Digital, Digg, Citizen, Instant….what is or what should Journalim be today?

What is the state of digital journalism? What progress are Web sites making to exploit the potential of the Web to go beyond what any one traditional medium might offer? What capacities of the Web are sites developing, and which are they not?…Among the findings:

* Web sites have developed beyond their root media. In character, many news sites now cut across medium, history, audience size and editorial structure. The New York Times Web site, for instance, has different strengths and a noticeably different character from that of the Washington Post. The Web site of CBS News is notably different in its strengths from ABC’s. Some citizen media sites have distinct editorial processes and standards.

* News sites seem to be exploiting two areas of the Web most of all: editorial branding, or establishing a distinctive identity through original content and a distinct editorial process; and the potential for users to customize information, particularly through mobile delivery of it. More sites earned high marks for promoting original content and unique brand than any other feature we studied. Indeed, the notion that the Web is dominated by yesterday’s newspapers, wire copy, opinion and rumor is increasingly an oversimplification.

* Sites have done the least to tap the Web’s potential for depth — to enrich coverage by offering links to original documents, background material, additional coverage and more. That suggests that putting things into context, or making sense of the information available, is an area Web journalists still need to work on. This deficiency may expose the tension between old-style journalism, which sent reporters out to write stories, and technology-based aggregation, which gathers those stories and links via computer algorithm. Building real depth into coverage probably requires people to weave relevant sources of information together and to help consumers navigate and go deeper by themselves.

* Digital journalism has also not fully exploited the potential for users to participate by commenting and adding their own voice to the information. The notion that the Web is a place for people to be “prosumers,” simultaneously consuming and producing information in a kind of conversation, is at this point probably something of an exaggeration.

* Only a few sites excel at multiple areas of the Web’s potential. Only four of those we analyzed earned top marks in even three of the five content categories studied. Most excelled at only one or two.

Read Digital Journalism: A Topography of News Websites from The State of News Media 2007 from the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Commentary from WIRED’s Bruce Sterling and a “rant” from Sterling (mp3) from the 2007 SXSW Conference which expresses both skepticism about blogging, citizen journalism, etc and an interest in recognizing them for what they are.

Instant & Citizen Journalism

Bloggers, Citizen Reporters to Play Key Role in Journalism’s Future from Editor & Publisher
Citizen Journalism Wants You! from WIRED
Blogging’s not the enemy, says Dan Rather from C|Net
France cracks down on citizen journalism when violence is concerned from Ars Technica (similar from WIRED)
New media journalism: Who will pay for news production? from ZDNet
Riffing on “Instant Journalism” from ZDNet
Instant journalism: Who needs grammar?
from ZDNet

Should journalism be ‘Interactive’?

Interviews with website producers nominated for the Online Journalism Awards explored their perceptions of interactivity and reasons for adopting or not adopting interactive features that facilitate interpersonal communication. Findings reveal that site producers show interest but are experiencing problems with incorporating such interactive features online and are therefore cautious about implementing them. The evidence suggests that journalists are undergoing an uncomfortable transition migrating online and are unlikely to fully adopt interpersonal interactive features onto their websites.

This abstract is from Deborah Soun Chung’s Profits and Perils from the 1st 2007 edition of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Should journalism be a social network?

Poll: Should a newspaper be a social network? from the Read/Write Web
USA Today adds social networking features from ZDNet
Web 2.0 meets USA Today: Citizen journalism for the masses from ZDNet
Is Digg the future of news? from ZDNet

Contribute to the articles for Citizen Journalism, Online Journalism and Open Source Journalism at the Whats New Media Wiki and visit the JournaWiki for more on the intersection of journalism and new media.

Previously from WNM: Journalism + New Media

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Blogosphere, Media Evolution, Networks, Social Media, The Politics of New Media, User generated content, Virtual Communities, web 2.0, When New Meets Old

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