Open Studio night: Dec. 12, 6 to 8 pm at NYU. Would you like to come?
You’re invited. Studio 20’s Open Studio night is Thursday, Dec. 12, 6 to 8 pm.
Studio 20 graduates will present their final projects. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Conversation will be had. Luminaries of the digital journalism community will be present.And… Josh Benton, director of Harvard’s Nieman Lab, will present his slide show: “The Year in Innovation.”
Hello from the Studio 20 program at NYU: still the world’s only studio program in journalism education, focused on innovation and figuring out where news needs to go.
Every year as the fall term draws to a close we put on Open Studio night. Our graduating students present their final projects in innovation, which they have spent six months working on. It’s the culmination of their year and a half with us. This year’s group includes projects on:
* the journalistic uses of Google glass (with Digital First Media)
* developing a “house style” for Instagram and Vine (with Time Out New York)
* the uses of live blogging in the coverage of entertainment (with ABC News)
* moving beyond ‘Snowfall’ to a workflow for multi-media storytelling (with The Atavist)
And five more! Also this year, we have asked Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab’s ace director, to review the year in journalism innovation and prepare a slide show that distills the highlights. Meaning: the companies, the products, the tools, the people, the ideas that have pushed journalism forward in 2013. It will be instructive and entertaining. If you care about where journalism is going and needs to go, you really ought to join us.
So please make plans to be there: Thursday, December 12 at NYU Journalism, 20 Cooper Square, New York, NY, 7th floor. Cocktails and chatter, 6 pm. Presentations begin at 6:30. You’re done by 8 pm. RSVP by emailing Jay Rosen, director of Studio 20: jr3 [at] nyu [dot] edu
For the 2012-13 academic year, Studio 20’s major project focused on networked reporting, which we defined as… “When the many contribute to reporting that is completed by a few.” (For more on networked journalism, go here. It’s a pdf.)
We had six partners: ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal Social Media Desk, Mashable.com’s gaming beat, PandoDaily.com, Fast Company and Quartz News (qz.com). Each came to class and explained the problems they have making more productive use of a networked approach. The Studio 20 teams listened, did their research, and came back to the partners with project ideas, which were refined over a period of months.
The goal of each team, as defined by the project editor, Prof. Jay Rosen: Make incremental progress on networked reporting by solving a problem the partner had in trying to do it. The 2-3 person teams designed their own projects by persuading the judges (the project editor, the partners, others in Studio 20…) that their plans made sense. Then they had to execute on that plan, revise it as reality collided with intention, and deliver useful improvements to the partners by May 15. Plus present a report on their findings to staff at the partner site.
A networked beat spec for Studio 20 from Quartz (April, 2013)
The goal: To put together a suite of tools and techniques for quickly booting up a network around a fast-moving, ongoing global news story that cuts across traditional beat boundaries and is worth obsessing about.
The problem: As well as Quartz’s longer-term obsessions, we often obsess on shorter-term stories that turn into big news for a few days or weeks, but that we don’t know in advance are going to become big. Recent examples include the Cyprus bailout, Hugo Chávez’s death, bitcoin, and the H7N9 outbreak. Perhaps also Abenomics, though that’s turned into a longer-running story.
Typically these have multiple facets and impacts—political, business, economic, and social—thus cutting across beat boundaries and going outside any one journalist’s area of expertise. (We tend to focus on the business and economic impacts, but political and social ones inevitably play into them.) They also affect diverse groups of people in various countries. Examples, not intended to be comprehensive:
Cyprus. Issues: European politics, Europe-Russia relations, economics, European and global financial regulation. Affected: Cypriot depositors, wealthy Russians, the rest of Europe.
Hugo Chavez. Issues: Venezuela’s stability, US-Lat Am relations, the power of the Latin American leftist bloc (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil), world oil markets. Affected: Venezuelan people and businesses, the Castros, OPEC countries.
Bitcoin. Issues: financial regulation, the technology of finance, global markets, personal investing. Affected: tech companies, bitcoin miners, savers/investors, speculators.
H7N9. Issues: Global public health, Chinese politics, Chinese media/internet and censorship, business in Asia. Affected: Chinese citizens, Asian businesses, Asian airlines, and potentially everyone on the planet.
Abenomics. Issues: Japan’s economic recovery, global central-bank theory, global trade, ”currency war”, Japan-China relations. Affected: Japanese people and businesses, other Asian businesses, monetary-policy theorists, central bankers, European and American policymakers.
What we want is a way to quickly build up networks that can help us report on these issues, taking into account their complexity and the diversity of the groups involved, using all the platforms at our disposal.
Specific core goals include:
- to find experts who can comment and analyze as sources for stories
- to find experts who can contribute as op-ed writers
- to find people affected by the issue who can provide leads for stories
- to build up a core audience of obsessives
- to reach a wider audience of interested readers
Additional goals could be:
- to curate disparate communities that are affected by the same story, either for the purpose of comparing their reactions to it, or even for creating connections between them that wouldn’t otherwise exist (for instance, Russians and Cypriots around the Cyprus bailout, or Western monetary-policy wonks and Japanese small-business owners around Abenomics)
- to create resources for people who are obsessed with the story and want to follow it more deeply than we do
- to create an online “peanut gallery”, a core group of commenters who give feedback and suggest leads over Twitter or other media.
Want to check out the innovation efforts that this year’s crop of Studio 20 students have been working on for the past three months? Thursday, December 13th, Studio 20 will hold its second annual Open Studio night, a presentation of final projects from the graduating class.
These projects are the capstone for the NYU Studio 20 concentration at the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism, as well our own idiosyncratic review of best practices and new directions in journalism today.
There will be food, drink, and colleagues from the world of digital journalism in New York City, which means some good socializing is also on the agenda. You must RSVP to attend. Send your RSVP to OpenStudioNYU@gmail.com.
When: 6:00 to 8:00 PM, December 13th, 2012
Where: Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University 20 Cooper Square, 6th Floor New York, NY 10003
Kat’s project centered around user-to-user community building. She partnered with The Huffington Post’s TV vertical to explore different methods of creating horizontal community among users, with the aim of increasing loyalty to the site.
Laura worked to build a user engagement strategy for the Monitor’s politics blog, DC Decoder. Her goal: to make it easier for readers to find other people who share their political interests and passions, and to give those communities the opportunity to share their views and contribute their ideas on DC Decoder.
Silva partnered with the Atlantic Media’s new business venture, Quartz, to explore data visualization on mobile platforms – especially the iPhone. Her aim was to identify ideal subjects for data visualization on a mobile platform and then create templates for Quartz to use, incorporating a “responsive design” approach.
Nadja worked on an alternative approach to covering elections 2012 with the Guardian’s Open Editor Amanda Michel. Building on the Citizens’ Agenda project that Studio 20 tackled last Spring, she explored how a data-centric approach to tracking presidential campaign statements can illuminate new paths for campaign coverage.
Khwezi and Patrice developed a strategy for and launched a multimedia production and consulting start-up called PUSH. PUSH worked with Ebony.com as a test client to develop an original man-on-the-street video series, among other creative multimedia projects.
Yoo worked with Global Voices Online to create a video template and tool kits for bloggers and citizen journalists. The new template will encourage contributors to package existing content (text and images) into video news clips.
Tracy created a multimedia strategy for the niche site Tablet (“a new read on Jewish life”). Her project examined best practices for integrating video into small, born-on-the-web media ventures looking for ways to expand their brand.
Tando’s project is “Design for A Digital Newsroom At A Non-Profit.” She partnered with a service design firm, Reboot, to explore ways of involving clients of non-profit organizations in the news conversation by making them self-publishing multimedia storytellers. She worked with one of Reboot’s clients, Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program, as a test case.
Ana worked with Univision to create a site dedicated to documenting the DREAMers fight for immigration reform. She has been working on funding, design and community outreach, including advisory sessions with Homicide Watch.
Please join us 6:00 to 8:00 PM, December 13th, 2012. We promise a good time.
Lewis Dvorkin fields some good questions from Studio 20
Lewis Dvorkin recently stopped in Studio 20 to talk with first year masters students about innovation in the digital age. After an hour and a half Q&A — and some wine and cheese — Dvorkin, who is Chief Product Officer at Forbes and founder of True/Slant, left the students pretty impressed.
"We felt like equals, which is really cool when you’re talking to the head honcho of online media at Forbes," notes Studio-20er Simran Khosla.
"We got a lot of information about how a contributor-based media company can function and still have space for traditional journalists and staff writers," she continues. "The thing i appreciated most was his honesty when it came to the challenging parts of the Forbes model, addressing both the grumpy old-school journalists and the wayward contributors. "
And the students’ questions impressed Dvorkin in turn. Instead of leaving the visit at that — a nice afternoon with a class full of journos-to-be — he decided to revisit some of the big Qs of the class in a blog post for Forbes: “10 Questions From Journalism Students About the Future of News.”
Here are some highlights from his review, which re-posed and re-answered some of the questions Studio 20 students brought up to Dvorkin in class:
Do you even need journalists in your [new] model? Absolutely. The Web is not about great writing, it’s about great information…. The mission of journalism is to inform — to observe, collect and interpret. Journalists can do that. So can non-journalists who know their stuff. The challenge… is to separate the mission from the spoils of power they have enjoyed for so long.
What skills do you look for in a reporter today? Well, it’s far more than making phone calls, writing a story and going home. We’re betting on the individual, and that means the individual must accept more accountability. They need to write the story, the headline, publish, market and promote themselves across the social Web and engage one-on-one with their readers.
How has your digital strategy affected the magazine? We like to say that our authority starts with our print product, particularly our cover…. That said, I need to be clear. Print’s growth days are over for everyone. Digital is where the growth is. What’s so challenging is the downward pressure that programmatic buying, or computer buying, puts on CPM’s, or advertising rates. And that’s why the business models for journalism must change.
Final projects for Studio 20 students: they're all about incremental innovation. All have media partners.
A key part of the Studio 20 program unfolds in the students’ third and final semester. Working with a media partner, they each have to design and execute their own project in innovation. Sort of like a consulting gig, but no money changes hands. Our currency… is good problems.
Meaning: some new and improved thing the partner should be doing, or could be doing, but isn’t doing now, probably because it’s difficult to pull people off the production schedule to figure out the best approach. Here are the projects the current Studio 20 students have negotiated this year.
Laura Edwins is partnering with The Christian Science Monitor in Boston to build a user engagement strategy for their politics blog, DC Decoder. Her goal is to make it easier for readers to find other people who share their political interests and passions, and to give those communities the opportunity to share their views on DC Decoder, while interacting with Monitor reporters.
Silva Shih is working with Quartz, Atlantic Media’s business news startup, to explore data visualization on mobile platforms (especially on the iPhone). She aims to identify which subjects are ideal for data visualization on a mobile platform and then create templates for Quartz to use, incorporating a “responsive design” approach.
Tracy Levy will be creating a multimedia strategy for the niche site Tablet (“a new read on Jewish life”). In her project, she will examine best practices for integrating multimedia elements into small, born-on-the-web media ventures looking for ways to expand their brand.
Kat Patke's project is 'User-to-User Community Building on News Sites.' She is partnering with The Huffington Post's TV vertical to explore different methods of creating community between users, and with it, increased loyalty to the site.
Khwezi Magwaza and Patrice Peck are working together to develop a strategy for launching a multimedia production start-up called PUSH. PUSH will be partnering with Ebony.com as a test client to develop an original man-on-the-street video series.
Yoo Eun Lee will be partnering with Global Voices Online to create a video template and tool kits for bloggers and citizen journalists. The new template will encourage contributors to package existing contents (text and image) into video news clips.
Tando Ntunja's project is “Design for A Digital Newsroom At A Non-Profit.” She is partnering up with a service design firm, Reboot, to explore ways of involving beneficiaries of non-profit organisations in the “news conversation” by making them self-publishing multimedia storytellers.
Ana Maria Benedetti will be partnering with Univision to create a site dedicated to documenting the DREAMers fight for immigration reform. She will be working on funding, design and community outreach.
Kevin Convey brings innovation from the newsroom to the classroom
This fall, Studio 20 added veteran journalist Kevin Convey to its staff ranks. Having recently parted ways with the New York Daily News, where he oversaw the predominantly print newsroom transition to digital, Convey took over teaching our first-semester “Studio 1” innovation workshop.
Three weeks into the semester, we talk to him about innovation—in the newsroom and in class—and the path he took from well seasoned print journalist to strong digital proponent and, now, graduate professor.
You started out as a print journalist but became a strong advocate of the “digital first” school of thinking. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get from point A to point B?
I actually started in journalism at the age of 9 when I printed up a neighborhood newsletter on a toy press my parents had given me for Christmas. I later worked on my high school and college papers, and I had a few internships at local Maine papers during college. I was an English classics major – I studied English and ancient history – but I sort of fell in love with working on the college paper and decided that’s what I wanted to do. So my senior year I sent our hundreds of applications and I got two interviews and one job at a little five-day daily in Brunswick, Main, circulation 17,000. I basically got taken to school by the city editor there. He provided the journalism school I didn’t have.
Then I went to Boston and started my first stint at The Boston Herald. The jobs I had ranged from assignment editor to investigative reporter. I covered crime, I was a business reporter, a state-house reporter, and then ultimately I became City Editor of the Boston Herald. After a three-year stint at Boston Magazine, I went back to the Herlad and became Sunday Editor, then Managing editor for Sunday and Features, and then finally Managing Editor. With other jobs in between, I eventually became Managing Editor and then Editor in Chief there, wrapping that up in 2010. That’s when I got a job as Editor in Chief of The New York Daily News.
It was as the Herald and then at the Daily News that I really started pushing the digital thing. The Herald was actually doing pretty well while I was there – there were people in charge of the digital side that were doing OK. But at the Daily News, it was a complete mess digitally. The print people, who tended to be older and more tradition-minded, did not speak to the digital people. They did not welcome the efforts of the digital people, and the digital people were sort of quarantined in their own little area. There was no mixing.
I came in and I just knew this was death for the institution. It had to go digital first, and I had to start making steps in that direction. We reorganized the staff, we got a new content-management system, which made certain that pieces went up on the web before they went into the newspaper. I would like to think that by the time I left the Daily News was well on its way to understanding that the news had to be broken on the web and few would be the instances in which to hold something – a really big story that you could splash with on the newspaper in a way that would impact sales, for instance, was the only thing would hold. I also put the “digital people” not just in charge of digital stuff, but newspaper stuff.
Did you know you would have to pull off such an overhaul at the Daily News? Did you know what you were getting yourself into?
One never does, in some ways. You kind of assume that people will accept what’s good for them, but that wasn’t always the case at the Daily News. The Daily News has a wonderful tradition, but tradition cuts two ways. On the one hand you have this great legacy brand, on the other, you could be imprisoned by that brand, and in some ways I think the Daily News was.
You left the Daily News last year. What attracted you to teaching in a graduate journalism program after that experience?
After about a year and a half, the owner of the Daily News and I clashed over the direction of the paper. He wanted more emphasis on the print edition and I wanted to pursue digital. So we came to a parting of the ways. That’s when I started thinking about going into grad school and teaching – something I had wanted to do many years before, when I first graduated from Colby. I always loved the scholarly life.
When your job ends, you start to think about what you want to be doing next – what you want to spend the remaining time that you have doing. And to me this seemed like a good opportunity to scratch my teaching itch. I had made contact with Jay Rosen when I was still Editor in Chief of the Daily News, so he knew I was interested in teaching. I also made contact with the City University of New York (CUNY) journalism school, where I then looked to go back to grad school myself. Those doors both opened to me and I’ll be eternally grateful for that. Here I am now teaching Studio 1, but I’m also going to grad school myself, so I can really feel for what my students are going through.
You’re in journalism grad school too, huh? What are you studying?
One thing I’m not doing is writing craft. I guess after 35 years in the business the school decided I didn’t need to be told that when you get to a fire scene the guy in the white helmet is the guy to talk to. But I did want to take multimedia. I understand digital strategy, but I don’t have any multimedia skills. So I’m just winding up a unit on broadcasting in which I’ve learned to use the wonderful Marantz 660, and I’m working on a photo unit and going into video soon too.
The experience is humbling. I have a tremendous amount of experience in print, but the students that I’m going to grad school with are digital natives, and Mac natives, so they really know their way around these programs – and I don’t. A lot of times I feel like the mentally impaired grandfather who can’t quite figure out how the remote on his television set works! It’s a challenge.
Interesting you put it that way. As someone who is not a “digital native,” what unique perspective can you impart to your own students, who have now spent most of their lives in a digital environment?
Fortunately for them I’m not teaching them how to operate a Marantz! What I’m doing is talking to them about innovation and disruption in the news industry.
The first question that we ask in class is “What is innovation?” The second is “What is the state of innovation in the news business, historically?” That’s an interesting question for two reasons. First off, big media has failed at innovation for the past 20 years – that’s why it’s floundering in the way that it is. But, the news business was an extremely innovative business in earlier days. It was a very disruptive business. When publishers like Joseph Pulitzer and James Gordon Bennett started their newspapers they made a huge difference and disrupted other newspapers right out of business by the innovative things they did. So I want my students to look at those historical examples.
We are also going to take a look at some legacy media that have been innovating successfully; we are going to take a look at new media and how they’re innovating; and we will talk a little bit about the discontent with new media and digital and the web. I want to delve a little bit into this debate of whether all this connectedness is good for your brain.
The class aims to be a well-rounded look at what’s been going on in the media historically, and over the last 10 years. I’ve experienced that environment and had to cope with it and tried to bring about change, so I feel fairly qualified in that respect. I’ve also been thinking about business and management and innovation for most of my career as manager, which is something students in graduate school might not spend a lot of time thinking about.
You’ve now wrapped up the first three weeks of class. How are the Studio 20 students treating you?
I guess I haven’t slipped on any banana peels quite yet. I think that everything is going well, but my students will ultimately be the ones to judge me. I never lose sight of the fact that I’m a novice. I feel that in every class my students are teaching me with the things that they see from their particular perspective as much as I’m teaching them. I have no doubt that in the end they will make me a better teacher just because of their intelligence and their observations.
Professor Jason Samuels’ latest documentary project is scheduled to air on CNN tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST.
“Obama Revealed: The Man. The President” is a 90-minute documentary portrait of the Obama presidency. The program includes original sit-down interviews with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Former Director of White House Economic Council Larry Summers, the former Chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee and Christina Romer, Senior Campaign Strategist David Axelrod, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Olympia Snowe, Obama biographer and Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss, Rice University Professor and Historian Douglas Brinkley, New York Times Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger, former personal aide Reggie Love and Obama supporter Velma Hart.
Wondering what the 2011-2012 Studio 20 class has been up to this summer? Of course you are!
From helping to produce documentaries overseas to engaging new audiences right here in New York, we’ve been a busy bunch. See for yourselves:
Ana Maria Benedetti has been spending the summer in Miami working at Univision News, a new joint venture by Univision and ABC to create a hispanic oriented news channel in English. As a multimedia intern she has had the opportunity to collaborate with the UiE team in setting the tone for this new endeavor. Her latest graphic work takes on gun violence in America. She has also worked on various other graphic, video and map projects.
After finishing a course on photography in human rights at the beginning of the summer, Tracy Levy began working as the web producer on the documentary “The Cola Road.” She is currently in Zambia, where she will spend the next three weeks filming and updating the film’s social media accounts in an effort to make the documentary more interactive.
Kat Patke has spent her summer working as a Community Intern at The Huffington Post, primarily contributing to the entertainment, culture, and celebrity verticals. In this position, she looks to create opportunities for user ideas and thoughts to be heard via social media and for comments to inform on-site posts. Her goal is to increase overall user-engagement and build communities. In practice, this means Kat has worked on a wide variety of posts, from a serious debate about the conventions and culture of classical music concerts to a less serious Emmy snub deathmatch bracket, Katy Perry record label name speculation, and many others. She is also responsible for curating the Huffington Post Tumblr.
Nadja Popovich has spent her summer working as a web producer for the Guardian U.S., while continuing various freelance work, including contributing to the Atlantic’s health channel. You can check out some of her recent work here. One of her pieces for the Guardian was recently “drudged" (a.k.a. picked up by the Drudge Report) — a journalistic first.
Laura Edwins is currently the web intern at the Christian Science Monitor in Boston. There, she has worked on a wide variety of multimedia projects, as well as written pieces. She also fills in part-time as a member of the Production Team, monitoring and updating the homepage of csmonitor.com and chasing trends on Google News. Most recently, Laura wrote some political quizzes and several stories on women’s issues. Be on the lookout for her daily blog on what to watch during the Summer Olympics.
Silva Shih has spent her summer working with NYU Stern’s economics professor David Backus on a video project, while also reporting for Taiwanese media. She is starting to do pre-research for her Studio 3 thesis project, which will see her partner with the Atlantic Media Company’s new business venture, Quartz, and Studio 20 adjunct professor Zach Seward. Silva’s project will focus on data visualization on the mobile platform.
Khwezi Magwaza is spending her summer with the BET News division. The popular African American entertainment network’s longform news and documentary unit is currently preparing for their coverage of the 2012 Elections. She has been putting her digital skills to use contributing to their social media platforms and planning for their online presence during the election season, among other responsibilities. Khwezi has also spent time mentoring and teaching minority teens interested in journalism as a graduate assistant on the NYU Urban Journalism Workshop. Check out the outcome of their work at The Spectrum.
This summer, Tando Ntunja is interning at Global Grind, a Russell Simmons-owned online entertainment journalism site that focuses on the confluence between hip-hop and pop culture. She has co-produced some multimedia pieces including an exclusive interview with multi-platinum South African artist, Lira and a forum with young South Africans living in New York, which also features Studio 20 colleague Khwezi Magwaza. Tando is currently working on a top secret mission for Global Grind which looks to increase the 4.2 million uniques the site already has. She will also soon be a featured multimedia blogger for influential South African publication, The Daily Dispatch. The blog is slated to launch towards the end of the summer.
Yoo Eun Lee has spent her summer working for the NBC Universal’s iVillage. She has focused on creating compelling health coverage and promoting news content using the right social media tools. Specifically, she is developing a project that looks at what content works best on Pinterest.
Patrice Peck has been keeping busy this summer. She is currently working as an intern at HuffPo’s Black Voices vertical, where she reports and helps the social media team. She is freelancing for BET.com — for which she is currently working on a stop and frisk piece, among other items — and EBONY.com — for which she writes movie reviews, feature pieces, and profiles.
Over at the Daily Dot, Studio 20 graduate David Holmes breaks down how he became the go-to guy for musical explainers. It all started as part of a class project…
One and a half years ago, in a conference room overlooking lower Manhattan, I stood up in front of the editorial team at one of the most-renowned investigative journalism outlets in the world and started to rap.
It would have been a surreal experience for anybody, let alone a guy who just months earlier had been working in a call center. But there I was, in the media capital of the United States, singing about hazardous chemicals and drilling techniques, half-wondering how soon I could catch a plane back to Columbus, Ohio to laugh with my friends about the time I tried to be a journalist.
In fact, Holmes’ “Fracking Song” went viral, and he’s been at it ever since, putting out many more musical explainers for ProPublica and other media organizations.
Here’s the latest from Explainer Music (Holmes’ company), a music video for PandoDaily about the 1990’s tech bubble:
David’s advice to future Studio 20 students is to think entrepreneurially. “I don’t mean, ‘starting your own business,’” he says. “I mean charting your own path, with or without the help of an established journalistic institution, and, most importantly, not waiting for someone else’s permission to do something innovative.”
And while Holmes has found success with some big-name media outlets, that may not be the only way to get your ideas out there. As he writes:
If consumers and journalists perceive a gap in how the news is reported (in this case, not enough explanation) they don’t have to wait for major organizations or institutions to fulfill the need. Any schlub like me can create a YouTube account and spit out content I think might be beneficial to viewers.
While the success of our videos has largely been driven through more institutional channels, guys like Kevin T. Porter who created the Sorkinisms supercut will tell you that if a video is well-timed and entertaining (and in our case, we’ll add “informative” to the list), all it takes is a community on Twitter or Reddit to discover it in order to attract a huge audience.
Maybe your site should be home to a Studio 20 project
by Jay Rosen, Director of Studio 20
Studio 20 at NYU is a graduate program in journalism that thinks project-based learning is the best way to teach students about the hard work of innovation. This post explains to potential collaborators why they might want to work with us. That is, why they might want to hand a problem in innovation over to one of our people.
More than 20 editorial sites have done just that since 2010; maybe yours should too. We’re looking for possible partners now for projects that would officially start in September, 2012, but could also begin with a (paid) summer internship, if you were so inclined.
We dispense with cliches like “Why didn’t the news industry invent Facebook?” and plunge our diversely-talented students into real world projects where they can test their ideas against all the practical constraints that make it hard to do new things in journalism. Of course they also learn why it is necessary to do new things in journalism. You can find a fuller description of this approach here.
A key part of the program unfolds in the students’ third and final semester. Working with a media partner (that’s where you might come in) they each have to design and execute on their own project in innovation. Sort of like a consulting gig, but no money changes hands. Our currency… is good problems.
Meaning: some new and improved thing your site should be doing, or could be doing, but isn’t doing now, probably because it’s difficult to pull people off the production schedule to figure out the best approach.
Here’s a simple example of a project from 2010. We considered this a “good problem.”
Amir Shoucri developed a video component for the New York Observer’s website. This included creating a signature “Observer” visual style, devising a workflow for posting video, and producing a variety of original video content. Here’s an example of a feature posted on the home page.
Studio 20 graduate students are trained to understand the partner’s editorial strategy and business model first. They then conduct an extensive best practices search, asking “who’s doing something like this now?” In that search they do not limit themselves to other news or information sites; they look across the entire digital landscape. They also look at your competitors.
You don’t have to teach them to use existing tools and services whenever possible; they already know that. They understand the connection between keeping costs low and being able to try stuff, iterate and improve. They’re not programmers—they’re new media journalists—but they will have absorbed the principles of agile development. They’re always thinking about user engagement as well as quality journalism.
They know they have to deliver. They know they have to meet your quality bar. They know the work must be useful to your organization. When they graduate they want to make change happen in newsrooms and help solve problems in adapting journalism to the digital age. Can you use someone like that?
Their projects last for one semester (always in the fall) so they have to study the problem, do their research, design an approach, test it, troubleshoot, execute, finish and present the work by December 15— all while coordinating closely with the partner. These projects are one third of their academic program, or about 15 hours a week. Minus class time that’s about 160 person-hours devoted to the project: the equivalent of 4 weeks of a full-time staffer.
Ruth Spencer explored how data literacy is emerging as a necessary journalistic skill. She created The Datamaster for Jim Brady, Editor in Chief of Journal Register Company. The Datamaster is a comprehensive plan for how Journal Register can integrate data resources across its network; it includes a corporate strategy and staff training guide.
Niel Bekker helped manage and produce social gaming content for the Huffington Post. For Studio III, he is produced an original newsgame that addresses the inefficiencies of game development in an online news environment.
Chelsea Stark partnered with Forbes to explore how to make online video a better return on investment. She focused on optimizing its video content for search and social spaces and built up its online contributor network. She also created guides and repeatable work flows to allow Forbes to repeat these processes in the future.
Todd Olmstead collaborated with Mashable to grow engagement through their comments. Mashable already has a highly active commenting community, and Todd’s goal was to optimize the quality contributions that these readers make on the site
What makes a good Studio 20 project?
* The partner is a news organization, a journalism non-profit, an editorial company or a news start-up. (Advertising, marketing and PR firms are not eligible. Consulting firms might be.)
* The project involves innovation in some way. Dead simple definition: something you’re not doing now but should be doing.
* The project is both “big” and “small.” Small and contained enough to be completed within the time frame (Sep. to Dec.) and with about 160 hours of hard work. But “big” in the sense of strategically important to the site, or containing within it challenging problems, the solution to which would be great to have.
* If successful the finished work will be become part of how the site operates. Meaning: no routine content production, please! Better: a new routine.
* Also: this is not an internship. It’s a project. However, the work is done for course credit. The students are enrolled in a graduate workshop taught by Jay Rosen that serves as a brain trust and feedback loop. They have to present their work 3 to 4 times to this peer group with instructor. This keeps them on track. We also hire technical consultants to that class to make up for skills the students may lack.
* Sometimes the projects start with a summer internship, which allows the student to get to know your operation and work out with you what a good Fall project would be. This is our recommended approach.
* There is no dollar cost, but there are attention costs: supervision time, planning meetings and an approval process. Partners should be prepared for that. This is not a “set it and forget it” thing. However, we do respect your time and when there is a meeting our people are hyper-prepared.
* We’re most interested in partners in the New York City area because there is no substitute for in-person coordination. However, we are open to partners elsewhere. In 2011 one of the projects was based at a news site in Egypt.
We currently have ten students looking for projects for Fall, 2012. Some of their interests are described below. But we are also open to partners who have “good problems” to work on, or a nifty project in mind, regardless of whether it coincides with the ideas you find here.
If you think you might want to work with us, just email me: jr3[at]nyu.edu. Here’s our current group…
Silva Shah: Multimedia journalist with international business reporting background, interested in how to make business coverage more useful and how to use data visualization, social games or any other interactive way to refresh coverage’s templates. Specialized in Processing (Java-based programming), data analysis and Adobe Creative Suite.
Tracy Levy: Especially interested in news coming out of the Middle East as well as issues of human rights and social justice. After working for 2 years for an Israeli newspaper, she is looking for a partner that wants to engage with users on a new level surrounding the debate over what is happening in that region. She is especially interested in photo and video journalism.
Patrice Peck: Would like to develop or improve upon the online multimedia strategy for an online publication or media company, ideally one targeted towards a black female audience.
Laura Edwins is interested in working with a beat reporter to build a network of contacts and community contributors. She would like the focus of her project to be extremely narrow, to hone in on one reporter, one beat, one hyper-local look at networked journalism.
Khwezi Magwaza is especially interested in pop culture and finding new ways to engage young people in current affairs.
Katherine Patke wants to use social media to create crowd-sourced, women’s magazine-style content that is open to all readers of all sizes and ages. She would love to partner with an online publication or magazine web staff that is either a woman-specific publication or similar vertical within the site.
Tando Ntunja - a bi-lingual mobile tech enthusiast - is interested in collaborating with an online news media partner to build South Africa’s first indigenous language tech news service. Having worked as a bilingual national radio journalist for three years before starting at Studio 20, Tando speaks, writes and translates fully in English and isiXhosa: South Africa’s most widely distributed language.
Ana Maria Benedetti: Multimedia journalist with a background in immigration. Especially interested in combining video and data visualization in order to create a more complete understanding of immigration issues in the US. Specialty in Processing (Java-based programming), data analysis, Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Studio.
Yoo Eun Lee is focused on international news (especially Asia), video production, and news games.
Nadja Popovich wants to use digital tools to foster public discourse and engage users across platforms. She’s especially interested in data projects and explanatory journalism.
First Year Studio 20-er Anjali Mullany Makes Moves
Anjali Mullany, part of the first Studio 20 class back in 2009-10 has made her mark on the media world already. She’s been a major driver behind the New York Daily News’ push into social media for the past two years. Now, she’s making the jump to Fast Company. We caught up with Anjali while she has a bit of down time for a quick chat about social media innovation in journalism.
So, you got a job with the Daily News right out of Studio 20. How’d you manage that?
Actually, I got the job while I was still a Studio 20 student! At the end of my first semester, our Studio 20 professor Jason Samuels brought Scott Cohen, the executive editor of New York Daily News Digital, to our class. He had really interesting things to say about online news, and I decided to study what the Daily News was doing with social media. And they weren’t doing much yet, so I wrote a social media strategy specifically for them—workflow, projections, etc.—and went to Scott’s office to pitch it to him. Scott liked my pitch, and said I could start trying things out for them. I couldn’t believe my luck!
Before the end of my second semester, they hired me. It’s kind of a magic New York story—I was new to town, but got to pitch my idea to the big editor at the big city newspaper, and he gave me my big break.
What were your main responsibilities at the Daily News? What was the day-to-day?
I’ve been responsible for real-time reporting, engagement, and crowdsourcing efforts at the Daily News since late 2009, though as time went on it became a newsroom-wide effort. One of the things I’m most proud of is helping to imagine and institute a live, social, breaking news workflow at the Daily News that continues to grow stronger—from breaking and following up on stories via social platforms to organizing huge multi-day live reporting projects on our website with reporters, photographers, and editors during big events like Hurricane Irene and Occupy Wall Street. These things required an incredible amount of coordination, thought, and effort throughout the newsroom. But I got to be involved with many different aspects of newsroom life.
It was the best possible real-world education. I think that we made our newsroom more transparent and accessible to readers, that we made social engagement and a spirit of live reporting part of the fabric of the organization. At the Daily News, that will only continue to grow.
Now you’re making the move to Fast-Company. What caused you to make the jump?
One thing I’m particularly excited about is that I’ll get to do more social thinking around longform journalism. Fast Company is, obviously, all about innovation, and the editors there are imaginative and savvy—they have exciting ideas about what we might pursue.
I start my new job as social media editor at Fast Company the end of April. I’ll be heading up their engagement efforts, working with their innovative team as they continue to make their publication even more interactive and creative, coming up with ways to strengthen their already-robust audience. I believe the “live” sensibility the Daily News instilled in me is going to be an asset for me there. Fast Company is a great environment for someone who wants room to experiment and expand their repertoire—a very cool place.
You were a part of the first Studio 20 class, what was that like? Miss it sometimes?
The program was incredibly rewarding. While I was a Studio 20 student, one of our class projects was coming up with social media recommendations for The Economist, and I was Jay’s project manager for The New York Times’ Local East Village before it launched. Much of what I learned about social journalism, I learned from Jay—and I don’t mean how to tweet or what a hashtag is. I mean, how to think about my responsibilities as a journalist in a collaborative, open, and accountable way. He spent a lot of extra time on his students, is invested in their work and in their intellectual development.
The Studio 20 website basically promised us that if we came to New York and joined Studio 20, we would get to work with major media partners, learn new skills, and get jobs. Studio 20 kept its promise to me—all of that came true. Joining that program was one of the best decisions I ever made; it definitely changed the course of my career.
Studio 20 grad David Holmes just might be king of the “newsical” genre. Or at least a prince.
Last year, at Studio 20, Holmes came out with the “Fracking Song” for the class’s joint explainer project with ProPublica. It went viral in no time. Since then, he’s been busy writing, composing, and playing more explanatory songs for various newsrooms.
His latest song—another hit for ProPublica—covers the shady dealings of Super PACs, a new supercharged breed of political action committee. Watch below:
We interviewed Holmes about his newfound success and what it feels like to be working in a relatively new news genre.
What inspired you to start doing news songs in the first place?
It started my first semester at Studio 20. I was in Mitch Stephens’ innovation class and I was in a group with fellow Studio 20-er Niel Bekker. He had this idea to write a rock-opera about bed bugs, and he didn’t even know I was a musician or anything. So we threw it together real quick. And though the visuals were really dumb, it was a ton of fun. When the “Building a Better Explainer” project came along with ProPublica, I figured, “well people really like the bed bugs song, so I’ll make a song about fracking and see what happens.” We found some great animators, and everything that could go right did.
Do you think that the song format is a good way to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise be engaged with the news?
In the best case scenario, like with “The Fracking Song” which did really well, you have people listening to the song more than once. You probably don’t get that as often with an essay or written article. Listening to it over and over again allows people to retain the knowledge so much more. If you can take a boring issue and add a fun beat to it, a catchy chorus, people will be more likely to share it and you can raise more awareness of important issues.
The new song is about Super PACs, again for ProPublica. What inspired you to cover this topic?
Part of it was actually a tumblr post by Jay Rosen about how, at one of the Republican debates, David Gregory asked a question about Super PACs that sort of made it sound like he didn’t quite understand the issue himself. Now, I’m sure Gregory understands Super PACs, but the way he asked this question was very confusing to the average viewer. Basically, it just made me think this topic was really ripe for explanation.
Did you pitch this idea to ProPublica yourself or was this something they were already working on and they wanted a new song?
They have their PAC Track, an interactive that tracks all the Super PAC data. So, I figured they’d be down to do a song about Super PACs, since they’ve done a lot of reporting on the topic.
You have a company now, right?
Andrew Bean, a friend from high school who lives in New York, and I started a company called Explainer Music. He co-writes the music and lyrics with me. He and I worked on all the songs so far. For this last video, Krishanan Vasudevan, and Sharon Shattuck, both graduates of NYU’s News & Doc program, did the animation. Some other friends had done the graphics on the previous videos, but didn’t have time to turn this one around as quickly as we needed for ProPublica. So we went with these new animators and they’ve been great.
This song has a 70s funk theme. Is there a reason you chose that musical style in specific?
Someone mentioned the song “SuperFly” By Curtis Mayfield when we were talking about this idea at ProPublica. So that was sort of how the 70s theme started. I also just really like that genre of music, it comes easily in terms of song writing.
What are the other topics you’ve worked on for your explainer songs so far?
We did a “Euro Crisis Song” for the Guardian last summer, which was a lot of fun. There was the “Redistricting Song” for ProPublica, which went up in early November. I liked that one because it had more of a narrative to it than some of the others. It started off with a really naïve explanation of how redistricting works—like what you’d learn from high school—and then it goes into how the system has been corrupted. Then there was the big “Fracking Song,” of course.
Professor Samuels at SXSW: Black in America/Silicon Valley, the Aftermath
You may remember the debate that broke out around CNN’s Black in America 4 Silicon Valley doc last year—a “war of words" between the show’s producers and interview subject, tech blogger and investor, Matthew Arrington. The show itself made quite a splash too. The conversation it sparked over diversity—or lack thereof—in Silicon is still being hashed out.
This year at SXSW, Studio 20’s own Professor Jason Samuels, producer of the documentary, took part in the panel discussion: "CNN’s Black in America / Silicon Valley: Aftermath."
"Attending SXSW was a great opportunity to connect face-to-face with many people I admire in the digital journalism space," says Samuels. "To my surprise our Black In America documentary panel was standing room only. The documentary continues to resonate far beyond my expectations in terms of impact and awareness. In essence it has forced an industry to look in the mirror.”
Samuels was joined on the panel by his colleague CNN anchor/reporter Soledad O’Brien, and several of the documentary subjects and participants of the New Me accelerator project, Hajj Flemings, Hank Williams, and New Me co-founder Wayne Sutton. You can listen to the full audio of the discussion on the SXSW event page.
The Citizens’ Agenda Round 1: #unasked Questions in GOP Debates
You may remember our announcement last December that Studio 20 is collaborating with the Guardian US on how to improve election coverage. “The Citizens’ Agenda” as the project was christened, was meant to amplify the user’s voice in a media sphere overrun with insiderism.
Our own Jay Rosen and the Guardian’s Amanda Michel summed up the idea in a co-authored column:
It starts with a question: what do voters want the candidates to be discussing as they compete with each other in 2012?
But to get at what voters wanted the candidates to be discussing, we first had to know what had and hadn’t been discussed at all. And what better place to look for what’s been talked about than the 20 GOP debates that took place from May 5 2011 to January 26, 20212?
But what was more important than what was asked, was what wasn’t, as Rosen put it:
Small business got one question. Women’s rights (beyond the abortion battle) got one question. How to prevent another crash like the one in 2008: one question. Super Pacs, a huge factor in the 2012 campaign, were asked about twice.
We also found only two questions about climate change, four mentioning the Arab Spring, and one on women’s rights beyond abortion. And we wondered: were people eager to hear more about these scantly covered issues?
In our inaugural post, we asked readers to Tweet their “unasked” questions to John King before last week’s big—possibly final—debate using #unasked, and we got some pretty good responses.
My #unasked Q for @JohnKingCNN: Why doesn’t the UStry harder to live up to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations?
We also partnered with Scientific American, Grist, Mashable, Wired, and TechPresident, among others, to solicit #unasked questions from different communities who’ve been underrepresented in debate questions so far.
Turns out they had a lot to say.
Noting that the Internet and mobile technology play an increasingly large role in our daily lives, TechPresident’s Andrew Rasiej asked why tech was rarely covered across the debates, and came up with three questions of his own he’d ask were he handed the mic:
1) Do voters have a right to know what data candidates and political parties are collecting on them and what happens to this data after the election?
2) Should American companies be free to sell surveillance and internet technologies globally even to totalitarian or non-democratic regimes?
3) How should America increase low cost access to high-speed broadband in order to all Americans to effectively compete in the 21st Century Internet economy?
Meanwhile, Grist turned to its readers for comment and got some great questions back in return, ranging in topics from environmentalism to the economy to food safety concerns:
“Do you still consider fracking to be a ‘renewable’ and ‘clean’ source of energy?” — Lindsay McNamara via Twitter
“How do you plan to sustain an economy that demands infinite growth upon a finite resource base when we are already well beyond our means?” — Edward Markie, via Facebook
“Do you personally like knowing what is in your food and/or where it came from? What is your opinion on food labeling?” — Sewassbe, via comments
Thanks to a stellar interactive feature from the Guardian team, readers could also vote up what topics they wanted to hear more about on site. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Campaign Finance & SuperPacs” shot to the top of the pack pretty quickly.
We have to admit, we’re slightly disappointed that Wednesday’s debate proceeded according to business as usual: no new questions were asked about climate change, technology, SuperPacs, or most other underrepresented fields.
Still, we know the study was read inside CNN. San Feist, Washington bureau chief and the producer of the Feb. 22 debate, was asked about our study by a reporter from the Huffington Post. He said he found it “interesting and valuable.”
(More) Studio 20 Grads Settle into their New Jobs!
The recently graduated Studio 20 class has been so busy getting right to work that we had to write up a second installment of our jobs post. Here’s a sampling of a few more alums who are making their mark on the news world:
Niel Bekker | Social Products Editor for The Huffington Post
What does your title mean? I work with the tech and editorial teams to produce interactive features and tools that improve the news experience for users. Is that a bit vague? I’ll go further: I get to help build things that people will use on our site.
What’s the best part of the job?It’s all still very new, but the fact that I get to work with ideas, to be involved at the inception of things that The Huffington Post’s many, many users will either love or hate, is very exciting.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far?I’d say that the program’s laser-like focus on iteration—improving your ideas again and again until they’re almost perfect—has helped me to produce much better work.
What does a Community Coordinator do? I create user-driven features for The Guardian US (stuff like this and this and this). Overall, my job is to make The Guardian’s news coverage as open and social as possible. The Guardian is all about taking conversation as seriously as content so one of my biggest priorities is finding active discussions across the web—both on and off our site—and integrating them in our work.
What’s the best part of the job?Working with an awesome group of people who are just as excited as I am about digital news. No one is talking about “the transition” at The Guardian—everyone’s already crossed over to the other side.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far?Thank god my job requires me to work with so many different kinds of people (staff, partnerships, users) because at Studio 20 I learned the value of collaboration. I know that the best work happens when multiple perspectives and ideas come together.
What are your responsibilities at Mashable? On a daily basis, I’m engaged in managing our presence on different social networks such as Twitter, Linkedin, and Foursquare. I spend a lot of time interacting with our commenting community and moderating comments. I’m trying to build up our Tumblr as a community presence and aggregator of interesting bits on Mashable and across the web. I also get to write about stuff that we want our community to specifically respond to, whether that’s live chats, contests, open threads, or polls.
What’s the best part of the job?Being part of a dynamic news environment is really great, but being part of one with a lot of young, energetic, intelligent people is even better. You might guess that Mashable is a really social news organization, and that comes from having really fantastic colleagues.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far?I think that Studio 20 teaches you how to be independent and quick on your feet. I don’t write a lot of news, but often the question that I have to answer is: “What’s the best way to connect with our communities?” That requires judgment similar to the way an editor makes news judgment. It also requires a really deep understanding of what’s going to be meaningful to a certain user base, which means you can’t post exactly the same things to Facebook as to Google+.
Lately we’ve been working on personal branding training for our reporters and editors, where we really get to inform them and help them understand how to optimize the ways that different networks are used. I think that’s a big picture, critical thinking skill and that’s what Studio 20 is all about.
Colin Jones | Associate Community Producer at New York Daily News
What do you do? I do a lot of things at the Daily News. My responsibilities vary from day-to-day depending on what news is breaking and what projects we are working on. Right now, I help our Social Media Editor Anjali Mullany* manage our Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms too. I regularly help brainstorm ideas with Anjali about how we can better engage and inform the Daily News community as a whole.
What’s the best part of the job?I get to work with one of the greatest news organizations in the world in a time of definite flux and change. One of the best aspects of working at the Daily News is that I engage with a lively and diverse community of users on a daily basis. Community interactions are different every day and that is thoroughly exciting.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far?Studio 20 taught me to think on my toes in this time of change in the media world. I am able to adapt, strategize and focus at a moments notices, which is crucial at an organization like the Daily News.
*Anjali Mullany is herself a Studio 20 grad, class of ‘10.
After graduation this December, the second Studio 20 class has wasted no time getting themselves in with some of the top media companies around. From ProPublica to the New York Times, you may see Studio 20 alums popping up all over the news world. Check out where some of last year’s class have landed and what lessons they’ve taken with them to their new jobs:
What does a Social Media Producer do? Right now, my primary responsibility is to run the Facebook/Twitter/Google+ accounts and research best practices. But ProPublica is so open that any idea goes. I’m able to pitch, write and create content that ranges from written stories to video to graphics.
What’s the best part of the job?The people at this office are really open to ideas. That was the top priority for me in whatever job I ended up taking after Studio20.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far?Best practices research, assembling guides, thinking outside the box, and video editing skills.
What are your responsibilities at work?I do a LOT. I create graphics, slideshows (which Mashable calls “galleries”), manage photo and video assets, and shoot and edit video. I really do anything that can fit into the multimedia gap. I’m also going to begin helping Mashable redesign their gallery tool so it will be more attractive and easier to use.
What’s the best part of the job? I get to get my hands into a lot of different projects, so the work is never routine. It’s also such a great environment to work in. It’s a very young company and very focused on trying new things.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far? A lot of the multimedia skills I picked up during Studio 20 have helped me. I’m also doing a lot of explainer-type galleries, which relates to our class’s second semester project with ProPublica. Also, understanding project management and wireframes will help me here—thanks to Zoe!
What are do you do as Senior News Editor?I am the head of the news property in Yahoo Maktoob, the Arabic edition of Yahoo.com. I lead a team of editors to write, edit, blog, publish, and curate news that interest our audience, Arabic language speakers all over the world.
What’s the best part of the job? The best part of the job is that I am using lot of skills and knowledge I got during my Studio 20 days in my daily work. This job helps me develop more and more as a an individual, and it keeps me hungry for more knowledge in the digital journalism field.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far? Project management and leadership, social media, multimedia, Web analytics, SEO
What are your responsibilities at Forbes?I do a lot. of different things. The job is a mix of marketing, consulting and strategy for the entire company. A big part of it is keeping an eye on the website’s numbers—the page views, unique visitors, top stories, etc.—and then seeing how we can use that data to create better, more engaging content.
What’s the best part of the job? Coming up with new ideas to improve the magazine, the website, and the numbers. I enjoy working with a lot of really smart, nice and innovative people and having my ideas and thoughts about the future of journalism taken seriously.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far? Studio 20 definitely taught me how to think in new and innovative ways, how to come up with ideas and “pitch” ideas to companies that maybe no one else has thought of before. The program also taught me to think strategically about journalism and come up with ideas and strategies that are really practical, useful and effective, that create more value for the news, the organization and the users, and can be put in place in the real world.
Matt Diaz | User Experience and Product Research Analyst at The New York Times
What do you do? I work on a small team that conducts something called “user research” in order to help make our digital product offerings better. We work across NYTimes.com as well as our various device-specific apps. Our job is to collaborate with internal design, development, newsroom, product, and marketing teams to figure out what users want and need and how better to create innovative products, services, and experiences for them. We do all sorts of research from sitting down and talking to your users one-to-one and watching them use our products, to launching surveys, running diary studies, and conducting both moderated and unmoderated user experience testing.
What’s the best part of the job? Far and away the best part of the job for me is being around so many smart and engaged people. The Times is facing unprecedented challenges but it’s clear across the organization that there’s tremendous opportunity ahead in serving our users.
What skills that you picked up from Studio20 have come in handy so far? The program’s focus on not just doing great work, but being able to express your ideas clearly about that work has been invaluable.
Studio 20 Will Collaborate With The Guardian on How to Improve Election Coverage
On Dec. 8, Studio 20 and The Guardian US jointly announced that they will collaborate in the development of a “citizens agenda” approach to election coverage during the 2012 campaign for president.
Jay Rosen and Amanda Michel, The Guardian’s Open Editor, explained it this way in a co-authored column that ran on The Guardian site:
The alternative to “who’s going to win in the game of getting elected?” is, we think, a “citizens agenda” approach to campaign coverage. It starts with a question: what do voters want the candidates to be discussing as they compete with each other in 2012? If we can get enough people to answer to that question, we’ll have an alternative to election coverage as usual…
Social media and the two-way nature of the Internet make it possible to ask that question of many more people than you could reach in a poll, although polling is important for reliability.
The answers that come in form the basis for the citizens agenda. It won’t be a single issue, of course, but a basket of top concerns broadly shared by respondents – six to ten, or perhaps as many as a dozen priorities that originate not with journalists or campaign managers, but with voters. Some may be different from the issues the operatives see as advantageous to their candidate, or maybe not. The point is that we won’t know until we ask.
Once synthesised, the citizens agenda can be used as an alternative starting point for the Guardian’s campaign journalism. When the candidates speak, their promises and agendas are mapped against the citizens agenda. Reporters assigned to cover the campaign can dig deep on the items that make up the citizen’s agenda. In questioning the candidates, the Guardian will ask about things that flow from that agenda. Explainers should try to clarify and demystify the problems named in the citizens agenda.
A key course in the spring 2012 curriculum, Studio Two, will be devoted to the project. That course, taught by Jay Rosen, will have a technologist and newsroom developer as part of the team, Matt Terenzio.
“Studio 20 students will work alongside the Guardian’s journalists in brainstorming, designing and managing features on guardiannews.com through early May 2012,” Michel and Rosen said. “Together, we will arrive at the picture of how people want journalists to cover the election through a number of traditional and non-traditional methods, including sampling science, internet polling, web forms, social media, old fashioned reporting, discussions and debates, experimental features, plus staff and user-generated content.”
The announcement was covered by Nieman Lab, where Megan Garber wrote:
Studio 20′s role in the project, Rosen told me, will be in part to act as an interactive team that will help with the inflow and engagement of users; students in the program will also conduct research and analysis and think through — perhaps even invent — features and tools that can foster that engagement in new ways, testing them out on The Guardian’s U.S. site. (Michel calls the students a kind of “independent brain trust.”
For more background and context on the project, see the post at Jay Rosen’s blog, PressThink.
You are cordially invited to the Studio 20 Open Studio, a presentation of innovations in journalism by the students and innovators of Studio 20. These final projects are the both the capstone project for students enrolled in the NYU Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism, and a survey of cutting edge advances in journalism today.
Time: 5:30 PM, December 14th, 2011
Place: Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University 20 Cooper Square, 6th Floor New York, NY 10003
Chelsea Stark partnered with Forbes to explore how to make online video a better return on investment. She focused on optimizing its video content for search and social spaces and built up its online contributor network. She also created guides and repeatable work flows to allow Forbes to repeat these processes in the future. @chelseabot
'Chao Li spent the summer prepping Future Journalism Project for the work she is doing for them this fall. Chao’s Studio III project is to create tutorials for people interested in digital journalism. A part of that includes interviewing CEOs of startups and helping them create tutorials while they are busy launching their App or service. @cli6cli6
Niel Bekker helped manage and produce social gaming content for the Huffington Post. For Studio III, he is producing an original newsgame that addresses the inefficiencies of game development in an online news environment. @nielbekker
Brittany Binowski drew inspiration from many innovative social feeds on Twitter as well as CNN’s In America documentary unit to help create a list of best practices and suggestions for investigative news organizations. The suggestions aim to better connect sources with reporters and producers in the newsroom and, therefore, create better and more informed journalism.@binowski
Blair Hickman is developing a digital toolkit to help journalists report on social change more effectively. Her partner, Dowser Media, is trying to broaden the scope of typical news coverage by pioneering thoughtful, critical coverage of social innovation—what they call Solution Journalism.@amandablair
This semester, Colin Jones worked on developing a live video chat project with the New York Daily News. These chats took user comments, submitted through Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, and had them answered live on the site by reporters and guests. @Colin_Jones
Radio ProPublica is an experimental audio project that Assia Boundaoui is developing for ProPublica. The project included producing narrative-driven investigative podcasts that seek to explain news in the public interest and engage users by soliciting UGC and crowdsourcing questions in need of explanation. @assuss
This fall, Rachel Slaff is working with GoodHousekeeping.com to solicit and showcase user-generated videos. She’s thrilled to experiment with the traditional journalistic framework of narration by allowing users to share their own stories. @rachelslaff
For Tom Chen’s Studio III project, he teamed up with Artinfo.com and designed an interactive video companion for the website. It will be a video component that largely enriches the visitors’ interactive experience with the site. And it will live on different platforms (website, mobile app, podcast). @tomstation
For Studio III, Nasry Esmat worked with Mujaz.me on creating the first social media news page in Egypt. Mujaz is an Egyptian news aggregator and the created page aims to tell news stories by curating social media posts that challenge the official narrative of traditional news sources. @nasry
Erin Evans worked with the New York Times’ education site, SchoolBook, on an experiment in community outreach. She produced a case study based on her findings at a school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. @heyerinevans
David Holmes is working with the New York Daily News to implement automated news quizzes while developing a workflow model for algorithmic journalism. @David_M_Holmes
This past summer, Matt Diaz interned with the User Experience and Product Research Team at the New York Times doing both qualitative and quantitative user research. This fall Matt is continuing his work with The Times. His Studio III project is an original research effort centered on the digital identities and behaviors of young adults with a focus on how they produce and consume news on mobile devices. @mgdiaz
This fall, Ruth Spencer explored how data literacy is emerging as a necessary journalistic skill. She created The Datamaster for Jim Brady, Editor in Chief of Journal Register Company. The Datamaster is a comprehensive plan for how Journal Register Company can integrate data resources across its network; it includes a corporate strategy and staff training guide. @onthewag
Din Clarke ’s project, Sight and Sound, has both a video and audio component. She built a prototype for a portable video recording booth to collect stories from residents who have limited or no internet access and taught audio recording/editing to young adults at Reel Works. The pieces will air on local radio station WBAI. @dinclarke
Todd Olmstead collaborated with Mashable to grow engagement through their comments. Mashable already has a highly active commenting community, and Todd’s goal was to optimize the quality contributions that these readers make on the site. @toddjolmstead
Since September 2010, Zoe has worked with Studio 20 as we try and solve the big puzzles in journalism. In Studio II, She introduced us to the skills and tactics we need to execute our long-term project with ProPublica. Zoe taught us the value of iterative project management and agile development, and also lead weekly workshops on everything from photoshop to public speaking. This semester in Studio III, Zoe is working with each of us to make sure we’re on track and prepared to deliver our final projects on time and with confidence.
Zoe has been a resource (even a life saver) for the last year and it’s about time that we give her a proper introduction.
When she’s not at Studio 20, Zoe is either at ITP (where she teaches a class on interaction design) or at General Assembly, where she manages Squishables, one of her many companies. (And yes, I am talking about these giant stuffed balls of fuzz).
Zoe is not the typical journalism prof and that suits us just fine; Studio 20 is far from your average journalism program. We asked Zoe to tell us herself about what it’s been like to transition from working with programs and code to stuffed animals and journalists.
S20: How do you see your role in Studio 20?
My job is to make sure everyone involved in Studio 20 has the skills and connections to do any kind of innovation they can dream up, without regard for technical issues or inexperience. Journalists stereotypically run the risk of fearing change - I can’t fix that but I can prove to them that change is a lot easier than they thought (and also a giggle).
S20: What did you do before joining Studio 20?
Most recently I was at ITP, NYU, and these days on top of the teaching I do a lot of consulting work for existing Media Outlets, news startups, and nonprofits involved with freedom of speech. Usually they’re projects involved in Data Visualization or Meme-Tracking (in one instance, both). And of course I also run the ecommerce startup Squishable (Snurfle us on Facebook).
Before then I was doing web architecture at a large financial regulatory institution, and before then I was consulting for a company involved with running free elections in unusual places. Prior to that….the US Department of Labor, and also did a stint for the US Postal Service. Going way back in time, I was a briefly a researcher in Human Computer Interaction at Brunel University, a Runner at the BBC, and before that I worked for a nonprofit on creating eBay’s Giving Works Tool. Before that, like everyone else in the early 00’s, an internet startup that went under. And before that I worked for the Hubble Space Telescope.
And at one point in 2005 I worked for a couple weeks on a kangaroo farm in Australia. So there’s that.
S20: What attracts you to working with journalists/journalism students?
Folks involved in startups often come at life from this POV: I have a cool idea and if I develop it a bit I bet I can get some people who want to use it. But journalists have this amazing situation going on right now: A lot of people want to use my product, if only I could think up a cool idea how to let them. It’s just a more powerful, more rewarding way to think about the world. More fun too.
S20: What has surprised you about Studio 20?
Surprises on working with Studio 20 - hmm. I didn’t necessarily expect the level of dedication I found here. Because of the three-semester layout it seems like the students are incredibly involved and supportive of each other. It’s amazing the advertising agencies aren’t banging in their door demanding to know how they do it.
S20: How do you compare your work at ITP with your work at Studio 20
ITP and Studio 20, they have very different institutional feels, but it’s interesting to notice how convergent evolution has kicked in here. From originally coming from such divergent POV’s, the drive for innovation and experimentation has linked them up in a way I’m not sure anyone expected. It would be as if Birds and Butterfly’s suddenly realized they were both good at the same thing. And decided to help each other modify some wing structure. And hold races. I can keep going with this metaphor if you want.
The Redistricting Song is Dave’s third music video explainer and the second he’s created in partnership with ProPublica. As he’s done before, Dave has combined clever lyrics with a catchy beat and awesome animation to bring users into a highly complicated subject: redistricting.
ProPublica’s most recent investigation, “Redistricting: How Powerful Interests Are Drawing You Out of a Vote” examines the opaque methodology behind the process and how its effects can hurt voters. ProPublica has created a “Devil’s Dictionary” to break down the complex jargon and a primer, “The Story so Far” along with the song, to bring users into the investigation itself.
“The song isn’t going to tell you everything you need to know about redistricting. But it is a gateway. It’s catchy; it has the potential to go viral. Because of all that, it has the potential to draw people in,” Dave recently told The Nieman Lab.
As we learned last year, the best explainers give users what they need to understand the latest news. The Redistricting Song definitely does that, with a backbeat.
Studio 20 students are Designing Conversational Spaces at ITP
Last spring we were thrilled to announce that Clay Shirky joined the Studio 20 faculty. This Fall, seven third-semester Studio 20 students elected to take his Designing Conversational Spaces class at ITP.
The class addresses a very specific problem: how to design online environments that support or encourage good conversation? Through studying the trade-offs and dynamics present in existing web communities and reconfiguring them as we build our own, the Conversational Spaces class aims to figure it out.
In Clay’s own words,
"The ITP student population is split between technologists who care about aesthetics and artists who aren’t afraid of machines”.
We like to think that Studio 20 adds a third ingredient to the mix, journalists who live and breathe the web, and we can’t wait to see what we build together.
We’re nearly half-way through the semester and work on our final projects is in full swing. Our assignment was to create a conversational environment built around a single piece of content. Check back in a few weeks to see our progress. This week we’ll be testing our project’s in class but we will soon be launching them online.
Check out omgimg.us - a final project from last year’s Conversational Spaces class for an example of what we’re hoping to achieve.
Class of 2011 - Studio III Projects and Summer Gigs
We’re in the middle of the make-it-or-break-it period for our Studio 3 projects. According to Jay, October should be our biggest month in terms of productivity. Each week we meet to discuss four projects as they progress and each one is as different as the next.
Here’s a look at what the 16 of us are working on this year:
Assia Boundaoui began this summer freelancing radio reports for the BBC and PRI in Chicago and New York, she moved on to working as producer for NPR’s On The Media at WNYC, and ended the summer working in Bahrain.
Assia’s Studio III project is developing, producing and distributing content for “Radio ProPublica” a new audio platform for the investigative journalism newsrtoom. Radio Propublica audio stories will address issues in the public interest and explain news in the current news-cycle, stories will be distributed via radio broadcast and online podcast. Crowd-sourced questions generated from users, via a Soundcloud app, will serve as both ideas for the creation of new audio stories and will be featured within the audio stories themselves.
Ruth Spencer was hired as an Editorial Strategist at Postmedia Network this summer, where she worked to implement creative editorial concepts throughout the company’s online properties.
This fall, Ruth is working for Jim Brady, Editor-in-Chief of Journal Register Company on a plan for how JRC can integrate data resources in its newsrooms to drive editorial and strategic decision making.
Tom Chen worked with Artinfo.com and created an original video series called “Artinfo Goes To China”, for which he traveled to China and interviewed Chinese contemporary artists, gallerists and designers.
For Tom’s Studio III project, he’s teaming up with Artinfo.com and design a video companion for its Gallery Guide section. It will be a video component that lives on different platforms (website, mobile app, podcast) and largely enriches the visitors’ interactive experience with the site.
Chelsea Stark spent the summer working at Mashable as a Community Management Intern, where she interacted with Mashable’s exploding community in all areas, including over social media, traditional written posts, and by assisting in organizing the annual Social Media Day meetup.
Chelsea is working with Forbes to explore how to make online video a better return on investment for companies that are traditionally focused on print media, both with working internally to better optimize content for search and social spaces, and by helping Forbes build its online contributor network.
This past summer, Matt Diaz interned with the User Experience Team at The New York Times doing both qualitative and quantitative user research.
This fall Matt is continuing his work with The Times. His Studio III project is an original research effort centered on the digital identities and behaviors of young adults with a focus on how they produce and consume news.
Dave Holmes was a Social Media Production Assistant at the New York Daily News and a Web Intern at the New Yorker. He also worked on "The Euro Crisis Song" for the Guardian.
For his Studio III project, Dave is working with the New York Daily News to reinvent quizzes for the news room. The NYDN is looking to build a stronger community around the Daily News’ content while simplifying the work-flow for news quiz production.
For Studio III, he is producing an original newsgame that addresses the inefficiencies of game development in an online news environment.
Erin Evans was the weekend editor for TheRoot.com, where she produced daily e-mail newsletters, managed the site’s Facebook and Twitter feeds and completed other web production duties. She also freelanced for Howard University Magazine. As for the fun stuff? She ate at really great restaurants all over Brooklyn and re-joined a running group so she wouldn’t pack on the pounds.
For her Studio III project, Erin is working with the New York Times’ new education site, SchoolBook. She is helping to develop community outreach strategies to ensure that parents, teachers, principals and education advocates contribute to their questions, comments and perspectives to the site. By the end of the semester, she hopes to have produced and facilitated a series of contributions and also to provide what she’s calling a guidebook for community outreach.
This summer, Blair Hickman worked as a Senior Editor for Dowser Media, a news site that reports on social innovation and change, ie “Solution Journalism.” It’s a startup, so she got her hands in a little bit of everything: management, product development, e-mail marketing, social media strategy and execution, nitty-gritty tech work, partnerships, and business development and strategy.
The media focuses disproportionately on problems, often leaving the users to ask “Well, then what?” In an attempt to tackle this problem, Blair is researching, developing and prototyping a digital toolkit to help working professionals and journalism schools integrate solution journalism into their workflows. It will have several product components, and is being constructed in the spirit of open-source - suggestions and tweaks welcome.
Din Clarke worked with Picture Projects on a kiosk that will provide consumers with detailed information on the content of their food purchases. Din also started working at WBAI radio as a producer. Two audio pieces she recorded and edited aired on WBAI as part of a special program commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Attica.
Din’s project, Sight and Sound, has both a video and audio component. She’s building a prototype for a portable video recording booth to be used to collect stories/complaints/suggestions from residents who have limited or no internet access. For the audio component, Din is teaching audio recording/editing to young adults at Reel Works so that they can create pieces for Reel to Reel radio and WBAI.
This summer, Todd Olmstead worked as Assistant Editor of Digital and Community Outreach at the Local East Village. He spent the summer managing and growing the Local’s social media presence as well as developing relationships with members of the community. An East Village resident himself, Todd loves the neighborhood and recommends you get a cup of coffee at Abraço.
For his Studio 3 project, he’ll be working with Mashable to grow engagement through their comments. Mashable already has a highly active commenting community, and through this project Todd will look to acknowledge the quality contributions that these readers make. He will oversee this project with Mashable’s community and development teams.
Nasry Esmat lead six workshops at the “Investing in The Future" foundation in Cairo, Egypt. He trained journalists and civil society workers on new media skills including social media tools and creating content creatively.
For Studio III, Nasry is creating the first social media news page in Egypt.
Brittany Binowski worked as a Social Media Intern for Code and Theory, an upcoming interactive agency with clients such as Vogue.com and The Daily Beast, to help manage and evolve their social media strategy for the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
This semester, Brittany plans to use her experiences at Code and Theory to make the social media presence of CNN more two-way. She will be working with CNN In America, the documentary unit, to help their Twitter feeds (@BlackInAmerica and @CNNLIA) better connect sources with reporters and producers in the newsroom and, therefore, create better and more informed journalism.
Colin Jones worked at both the New York Daily News as a Social Media Production Assistant and at Rolling Stone as an Online Intern. At Rolling Stone, Colin was tasked with assisting Assistant Editor of RollingStone.com Erica Futterman with general tasks on the website including CMS work, Tumblr management and writing for the site.
This semester, Colin is working on developing a live video chat project for the New York Daily News. These chats will find user comments, submitted through Twitter, Facebook and other outlets, being answered live on the site by reporters and guests. Another prong of the project includes developing a program that will help reporters use mobile live video from the scene of stories.
Rachel Slaff spent the summer as a web intern for GoodHousekeeping.com. Her job included building content for the site, writing and editing web copy, and editing the Good Housekeeping Research Institute blog. She also assisted in the site’s redesign — check out the new and improved HTML5 edition of GoodHousekeeping.com!
This fall, Rachel is working with GoodHousekeeping.com to solicit and showcase user-generated videos. She’s thrilled to experiment with the traditional journalistic framework of narration by allowing users to share their own stories.
Chao Li spent the summer prepping Future Journalism Project for the work she is doing for them this fall. Chao’s Studio III project is to create tutorials for people interested in digital journalism. A part of that includes interviewing CEOs of startups and helping them create tutorials while they are busy launching their App or service.
A big part of the Studio 20 experience is the speakers series.
Every second week in Studio I, we invite industry leaders and innovators to join us for a conversation over wine and cheese. Last year, we hosted Gaby Darbyshire, COO, Gawker; Burt Herman Co-Founder and CEO, Storify; Megan McCarthy Founding Editor, MediaGazer and News Editor, The Observer and Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Ideas, among others.
The discussions are totally off the record (most of what we talk about never leaves the room) and Powerpoint presentations are forbidden. In fact, we ask our speakers not to bring any notes at all, unless they’re written on a napkin.
Tracking the success of My Water's on Fire Tonight
Last spring, we presented the findings of our project “Building A Better Explainer”, to a live audience at the Varick Street Incubator. We showcased the explainers we created for ProPublica and other partners to a room full of journalists, editors and entrepreneurs.
One of the highlights of the night was the debut of our music video explainer, "My Water’s On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song)". For months, we’d been trying to find the balance between creating a stimulating, engaging, factually correct and journalistically sound video to accompany ProPublica’s Hydraulic Fracturing investigation. We were proud of our work (especially of Dave Holmes who wrote and produced the song) and we were looking forward to showing it to the world. Within minutes of its release, the song went viral. We tracked the coverage across the web and gathered the best of the links below.
My Water’s On Fire Tonight was also slected as a Notable Entry in the Knight-Batten Awards and won an Honourable Mention at the EthicMark awards.
The wave of attention inspired The Guardian to reach out to Studio 20 and commission their own music video explainer on the European sovereign debt crisis. In early July, we released The Euro Crisis Song.
Look out for another music video explainer coming soon!
My Water’s On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song) has been featured in:
We tracked our progress and posted our research and results of our project, “Building A Better Explainer” on our blog, ExplainerNet. We’ve also uploaded examples of our work to the site for you to see and/or download. The site is a great resource for anyone looking to know more about how to create explainers for the web.
Studio 20 Collaborates with ProPublica to Build a Better Explainer
In its second year, Studio 20 is again embarking on a big collaboration with a major media partner. In 2009-10 it was The Local East Village with the New York Times. In 2010-11 it’s the Building a Better Explainer project with the investigative journalism non-profit, ProPublica. The project will focus on the art of explaining the sort of sprawling complicated stories that ProPublica covers. The new site students built for the project, Explainer.net, launched last night.
Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen's students, consulting closely with the editors of ProPublica, will:
research best practices in explanatory journalism;
collect relevant knowledge from other disciplines about how users absorb complex subjects;
pick one of ProPublica’s major investigations and produce model explainers suitable for publication at ProPublica.org;
experiment with different ways of delivering critical background knowledge, using all the tools of the Web
investigate how to make the explainer genre more interactive with Web users;
share their findings with ProPublica and the wider journalism world
We will start by researching what’s working now, and by going beyond journalism to fields that might know something journalists should know. In the spring of 2011, we’ll devote a whole graduate course (18 students, two instructors, plus consultants) to producing explainers that we hope ProPublica can publish, as well as a kind of tool kit to make the task easier. At the project site, explainer.net, we’ll post highlights from our research, solicit help, and publish interviews with thinkers and do-ers who are pushing the practice forward.
Recently, Nieman Journalism Lab’s Lois Beckett visited Studio 20 to speak with students about the project. She writes:
Students will divide into three groups tasked with exploring different elements of explanation. One group is interviewing the members of ProPublica’s news team, from reporters to news app builders to the managing editor, in order to understand the organization’s workflow, what it does with the data it collects, and how its reporters explain what they’re learning to themselves as they report a story.
Another group is building Explainer.net’s WordPress website, which sometimes means teaching themselves and each other skills on an ad hoc basis.
A third group is researching the different “explainer” genres. They’re starting with examples of good and bad explanatory journalism, from maps and timelines to more specific visualizations like The National Post’s chilling illustration of how a stoning is carried out in Iran. But they’ll also be reaching far outside the media world to research techniques used in many different fields. Rosen suggested that they focus on situations where people “can’t afford to fail,” like people fixing combat aircraft, or NFL teams explaining complicated plays. The students are also looking at the “For Dummies” book franchise and the language-learning software Rosetta Stone.
Studio 20 Students Push a Variety of Envelopes with Media Partners
Studio 20’s first class of students are in their third semester, and working on innovation projects with a variety of media partners. They work independently and present their progress in Jay Rosen's Studio 3 course. Here's what they're up to this term:
Anjali Khosla Mullany is establishing a noise beat for the New York Times Local East Village. Her project involves data visualization, video reporting, and designing a dynamic new beat page system for reporters and the community.
Jami Katz is creating a cultural calendar for UrbanDaddy.com that is being used as an internal tool between editors to streamline editorial work flow. She has been coordinating events and creative story ideas for UrbanDaddy’s New York, Los Angeles and National editions. She has also been developing new ideas for the company’s Twitter site and making recommendations.
Roque Planas is helping The Miami Herald revamp its blog “Cuban Colada" by adding a daily aggregator and developing ways to encourage user interaction and debate.
James Matthews is integrating SeeClickFix, an organization that allows citizens to report non-emergency local concerns, on The Local East Village website and developing best practices to use the information for in depth hyperlocal reporting.
Amir Shoucri developed a video component for the New York Observer’s website. This included creating a signature “Observer” visual style, devising a workflow for posting video, and producing a variety of original video content. Here’s an example of a feature posted on the home page.
For the rest of the break, I worked as an editorial intern for Thomson Reuters from their Sao Paulo bureau in Brazil. I published articles on bullet trains, sugar cane and Brazilian cowboys that were picked up by the Washington Post, New York Times International, Scientific American and the Guardian, among others (Due to licensing agreements with Reuters the content is no longer available on these sites).
Studio 20 at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
The STUDIO 20 concentration at NYU offers master’s level instruction with a focus on innovation and adapting journalism to the web. The curriculum emphasizes project-based learning. Students, faculty and visiting talent work on editorial and web development projects together, typically with media partners who themselves need to find new approaches or face problems in succeeding online. By participating in these projects and later running their own project, students learn to grapple with all the factors that go into updating journalism for the digital era.
The program seeks to draw together a diversely talented team of students who can produce excellent work that pushes the field forward and realizes some of the possibilities inherent in a multi-media, interactive and constantly evolving platform for journalism— namely, the World Wide Web and its mobile extensions.
Studio classes provide a “hub” for organizing activity and a common space for inquiry and reflection around the program’s various projects. Students are expected to be flexible and curious, generous in sharing skills, eager to pick up new knowledge and willing to adapt to what the project — and its deadlines — demand.
The curriculum has three parts: 1.) the traditional requirements of two basic reporting classes plus “digital thinking;” 2.) a core of three project-based classes called Studio I, II and III; and 3.) elective enrichment courses that allow students to pursue interests and work on initiatives of their own. In their third and final semester, students design their own projects with an appropriate media partner and try to create innovation—as well as a name—for themselves.
Each year Studio 20 recruits a mix of writers, editors, videographers, audio journalists, programmers, designers, Web producers and smart people who may have no journalism training at all— under the principle of “bring skills, share skills, learn new stuff.” Recruiting emphasizes students comfortable in more than one medium and ready to tackle new challenges. One of our mottos is: “Everyone works on everything.”
In 2009-10, one of Studio 20’s major partners was the New York Times. Working with editors at the Times, students and faculty designed and planned a hyperlocal news site for the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan. It launched in September, 2010: The Local East Village. The site was edited and produced at NYU, but ran on nytimes.com Studio 20 students could publish there, and if they had ideas for improvements they could pitch them.
In the spring of 2013 that site evolved into Bedford + Bowery, which is co-published by NYU Journalism and New York Magazine (nymag.com). The editor, Daniel Maurer, explained at the time: “We’ll still be covering the East Village and Lower East Side but we’ll also be jumping on the L train to cover Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint – where, of course, the East Village already has a strong presence.” The change was covered here.
In 2010-11 Studio 20’s major project was a collaboration with ProPublica, the investigative reporting non-profit. Students experimented with the genre of “the explainer,” a form of journalism that provides essential background knowledge and brings clarity to complex issues in the news. Read more here and see the project site, Explainer.net. Don’t miss The Fracking Song, which came out of that work. Time magazine named it one of the most creative videos of 2011.
In December of 2010, NYU announced that the renowned Internet thinker Clay Shirky would be joining the Carter Institute and Studio 20, where he will teach courses and consult on projects.
In 2011-12, Studio 20’s major project was a collaboration with The Guardian around a different approach to election coverage. You can read about it here and here.
In 2012-13, Studio 20’s big project revolved around networked reporting. Five media partners were involved: The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica (again), Fast Company, Mashable.com and Pando Daily. You can read about it here and here. The Pando Daily work our students did was featured here.
Our students get jobs in new media and old; they advance in their careers. Our instructors have faced the digital transformation of journalism head on.
Think you might be interested in applying? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know; do tell us about yourself and your background. Also: how we can find you and your work on the web.
Here are the official instructions on how to apply. (The initial deadline is Jan. 3, 2014; we will accept applications after that but cannot guarantee space or financial aid. Please note that the GRE General Exam is required of all applicants. See our How to Apply page for more details. If you cannot take the GRE by January 3, you should submit your application by the deadline and take the GRE before March 1.)
This is the first post in a series on how Studio 20 students spent their summers. Lesley Messer tells us about writing for People Magazine and a trip to Toronto:
Over the summer, I went back to my full-time job, writing, reporting and fact-checking entertainment features for People.
A few highlights included spending time with the cast of Jersey Shore and their families (including Snooki), [read Lesley’s article here], celebrating the life and career of Golden Girl Rue McClanahan and recently, reporting and co-authoring our cover story on the MTV show Teen Mom.
I also moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn and recently traveled to Toronto to cover the Toronto International Film Festival!
Studio 20 Profiled as a Unique Approach to Journalism Education
PBS’ MediaShift profiled NYU’s Studio 20 concentration as an example of journalism education adapting to the changing media industry.
Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen explains his philosophy for student participation:
"What I want students to do is look at the web as an opportunity to learn about journalism today by participating in it."
The article describes NYU’s collaboration with the New York Times on The Local East Village (LEV for short), a hyperlocal blog that launched on September 13th.
One of the challenges these types of partnerships in journalism face is ensuring that the student-produced media remains consistent with the standards of the participating news organization. That’s where Rich Jones, editor of the LEV, comes in. “We’ll obviously bring professional level standards to the treatment of those issues, being under the Times banner brings certain responsibilities,” said Jones, a former New York Times writer. “We just want to give students the skills they were need to have a really successful career.”
Read the full post for more details on what NYU, along with CUNY and Columbia, are doing to improve their curriculum.
Jay Rosen's Advice to the Next Generation of Journalists
Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen recently gave an Inaugural Lecture to the incoming class at Sciences Po école du journalisme in Paris (read reports of it in English and in French, with videos of the talk) that was meant not only for French students, but for anyone interested in journalism.
In 1764, for example, the King of France ruled it illegal to print or sell or peddle on the street anything about the reform of state finances—past, present or future. It’s not only that there was no freedom of the press. That was true, but more than that: The king’s mystery was not considered the people’s business. The whole idea that the affairs of the nation belonged to the people of that nation had yet to be accepted. Without an idea like that (today we would call it “the public’s right to know…”) the very practice of journalism is impossible—in fact, unthinkable.
It took a while before those outside of the government began gaining access to information and developed ways to communicate what went on behind closed doors, and when they did, they began changing the culture of news around diplomacy:
Let’s jump ahead to Paris in 1919 and the Peace Conference that ended World War I. Something new was seen at Paris. At previous international conferences intended to conclude wars and settle borders, the diplomats would negotiate in secret and emerge weeks later with a result which was then conveyed to the home countries as a more or less finished product. In Paris a new pattern was seen. The American delegation was accompanied by over 150 newspaper correspondents. They shocked the diplomats by demanding entrance to the opening session.
Seeing people as masses is the art in which the mass media, and professional media people, specialized during their profitable 150-year run (1850 to 2000). But now we can see that this was actually an interval, a phase, during which the tools for reaching the public were placed in increasingly concentrated hands. Professional journalism, which dates from the 1920s, has lived its entire life during this phase, but let me say it again: this is what your generation has a chance to break free from. The journalists formerly known as the media can make the break by learning to specialize in a different art: seeing people as a public, empowered to make media themselves.
In conclusion, Rosen offers 10 pieces of advice to the next generation of journalists. Read the full post for an explanation of each point.
1. Replace readers, viewers, listeners and consumers with the term “users.”
2. Remember: the users know more than you do.
3: There’s been a power shift; the mutualization of journalism is here.
4: Describe the world in a way that helps people participate in it.
5: Anyone can doesn’t mean everyone will.
6: The journalist is just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special class.
7: Your authority starts with, “I’m there, you’re not, let me tell you about it.”
8: Somehow, you need to listen to demand and give people what they have no way to demand.
9: In your bid to be trusted, don’t take the View From Nowhere; instead, tell people where you’re coming from.
Breathe deeply of what DeTocqueville said: “Newspapers make associations and associations make newspapers.”
The Local East Village will launch on Monday, September 13. The site is a collaboration between The New York Times and New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and will cover New York City’s East Village. Studio 20 students have been planning and working towards its launch throughout spring semester and into the summer.
The site will feature a specially developed Virtual Assignment Desk that will let contributors from the East Village easily communicate with the staff to pitch story ideas and contribute articles and multimedia. From the press release:
The site will feature a Virtual Assignment Desk, an interactive digital platform that has been created as a Wordpress plug-in. It provides an editorial work flow system for both assigning stories, and receiving and managing ideas, tips, and finished work from community and student contributors. Any registered user of nytimes.com will be able to go to a special page to see what assignments are available.
Students from all universities will have the opportunity to experience the East Village while gaining real world journalism experience by applying to the Hyperlocal Newsroom Summer Academy:
Starting in May 2011, the Hyperlocal Newsroom Summer Academy will welcome journalism students from across the country to cover East Village beats and help coordinate wider community involvement. These include pre-college and college tracks as well as a select number of three-month graduate-level LEV internships, credit and non-credit, available on a competitive basis. For more on the The Hyperlocal Academy, click here.