowan, in 2005.  

What course did you take, how did you hear about the boot camp and why did you decide to take it?

I took Parris Island Journalism Boot Camp with Victoria Rowan, Fall 2001, eager to reinvigorate – and focus — my writing career after being laid off from a trade magazine editorship.

I wanted to make the shift from writing for others to writing for myself.

 

Also, like many writers who have not explicitly studied journalism or the business of writing, I knew I could benefit from a more professional approach to the craft.

Did it lead to any assignments, connections or jobs? What did you learn?

Yes. One week we interviewed newsworthy acquaintances and tried to sell the profiles. With that material I published a profile/book review/event announcement in the Village Voice — the managing editor’s hybrid idea when I emphasized the curating work my multimedia poet interviewee was doing at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, and an upcoming performance there of a new Brion Gysin book.

Thanks to Victoria’s pragmatic ‘so-what, why this audience, why now’ coaching, emphasizing these elements of my pitch set my subject at the helm of an upcoming event where avant garde artworld legends would be appearing. The right story for the right audience.

I also understood from Bootcamp that I had a time hook most appropriate for a weekly newspaper like the Voice. The editor’s suggestion entailed a lot more work but Bootcamp taught me that if an editor was gracious enough to tell me exactly what he could use all I needed to do was accept the challenge. As Victoria explained, “We’re here to eliminate the reasons an editor has to reject your work.”

MB’s Bootcamp offered operable information about writing and selling in seven genres (personal essays, travel, op-ed, business features, profiles and reviews and tone-dependent pieces like the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town).

The bootcamp also underscored the importance of astute portfolio building to get a writer where she wants to go.

 

I benefited most from Victoria’s deconstructive clarity about composing and selling nonfiction writing — and today it is appreciable how much I learned about piloting a writing career.