If You Love Journalism Set It Free – My SXSW Proposal

I’ve been growing increasingly interested in how journalism innovators at new and old publications and websites are finding innovative ways to tell important stories by getting beyond old distinctions that have forced journalism to define itself by platforms. For SXSW I have proposed a session that explores how we can create better news, engage our communities, and tell more powerful stories by setting ourselves free. And I’m thrilled about the journalists who have agreed to join me in this discussion.

I’d love your feedback. Who should I be talking to or talking about? Who is doing the best work in this area? How can we clarify these ideas further?

Here is what I submitted to SXSW:

Web vs. Print. Blogger vs. Journalist. Citizen vs. Professional. The debates are over. The distinctions are dead. The best journalism happening right now is not bound by platform or process – it is built to spread, to be set free. This session will feature journalists who are taking news beyond old definitions, telling stories in new ways and developing a networked approach to news in which the journalism itself is the platform. They don’t measure success simply by circulation numbers or clicks per million, they measure it by its impact on the world. Come hear from innovative multimedia journalists about how they are reinventing the news everywhere.

Josh Stearns, Free Press and SaveTheNews.org
Elise Hu, NPR
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, The Stream at Al Jazeera English
Steve Katz, Mother Jones

Here are some of the questions we’ll be grappling with:

  • How are innovators abandoning platform specific news and embracing journalism everywhere?
  • If you love journalism, should you set it free?
  • What new tools are helping journalists tell stories across platforms and places?
  • How are journalists reaching new audiences and serving the community better by unbundling journalism?
  • How do we redefine journalism beyond platforms?

After writing all this up, I stumbled upon a debate about qualifications for awards related to online journalism over at the Carnival of Journalism. The quote below, from that debate, get’s at a piece of what I mean when I saw we need to get beyond old definitions and platforms and “set journalism free.” Mark Plenke wrote:

“Number one for me is using the right storytelling tool for the job. A good site uses text and graphics to explain, video to illustrate and capture action and emotion, audio to bring interviews alive, interactive graphics to illustrate a process and involve viewers, social media and polls to involve visitors and get them to participate. I think understanding this is what makes a great online editor. Too many sites don’t get this.”

But that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Add your thoughts below and help me shape this session.

1 Comment

  1. I’m hoping it works out for you – it all sounds very intriguing – at least in theory!

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