• Lab
  • AndroidForMobile Foundation at
    Newsonomics: The Washington Post’s ambitions for Arc have grown — to a Bezosian scale
    ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
    July 27, 2012, 10:04 a.m.

    This Week in Review: Reddit and news orgs’ shooting coverage, and Yahoo and Twitter’s identities

    Plus: The ethics of quote approval and draft sharing, charges in the News Corp. scandal, and the rest of the week’s media and tech news.

    The Aurora shooting, Reddit, and citizen journalism’s value: Much of this week’s news has been related to last week’s shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater that killed 12 and injured dozens. Poynter of the news of the late-night shooting, and the site that got the most recognition for thorough reporting of the news as it broke was the social-news site Reddit. Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon on Reddit, which included photos, comment threads with people who were in the theater, and , timelines.

    Those timelines drew particular attention from media observers: The Atlantic’s Megan Garber at their empathy through thoroughness, and BuzzFeed’s and NPR’s  talked to the timelines’ author — an 18-year-old named Morgan Jones — with Herrman calling him “the go-to source in the story,” and Poynter’s Alan Stamm for aspiring journalists.

    As The New York Times , the site’s users also unearthed some details about the alleged shooter that the traditional news media missed. Adweek with the site’s general manager, Erik Martin, who said Reddit wasn’t designed to be a breaking-news source, but its users have used its tools for journalistic purposes anyway.

    Several writers praised Reddit’s ability to cover breaking news collaboratively in such an effective way. Keith Wagstaff of Time that “no news organization or social media site currently offers an experience that’s concurrently as immediate, engaging and thorough as the one offered by Reddit,” and in a pair of posts, GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram to act as a verification hub and to allow readers to interact with people involved in news stories, and of “citizen journalism” such as Reddit’s.

    At Salon, Michael Barthel and citizen journalism, arguing that it isn’t immune from the same criticism the traditional media and that it’s “doing more or less the exact same thing that traditional journalism has always done, except not as reliably or sustainably.” J-prof Jay Rosen with a Salon post of his own arguing that no one is saying citizen journalism will replace professional journalism.

    Some traditional media organizations were also recognized for their skill in covering the story — the Denver Post’s Twitter coverage was , and Digital First’s Steve Buttry from the Post’s Twitter coverage, while Poynter looked at without a copy desk. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple also of Denver’s 9News TV.

    How to cover tragedy carefully and sensibly: But traditional news organizations were also responsible for some serious missteps and some eyeroll-inducing coverage of the Aurora shooting, too. ABC News’ Brian Ross as a Tea Party member who had the same name, a mistake which Poynter’s Craig Silverman said the network .

    Rem Rieder of the American Journalism Review and Steve Myers of Poynter pinned the blame for Ross’ and similar errors on the practice of incremental or “process” reporting, in which news is reported, bit by bit, as it comes in, then later confirmed or corrected. Rieder said he “a very confidence-inducing or satisfying approach to journalism,” and Myers how disclaimers and corrections can be separated from initial reports on Twitter.

    Beyond that specific error, coverage of the event and its aftermath followed a predictable path of sensational coverage and . The New York Times’ David Carr in shooting coverage, concluding that many of the problems stem from the news media’s desire to answer the question that can’t be answered: “Why?”

    The Atlantic’s J.J. Gould to start shaming organizations that cover such events exploitatively, and numerous people circulated a 2009 by the BBC’s Charlie Brooker that illustrated how to (and how not to) cover a mass shooting properly, which New Statesman  to Britain’s newspapers. Jay Rosen, meanwhile, that characterized so much of the coverage.

    The ethics of quote approval and draft sharing: Following last week’s on news organizations allowing candidates and their staffs to approve their quotes, more news orgs were establishing or reiterating their policies barring those practices this week, including , , and . The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple a few common quoting and negotiation practices, and the Journal’s Ron Fournier told him the key element differentiating what’s OK from what’s not is who has control.

    Meanwhile, a Washington Post journalist caught some flak after the Texas Observer that he shared drafts of a story with University of Texas officials and allowed them to suggest edits that ended up in the story. Post editor Marcus Brauchli ultimately decreed that future draft-sharing would have to be .

    In the , the reporter had some defenders, including Poynter ethicist Kelly McBride in the Observer story. Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon that the story contained quite a bit information that was unfavorable to the university, while the Post’s Erik Wemple in general, saying that a refusal to do so affirms journalists’ arrogance. “It’s a convention built on the idea that journalists are so brilliant that they can get a complicated set of facts and circumstances dead-bang right on the first try without feedback from the people who know the topic best.”

    What exactly is Yahoo?: A week after ex-Googler Marissa Mayer took over as Yahoo CEO, she’s begun to inspire confidence in the troops there, , while Wired’s Steven Levy Mayer could lure to Yahoo. The New York Times’ David Carr said  — as it has been for so many web companies before it — is, what is it, exactly? He concluded that Yahoo is (among other things) in the news business, but by accident more than anything.

    Tim Carmody of The Verge said that question — especially whether it’s a media or tech company — could be shaped in part by . He reported that Mayer may move many of Yahoo’s media execs to New York, making it a place where it could pursue both its media and tech sides. Ad Age’s Jason Del Rey and Michael Learmonth said Yahoo’s future is in , an area in which it hasn’t spent much money recently.

    Twitter moves further toward media: We were also asking the “What is it?” question this week about another company: Twitter. The Wall Street Journal reported () on Twitter’s plans to build out around big events, as Twitter — a hub for curating conversation about the Olympics with NBCUniversal. Meanwhile, Adweek that Twitter is in talks with Hollywood producers about launching original web shows a la “The Real World.”

    In a series of posts, GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram wrote about Twitter’s move toward being a media outlet, saying that it such as NBCUniversal to coordinate event-based coverage, that Twitter is with regard to developers, and that producing ad-driven content like web shows .

    Meanwhile, The New York Times’ Nick Bilton , concluding that it looks an awful lot like a media company. NYU j-prof Jay Rosen that Twitter is “a new kind of media company that doesn’t make any content.” Slate’s Matt Yglesias said the  — the real distinction is between companies that sell a product and ones that sell an audience, and Twitter is quite clearly the latter.

    Reading roundup: Here are the most interesting smaller stories going on this week:

    — A couple of updates on the ongoing News Corp. saga: Rupert Murdoch from the board of News International, his British newspaper division, and Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast why Murdoch is loosening his grip on his newspapers. Meanwhile, former News International head Rebekah Brooks was in the phone hacking scandal, and the Telegraph if the charges could lead to a deeper U.S. investigation. The New York Times wrote about the case’s .

    — A few WikiLeaks developments: A judge ruled that the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks , and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that U.S. government officials are now talking about the possibility of prosecuting news organizations like The New York Times in addition to WikiLeaks for publishing classified information. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram to support WikiLeaks’ First Amendment rights, and the Times’ Bill Keller .

    — Barry Diller, whose IAC now owns most of the Newsweek/Daily Beast partnership, that he might eliminate part or all of Newsweek’s print edition as soon as the end of this year. Newsweek editor Tina Brown tried to , and the New York Observer’s Foster Kamer the now-ended Sidney Harman era at the magazine.

    — The New York Times Co. released its second-quarter figures this week and posted a loss, thanks to , even as digital subscriptions for the Times and its Boston Globe . As New York magazine’s Joe Coscarelli put up, the Times is beginning to be more than its advertisers.

    — Finally, a very thoughtful piece here at the Lab from Jonathan Stray, who suggested three principles by which to design personalized news experiences: interest, effects, and agency.

    Photos of Aurora theater by , quotation mark by , and Yahoo ice sculpture by used under a Creative Commons license.

    POSTED     July 27, 2012, 10:04 a.m.
    Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
    Newsonomics: The Washington Post’s ambitions for Arc have grown — to a Bezosian scale
    It is increasingly the tech stack of choice for major news publishers. But now Arc wants to be the backbone of your digital advertising and subscriptions, too.
    Nope, there isn’t a podcast bubble
    Plus: Serial’s audience grows, Gannett builds a local audio franchise, and what a Pandora–SiriusXM marriage could mean for podcasting.
    Watch out, algorithms: Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson unveil The Markup, their plan for investigating tech’s societal impacts
    “Journalists in every field need to have more skills to investigate those types of decision-making that are embedded in technology.”