Prof. Richard Craig in the paper

(hey Mullenweg, where’s that “recover post” button…eh…guess I’ll just write it again and save frequently.)

SJSU’s own Prof. Craig weighed in on the “Now who exactly is it that’s a journalist?” question in an op-ed piece in today’s San Jose Mercury news.

Prof. Craig, who teaches the grad class I’m taking this semester (full disclosure: my grades are fine, and this blog is in no way connected to that class other than being a good idea…I think.)

The Prof’s point is that not all bloggers are journalists, and that most people know journalism when they see it:

“The overwhelming majority of blogs on the Web have nothing to do with journalism — most provide nothing more newsworthy than photos of a blogger’s children, discussions of a recent vacation or perhaps opinions on such weighty questions as “Why are the drivers around here such idiots?” A tiny minority choose to gather and report news, and, among these, there are outlets both legitimate and loony.”

I’m reminded of what Robert Scoble said at the Spartan Daily office earlier this semester when asked

“Is blogging journalism?” “It is if it is.” – Scoble

Simply put, journalism is journalism, and the weblog is a medium. Prof. Craig writes “Declaring that blogs equal journalism is like saying that television equals journalism — people mistake the medium for the message.”

Amen to that.

More on the BlogoJournoSphere tomorrow night at SJSU.

More on the Commonwealth Club event at SJSU

It seems like they really are serious about running through the whole “Blogging as Journalism” schtick. One of the organizers stopped by our class and showed a bit of video to pump us up about the whole horizontal communication thing.

The coolest thing about the event, especially given Jay Rosen’s recent post about how boring it is for these guys and gals to talk about the same stuff at every panel (ah – that’s the catch about evangelizing: you have to keep doing it over and over again to everyone…), is that the audience is going to break up into small groups after the panel and, er, communicate horizontally about some of the questions that get brought up.

Cool.

Of course, given that Pescovitz announced the event at BoingBoing, which has over 19,000 subscribers on Bloglines alone, those small groups could get pretty big. I call front row!

Once again: Dan Gillmor, David Pescovitz, Jude Barry, David Satterfield, Chuck Olsen, er, Richard Craig, and the whole MCOM 210 gang will all be there. Come and see.

Tuesday April 19th, 2005: MLK Library, 7pm.

Another Blogger Talk at SJSU

Next Tuesday night, April 19th, at the MLK Library: Dan Gillmor (grassroots media guru), David Pescovitz (co-editor of BoingBoing), and Jude Barry (ex political-PR type) will be talking about…well heck, it’s being billed by the organizers as “Joining the Blogosphere” and sounds like an “Are Blogs Journalism” mixer — but with reps from Media, Technology, and Culture there, I assume we’ll be talking about some of the Big Ideas getting kicked around in the blogosphere these days.

Appropriately enough, the Prof from my Tuesday night class just sent the email announcing that our class is going. More on this later.

DETAILS: 6:45 p.m., Registration | 7:00 p.m., Program | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Second Floor, 150 East San Fernando St., San Jose | No charge | Parking free in Fourth St. Garage after 6 p.m. |
Co-sponsored by Roundtable Media and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, San Jose State University.

Let the assimilation begin

UPDATE: I am the Universal Oppressor (white american male). Riverbend is a Woman. With a book out.

Over at Baghdad Burning, my favorite Iraqi blogger has a post up about the American media content pushing its way onto the airwaves:

Al-Hurra, the purported channel of freedom, is the American gift to the Arab world. What they do is show us translated documentaries about certain historical events (American documentaries) or about movie stars (American stars) or vacation spots. Throughout this, there are Arab anchors giving us the news (which is like watching Fox in Arabic). It’s news about the Arab world with the American twist.

Conveniently enough, I was just looking for something as a counterpoint to my Brand America slide in the presentation I’m working on for my grad class. This is the deal: new technology opens up borders, makes them irrelevant, and this is a two-way cultural exchange. America gets tastes of other cultures and other cultures get tastes of America, right? Except for the small problem that Brand America tends to have a reach of oh, say, a billion viewers or three, while Riverbend at Baghdad Burning has about 2800 people linking to him her (which is a HUGE number for a blog – he’s currently #48 on Technorati’s Top 100).

So much for a two-way exchange. Imagine that for each person linking to Baghdad Burning, there’s a million people being reached by American broadcast media. Ugh.

The Annotated New York Times

Whoa. Scoble does (whoops, left something out) DOES NOT think this awesome site is as cool as Memeorandum, but I side with Steve Rubel on this one.

The Annotated Times throws together aggregates a page of NY Times stories along with a link to blogs that are linking to each story.

What’s more, there’s a list of about a zillion RSS Feeds, where you can subscribe to either the NYT on a certain subject (as broad as “Elections” or as narrow as “Assassinations and Attempted Assassinations”) OR the blogs that are linking to/commenting on the NYT stories on said subject.

It’s the coolest news & commentary site I’ve seen yet.

Print vs. Online – A Question of Class?

Preamble:

When Robert Scoble spoke at SJSU a few weeks ago, he asked the room full of J-School students how many thought they would be working for a newspaper when they graduate. Lots of hands. Scoble tried to explain that everyone with their hand up might work for a news organization, but not a conventional dead-tree oriented newspaper. The few professors in the room took that a little hard, and have been batting the idea around on a superficial level. The prof. who teaches my grad class brought up Scoble’s comments at the Poynter Institute seminar on Convergence he attended last month. He reported back the general “harumph” let out by the editors and educators in response. Steve Sloan mentioned it, and Scoble picked the conversation back up, asking his readers whether they agree or disagree that print is history.

My Reply:
(posted as a comment on Scoble’s entry)

I agree that newspapers will involve less dead-tree-technology in the near future, but I hope that print never vanishes completely.

For me, it’s a question of access. As long as there are cities full of workers who commute by bus and train, I want a newsstand at the entrance to every station selling the (ugh) NY Post and NY Daily News for 50 cents or a buck apiece – whatever the price is up to now.

Unless you can supply every inner-city resident with an inexpensive tablet PC and free city-wide broadband wireless, forget about eliminating print.

Will papers have to figure out a way to turn a profit? Yes. Do I subscribe to a newspaper? No.

I’m a grad student in Mass Communications at SJSU, and I was at both your talk and Prof. Craig’s presentation on the Poynter seminar. Your bit about none of the J-School kids working for print has gone largely misread here – but rest assured that a few people got it.

Forget about reading the analog/digital paper on the patio with your coffee – the sooner this becomes a question about class and access, the better. Otherwise, who is the news for? Preaching to the elite = preaching to the choir? Maybe.

Has the debate over blogging v. journalism, online v. print, digital v. analog passed over the question of access? I understand that the “early adopters” of technology are usually the ones who can afford it, but what purpose do bright ideas like “blogging as the long tail of communication” or “free access to the online archives of every newspaper” serve if the people who have the most to gain from the information still don’t have access to it?

Here’s what we need to truly democratize information:
1. Free broadband internet access in the poorest parts of the country/world.
2. Inexpensive/subsidized/donated/free computers and a tiny bit of training for the same
poorest parts of the country/world.

That’s it. Let the market handle the rest. If all the meta-bloggers and media critics can be so vocal about problems with privacy and copyright issues, then Let’s Start Talking About Access. How about it?

————————————-
Update: as if on cue, Scoble points to this conversation going on at Rebecca MacKinnon’s blog. Her question is “So how do we get more diverse voices into the blogosphere?” The comments touch on some of the ideas about access that I’m thinking about.

Jay Rosen hits me in the guts

I always find Jay Rosen of PressThink and NYU* interesting, often find him enlightening, sometimes find him original, and on rare occasions my mind gets expanded. This time he really gets me in the guts with this post about the borderline between observation and participation. Rosen tells the possibly true parable of a journalist invited to go along with a sniper during the seige of a city. The sniper gives the journalist the choice of which of two civilians to kill. The journalist chooses neither, so the sniper shoots them both.

The question this brings up for me is one of responsibility. What is the responsibility of the journalist, and how does it differ from his responsibility as a human being?

Rosen cites Michael Herr, author of Dispatches, with the idea that as a war correspondent, “you were as responsible for everything you saw as you were for everything you did.” Whoa. To tell the truth, somewhere in my journalism-student-mind (as opposed to my media-theory-mind) I have certainly daydreamed about working in a war zone. Usually in the daydream, I am spending most of my time ducking bullets and diving on the ground, and then a Vietnamese officer shoots an informant in the street and I get the shot. This daydream is not unlike the Cameraman-for-NFL-Films idea I had for about five minutes while I was in film school. As in: it sounds great, but I’m not sure it’s really my goal in life.

Why couldn’t I work in a war zone? I’m not sure I could step away from the immediate situation and not grab for the gun to kill the sniper. Yes, the one sniper. Utilitarianism calls me nutty, reminds me that the good I can do with my pictures or my words will far outweigh the value of that one life (er, make that two).

SJSU Photojournalism Prof. Dennis Dunleavy recently blogged a bit about how journalists deal with death, and he linked to something that blew me away.

If I were the photographer in Sudan, documenting starvation and suffering, would I be able to walk away from the dying child while the vulture gets impatient?

No.

The bigger question: Does participating in that situation by saving a life compromise my journalistic integrity? Will my photos/words still be credible if I save her life? What if I carry her on my back to the next town, leave her at the hospital, and she dies the next day anyway. Then what good have I done? Have I only saved myself the suffering of knowing her fate?

I’m back in school because I believe that journalists, artists, and any creators of media need to take a greater responsibility for the effects of their work.

But what about these direct effects of objectivity? What about all the things I don’t participate in because I am a journalist? Is it relevant that I wouldn’t be there without my press pass? Maybe.

*NYU disclaimer: yeah, I’m an alumnus. So what. I don’t think taking over the university President’s office my senior year really qualifies me as a fan of their work. I also read cjrdaily.