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Low-tech, high impact: Storytelling with Calvin Trillin

December 19, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Calvin Trillin

Writer Calvin Trillin visiting the University of Oregon

Journalism Accelerator

The evolution of news media means journalists can tell stories many ways quickly: through tweets, posts, live chats, short video takes or breaking-news blogging that’s refreshed by the minute.

But with the advent of 140-character updates, the future of 3,000-word long-form stories is uncertain.

Last week, the JA listened in as Calvin Trillin, a modern master of long-form narrative nonfiction, spoke with journalism professionals, students and scholars from nearby universities at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland.

Moderated by author and professor Lauren Kessler, the conversation held gems for journalists and publishers looking to keep a place for deeply told stories in our fast-take, short-form world. Read the rest of this entry →

JA Resource Q&A: “See the documents that support fact-checks”

December 5, 2012 in Blog, Craft

EconocheckInvestigative Reporters and Editors teamed up with the Sunlight Foundation to create a guide to key national economic databases as a tool to fact-check political claims. Designed for journalists on deadline, useful and accessible to interested citizens, EconoCheck hopes to expand this service built initially for the 2012 election.

Journalism Accelerator

EconoCheck is a collection of economic data covering major issues frequently in the news. It’s designed to give reporters a quick way to understand the context of the data and a direct link to the datasets themselves.

EconoCheck was built with a simple premise: It can be challenging to verify economic claims. So the Sunlight Foundation teamed up with Investigative Reporters and Editors to offer direct links and helpful context to extract accurate information from key national economic datasets.

Data expert and journo prof David Herzog collaborated with Sunlight and IRE to launch EconoCheck for the 2012 election.

In the latest JA Resource Q&A, we talked with Herzog about how to report data effectively and how this tool can be useful outside the immediate demands of an election cycle. Read the rest of this entry →

Conversations for impact: New ethical considerations for political coverage

October 10, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Doug Oplinger presenting at KSU

Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger says journalists let “too many politicians… shove their own agendas down the pipe.” Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

Getting somewhere new. That’s what the four online JA conversations building on the 2012 Poynter/Kent State media ethics workshop are designed to do. Tap into the wisdom of people experienced in ethics, political coverage or both; hear the questions of those fresh to the field; create, informed by these conversations, a crowdsourced best practices guide to political coverage exploring approaches and challenges across the field.

Kent State University journalism professor Jan Leach will lead the creation of that guide in early 2013. Meanwhile, the conversation threads stay open for your input. Outlined below are a number of places where we welcome you to participate! This post highlights key points from discussions on fact-checking and changing the approach to reporting. An earlier distillation covers conversations on managing “access journalism” and the challenges of social media in political coverage. Read the rest of this entry →

Philosophy and practicalities: Can shared best practices free political coverage from “attack ads and pack journalism?”

October 2, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Kent State Presentation

Kelly McBride (left) and Ellyn Angeletti, both with Poynter, share major developments and ethical pitfalls in the last decade of political coverage with participants of the 2012 Poynter Kent State media ethics workshop. Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

Conversations on the JA about social accountability and trading anonymity for access to powerful sources opened up two of the many timely ethical issues that come up in political coverage. These are part of a collaboration with Kent State University that grows out of the 2012 Poynter Kent State media ethics workshop, which this year highlighted the “dirty politics” of “blistering sound bites, attack ads and pack journalism.” The ideas and examples to improve coverage that are shared in these conversations will be distilled into a new best practices guide. Here are highlights from the first two discussions in the conversation series.

 

Social accountability

In the first conversation in this series, social accountability meant being accountable for your reporting, in your community, even as social media blurs the line between personal and professional worlds.

There is a lot of ground a best practices guide can cover! Here are some highlights from what’s been shared so far.

The big issue is how transparent to be. Read the rest of this entry →

Ten hot ethical challenges facing political reporting in 2012

September 28, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Gregory Korte

USA Today reporter Gregory Korte tells the crowd at the 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop why he sometimes agrees to quote approval. Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

“The values of journalism are under pressure.” With that remark, Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute set the stage for “Dirty Politics,” the 2012 ethics workshop at Kent State University.

Here are ten hot ethical challenges in political coverage that emerged from the workshop. Join in the series of online conversations exploring ways to handle them. Bring your questions! Bring your experience! Help uncover ethical issues in political coverage that require clarity to provide the accurate reporting people deserve to inform their vote. Read the rest of this entry →

Political coverage: Responsive and responsible? Help inform a best practices guide

September 24, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Red State, Blue State Map

Ethics of images? In the 2000 election, The New York Times created one of the first “red state, blue state” maps. This simple data presentation “changed the way we thought about politics,” Poynter’s Kelly McBride told the crowd at the 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics workshop.

Journalism Accelerator

What are the ethical considerations you apply to your reporting in a high-stakes, fast-paced election when:

  • truth is deliberately subject to distortion or lies
  • money is increasingly influential yet harder to track
  • insults distract from the issues
  • people who will be directly affected by the actions of those elected feel disconnected from the process
  • the public largely blames the media as part of the problem

Don’t struggle with these questions alone, or debate them isolated in your own newsroom! Join a larger community of peers, together with the Journalism Accelerator, the Kent State School of Journalism, Poynter and The Civic Commons to gather examples and explore ideas from the 2012 election to inform a new Ethics Best Practices Guide to Political Coverage. Be a part of it and join us! Read the rest of this entry →

JA Resource Q&A: Sunlight’s Scout is “useful in an obvious way.”

August 21, 2012 in Blog, Craft, Technology

Scout is a tool by Sunlight Labs. Visit their resource page on the JA“Useful…right away.”

Scout developer, Eric Mill, click to visit Eric's JA Profile width=For developer Eric Mill, many goals came together in Scout. It’s a simple concept – a tool you might have expected to exist already. It helps public information flow freely – a key goal of Sunlight. And there is much more it can do. Mill says he’s proud of Scout because it’s “useful in an obvious way, right away.” Is it to you?

Journalism Accelerator

Last week we kicked off a new online conversation series by talking with Sunlight Foundation developer Eric Mill about Scout, a tool that alerts you to developments in legislation. This series is designed to help you learn more about resources you might not have had a chance to try yet, or share your insight into those that you know. To participate in or listen in on future conversations in this series, check back or follow @journaccel on Twitter to see what’s coming up.

Every couple of weeks we’ll choose from our growing collection of practical tools, reports, databases, blogs, platforms, new business models and more. JA “resource Q&As” go deeper into the tools and information featured on this site, bringing together both creators and those using the resource to help new iterations continue to align more closely with community interests and needs.

Scout tracks state and federal legislation, federal regulations and speeches in Congress on subjects you choose to follow. We picked Scout for our first resource Q&A because it’s easy to use and offers tangible results, such as cutting research time and delivering information you want quickly and directly. Based on comments in past JA discussions, including our forum on covering Election 2012, journalists value tools that are straightforward and practical. Read the rest of this entry →

JA publisher profile with ProPublica’s Stephen Engelberg: “This may shake out to be a Golden Age of investigative reporting.”

August 10, 2012 in Blog, Community, Craft, Distribution, Education, Experiments, Policy, Revenue, Technology

Stephen Engelberg

ProPublica managing editor Stephen Engelberg at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center. Image: Lisa Skube.

Journalism Accelerator

Raising money, gaining audience, having impact. Despite a ten million dollar annual budget, 34 reporters and partnerships with multiple major news organizations, ProPublica faces similar sustainability issues as many startup publishers. ProPublica’s managing editor (set to become editor-in-chief early next year) Stephen Engelberg spoke with a couple dozen journalists at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland this week. Here are his views on some of the major challenges investigative, nonprofit news organizations face today.

Stephen Engelberg had never done any fundraising before becoming second-in-command at ProPublica, the high-profile, nonprofit, investigative news organization set up in 2007. He didn’t have to right away; for the first three years ProPublica received ten million dollars a year from a foundation set up by Herb and Marion Sandler with their earnings from the savings and loan industry. ProPublica’s budget has remained the same, but the Sandler Foundation share fell to half last year. As Engelberg prepares to lead the first online-only news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize, money, branding, the expectations of donors and making an impact are on his mind. Read the rest of this entry →

JA Use Case: Five steps to pave the way toward collaborative revenue

June 25, 2012 in Blog, Craft, Distribution, Experiments, Revenue

Collaborative growth: Working together to find your own way to sustainability and scale. Image: Pics of Trees

Journalism Accelerator

The JA/Collab Central forum on collaboration and revenue held earlier this spring surfaced more than two dozen examples of collaboration in action. This post examines one, an investigative report on deportations from the U.S. to Haiti, as a detailed use case of a collaboration yielding a high return.

Originally commissioned by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) with a grant from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, the project deepened the budding relationship between FCIR and Florida public radio station WLRN. It also provided early experience in content sharing for members of the Investigative News Network. Eventually, more than 30 news organizations, both commercial and nonprofit, published an online or print version of the piece.

This use case outlines a successful collaboration that laid the groundwork for a deeper partnership that included revenue. It shows how partners worked together in different ways, explores how they may do things differently in the future, and offers examples to consider as you evaluate the structure and yield of potential or current collaborations. Read the rest of this entry →

JA How-to: A four-step guerrilla guide to social listening

June 4, 2012 in Blog, Craft, Technology

Social Media Signals

Investing time exploring social listening tools can help tune your business strategy, connecting the dots for greater profitability AND deeper audience connections. Image: Intersection Consulting

Journalism Accelerator

Have you been keeping up with all the hype around “social monitoring” software? There are scores of tools out there that promise to deliver a secret treasure map of insight and intel: how to decode the value of your products by “listening” to your audience “talk” about them across social channels.

Here at the JA, we have been evaluating social listening tools for our own work. This post offers a summary of what we’ve found, for you to consider as you size up methods for deeper knowledge of and engagement with your audience. We’ll tell you a little bit about how each tool works, and share a framework so you can consider how social listening may advance your success. Our goal with this list isn’t to cite everything that’s available, but to present a comprehensive range of options we think may be most useful in your work.

There are a number of ways publishers might apply social listening techniques. Some are simple, some more complex. To help guide the build of our service model, we subscribed to and tested the capabilities of one social listening industry leader, Radian6, over the past eight months. While it appears to satisfy major corporate brands like Pepsi, UPS, and Dell, it didn’t do as well helping the JA achieve its objectives, which are less about brand loyalty and more about tracking emerging trends.

So we began to explore other options. If you’re considering the offerings of the big kids on the block (such as Radian6, Crimson Hexagon, Lithium, Simplify360, or Alterian), know specifically what you want out of it before you go in. Also, don’t let budget stop you from experimenting. If you’re on a shoestring with little time to spare, you may find some tools you need in these free or low-cost alternatives.

Our best success in both choosing tools and getting a good outcome from social listening came from having a clear plan going in. Outlining your community and business requirements early on focuses your search for a social listening solution that provides the best fit for both budget and bandwidth. Know what you want to achieve before you start trying tools, and know how much time you have to invest in the effort. Going in with an idea of what you hope to learn sets up the experiment for a greater return on the effort.

There are four basic steps to successful social listening: discovery, analysis, management and integration. We list tools that can help with each element below. Read the rest of this entry →