After every errant tweet from another major news outlet, or the announcement of fresh layoffs from another print newsroom, many shake their heads and talk about the good old days, before false reports of WMD’s and internet news aggregators. We remember a time when Edward R. Murrow and other icons of objectivity were our revered national watchdogs, serving up the truth...one newspaper column or TV broadcast at a time. But what if our idealistic view of American journalism's "golden age" is nothing but a nostalgic myth? Todd Gitlin teaches journalism and communications at Columbia University. His recent article “The Myth of Journalism’s Golden Age” was recently featured in the Utne Reader.
A number of major newspapers have stopped the presses in recent years. Meanwhile, community journalism sites have sprung up from Seattle to Springfield. Media gurus declared “hyperlocalism” to be the future of journalism and a path for out-of-work reporters. A few big ticket news outfits took that bet, including AOL, which launched Patch.com in 2010. A few years on, hyper-local phenomenon takes many forms, with differing degrees of success. AOL reported losing $147 million dollars on Patch in 2011, so maybe news of town hall meetings, police blotter reports, and high school sports might not be as bankable as once thought.
The last few weeks of 2012 were dominated by media coverage of the fiscal cliff crisis. News outlets covered everything from the projected impact of the cliff to shouting matches between legislators. Lost in the mix throughout the crisis were important, but less sensational news stories. Joshua Keating is an associate editor at Foreign Policy and he joins us to talk about some of these backseat news items.
A 2007 study by Harvard University found that the rank and file of “Generation Y” is consistently less engaged and less knowledgeable about current events than their elders. Former New York Times editor and entrepreneur, Holly Ojalvo, is looking to staunch the growing tide of current events ignorance. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of GoKicker.com, a website that’s adapting the news cycle for the 35-and-younger set.
Last week, WNYC's John Keefe visited NHPR. He heads that station’s new Datanews group, and demonstrated some truly illuminating interactive data maps for us. One map of New York reveals that the blocks where the highest number of stop and frisk gun searches are conducted by the NYPD, are not the places where stopping and frisking actually results in seizing a gun. So, using graphics to illustrate raw data can add value to news stories, or become the story itself.
A special broadcast of NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday host Ira Flatow, recorded in front of a live audience at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
In part one, Flatow talks about the declining state of science coverage in the news, and his hope that new media will be the new outlet for spreading the gospel of science. In part two, I sit down with Flatow and we talk about his career, the challenges of expanding online platforms, and address questions form the audience.