Seeking the thought leaders of online journalism

Media | The Themes
Here are my own brief answers to Who’s Respected in Online Journalism? These are quick thoughts, and I have ludicrously high standards, and I have the bias of working on reactionary theories. I’m still most curious to learn what other people think.

First of all, if I’ve read one vision statement, I’ve read them all, and am still seeing stuff repeated that was said ten years ago. For the best analysis, I enjoy Mark Glaser of USC’s Online Journalism Review. He interviews the right people and asks the right questions, and tidies it up well-composed articles.

While vision is easy, execution is hard. There’s always good research coming from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. I rarely see people online news professionals commission research or ademonstrate how to apply it. It appears to me like most research is anecdotal– maybe there hasn’t been enough time? Maybe there’s too many people winging it like me? But some questions: Should discussion forums proscribe real names? (Here’s my answer.) How to scale for large discussions? (Ditto.) What portion of time should a reporter devote to interacting online– against real reporting? (Marc Fisher of the Washington Post raised that in an October article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly).

As for links & community, that’s where the online news should shine. But the online news world has a difficult time “eating its own dog food,” as we say in the software world. The OJR balances out in its articles with brief blog posts. Yet for long stretches of time, I’m the most frequent poster. The articles most commented-on tend to be surveys of different websites or products– which invariably bring responses from people wishing to have been included, or wanting to clarify what was written about them.

There’s an ONA email list. But nowhere is there any 21st-century technology in use, a web-based content management system for links & discussions. (I’ve volunteered, but maybe not to the right people). The headlines for the ONA website come via Jonathan Dube’s Cyberjournalist. They’re a mixed bag. Some are unique; others are repeated elsewhere. I would have thought that if anyone were to advocate extending RSS syndication to better classify article types (beyond my doing so), it would be the online news community.

There was one media-related site that was a finalist in the Online Journalism Awards for a specialty news site (small)– PaidContent, by Rafat Ali and Staci Kramer. I haven’t seen much in it that matches my questions above; I’ll be posting more about it tomorrow.