Thinking Differently – What are the innovations in the journalism scholarship/profession today?

Amanda Ash and Alfred Hermida, from the University of British Columbia,  attend the 11th International Symposium on Online Journalism on Apr. 23, 2010. (Knight Center/Flickr)

Dean Graber, The University of Texas at Austin– Community radio: locally owned and operated radio stations, ran entirely by citizens.

– Community radio lacks the filters and gateway keepers of larger radio stations.

– The funding from community radio comes from listeners and small business “underwriters.”

– Stations commit to involving groups missing from the mass media (women, minorities, youth, seniors, foreign languages, etc.)

– LP FM, or low-power FM stations, account for much of the growth of radio stations, and the Internet extends their reach.

– KBOO.FM is an example of a station that emerged and modeled itself after the first community radio stations in the country. KBOO operates in and for Portland, Oregon.

– While community radio stations do feature news, music is still the magnet and the glue that holds them together. But the emphasis is non-commercial, such as Austin’s own KVRX, which boasts it plays “none of the hits, all of the time.”

– The actual number of community radio stations in the nation is unclear. The stations operate in cities of all sizes, but almost half of them are rural, and 4 in 10 are controlled by minorities.

– The scholarship about community radio has developed mainly along the lines of development studies. What we know is the history of the community radio sector, as well as the prominent stations and their internal practices.

– What is not as known is how community radio stations are using the online news environment on the air.

– Pacifica Radio’s model of activist journalism has inspired the first wave of community radio stations from the 1960s to the 1980s. Newer stations have created their own strategies.

– Even in a time of crisis for different types of media, community radio is growing by doing what it’s always done: allowing citizens to gain control of the radio medium.

Alfred Hermida and Amanda Ash, University of British Columbia

– Analyzed a project aimed at researching and developing a user-generated, participatory online resource on Canadian music, produced by Canadians, using collaborative wiki software.

– Is a public service broadcaster a relic of the past? What is their role in digital media?

– Public broadcasting in Canada is closely related to sovereignty and national identity.

– The discourse within the CBC was, “if we can’t control American companies coming in and buying our airspace and such,” then CBC itself would be the source of Canadian content on the web.

– CBC Radio 3, based in Vancouver, is an online and satellite radio station that plays 100% independent, Canadian music. It’s a radio station, but not as we know it. It’s designed to be social and collaborative.

– Much of the music played on CBC Radio 3 is uploaded by musicians themselves.

– Amanda spent many research hours looking at developing the Canadian music wiki, including which wiki software to use, envisioning the design and collaborative features to include at the launch, and developing an outreach and community plan.

– Some of the features at launch included a main page with RSS feeds of various Canadian music websites, with different search functions. Also, the ability to incorporate internal RSS feeds is impossible.

– The plan is to implement an FAQ section, allowing users to turn to each other for help.

– A user-generated wiki model allows for the tapping of the collective intelligence of the audience.

– The success of the wiki will be largely contingent on the ability of users to contribute freely. At the same time, a balance must be struck to prevent defamation or degradation of the project.

– The funding of the wiki is an example of how funding can work during times of economic restraints. The wiki was funded through a collaboration of a public broadcaster, a university and a government-run institution.

– The model can be described as a “teaching hospital model of professional education.”

– Limitations of the project include the fact that the wiki has not yet launched, so metrics aren’t in place, yet.

– There’s a Canadian bias to the study because of the goal of promoting Canadian content.

– What can be learned from the experience? When you want to innovate as a national broadcaster, you have to find a place on the edge where you can experiment. CBC Radio 3 is the ideal place for something like the wiki.

– Choosing an area like music can minimize editorial risk. You’re more willing to open to the audience because potential editorial problems are less than with something like hard news.

Maria Laura Martinez, University of Sao Paolo

– The Black’s Wheel is a technique to develop hypermedia narratives.

– The technique was created in 2005, introducing a graphic diagram of the narrative wheel and concept, and guidelines for building it. In 2009, they improved the concept.

– Some Twitter reactions to the Black’s Wheel:

@EsteBanet: The Black’s Wheel is more complicated than quantum physics

@JennyCaputo: The Black’s Wheel diagram looks too much like a math assignment. I became a journalist to avoid stuff like this

@Chezla: I’m always fascinated by the use of models and wheels as means to understand digital media content because I know so little about it.

Cindy Royal, Texas State University

– The whole idea of user experience inspired the research, along with the opportunity to visit the New York Times and take a look at their organizational processes.

– Royal spent a week with the Interactive News Technology department of the Times.

– One product developed by the department is an application that allows users to determine whether they should rent or buy their residence, based on the length of time to pay it off, price points, etc.

– In most cases of the news products used on the Times site, users are doing one or two things and getting a resulting wealth of information.

– Most of the programmers who have done well in the field taught themselves.

– Don’t feel limited by not having a formal computer science education. If you have the curiosity, it’s not beyond your reach to learn about it.

– News organizations are beginning to hire Computer assisted reporting people with a specific intent of putting that data up online.

– A passion for journalism and information is necessary. You must understand the value of the story and what makes it important.

– In terms of journalism education, students need to be web-savvy, innovative and have problem solving skills.

– There seems to be a lack of women, something indicative of the tech community at large.

ISOJ 2010: “Thinking Differently” Research Panel, from Knight Center on Vimeo.