Stacey Mason/Mark Bernstein
De Nieuwe Reporter’s Eric Ulken brings us news from Infocamp, an “unconference” in Seattle which focused on gathering and exchanging information. The article notes that there were surprisingly few journalists in attendance, and that the approach taken was broader than that normally taken by journalists. Ulken returns with several tips for online reporters to incorporate ideas familiar to information architects and online communities, including:
- giving the audience personas to understand their needs
- understanding that users don’t want what they say they want
- A/B testing helps optimize content
- Letting the community moderate content
The fact that journalism is taking notes from online sources is not new, and in a culture of converging media we’ll be seeing more and more examples of the necessity of cross-disciplinary knowledge. Years ago reporters had to know how to find information, fact-check, and write*. These days a blogger probably knows basic networking, coding, design, and of course how to find information, fact-check, and write.
- Or maybe not; beware nostalgia for an imaginary past. From Roger Ebert’s “The Best Damn Job In The Whole Damn World”:
Then there was the day Art Petacque and Hugh Hough won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Valerie Percy murder case. Hough was a superb rewrite man. Petacque was our mob reporter. I don't know if anybody ever actually saw him typing, but he had great sources. He even knew all mob nicknames of the top Chicago mafioso. If it was rumored that he sometimes invented the nicknames himself, nobody ever complained. What was Joey (The Clown) Lombardo gonna do? Write a letter to the editor complaining that his real mob nickname was "the Joker?"
Petacque and Hough were a familiar team in the city room. Petacque would walk in looking like the cat who ate the canary, take a chair next to Hough, pull out a sheaf of notes, and start whispering in his ear. Hough would type, stopping occasionally to remove his cigar and say, "You're kidding!" Then Hough would write up the notes, and the story would appear under a shared byline, often on Page One. The day they won the prize, Hough was on a golf course. Petacque walked in, got a standing ovation, climbed up on a desk, bowed, and said, "I only wish Hugh Hough was here to tell you how happy I feel."