Last week we asked you all to look at two pieces by Andrew Sullivan about blogging and consuming information and media online and write a short blog post comparing them. Ed will discuss the pieces in the class on Monday October 10th.
Just in case you didn’t see the links in the slides from last Monday – the pieces we want you to read are:
I mentioned ‘Why I Blog’ before – it’s from a while ago, when Sullivan was feeling very optimistic and positive about blogging and ‘thinking in public’. In the second piece, which was published a couple of weeks ago, he takes a rather different view about online media…
Last week I asked you to start logging your media consumption and to think about how much of it was actually journalism. We’ll talk more about this on Monday during Session 2. One thing we will discuss is a deliberately provocative piece by Ralf Dobelli – Avoid News. The subtitle to the piece is ‘Towards a Healthy News Diet’ -Dobelli’s suggestion is that to move in that direction, you need to radically cut back on the news you consume.
He has also posted an FAQ to the piece, in the form of an imaginary interview with himself, in which he deals with objections to his idea. Have a read of both pieces over the weekend and we’ll discuss them in class on Monday.
One thing we might do today, to start things off, is look at a couple of ads for The Guardian. ‘The Three Little Pigs’ was done quite recently – in 2012 – and won lots of awards. ‘Skinhead’ was made thirty years ago – in 1986 – and also won awards, I think. Have a look at both and have a think about what the vision of journalism presented by each one and how those visions differ.
One of the things this module is designed to do is to get you reading/consuming more journalism. According to Felix Salmon, who used to blog about finance, journalism and online media in general for Reuters, most journalists don’t read widely enough, especially online. Have a read of his post Teaching Journalists to Read and think about what he says and whether you agree. It was written quite a while ago now – is it still relevant?
Another piece we will discuss in the first class is My Blog, My Outboard Brain by Cory Doctorow – this piece is over ten years old now – but is still relevant and interesting. Doctorow is an SF writer/online activist/blogger for Boing Boing. This is an early piece about what he gets from blogging.
One last piece we will look at is Why I Blog by Andrew Sullivan – a journalist who started blogging early and built his own mini-media business. This is a piece he wrote a few years ago, when he felt very optimistic about blogging. It’s fair to say he has changed his mind a bit now – and we’ll look at a more recent piece by him next week.
The net makes it really easy to find and consume a wide range of media. I'm not just talking about pure news here. You can read a vast amount of cultural analysis/journalism, comment, opinion, reviews and more online.
But, obviously, you already know that. However, are you really taking advantage of all the information that's out there?
One of the key skills you need to develop as journalists (whatever medium you work in) is media literacy and news sense. Whatever your interest (music, sport, fashion), you need to read widely and really get a sense of what's going on in your field, what stories are being covered by who and why.
Here are a couple of tools that will help you broaden the range of media you consume:
RSS Feeds You can use special news reader programs to subscribe to news feeds. It's a good way of scanning a lot of news/information in one go. You can also use web-based services to do something similar. We'll try out Google Reader as an easy way into using feeds.
News Aggregators Google News is the best known of these sorts of sites. It automatically gathers news stories from sources all over the world and organises them according to various categories. News aggregators can give you access to a wide variety of perspectives on big news stories (but not always – we'll talk about this in class). There are various other new aggregators that build on what Google News does – for example, Silobreaker and Newser. NewsMap is an interesting attempt to visualise the flow of stories on Google News
We're going to do a couple of things today.
I'd like you to set up Google Reader and subscribe to a few news feeds. Over the next week, I'd like you to use the service to track stories in a field/subject/area that interests you.
Also, I'd like you to personalise Google News. Set it up to track news stories you're interested in and use it over the next week or so. Next week, we''ll talk about how useful you found each service.
You're probably already brilliant at finding stuff (and people) online. But so I can find out what you know, let's try a quick research exercise. Here's a quick brief.
Imagine you've been asked by the editor of The Guardian to write a feature piece on old people and the net. It's going to go in the technology pages. You need to deliver tomorrow – they need 1500 words. Someone's let them down and they have space that needs filling quickly.
First of all, you need to decide what you need for a piece of this length. Next – can you find what you need online? Then you need to find it.