Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Journalism 05: The Journalism Process

So how do stories get published? Where does it start? This is what is called the journalism process. In this post, we will examine the value chain from idea to story. This is what the conventional process:

Rahul Deodhar Journalism process

The process gives us necessary and sufficient conditions that allow for minimum standards journalism. To enumerate a few:
  1. Source coverage
  2. Access to news wire
  3. Beat reporting coverage to trigger news stories
  4. Proper investigative process including field work, fact checking, sourcing etc.
  5. Supervisory resources that can guide the reporters through the investigative process
  6. Editorial teams cleaning up the content and fact checking and verification.
  7. Story selection from the point of view of the reader.
  8. Publishing infrastructure.
There have been some changes that take place that modified the process. 

For example, since substantial data is now available online thanks to government databases and global institutions making the data available. The names and contact details of the potential sources are also available. Unfortunately, there is no substitute to fieldwork when it is required. On the other side, communication infrastructure, publishing has become almost costless. 



The New Process
The old process is not necessarily sacrosanct. In fact, the world of blogging has added something new to this - "process journalism". It refers to published stories which involve the readers INSIDE the journalism process. Jeff Jarvis describes it much better in his piece Product V Process Journalism.

Here is his map of journalism process in the tech age:
From Jeff Jarvis
Jarvis calls this "Journalism as beta" and refers to two explanations of the process  [formating modification are mine]
Darlin touches on one such new view when he writes:
[TechCrunch founder] Mr. Arrington and the other bloggers see this not as rumor-mongering, but as involving the readers in the reporting process. One mission of his site, he said, is to write about the things a few people are talking about, “the scuttlebutt around Silicon Valley.” His blog will often make clear that he’s passing along a thinly sourced story.

To quote Gawker founder Nick Denton, when we put up “half-baked posts” we are saying to our public: Here’s what we know, here’s what we don’t know, what do you know. I believe it is critical to clearly label that, giving caveats and context. The same is true of 24-hour cable news, where the viewer must become the editor, understanding the difference between what is known now and what what can be confirmed later (see: the West Virgina mining disaster). In short: We who publish must learn how to say what we don’t know at least as well as we say what we know. 
This is journalism as beta.
Without the relevant change in the reporting standards, such process reporting quickly devolves into post-truth reporting. But when properly communicated, the model presents an innovative approach.