Monthly Archive for April, 2009

The picture of the day. On the homemade problem of contemporary journalism

Last time I visited JK in London at the Press Association it kind of hit me. We’re all doing it the same. There I was in the open-plan office of the english news agency and their editors were working on a journalistic format my editors in Berlin at know just as well, too – and besides you can spot it on every news webside, it doesn’t matter if it is English, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch or German – or even from New York. “The picture of the day.”

That they’re also using it at the Press Association was particularly interesting, because it is one of the time-honoured news institutions. If you do some quick research, yes on Wikipedia, but don’t trust everything they write about it there, …well if you do a quick research you can find out it was founded in 1868 by a consortium of provincial newspapers. Time-honoured, right on. And what is this time-honoured news institution doing now?

It is focussed on multimedia content – just like everybody else. Indeed the Press Association now pictures itself as “The UK’s trusted source of compelling multimedia content” – and they are right with this because it is exactly what everybody is looking for. What we all want. What we on every day.

But what if we are wrong?

Newspapers, broadcasters, or just about everyone working in the news business is complaining about the internet. The internet is killing journalism, it starts with the newspapers and next, we all know that, it will happen with television broadcasting, as hungry as the battery of my old ibook. Readers, viewers are all turning away from our conventional media, turning away from us to the internet – and we follow. But what do we do on the internet? Mainly: We are all looking more and more similar. And we deliver the same as well.

We break the news to our readers as fast as we can. We all try to be as multimedia as we can: video, infographic, googlemaps, facebook, twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe we have the right intentions. But we need more, because we were more before.

David Nordfors made an interesting observation on his blog The Innovation Journalism.

The traditional media are built around certain hard technologies, printing presses or radio transmitters and receivers. This limits the information they deliver. Newspapers can’t deliver real-time information, video or sound. Radio and TV are very linear – they deliver only one moment at a time on each channel, limiting the overview. This makes people connect the different media to different types of storytelling: Newspapers are good for analysis, depth and length. TV is good for visualization, emotions and breaking news.

That was some time ago. Nowadays, we try to be real-time and deliver a deep analysis right afterwards. We are live with linear blogging and then we look for the most emotional moments that we just blogged. Because hard technology defines less what journalism we do today, we do it all. It is even getting difficult to distinguish on the web a newscast from a newspaper anymore, like compare with, and well, spot the difference!

Something has gone wrong. So much is obvious. Instead of thinking about journalism, we are becoming slaves of the convergence culture. We don’t have clear journalistic profiles anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love multimedia. But what we are doing is something else. Monomedia.

There’s something cult-like going on

Ha! Is facebook a cult? Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb borrows some terms of the American Sociologist Robert J. Lifton with a twinkle in the eye to show: Yes!

How to do things with words

CNN renamed the financial crisis in “Road to Recovery” and I still can’t figure out if I want to a) see ideology at work or b) admire the american force of optimism.

My digital life: unpaid vs. pleasurable work

Somehow I missed that till friends waggled with it the other night over the tapas dinner table and I think it’s still worth reading: In 2003 Tiziana Terranova wrote a text in which she developped a precise and complex view of the internet within digital capitalism. Droll words come around and several smart people stick their head into the door: Richard Barbrook, Pierre Levy, Kevin Kelley, Maurizio Lazzarato et. al. meet up with the intelligent redetermination of gift economy, collective intelligence, immaterial labour and last but not least: work. Hell yeah!