#117 – Amy O’Leary & Tyson Evans — Behind the scenes of the New York Times Innovation Report

Amy O’Leary was at a journalism conference in Amsterdam when she first heard the New York Times Innovation report had been leaked and made public.

As the Times‘ deputy editor of digital operations, O’Leary was part of the team that spent six months preparing the document that was only supposed to be glimpsed by the upper echelon of the newspaper’s editorial staff. Now it was out there online for everyone to see, courtesy of BuzzFeed.

“When if first got out, we were all kind of upset,” she said. “We just didn’t know how people were going to take it. We had this very candid document that had a lot of our most naked challenges laid to to bare in this report, and we just didn’t know. Our harshest critics, our stiffest competition could all sort of pick this apart. And that just never feels good.”

Amy O'Leary & Tyson Evans

Amy O’Leary, left, is the deputy editor of digital operations at The New York Times. Tyson Evans is the Times’ editor of newsroom strategy. (Photo by Michael O’Connell)

Tyson Evans, editor of newsroom strategy at the Times, was one of those who’d seen the report before it had been leaked.

“There had been a little circulation within the Times of people who were asking for feedback around it,” he said. “We were trying to kind of gauge what were the first steps after the report was maybe seen. And then, all of a sudden, everyone was reading it and it was like the most water cooler conversation you could imagine, right?”

Evans described it as something of a magical moment in the newsroom, when everyone was speaking from the same textbook.

“We had this amazing shared document all of a sudden, where everyone was talking about ‘What did you think about the point they made on page 60?'” he said.

When O’Leary and her team put together the report, it included five recommendations that they hoped the Times‘ editorial leadership would adopt.

“We had no idea if our bosses were going to green light any of them,” she said. “The document was meant to persuade them to do these things, and what we didn’t actually expect was that they approved all of them basically immediately. That surprised us. We thought they were going to turn some of them down and maybe just focus on one.”

This occurred shortly after the report was delivered in March and before it’s public posting in May by BuzzFeed reporter Myles Tanzer.

“If anything, having it public and with the public commitment from our editors that they want to pursue all of these, really does hold us accountable in an open and public way to follow through,” O’Leary said. “And I think that’s good.”

O’Leary and Evans spoke about the report and its sudden appearance in the public eye during a Sept. 26 keynote address at the Online News Association’s annual conference in Chicago. The next afternoon, they sat down with It’s All Journalism producers Megan Cloherty and Michael O’Connell to discuss what having the innovation report publicly available means for the Times and the journalism industry as a whole.

Michael O’Connell

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#116 – Josh Stearns — Building sustainability for local news

Josh Stearns has been interested in promoting press freedom for a long time.

“The reason that I got into press freedom is that I was concerned about the state of local news specifically, and protecting the smallest journalists and the smallest operations,” he said. “I just think that when it comes to the health of local communities, we need those people who are both doing the accountability/watchdog reporting locally but also just the neighborhood news, the things that connect us as people to our communities and to others in our neighborhoods.”

Josh Stearns

Josh Stearns is the director of journalism and sustainability at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. (Photo by Michael O’Connell)

Stearns is director of journalism and sustainability for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which is working on a two-year grant from the Knight Foundation looking at community engagement and journalism sustainability issues for community websites.

“I’m working with six local sites around New York and New Jersey basically as a startup mentor and R&D coach, helping them figure out how do they move from just getting off the ground to actually having a diverse revenue stream that’s going to sustain them over the long term.

The sites Stearns is working with range from those founded by former reporters at CNN and The New Jersey Star-Ledger who launched their own hyper-local news sites, to Justin Auciello, an urban planner who founded the Jersey Shore Hurricane News, a Facebook-based news site. The White House honored Auciello for providing Jersey Shore residents with up-to-date news in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s a really wide-range of groups, but all of them are really focused on supporting their local communities and trying to fill the news gaps that are occurring in New Jersey,” he said.
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#115 – Diversity, entrepreneurship and making podcasts more visible

Journalists, particularly journalists of color, are in need of financial backing for their projects as well as training on how to pitch their ideas to the business community.

The New U program seeks to address those shortfalls through a crash course for minority journalists who are entrepreneurs. Those who go through New U training have the opportunity to win several thousand dollars to fund their new journalism venture.

Umbreen Bhatti and Kaizar Campwala

Umbreen Bhatti, left, a lawyer and a 2014 John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University, and Kaizar Campwala, who works in partnerships and marketing at Stitcher, talk to It’s All Journalism about diversity, entrepreneurship and podcasts at the 2014 Online News Association Conference in Chicago. (Photo by Michael O’Connell)

We talked to Umbreen Bhatti and Kaizar Campwala about the program. Bhatti said keeping an audience in mind is the most important factor in a successful new journalism venture. If a person doesn’t cater to an audience, then she won’t be successful.

“So often journalists are thinking about their audiences in a generalized way. Could it be useful to think of a really specific type of person?” said Bhatti, a lawyer and a 2014 John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University.

Bhatti gives tips for how people can understand their users. For example, journalists need to be able to identify the gap between what people say they like and what they actually do.
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#114 – So you wanna podcast? Tips on how to be an online audio star

Why not podcast?

I was a student in American University’s Interactive Journalism program when the idea first came to me.

How to podcast

It’s All Journalism producers Megan Cloherty, left, and Michael O’Connell give a presentation at the 2014 Online News Association Conference on how to podcast. (Photo courtesy of @DaveColePhoto)

What I liked about the AU program were the discussions we had about how the journalism industry was changing. We also got to meet innovative journalists who shared their experiences working in digital newsrooms.

This was heady stuff for me, a 50-something editor in the midst of a career crisis. I’d learn these lessons on the weekend and then turn around and apply them Monday morning in my job as a Web editor at a chain of weekly newspapers.

But as the program wound down, I wanted to find a way to continue these discussions and learn more skills from smart journalists.
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#113 – Let’s get social with Jeff Jarvis and Mandy Jenkins

It's All Journalism podcasts live on the Midway floor at the 2014 Online News Association annual conference in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 24. Producers Michael O'Connell and Megan Cloherty are joined by Jeff Jarvis, media pundit and professor at the City University of New York's Journalism School, and Mandy Jenkins, the open news editor at Storyful. (Photo by Josh Hatch)

It’s All Journalism podcasts live on the Midway floor at the 2014 Online News Association annual conference in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 24. Producers Michael O’Connell and Megan Cloherty are joined by Jeff Jarvis, media pundit and professor at the City University of New York’s Journalism School, and Mandy Jenkins, the open news editor at Storyful. (Photo courtesy of Josh Hatch)

Social journalism is more than social media.

“It’s about turning journalism on its head and listening to the communities that we serve and first find out what their needs are,” Jeff Jarvis, media pundit, author, and BuzzMachine blogger, said Thursday, Sept. 25, at the 2014 Online News Association Conference in Chicago.

As a professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, Jarvis is spearheading a new social journalism program that goes beyond just training students how to use Twitter and Facebook well.

“Those are certainly tools people have, but this is really about realizing that journalism properly constructed is not in the content business,” he said. “Journalism is a service and a service accomplishes things for people. So, you’ve got to know what people’s goals and needs are before you can actively help them meet those needs.”

It’s All Journalism producers Megan Cloherty and Michael O’Connell interviewed Jarvis and Mandy Jenkins, the open news editor at Storyful, as part of a live podcast at the ONA Conference.

Jenkins blazed trails at TBD.com, the Huffington Post and Digital First Media’s Thunderdome in the way journalists can use social media to help them tell stories. She sees this new CUNY program as a reflection of what’s happening in newsrooms today.

“Every bit that we’re trying to do from identifying eyewitnesses, to getting their voices heard, to putting them in touch with the audience and bringing the audience in as the storyteller,” she said. “It’s a circular process. Getting more people to come into the industry who already understand that is going to be killer.”

Jarvis pointed to Jenkins as an example of someone was more than just the “social person” in the newsroom.

“She’s a journalist who understands social,” he said. “That’s the key of where we have to shift this. Mandy is really a model for many of our students going forward.”

Jenkins also talked about the ongoing efforts of ONA’s User Generated Content Ethics Group being led by Fergus Bell and Andy Carvin of the Associated Press.

She participated in an informal meeting Thursday of the group, which discussed some of the key ethical issues newsrooms are struggling with when in comes to using “eyewitness media.”

“There’s been a group of journalists who have working on that over the last year, really identifying some key points on that, ranging from crediting eyewitnesses, to keeping them safe,” she said.

Other topics of the group discussion concerned verification and even the trauma social journalists may experience as they wade through eyewitness media.

Michael O’Connell

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#24 – Social media expert Mandy Jenkins explains how to crowdsource breaking news

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#112 – How’s your digital hygiene? Practical advice on improving your digital security

Seamus Tuohy likes to use the term “digital hygiene” to describe a set of best practices for how people incorporate digital security in their daily lives.

Seamus Tuohy

Seamus Tuohy was in studio talking about Internet security. (Photo by Michael O’Connell)

“I have to enter between five and six passwords to check my email in the morning, because I have a USB stick that’s encrypted that holds my password,” he said. “It actually holds a few different encrypted mini-volumes that each have passwords different computers or different uses.”

Tuohy is a technical adviser at Internews, an international non-profit whose aim is to empower journalists across the globe.

“We provide services to independent media organizations and civil society groups, both helping them develop the capacity to build radio stations or other media development work, as well as helping digital security services, services around developing better content, as well as services around teaching people basic journalism skills in areas where there’s news to be had, but are having a hard time getting it out,” Touhy said.

He builds tools to help communities involved in conflicts to secure their communications.

“My work mainly involves finding the right circumvention or anti-censorship tools that work for a certain population, both the utility of those tools and actually if they can be used in the field,” he said.

On this week’s podcast, Tuohy discusses the importance of Internet security in protecting a journalist’s work and communications with sources.

“The things that journalists overseas need are actually the same things that we need here in the U.S.,” Tuohy said. “Often times, journalists need to secure their communications so their sources don’t get out, so their story doesn’t get snatched or taken from them by another news organization. Also, just to be able to do the research. In a lot of societies, huge parts of the Internet are being cut off, and so, being able to evade censorship to find the news, find external sources, find corroboration of the stories you’re trying to tell is incredibly important.”

He points out some of the common vulnerabilities around laptops and cellphones, and offers some suggestions on how journalists can improve their digital hygiene.

Michael O’Connell

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#111 – Trevor Knoblich has the ONA14 game plan

WASHINGTON – When it comes to planning a conference, well Trevor Knoblich isn’t an expert but he certainly looks the part. Knoblich is helping plan the Online News Association’s annual conference at the end of September and helped us get a better idea of what to expect in Chicago.

Knoblich, ONA’s digital director, says he has specific sessions he’s looking forward to, including those that delve into the idea of startups both within and outside newsrooms and the technology/human capital that makes them feasible.

Trevor Knoblich is the digital director of the Online News Association. (Photo by Megan Cloherty)

Trevor Knoblich is the digital director of the Online News Association. (Photo by Megan Cloherty)

The keynotes this year are a bit unexpected. (Working backwards) on Saturday, Sept. 27, the keynote features the Sesame Workshop.

“They have done some amazing work in terms of audience engagement; in terms of mobile design; in terms of building apps and they’ll be talking about how to reach an audience, about important issues that we face. Children’s programing tackles these issues just like news outlets do,” Knoblich said.

A goal of his in coming into the role of the digital director at ONA, Knoblich said, was getting fresh voices from other industries involved in the conversation to improve how news outlets interact with their audience.

The other keynotes include a conversation about The New York Times Innovation Report and the editorial lessons to come out of the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

More than 460 ideas came into ONA’s public call for conference session topics. Knoblich said some very important people helped whittle down that list over two months to suss out the most important topics that formed the conference schedule.

Beyond the schedule, there is plenty of built-in time to network. Food trucks will be on hand to help fuel our inquiring minds. And then there are the extra curricular activities — both sanctioned and unsanctioned — that will take place during the trip.

“The Midway is an area of the conference that is sort of the innovation playground,” said Knoblich.

While there sounds like there will be plenty of cool startups to check out at the midway, located in the heart of the conference, It’s All Journalism will also be there!

We plan to broadcast live from the Midway during the conference on Thursday, at 3 p.m. We are also heading a session on podcasting on Saturday, at 10 a.m.

ONA is planning to live stream some sessions from Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel, including our session. See the full conference schedule of events at www.ONA14journalists.org.

&mdash Megan Cloherty

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#110 – Bill Keller goes from The New York Times to a new, nonprofit news organization

The New York Times‘ former executive editor Bill Keller has gone from one of American journalism’s most respected legacy media institutions to a new nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization called The Marshall Project.

The Marshall Project will focus exclusively on stories about the U.S. courts and prison system. Keller is the editor-in-chief of the new venture that will try to expose systemic problems in the criminal justice system. It officially launches in the middle of October.

Bill Keller, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project.

Bill Keller, editor in chief of The Marshall Project.

“This is an incredibly rich area for journalists,” Keller said in his interview. “There is this tremendous market and appetite for really aggressive coverage for law enforcement, prisons, courts.”

When fully staffed, The Marshall Project will have a staff of about 25 people. Most of the reporters will be doing investigative pieces, but the organization will try to deliver some original content every day.

“Had we been live during Ferguson, we would have been very early on the subject of the militarization of the police,” he said.

Philanthropy will be the primary way of sustaining The Marshall Project. Keller doesn’t anticipate a lot of interest from advertisers and business in the venture.

“I don’t see any potential in the near term that advertisers want to promote their product alongside stories of lethal injections and prosecutorial misconduct,” Keller said.

Keller said one of the advantages of doing philanthropic journalism is reporters don’t face the same concerns about whether a story will be popular with a broad audience. There aren’t the same pressures to produce Internet traffic.

The former Times editor said he wants The Marshall Project to tell stories in different ways. There will be interactive graphics, charts and maps. The Marshall Project reporting team will be using audio and video.

Keller presided over The New York Times from 2003 to 2011, during a time of tremendous upheaval in the journalism industry. In his eight years as executive editor of the paper, Keller said The Times became a digital first publication out of necessity.

“We became much more experimental, open to new ways of telling stories,” said Keller. “The obvious curse of the Internet is that it completely disrupted our business model.”

When asked about The Times’ infamous digital innovation report leaked earlier this year, Keller said this was the third such report he had seen at the newspaper over the last decade.

He wrote a similar digital innovation report for the newspaper himself back in 2005, and ousted editor Jill Abramson wrote another one in 2009. Keller said all three Times digital reports have contained a sense of urgency, but it’s been a hard transition from print to online for most legacy news organizations.

“Old media still has a ways to go to overcomes the culture and psychological habits that are rooted in the old world,” Keller said.

Julia O’Donoghue

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We’ve updated our website!

It took two years, but we finally got around to updating our website. We hope you enjoy it.

While the blog layout of our old website design was easy to use and gave us a place to share our work, we realized that most of our content was hidden. We wanted a website that would showcase all of our work and make it easier for our listeners to find some of our older podcasts.

Let us know what you think by emailing us at editor@itsalljournalism.com.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

We’ve got big plans for the coming months, including podcasting from the Midway at the 2014 Online News Association Conference in Chicago. If you’re at the conference, come find us. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Megan Cloherty
Michael O’Connell
Julia O’Donoghue

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#109 – Robert Ray: ‘Ferguson’s story is happening all over the country’

We return to Ferguson, Missouri, for this week’s podcast to have a conversation with Robert Ray, a correspondent with the U.S. cable news channel Al Jazeera America.

“Ferguson’s story is happening all over the country,” said Ray. “There hasn’t been a spotlight by the media on it, but it’s happening everywhere.”

Robert Ray (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera America)

Robert Ray (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera America)

When we had this conversation, Ray had been on the story for five days. In that time, police had shot rubber bullets and tear gas at an Al Jazeera crew attempting to record a story away from the crowd of protesters.

“When I see journalists taking it like that, it’s upsetting. I don’t like it,” Ray said. “We have the right to report and document and when we’re not able to do that, we got serious problems.”

Ray talks about how he’s seen the story change and why it’s important for the media, despite the risks, to cover stories like the Michael Brown shooting and its aftermath.

“The thing is, if we don’t cover this all over the country, if we don’t actually look into it, how can the country get better?” Ray said. “And that is the most important thing that the media can do. Politicians can try to make the country be better, and certainly, some of them have that intention, but they are sometimes isolated in the bubble of bureaucracy and they have their hands tied. But what we can do in the media is go out there and show and listen and tell the stories of real people so that America’s eyes can open up better and we can become a better country.”

Michael O’Connell

Related Podcast:

Alexander Howard — Ferguson, Mo. and the First Amendment

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