(Full text and a few slides after the jump.)
The intro for this panel discussion can be found here.
Here are some of the articles I read while prepping for the segment:
With the supposed death of journalism looming over media junkies worldwide, it’s easy to wave off plenty of media innovations as passing fads while we mourn our shrinking paychecks or lost jobs. But there’s a new kid on the block that I’m ridiculously excited about– Symbolia, a new magazine for comics journalism. I’m biased about this particular innovation on two fronts: I’m a comics nerd & artist myself (a new collection of stories from me is due out Spring 2013), and Symbolia’s creator, Erin Polgreen, has been a friend and co-conspirator since our days in the independent media movement in the US. But with its launch on Monday, Symbolia has accomplished two major feats: elevated the status of illustrated, sequential art as a form in a neglected space, and created a new space for us to reimagine what journalism can look– and feel– like. [Start now: download Symbolia for iPad from iTunes, or get thePDF version.]
My segment starts at 38min 37sec; I come on at 41min.
Today over at Gizmodo, blogger Joel Johnson posted what was intended to be encouragement and a challenge for his cohorts of the world to start following people who are different than them on Twitter: “Why I Stalk a Sexy Black Woman on Twitter (And Why You Should, Too).”
Conceptually, encouraging dominant cultures to divesify is fabulous –I subscribe to the DNA model of ecosystems and social spaces, so I support it wholeheartedly. As I’ve said in my book and recent talks: Read more
Though it’s been eight months since I actually launched the crowdfunding for my book (and then wrote about how it was going), it seems to have kicked up a new firestorm of discussion over the past weekend. Much of it began on Twitter; then a few people wrote up blog posts covering it. I only discovered the discussion after it was well underway (evidently I’m difficult to track down online, and not much of a conversationalist anyways, heh), so the last few days have been spent correcting factual errors and offering catch-up insight as to why I believe so deeply in this model. I’m hoping now to sum up a few of the arguments I’ve made elsewhere, but moreso I’d like to pull back and look at some big picture issues.
For background, here are the series of posts that sum up the first discussions on Twitter, and subsequent responses:
There seem to be two sets of argument made against crowdfunding in much of the discussion I’ve seen: one, it reveals the funding seeker as a shameless self-promoter and snake-oil salesperson; two, it destroys the ethos of publishing either by allowing publishers to never have to produce advances again, or by allowing just any ol’ work to be produced without blood/sweat/tears.
In case you were looking for the lighter side of the State of the Union, you’ve come to the right place. Sonal and Deanna, while eating pie and playing this drinking game, are here for your entertainment. We’ll kick things off around 8pm or so… maybe closer to 8:30 once we figure out the pie situation.
Watch the prez live, courtesy of The Uptake:
And let the silliness ensue:
As I mentioned on Twitter, it’s just getting too hard for many of us to keep track of all the awesome conferences that happen every year. I’ve missed so many this fall, even ones happening in NYC, just because I hadn’t done any curation. Conferences can be a drag, but as a freelancer/consultant/author without a formal organizational structure, they’re often where I make the best connections and have the most fun with my colleagues.
So! An early New Year’s resolution: I’m gonna try to get on the ball for next year. Already thinking of SXSW, Allied Media Conference, US Social Forum, Personal Democracy Forum, Women Who Tech, America’s Future Now, NonProfit 2.0, NTEN and more; what do you recommend in the social tech, media, politics, activism, and social justice fields? Conferences & unconferences, big ‘n’ small. Leave ’em in the comments (links to conferences would be helpful), and I’ll publish a big list in the next few days.
We touched on so many different angles of the changing media landscape during yesterday’s roundtable on GRITtv that my brain really got going on a bunch of tangents and points that I’m hoping to synthesize here.
1. On foreign correspondents: John MacArthur (publisher of Harper’s) made reference to the fact that they have a reporter on the ground in Iran doing some pretty intense work for Harper’s, and that it costs money to keep him sustained. I’m sure that it does. However, it made me wonder a couple of things–using this case as a jumping off point, not as a target itself necessarily–namely, is the best journalism in a situation like what we’re seeing in Iran produced by an American (presumably white) man? (Even if the person in question “speaks Farsi and has an Iranian wife.”) Not that this would save the magazine any money, but couldn’t we be thinking less about foreign correspondents and more about using local journalists/citizens to aid with not just reporting, but contextualizing the events?
2. On authority — who has it, who gives it: Mario Murillo made the point that a lot of news or information isn’t valid until it appears on CNN or any of the other cable news networks. This is at least partially true for a lot of people, but I firmly believe that’s shifting. We’re moving into an age of shifting authority. Think about how we recommend movies to one another– we have an idea of who our friend is doing the recommending, what movies they’ve liked in the past, and how much we have in common, amongst a myriad of other factors. Based on those, we figure out if the awesome movie review is really going to be all that awesome for us.
There’s a similar process happening for news: in an older model of news gathering and dissemination, it did require a large organization with tons of resources to say, “This is what’s happening.” But because of elimination of need for lots of resources when it comes to telling stories, we can know judge what’s valid or true with an entirely different set of criteria. Do I trust this person or organization? Why? What kind of track record do they have?
That’s not to say that social media hasn’t been problematic when it comes to live reporting. Just last weekend, there was a building collapse in Brooklyn, and two false addresses were posted to Twitter before the correct one was. (and I admittedly re-tweeted false addresses, too!) We have to refrain, however, from demonizing the tools as faulty, and instead create solutions using the same or other tools. Check out what Amanda Michel says about volume as verification— when a number of people post, say, similar videos from a protest, we might then assume that the protest is happening as depicted.
3. On future models of media: At the roundtable, I suggested that trying squeeze an open framework (the Internet) into a capitalist, market-based system is misguided (much to the chagrin of MacArthur next to me, who praised Harper’s use of a paywall, but spoke nothing about their overall funding model). I’m no business-side expert of publishing, and most of my media beliefs come out of an activist mindset. What I do know, though, is that it’s not just silly and dismissive, but also dangerous to suggest that social media are the cause of the desperate state that many news organizations find themselves in.
Again, I ask: what are the tools we need to solve our problems here? When I’m doing work with my clients, it’s easy for them to get caught up in the buzziest, shiniest new things. “We need a blog! We’ve got to get on Facebook! Let’s start Twittering!” Of course I’ve totally drunk the Kool-Aid on all those services, but I don’t always advocate their use for everyone. Instead, I ask folks to take a step back and look at what mission they’re trying to achieve. From there, we’ll find or develop tech to fit that mission.
A couple of folks are taking this approach to investigative journalism, as I mentioned in the show– David Cohn’s Spot.Us always comes to mind first. Steve Katz of Mother Jones has wondered how to turn this into a larger model of sustainable journalism, and I recommend his blog for excellent musings on the subject. But please, media folk: I swear, we come in peace. Don’t throw the tech out with the bathwater.
4. Decrying the end of Good Journalism: In which I let the idealist in me speak, more than I already normally do… I don’t know anyone, honestly, that gets a huge kick out of watching cable news regurgitate infotainment like they do. So, using that as a model of what we think Americans want when it comes to news reporting is not the right model. I firmly believe that good journalism–whether it’s “professional” or “amateur”–will rise above the mediocre and less-than-savvy.
I think about the format change that New York Magazine made earlier this year; it now includes a more schizoid-designed front section that I presume is supposed to replicate my experience with websites. Thing is, I don’t subscribe to NY Magazine for it to be like a website; I actually like the long-form articles (and the Strategist section). I also recently started subscribing to the New Yorker because I wanted more in-depth stuff around the house, trees be damned. Me, the darling of all-things-140-characters! I don’t think I’m an anamoly, either. I don’t have the solution (yet! muwahaha), but I know it’s coming.
5. This is why media literacy education is critical. That was Simin’s final point at the roundtable, and I couldn’t agree more. We don’t teach our kids and young adults to understand the processes of media, that they might develop a more fundamental sense of the ever-increasingly complicated landscape that they face. But there are some good projects out there; I know up in Canada, my friend Dr. Mark Lipton is running the Media Education Project. (What are the American counterparts? Maybe Bernie over at PopPolitics can tell us, poke poke.)
Lots more to explore here, for sure. I’m hoping to go more in depth into each of these areas in future posts; what would you like see addressed and discussed?