October 5, 2009

Highlights from ONA 2009

JD LasicaAt first glance, the Online News Association’s annual conference this past weekend looked like a throwback to the early days of Web journalism, with lots of familiar faces from the early days of the esteemed new media group. Jai Singh (now managing editor of the Huffington Post), Staci D. Kramer of paidContent, Joan Walsh of Salon, author Scott Rosenberg, consultant Elizabeth Osder, Jonathan Dube, Tom Regan, academics like Paul Grabowicz and Rosental Alves — one might think the San Francisco Hilton had added a Wayback Machine room.

But the sessions, organized by Josh Hatch of USA Today and his team, were generally engaging and forward-looking, a refreshing contrast to the doom and gloom that afflicts most news industry gatherings. The reason? These are the hands-on new media staffers, not the publishers or top-echelon executives who would clearly prefer if this whole Internet thing went away.

If this conference had a theme, it was: Journalism in the Age of Twitter.

I gave a presentation (online at Slideshare.net) on how journalists can use social media tools to build community, and it found a receptive audience. (See our sister site, Socialbrite.org, for 6 Twitter tips for journalists and 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom. Both include free printable handouts.) By and large, new media teams in online newsrooms are interested in seeing how the new generation of social tools can help advance journalism, which is why I like ONA best of all the media conferences. Continue reading

September 18, 2009

Social journalism: Using social networks to build community

JD LasicaHere’s the slide presentation I gave yesterday at the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association Summit of newspaper publishers and ad managers. My talk turned out to be 80 minutes long.

A half dozen newspaper executives thanked me for the presentation afterward, so the message of change is resonating in some quarters. The question is whether enough publishers will have the courage to turn their battleships into speedboats and green-light the wholesale experimentation needed to help newsroom journalists engage with their communities.

So far, no media companies have contacted Socialmedia.biz for consulting work (yes, we’re very busy with clients in other sectors), so I’m doubtful. Continue reading

July 18, 2009

Howard Rheingold on essential media literacies

21st century media literacies from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaA week ago, as we were wrapping up the Traveling Geeks‘ two-day visit to Cambridge, I was walking down the main drag with author Howard Rheingold when we stopped for a moment in front of King’s College. I took out my loaner Flip Ultra and shot this 6-minute interview of Howard, colorfully garbed as always, in front of the 500-year-old King’s College, talking about 21st century literacies.

Howard hit on one major takeaway that I had from our week in the UK. “Increasingly I think the digital divide is less about access to technology and more about the difference between those who know how and those who don’t know how,” he said. He’s convinced that what’s most important is not access to the Internet — we have more than a billion people on the Internet now and there are 4 billion phones out there — but access to knowledge and literacies for the digital age. “The ability to know has suddenly become the ability to search and the ability to sift” and discern. “Skill plus social” is the key.

Earlier in the week Howard gave the keynote address at Reboot Britain, and he recounts some of the highlights here. Among the Essential Literacies he cites are:

• Attention
• Participation
• Collaboration
• Critical consumption (which includes “crap detection” — we live in an age when you can get the answer to anything out of the air, but how do you know what and whom to trust?)

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July 15, 2009

Prediction: Local TV newspeople will compete with their former stations

JD LasicaOn the flight back from London on Sunday I finally had a chance to answer a Q&A email interview with Terry Heaton, a longtime friend who, as co-founder of AR&D, is one of the most forward-thinking people in the world of broadcast media.

For the full interview, see see the AR&D Media 2.0 Intel Report. Here’s an excerpt from our interview:

You were the person who coined the phrase “personal media revolution.” What does that really mean? Who are people revolting against? How widespread is the revolution?

The people are revolting — that’s from the Marx Bros. movie Duck Soup, no?

youtubeIt’s hard to recognize tectonic shifts when you’re still in its beginning phases. Almost any intelligent discussion of our media culture today needs to address the rise of personal media. By the early 2000s, consumer gadgets and computer applications had come down far enough in price and were becoming simple enough to use that millions of us began creating personal media. Low price, simplicity and the fluidity of digital media combined to allow us to do more than just snap photos (which has been around for decades) but also to become amateur filmmakers, create digital stories and mashups, record audio interviews and the like.

The real revolution came when these works weren’t merely stored on our personal devices but released into the wild, unleashing an anarchic, democratic cacophony of voices and viewpoints. By sharing and connecting on sites like Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, we turned our personal media into social media.

Like Dan Gillmor’s “We, the Media,” Darknet was one of the seminal works about the rise of personal media. Given all that’s taken place since, do you feel your vision has been validated?

darknet_180pI wrote the book as warning call in anticipation of escalating clashes between media titans against grassroots media publishers in the areas of copyright law, remix culture and innovation when it was becoming plain that we were entering an era of media that was becoming more decentralized, fragmented and personalized.

So, yes, everyone is still sticking to their scripts. By and large, traditional media have not embraced the ethos of community and sharing that underlie this emerging new bottom-up media culture. But my view of the fundamental shifts in the mediasphere has evolved since “Darknet” was written.

One of the things about the personal media revolution that I find most intriguing is that the people formerly known as the advertisers are also among those “playing media.” They have their own revolt, it seems. Do you see that as well?

Keep in mind that “media” can refer to content creators (production houses) or distribution channels (networks). While most brands still haven’t found sufficient payout in playing media, we’ve certainly seen campaigns like Dove Evolution become online sensations.

I think the smart play is for brands not to try to create the next “viral hit” on YouTube but to work with content partners to create useful community platforms that foster dialogue and discovery. If local TV news goes away, this is where the stations’ talent will migrate to. In fact, I suspect we’ll increasingly see former broadcast news people set up their own sites that compete with old-guard stations still stuck in Web 1.0. With the advent of cloud computing, startup costs are approaching zero, so there’s no question that a handful of talented video producers and journalists can do a better job than 95 percent of the TV station websites out there today.

Continue reading

July 14, 2009

World Technology Summit & Awards


JD LasicaI had hoped to attend the World Technology Summit & Awards taking place Wednesday and Thursday in Manhattan, but between last week’s trip to the UK and next week’s trip to Los Angeles, I couldn’t manage another long trip right now.

Still, I’m honored to be among the nominees for the 2009 World Technology Award for Media and Journalism:

Timur Aitov, ITAR-TASS
Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research
Keith Cowing, NASA Watch / SpaceRef / OnOrbit
Rene Daalder, American Scenes Inc
Rebecca Fannin, Silicon Dragon & AVCJ
Dan Farber, Cnet
Michael S. Gazzaniga, University of California
JD Lasica, writer
Steven Levy, Wired
Charlene Li, Altimeter Group
Jared Lipworth, Thirteen/WNET New York
Dan Medovnikov, Valeriy Fadeev, and Irik Imamutdinov, Expert Magazine
Michael Rogers, The New York Times
Jim Romenesko, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies
Paul Steiger, ProPublica
Kinsey Wilson, NPR Digital Media

This year’s theme is “How to save the future.” Other nominees include Thomas Friedman, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Rod Beckstrom, Dean Kamen, Olympia Snowe, Julius Genachowski, Ben Stein, Tim Berners-Lee and Matt Mullenweg.

I had heard about the Summit and awards program in past years, largely because I know some of the past winners and nominees, including Craig Newmark, Dewayne Hendricks, Ted Cohen, Tim Westergren, Chad Hurley, Jeff Skoll, Al Gore, Elon Musk (all 2006 honorees) and Dan Gillmor.

The gathering is put on each year by the World Technology Network in association with Time magazine, NASDAQ, Fortune magazine, the Mayo Clinic, Science magazine and New York Academy of Sciences, among others. The two-day summit at the Time & Life Building concludes with a black-tie awards gala ceremony to honor “the most innovative and impactful people” in the worlds of science, technology and tech media.

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June 22, 2009

NBC News’ Ann Curry on Twitter

NBC News' Ann Curry on Twitter from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaAnn Curry, news anchor of NBC’s “Today” show, spoke animatedly at the 140 Character Conference in New York last Monday about the importance of news and journalism as a public service rather than a business and the growing impact of social media services like Twitter.

I caught up with her as she was leaving and did a 3-minute video interview before her handlers ushered her away.

“Journalism is an act of faith in the future, and it is a war,” she said. “Oftentimes I feel bloodied with a sword unsheathed. That’s because you’re fighting for stories that you want covered.”

Curry smartly uses Twitter as a sort of electronic newspaper to spread the word about stories that didn’t make it on air. (She tweets almost daily at @AnnCurry.) She points to the fact that many important stories don’t get a lot of attention — in both traditional media and on Twitter. Viewers and users “want to watch something more salacious and that makes me crazy,” and during the panel she bemoaned the items that often receive the most attention on sites like Twitter.

Continue reading