MAP course: Internet Strategy for News Organisations

Instructor: Jonathan Stray

Welcome! This is the syllabus and reading list for the Journalism and Media Studies Center professional summer course Internet Strategy for News Organizations.

I’ve tried to collect about ten good articles for each topic that, overall, I hope will get you up to speed on how the transition to digital media is changing both the craft and the business of journalism — or selling information online, generally. I expect attendees of the course to have read the readings before each class. The references are additional information on things we’ll discuss.

The course will be taught as a seminar, more of a conversation than a lecture. We will have many experienced professionals attending, and I hope to learn from each of you.

You can register for the course here, or contact me for more information.

1. Introduction to new media — Tuesday June 1, 3pm
Why the internet is different: it’s cheap to publish, and it’s non-broadcast. Trends in news consumption: where do people get their news today? Aggregation, curation, and linking: what is the value to the user? Basic social media skills: Using Facebook and Twitter effectively. What is journalism for?

Readings:

References:

Homework: figure out where people are talking online about a topic of your choice. Identify the main participants in the conversation, if you can.

2. Digital storytelling — Friday June 4, 3pm
More than multimedia: the basics of hypertext storytelling. Breaking free from paper conventions: context, length, and links. Blogs, transparency and authority: “the web abhors lack of voice”. Information visualization. Topic pages. Interactive story case studies: NYT jobless rate story, Niemanlab paywall revenue calculator.

Readings:

References:

Homework: come up with a pitch for a story that cannot be told well with plain text, audio, video, or slideshow. Bonus marks if it’s an ongoing story.

3. The people formerly known as the audience — Tuesday, June 8, 3pm
What does it mean when anyone can publish? “Citizen journalism,” “networked journalism,” and “user-generated content.” Using social media for breaking news. The value of audience engagement. Case studies: user content at the BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera, Iran elections, Guardian expense-report crowdsourcing, Ushahidi platform in the Nairobi elections.

Readings:

References:

Homework: Find or invent an example of collaboration between professional and amateur journalists, on a topic of your choice. (Not one we’ve mentioned in class.)

4. Software for Communities — Friday, June 11, 3pm
Social software basics: why do people do things online, and how to take advantage of that. Making news come to you. Crowdsourcing for journalism. Wikis and wiki editorial systems. Comments and how to moderate them. Reputation and authority: who are the “leaders” and “experts”? Recommendation systems. Case studies: Slashdot, Huffington Post, Wikipedia, Netflix, Amazon, WhoRunsGov.

Readings:

References:

Homework: choose a news web site, and come up with a service that it could offer via social software. Give specifics on how that software would work.

5. The economics of new media — Tuesday, June 15, 3pm
Revenue sources: advertising, subscriptions, and other. The online advertising market: Adwords, CPM, CPC, and networks. Search Engine Optimization: links, page rank, spam. Paywall case studies: Wall Street Journal, Newsday, New York Times. Demand Media and the value of online content. What is the value-add of a newsroom?

Readings:

References:

Homework: Analyze a site and estimate its per-article/item available budget, assuming that it is supported entirely by ads.

6. Reinventing the product — Friday, June 18, 3pm
Information goods. What’s a media company? Mobile news application best practices. Location-based services. The iPad in theory and practice. Research services. The value of filtering. Databases, information architecture, and linked data. Case studies: Digg as a collaborative filter, Google as a media company, Yelp, Foursqaure.

Readings:

References: