Sunday, May 15, 2005

Public journalism in larger newsrooms

The greatest challenge facing puic journalism in Canada is changing the culture of large newsrooms.
After listening to my colleagues this weekend at the CAJ convention in Winnipeg, it was apparrent fromthe questions and puzzelled looks from those working in national newsrooms with sizable staff that public journalism doesn't click with them as quickly as those working in medium and small newsrooms.
Certainly, one identifiable issue is getting their heads around the concept of connecting with their audience. It is much harder for them to envision their audience. What mental picture is created? And because it is vague, then it is hard to create an empathy necessary to practice public journalism
Also, the tradtional value system is deeply ingrained, particularly those in senior positions who tend to be longer serving journalists. Those deeply held convictions are wary, even suspicious, of the audience.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Are bloggers journalists?
CAJ is looking at addressing this.


How important is it to have a focus to your posts?
Must have own metric for success says, Jeremy. Also measure of relationship with audience. Must serve audience.


Blogs are a way to drill down.
The discusiion moved to the Captain's Quarters, where material from the Gomery Inquiry was published.

Restricted information

Three level function of blogs.
First level is as a window. Second is a bridge, connecting people, communities, and nations. Third is the blog as a cafe, a more political function. This is an alternative to main stream media. This is very important in countries where ther is state controlled media.


He started right after 911. He had an amazing experience as it grew quickly. After a four years he has 40,000 bloggers on his site. It has had an incredible affect on Irian politics and society.


He started before the upswell three years ago. He says it has changed his life. He make enough money to live. He has met incredible number of people. It is a great equalizer, he said. It is a flat plane.
He was turned back at the border because nobody believes he makes his living blogging.

Why blog?

Saleem is giving a backgrounder and explaining how web log means blog. It is a web site that provide material posted in chronogical order. Interactivity is a key component.
Why blog? It is a conversation with audience and they can provides tips, he said.

Blogging panel

Hossein is an international blogging star and works on a project to promote democracy.

Blogging panel

We are having a discussion regarding blogging as a tool for journalists given by Saleem Khann the news and tech editor for Metro, Hossein Derakshann an Iranian blogger/journalist, Jeremy Wright, a blogger and blog consultant.

Changing newsdroom culture

Following this morning's workshop, the entrenched culture in newsrooms is incredible. Those participants who came from smaller pubpications have a much stronger sense of the communities they serve. But several of the participants who worked in nationl newsrooms struggled with the concepts because of the difficulty of seeing a Canadian audience as a community.
Public journalism will work at that level. One participant saw the value of reaching out to a broader group of stakeholder, rather than only interviewing institutional talking heads.
There is more.
Creating entry points for a national audience is every bit as important. Too often town hall forums are seen as a tool of the nightly news. We should be able to invite discussion on all types of news regardless.
And that is when it struck me about our newsroom culture. Puic journalism is a huge leap. That is why, as proponents, we must stick together. We must support each other.

What is a journalist's job?

Eating breakfast and mentally preparing for the CAJ workshop today, I am struck by the incredible importance of this fundamental question.
On the plane to Winnipeg I read The Elements of Journalism, a must read book. It was written out of work done by a group called the Committee of Concerned Journalists, 20 journalists, academics and editors who were worried about the state of journalism in America.
The book takes on some of these very difficult questions that are rarely asked without the intellectual trappings of acamdemia, but rather from a multitude of perspectives: journalist, citizen, academic, editor and so on.
More later.