October 31, 2011

Journalism and Poverty: The Draft Essay

My recent essay about poverty and journalism is ready for Rhetorica readers to review. Here’s the link to Google docs.

I rely heavily on a criticism made by sociologists Herbert Gans and Michael Schudson — that journalism routinely fails to offer citizens “actionable” information. I largely agree with their assessments. So perhaps it is interesting that providing the poor and working class “actionable” business and economic coverage is exactly what I think newspapers should do to correct the (middle)  class bias of journalism.

Take a look. Let me know what you think.

October 10, 2011

What if The Guardian Doesn’t Get It?

A big what-if from The Guardian:

The idea of giving this information away before publication might therefore seem to be putting digital dogma before common sense. Just because the internet theoretically allows journalists to give readers a peek behind the curtain by sharing the list with them does not make it a good idea.

We suspect otherwise though at the Guardian. What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what’s wrong with our stories after they’ve been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?

OK, fine. But I think news organizations should have been leading this revolution rather than following it. That’s what’s going on here — following. Can you say (Pulitzer Prize winnerProPublica?

For that matter, can you say Ozarks News Journal? We’ve opened our “newslists” to our readers through our Facebook group from day one. Granted, we’re not the big dog in town. But we have reported on important issues and done so differently from other news media in town. It’s a student project, i.e. they are still learning.

How committed is The Guardian to this new rhetoric of conversation? Take a look:

It’s a bit of a leap in the dark, we know, so we’ve decided to structure it as a short trial starting this week and we are ready to pull the plug if we suspect we’re giving away too much competitive advantage or falling on deaf ears. What we won’t do is give up our right to exercise our own judgment about which stories are important, or pay much attention to pestering from PR people, but we do think it is worth listening to our readers.

It was a “bit of a leap” 10 years ago. Today it’s what I’m teaching my journalism students.

Further, The Guardian doesn’t make it easy to participate. What appears to be the main page for the newslist (it isn’t entirely clear but should be) has neither instructions for participating nor the newslist itself. You have to click through to a blog post to find these things.

And, all too typical, a link to Open Newslist is nowhere to be found on the front page.

October 7, 2011

Rhetorica Update

Just a reminder to loyal Rhetorica readers: I will not be covering the presidential campaign the way I have done in the past, i.e. examining the rhetoric of the press-politics relationship. I am out of the politics game — at least on the national level. It remains to be seen if I use my space here on Rhetorica for state and local press-politics coverage. I’m still thinking about it.

Due to other commitments (especially regarding the sites I run for my classes — Ozarks News Journal and Reflections in the Screen), blogging on Rhetorica will continue to be a low priority. Exception: This will be the primary space for sharing my academic work. I am finishing my peer-review draft of my case study on journalism and poverty now (deadline early next week). I’ll post my results and thoughts as soon as the latest draft is complete.

Most of my blogging effort is going into Carbon Trace now — my blog about bicycling and walking for basic transportation. I’m having a much greater impact on the world with this local blog. The whole point of writing a blog (for me) is to make some difference in the world, to apply rhetoric to an exigence for the purpose of persuasion and, thus, to  create the world I want (see here and here).

I suggest that you subscribe to Rhetorica’s RSS feed so that you’ll be alerted when I post new content if you remain interested in Rhetorica.

I’m also thinking about a re-design. Hmmmm… if you have thoughts on that, please leave a comment.

Rhetorica isn’t going anywhere. I have too much important work represented here to close the site. Further, as Rhetorica approaches 10 years of existence, it is one of the longest-running blogs on the internet. That’s reason enough to make sure that I keep it going.