That Internet thing will be the death of us

Odd, many online journalists — not print or TV curmudgeons, but those who belong to an online journalism association — believe the Internet is changing journalism for the worse. New survey:

More than half, however, believe the internet is changing the fundamental values of journalism — more often than not for the worse. Among the biggest changes cited are a loosening of standards (45%), more outside voices reducing the clout of journalists (31%) and an increased emphasis on speed (25%).

Is that like smokers believing smoking causes cancer?

More on

A public conversation on Web journalism

A fascinating group of media folks (well, excluding yours truly, who is decidedly non-fascinating to put it charitably), are participating next Wednesday in a “Public Conversation on Web Journalism”  at the Howard H. Baker Center (Toyota Auditorium) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This group will be speaking with 50 to 75 University of Tennessee students. I’m sure we’ll learn something from them.

Public Conversation on Web Journalism II

April 1, 2009

Hosted by the Tennessee Journalist

Sponsored by the School of Journalism and Electronic Media and the Scripps Howard Foundation and put together by University of Tennessee professor Jim Stovall.


Jack Lail, director of news innovation, Knoxville News Sentinel.
Lail spends his day trying to figure out this Internet thing.

Patrick Beeson, Scripps Networks

Liz Gray, assistant editor, Scripps Networks Interactive
Gray a writer and editor for and

Bob Benz chief operating officer, Radiant Markets, LLC
Benz is the co-founder and COO of Radiant Markets, a startup designed to provide highly optimized, measurable Internet advertising solutions to small and medium businesses. He currently is putting in place the operational procedures and technology needed for Radiant to grow and scale.

Scott Adcox, applications engineer for Scientific Games, Alpharetta, GA
Scott is the “tech” side of NewTechZilla, a site he launched with journalist Trace Sharp from West Tennessee that explores how technology, blogging, and social media are changing journalism.

Lara Edge, VP/Editorial for Scripps Networks Interactive web sites,,,
Lara works with the development and Search teams on taxonomies and building out content management systems.

Brent Hubbs, publisher/editor of, a partnership with
Brent has been doing this since January 2000, growing from a staff of one to a staff of four. He was recently named the state of Tennessee’s top sportswriter, the first time the award has been given to an online journalist.

Tom Chester director of newsroom operations, Knoxville News Sentinel
Chester direct content across all News Sentinel publishing platforms and supervises the Continuous News Desk.

Victor Agreda, senior programming manager, AOL’s Weblogs division
Agreda manages several blogs in Tech and Foreign verticals:, and the Spanish versions of Engadget and Autoblog.

Jigsha Desai, continuous news editor – online, Knoxville News Sentinel
Desai works with online producers and different departments in ensuring quality and innovative content on Knoxnews web sites.

Katie Allison Granju, director of Social Media for Ackermann Public Relations.
Previously, she was a Project Manager with Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group, and Online Producer at WBIR-TV. She’s a blogger, a published author, and the mother of four children.

Jay Small, Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group in Knoxville.

Chad Parizman, Director, Community Management at Scripps Networks

Randy Neal, software entrepreneur and founder, editor, and publisher of
KnoxViews is a hyperlocal, community-driven independent media blog/website.

Lauren Spuhler,  online producer at
Spuhler creates quality, innovative content on Knoxnews Web sites.

Knight Stivender, The Tennessean (Nashville)

Jake Jost oversees content for
When time allows or deadline demands, he analyzes data for reporters and creates data-oriented resources.

Phil Kaplan, deputy sports editor, Knoxville News Sentinel Kaplan is responsible for daily assignments and production of the sports section as well as the content that appears on the paper’s three Web sites for sports:, and

Chuck Warnock, creator,
Chuck is a columnist for Outreach magazine; pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Va; and blogger at  He edits and — church news and information sites using link journalism.

Cyn Mobley, editor and owner, Bushido Press
Mobley is a former naval officer and criminal defense defense attorney and currently a best-selling mystery and techno-thriller author. She is also an expert in the martial arts and dog rescue effort

A counter-intuitive list of opportunities for newspapers

Decentralized processes are counter-intuitive. Having a single institution promise to cover “all the news that’s fit to print” seems more reliable than having a bunch of random bloggers cover the news in an uncoordinated fashion. The problem is that, in reality, newspapers are neither as comprehensive nor as reliable as they like to pretend. Just as a few dozen professionals at Britannica couldn’t produce an encyclopedia that was anywhere near as comprehensive as the amateur-driven Wikipedia, so a few thousand newspaper reporters can’t possibly to cover the news as thoroughly as millions of Internet-empowered individuals can. This isn’t to disparage the reporters and editors, who tend to be smart and dedicated. It’s just that they’re vastly outnumbered.

That’s Timothy Lee on TechDirt reacting to Jesse Walker’s list at The Nation on who would cover local news in the vacuum of shuttered newspapers.

Walker, however, does say newspapers have an opportunity “to tap the information already flowing from citizen to citizen without any journalist’s intervention. Then you can help it flow farther.”

Now that’s a thought. Maybe his is a list of opportunities for newspapers? There I go being counter-intuitive again.

The short version of his list:

  • The gadflies
  • The activists.
  • The insiders.
  • The neighbors.

The history of newspapers’ efforts in developing user generated content or citizen journalism is not a particularly uplifting tome. Maybe it doesn’t need developing; it’s already there?

Could Ida Tarbell bust Standard Oil on Twitter?

Ida TarbellDave Winer on Twitter: 

I wonder why press people have trouble seeing that news is what’s happening there. Sure there’s a lot of other stuff on Twitter — they focus on that instead. I leave it to the investigative journalists to figure out why.

Wonder what muckraking investigative reporter Ida Tarbell would make of Twitter?

“Imagination is the only key to the future. Without it none exists — with it all things are possible.” 
— Ida M. Tarbell

That actually sort of fits into Winer’s thoughts in Why it matters that Twitter is a news platform.

(Photo was taken between 1910–1930 and is a Library of Congress photo.)

Pilfer and prosper

Maybe the best lesson I learned during the long newspaper war in
Anchorage was this: if you come across a good idea elsewhere, consider
stealing it. If the good idea shows up in the competition, steal it

Howard Weaver