Twelve things journalists can do to save journalism

Begin with this premise: Newspaper journalism is structured around the packaged goods nature of news on print.

We have developed “news judgement” (how important a story is) based on our need to order news within the confines of a certain package size and design.

We developed inverted pyramids both to fit wire service needs and because the nature of the print package sometimes required stories to jump, so we wanted to get the news up top.

We developed certain professional standards related to the content of the story because with mass production, we essentially had only one chance to get the story right. We had to put a premium on accuracy and fair mindedness.

Because we had to reproduce the same package every day at a specific time, we developed highly structured organizations full of rules and rulers.

Because our product was write once, read everywhere, it was essential for us to acquire mass appeal, meaning we had to determine what the news was with little input from individual readers. Editors made decisions based on training and experience with the goal of producing a package that appealed to as many people as possible at one time.
Digital, distributed media, of course, changes all that. The new rules of the game are:

  • The user is in control. They decided what, when, why, where and how to consume media.
  • Users aren’t interested in our deadlines and desire to make sure we have the full story before publishing what we know. They want to know what we know when we know it. They want their news now.
  • People want to participate. They want to talk back. They want to add to our stories, correct us and just spout off as need be with their own opinions.

We have decades and decades invested in doing things based on old rules. Now, the rules have changed, and newsrooms need to change as well. We need new attitudes and new cultures. This will only happen if individual journalists put forward the effort to change their minds about what their jobs are and how they do them

Here are twelve things journalist can do to help us recreate journalism for the 21st Century.

  • Become a blogger. By this, I don’t necessarily mean “start a blog,” but that is never a bad idea. More importantly, become an avid blog reader. Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed.
  • Become a producer. Pick up a digital recorder, a point-and-shoot camera or a video camera and start producing content beyond text. Do this as part of your job, fine, or do it on your personal time. The goal is to understand DIY. Post stuff on YouTube, Flickr or any number of other UGC sites.
  • Participate. As you read blogs, leave comments. If your newspaper.com has comments on stories, read the comments and add your own. Become known as somebody who converses on the Internet.
  • Build a web site. It will greatly expand your mind about how the web works if you go a bit beyond just setting up an account on Blogger or WordPress. Learn a little HTML. Better yet, learn some PHP, Cold Fusion, JavaScript or other web development language. You should own your own domain, anyway.
  • Become web literate. You should know what Flash is, and how it differs from AJAX. You should know the meaning of things like HTML, RSS, XML, IP, HTTP and FTP. You should understand at least how people use applications and tools to build web sites. You should know the potential and the limitations of each.
  • Use RSS. You need an RSS reader and lots of RSS feeds to consume. This will help you better grok distributed media.
  • Shop online. Part of your goal is to become immersed in the digital lifestyle. You will learn stuff about the digital life if you shop on Amazon, Ebay and other ecommerce sites. As you do, think about how these sites work and why they’re set up as they are.
  • Buy mobile devices. Get a video iPod. Get a smart phone (an iPhone, Treo, Helio Ocean or Nokia N-series are all good places to start). Learn about distributed, take-it with-you-anywhere content. Buy a laptop and tap into some free wi-fi while you’re out and about. Learn what digital life is like when you’re not shackled to a desktop machine.
  • Become an avid consumer of digital content. Watch videos on YouTube. Download video and audio podcasts (take them with you on your iPod). Visit the best newspaper sites in the world and watch what they’re doing. Turn on your TV less and your computer more.
  • Be a learner. Technology and culture is changing fast. You can’t keep up unless you’re dedicated to learning. I love this quote from Eric Hoffer because it is so appropriate to what our industry is going through now: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
  • Talk about what you’re learning with your co-workers. Be a change agent. Get other journalists excited about the new digital communication/media tools.
  • Finally, read Journalism 2.0 (PDF) by Mark Briggs. You’ll learn about the stuff covered above and how it is changing modern journalism. Brigg’s book is the best primer on the topic you will find.

Quality journalism, and the news organizations that finance it, needs individual journalists to become personally responsible for their own role in changing newsroom cultures and practices. The smartest publishers with the greatest strategic plans (even if they had bottomless buckets of cash to execute on all the best ideas) can’t save news organizations without the concerted support of individual journalists.

One last bit of advice: Don’t wait for a boss to tell you to become a learner and an explorer. Your job is just where you collect your paycheck. You career is what you do. Your boss isn’t responsible for your career. You are. Solely. Don’t wait on others to make changes. Start making changes now for your own benefit. It’s great if your employer benefits from your growth, but you will benefit more.

85 thoughts on “Twelve things journalists can do to save journalism

  1. “Buy mobile devices. Get a video iPod. Get a smart phone (an iPhone, Treo, Helio Ocean or Nokia N-series are all good places to start). Learn about distributed, take-it with-you-anywhere content. Buy a laptop and tap into some free wi-fi while you’re out and about. Learn what digital life is like when you’re not shackled to a desktop machine.”

    All I have to say is that the Ocean from Helio is awesome for my blogging. I can write articles from my phone – very cool. And the internet speeds on it are fantastic. I ended up with the Unlimited voice minutes and unlimited internet usage and I get service just about everywhere I go. Very, very cool. Unfortunately the iPhone is not available in my area. Oh well, I really like the service from Helio. I got my phone from http://www.hellohelio.net for a great price and won’t be switching anytime soon.

  2. This is a great list. I think I’m doing everything except 11. Except with my editors, I rarely talk about the future of journalism, or even cool projects I come across or what I learn, with my co-workers. I just don’t think they care. Many of them just see online updates as a necessary evil and reader comments as a source of humor or annoyance. (And I took a razzing just Friday for having a blog from someone who I think just doesn’t “get it.”) But you know what, I think I should broach the topic with them, especially the ones who are younger like me. Like it or not, they need to be thinking about the world they’ll be working in down the road.

  3. […] Become a blogger. By this, I don’t necessarily mean “start a blog,” but that is never a bad idea. More importantly, become an avid blog reader. Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed. […]

  4. Wow this is insufferably smug and trite, and why bloggers are struggling to be taken as seriously as print journalists. The message is the news, not whether you’re typing it on a Helios from ocean for gods sake. You sound like the whole point of blogging is “understanding the digital lifestyle”, not conveying information. Please speak for yourself when you type “Users aren’t interested in our deadlines and desire to make sure we have the full story before publishing what we know. They want to know what we know when we know it. They want their news now.” I want well researched and factual news, not stupid opinion and half-baked blogging.
    “Buy mobile devices and shop online”. That one cracks me up! You’re absolutely correct, where I shop will make my blogging more compelling.
    You’ve just articulated numerous points that keep you stereotypes. It’s not the medium, it’s the message.

  5. It’s an excellent list that could be summed up as: Journalists should have curious minds. So many editors are hired and trained to have a narrow focus, staring at what’s in front of us and “inspecting the eggs” as they go by. I work with some savvy people, but I’d like to inspire as many as possible to explore and try to break things. You don’t have to be an uber-geek, but it’s not good to have an attitude of “I’m not into computers.”

  6. […] The sale of the Post and Mail group has been called off by current owners Trinity Mirror, apparently because a suitable bid was not received. From my perspective this is annoying as it means they won’t be dragging themselves into the 21st century any time soon. Time to go it alone, hacks. Share This […]

  7. Great post, Howard (and not just because you plug the book).

    I would add a 13th step: Have fun in your job and let your audience share in it.

    I heard that Ira Glass once remarked that journalists were the funniest people he’d ever met. But when you pick up the paper in the morning, you’d never know it.

    Our journalism should have more humanity in it, and that means humor. It doesn’t mean becoming The Onion, but it does mean becoming less boring.

  8. […] Twelve things journalists can do to save journalism Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. (tags: blogs journalism lists newspapers rss blogging) […]

  9. No I just like reading serious and intelligent articles; well one more blog to skip.

    Gotta go, gotta get that video ipod so my blogging improves.

    Journalism is more than nerd fanboys blogging from starbucks. Sorry to burst your bubbles.

  10. It’s interesting that no one has criticized my ideas, only that I didn’t use my name. Thats speaks volumes, eh?

  11. Yes, it does, John. It means you didn’t say anything intelligent worth responding to.

    Too bad your comment was too uninformed, trite and shallow to add meaningfully to the conversation, because I’m sure you’re otherwise an intelligent person.

  12. […] With the inclusion of social media, media and journalism rules have changed. Howard Owens includes twelve tips for journalists to keep up to speed in the business and continue to produce quality journalism. The most important thing for journalists to remember is to “become personally responsible for their own role in changing newsroom cultures and practices.” […]

  13. I think the list is great but it is still focusing on packaging rather than content. News is still written and delivered in the inverted pyramid and distributed according to set deadlines because that’s still the way people read for the moment. Let’s not get too caught up in technology – it’ll be different in five years or less. But the ability to tell or sell a story (or edit one that doesn’t) won’t change.

  14. Howard. While I agree that John Public would be better off using his real name, that doesn’t mean his points aren’t valid.

    First, let me congratulate you on a great list. Certainly anyone who wants to keep working in this field should consider all of the things that you have mentioned.

    That said, I don’t think your assertion that ALL people want news as the journalist gets it is true. Clearly, it’s your opinion that they do, and some people may want this.

    However, I’m a media consumer and hate nothing more than CNN talking heads speculating about breaking news for two to three hours and then backtracking when the facts come out. That’s a waste of my time, and — because not everyone tunes into the real story — it creates myths and non-stories.

    I would much prefer to read a well-researched story about a breaking news event a day after it occured than get sucked into the mindless speculation that dominates much of the media these days.

    Does that mean you avoid posting hard and fast facts to the Web as soon as you get them? No. But it should mean you avoid reporting on the speculation of “experts” and “witnesses.” And, in the case of some newspaper Web sites, reporting unsubstantiated claims just because the broadcast media is reporting them.

    Also, there seems to be a growing argument that people don’t want their news filtered by editors. But the very nature of any medium — print, Web, television, radio — is filtering. You buy a paper or tune in to a radio newscast because a professional has done the legwork and “filtered” things for you.

    Nearly everything a journalist writes — criticism and analysis excepted — is available to the general public. It’s just that most people don’t want to take the time to seek out that information on their own. So, they tune into a newscast or read a paper that has “filtered” the most important items for them.

    Are we always right? Absolutely not. But that’s a key part of the job.

    And the most important aspect, no matter how one is reporting, is the storytelling. If you can’t tell a good story, technology won’t do a thing to change that.

  15. Forrest,

    Thoughtful response. Thank you.

    These things I know: News updates, continuous throughout the day about what’s going on in a community drive traffic growth. I’ve been doing this online thing long enough (like about 12 years now) to know that’s true. And if you research just about any newspaper web site that is actively and aggressively pursuing this strategy, you’ll find it works. If you look at any Gannett site since the launch the Info Center, you’ll find 30 to 35 percent gains monthly visits (I’ve looked at several sites myself and have heard this from Gannett people). News sites that are not doing web-first publishing are suffering through either flat or declining online growth.

    Also, if you look at what has driven blog growth – it isn’t about publishing complete packages on regular schedules — it’s about frequent updates of what the blogger has to say. Top blogs put even the best online newspaper growth to shame.

    The evidence in support of web-first publishing is pretty compelling.

    I don’t get where you or John Anonymous get the idea that saying “publish what you know when you know it” is in any way suggesting that journalist barter in speculation or rumor. If you are then you are not publishing “what you know” (as I say you should do) but what you _think_ you know. That’s a very different thing. It’s you and he reading things into my statement that are not there, not anything I’m suggesting or promoting.

    I’m dumbfounded that anyone would suggest that I’m saying anything differently.

    I would further state that withholding information we know toe be true for any artificial reason (TV might _scoop_ us; we don’t have the _complete_ story; we just want to wait for our regular deadline) is the height of journalistic irresponsibility. We have an absolute journalistic responsibility to tell our community what we know when we know it.

    And again — every bit of experience and data I’ve seen supports the idea that most people want to know what’s happening now. Our artificial deadlines mean nothing to them. I don’t know how anybody could intelligently argue that holding fast to artificial deadlines makes any journalistic sense.

    Also, people have their own news agendas that have nothing to do with what editors traditionally think of as news. Hit Yahoo! News any day of the week. The editor selected top stories and the stories people are actually reading and sending to their friends have very little if anything in common. And social news sites often have a very different news sense than what professional editors say are news. We should be paying attention to these trends. We should be worrying about these trends. It’s not good for us.

    It’s really a bit of journalistic arrogance for us to say we know what news is, we’re right, and you dear reader are wrong.

  16. Howard. Thanks for the prompt note.

    I’m certainly not against online updates on breaking news. In fact, I think they put newspapers on a level playing field with the broadcast media.

    Also, I realize that you did not suggest people print anything that hasn’t been confirmed. I guess I just bristled at some of the things I see being practiced.

    It is common for the broadcast media to engage in widespread speculation on events through interviews with witnesses, “experts,” etc. Then to later say that none of that speculation had any grounding in reality.

    And, as newspapers have come under increasing pressure to break news online — before the broadcast media — I have seen them doing the same thing. Certainly, you didn’t suggest that as a good practice, and I applaud you for that. I worry, however, that less thoughtful print journalists are interpreting “online first” as “publish something, anything, now.”

    People do have their own news agendas, and I also respect that. But I hope that newspapers continue to place “important” stories that might not be sexy in prominent places on their Web sites and in print.

    While a Paris Hilton piece might outdraw a political story with nationwide impact, the political piece is still important. So, I think it should receive prominent play whether it will be the “most-read” story of the day or not.

    That said, I have no problem with a balance of the two. As mentioned before, you’re original list seems like a no-brainer for anyone who hopes to keep working in this field for another 10 or 20 years.

    Thanks for the interesting conversation.

  17. “It’s really a bit of journalistic arrogance for us to say we know what news is, we’re right, and you dear reader are wrong.”

    True enough. But the whole point is that journalists and editors are people who find and package news. I’ve worked for nearly 20 years with the specialist business press – their news agendas are very different from mainstream ‘news’ news (national, regional and local weeklies and dailies). What is happening is that these very small markets are now being aggregated in a way they never were before. They were hidden and nobody cared. Trust me as a former editor of Potato Business World, I know!
    No doubt journalists are arrogant. But I think the arrogance of the journalist is being replaced by the arrogance of the web-savvy.
    Sure most people know what they want to read when they see it, but sometimes you sell more of it if it is packaged right. And that has more elements to it than just the technical ones.

  18. But kind of one the the points is, journalist need to learn all this stuff so that they under stand the packaged goods media they used to know is dead. It’s now distributed media. It’s a very different world with new rules.

  19. […] One thing that my posts have rarely inspired is a longer, more thoughtful examination of the same issue.  This Web Pro News piece by Jason Lee Miller does that.  It’s in reaction to my post on 12 things journalists can do to save journalism (probably the most linked-to piece I’ve had in five years of blogging). So how does journalism survive itself in the age of New Media? The way it has in ages past, the way everything survives: it adapts. In Owen’s aforementioned post, he recommends journalists become, or at least mirror their greatest threat. […]

  20. “It’s really a bit of journalistic arrogance for us to say we know what news is, we’re right, and you dear reader are wrong.”

    Actually, I *do* want someone to sort through all the chaff and serve me the wheat. That’s why I value the NYT and The Economist over the Gannett InfoCenter. I like reading a thoughtful, well-edited publication precisely because I know that educated, intelligent people have collected all the information out there, organized it, and presented it to me in a way that I can use and understand.

    What do I care about other reader comments? No more than I care about those old ‘man on the street’ picture features. Why should it matter to me what some random readers of the Washington Post think about the elections? The Post hired their reporters for a reason – for their expertise and experience. *That’s* who I want my information from.

    Sure, I’d like to have this quality information delivered to me in other “containers” besides a piece of paper with ink on it. But a fancy new method of delivery won’t do anything for me if it’s not brining me good content.

  21. So..what you’re saying is that we should put down our newspapers and books and spend cross-eyed hours, trawling bright screens where the anonymous (face it – this is the remotest form of interfacing) can fight out their petty e-ego battles? Not sure I’m hooked.

  22. Thanks for this, Howard. I’m looking forward to sharing it at work today. As for the John Public of it all, of course the guts of journalism matter more than a Helio phone. But that’s like saying the music matters more than the medium, so I’m going to continue using 8-track tapes.

  23. Howard, I think this is a great list for journalists behind the social media curve. I think it’s even a step back from this, however, since many “dead tree” journalists do not even know how to begin finding the blogs that relate to their beat, much less read them in a feed reader.

  24. […] I could not have written a better post than this one by Howard Owens: The new rules of the game are: * The user is in control. They decided what, when, why, where and how to consume media. * Users aren’t interested in our deadlines and desire to make sure we have the full story before publishing what we know. They want to know what we know when we know it. They want their news now. * People want to participate. They want to talk back. They want to add to our stories, correct us and just spout off as need be with their own opinions. […]

  25. And after doing all these things, maybe you’ll actually have time to go out and report. Oh wait, that’s journalism and we don’t practice that anymore. Much better to hear what I think about someone else’s journalism. I’m with John Q. Public on this.

    But hey, I’m old school. I actuall think beat reporters are supposed to be out covering a beat. You want to know what’s going on at the zoo, head down there and look in the cages. Too much of the blogging is someone’s preconceived notion with little factual to back it up. Oh wait, that’s all the general press too so i guess we’re all screwed!

  26. And when do you get unhooked, leave your bubble and enter the world of people and events?

  27. I agree with John Public. (Hey, I’m following one of the 12 steps by replying, so don’t rip me.)

    The overall message here is lost. Whether I post a blog from a smart phone or not does not change the effectiveness of a post.

    Let’s be clear: Having mobile tools, a video ipod, shopping on-line, etc. will have no impact on the effectiveness of your blog. What matters most is how your mind conveys the thoughts you possess into the written word. Just because I purchased Knocked Up on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com does not mean my blog will be better.

    Also, the thought of posting a blog and letting the reader know what you know before you have all the facts is irresponsible journalism. I’d rather lose the distinction of being first with a news bit than be incorrect. Sorry, but I’d rather be right than first.

  28. @ JBF. Um, where do I say you will no longer have time or do reporting or stop “practicing journalism.” I think I say the exact opposite, as many commentators have noted. And if you won’t make time to do these things, please apply for a job at Wal-Mart. You’re holding your newspaper and our industry back.

    @ Jane: I’m in the world of people and events every minute of every day of my life.

    @ Bob, no rip, but I don’t see the connection that leads to your statement, “Whether I post a blog from a smart phone or not does not change the effectiveness of a post.” You’re conflating ideas and missing the point. Ditto for your next graph. And as I mentioned in a previous comment (which it seems you didn’t bother to read), at no point do I say “posting a blog and letting the reader know what you know before you have all the facts … .” In fact, again, I say just the opposite.

    Two things about the dead tree journalist feed back that strikes me as ironic: First, they decry the alleged inaccuracy of bloggers, yet their entire position is based on an inaccurate reading of the post; Second, they presumably arrived here because of a link from a blog, most likely from today’s Romenesko link. Hey guys, Romenesko is a BLOGGER. Get it? He’s a blogger. To follow your logic he’s deals in rumor and inaccuracy, so why do you read him if you’re so beholden to journalistic ethics? After all, he’s just a blogger.

  29. Very thoughtful and complete list, Howard.

    For the skeptics, what he’s saying is that unless you immerse yourself in the trends, you won’t really know what’s going on. And journalists who mix it up with their readers will discover things they’d never know. One advantage I’ve found by blogging is that it gets me in contact with good sources. The conversation benefits both journalist and reader.

    This doesn’t mean everything is going to be atomized news snippets filed from videophones. I think there’s still a place for traditional journalism. But it no longer is “the” way of doing journalism. It’s just one option among many.

  30. I should have added that I’m following this discussion from my laptop through a Verizon Wireless card, while covering a meeting, and conversing with my blog pals.

  31. On the contrary, the advice to shop online and have facility with online devices makes sense, because technological adeptness matters.

    An example: The LA Times just bought new publishing software. Couldn’t have come cheap. On my blog, I criticized the paper for never having links in stories or op-eds — to their own pieces or the pieces the stories or op-eds reference. The exceptions are pieces by Matt Welch. Matt found the blog item pronto (probably in his technorati links) and revealed the sickening little fact about their software.

    Additionally, while we’re on “it’s not the medium,” it’s really not. To group “bloggers” together as one is idiotic. Some bloggers have traffic of three people and blog about their cats. I’m among those who break news on their blog. And a lucky thing that I have this venue, since my column has been banned from the features sections of my local paper for years — despite being heavily researched (I go to anthropology conventions on my own dime, do serious investigative work to get to the truth, and break news in my column).

    So don’t feed me this crap about the lofty values of mainstream journalism. I’ve experienced those values firsthand, and at least in featuresland at the LA Times, they involve a desperate desire to avoid putting anybody with a personality in the paper, or ever to do anything that might garner an angry letter from a little old lady.

  32. Sorry – left out the fact about the LAT’s software (small space to write here!)

    The software doesn’t allow links to be put into stories, except afterward, with difficulty.

  33. Here’s the link to my blog item about their software:

    http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2007/09/whats_wrong_wit_6.html

    And here’s a quote from it from Matt Welch:

    Believe it or not (and I choose not to, in order to maintain sanity), in the NEWLY UPDATED — as in, updated in the last couple of months — editing system that the newspaper uses, it is impossible to perform this magical task known as “inserting a hyperlink.” The only possibility is to go in there *after* it is published, and hand-install a hyperlink into the publishing software. Since that is about as fun as putting a condom on after sex, it is rarely done, though you’ve just given me an idea about how we might be able to do more….

    Additionally, the LAT has about the lamest search engine of any major newspaper. I have an upcoming blog item about this. But, go there and search “Seipp” and see if any of Cathy Seipp’s stories come up. Hint: She did a whole bunch for the paper. I’ll let you John Q. Anonoweenies unravel how to find them.

    Now, go to the NYTimes site and search “Joe Sharkey” (who works for the paper) and “David Wallis” who doesn’t, but writes for them from time to time. Amazing, the difference.

    What informs a lot of my opinions about what makes a good search engine, and how to maximize the information being presented in a story? Shopping on eBay, iTunes, Amazon, Bluefly, Overstock.com, and other sites.

  34. […] I’ve been surprised at the reaction on the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting listserv the past few days to Howard Owens’ post “Twelve things journalists can do to save journalism.” These are reporters and editors who signed up for an e-mail list to discuss topics such as statistics, SQL, Perl, GIS, social network analysis, etc. In other words, people that you might guess would be generally forward-thinking about the state of our industry and the need for change. […]

  35. 12 Things Journalists Really Can Do to Save Journalism
    1. Commit yourself to serving the public interest in all that you do.
    2. Know your audiences; live with, listen to, and learn from them.
    3. Appreciate that journalists never know enough, that they must constantly learn more than they inform.
    4. Never lose sight of the need for accuracy and fairness to establish and maintain credibility.
    5. Live with the knowledge that you are biased; the only people who are objective are people who don’t care, and journalists cannot afford not to care.
    6. Hone your B.S. detector, because there is a motive behind anything that any source tells you, and it’s seldom altruistic.
    7. Know public access laws, which can open doors to information you need, but try to develop professional, mutually respectful relationships with sources to limit your need to use public access laws.
    8. Learn clarity of expression to ensure communication of your information; in effective communication, clarity is everything.
    9. Don’t overreact to partisans, political or ideological.
    10. Practice journalism of verification, not of assertion; if it’s not reporting-based journalism, it’s pull-it-out-of-your butt journalism, which really isn’t journalism at all.
    11. Take advantage of the latest technology to access information, to help you understand your audience, and to deliver reliable information in the most timely and dynamic manner possible.
    12. Read and respect Howard Owens’s “Twelve Things Journalists Can Do to Save Journalism,” but never confuse delivery systems with content.

  36. […] Courtesy of Romenesko’s blog I discovered a new blogger who hit my favorites list in a heartbeat and stimulated some thinking I’ve been doing for a consulting client. Howard Owens wrote a great piece today on the the 12 things journalists can do to save journalism in the 21st century.  […]

  37. […] Howard Owens, a digital pioneer who is now an executive with Gatehouse Media, has a great post about the changing nature of journalists’ jobs.  Our class might take note, particularly, of point 1: Become a blogger. By this, I don’t necessarily mean “start a blog,” but that is never a bad idea. More importantly, become an avid blog reader. Blogs should be a daily routine for every dedicated journalist. They should read every blog related to their beats. They should read blogs about their own interests and hobbies. They should read blogs about their profession. To get blogging is to get how things have changed. […]

  38. […] >> Howard Owens gives us 12 things journalists can do to save journalism. “The rules have changed, and newsrooms need to change as well,” he writes. “We need new attitudes and new cultures. This will only happen if individual journalists put forward the effort to change their minds about what their jobs are and how they do them.” […]

  39. […] El blog e-periodista de Ramon Salaverría re-publica un boletín que el autor elabora para los cursos de su Facultad, que recoge semanalmente una selección de artículos y notas sobre comunicación y periodismo. La selección es realmente muy buena. Entre las notas seleccionadas esta semana hay una del blog Howard Owens con el título “Doce cosas que los periodistas pueden hacer para salvar el periodismo”. Esta es una síntesis: Vuélvase un blogger. Lea ávidamente blogs. Los blogs deben ser una rutina de todo periodista dedicado. […]

  40. Falto decir: Escuche podcasts.
    Todo bien con casi todo. Pero lo de compre on line me parece demasiado. Cuando compro productos, sobre todo electronicos quiero verlos , tocarlos y probarlos. Aún no confio en los envíos de FedEx.
    Hay cosas que aún hoy son más confiables en calidad en Once que en la web.

  41. Some good points here, but this one is just plain silly:

    “…learn some PHP, Cold Fusion, JavaScript or other web development language.”

    It’s one thing to understand the concepts of RSS, XML, HTML, etc. But why a journalist should waste time becoming a technologist is beyond me. Nobody suggested journalists learn to set type in hot metal, or write composition formats on early front-end systems. Why on earth would you want them learning the inner workings of today’s methods of delivering the news?

    As an editor, I’d much rather have my reporters actually reporting, learning more about their beats — or even reading blogs.

  42. @ Bob. Look at in context — build something on the web. It’s all about expanding your mind. Journalists, after all, are supposed to be curious and open minded. Clearly, the way I wrote it, going deeper into programming was a step up. The main point is, build something. If I can do it (spent a good portion of my career working as a Cold Fusion programmer), so can you.

  43. As a reader, I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge any day with two stories on the same topic by two reporters — Journalist A, who reads lots of blogs, shops online, leaves lots comments on blogs, seals herself from the material world using an array of digital devices, etc.; and Journalist B, who reads books, talks with the shopkeepers and clerks she deals with as a consumer, strikes up conversations in bars, isn’t slavishly devoted to the person-technology product of the moment, etc.

    As a reporter, I guess I must be a dinosaur at 32 because I’ve got to agree with pretty much entirely with the message of John Public, he of comment #7, if not with his trollish delivery. He’s right that readers want intelligent and accurate reporting, not whatever digital clutter we can slap together as fast as possible.

    Participating in the online community might be a good thing, but it doesn’t hold a candle to be an active participant in a real-life one. A problem with newspapering is, too often, reporters and editors aren’t involved in either.

  44. @ Matthew — you wrote “He’s right that readers want intelligent and accurate reporting, not whatever digital clutter we can slap together as fast as possible.”

    Outside the red herring nature of how you phrase the sentence — based on what evidence?

    I’m not taking the bait that what I’m calling web first publishing any way means anything less than the highest journalistic standards. But what is your evidence for what readers want? Your journalistic dogma or solid evidence to support your thesis. I believe I’ve got the evidence (the continuing rapid adoption of blogs, for example, or the fact that every newspaper.com does web first publishing sees online audience growth), do you?

    And, online community is real life. It’s every bit as real has hanging out a the Do Drop Inn with the neighborhood alcoholics or sitting through yet one more boring city council meeting.

    You see, people who do what I talk about in this post — adapt to digital — get that last point. Those who haven’t, won’t.

  45. “If I can do it (spent a good portion of my career working as a Cold Fusion programmer), so can you.”

    I, too, have done it (built database-driven web sites in ColdFusion, ASP.NET, etc.). The only possible value to me as a journalist is that I’m more aware of what’s possible. But for most journalists (and I’ve trained hundreds of them in using computers) the many hours it would take to reach any level of proficiency vastly outweighs the potential benefits.

    I would submit that learning SQL Server, Access, Excel, GIS programs, etc., is a much more valuable use of what limited time a working journalist might have for technology. Let someone else build the website.

  46. […] Sábado, Outubro 6th, 2007 in Novas tecnologias, jornalismo digital Tags: Howard Owens, jornalismo digital, Media Blog, mudança Mudança de concepção do “fazer” jornalismo. É a tese defendida por  Howard Owens em artigo no Media Blog. Não há outra alternativa tanto para os profissionais como para as empresas a não ser desenvolverem novas atitudes e culturas sobre os ambientes midiáticos digitais. “We have decades and decades invested in doing things based on old rules. Now, the rules have changed, and newsrooms need to change as well. We need new attitudes and new cultures. This will only happen if individual journalists put forward the effort to change their minds about what their jobs are and how they do them” […]

  47. […] Howard Owens , on the Media Blog, gives journalists tips on how to engage in the digital media by recreating journalism for the 21st century. We have been brought up in an era alongside this change and are more familiar with technologies and how we can use them to our journalistic advantage than other journalists who have been in the industry for decades. […]

  48. After read through the whole story and 57 comments (kind of fruitful conversation..huh), I find it’s interesting to see people discussing one thing (might be more but some might not know themselves.) on different angles.

    – Be a ‘Blogger’ or be a ‘Journalist that’s do blog’ are different.
    – To do blog doesn’t mean the journalist will stop meeting people to get the real story, out of the fact truth.
    – It’s a trend that people consume online medias today more than yesterday, and everyday. They have their own choice to read to visit any website that are trustworthy and give them what they NEED at the time they want to know. (Just like how I reach this blog!)
    – JOURNALIST…what do you want to do for your future career? That’s your decision. Howard Owens initiate his great ideas to alert the readers about the CHANGE and I’m quite agree with him a lot. Giving that I also have my own ideas.

    That’s are some points I got today from being here. I will definitely wrtie about this article and alert my blog audiences the MESSAGE. Yes, I’m the blogger and write many articles about blogging, give advices to new blogger so that they can do blog easier and worry more about their own contents and how to be a good blogger.

    May be I try blogging in English so you can pay a visit ..ieie or you guys may learn THAI to read mine someday.

  49. […] Ramón Salaverría es Director del Laboratorio Multimedia de la Facultad de Comunicación de la Universidad de Navarra, nuestro MIT Media Lab castizo. Quizás su blog e-periodistas no sea obligatorio para sus alumnos; pero para quienes nos dedicamos a este oficio en el año 2007, resulta absolutamente indispensable; a no ser que nuestros ídolos sean Maruja Torres o Carlos Carnicero. En su boletín sobre la actualidad profesional de la comunicación seleccionaba esta semana un post del periodista estadounidense Howard Owens, titulado “Doce cosas que los periodistas pueden hacer para salvar el periodismo”. […]

  50. “Hey guys, Romenesko is a BLOGGER. Get it? He’s a blogger.” -HO. … That’s a common tactic that the fervent kill-the-dreaded-“MSM” crowd uses all the time – try to characterize every Web site as a “blog” and then say “Wow, see how many great blogs there are out there?” Romenesko is not a blogger; he’s an aggregator who also hosts a managed discussion forum. (Do you also consider Google News a blog?) … And guess what, Web sites that employ real journalists and pay them real salaries and stuff like that are not “blogs” — they’re online news site.

    By the way, your suggestion that reporters should use smart phones is like telling them to get a CB radio so they can learn all about being a ham radio operator. (Breaker-breaker, Blogboy, you got yer ears on?) Some of us “dead-tree” curmudgeons are on our third or fourth generation of broadband pocket PC, while the self-appointed techno-evangelists are still futzing around with silly little smart phones? Amazing.

    I know you won’t believe this, but it’s actually possible for real journalists and their intelligent readers to be fully up-to-speed technologically and still just not give a flying turd what 99.999% of bloggers are blogging about.

  51. As a journalism student who spends hours upon hours on the internet (often reading blogs), I’d like to stick up for John Public and his supporters.

    When I read the newspaper, it’s because I want the entire story. I’d rather read something hours after it occurred than as soon as the reporter found out it happened. Forrest Hartman’s point about “CNN talking heads speculating about breaking news for two to three hours and then backtracking when the facts come out” is exactly the problem with the “immediate delivery” method of journalism.

    You have to have all of these options available for consumers: I personally never watch TV, so the first I usually hear about something is on the web (I’m poor and thus can’t get an iPhone, as is the case with most people). But I always read a print copy of the paper too, so I can find out what actually happened.

    Props also to Peter Fisk. Flame wars and pages of comments might be fun to read, but they don’t have any news value.

  52. It’s pretty mind bending to see so many journalists come on here and make generalizations about what news web sites should be like based on their own personal experience, rather than evidence and observation of online audience behavior.

    I hope they supply a better sense of analysis in their news reporting. If not, maybe the industry is in bigger trouble than we suspect.

  53. Howard, look, these new technologies don’t have to change the craft of journalism as much as you seem to be expecting and demanding. Reading the news on a computer screen is really not all that different from reading it on the printed page. It’s the same alphabet, same language, same purpose. Online news should be just as properly prepared as news on the printed page. There’s no good reason for lowering journalistic standards just because it’s possible to slap half-baked information and deleterious speculation up on the Web. Of course the market structure will have to change, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the core principles that underly quality journalism.

    Nor is there any reason to force journalists to become jacks of all trades. For instance, you urge reporters to add photography to their duties. Well, why? For many decades we’ve had full-time photojournalists working in tandem with full-time writers. What’s so different now that would warrant changing that? The suggestion that point-and-click amateur snapshots can replace the work of a real photojournalist is insulting to the photog pros and laughable to all of us who truly appreciate their work. We’ve had the technology to stick cameras into the hands of reporters for over a hundred years, but it has typically made more sense to have our pros specialize and concentrate on what they do best. Along the same lines, demanding that reporters learn the technologies of online news presentation is akin to demanding that they learn how to operate those old newspaper presses and drive the delivery trucks. For that matter, we’ve been using pagination software for 20 years or so to design newspaper pages, and reporters have somehow managed to provide content for those pages without learning how to use the pagination software.

    Regarding blogs, yes, a handful of blogs contain things that journalists should be aware of. But for the most part, blogs add up to millions and millions of childish, shrill, poorly written letters to the editor.

  54. “We have an absolute journalistic responsibility to tell our community what we know when we know it.” -HO

    Howard, how can you not grasp the absurdity of that philosophy? This concept really has nothing to do with the rise of the Internet. News outlets have been rightly holding unfit “facts” from publication since before you and I were born. I’ve been involved with countless newspaper stories that we held for days or weeks till we got the stories ready for responsible publication – or spiked them altogether – because although we “knew” a few things, we hadn’t nailed the stories down enough to constitute a fair, accurate, thorough, credible, responsible, worthwhile report that served the public interest.

    And oh by the way, if all we cared about was readership volume and profit maximization, we would have been running pictures of naked ladies all over our newspaper pages for the past 50 years.

    There’s more to journalism than shoveling pablum into the mouths of those who clamor for it.

  55. […] This little rant brought to you courtesy of the newsroom turtles who responded to this post and this post. You guys aren’t impressing me with your intransigent response to change.  I  haven’t  yet heard an intelligent argument from the newsroom turtles on why we should settle for hunky-dory thinking. And this post from Jack Lail is worth reading, too. […]

  56. #

    Meranda, it’s your job to make them care. They should either care or apply for a job as night shift manager at Wal-Mart.

    Comment by Howard Owens — October 1, 2007 @ 7:35 am

    HOWARD

  57. Oops, sorry, something got left off:

    What I MEANT to say was:

    Meranda, it’s your job to make them care. They should either care or apply for a job as night shift manager at Wal-Mart.

    Comment by Howard Owens — October 1, 2007 @ 7:35 am

    HOWARD, some of them SHOULD be night shift managers at WalMart.

    Comment by Mike — October 8, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  58. Hearing about cartoonist. I think it’s not difficult to do comics or animation blog for cartoonist at all. It’s ver successful for some already. They’ve got a new job in printed media and have free space to exhibit their work. : )

    As told in comment#61 (Isn’t it weird that comment# keep on changing?), here is my article (in Thai) related to this post.
    My Pocket Book “Citizen Reporter” will be launched this October 28, 2007 in Thailnad. Just to share that how hot this concern is.

  59. […] Via Julián Gallo en Mira! que a su ves lo publico via el blog e-periodista de Ramon Salaverría (quien publica interesantes articulos sobre comunicacion en un boletin muy recomendado) encontre esta seleccion sobre “Doce cosas que los periodistas pueden hacer para salvar el periodismo”. […]

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