Studio 20 gets an assignment from Quartz News

These specs were sent by the editors of Quartz to Professor Jay Rosen as part of Studio 20’s networked reporting project in spring 2013. Jay Rosen responded with his presentation, Designs for a Networked Beat, May 13, 2013. 

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.

To see Jay Rosen’s response, go here