Can crowdfunding be a new lifeboat for journalism?

This week we focus on how the digital media era changes the way which journalism funded. Angela Phillips’s post: Will crowdfunding save journalism? inspired me to think that can crowdfunding become a new business model for journalism?Word Cloud

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Crowdfunding journalism refers to a business model that is submitted by the people from the press to some report plans, be recognized by the public, and obtain a large number of small public funds to begin the implementation of the news report plan. Some crowdfunding-related websites are very popular in the world, such as US’s kickstarter.com, Australia’s Youcomnews.com, Italy’s Spotus.it, and France’s jaimelinfo.

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The merits of the crowdfunding journalism are that flexible high-quality news reports based on brainstorming and independent funding will no longer rely on professional media. This business model is able to increase the number of readers and speak for the vulnerable groups while pursuits independent investigations and high-quality news content.

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One negative of crowdfunding is the objective and impartiality of news report. In terms of news project sponsors, there is no limitation. The sponsor can be professional journalists or ordinary citizens. Unlike professionally educated journalists, there may be no professional media literacy of ordinary citizens. As a result, the objectivity and reality of the news may not be guaranteed.

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Last, in my opinion, no matter whether crowdfunding can be a new business model which can gain money for the journalism. It, at least, a nice try to change the old heavily advertising based business model for the journalism industry.

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Technology Journalism: The gender gap

When we scroll down the articles or blogposts in technology websites like TechCrunch, Mashable, and Wired, we can see how it is mostly dominated by male contributors.

As the attention towards technology websites increases, women only hold around 28% of the technology journalism, an example can be seen in TechCrunch.

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Techcrunch Crunchies Award

What’s keeping women away from this industry? Is it simply because not many women are actually interested in this field? Or is it the question of sexism?

Holly Brockwell, the founder of Gadgette, shared how tough it is in the industry. She mentioned how women will always be labeled ‘female tech journalist’ instead of just a ‘tech journalist’. She brings up the issue of how harassments and trolling happen all the time with female tech journalist, but never with the male. Brockwell often being invited to events to talk, not about technology itself, but always about how it feels being a female in the technology industry.

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Holly Brockwell, photo via DailyMail

According to the research done by the Nottingham Trent University, 20% of female tech journalists have disguised their gender to avoid harassment and sexisms. From the percentage above, it does not come as a surprise that women are not willing to participate in the technology journalism, as it puts them at risk.

After sharing her thoughts on the blogpost above, Brockwell, of course, receives a lot of backlashes. And guess what? It’s mostly from male columnists.

An example can be seen from this post by Kieren McCarthy. Mostly about calling Brockwell out for being fussy about nothing, just like a typical woman.

Now, you get the idea of how sexism really exists in this industry.

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Photo via Plaid Zebra

However, the question is, is there still any room for women in the technology journalism?

Perhaps, the only way we can bring more women into tech journalism is to not seek acceptance from the male journalists, and for women to get each other’s back, for instance, by promoting knowledge exchange between one another, and encourage other women to contribute. So that we are not the ‘only one’ in the so-called, men’s field.

Technology journalist—- the new opinion leader in the digital age

 

Technology moves at a dizzying speed. Tech journalism has been changed unimaginable over the past decade. The only thing unchanged is that the demand for professionals who can connect users, tech companies and their new products together with the amazing story and breaking news, that is the existence meaning of technology journalists.

So what does a tech journalist do? Most of the time they serve as sources of information for cutting-edge technology and important to both consumers and companies for many reasons.  As the content they create is important to the audiences, they need to follow the trend, cover breaking news in technology and watch how users a reacting to new tech. When the importance of tech journalist conveys into credibility, they become opinion leader, they develop their influence through trust. In the digital age, people will decide to buy a brand new smartphone by the influenced of a review article by tech journalist or even a Twitter post.

Establish the influence like that will not only take time but also need a good track record. Journalistic integrity and be objective helps journalists avoid mistakes or prejudices, which are increasingly thrown around in the blogosphere. The thoughtful predictions and review based on industry expertise and hard date instead of the advertising from manufacturers. As a responsible opinion leader, the review article should not involve too many personal preferences or even benefit relationship. Being an opinion leader in the digital age doesn’t mean users will always agree with you.

For an excellent tech journalist, focusing on hard data and which features users may enjoy instead of relying on personal inclinations to make sales predictions can step a long way in journalism. It is much more challenging job in journalism, this is not surprising some of the tech journalists want to get rid of the career.

Commercialisation vs. Journalism

“What you see on nightly news […] is now being imposed upon by commercial entities so that, for example, ABC news now promotes Disney programs. But now we are into an era where what’s happening on commercial television and radio, there is this pressure to conform to a commercial take on what news is or what the news should be.”

Diane Rehm

Remember the time Anderson Cooper interviewed Dora The Explorer?

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The look of “what the heck happened to my career?”

Or when Jim Lehrer interviewed WordGirl?

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I mean, who even is Jim Lehrer?

It’s never really going to be possible to have an independent and impartial news media when the news media has to answer to either the government or advertisers due to funding. If a media corporation receives funding primarily from the government, there is going to be a sense of softly acting out the classic “watchdog role” – but only enough as to not step on any toes. If a media corporation receives funding primarily through advertising revenue, then there is going to be a sense that the news needs to bend in certain ways in order to adhere to the advertisers demands.

I’ve been watching The Collision of Journalism and Consumerism a fair bit over the last year or so – mainly because it is chock full of awesome quotes from world renowned journalists – but the essential argument central to the piece is that as long as journalism is funded by, and motivated by, consumerist values, then true impartiality is something that cannot be achieved in journalism.

It’s a worthwhile documentary too – if you’ve got the time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVux_pMp3D8

Technology Criticism – How it shapes the future of Technology?

By Ngan Nguyen – z5119704

In his article “Tech journalism needs to grow up”, Michael Brendan Dougherty argues that tech publications such as The Verge, Engadget, etc. are doing nothing more than consumer guide. It is a culture of “unboxing-porn”.

Technology journalists need to free themselves from the press releases. We need more critical analyses of technology trend and their socio-historical implications.

There are several reasons why tech journalists are not interested in critical analyses discussed in Eric Jackson article. Some of the most interesting reasons are:

1. It’s easier to report the news than having an opinion on it.

2. Young tech journalists don’t have much confidence in criticism topics.

3. Any reporter assigned a particular company to cover can’t bite the hand that feeds it. An obvious example is the suspicious relationship between Apple and Chris Ziegler, founding editor of The Verge. As the result, The Verge finally had to fire him.

4. Tech is ever-increasingly complex and that makes it difficult for reporters to stay up to date.

People, or even tech journalists, tend to think of tech criticism as something like Facebook is making us lonelyGoogle is making us stupid, or stories criticizing tech companies, then feel afraid of this topic.

But it is wrong!

Sara Watson proposes a new approach of tech criticism called “constructive tech criticism”. Criticism technology needn’t imprison itself in the world of gloomy stories. Instead, its role is to shape the future of technology.

Constructive technology criticism aims to bring stakeholders together in productive conversation rather than pitting them against each other… It offers readers the tools and framings for thinking about their relationship to technology and their relationship to power. Beyond intellectual arguments, constructive criticism is embodied, practical, and accessible, and it offers frameworks for living with technology.

Sara Watson’s approach defines a new way for journalists to devote their works. It emphasizes tech criticism’s capacity of opening a public sphere for people to discuss the future of technological societies and how we can go further.

Wired’s consultancy business might be a good example of this “constructive tech criticism”. This model paves way for a new approach to tech journalists’ duty and capacity. Instead of merely reporting tech news, tech journalists can use their critical knowledge to help tech companies overcome their obstacles, shape their future strategies, benefit consumers and foster the future of technology.

What do you think of the role of technology criticism? Feel free to share us your idea in the comment section below.

The tech journalist: an identity

Looking into the nature of tech journalism, it seems to be split into three writing perspectives: negative, positive and neutral. These types of perspectives have been lined up respectively based on popularity and interest with ‘neutral’ left behind in the dust.

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The competition between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ or ‘Luddites’ vs. ‘Outsourced PR’, as each opposing side would dub the other in bitter resentment towards their views, has shed light on the blurry path that individual tech journalists may choose – initiative or incentive?

 

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Just like being in the environment of competition, there creeps confrontation. What happens when ‘Luddites’ go against ‘Outsourced PR’ from challenging each other’s view and clashing opinion? As with this related case of tech journalist versus tech journalist (Mic Wright vs. The Macalope), discredit befalls the loser. Going into the case study and how discredit in tech journalism differs from its traditional counterpart, we look at how it potentially begins. Tech news confrontation could escalate in terms of virality and in turn, fans/followers of respective sides would weigh in with their two cents on the matter. As fans/followers, their logic behind what they believe in could be skewed as the abundant type of tech news online influences whoever it reaches first or whoever it resonates to the most.

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As a result, said loser could be ‘discredited’ by being blacklisted online as being a hack, regardless of whether his/her reporting was reasonable or true. The permanent nature of the online world could spell disaster for one’s career that way.

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This exploratory study was to illuminate the warped nature of journalism that is affected by the advanced medium of technology.

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5 steps you need to be a technology journalist

Tom talked something about technology journalism this week. Except for awesome technology news, I am more interested in how can be a technology journalist.

‘Like all other journalists, technology journalists must have a thirsty desire, and the best journalists will be given a superior memory like a library’

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Well, I would like to add 5 tips for being a technology journalist:

1.Translate technology in an easy understanding way. The journalist’s job is to simply introduce the esoteric technological and scientific information to audiences, although many journalists are sometimes reluctant to do so.

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2.Concerned about the human side of the scientists. Highlight the links between scientists and ordinary people – such as hobbies, what they do when they fall into deep thought? What clothes do they wear in the lab? Are they shining in a discussion?

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3.When writing technology news, explain its connection with the reader’s daily life. For instance, try to tell readers how the potential of stem cell research would influence cancer treatment.

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4.Simplify technology with metaphor. The metaphor is an important part of technology coverage because it creates an impressive “image” from everyday life and culture, making technology easier to understand But some metaphor is overused, thus metaphor is not always a good choice.

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5.Dealing with numbers. How many football field area is 6000 square meters? How many atoms can be held on a needle? To help your readers “visualize” the technological figures, rather than list these numbers out directly.

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There may have thousands of ways to be a technology journalist, the key is to have curiosity like a child.

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