Grad school update: I think I’m done

For those of you keeping score, I started blogging, more or less, when I started graduate school at San Jose State University back in early 2005.

As of Monday, April 6, 2009, I’m finished with my M.S. in Mass Communications at SJSU’s School of Journalism & Mass Communications, after turning in my project report and presenting my findings to the department and my peers in the program.

ReportingOn, my Knight News Challenge project, did double duty as my Master’s project, and the scope I presented in my report covers the first iteration of ReportingOn, through Feb. 1, 2009 or so, when the development of the next version began.

When I have some time (ha!), I’ll put a screencast equivalent of Monday night’s presentation up here, although it will be harder to get across all the good and important questions that the faculty and students asked.

Congratulations to all my friends and peers at SJSU who presented their research on Monday, and of course, to all my friends from MCOM 210, 250, 270, 290, and 295 — you know who you are.

Meanwhile, development of the next phase of ReportingOn continues.  I’ll have more news about it soon.

ReportingOn 0.2: Connect with Twitter

From the message I sent to members of the What Are You Reporting On? Facebook group yesterday:

The initial, humble little piece of integration with Twitter is live now at Twitter integration

If you look at the right side of the page there, you’ll see a list of all the recent tweets sent to @reportingon. If you have a Twitter ID, try it out by posting a message like “@reportingon working on a review of There Will Be Blood.”

Your message will show up at

I’m working on ways to let you subscribe to all those replies by RSS or Twitter.

Thanks for participating – I hope to see you all making connections with other reporters at

If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, sign up for free at

The next step will be a site with groups where you can share your strategies and sources for working your beats with peers at other news organizations, in other towns and around the world.

I’m going to leave it at that for the moment.

In the immediate future, I’m still working on:

  • Using the Twitter API to get this done instead of piggybacking on existing services that use the API themselves.
  • Pushing the @reportingon tweets back out to users following ReportingOn, which in turn would make it easy to…
  • Push @reportingon tweets out by RSS

Please feel free to add your feedback here, in the comment thread at, or e-mail me about it at


Thanks to everyone who noticed the pillow-soft launch of in the only link in my Resolutions post, and especially to those of you who commented, e-mailed, tweeted, or blogged about the project.

At the moment, it’s just an URL, an idea, and a comment thread, but it’s building momentum, and that’s pleasant.

A few thoughts:

  1. I’m not doing this for any sort of financial gain, although I may get a grant or two to help pay the server bills, if there ever are any.
  2. I am hoping to use this as my Master’s Project to finish the graduate program I’m (still) enrolled in at San Jose State University.
  3. I’m no one’s competition. I’m doing this because I want to, because I think it’s necessary. If it’s successful, I’ll be happy; if no one ever uses it, I will have had a good hunk of practice at trying to do this sort of thing, and hopefully learned quite a bit in the process.

Initial feedback on the idea:

David Cohn:

“Ryan’s idea, as I understand it, is to take the new found obsession with instant conversation (and gratification) and aggregate these conversations in order to improve local reporting.”

Greg Linch:

“I’m a competitive being, as most journalists are, but the purpose of our profession is to inform. If you don’t want to be scooped, don’t give away the scoop. We must continue to adapt how we do our job to better inform readers and this site would be a great way to help do so.”

As the idea evolves, I’m thinking strongly that the Twitter tie-in and a Facebook application are the two places to start.

Dave Cohn is right: Herding a boatload of journalists – pro or amateur – over to a redundant social network feels forced. I’m not going to encourage reporters to seek out their sources in popular social networks in one breath, then ask them to join another network in the next.

Or maybe I will, I don’t know yet. Tell me, what would you want out of this?

My basic thought, the tagline for the site, service, app = The backchannel for your beat. I want this to be a place/way for reporters in far flung places to talk to each other – quickly and relatively publicly. A rising tide lifts all bylines. Seriously.

A wildcard: Poynter Groups?

I’m not sure the Poynter idea is exactly what I’m picturing — actually, I know it isn’t, but I still think it’s a good idea. Is Poynter the best possible place for a social network for journalists?

Many questions. Answer what you can. Thanks.


Might as well, eh?

In no particular order…

  1. Play guitar at least once a week. I picked it up today, and a simple three-chord tune was seriously taxing my fingertips. That just ain’t right. And I haven’t had the ‘I bartend and cut acidic fruit all day’ excuse for more than two years now.
  2. Start stretching again. As simple as getting on the floor and doing it before I sit down at my desk in the morning.
  3. Graduate. I’m moving relatively quickly to put together a project proposal for If you hit that link, by the way, you’ll see a basic landing page with some space to add your feedback to the project. Soon, I’ll figure out how to properly use the Twitter API to pull the feed of replies to @reportingon and display them on that page.

I’ll be realistic and stop at three.