New Journalistic Workflow

Jay Rosen tweets:

New method: slow blogging at PressThink, daily mindcasting at Twitter, work room at FriendFeed. Example: post in gestation

This is how I understand that:
Step 1 is mindcasting on Twitter (often misunderstood for time-wasting lifecasting, e.g., this), Step 2 is aggregation of a number of imported tweets and digestion of them on FriendFeed, Step 3 is aggregation of several FF threads into a more coherent blog post.
The next step, Step 4, could potentially be to aggregate the ideas and knowledge from several blog posts and publish as an article in the traditional media outlets.
I can think of even Step 5 – aggregating a number of media articles into a book.
Traditional journalists would call only Step 4 and Step 5 ‘journalism’. New journalists would call all of these steps ‘journalism’.
Differences between traditional and new media, if looking at the process in this way?
1) all steps are transparent and visible to all (instead of privately jotted notes in a moleskin or post-it notes).
2) all steps involve other people who provide continuous feedback and provide additional sources, documents or expertise.
3) depending on the topic or personal proclivities, one can stop at any step, 1,2,3,4 or 5, and whatever is done so far is still journalism.
Web provides sufficient time, space and communication technologies to do it this way, while paper/radio/TV restrict how much one can be transparent, public, collaborative, responsive to feedback and what is deemed worthy of the word “journalism”. Half-baked articles cannot count in such an expensive and restricted system, but can – and can be very useful – in the new medium.
Also, these steps are platform-neutral:
Step 1 is easily done on Twitter, but other Twitter-like platforms can do the same thing. One can do the same even on places like Delicious, Stumbleupon, Simpy, Digg, Reddit, Fark, Slashdot or Metafilter. Or even on a blog – this is what bloggers have been doing – quick links and one-liners many times a day – for years before any of those other platforms were invented. One can also do it on Facebook since it introduced the relevant functionalities. Also worth noting is that having this service on one’s mobile device allows for reporting from the scene, i.e., for “breaking news” as I defined here last week (see all the responses to that post aggregated – Step 2 – on FriendFeed).
Step 2 also can be done elsewhere, though FriendFeed is really suitable for it – aggregating and getting feedback. One’s blog is a perfectly good place for it.
Step 3 is usually done on a blog, but I can see how it can be done on a different platform that allows for longer pieces.
If one wants to go on to Step 4 or Step 5, one needs to pitch the work to a corporate media entity, probably all online in the future, and get an editorial approval as well as the services of a professional editor for spelling, punctuation, grammar and style. The editor, an expert on the process but not as expert as you are, not even close, on the topic of the piece, should not have a say on the content, but may choose to have it evaluated by other experts (‘peer-review’ of sorts) before accepting the piece.
I have the feeling that this is the workflow that Jay Rosen has in mind for the new HuffPo investigative fund.

6 responses to “New Journalistic Workflow

  1. Very interesting workflow.
    Maybe the wave of the future even. I think that with even more information (and more of it half-baked/unfiltered) people already saturated with media will still be using gatekeepers of some sort to control the firehose of data blasting in.
    But big changes are rolling in. That’s for sure.

  2. Yes, but we will choose our own personal gatekeepers: friends or people we trust (all these blogs and social networks are doing exactly that – filtering news via personal filters):
    @NiemanLab College student: “If news is important, it will find me” @jbenton “That’s the news revolution”
    How does FriendFeed work? You subscribe to a bunch of people. They shower your feed with stuff, most of which you don’t read as you don’t care. But if someone else “Likes” or “Comments on” an item, it goes right back to the top of the page. When a “friend” does something to an item on their feed, it starts showing up on your feed. Thus, unimportant stuff, as deemed by the circle of people you trust, plus a broader circle of people they trust and so on, falls off the page quickly. What they find to be important or interesting, keeps popping up on top over and over again and you are bound to see it even if you just pop in once a day for 5 minutes to check what’s new. Thus, a set of concentric circles, the inner circle being people you trust, brings important things to your attention without any effort on your part and without any official or professional gatekeeper.

  3. It sounds fine if you don’t roam far and wide. But it won’t work very for topics you and your friends don’t know much about or aren’t into, I would think.
    And, if you add more circles about things you’re not into, that will take more of your attention. Eventually, it’s too much work and you’ll be using several gatekeepers, some of whom you may not trust any further that you trust Time Magazine today.
    Also, one of the useful points of the MSM and edited news was that everybody would know about the same set of socially important facts. If everybody bowls alone (a title of a sociology book on the topic) then we may be losing something in social coherence. Everyone behind a gated community of their own construction results in an even more fragmented society.

  4. That is the beauty of concentric circles. Let’s say that I only “friend” science bloggers. Well, even if I am that narrow, they are not. Some have friends who are not bloggers, or who are not scientists. Some have circles of liberal friends, others of conservative friends, some have atheist friends, others have religious friends, some are American friends, some are people living in other countries, etc. If it’s important news, it will come to me no matter what.

  5. I think the concentric circles are a good thing and inevitable as a global network of millions of people emerges.
    But that’s a huge amount of sorting and the more specific your filters the more you screen out that little bit of noise to signal you’re looking for.
    There must be some limits to more efficient information gathering and process imposed on us by biology as well as time.
    We’ll have to see if Time Magazine flourishes in this century. The bell curve suggests there will always be plenty of paid gatekeepers.

  6. I have also written a post about differences and potential uses of Twitter and FriendFeed.