Tag Archives: link journalism

Competition: a blessing or a burden?

I have often heard it argued that competition fuels progress.  Scientists fight to be the first to prove a new theory.  Athletes push each other to get the new world record.  Journalists scramble to be the first to cover a story.

It is competition which drives us to do better, make advances in our career field.  We view competition as a reason to push ourselves, take risks.

But, as Mark Briggs points out in Journalism Next, sometimes competition can hinder progress.

Journalism is ever changing, with arguably the largest change to date being the incorporation of the Internet.  This transition was, and still is, burdened with uncertainty.  Everything was new and there is so much that had yet to be explored.  But the competition remains.

In this beginning, however, the competition hindered risk taking and advances.  Competition kept journalistic sources from taking risks that would provide better material for their audiences.

I’m talking about link journalism or, as Briggs describes it, the use of  “editorial judgment to provide links to other sources of news and information, based on the needs and interests of a particular audience.”  It is the opposite of competition; it’s collaboration.  It goes against all our competitive instincts, but it can bring new life and depth to journalism if we allow it.

Before the Internet, the option to link one news source to another was simply not there.  Linking one print story to another would only have caused confusion amongst the audience.  So, as Briggs explains, when linking did become an option, many journalists were hesitant:

“For years, linking to ‘the competition’– other news sites –was either explicitly or tactily prohibited.  ‘If we send readers somewhere else, they might not come back,’ the thinking went.”

Link journalism provides the opportunity for reporters to provide more well-rounded coverage of any given story.  It allows readers to see more of what journalists see – what contributes to the article they produced.  This includes previous coverage, background information, and video and photography related to the subject.  And more than that, it challenges reporters to be the source that their audience looks to for great coverage.

It took some bold reporters and editors to start this wave of new journalism, and even bolder ones to take it to the level it has currently reached with link journalism fully incorporated.

Not only has link journalism made its presence known in journalism, but it has also opened to door to even more collaborative journalism strategies such as crowdsourcing, pro-am journalism, and open-source reporting in general.

And to think, if those few bold journalists had listened to their competitive instincts link journalism and all the advantages it offers may not be available today.

Competition: both a burden and a blessing.

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Magazine takes the cake, even in the blogging world

If my previous posts haven’t made it clear, let me lay it out for you – I’m not the biggest fan of blogs.  While I think bloggers have the potential to do something great with the new media technology at hand, most still have a long way to go.  And I am simply not willing to sift through the garbage to search for the few that actually shine.

That being said, a few choice blogs have fallen into my lap but only one has earned its place on my bookmarks toolbar.  This blog had a hand up in earning that top spot, however.

Vanity Fair has long been my favorite and most-respected magazine.  Even with the times calling for a more internet-based set up, VF has won me over.   While I purchase the magazine for its print content, I also follow @vanityfairmag to keep up-to-date on its online exclusives (aka blog posts).  VF Daily, like its magazine counterpart, covers culture, celebrity, political and style news and gossip.

So what is it about VF and its blog that has made me such a dedicated subscriber?:

  • Creative writing:  VF has the uncanny ability to bring entertainment value to even the most serious of topics.  A prime example of this is VF’s take on PETA and other companies using images of President Obama and the First Lady in ads without obtaining authorization.  VF approached the topic by coming up with ads other companies might be able to create using images of the First Family.  The post was witty, while addressing the main issue in a way that no other media had:

  • Pick your poison:  Do you want culture and celebrity news? Or politics and power? No – okay, how about society and style?  While being a compilation of commentary about politics, culture and style, VF Daily allows you to select which topic you want to focus on and gets rid of the others.  It’s a level of simplicity I have not seen on other sites.
  • Contribution to the larger story:  Even with short posts, VF’s blog brings depth to its stories by linking to other sources, articles, videos and photographs.  Writers establish a clear basis in the space they have and allow to the reader to delve deeper into the issue through other links.

Always the pessimist when it comes to blogs, even VF Daily doesn’t quite meet my expectations:

  • Layout/design:  While VF’s blog posts do catch the readers’ eyes with vibrant photographs and smart headers, it lacks the visual appeal design enthusiasts have come to cherish.  Maybe it is too much to ask, but I will say it over and over again until it actually happens: I want to see professional bloggers put effort into the visual aspects of their posts.  The simple header-picture-caption-article layout has worn out its welcome.  One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows for endless amounts of creativity – now someone please take advantage of it.
  • Immersion journalism:  I previously stated that VF Daily brings depth to its stories by providing links to other sites, articles, and images that add to the somewhat basic posts, but the blog would be greatly improved if its contributors added the depth themselves.
  • Continued conversation:  Few of the posts have more than one or two comments (if any at all) and those that do exists merely comment on the article itself without adding content or perspective.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that the posts are written like most articles; they are conclusive and do not imply the wish for readers to comment.  For VF Daily to become as successful as a blog and not just an addition to the well-established magazine, contributors will need to adjust to the demands of the blogosphere.

Maybe my selection of VF Daily as the only blog I find noteworthy enough to follow just proves once again that I have yet to be won over by internet media and am continually dedicated to magazines.   And if I seem close-minded, I apologize.  But until quality design and immersion journalism show their faces in the blogosphere, I will remain devoted to my beloved print magazines.

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