Scripting News for 5/9/2007

News you won’t hear on CNN tonight 

ThinkProgress: “11 Republican members of Congress pleaded yesterday with President Bush and his senior aides to change course in Iraq.”

From Doug Kaye, via email, RSS was the question for one of the answers on today’s Jeopardy. If you know what the clue was, please post a note.

The future of news, part 3 

Amyloo has a clear vision for how online news will develop, based on a very simple observable fact, news organizations specialize. Create a website that’s the union of all the specialties. You don’t need to replicate the stories, just links to the stories. Each site gets to run ads on their pages, but part of what makes a site attractive is how functional it is. If you have great reporting but the ads make your site more difficult to read, net-effect your reporting isn’t so good.

BTW, part 2 of the future is Checkbox News.

Part 1 is Hypercamp, the meatspace Newsroom Of The Future, although I haven’t been able to successfully convince anyone to partner with me on developing it. (And it requires too much capital for me to do it on my own.)

It’s sad in a way to watch the various new media startups struggle to find a way to make money, because there are so many ways, they just haven’t spotted them yet. 🙂

Business Week misquote 

I know you’re not supposed to object when a big print pub like Business Week quotes you, but they got it wrong, even when they quoted me verbatim from the web. I didn’t think it was possible, but here it is.

Here’s the article, and here’s the quote.

I do not believe “one factor spurring the growth of unconferences is their ability to tap the smarts of the people who usually sit mute in the audience.”

Yet they say I believe that.

I don’t know if they believe it. Or if it’s just some short-hand, or empty throwaway words that fill up all Business Week articles.

Truth be told, most things they call unconferences are not, imho, unconferences, and don’t address the question I said they should address. If you determine the schedule ad hoc, but still put speakers in front of a silent group of people, you haven’t changed very much, imho. If that’s spurring growth, then it’s not a good kind of growth.

Further, I don’t think the kind of unconferences I like are actually growing. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I like to stay grounded in the truth. When I say something is growing, I want that to mean something. So I don’t say something is growing when I don’t believe it is.

See below, on The Scientific Method, as it applies to journalism.

What I would teach a journalist, part 2 

A few days ago, in response to a query from a reader at the University of Nevada, I outlined how I would start teaching Web 2.0 to journalism students.

I think perhaps I said some things without explaining enough, so there were some misunderstandings.

I said skip Drupal and get the kids on or asap, because they need to be blogging before anything else happens. I saw this at a meeting with J-school students at Cal a few weeks ago. There’s a real resistance among students to just get started. I’ve seen the same thing with software developers. Every writer will tell you the same thing I said. You want to be a writer young man or young woman? Then start writing.

Too often people start by designing then building elaborate online castles, that turn out to be reinventions of castles other people built, and then on opening day, have no idea what to do next. Why don’t the people use it? Ahah, that’s the real problem. By spending a lot of time thinking and planning and coding, you’re just putting off the reckoning. You need to deal with that first. What do you have to say? Having an empty blog will raise that question, at the beginning, before you have a chance to bark up wrong trees.

I also said there’s no curriculum and I meant it. It isn’t some airy-fairy idea, I have hair on my chest, and a loud voice. Just kidding (well, I actually do). Why is there no curriculum? Because no one knows WTF we’re doing, so how could we have a curriculum. It’s like asking Lewis and Clark to have a curriculum for the Denver Nuggets. What are the Denver Nuggets, they might ask. I’m sure they passed through Denver on their exploration of the west, but there was no city there, and certainly no basketball team. See my point? You and your students are exploring the unknown.

On the other hand, there are some things that are known, the basics of journalism, how to do research, question the interests of your sources, disclosing your own interests, etc. That doesn’t go away, but that’s all in your Journalism 101 text. And there are writing skills and editing skills, all of that comes into play when writing, whether you’re writing for print or bits.

And one other thing they don’t usually teach in J-school (as far as I know) — The Scientific Method. Please, let’s be very very circumspect in stating our hypotheses, knowing what we know and don’t know, and be careful not to have anyone say things they don’t mean.

Philip Meyer: Journalism and the Scientific Tradition.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Dave,

    I’m about to start an online degree at CUNY in communications and can’t wait to see what they’re teaching. Meanwhile, I’ve become an evangelist for small business blogging. How about some words of wisdom for your local service businesses who aren’t so tech savvy?



  2. Dave,

    As a college prof I’ve got thoughts on the curriculum question, but no time to go into detail at the moment. Rather, I wanted to point out that from a geographical and historical standpoint the Portland Trailblazers would be the NBA team you should be referencing with regard to Lewis & Clark. Not only does the term Trailblazers derive from their expedition, but Lewis and Clark passed pretty darn far north of Denver’s eventual location, whereas Portland was right on their way.

    No harm, no foul.



  3. Few people are ready to admit publically that they don’t know.

    As journalists, they suppose they shouldn’t admit they don’t know. It’s their job “to know”.

    As bloggers, they are allowed to not know.

    So maybe, they should be taught how to be Bloggers and only then they can move on to being Journalists. And hoping that they will remember how it is to not know and keep not knowing.


  4. Thanks for good advice, Dave. I’ll see what I can add to the conversation as soon as I finish grading a few hundred pages of intro-newswriting students’ final work /and/ then find a few minutes to migrate Radio Userland to my new computer.

    Meanwhile, on the subject of teaching The Scientific Method to journalism students, a few people who have been trying hard — in Phil Meyer’s case, for about 35 years. You may have run into him and his more recent book (“The Vanishing Newspaper”) at conferences, but here are some of his thoughts on scientific method: “… journalism requires discipline, and the discipline of art may not be the most appropriate kind. A better solution is to push journalism toward science, incorporating both the powerful data-gathering and analysis tools of science and its disciplined search for verifiable truth….”

    (From “The New Precision Journalism,” 1991 next-to-most-recent edition, full text online at: )


  5. Posted by Klark on May 10, 2007 at 3:35 am

    “News you won’t hear on CNN tonight”

    Dave, do you even watch TV? This was all over the news. 🙂


  6. I’m sure they passed through Denver on their exploration of the west

    It appears that, by traveling in a 55′ long keelboat following the Missouri river for the first part of their journey, they passed well North of modern-day Colorado, going from Omaha to Pierre, SD, to Bismarck, ND:

    Google Earth looks like a fun way to follow the journey:

    Or you can follow the expedition in blog form:


  7. I asked my sister about Jeopardy, as I knew she watched it. The answer was “An abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication” or something as basic as that. The correct question: “What is RSS?” I was just excited to hear anything about RSS on Jeopardy. I figure that’s pretty mainstream, if not the equivalent of opening on Broadway. 🙂


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