Unsettled: A measured view of immigration from Ohio

Please visit the story page to hear the radio special on immigration in Ohio, and listen to authentic voices from Painesville.

Immigrants come in many forms, but the goal is often the same: more opportunity, more security, more stability.

Who these people are, and under what conditions they come, stay, or leave the United States–or wherever they are destined–are issues of immense consequence.

Despite the gravity of the issue, or maybe because of it, good journalism about immigration, immigrants, systems of exclusion, etc, is often drowned out in favor of bad journalism. Continue reading “Unsettled: A measured view of immigration from Ohio”

Perils in aggregation journalism: public or ‘public’

Twitter is inherently a social networking site for making short but unquestionably public statements about everything and anything.  As you likely see in my Twitter feed to the left of this post, my Tweets are mostly about journalism, media, or international relations–my dominant fields of interest and study.  My comments are ones that I would defend in person, because they are made in the public sphere.  There is no expectation of privacy in Tweeting, unless done through the moderately helpful “Direct Message” system.  Twitter might be compared to a bullhorn letting its users send brief thoughts into a noisy and confusing web space.

There is an increasing trend in journalism to aggregate Tweets by topic or user into “news stories.”  Chief among the tools for this Twitter journalism is Storify, which organizes selected Tweets to form a narrative.  This example from Canadian CTV news shows how it works…you list the Tweets to tell a story, and the journalist doesn’t necessarily need to talk to anyone directly.  The Tweets are taking the place of interviews, in some cases.  This is annoying, and a result of a race for posting “news” quicker in the digital age.  Why talk to someone when you can just post their Tweets? Continue reading “Perils in aggregation journalism: public or ‘public’”

WRS wins 5 Edward R. Murrow Awards!

Murrows (from rtdna.org)

I am proud to report my current employer, World Radio Switzerland, was awarded five regional Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association in the U.S.!  The awards are some of the most prized in broadcast journalism.

World Radio Switzerland won in the international category, Region 14, for a small market station.  “Small market” is defined (under one description I found) as one serving an audience of fewer than 1.4 million people.  WRS’s main market is Geneva, served by FM, and has about 190,000 residents.  It has listeners elsewhere in the country through web streaming, and digital radio (which is supposed to replace FM at some point.)

Most of the awards were for my feature work, including a series from Cairo and special reporting on Swiss banks and transparency.  I am proud and honored to have brought these awards to the station, and am excited by even being considered for national Murrow awards (to be decided out of the pool of regional winners.)

Continue reading “WRS wins 5 Edward R. Murrow Awards!”

‘Journalistic Outsourcing:’ Not the journalism I grew up with..

[You can support an updated version of this ‘outsourcing’ article on Medium. You can also send a donation.]

It’s now almost cliche to talk about the death (or metamorphosis) of newspapers, and the evolution of journalism, but maybe we should talk more about skill outsourcing. 

Ink-stained reporters and editors used to be the true gatekeepers of information, able to amplify or suppress stories, scandals, and secrets simply by printing information or not. 

This is obviously no longer the case, as Twitter, Facebook, CNN iReporters, bloggers, hobbyists–you name it–have all become some form of news agent. I am reluctant to use the term “journalist” to describe some of these actors, or “journalism” to describe what they do, because these terms are something special to me…a journalist. 

I have proudly called myself a journalist after mixing in different media, paying my dues, to learn what responsibility and influence a microphone or notepad can have.  It is true many types of people can report events, but are they all journalists? 

The Poynter Institute’s Kelly McBride said news organizations (and their journalists) can provide needed context to information, when the role of gatekeeper has been changed or abolished.  She was specifically commenting on the ‘manifesto’ of a still-at-large LAPD “renegade cop,” but I think the observation of a market-driven change in what journalists do and are is important.

Just as journalism has been facing epic transformations, my views of the industry have soured.  It is not breaking news to say a journalist is disappointed in journalism–it is almost a honed skill to complain about the decline of quality in between the rare journalistic triumphs. 

But I am ever more bruised by the realization that what I learned about journalism, and have come to identify as the ideals supposedly supported by my noble profession, may no longer hold true most of the time. 

And the tasks, duties, and truly ‘noble’ parts of journalism, are often outsourced to other professions or industries, only to be reported on after-the-fact by journalists.

And if journalists are not the ones doing the true journalistic work any more, then is there any reason to defend journalism as a profession?  Or just journalism as a craft practiced by anyone?

Continue reading “‘Journalistic Outsourcing:’ Not the journalism I grew up with..”

Debriefing Davos

Inside the Congress Center

Inside the Congress Center
Inside the main conference center, where WEF delegates network, charm, and influence the world.

The residents of the Swiss resort town of Davos understand the situation brought upon them by the World Economic Forum, and its annual meeting.  Some delegates to the annual meeting seem oblivious to the Swiss everyday life which continues outside the security checkpoints, and between the carefully-planned events at various hotels, restaurants, and private venues which dominate this week in January.  The WEF delegates are arguably some of the most powerful people in business, politics, and non-profit activism.  On the snow-covered sidewalks of Davos it is not uncommon to see well-dressed men and women window shopping, or carefully trekking to a high-end restaurant.  Many take up the whole sidewalk–the locals, and I, tended to walk for a time in the street to avoid a clash of civilizations.

Davos is not a helpless village overrun by the world’s wealthiest, defenseless against the “bling” flashed unnecessarily.  It is a resort town.  It thrives off wealthy skiers and vacationers.  It is expanding its already respectable five-star hotel offerings because the people keep coming.  But the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum takes this show of class-status to another level.  As with many topics my role as journalist lets me, very literally, walk between the worlds of überwealthy delegates and regular folks on the street.  I might be dressed in a nice (for a journalist) suit, but I still hand my grocery store membership card to the surprised cashier, and I say hello to the locals beginning to step toward the street as I navigate the sidewalks.  And then I go through security, and peer into an exclusive networking event, where decisions which affect the world could be made over orange juice and free magazines.

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In Defense of Journalism Education

[You can support an updated version of this post on Medium. You can also send a donation.]

I have a degree in Journalism.  I am proud of that education, and the places it’s taken me.  I am also a rarity in journalism, I feel, as employers increasingly seem to value graduates with qualifications in political science, economics, perhaps history, and then maybe a graduate degree in Journalism. (or forgo it all together) Students are, sometimes jokingly, warned away from an undergraduate education in journalism or media studies because the craft of journalism is one honed, or not, through a career, and the basics can be picked up on the job.  No journalism degree is necessary, and in fact other specialties would be cherished more.

The debate over attending journalism school (J-School) is not new, and I feel the proponents for the degree are being outnumbered.  Journalism training Mecca, the Poynter Institute, recently aggregated four recent arguments against a journalism degree. I understand the profession is changing, and I understand technology is evolving at a pace faster than many media outlets can handle effectively, but there are certain basics picked up in the journalistic test-kitchen of a university which are disappearing by the lack of emphasis on a journalism education.  And the profession, public, and society are suffering because of it.

Continue reading “In Defense of Journalism Education”

The “American” Problem

US Shoreline

One thing an American journalist, in theory, can be without fear is an American; a civic-minded, well-informed citizen.  Again in theory, journalists need not fear having patriotic tendencies, or overall pride in one’s community.  That pride or patriotism doesn’t prevent cynicism, skepticism, or displeasure with that same community, of course.  In my opinion that mixture of pride and skepticism is what helps fill a journalist-sized hole in society—we are the ones who see the darkest souls and brightest angels our communities nurture or neglect, and we are the ones who can shine a brighter light on the virtue and vice.

Young journalists are warned to be careful of their associations before they’ve sharpened their first pencils for their first scoops.  “Be careful of clubs you join” or “If you are covering a political rally, don’t leave pamphlets on your dashboard” are not uncommon pearls thrown to the rookie reporter.  The reason is straight-forward enough: a journalist shouldn’t associate in a way which might question the integrity of his or her journalism.  Even the perception of bias could corrupt the public view of all subsequent coverage by that reporter, with justification or without. Being an American, though, well that’s just okay.

So what happens when an American reporter can’t be “American” without hesitation?  What happens when a journalist has to tread lightly with one’s patriotism?

Continue reading “The “American” Problem”

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