Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Embrace the disruption and win the war November 11, 2008

Filed under: innovation,journalism,video — contentninja @ 1:56 pm
Tags: , ,
My New Video Camera

Image by Ezalis via Flickr

Brit Paul Bradshaw attended the Society of Editors 08 meeting in the United Kingdom recently and posted at his Online Journalism Blog video of Michael Rosenblum’s presentation.

Rosenblum is a former CBS news producer turned independent video journalist.  Bradshaw presents Rosenblum in three videos, totalling roughly 20 minutes. Yes, it’s linear video, and it’s worth every minute. (There is some blue language about halfway through first video.)

Rosenblum rocks the boat, and it’s a wonderful ride.

I’ve been chided for not exploring the future of TV news enough in this blog. Rosenblum takes it on, no holds barred. His point is that TV news, as it’s always been done, is ridiculously overpriced. You no longer need all those editors, producers and $500,000 editing bays, he says. Hire six quality journalists,  outfit them each with an $800 point-n-shoot video camera, teach them to edit on a Mac laptop and send them out the door to find stories in their communities. Heck, they can even work from home. It’s not just talk; he’s doing these things.

Are you listening, newspapers? Rosenblum says newspapers need to stop fighting that disruptive technology known as the Internet and start doing this, too — because the Web demands video, that’s why. “You are not in the newspaper business!” he says, explaining that we’re in the business of delivering stories to our communities and charging advertisers for the eyeballs. And we can still do that on the Internet, he says, and save money, too.

And lest we get all dismissive and elitist about those less-expensive VJs — as we journos are wont to do with experimental stuff (see mainstream media’s hypercritical response to David Cohn’s crowd-funded — Rosenblum points out that there are talented journalists who can be tapped for these jobs and that mainstream media companies will attract them.

“Journalists aren’t made; they’re born,” Rosenblum says, quoting a colleague. Damn right we are, and we can do this.

Still have doubts? Rosenblum points out that embracing disruptive technology has been a winning strategy since 1356. Listen to his Edward III story in second video for details.

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Upsetting the apple cart April 7, 2008

WordPress has dinked with my social media world.

Just when I’m getting comfortable, maybe even smug, thinking that “Hey! I can do this blogging thing!” WordPress makes changes to how the backend looks and operates. I know what you’re thinking: Suck it up, missy. You’d be right. Change is good, and disruption can be invigorating.

Speaking of which, Leonard Witt of the Public Journalism Network ( blogged about the Next Newsroom conference last week at Duke University. Witt posted a terrific video interview by Bill Densmore with Randy Covington, who leads the IFRA Newsplex at the University of South Carolina. See the video here:

For just a five-minute interview, Covington has a lot to say about how European media companies are farther along with mainstreaming innovation (hence, IFRA’s underwriting of Newsplex) and about the differences he sees between family and corporate ownership when it comes to American newspaper innovation. (Family-owned media are more progressive.)

Yes, we’re seeing first-hand the commitment of a family-owned newspaper to exploring and funding innovation.

Another interesting read is Jack Shafer’s post at Slate ( on the Washington Post’s grand experiment to break the “assembly line” feel of news. Follow Shafer’s link to the Post staff memo.

To be honest, we’re already doing many of the things the Post will try — dayside editing and layout of non-breaking news and fewer edits on non-major stories, to name a few. It may be less like an assembly line, but it’s still heavily production-driven.

Shafer says the plan will “capitalize on the power of the network,” but I don’t see that mirrored in the memo. The Post is calling on more cooperation among internal staff, but internal changes in workflow are not innovative or disruptive enough to be effective.

Ironic, isn’t it, coming from the woman who got perturbed with WordPress changes?